Previously, in the first installment in this series, I took a look back at women’s matches at Survivor Series. Now the turn has come for TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, starting with the very first installment of the PPV from 2009.
WWE Women’s Championship: Michelle McCool (c) vs. Mickie JamesTLC 2009
This feud came about after Michelle and Layla created the “Piggy James” name, mocking Mickie’s weight. The storyline itself is rather infamous amongst women’s wrestling fans with some enjoying the intended humor behind this, and others thinking it’s degrading. No matter what your thoughts are, these women were two of the best in the division at the time so I already had high hopes for this match before watching it back. They didn’t disappoint. The match lasted under eight minutes but it feels like it went on for much longer. Mickie brings a lot of energy and pace to the match, whilst Michelle attempts to slow the pace and wear her down. On top of such there’s also the outside interference factor of Layla. The mix works very well here. Michelle McCool does retain the championship however after kicking Mickie in the face followed by a pin. This was rather enjoyable to kick off the look back at the PPV. Michelle played up the heel tactics in this one, also being somewhat of a coward, which I liked. Mickie let her frustrations out in the early going in this one, making you believe in the personal nature of the feud.
Tag Team Tables Match: Divas of Doom (Natalya & Beth Phoenix) vs. LayCool (Michelle McCool & Layla)TLC 2010
The first and only time women have competed in a tag team tables match, includes two of the best pairings to ever happen in the division. LayCool tormented everyone during their years together, while the Divas of Doom were pushed as a dominating force, no one could overcome. It may only last just under ten minutes, but it is historic in its own right, even if WWE don’t acknowledge it as much as they should. Natalya and Beth pick up the win in this one after Nattie pushes Layla and Michelle off the middle rope onto a table, which was the intended finish but the table didn’t break, so she hits a crossbody onto them from the top rope. This was such a fun match, there’s a really brutal landing part way through this in which Beth lands on her head and neck that took her out of some of the match, making you think it would be Natalya going through the table. Which added to the suspense of the finish. I loved this match, it should be viewed as a huge moment for the division–instead of a somewhat forgotten gem.
WWE Divas Championship: Beth Phoenix (c) vs. Kelly KellyTLC 2011
The backstory with this one is that Kelly won the Slammy for Diva of the Year. Beth thought she deserved it so she went out there and took it off her, however she was slapped for doing so. Like most people with a working brain, I was never a fan of Kelly Kelly, however if anyone from this division at the time was capable of pulling a good match out of her, it’s Beth Phoenix, and she did just that. The match goes just under six minutes and was actually okay, despite one of the competitors being allergic to the ring ropes. The Glamazon dominates the entire match and picks up the win after a reverse electric chair, retaining the Divas Championship. This could have done with a few more minutes for me to fully get into it, as just as the action picks up, it’s over, but it’s still enjoyable. I would say however that the two matches mentioned prior to this one, are far more superior.
#1 Contenders Battle Royal: Alicia Fox vs. Layla vs. Natalya vs. Naomi vs. Aksana vs. Tamina vs. Kaitlyn vs. Cameron vs. Rosa MendesTLC 2012 Pre-Show
This happened on the TLC pre-show, which for some odd reason is not on the WWE Network, but I hunted it down just to include it for continuity purposes. If you’re wondering what happened in the “Santa’s Little Helper” billed match, this review is for you. Awful name by the way, but if we ever get a male version, I’m so here for Roman Reigns-deer, get it? I hate myself. Anyway, back to the matter at hand, Rosa is the first one eliminated by Natalya just 27 seconds into the match. Is anyone at all surprised? Cameron is the next one gone, she’s eliminated by Tamina. Aksana eliminates Alicia Fox next, which honestly makes no sense whatsoever. Fox still to this day deserves better. Layla brings some justice to the world however as she eliminates Aksana, but Tamina has her number getting the former LayCool member out of the match. Kaitlyn and Naomi team up to eliminate Natalya. Naomi next braves it alone to eliminate Tamina, and soon after Kaitlyn is gone with the help of a slap from Eve who was on commentary, making Naomi the number one contender, which granted her a match later in the PPV. Like most of the battle royal matches from this time, not a lot of action happens and eliminations are way too fast, so I couldn’t really get into the match.
