Friday, 8 December 2017

DVD Review: TLC 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 187 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: December 11 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

What happens when a one-match card suffers from outside factors forcing that bout to be cancelled? We found out at this year's TLC event, when the official reunion match of The Shield against a five-man army under Tables, Ladder and Chairs rules saw Roman Reigns removed for medical reasons with 48 hours' notice. This unexpectedly led to Kurt Angle - the Raw General Manager, whose in-ring WWE comeback was presumably being saved for WrestleMania 34 - being inserted into Roman's place (Daniel Bryan was also apparently considered, which opens up a whole bunch of questions to be dealt with another time).

As a result, the excitement surrounding The Shield reuniting was replaced by the shockingly sudden nature of Kurt Angle making a landmark in-ring return for the company. In addition, the same medical issues ruled out Bray Wyatt from facing Finn Balor. Instead of Sister Abigail facing The Demon, AJ Styles was brought in from a SmackDown tour in South America, meaning that Balor and Styles would be meeting for the very first time in a WWE ring. Needless to say, an entirely missable WWE PPV suddenly became can't-miss, and WWE has to be admired for going above and beyond to compensate fans who wanted to see The Hounds Of Justice battling as a united force.

Onto TLC itself: the card began with the main roster of Asuka opposite Emma. The match is enjoyable, though some complained at how much offence Emma had against the undefeated and seemingly-unstoppable Empress Of Tomorrow. In hindsight, this mattered little, though Emma not only lost the match but also her job just one week later in an unfortunate turn of events for the Australian blonde bombshell. We then get a pretty good Cruiserweight tag team match, as Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann put on a great performance opposite Jack Gallagher and The Brian Kendrick.

Alexa Bliss' defence of the Raw Women's Championship against Mickie James is decent, with the veteran Mickie coming close to snatching the upset win and clinching the title. Enzo Amore's Cruiserweight Championship defence against Kalisto is unfortunately the poorest match of the evening; the chemistry just isn't there, and the finish is anticlimactic, partly due to Kalisto only winning the purple title 13 days earlier.

The dream match between Finn Balor (still in Demon attire) and AJ Styles lives up to the hype; though not quite a Match Of The Year contender, it is definitely on the next rung below, delivering some great action, and there is an excellent chance that the two men will collide again one day with an extensive build-up. Jason Jordan vs. Elias is filler, and it feels too much like a television bout to really grab the Minneapolis audience.

Finally, the TLC main event is ... bizarre. The novelty of Kurt Angle's return, him donning Shield attire, the weird line-up on the heel side (The Miz, Cesaro, Sheamus, Braun Strowman and the suddenly-reappeared Kane), and the confusing nature of the match itself which sees Kane and Strowman have multiple bust-ups before Braun is sent off in a garbage truck, all make for a strange yet very memorable main event. It's hard to judge this one, other than to say that it is undeniably entertaining, and that few fans who watched the match live will forget it in a hurry.

Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox from the Kick-Off Show is the lone extra for the DVD (which incidentally is not part of a Double Feature set unlike every other solo-brand PPV this year, which is another sign that WWE could be scaling back on its supershows going forward).

Summing it up, then, TLC 2017 had the potential to be the worst WWE card of the year with a B-rate line-up, and then two of Raw's biggest names were removed from play. However, their replacements ultimately created greater anticipation and, certainly for Balor vs. Styles, superior action. Asuka's debut, a strong doubles match involving the Cruiserweights, a great Finn vs. AJ contest and a surreal main event all ensure that TLC 2017 ended up with more positives than negatives, and as a result, this is one of the WWE PPVs that I would suggest that fans should definitely rewatch on DVD.

Overall Rating: 7/10 - Respectable

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