2017 WWE TLC results, recap, grades: Balor vs. Styles just too sweet, Kurt Angle stars
Complete review with grades and highlights immediately after WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs
WWE was forced to scramble just 48 hours before Sunday’s TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view from Minneapolis, Minnesota, when Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt were pulled due to a viral illness. The resulting changes to the card’s two biggest matches produced equal feast and famine.
Despite a lack of storyline or build, Finn Balor and AJ Styles combined to put on an instant classic with a match that told a great story and produced in terms of chemistry. The main event was another story altogether as Raw general manager Kurt Angle replaced Reigns as an honorary member of The Shield. Despite popping for Angle’s return, the 5-on-3 TLC match was a booking disaster. At the very least, the fans were sent home happy as Angle returned from an earlier injury to help The Shield go over.
Outside of those matches, the remaining card was forgettable at best in one of WWE’s poorest cards of 2017. It all went down live Sunday night, and CBS Sports was here the entire way updating this post with results, grades and highlights from the show. Check out our complete review below.
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2017 WWE TLC results, grades
Sasha Banks def. Alicia Fox via submission (Kickoff Show): Banks went on the assault from the opening bell as payback for Fox’s attack on Raw. The match remained physical throughout with Fox catching Banks in mid-air and throwing her onto the floor through the middle ropes. Fox hit a pair of Northern Lights suplexes late but could only get two counts. Banks countered with a backstabber into her Banks Statement finisher, which forced Fox to tap out. Grade: C
Asuka def. Emma via submission: The unbeaten former NXT women’s champion was given a grand entrance and showcase debut most expected, but it doesn’t come without criticism. Seeing Asuka presented as a babyface felt out of place. The match also went on too long with Emma getting a bit too much offense, which robbed from the type of impact Asuka could’ve had if this had been booked as a squash. But Asuka still looked strong in terms of execution and turned a vicious-looking ankle lock into a German suplex. Late in the match, Asuka connected with a kick to the head before forcing Emma to tap out via the Asuka Lock. Grade: C+
Backstage — The Miz, Sheamus & Cesaro, Braun Strowman and Kane:Ahead of their match, The Miz pumped up The Bar by telling them Kurt Angle is only in the match in order to steal their spotlight. Strowman then walked in and told Miz to cut the pep talk because he was going to take over the match and no one better get in his way. That led Kane to step up into the picture and say he would be the one who will destroy the opposing team. The Miz ignored Strowman’s instructions and continued his pep talk. Strowman said there would be no tomorrow for the other team, and Kane promised to make the main event hell on Earth.
Elias played his guitar after angling for the opportunity during the kickoff show when he interrupted a conversation between Angle and Jason Jordan. As he began strumming his guitar, Jordan rolled out a shopping cart and started throwing vegetables and fruits at him, leading Elias to stop playing and look off in the distance. One hour later, Elias returned and began singing as boos rained down. Vegetables soon followed from Jordan, though again nothing else transpired.
Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann def. Jack Gallagher & The Brian Kendrick via pinfall: This cruiserweight tag team match showcased well the aerial talents of Alexander and ended on a high note with a hot finish. Alexander landed the biggest spot with a Top Con Hilo onto both heels outside the ring, and he fielded a hot tag from Swann late to clean house. In the end, Swann took out the competition with a Phoenix Splash on Kendrick and a super kick on Gallagher. Alexander swooped in to hit his Lumbar Check finisher on Kendrick for the 1-2-3. Grade: B-
Women’s Championship — Alexa Bliss (c) def. Mickie James via pinfall to retain the title: For a feud that has overachieved in every step of the build, it only made sense for the payoff to do the same. Both women worked hard to tell a physical story that included Bliss repeatedly stomping James and attempting a non-stop barrage of pin attempts. They traded hard slaps in the center of the ring during a memorable spot that turned from a hockey fight to a double knockdown on kicks to the head. Late in the match, Bliss feigned an injury by playing possum and suckered James face first into the corner. The champion then hit her Snap DDT for the finish. After the match, James sold her shoulder injury well and cut a babyface promo by saying it won’t be the last time she’s in a championship match or wearing the title. Grade: B
Backstage — Kurt Angle, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins: Angle promised the remaining Shield members he will give them 100 percent tonight. Rollins responded that they did not come to question him but rather to present him with a Shield vest to wear in the ring.
