Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2018
Live From the TD Bank Arena, Boston, Massachusetts
[Kick-Off Show] Titus Worldwide’s Apollo Crews & No Way Jose bt. The Revival - Titus’ involvement proved decisive, gaining revenge over Dash & Dawson.
Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match
Opening up TLC in a huge way, a video package promoting the event was followed by the introduction of the opening match. Reuniting for the first time in almost a year, this match was presented as The Shield fulfilling the promise to the WWE Universe, after their match at last year’s TLC was unable to go ahead. Dressed in The Shield attire for the first time since the return, Ambrose and Rollins joined Roman Reigns in facing the thrown together opposition. Following the injury to Jason Jordan’s “Golden Alpha” teammate Akam, the match was announced as featuring Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, rather than The Authors of Pain. From an in-ring perspective, this undoubtedly raised the quality of the match.
What followed was a predictably chaotic TLC match, with a number of big spots taking the focus of the match. This included Kevin Owens being thrown from a huge Ladder, continuing his run of bad luck in these match. Sami Zayn was also hit with a huge Triple Powerbomb onto a Ladder which had been set up between the ring and the guardrail. This left Jason Jordan.
Thinking that he could go it alone, Jason Jordan quickly realised the power of The Shield, as they completely dismantled the Intercontinental Champion. Finishing him off with another Triple Powerbomb, this time to a Table that had been set up in the ring, Jason Jordan was the final victim of the dominant Shield. Seth Rollins would then pin the man who defeated him for the Intercontinental Championship, picking up a victory for the returning Shield.
The Shield bt. Jason Jordan, Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Following the match, The Shield put their hands together in their signature pose. They then gave what appeared to be something of a farewell to the WWE Universe, with implications that the reunion may have been a one time deal, and the three Superstars would go their separate ways following the show.
The second match of the evening was introduced following a look back at Smackdown 1000. Following a Lumberjack match between Becky Lynch and Naomi, Smackdown General Manager Paige and Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon made an announcement to the assembled Smackdown Women’s roster. Announcing the formation of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships, the second match of TLC was a direct result of this.
While Asuka and Charlotte were undoubtedly the strongest team in the match, dominating throughout, they were unable to pick up the victory. After Asuka seemingly had the match wrapped up, The IIconics returned to the ring, throwing her to the outside. Taking advantage of the downed Tamina, Peyton Royce was able to score the victory for her team. Getting the better of stronger individuals, The IIconics showed how important teamwork would be, when it came to naming the first WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
The IIconics bt. Absolution, Asuka & Charlotte, Carmella & Tamina
An in-depth video package of the two Superstars in this contest’s careers was shown before the match, which put over their rivalry, friendship and the breakdown in their relationship. Three months ago, when Sasha Banks finally made the decision to stab her former friend in the back, she marked the end of a friendship, but the beginning of something much bigger. Having beaten Bayley in the first match between the two, Sasha Banks has been stalked by her obsessive former friend, who has interfered in a number of her matches since. Bayley may be completely justified in wanting revenge on Banks, but the out-of-control behaviour pushed Drake Maverick too far. Deciding the women simply couldn’t coexist on the same brand any more, the Interim GM declared that the match between the two would be a Loser Leaves Raw match.
Still incredibly personal, the match now had higher stakes than ever. Banks was clearly confident about her chances, while Bayley was concerned about the potential of losing. This drove both of them to leave everything in the ring. As a result, the match saw a number of nearfalls, with both women kicking out of their opponents finishing moves during the course of the match. When the finish came, the competitors knew that they would have to pull something extra out of the bag.
That decisive factor came as Sasha Banks went to the top rope. Joining Banks on the turnbuckle, Bayley stopped her opponent in her tracks, setting up for a Bayley-to-Bayley. However, Banks slipped out of the attempt, before throwing Bayley to the outside. As Bayley landed on the apron, she hurt her shoulder badly. This was all the encouragement Sasha Banks needed to zone in. From here, the well-known ruthless streak of Sasha Banks came to the fore, with her targeting of the shoulder becoming more brutal as the match went on. The end game was of course the Banks Statement, modified slightly to focus on the shoulder.
With the Banks Statement locked in, Bayley tried to get to the ropes, but Sasha stamped viciously on her fingers, stopping her from reaching safety. When Bayley managed to roll out of the move, she scored a two count, and saw the chance to return to contention. Fighting back, Bayley managed to build some momentum, but was cut off as Banks escaped the ring, and rebounded Bayley’s arm of the second rope. Banks then returned to the ring, hitting a Backstabber (again modified to attack the shoulder), which put her opponent down. Sasha Banks could have probably won the match there, but instead she waited for Bayley to resurface.
