It may have been a while since CM Punk dropped a pipe bomb, but that doesn't mean the scruffy savior of The Second City has lost his particular touch for poking the corporate hornet's nest. In fact, Punk arrived in the Boomer Sooner State with a proverbial bang in the form of a verbal assault on The Authority for their supposed involvement in The Shield's attack the previous week (retribution, Punk said, for his off-the-cuff insult toward Triple H). While Stephanie McMahon and Kane took issue with the accusation that they had ordered such a strike, they did come up with an on-the-spot ruling in the name of business when The Hounds of Justice emerged – to the apparent surprise of everyone – for yet another go at the former WWE Champion: A 3-on-1 Handicap Match between Punk and The Shield at WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.
Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow have made waves over the last few weeks thanks to a pair of outrageous stipulation matches, and their third confrontation carried the most important wrinkle of them all: The winner would become No. 1 contender for Big E Langston's Intercontinental Title. Sadly for Ziggler, The Showoff's confrontation with his former protégé will have to wait, as Sandow prevailed for the second week and punched his ticket to battle the big man at WWE TLC.
Despite Ziggler's passionate play for the No. 1 spot, the increasingly unhinged Sandow swarmed The Showoff from the beginning to reclaim a significant amount of pride and prestige following his failed Money in the Bank cash-in. Ziggler had The Enlightened One perfectly scouted, dodging most of Sandow's signature attacks to bring himself within a hair's breadth of winning. Ultimately, Sandow was the better man by a hair, catching Ziggler off guard and planting him with “You’re Welcome” before sharing a long, tense staredown with Langston at the commentary table.
It was not the easiest of evenings for AJ Lee. Not only did the reigning Divas Champion skip her way through a Six-Diva Tag Match and leave her teammates to do the dirty work, but she suffered dearly when the time came for her to throw down in the ring.
AJ's involvement seemed unnecessary in the beginning thanks to Tamina Snuka & Summer Rae's strong opening strike against The Bella Twins. Things went south for the champion's team after Natalya entered the fray; AJ quickly tagged in for a desperate Summer Rae and the bout quickly slipped out of control. The Bellas helped to neutralize Tamina, who attempted to interfere on the champion's behalf, and Natalya did the rest, rolling up AJ for a pin while she looked for a partner to tag. Given the comparatively low stakes of the match, AJ's nonchalant reaction was somewhat understandable ... though that may not be the case after TLC.
Vindication belongs to The Beard ... at least for now. Seven days after his ominous abduction at the hands of The Wyatt Family, Daniel Bryan battled his way to payback against the trio's resident monster, Erick Rowan. It looked more than a little hairy for the former WWE Champion for a while, though, thanks to the monstrous ferocity of his towering abductor. Bryan's attempts to whittle away at Rowan with kicks went nowhere fast, as the big man cut Bryan's berserker offense short with earth-shaking power strikes.
Muscled into a no-win situation, Bryan had no choice but to wait out the onslaught and pick his opportunities when they came, and the submission master did just that, forcing Rowan into the defensive at the 11th hour and claiming victory with an out-of-nowhere roll-up pin. Bryan's celebration was short-lived, though, when Bray Wyatt himself appeared on the TitanTron and delivered a skin-crawling address to the former Tag Team Champion commanding Bryan to "open his eyes." One can only assume the worst will follow should Bryan refuse.
Xavier Woods continued his hot streak since debuting as R-Truth's latest comrade, though the doctor's dominant debut seems to have caused tons of tension between him and WWE's resident boogieing big man, Brodus Clay. Lingering disagreements between the two led to this encore of the teams’ SmackDown match, and Truth & Woods followed through with a repeat win in high style.
Brodus seemed apt on making a point early on by manhandling the "rookie" Woods at the outset, though Truth later turned the tables and tagged in Woods. The Ph.D. candidate made good on his potential by pinning The Funkasaurus with a roll-up after dodging a top-rope splash. It was all Tensai could do to stop Brodus from attacking Woods after the match, though Brodus didn't seem to appreciate the peace-making gesture very much.
“Mexico’s Greatest Export” found himself stunned by an International Sensation when Sin Cara returned to action and knocked off Alberto Del Rio in a stunning collision between two national treasures. Sin Cara looked fresh and fast in his return to Raw, making Del Rio pay for his pre-match arrogance with his signature high-flying. The Essence of Excellence was ready to put the match away with a Cross Armbreaker but Sin Cara stayed alive by writhing free of the hold, sealing the match with a soaring senton for a rousing comeback win.
The Shield made their first statement before facing CM Punk at WWE TLC, knocking off The Rhodes Brothers & Big Show in a tremendous Six-Man Tag Match on Raw, though the win was hard-fought by any measure. The Hounds found themselves in the doghouse early on thanks to a tremendous start from Big Show; it took an impeccably-timed strike to Cody Rhodes’ arm by Dean Ambrose to give The Shield their first advantage of the bout.