Cruiserweight Championship — Enzo Amore def. Kalisto (c) via pinfall to win the title: Kalisto’s 13-day title reign is over as WWE booked a cruiserweight title change for the ninth time since the championship was reinstated 13 months ago. The match was fairly pedestrian throughout, save for an early suicide dive to the floor from Kalisto. Amore took advantage of a referee distraction late to secure his second title reign when he thumbed Kalisto to the eye and hit his Jaw-Done-Zo finisher for the finish. Afterwards, a gravel-voiced Amore cut an angry promo at the crowd by saying, “I owe all the thanks to me. You know what I owe all of you? A big no thank you. How you doin’?” Grade: C
The Demon (Finn Balor) def. AJ Styles via pinfall: No storylines or buildup needed. Two of the best in-ring performers in the world lived up to expectations — and then some. Not only was the match an instant classic and a teaser as to what these two might be capable of should WWE continue the program entering Survivor Series — or at another point in the future — it ended with arguably the moment of the year. After Balor closed their spectacular 18-minute match — thrown together just two days before TLC due to Bray Wyatt’s viral infection — by hitting a stiff Coup de Grace finisher for the pin, the two competitors showed their mutual respect. Balor and Styles raised their arms in the center of the ring and touched hands while doing matching “Too Sweet” gestures. Not only was the move a partial troll job to the current Bullet Club members, who WWE recently sent a cease and desist order to regarding the use of “Too Sweet,” it was a nod to Balor and Styles’ past as former Bullet Club leaders with New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
The match was electric from the start with the crowd showering the ring with “this is awesome” chants before the opening bell. Both wrestlers hit the prerequisite amount of big spots and near falls as the intensity continued to escalate. Balor hit a beautiful Tope Con Hilo, and Styles later hit a spinebuster into the announce table. Late in the match, Styles blocked a Coup de Grace attempt by knocking Balor down from the top rope with a Pele kick before landing a hurricanrana from the ring apron on Balor, who was seated above the turnbuckles. But Balor kicked out and quickly rebounded with a pair of shotgun dropkicks to set up the finish. Grade: A
Jason Jordan def. Elias: After a trio of aforementioned confrontations between the two earlier in the night, Jordan and Elias were given popcorn match treatment before the main event. Elias looked to be in control late when he stuffed a corner spear attempt by stiffly landing a knee to the face, but Elias’ suplex attempt was countered into a rollup for the pin. Elias’ shoulder appeared to be up during the referee’s final count on replay. Grade: C
Tables, Ladders and Chairs — Kurt Angle, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins def. The Miz, Sheamus & Cesaro, Braun Strowman & Kane via pinfall: Where should we begin? This one was a cluster featuring train-wreck psychology, a gluttony of disconnected high spots and a bunch of tables that wouldn’t break. There was also the attempted murder of Strowman in the back of a garbage truck that was somehow never mentioned again after it happened.
WWE was likely forced to scramble in terms of its booking after Roman Reigns was pulled 48 hours before the event with a viral infection. It certainly felt that way throughout this main event, which brought back too many WCW flashbacks — for all the wrong reasons. The feel-good ending of Angle, dressed as a member of The Shield, joining Ambrose and Rollins in an iconic triple power bomb simply wasn’t enough to cancel out the sins of the previous 40 minutes.
Angle, who literally took Reigns’ place by entering the arena through the crowd as an honorary Shield member, was knocked out of the match early after being powerslammed through a table by Strowman. The fact that the heels couldn’t finish the match despite a 5-on-2 advantage from there on out stood out like a sore thumb. The sides began to even out a bit when Strowman and Kane turned on one another for seemingly no reason. Strowman was chokeslammed through the stage floor before Kane yanked down a group of chairs from high above that crashed hard onto him. Somehow, Strowman returned and attempted to sabotage his own team until they threw him into the back of a garbage truck and had the driver turn on the compactor. He was never seen again.
Back in the ring, Ambrose dove in to save a pin attempt on Rollins after the remaining heels beat him down with a chair. Angle’s music then hit, and the 48-year-old ran in to clean house, first hitting Sheamus & Cesaro with a pair of Angle Slams outside the ring. The momentum changed hands twice with Miz nearly winning after Angle kicked out of the Skull-Crushing Finale. But The Shield cornered Miz, and after Angle mimicked Reigns’ roar, they hit their finisher for the pin. The match was too long with too many momentum shifts and illogical turns. It was a few fun spots and a dramatic Angle return from being an abject failure. Grade: D+