WWE Divas Championship: Eve Torres (c) vs. NaomiTLC 2012
Good lord, remember when Naomi was a ‘Funkadactyl’ with Cameron? It seems like so long ago yet it wasn’t, unless that’s because I’ve pushed it to the back of my mind due to how awful the whole thing was. However, heel Eve, which we got in this match, was amazing. It lasts under nine minutes, which somewhat surprised me, due to my knowledge of how short women’s matches were at the time. There’s a few awkward moments in the beginning of this one, but it eventually finds the right flow, you see some brief glimpses of the athletic style of Naomi, which would eventually become better in the years to follow, Eve does very well in letting her shine throughout. The Divas Championship is retained via Eve hitting a swinging neckbreaker. Honestly sitting through that Santa’s Little Helper match had me really worried, but they redeemed themselves with this one. Not the best women’s match from the PPV by far, but certainly not the worst either.
WWE Divas Championship: AJ Lee (c) vs. NatalyaTLC 2013
I do not recall what the story here was, although saying that, it was during AJ Lee’s title reign, so there probably wasn’t one. There’s a promo from AJ before the match where she does that thing she always did, mention how people call her crazy and that the divas division is a joke, Total Divas is a joke; you know, the stuff we heard every week. It goes just under seven minutes, and both women work pretty well together, which doesn’t shock me. Natalya is capable of great things in the ring when given the chance, even if she is about as interesting as watching paint dry in other areas. The pace is incredibly quick from the start and pretty much continues throughout which helps. AJ Lee does of course end up retaining the Divas Championship with a roll-up. An improvement from the previous year, these two women had some great back and forth, whilst Tamina was there for outside distractions instead of real interference, which worked well. The match also had just the right amount of time where it wasn’t too short, but also didn’t go too long to the point where I felt bored.
WWE Divas Championship: Nikki Bella (c) vs. AJ LeeTLC 2014
Prior to this match we get a promo from The Bella Twins, but mostly Nikki, who won the Divas Championship at Survivor Series, which you can read about in the article linked in the introduction. She talks about how she’s sick of discussing AJ because she’s jealous that Nikki has the title. Brie states she too is tired, however of people asking her how she can put up with Nikki after all the horrendous things she has put her through, saying that blood is thicker than water and a “little phony” like AJ will never come between that. Into the match now, which lasted under eight minutes, far better than the thirty seconds they got at the previous PPV. The match starts out really awkward for some reason, both women seem to be somewhat off their game, they don’t seem to hit moves the way they should be and the pace is way too slow. Watching this did make me miss hearing “come on Nikki” every week, come back to us Brie, come back, insert the sad Titanic music here. I heard it in my head whilst writing that. Anyway, Nikki dominates a big part of this, whilst AJ does get some offense in, there’s just not enough of it. It didn’t feel like a back and forth kind of match. Nikki eventually retains the Divas Championship after Brie getting removed from ringside by the referee distracts AJ, allowing Nikki to spray something in her eyes, followed by a forearm and the rack attack for the three count. I’d say this is the worst match from this PPV, it’s not even bad, it’s just not entertaining. The only thing I liked, which actually made sense due to them being heels at the time, is the finish. Everything else was sub par.
Sasha Banks vs. Becky LynchTLC 2015 Pre-Show
This match was part of the pre-show, and was when we still had Team BAD in our lives, another moment where Naomi should have been the star, but ultimately ended up being pushed to the side. Deep sigh everyone. There’s a promo from the trio before the match, where for some reason they’re all really happy about Christmas coming up. No, really…I’m not making this up. They then decide to share a song with all of us, as an early gift, somewhat, it’s almost as bad as the jokes you get inside of crackers, the crowd hates it and so do I. Luckily Becky comes out and stops my ears from bleeding profusely. The match goes for over eleven minutes, and is the complete opposite of the aforementioned match. These two women have great chemistry together, something I can’t say that for the many Sasha matches we see today with someone else on this PPV. There’s a ton of back and forth, with no over the top dominance from either which is quite refreshing to see. Becky works over Sasha’s arm throughout with armbars and arm drags, which is just delightful to watch. However, it’s Sasha, who picks up the win via the ‘Bank Statement’, god awful finisher name by the way. Unless this one is still in your recent memory I’d recommend you re-watch this match, it’s very fun and may even make those of you who are or were Sasha fans, a reminder that she can be good when she’s not overused.