With Cody one-armed and isolated, The Shield gained control until Show tagged back in, though The Shield's teamwork instinct kicked in and Ambrose stopped the giant short by sending him over the top rope, making Show the second victim of the numbers game. A chokeslam to Roman Reigns opened the door for Goldust, but The Bizarre One's innovative attempt to superplex an interfering Ambrose onto a prone Seth Rollins backfired when Rollins – the legal man – dodged the move and rolled up Goldust for the win.
Not only did Ryback & Curtis Axel rebound from a rough week to make a strong mark in the tag team ranks, but Kofi's latest attempt to make nice with The Miz ended, once again, in embarrassment for the former U.S. Champion. The two rivals had initially agreed to put their budding differences aside against the former Paul Heyman Guys, and the friendship paid dividends in the early moments of the match.
Miz & Kofi kept things even against Axel, yet when the former Intercontinental Champion tagged in his partner, Ryback proved to be the difference despite a rough start against Kofi. The Human Wrecking Ball picked up steam as the match went on, knocking Miz off the apron and finishing the night off with Shell Shocked to The Boom Squad General. While Ryback & Axel gloated their way up the ramp, more drama unfolded in the ring as The Awesome One helped Kofi to his feet ... and promptly slapped him square across the face.
There won't be any dancing for Fandango anytime soon; the fleet-footed Superstar rumba’d his way straight into The Hall of Pain when Mark Henry came a-callin’, suffering a pulverizing defeat at the hands of the resurgent World's Strongest Man only a week after Henry's return to action. Fandango attempted to dance his way out of trouble by distracting Henry with his famous moves. No dice. Henry ran roughshod over Fandango (pausing only to shake his moneymaker for Summer Rae) almost without interruption, battling a brief comeback from Fandango to claim the win with the World's Strongest Slam.
Now here's a result to really make Titus O’Neil sick: The Prime Time Players – just days removed from a gut-busting (literally) incident on SmackDown – rolled into Raw in high spirits and received a thrashing from The Real Americans on Raw in a match that left Zeb Colter smiling for the first time in a week. The Americans controlled the pace from the get-go thanks to Jack Swagger, who softened Titus up for his second Cesaro Swing in four days.
Zeb Colter cut the famous maneuver short, however, for fear of a repeat of Friday's gastrointestinal catastrophe. Yet while Titus reached Darren Young before he could lose his lunch, the fresh “Mr. No Days Off” couldn't rally to save his team's chances. Despite a strong showing by Young, the former U.S. Champion Cesaro put The Players to bed by knocking D. Young out of the sky with a European uppercut for three.
It is a guarantee that WWE TLC will end with one champion between John Cena and Randy Orton. Who that will be, however, has never been murkier following the longtime rivals’ tense contract signing at the conclusion of Raw. The tension appeared to settle at a simmer throughout the course of the historic signing, but cooler heads ultimately failed to prevail when both competitors were allowed to speak.
Orton's pontificating earned him an uncommonly ferocious response from The Champ, who snarled that The Viper never lived up to his potential and challenged Orton to “step up or step aside.” The Apex Predator chose the former and made a move on The Champ, although Orton got his licks in when he turned a steel chair on Cena, The Champ got the last laugh when he turned the tables (literally) on The Viper and sent him tumbling through a table with an Attitude Adjustment. The Champ is here, and the match is on.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Damien Sandow defeated Dolph Ziggler in a Intercontinental Championship #1 Contender Match (3:58)
- Natalya & The Bella Twins (Brie Bella & Nikki Bella) defeated Summer Rae, Tamina, & AJ Lee (4:25)
- Daniel Bryan defeated Erick Rowan (w/ Luke Harper) (14:00)
- R-Truth & Xavier Woods defeated Brodus Clay & Tensai (w/ The Funkadactyls (Cameron & Naomi) (4:09)
- Sin Cara defeated Alberto Del Rio (4:44)
- The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, & Seth Rollins) defeated Cody Rhodes, Goldust, & Big Show (20:32)
- RybAxel (Curtis Axel & Ryback) defeated Kofi Kingston & The Miz (5:55)
- Mark Henry defeated Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) (3:21)
- The Real Americans (Antonio Cesaro & Jack Swagger) (w/ Zeb Colter) defeated The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O'Neil) (6:43)
Other on-screen talent
CM Punk addressed The Authority
Damien Sandow v Dolph Ziggler
Natalya & The Bella Twins v AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka & Summer Rae
Daniel Bryan v Erick Rowan
R-Truth & Xavier Woods v Tons of Funk
Sin Cara v Alberto Del Rio
The Shield v Cody Rhodes, Goldust, & Big Show
Ryback & Curtis Axel v Kofi Kingston & The Miz
Mark Henry v Fandango
The Real Americans v The Prime Time Players
WWE Champion Randy Orton and World Heavyweight Champion John Cena signed their WWE TLC contract