Not So A-List After All
Sometimes, TLC Matches, and bouts with similar stipulations attached to them, can start to feel like they’re all the same. Many fans were worried that the trend would continue on Sunday night. Instead, both world title TLC Matches were distinct because they brought something different to the table. For The WWE Championship bout, the variable came in the form of a mid-match Money in the Bank cash-in by The Miz. Instantly, his addition to the match made it much more unpredictable. For a minute or two, it felt like any of the three competitors could win the match. But then Omos stopped the cash-in, and it was only a matter of time before McIntyre retrieved the title. It was disappointing to see The Money in the Bank contract squandered in this manner. But it was equally encouraging to see WWE breathe new life into a tired stipulation.
“The Head Of The Table” Reigns Supreme
Likewise, the TLC Match between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens was the latest stellar performance for “The Head of the Table.” His victory was all but guaranteed, but he and Owens did a spectacular job making the viewer think maybe, just maybe, “The Prizefighter” could pull off the stunning upset. Both men threw everything they had into this match. Reigns deserves props for a few risky spots, like the one where he charged full steam ahead and destroyed a barricade with a missed Spear. Owens, as always, sacrificed his body several times throughout the bout with high impact spots to sell the fact that he’d do anything to win. Reigns also added his amazing character work into the match; in one highlight, he told Owens that he was embarrassing his family because he was too stubborn to stay down.
Of course, there were plenty of shenanigans, as Jey Uso repeatedly interfered in this match. He even played a vital role in the finish, as he helped Reigns put Owens down once and for all. “The Tribal Chief” is slowly taking on the characteristics of a cowardly heel, and hopefully WWE will find the right balance between this traditional character model and the incredibly complex one that has been the best thing on WWE TV for several months now. Regardless, heading into WrestleMania season, Reigns remains on top of the world, and with a proper build, the Superstar who takes the title from him will be a made man.
Burn, Bray, Burn
At WWE TLC, a man was seemingly burned alive. Yes, that was the point of the Firefly Inferno Match. But Randy Orton took the stipulation a step further by dumping lighter fluid on The Fiend and setting him on fire. This bout wasn’t cinematic like the Boneyard Match, but it was surely different from the rest of the card. The visual of The Fiend igniting the fire inside the ThunderDome was a visual that will stay with many fans long after the ending of this show. Likewise, the sight of the monster as he continued to fight Orton, even after The Viper set him on fire, will go down in WWE history.
It’s unclear what’s next for The Fiend but his supposed incineration opens up several storytelling possibilities. The Fiend is arguably at his best when WWE leans into the horror aspects of his character, and that was quite evident on Sunday night. If the company continues to do so, Bray Wyatt’s monstrous character could become an icon that truly is comparable to The Undertaker years from now.