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REQUESTING FLYBY: Tables, Ladder, Chairs (and Stairs) 2014 Review
By Maverick
Dec 15, 2014 - 12:59:49 AM

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Tables, Ladders, Chairs (and Stairs) 2014 Review

Well, that’s 2014’s year in pay-per-views in the books, and one of the greatest in-ring years in WWE history comes to close with what I thought was a very decent show, despite a lot of negativity from some on Twitter. Well, it won’t be the first time that I’m the voice of positivity around here, I suppose, though there was some dodgy stuff to go alongside the exceptional, I have to confess. Right, let’s get down to business!

Dolph Ziggler defeated Luke Harper in a ladder match in 16:40 to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship

This was an ideal choice of curtain jerker, I felt, and these two men did their level best to completely steal the show, as expected. There was a huge pop for hometown boy, but Harper started very strong with impressive physicality, allowing Ziggler to bump like a maniac in entertaining style. The fluidity of the spots was a marvel to watch, with the speed of Dolph and the strength of Harper making for a compelling mix, as witnessed by The Show Off running right into a sick black hole slam and by Harper’s suicide dive through the ropes right into a ladder. The attempts to climb the ladder were well timed and psychologically sound, and a variety of falls and dramatic near misses really enhanced the overall presentation of the bout. It really got almost ECW brutal at times, particularly when Harper caught his challenger in fameasser attempt, powerbombed him onto a ladder, then hit a ladder assisted slingshot that busted Dolph wide open the hard way. As doctors saw to him, Ziggler realised the Wyatt Family alumni was almost at the title, made the save and countered a powerbomb attempt by hitting a DDT off the ladder. Luke was first up and although Ziggles ate some ladder shots, he came back with a well timed superkick into the ladder which knocked the kayfabe hick down. The Show Off really started to turn it on, leaping over Harper using a ladder as a bridge, but Harper’s defense was equal to the challenge yet again. However, the kayfabe persistence of Ziggler saw him over the line in the end, as Luke was superkicked off the ladder and Dolph made the climb successfully. Looking at it, Ziggler is probably safest in this role until the madness of Wrestlemania season is over. From here, I’d like a Rumble ironman performance and a couple of high profile title defences for The Show Off in the months to come. Certainly, his push shows no signs of abating. Ziggler has worked hard to overcome his previous burial and now has gotten over the old fashioned way all over again. Harper is a star too, and played his role to perfection. A great start to the evening.


The Usos defeated The Miz and Damien Mizdow by DQ, in 7:17 (The Miz and Damien Mizdow retain the WWE Tag Team Championships)

For the life of me I just cannot understand why anyone enjoys this Mizdow stuff. It’s absolute crap. Zack Ryder for 2014, and that might be being kind. We had some Uso chain wrestling to begin, with Sandow ridiculously mimicking every move as he has done since the Sheamus/Miz match at Hell In A Cell,, but standing up now and again to get a pop. It was excruciating stuff, with the story being that Miz refuses to tag Mizdow in because he’s popular with the crowd. Some decent tag team manoeuvres from the brothers were entertaining enough to watch, but the clownish Sandow behaviour was such a distraction that I just couldn’t enjoy it, particularly when a clothesline over the top led to Mizdow throwing himself out of the ring with JBL desperately trying to sell it as method acting. The ultimate DQ when Miz used a Slammy as a weapon really was a sweet release. Terrible stuff that completely buries the proud history of the tag team titles. I don’t care how much crowds are into it. I just want it to go away as soon as possible.


The Big Show defeated Erick Rowan in a steel stairs match in 11:14

The first ever steel stairs match was pretty much as I imagined it would be; a physical, methodical brawl with the odd cool high spot. The giant began the match manhandling the Wyatt alum into the stairs and then into the ring, but got his bell rung by Rowan with the stairs on the outside; the madman then set up a whole wall of steel stairs outside the ring, which was certainly one of those things in the match that didn’t make much psychological sense; wouldn’t you want to stay on top of someone as dangerous in kayfabe as Show? In this instance, the gimmick can become a distraction. Rowan was punished on the steps propped on the turnbuckles, Rowan slammed the World’s Largest Athlete into the stairs, and Rowan missed a shot off the second rope with the steps. We were certainly left in no doubt as to what kind of stip match it was! A spear through the wall of steel steps was impressive to see, and back in the ring, a choke slam on the stairs lef to Rowan being pinned down with more steps for the three. Decent enough big man match, and certainly not worthy of the hate I saw it receive on Twitter, but a surprising result given the relative positions of the two guys in their careers.


