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    Tuesday, December 22, 2020

    The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: TLC 2020

    Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens on WWE TLC

    It's tough to like the TLC pay-per-view nowadays. Of all the things they made a gimmick PPV, the TLC match sounded like a good idea on paper, but by the time it was instituted it was no longer the magical matchup that it was in the early 2000s. (Of course, Fatal 4-Way was a worse gimmick PPV idea, but nobody really remembers that.) More than a decade of TLC events later, it's really difficult to get hyped for it.

    This year, it seems like WWE might have found the best formula for the event—instead of forcing two TLC matches and a bunch of other bouts with one of the three weapons involved, just head back to the basics and force two TLC matches to almost bookend the evening, and have the rest be normal matches (and a stray Firefly Inferno match).

    Because when they did this, surprise! I actually didn't get tired of all the weapons-based carnage the entire evening, plus I was able to enjoy the normal matches for what they really were. The wrestlers just went out there to wrestle, while the actual Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match intensified the drama for at least one of the stories it served.

    Like NXT's WarGames setup, one could argue that you only really need one of the main gimmick in one show. While both TLC matches were wrestled well, only Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns deserved the honor of brutalizing each other in that wasteland. 

    Everything about the match was used well—from the ability to get henchmen involved to the drama of Owens seeing a clear path up the ladder to the championship, it fully delivered both a good match and the rare gift of wanting to see more of this story. (The main roster doesn't always get us to want that anymore.) Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles, while wrestled well, would've been just forgettable the next day if Miz didn't try cashing in.

    And I guess something has to be said about the Firefly Inferno Match. Many will like it because (safely) setting someone else on fire is absolutely crazy. I've got no strong feelings about it because going to these lengths, while clearly a callback to the first Orton/Wyatt feud, isn't my thing. The only net positive I can see is that we might be getting another character change from Wyatt, and given his boundless creativity, I'm very much looking forward to it.

    Much ado has been and is being made about WWE's ratings drama on RAW, but shows like TLC prove that if you distill the pro wrestling down to the actual wrestling—provided that that actual wrestling is good—and strong, decisive booking maximizing the entire roster, there's nothing to worry about. A quarantine-era PPV is good because it's mostly wrestling and few zany angles. Maybe take your cues from that.

    TLC 2020 Rating: B+

    Match of the Night

    Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens. Full stop. Like I said on the SmackDown review, that's how you book a babyface. Not invulnerable like Superman, but scrappy while he can still fight.

    Photo from WWE

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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: TLC 2020 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Romeo Moran
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