In my preview for Sunday night’s TLC pay-per-view, I wrote that it “would be insane” for WWE to book Sheamus to win the WWE title from John Cena.
I guess the whole word has gone mad – well, at least the WWE Universe has – because Sheamus is your new WWE champion. I can’t believe I actually typed that last sentence.
The old saying about being careful what you wish for must be true. Like a lot of fans, I wanted to see some fresh faces in the main event picture, but Sheamus certainly wasn’t at the top of my list. In fact, he wasn’t even on my list.
I don’t know how valid the stories are about Sheamus getting his mega-push because he is Triple H’s workout buddy, but the “Celtic Warrior” shooting past at least a half-dozen more deserving guys (in my opinion) and defeating the company’s top star for the title certainly won’t do anything to quell those rumors.
The result of the Sheamus-Cena match slightly dampened my enthusiasm for the rest of the show, but TLC was decent overall. There were no bad matches, but no extraordinary ones, either. As far as the other booking decisions, I didn’t care for the finish to The Undertaker-Batista match, and I think the wrong person went over in the women’s match.
In addition to Sheamus’ championship victory, fellow upstart Drew McIntyre won the Intercontinental title, and DX captured their first tag team title.
Here is a match-by-match look at the show:
DX defeated WWE unified tag team champions Chris Jericho and The Big Show in a tables match to win the title: This was a good match and there some nice spots, but no one will be talking abut it in the same breath as the Edge and Christian/Hardys/Dudleys classic TLC matches. One of the cool spots saw Shawn Michaels and Triple H double-suplex a ladder onto a prone Jericho. In another, Triple H had his leg trapped in the rungs of a ladder and was hanging upside down in the corner when Michaels was tossed upside down into him. That was followed by a splash by The Big Show onto Triple H. It’s always a challenge to do something new in this type of match, but they managed to do so. After Big Show destroyed one of the last remaining ladders (the ladder was broken into two parts), Jericho steadied himself on his partner’s shoulders and tried to retrieve the belts that were suspended above the ring. Michaels, however, hit Sweet Chin Music on Big Show and Jericho went flying over the top rope. He was supposed to go through a tabled that had been set up outside the ring, but he was off the mark and sold that he slammed his head into it. Triple H then grabbed one half of the ladder and held it steady for Michaels to climb up and grab the belts for the win at the 22-minute mark. DX’s victory was not unexpected, and the result became more obvious by the fact that it went on last and only two babyfaces had gone over by that point. I expect DX’s reign to be short one, because Michaels reportedly has no desire to work Smackdown tapings in addition to Raw.
World heavyweight champion The Undertaker defeated Batista in a chairs match: These two have had some really good matches in the past, but this one was just OK. Chairs were used sparingly, which I didn’t see as a negative. At the 13-minute mark, Batista gave The Undertaker a low blow behind the referee’s back and then nailed him with a chair shot to the head (Undertaker did get a hand up to protect himself). The referee made the three count and Batista was announced as the new champion. As Batista was walking back up the ramp, Smackdown general manager Teddy Long appeared on the stage and ordered the match to be restarted because of the low blow. Immediately after the restart, Undertaker hit Batista in the back with a chair and delivered a Tombstone piledriver to retain his title. I have always hated when decisions are randomly overturned because a heel broke the rules to win. Shouldn’t just about every match won by a heel be restarted then? It was suggested in commentary that Long was trying to do right by The Undertaker after double-crossing him a few months ago, which at least makes sense. The finish also necessitates the need for a rematch and plays into the story line of Batista’s frustration boiling over due to the title eluding him time and again. Look for Batista to win the championship in the rematch, which could take place on Smackdown or at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view next month.
Sheamus defeated WWE champion John Cena in a tables match to win the title: The anti-Cena fans made their presence known and there was even a tepid “Let’s go Sheamus” chant early. The match built to a spot in which Cena was attempting to superplex Sheamus through a table that he had set up in the ring. Cena appeared to have trouble keeping his balance, and Sheamus pushed him off the ropes and through the table for the win at the 16-minute mark. The crowd was stunned, and Michael Cole said that he was in shock. Jerry Lawler said it best, however, when he said that Cena “has to be embarrassed.” I suppose the “out” here is that it was a tables match, so Cena was beaten for the title without being pinned or forced to submit. I still think it’s absurd that a guy who has defeated the likes of Randy Orton, Triple H, Michaels, Edge, The Big Show, etc., loses the belt to Sheamus, who immediately takes his place alongside Stan “The Man” Stasiak and The Iron Sheik as the most undeserving WWE champions of all time.
Randy Orton defeated Kofi Kingston: If the goal here was to show that Kingston belonged in a pay-per-view match with a top guy, then it was a success. In the best spot of the 13-minute match, Kingston attempted to hit Orton with a flying bodypress off the top rope onto the floor, but Orton caught him in the mid-section with a perfectly timed dropkick as Kingston was on the way down. Kingston sold his ribs after that and was moving a lot slower than usual. When Orton attempted a punt to the head, Kingston got his arm up at the last moment and sold that his arm was hurting badly. Kingston went for the Trouble in Paradise out of nowhere, but Orton ducked and hit the RKO for the victory. Orton going over is the right call. He needed the win after coming out on the short end of his feud with Cena and having Kingston mostly get the better of him in the build for this match. Plus, losing a competitive match to Orton doesn’t hurt Kingston at all.
ECW champion Christian defeated Shelton Benjamin in a ladder match: These two set the bar high by proclaiming on TV that they would steal the show. The 18-minute match, which went on first, was the best of the night, but it was not an instant classic or anything. That’s not meant as a knock on either man’s performance, as they both worked hard and took some high-impact bumps. Approximately four minutes into the match, Christian was busted open hardway after Benjamin tripped him and a ladder landed on top of him as he fell backward. The action abruptly came to a halt as medical personnel tended to Christian and closed up his wound. The fans booed and chanted “We want blood!” I don’t blame them. After all the bloodbaths we have seen in WWE over the years, it looks ridiculous to have medics running in at the first sign of blood. Here’s a thought: If you’re going to have a no-blood policy, don’t have matches in which ladders can be used as weapons. One of the highlights of the match saw Benjamin standing on a ladder, purposefully tipping himself over and then hitting a flying clothesline off of it. In the spot that set up the finish, Christian hit a splash off the top onto Benjamin, who was on his back across a ladder that was bridged between the ring and the announce table. That ladder snapped in two upon impact. From there, Christian got back in the ring, scaled a ladder and retrieved the belt that was been suspended above the ring. Benjamin had the advantage for the majority of the match, but the resilient champion overcame yet another fierce challenge. It’s kind of funny (or sad) that the ECW champion is a much bigger star than the WWE champion.
Drew McIntyre defeated Intercontinental champion John Morrison to win the title: I’m slightly surprised that McIntyre won the title on his first attempt, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea. To me, McIntyre has more of “it” than Sheamus. McIntyre picked up the win after he poked Morrison in the eye and then hit his double-underhook DDT finisher.
WWE women’s champion Michelle McCool defeated Mickie James: Unless this program is being extended and James is eventually getting the title, I’m perplexed by this result. After all that “Piggy James” stuff that James was subjected to on television, you mean to tell me the heels (McCool and Layla) are actually going to get the last laugh over the most popular woman on the roster? The match was good. McCool and James both showed a lot of intensity and it really came across as a grudge match. The crowd was into it, too, and it seemed like McCool had real heat rather than go-away heat. I think the “Piggy James” skit had something to do with it. McCool got the pin after she kicked James hard in the face following a distraction from Layla.