At the beginning of 2014, the trios of the Wyatt Family and the Shield were some of the WWE’s brightest shining stars. Twelve months later, all six men were prominently featured on TLC, the last pay-per-view event of the year, with two of them – Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose – in the main event. And while not all of them were in great matches on Sunday, it’s clear that all of them will continue to shine on as major players heading into 2015.

That’s great news if you’re a fan of Wyatt and Ambrose, as they put on one heck of a TLC match. Before Wyatt even had a chance to take his jacket off, Ambrose threw a ladder onto him from the ring. The carnage continued with Ambrose hitting him with a flying dive, and then a big flying clothesline into the ringside barricade. The brawl spilled into the crowd, where Ambrose went all loose cannon, running and launching himself off of the pre-show panel’s table onto Wyatt. But Wyatt was able to give as well as he got, shaking off shots from chairs and a Singapore cane, and punching Ambrose off the top rope, sending him crashing hard through a table on the floor. Wyatt then went to town on Ambrose with the Singapore cane, including one scary-looking move where he locked the cane, pointed out, in the top turnbuckle, and then whipped Ambrose into it, almost spearing Ambrose right in the face. After some further brawling, the two then found themselves again in the entrance way among a forest of ladders and tables. There, Ambrose hit a pair of flying elbows, driving Wyatt through tables, first from a 10-foot ladder than a 15-footer. He rolled Wyatt into the ring, but Wyatt hit a Sister Abigail out of nowhere to get the near fall. He tried for another, but Ambrose reversed it and hit Dirty Deeds for two. Ambrose reached under the ring for some more toys, and found a television monitor broadcasting the show. On it, he noticed a “Jeff Hardy special”, in other words a 20-foot-plus ladder way near the entrance way. He staggered over and brought it to ringside. After driving Wyatt’s throat into a chair, Ambrose set him up on the Spanish announce table, climbed the ladder, and drove him through the announce table with a hard flying elbow – “Oh My God!” to quote Joey Styles. He threw Wyatt into the ring, and looked to finish things off once and for all. He picked up that monitor and charged, but as the cord got yanked out of the screen, an electric charge exploded right into his face. Blinded, he didn’t see Wyatt rise up to hit him with a final Sister Abigail to get the pin.

TLC – Detailed Show Results

Preshow Match: Kofi Kingston & Big E w/ Xavier Woods vs Goldust & Stardust.

Not much in this match, other than a great moment where Stardust got back-body-dropped right over the top rope to the floor. Otherwise, even the commentators weren’t into this one, blabbing about The Flintstones and otherwise ignoring the in-ring action. The New Day won after double-team move on Stardust.
Winners: The New Day
Match Rating: 5/10

Match 1: Dolph Ziggler vs Luke Harper (c) – Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship

Ziggler started off hot, but ate a giant boot and got slowed down. Only a couple of minutes in, and Harper set up a ladder bridge on the outside. He also hit a tilt-a-whirl slam on the floor that looked absolutely gross. In the ring, he dropped the ladder right onto Ziggler’s ankle and head, which looked about as painful as it sounds. Ziggler tried to recover, but a series of ladder shots cooled his momentum. Luke went for a flying dive through the ropes, spearing a ladder into Ziggler, and then awkwardly and painfully landing on the ladder himself – it looked like he may have injured his arm. Then he got powerbombed onto a bridge ladder, and then got busted open when Harper slingshotted him face-first into a ladder. The ref went to clean him up, allowing Luke the chance to climb up the ladder, but Ziggler scrambled up and stopped him. He then reversed a powerbomb attempt and hit Harper with a facebuster onto a ladder. Great spot where Harper yanked Ziggler off the ladder, but Ziggler landed on top of him and dropped him with a super-DDT. He then used a ladder to smash Harper off the apron onto another ladder bridge. The end came when the two were racing on side-by-side ladders, and Dolph superkicked Harper off of his and down to the mat. Harper was down for good and Ziggler grabbed the belt to reign as I-C champ once again.

Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Dolph Ziggler
Match Rating: 9/10

Match 2: The Usos vs The Miz & Mizdow – Tag Team Championship Match

This one was all about the antics of Mizdow in the corner, reacting to every shot and bump that Miz went through, including doing a handstand in the corner when Miz was held up for a double vertical suplex. The crowed ate up everything he did. After taking an extended beating, Miz tried to walk away from the match, with Mizdow following behind. One of the Usos tried to stop them, so Miz clobbered him with the title belt, resulting in the disqualification.

Winners by Disqualification: The Usos
Still the Tag Team Champions: The Miz & Mizdow
Match Rating: 5/10

Backstage, Seth Rollins dedicated his match against John Cena with the Authority, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.