As Bayley returned to her feet, Sasha Banks held her arm out to hug her opponent. Of course, she wasn’t intent on actually reconciling with her former partner, instead adding insult to injury by hitting Bayley with her own finishing move. The Bayley-to-Bayley from Sasha Banks allowed her to pin Bayley, sending her long-term rival out of Monday Night Raw!
Sasha Banks bt. Bayley
Following the match, and Sasha’s celebrations, Bayley was left in the ring. Completely distraught, Bayley appeared to be crying in the ring. For a moment, it appeared as thought Sasha Banks (now on the ramp) was concerned for her former friend, but it soon became clear she didn’t care. Turning back on the woman who was now no longer a member of her “home brand”, Sasha Banks left with a smirk. The commentators then contemplated Bayley’s future in the WWE, and the new challenges she now faces.
Tables Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
Having decided to remain loyal to his friend Aiden English, Rusev saw the United States Championship change hands earlier in the night. In order to feel vindicated for his decision to take the Tag Team Championships shot instead, Rusev Day would have to overcome the dominant Cesaro & Sheamus.
Throughout the match, it became clear that The Bar were the more polished duo, and their teamwork looked likely to be the decisive factor. However, when it came to them putting Rusev through a Table, Aiden English saved his partner at the last moment. Removing a Table from the ring, seconds before Rusev was likely to crash through it, English proved his worth to his partner, kicking off the comeback that would change the complexion of the match. Rusev Day would continue to build momentum in the match, with Sheamus being taken out of the equation by the team. Rusev was then able to set Cesaro up on the Table, and prepared to put him through it.
Wanting to once again prove his worth to Rusev, English asked that he be the one to hit the decisive move, as he climbed to the top rope. Sheamus came back to stop this, but was hit with a Machka Kick from Rusev. With Cesaro left on the Table in the middle of the ring, Aiden English hit a Frog Splash, crashing through the table.
Rusev Day bt. The Bar (c); NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions
Completely vindicating his decision, Rusev took the Smackdown Tag Team Championships from the referee, helping his partner back to his feet. Rusev then handed the Championship to Aiden English, with both men becoming Smackdown Tag Team Champions for the first time. Lana joined in the celebrations, as Rusev Day defeated the “best Tag Team in the WWE today”, The Bar. Following doubts about their future together, Rusev put all questions to bed as he hugged his tag team partner.
With two Smackdown Championships having already changed hands at the show, AJ Styles was well aware of the dangers he faced. Especially against somebody like Samoa Joe. Before the match, as well as during it, the history between the two Superstars involved was put over, while it was also noted that this was only their second match against each other in the WWE. The other had been cut short, just 5 days earlier at Smackdown 1000. As a result of The Miz’s involvement in that match, he was barred from ringside for this one.
Eventually going much longer, the early parts of the match were somewhat similar to the Smackdown 1000 contest, with the two likely feeling that their strategy had, until the point of The Miz’s involvement, been going well. Samoa Joe looked to target the right knee of AJ Styles in particular, while the WWE Champion used his speed and agility to look to outwork Samoa Joe. However, when it came to slogging it out, AJ Styles was still able to show that he could match the challenger, with the two throwing strikes at each other. Samoa Joe would take control from here, tying AJ Styles in the tree of woe, to once again target the knee. This special attention would come into play later.
Getting into his stride, AJ Styles went through his signature moves, looking to clinch another successful title defence. Everything was going to plan for the Champion, until he attempted a Phenomenal Forearm. Having already ducked one attempt, Samoa Joe may not have been ready for the second attempt. He didn’t need to be. As the damage to AJ Styles’ knee became too much, it buckled as he sprung himself up to the top rope. Samoa Joe reacted to this quickly, and dragged AJ Styles to the middle of the ring, almost as soon as he’d hit the canvas. AJ Styles had landed badly, and when Samoa Joe brought him back to his feet, he had one thing in mind. Locking the Coquina Clutch into the dazed and hurt WWE Champion, Samoa Joe closed the airways of AJ Styles. Having carried the WWE Championship for the better part of a year, AJ Styles passed out, leaving the referee no choice but to call for the bell.
Samoa Joe bt. AJ Styles (c); NEW WWE Champion
Having been taken to his limits, Samoa Joe had shown his ruthless side in becoming the new WWE Champion. There could be no complaints about how he did it, and as the referee handed him the title, Joe checked on AJ Styles.