WWE Divas Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. PaigeTLC 2015
I have already sat through one Charlotte and Paige match for this series, and it wasn’t positive, so honestly, I didn’t really want to watch this one either, but I have to. Please pray for me during this difficult time. Paige is the first one out, to literally zero reaction whatsoever, whereas Charlotte receives a number of “woo” chants from the crowd, which is the only thing they contribute towards this match, as they don’t seem to get into it at all once the action begins. It lasts under eleven minutes, because why not torture yourself for way too long. The dynamic is really strange throughout, it’s almost like you’re not sure who to get behind, because yes Paige is a heel, but Charlotte isn’t necessarily playing babyface. There’s also way too many references to Charlotte’s father, which annoyed me back then, and still annoys me today. Yes they are related, but she did not need to be his clone. Ric also interferes in this way too much, something I’m not personally keen on in any match. From a storyline point of view, I believe it would be difficult for anyone to enjoy this, there’s no clear reason why anyone should be interested in this at all, but the wrestling aspect is a lot better compared to their match at Survivor Series. Charlotte retains the Divas Championship after Ric loosened the padding from the turnbuckle, which she removes and then drives Paige’s face into it. A weird finish to accompany a pretty strange feud. I didn’t enjoy this based on creative being extremely lazy and having no real focus, something that is still an issue today.
No DQ Match: Nikki Bella vs. CarmellaTLC 2016
This feud has been one of my favourite things about the SmackDown Live brand, Carmella as a heel is something that I always felt was the right path for her, I mean just listen to her theme song or look at the way she carries herself, it screams “I am better than you”. On the opposite end, I’m not a huge fan of face Nikki, but watching her become this victim with the attacker storyline and feeling sorry for herself is something that could turn out great. Anyway, the match itself had me interested the second the stipulation was announced, this was originally teased for their match at No Mercy, I’m glad they kept it for this PPV instead since it fits with the theme. The match goes for over seven and a half minutes, right from the get go Carmella maims Nikki with a kendo stick, again playing up the victimization of Nikki. However apart from this spurt of offence, she doesn’t really do much else in the match, Nikki takes control and pulls out the spot of the match with an enziguri off the barricade. A fire extinguisher comes into play and Carmella ends up looking like Paige’s nose on a Friday night out. For some reason the finish of the match comes at a very strange time, with Nikki defeating Carmella after hitting the Rack Attack 2.0, I’m not a fan of how it came out of nowhere or how it made Carmella look like she was really weak. This could have been a lot better, but it wasn’t bad, I understand they have to be somewhat careful due to Nikki’s neck injury, so that could be a factor as to why they didn’t go all out. Post match, Carmella announced to us all that it wasn’t her who attacked Nikki, but was in fact Natalya. Sigh. If we can’t have it be Eva or Becky, at least let Nattie attack her for us to find out it was her, not just announced out of nowhere. I don’t know where Carmella goes from here, but hopefully she’s used or continues to just target people for no reason other than she can do what she wants.
Tables Match for the SD Live Women's Championship: Becky Lynch(c) vs. Alexa BlissTLC 2016
The second ever women’s tables match but first singles one in WWE, there’s hype alone in that statement. I’m so glad WWE gave both of the women’s matches stipulations, it’s nice to see them finally moving forward in regards to both brands and not just one. Becky is in my opinion the best woman on both rosters currently, whilst Alexa has set off like a shooting star since moving up to the main roster, so I did have pre-match expectations, something I don’t really like to do as I often feel let down. However, this fully lived up to my expectations, minus again like the previous match mentioned, the way the finish came about. The match lasts over 15 minutes and was FILLED with table dodging spots, all of which were extremely fun and made me feel rather nervous that one of them would go through a table when they weren’t supposed to. The best spot in the match however belongs to Becky, pulling off the dis-arm-her through a table leg was just marvellous, helped by Alexa’s amazing facial expressions making it look like she was dying. Now here comes the bad part, Alexa powerbombed Becky through a table set up on the outside of the ring to win the SmackDown Live Women’s Championship. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Alexa becoming champion, in fact I kind of like it. However, the slow nature of the match made the rushed finish feel out of place, it almost felt like maybe she wasn’t supposed to go through the table at that moment. It’s very strange that both of the women’s matches got poor finishes, but I can’t let this ruin what they created here. Both matches have set up so many storyline possibilities, I was sure in my head I could predict who would be in the SmackDown Live title picture at WrestleMania, now there’s a bunch of options they can try out, this truly is the superior brand for women.
Stipulation matches are a tricky thing to get right, stipulation PPVs are even more difficult, the women don’t get the same amount of opportunities to pull these off as the men, thus I can’t act like they are supposed to be absolutely perfect at this first time round, I expect in 2017 we will see a far more improved version of 2016, and 2016 wasn’t even bad, that’s the potential that WWE have with these women, let’s hope they cash in on it.