Match 3: Erick Rowan vs The Big Show — Stairs Match

Rowan’s music is horrible – just saying. This one went to the floor pretty quickly, where Rowan got thrown into the steel steps. But this just seemed to anger “big red” and after a couple of big blasts, he set up a wall of ring steps on the outside. About this time the pizza came, so I missed a bit, but I was told by my buddies that I didn’t miss anything. When I came back, some steps were in the ring, and some were wedged in the ropes, and Show was sweating profusely, and the crowd had a slight “NXT” chant going. But then Rowan picked up and slammed Show onto the steps in the ring and that was impressive. Rowan then picked up some stairs and was ready to drop them onto Show’s head, but Show moved, though not quickly enough to escape the blow entirely. Back on the floor, Show speared him through the wall of stairs. Back in the ring, Rowan kicked the stairs into Show’s face, but then got chokeslammed onto them himself. A Knockout Punch took Rowan down, and Show used the stairs to help keep him down for the three-count.

Winner: The Big Show
Match Rating: 6/10

Paul Heyman walked down to ringside to scout the next match.

Match 4: Seth Rollins vs John Cena – If Cena Loses, he is No Longer the # 1 Contender Match

The two started off exchanging wild punches, with Cena getting the early edge. Every time Cena got a table through which he was going to slam Rollins, J&J Security would pull it out of the ring. Hot crowd for this one, with dueling “Let’s go, Cena” / “Cena sucks” chants throughout. At one point, Rollins and his stooges were going to Triple Powerbomb Cena through a table propped up in the corner, but he escaped. Some creative table spot attempts in this one, including Rollins and one of the stooges trying to run a table through Cena who was propped up against the corner post – he ducked. Later, Cena had Rollins up for an AA, but the referee got kicked in the head and knocked out, so couldn’t see Cena AA Rollins through a table. With him still out, J&J tried to help out Seth, but Cena dispatched of both of them, hitting both with an impressive Double-AA. The ref finally awoke to see Cena and Rollins fighting on the apron, when they both fell through a table on the floor. He called for the bell, but after two other referees couldn’t figure out who won, senior official Mike Chioda ordered the match to restart. It wasn’t long before Cena took over. Just when it looked like he was going to put Rollins away, the Big Show made his way to the ring and pummeled him. He was going for a big Chokeslam when Roman Reigns’ music hit. He hit the ring, Speared Show, taking him out of commission, and then stunned Rollins with a Superman Punch. Cena then hit the AA on Rollins through a table for the win.

Winner: John Cena
Match Rating: 7/10

Backstage, Brie said that she was sick of people treating Nikki as a villain, and that the Bellas were united once again to take out AJ Lee.

Match 5: AJ Lee vs Nikki Bella (c) w/ Brie Bella — Divas Championship Match

Unbelievably, this match went on for several minutes and there were no “CM Punk” chants. Unfortunately, this was nothing like the stellar Charlotte vs Sasha Banks battle from the NXT special from earlier this week. After she was caught interfering to help her sister, Brie was ordered to the back by the ref. With the ref dealing with her, Nikki pulled out a spray bottle and blasted AJ in the eyes. After that, AJ was easy pickings for the Rack Attack and the pin.

Winner and still Divas Champion: Nikki Bella
Match Rating: 5/10

Backstage, Roman Reigns said he had returned to make an impact, and that he would start by winning the Royal Rumble. Believe that.

Match 6: Kane vs Ryback — Chairs Match

This one started off like a glorified squash match, with Ryback demolishing Kane with a chair and with heavy shots. Then things took a turn for the worse when he went for a top rope splash, and Kane got his knees up. Kane then set up a chair on the top rope and hit Ryback with Snake Eyes onto it. This match really should have been earlier in the card – it seems like a step backwards from the craziness and intensity of all of the other gimmick matches. Even visually, since the chairs look so puny compared to the stairs used earlier. The crowd seemed to think so too judging from their “Boring” chants. They woke up a little when Kane ended a series of chair blasts by whipping a chair into a charging Ryback’s face. Ryback eventually won with the Shell-Shocked.

Winner: Ryback
Match Rating: 5/10

Match 7: Rusev (c) w/ Lana vs Jack Swagger — US Championship Match

No Lana promo this time, since Swagger’s entrance music cut her off after only a couple of words. Swagger slammed Rusev onto his ankle, continuing the story from TV where he locked on the Patriot Lock. Rusev went for a thrust kick, but Swagger caught it and tried to lock on the Patriot Lock. Rusev escaped though and clamped on the Accolade. It looked like Swagger was going to pass out, but then he recovered and powered out. He locked on the Patriot Lock once more, but Rusev kicked his way out of it, peppering Swagger with some hard shots to the face. Rusev hit him with a couple more thrust kicks, and then put on the Accolade once again, until Swagger passed out from the pain.

Winner and still US Champion: Rusev
Match Rating: 5/10

Match 8: Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt – TLC Match

Winner: Bray Wyatt
Match Rating: 8/10

Overall Show Rating: 7/10