Tonight, WWE’s RAW brand comes to the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN for the huge Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2017 event LIVE on WWE Network and pay-per-view.
This show has been heavily hyped up as being the return of The Shield as Roman Reigns was set to join Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a 5-on-3 Handicap TLC match against Miz, Cesaro, Sheamus, Braun Strowman and Kane.
That match has seen a huge change though, as news broke yesterday that Roman Reigns was pulled from the match due to a viral infection. Replacing Roman Reigns is none-other-than RAW’s GM, Kurt Angle. Kurt will be wrestling his first match inside a WWE ring in over a decade.
Of course that’s not the only change to the TLC card. The heavily built Bray Wyatt (Sister Abigail) vs. Finn Balor (The Demon) is also changed because Bray was also pulled due to a viral infection. WWE has scrambled and decided to give fans an absolute dream match in place of it in the form of Finn Balor vs. Smackdown’s AJ Styles for the first time ever.
Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox (Kickoff Match)
Does anyone care about this match? I certainly don’t. Nothing against the performers, as I quite like both ladies a lot, but this is just a throwaway match that isn’t going to accomplish anything. Alicia Fox has been in the company long enough, and has improved greatly from where she started, that I feel like she deserves better. Her “crazy” character works, but needs to be toned down a little bit. I’d like to see Alicia get the win, and have the loss be a catalyst to getting Sasha back on track with an eventual heel turn. Let’s face it, the “Boss” just doesn’t work as a babyface. Now while I’d like Alicia to win, I’m going to have to go with Sasha unfortunately.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann vs. The Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher
Much like the above, few will care about this match. That’s too bad because all four men are talented and capable of more, but WWE doesn’t do enough with the Cruiserweight division to present it as something meaningful and few watch 205 Live to care about this little feud. I like the Gallagher heel turn and the team of him and Kendrick. Alexander and Swann also make an entertaining tag team. I think the match will be decent, but will also be kept pretty short.
Winners: The Brain Kendrick & Jack Gallagher
Asuka vs. Emma
There’s a lot of excitement for this one. Asuka was booked wonderfully in NXT and transitions now to the main roster, which has been a concern for me. The main WWE creative staff has routinely booked NXT talent horribly, so part of me thinks Asuka will ultimately fare no better. Then again, she’s a special talent and I have to believe that McMahon and the RAW staff can see what made her such a big deal in NXT. I like Emma a lot, and she deserves so much better (seriously, get her on Smackdown already), but she doesn’t have a chance in this match. This is not going to be a showcase match for women wrestling the way it could be; it’s going to be a dominant affair to establish Asuka as the new standard in the RAW women’s division. So begins the main roster streak for the undefeated Asuka.
Cruiserweight Championship Match:
Kalisto (c) vs. Enzo Amore
I wasn’t a fan of Kalisto winning the title when he did. Just seemed like a cheap thing with it being Eddie Guerrero’s birthday and them playing up what a influence Eddie was on Kalisto. Still, Kalisto makes a much better champion than Enzo Amore. The Cruiserweight division is capable of stealing the show every night if allowed, but this will not be the match to do that. I’m not a fan of Enzo; he’s not a good wrestler and I find his shtick on the mic to be more annoying than funny or cool. If this were Kalisto against just about any other member of the division, I’d be hyped. But with Enzo, I can’t say I care.
“The Demon” Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles
Everyone here at the site certainly wishes Bray Wyatt a speedy recovery from his viral infection, but this is a prime example of an unfortunate thing working out for the best for the fans. Because of Wyatt’s illness, we’re being spared a “supernatural” encounter between a pumpkin demon king and a either possessed or transgender Bray in the form of Sister Abigail. In place of that Wrestlecrap, we’re getting a legitimate dream match.
For the first time ever, Finn Balor goes one-on-one with AJ Styles. This is RAW vs. Smackdown. Former leader of the Bullet Club vs. former leader of the Bullet Club. There isn’t a more interesting match up happening tonight. WWE has the opportunity to shake things up in a major way tonight, if they so choose. We could get a standard, clean match between the two that is sure to be amazing and likely ends with a handshake between the two faces. Or we could get an amazing match that ends in interference from Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson who aren’t scheduled to do anything tonight. I favor the scenario where Gallows and Anderson come out, and turn on AJ to help Balor get the win and finally form the “Balor Club.”
That gives a three man group, with the potential for more members later, to eventually go up against The Shield. It gives Gallows and Anderson a reboot of sorts, and lines up challengers for The Shield’s tag team titles. It also gives Finn Balor a new direction as a heel in WWE, something we haven’t seen yet.
Regardless of what happens, I’m super excited for this match and can’t wait to see it.
Winner: Finn Balor
RAW Women’s Championship Match:
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Mickie James
I’ve enjoyed this feud. I want to see Mickie win the title; I think she deserves it, and more importantly I think it makes more sense for Asuka to take the title from Mickie than it does Alexa as that’s a match that will mean more if it’s saved for later. With that said, I just can’t see Alexa dropping the title tonight. I hope I’m wrong about that, but I don’t believe I am. Regardless of the outcome, this should be an entertaining match. WWE can joke about Mickie’s age, but she’s still one of the best in-ring performers in the division and I would like to see her get the opportunity to show that tonight in competitive match.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
Tables, Ladders & Chairs Handicap Match:
Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose & Kurt Angle vs. Miz, The Bar, Braun Strowman & Kane
So the big main event underwent a HUGE change. This was meant to be the big return of The Shield, and instead Roman Reigns got pulled due to a viral infection on Friday. WWE did not skimp on his replacement, as they announced that RAW GM Kurt Angle would be teaming with Rollins and Ambrose. This will be Kurt’s first match inside a WWE ring since 2006. Did WWE rush to get Kurt back in the ring? Should they have saved that for a bigger event, and with more than two days notice? I would say so to both, but as I’m just a fan I’ll just sit back and not question it and instead enjoy the return of Kurt Angle to the ring.
I’m not a fan of the handicap nature of the match. I don’t like handicap matches in general, but this five-on-three is absurd. For me, it doesn’t do anything for the five superstars if they win, but it definitely hurts them if they lose. On the other hand, was The Shield going to lose their first match back? Will Kurt lose his first match back? I think the answer to both is a resounding “no.” So three is going to beat five, and five big superstars at that. Just doesn’t make sense to me.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see some additional stuff happen in this match. I could see Jason Jordan getting involved, and I can even see a Samoa Joe return. Now would Joe return as a face and help The Shield/Angle team, or would he be yet another obstacle for them to overcome? I’m going to say that he won’t get involved, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he did.
This is a very interesting match up. A lot of folks questioned whether or not Angle would ever get to wrestle in WWE again because of the need to pass a physical, and yet here he is returning in a handicap TLC match of all things. Expect this match to be ugly, but nevertheless very entertaining and it’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Winners: The Shield and Kurt Angle
WWE TLC airs tonight at 7pm CT on WWE Network and pay-per-view. The one hour kickoff show begins at 6pm CT.