His concern was only passing, but it was evident that there was a tonne of respect between the two world travelled Superstars. Samoa Joe now joins AJ Styles in the history books of the WWE Championship, following an impressive and hard fought victory.
Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match for the WWE Universal Championship
Coming off a video package which recapped Bobby Lashley “turning” on his friend, “The Spear That Shook The Universe” and last month’s involvement of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens in their match, it was time for the main event. The match was set up entirely to create a sense of chaos, with the WWE Universal Championship match exploding into life from the opening bell. This allowed Strowman and Lashley to skip any scientific approach to wrestling, going straight to their calling cards of all-out brawling. It wasn’t long until the Tables, the Ladders and the Chairs came into play. As had been the case in the previous match with the two, the contest went back and forth, with Lashley proving himself to be one of the rare human being who could match Braun Strowman in a number of areas. Two of the strongest men in the WWE, there was very little at ringside that couldn’t be bent to their will.
But there had to be a winner, and despite the two competitors generally avoiding needless climbs up the Ladder (realising how costly a fall from a great height could be), a dominant force did emerge. After dodging a Spear, which sent Lashley into the Guardrail at ringside, Braun Strowman followed up by bringing a Table into play. Due to Bobby’s own force being used against him. Strowman was able to put Lashley through the Table with a Powerslam.
The WWE Universal then turned his attention to the ring, bringing a Ladder in with him as he looked towards his title. The first climb of the night, it appeared that a relatively fresh Braun Strowman was in for a straight forward title defence. That was until Bobby Lashley’s trainer Dan Lambert made his first appearance in a WWE arena.
Staying away from the ring, the American Top Team founder signalled to the back, bringing out a number of young trainees, led by a man later recognised as “John Hartnett”.
Running down to the ring, the group of trainee athletes stopped Braun Strowman in his tracks.
Picking up a Steel Chair, Braun Strowman began swinging for the fences, taking out everybody in sight as if he were swatting flies away from him. A couple of the more persistent members of the team got special treatment, as Braun Strowman destroyed them until his Steel Chair couldn’t take any more. At this point, Strowman began to scale the Ladder again.
Popping up like whack-a-moles, Strowman would have to once again fight off a couple of the members of American Top Team, but eventually reached the top of the Ladder. This is where the aforementioned John Hartnett became involved. Running up the Ladder, having played possum outside of the ring, Hartnett wrapped his arms and legs around the body of Braun Strowman, the only way he knew to stop the WWE Universal Champion from retaining. Short-term this was smart, but led him down a very dangerous path. Manhandling the much smaller man, Strowman was able to put Hartnett on the other side of the Ladder. He then grabbed the relative unknown by the throat, hitting him with a Chokeslam through a Table that was already set up in the ring. Crashing down through it from the top of the Ladder, Hartnett was taken out completely, lifeless as he slumped in the rubble. His sacrifice had however given Bobby Lashley time to recover.
Joining Braun Strowman on the Ladder, Bobby Lashley was able to get the better of the distracted Champion, who wasn’t quite prepared for his challenger. Lashley managed to knock Strowman back down the Ladder with an Elbow Strike, and looked set to take the title. However, Strowman refused to let go of the Ladder, and grabbed a lower rung. As he tipped the Ladder over, Lashley was left with no choice but to jump from it himself. Landing on his feet however, the fast thinking Lashley looked to quickly take the groggy Strowman down with a Spear.
Bobby Lashley ran shoulder first towards the Champion, but Strowman reacted in time. Blocking the Spear, Strowman was able to lift his opponent up, reversing the momentum into a Gutwrench Powerbomb onto the Ladder. Braun Strowman was now back in the zone. With an array of bodies surrounding him, the American Top Team involvement had only served to “super charge” the fired up Braun Strowman. Pulling the straps down on his singlet, Strowman hit Bobby Lashley with a Running Powerslam, placed perfectly in the middle of the ring. Braun then grabbed another, less battered, Ladder from ringside, and set it up on top of Bobby Lashley. Trapped at the neck, underneath the weight of Braun Strowman and the Ladder, there was nothing Bobby Lashley could do as the determined Universal Champion unhooked his title.
Braun Strowman (c) bt. Bobby Lashley
Despite the involvement of Dan Lambert and the American Top Team trainees, Braun Strowman had managed to retain his WWE Universal Championship. While it couldn’t end in a pinfall or submission, the decisive finish allowed Braun Strowman to stand tall over a sea of bodies, looking forward to the next challenge to his WWE Universal title reign. “The Monster Amongst Men” closed the show, having overcame the first challenger to his Championship run, which he has described as being “by the WWE Universe… for the WWE Universe!”