Just over 48 hours before “TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2017”, the card was set, with The Shield reuniting in the main event and Bray Wyatt summoning the spirit of Sister Abigail to face The Demon, Finn Bálor. Then, word leaked out that an ongoing virus in the RAW locker room had claimed Wyatt and Roman Reigns, preventing them from competing at TLC. In their place, WWE flew AJ Styles from a SmackDown tour in South America to face Bálor, and Kurt Angle (the RAW General Manager, of course) was drafted in as Roman’s replacement, competing in his first match since 2006!
Though the circumstances were unfortunate (nobody wants to see any performers withdrawn from competition due to illness or injury), interest in the show immediately shot up after the changes were announced. Quite frankly, aside from The Shield’s reunion, few were excited at all by the matches that had been confirmed, and a lot of people were actually dreading Wyatt vs. Bálor due to the potential goofiness of Abigail battling a Demon who had donned pumpkin-colored paint on the RAW previous.
Instead, we were getting a dream match between Finn and AJ, and a landmark return for Kurt Angle, whose in-ring future in WWE was by no means guaranteed before this point in time.
How did the show turn out, and how does it fare upon second viewing on DVD?
Asuka vs. Emma
Asuka’s debut came across as special due to the weeks of anticipation, and overall her first match on the main roster was a success. The action is fine, though some were concerned about the surprisingly large amount of offence that Emma had against the unstoppable Empress of Tomorrow. Still, the result is what really matters and Asuka’s hand is raised, as it has been in all of her on-screen matches since TLC.
Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann vs. Jack Gallagher & The Brian Kendrick
If the cruiserweights were given more distinctive characters, then matches like this would receive much stronger crowd reactions. And the talent especially deserved that on this occasion, because their efforts in this doubles match are clear to see. Hopefully, Cedric will receive a crack at the Cruiser crown in the near future, since he is one of the very best performers in the division.
RAW Women’s Championship Match
Alexa Bliss (C) vs. Mickie James
I enjoyed this match, though I felt that the result was never in doubt, with so many potential contenders to Alexa’s title on RAW at the moment. I also wasn’t sure why Mickie gave what appeared to be a farewell promo since she is sticking around, and had a rematch with Bliss eight days later!
Cruiserweight Championship Match
Kalisto (C) vs. Enzo Amore
I can see why WWE has put the purple title around Enzo Amore’s waist, since he brings more interest and viewers to 205 Live due to his unquestionable charisma. But this match is a clear step down from Neville’s title defences earlier in the year, and the result makes one wonder why WWE bothered switching the title to Kalisto 13 days beforehand.
Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles
This is a terrific encounter between two of WWE’s very best wrestlers. I think the unusual series of events actually helped, since the directive to both men simply will have been to go out there and steal the show without any distractions. Bálor comes out on top (in “regular” Demon gear too), but it’s pretty safe to say that we’ll get a rematch at some point with a bigger build-up.
Elias vs. Jason Jordan
Well, this serves a purpose of filling time, I guess. I love Elias’ character, but it’s clear that this match has very little reason to exist, and the action isn’t particularly enthralling either. Skippable.
Kurt Angle, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. The Miz, Cesaro, Sheamus, Braun Strowman & Kane
The main event is… well, it’s hard to describe. From Kurt Angle making his in-ring comeback in Shield attire, to the reformation of The Shield themselves (minus Reigns), to the 3-on-5 configuration to the pinfalls/submissions rules of the TLC match to Kane’s unexpected reappearance to Strowman being attacked and thrown in a garbage truck – there is so much which makes this more than just your usual headline attraction. It’s undoubtedly entertaining and memorable, though. It’s one of the most bizarre WWE matches that you will ever see.
Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox
The bonus match between Sasha and Alicia is alright. It’s unlikely to remain on the viewer’s memory for very long, but it’s enjoyable enough. It’s also evidence that despite sliding down the card a bit in recent months, Sasha remains as popular as ever with fans.
Given the situation that WWE found itself in, one can’t blame them for taking bold steps in order to ensure that TLC would be worth watching. And those decisions paid off: Finn vs. AJ is an awesome match, and the main event is so surreal and weirdly compelling that it’s unlikely that anybody watching it will forget it in a hurry. The rest of the card is okay, with the cruiserweight tag team match exceeding expectations and Asuka’s debut being an important moment.
So, “TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2017” isn’t the best WWE PPV of the year by any means, but considering the original line-up, and the temporary chaos caused by the sidelining of performers, it ended up being a rather entertaining show. It’s worth going out of your way to see the key matches and moments if you haven’t already, while Angle’s return may well warrant the DVD purchase.
Get your copy of the WWE TLC – Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2017 DVD…
– United States: AVAILABLE NOW! Grab the TLC 2017 DVD right now here on Amazon.com.
– UK/Europe: AVAILABLE NOW! Get your copy of the TLC 2017 DVD on Amazon.co.uk.
– Australia: January 10th. Look out for the TLC 2017 DVD release soon at Madman.com.au.