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    Wednesday, December 18, 2019

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: TLC 2019

    Being the last pay-per-view event of the decade, an ordinary wrestling fan wouldn't be remiss to expect this year's TLC to be a whopper that ended the '10s in a big way. Ten years ago (wow, it's been ten years since then) a rookie Sheamus won his very first WWE Championship, and DX was still riding high in their second reunion tour.

    Instead, what we got was something that was just... eh, it was okay. Normally the WWE roster is talented enough to have the great wrestling shine and carry the load the writing and the buildup never did in the weeks leading up to the PPV. That didn't really happen this time around—everybody tried their best, and while some of the matches and the wrestlers stood out, a larger part of the show didn't really stick.

    Should we still be surprised? Two of the WWE's three main brands have been trying to frenetically spin all the plates they have in the air, and much of it feels so rote that it's come to be more than a bit exhausting by the time TLC ended.

    Let's take Corbin/Reigns, for example. While the match itself wasn't terrible by any means (and many might disagree), the fact that the story still isn't over—and even stole the final seconds of the broadcast after the brutal main event—is tiring for a lot of fans. And while we've mentioned that main event, it ran for way too long after it became clear that Kairi Sane was out of it. Let's not even get started on how Rusev still doesn't get his comeuppance over Bobby Lashley.

    The baffling show-ending brawl is symbolic of how WWE feels to a lot of fans as the decade ends—still lost and crawling their way through shortsighted vision despite having all the power in the world. It's going to take a massive revolution to fix all the problems they've got; or at the very least, the sharpest laser focus to navigate the monstrous machine into something that's got a real sense of purpose. Hell, all they have to do is look at NXT.

    As long as it doesn't have that brand purpose, shows like TLC will always feel the way they do. What's worse is that as long as we're all funneling money and attention to the company, nothing's going to change. But if you've been following this PPV review column for a while now, you know that it's the same song and dance.

    TLC 2019 Grade: B-

    Match of the Night

    I really wanted to say it was Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy, and that match was fine as hell—I just felt it was missing one more something that could've taken it to the next level. Couldn't quite put my finger on it. So I'm giving the Match of the Night honors to the most satisfying match on the card: the opening SmackDown Tag Team Championship match with the New Day and the Revival. Even though we kind of need new tag champs by now, the New Day continue to prove why they should be in this spot with matches like these.

    Other observations

    • Strangely, I don't feel there was anything wrong with having the Viking Raiders and the O.C. go to a double countout. The finish made sense by following an internal logic, but I suppose double countouts are generally more exciting when it's wrestlers losing track of time due to action and emotions... and probably better if it wasn't on PPV. That's probably how it could've been executed better, but I didn't personally mind how it was done here. Raiders needed something that wasn't a win, and the O.C. needed something that wasn't a loss.
    • What I do disagree with is the continual humiliation of Andrade at the hands of Humberto Carrillo. What's the deal here?
    • I also enjoyed the change of pace Roman Reigns and Baron Corbin brought after Black/Murphy. Reigns coming alive is especially a joy to watch after being beaten down by the heel. Corbin winning means this shit isn't over yet, though, and it honestly should be by now. Storyline length is definitely something the WWE needs to reconsider in the age of social media and packed content calendars.
    • It's a shame Miz couldn't back up his serious acting with some believably badass wrestling—I liked the Family Man Miz story they were telling. He tries, bless his heart, but he's no American Dragon; and that's probably why they brought back the American Dragon. I also like the (now canon) plot thread that Bray is changing everyone he touches, because it's so handy.
    • Won't lie: I skipped through Lashley/Rusev. Just let it end already.
    • There's no way around it—shifting immediately to the brawl after a hard-fought TLC match between the women was a bad look. Vince probably thought it was a good idea after the methodical pace the main event took, but it was just another thing in an already tiring show and not any sort of palate-cleanser. Poor ladies; the Kabuki Warriors deserved that moment after powering through all of that.
    Photo from WWE


    Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry, one of the four hosts of the Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast, and is associated with Philippine Wrestling Revolution. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, and he likes taking your wrestling questions over on his Curiouscat account.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: TLC 2019 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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