John Cena defeated Seth Rollins in a tables match in 21:25 (Cena retains the number one contendership to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

An excellent hype package preceded this one and an excellent, convincing stare down really showed how far Rollins has come in terms of profile. Cena started fast but a J and J Security distraction slowed his momentum, foreshadowing the huge role they would play in the bout, and as Cena went to get a table, he kept his eyes locked on Mercury and Noble, allowing Seth to get the Pearl Harbor job, as Gorilla Monsoon would have said. The Stooges were a constant thorn in The Franchise Player’s side, moving tables, causing diversions and even going for a three on one mugging. The Shield style triple powerbomb was fought out of and led to a concerted and psychologically sound effort from Cena to take out Rollins’ henchman, using the ring barrier to knock down all three heels like ninepins. Noble was superplexed onto the fence and the theme of the timekeeper’s area being busy continued as Mercury went over the barrier into that area, taking him out of the equation for a time too. With it now being a legitimate one on one contest, Cena blocked an attempted suplex through tables on the outside by suplexing Rollins into the ring, where the two men threw bombs until a huge backdrop of Rollins over the top seemed to finally but John Boy on top. However, when Cena pursued, Seth came up with the briefcase and then proceeded to wear his opponent out with it. The Architect really understands how to work as a heel and gets better and better each time he wrestles. Mazza and I were saying on Twitter that he is being booked better than any heel up and comer since Triple H in 1999. Of course, the guy also brings it from a workrate point of view, and one breathless sequence where Rollins blocked an AA, leapfrogged Cena and a table in one smooth movement and seamlessly hit a picture perfect dropkick was something you just had to applaud. The finishing sequence was screwy as you like, with more than a tinge of the Attitude Era, as a ref bump led to Cena’s AA of Rollins through the table going unnoticed, particularly as Mercury and Noble then attacked a vulnerable Cena and hid the evidence. Great stuff. Yet another triple powerbomb attempt led to Cena muscling up both cruiserweights for a double AA through the table, following which the ref came to and both Cena and Rollins go through the tables set up on the outside simultaneously. Chioda called for the bell but then realised he couldn’t tell who went through first. A keystone cops committee of officials could not decide who had won so inevitably Chioda informed Lilian that the match would restart. In an awesome spot, Cena AA-ed Seth onto the announce table, which didn’t break, hilariously taking Cole down! In some impressive storyline continuity, The Big Show arrived and beat John down, following on from the Survivor Series betrayal. It seemed as if the smug Architect was about to get away with one again, but then suddenly Roman Reigns appeared through the crowd, dominated the World’s Largest Athlete and then superman punched Rollins right into Cena who hit the AA through the table to retain the number one contendership. Now that’s how you book Roman Reigns. Have him show up, kick ass and leave. Perhaps WWE have learnt from previous errors with him. The match itself was a great deal of fun, with J and J Security playing their Patterson and Brisco tribute to perfection and Seth showing once again that any gimmick match he is placed in will be redefined. What a performer he is. Of course, now we get another Cena vs Lesnar match, but hey, I’m not going to hate on that. I enjoyed the first three, after all.


Nikki Bella defeated AJ Lee in 7:38 to retain the WWE Divas Title

The story here was well realised, as an angry AJ took on both Bellas but the numbers game caught up with her, and a Nikki spear led to an early near fall. Nikki was working that hoss style again, which suits her well, particularly with such a diminutive diva as Mrs Punk. AJ got tortured by being wrapped around the post and the working over of the back then continued with Nikki working a bow and arrow submission. AJ’s comeback was well pitched with a neckbreaker and Thesz press punches leading to a shining wizard but Brie put her sister’s foot on the ropes, causing the assistant Bella to be ejected, but the distraction allowed Nikki to take a leaf out of Rick Martel’s book and spray a substance in AJ’s face to blind her opponent and hit The Rack Attack to retain in a short but very watchable match. Any match with an “Arrogance” tribute is just fine by me!


Ryback defeated Kane in a chairs match in 9:50

Ryback started strong here and just as with the Rowan/Show match, it was fairly typical big man stuff, just two rough, tough guys bashing the hell out of each other. Ryback was the first to use the chair to wear out Kane but he recklessly leaped into a chair off the top rope when Kane raised it. The Corporate Monster sets up a chair in the corner and flapjacked the former Skip Sheffield into it before going for a DDT on a chair. It was a methodical wearing down of the Big Guy by the Big Red Monster, and surprisingly, considering many thought this would be a squash, Kane rode out a Ryback comeback to totally destroy CM Punk’s nemesis with the chairs. Unfortunately, we then got the inevitable tossing of multiple chairs into the ring trope which rarely makes that much sense to me. Kane set up the chairs but Ryback spinebustered Kane through them as The Big Guy got energised by the “feed me more” chants from the crowd. In quite an awesome looking spot, the Meathook was set up, but its proponent ran straight into a chair shot. Ultimately, it didn’t matter though, as Ryback ultimately got the Meathook and Shell Shocked for the win. Another example of a gimmick getting in the way of an actual match, but it had its moments.


Rusev defeated Jack Swagger in 4:50 to retain the WWE United States Title

Swagger got a good face shine here, interrupting a Lana promo and taking it to Rusev as the bell rang. Rusev quickly escaped the ankle lock and went for The Accolade, which Swagger fought out of and forced a break by getting to the ropes, only for the Russian sympathiser to go for it again straight away. The All American American seemed to be passing out again, but muscled the Bulgarian Brute up and slapped that Patriot Lock on again. However, his ascendency was short lived as Rusev escaped, nailed a massive superkick and then finally locked the Accolade on for the win. This was basically all their previous matches condensed into a very short space of time. I’m not really sure why they felt the need to reheat this feud or cram it onto an already packed pay-per-view. It would have been just as easy to do a promo segment if all they wanted was to keep Rusev in the audience’s minds. Still, very good action for the short time they were in the ring together.


Bray Wyatt defeated Dean Ambrose in a TLC match in 28:00

The main event got off to a very hot start as Ambrose tossed a ladder at Wyatt as he was making his entrance, beginning the hot brawl portion of the bout at the earliest possible opportunity. It was all Lunatic Fringe in the early stages, as he beat Wyatt all the way around the arena, including a dive off the kick off panel plinth. The physicality was intense as chair shots and headbutts were thrown with abandon and kendo sticks were used to torture the Wyatt Family’s patriarch. I had memories of The Shield’s debut match as a chair off the second rope seemed to have Ambrose definitively in control only for him to be knocked off the apron through the table for Bray to gain breathing space for the first time in the contest. In an interesting mirror image of the opening minutes, Wyatt began to dish out much of the same punishment that Ambrose did to him, making it a story of psychological warfare; who could be the preeminent madman? Wyatt’s use of the kendo stick was innovative and brutal and he had Dean at his mercy for some minutes before Ambrose regained control by tossing Bray into the ladder. In an awesome sequence, a rope hung dropkick and hangman’s leg drop off the top led the Lunatic Fringe to get pumped up, but Dirty Deeds was countered into the Sister Abigail position and when Dean span out, Bray hit an enormous clothesline. The former Shield man then out did himself as he hit elbow drops through tables off progressively higher ladders outside the ring. When he dragged Wyatt’s carcass back to the squared circle he got caught in Sister Abigail out of nowhere (it’s awesome how Bray can now hit that move from anywhere now) but thrillingly kicked out. Bray spider walked into another Sister Abigail attempt, but Ambrose reversed and wound up hitting Dirty Deeds for another kick out. The fetching of a third, super massive ladder led to some Jeff Hardy-esque action with Ambrose getting the elbow through the Spanish announce table. A legitimate holy shit moment, there. The finish saw the Lunatic Fringe attempt to use a television monitor on his opponent only for it to blow up in his face, blinding him so that Wyatt could get the match winning Sister Abigail. I read that ending allegorically, with the vanity and hubris of Dean represented by the television, which undid him. I can’t wait to see what they do in the rubber match! Two excellent talents putting their bodies on the line with ace results. I don’t think Ambrose is hurt by the loss here, just as I don’t think he was hurt by the loss to Rollins at Hell In A Cell. It makes sense to have your up and coming babyface struggle through adversity, so I expect him to get a win over Bray on the Rumble undercard.


It may not have been to everyone’s taste, judging by Twitter, but I thoroughly enjoyed TLC. The three highest profile matches delivered handsomely, even if the much of the undercard was underwhelming. The big guns brought it and the year ends with the sheer lunacy of Wyatt and Ambrose.


Well dear readers, that’s it for another pay-per-view review. Be sure to check out ATTITUDE later this week and look out for some end of year round up type stuff from me too.

Any thoughts about what I’ve written about here? Don’t hesitate to comment below or you can always hit me up on Twitter right here:

But until we next chat, Lords of Pain, this is Maverick, requesting flyby!