Sunday Sermon: Tables, Ladders and Chairs

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Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage

In a week’s time WWE will host their final pay-per-view of 2014 in Tables, Ladders and Chairs (TLC). It is a pay-per-view dedicated to a match type that brought Edge and Christian, The Hardy Boys and The Dudley Boys to the attention of wrestling fans around the world.

In this Sunday Sermon the team look at TLC as a match concept, as a pay-per-view and what impact the format has had on wrestling.

Craig: To start with I should say I thoroughly dislike the idea of entire PPVs being dedicated to a certain style of match, like this one is. In the good old days these type of matches were used as the big blow off to close a feud. Now, it’s nothing more than a thrown together match with little build up.

That said, as match types go the TLC match is a spectacle alright. And it played no small part in elevating performers like the Hardys, Dudleys and Edge & Christian to that next level. But in a very destructive way, certainly to the bodies of the performers in question. There’s no doubt that both Edge and Christian would likely, barring any other injury, have had longer in-ring careers had it not been for the, often unnecessary, bumps taken in these type of matches.

But they were a staple of the Attitude Era. An era that was home to over the top brawls, outrageous bumps and bloody matches. I’m not sure, though, such hardcore style matches really work in the current era, and it’s not just TLC matches I’m referring to.

I get why wrestlers don’t blade so much and certainly not multiple guys in one match. I think the WWE is spot on to cut down on moves and actions that can cause head trauma and you only need to look at how Mick Foley walks to see the impact of hardcore wrestling on the body.

With all that taken into account; why is TLC still a thing? Being a blow off to a feud is one thing but it just being a throwaway stipulation on a match with little or no build-up/meaning? It’s a risky business.

For me, if TLC matches from history have taught us only one thing. Then that is that they shorten the careers of those that compete in them. Is it really a risk worth taking?

Jamie: I shall also throw my hat into the ring of not liking PPVs named after certain matches, but that’s another topic for another sermon. In regards to TLC matches in this day and age – what’s the point? They are almost entirely exclusive to the TLC PPV, so in that regard they are totally unnecessary. Rename the December PPV, say, ‘Triple Threat’ and we probably wouldn’t see a TLC match all year. If that happened, would anyone miss them?

The original series of matches were insane, and are still very much the benchmark. What’s more is that they made sense. The Hardyz made their reputation using ladders, The Dudleyz using tables and E&C using ladders and chairs. Thus a TLC stunt-fest just had to happen. It’s their match, it just doesn’t work with anyone else. As a fan I get why a feud may require a cage, HIAC or ladder match. However, I do not quite understand why chairs and tables need to be added to a ladder match between John Cena and whoever he is facing that particular year.

Craig: I agree with all of that. Pulling out the TLC stipulation used to make me think “oh, sh*t just got real.” Now it makes me think “oh, it’s December.” It just seems so lazy but is so transparent. Cena vs Rollins, Ziggler v Harper, Rowan v Kane and Big Show v Ryback are all entirely predictable from what’s going on on television and not all of them are that interesting. For me, adding a “stairs” stipulation or making one a tables match doesn’t alter that. Instead of nearfalls, where going to get various spots that almost see the guy go through a table.

I’d much rather return to the days where each In Your House had a different name that reflected what was happening at the moment and thus had more meaning. It’s too formulaic to have it this way. Although, how much interest do the WWE really have in selling what used to be considered PPVs now in the Network era? That said, you have to go quite far back to see when the company really cared about these secondary events anyway. They all sort of blur together.4

Jamie: These days fans ask themselves ‘who’s gonna be in the TLC match?’ when it really should be a natural progression and obvious to us based on the direction of a feud. I mean Cena will face Rollins in a tables match this year… why? Have they used tables on each other at any point prior to this week? If anything Rollins should have challenged Cena to a cinder block match.

I do agree regarding The Network. These events are already sold to many fans, so WWE don’t actually have to try particularly hard with them. I just worry that they are booking stunt matches for no good reason. There’s very little we haven’t seen from these matches, and nothing has topped what we saw in 2000/01, so why do WWE persist? I’d love to know if the TLC gimmick is even a draw anymore. Do fans look forward to these matches or is the draw the competitors involved?

One thing I truly do not get is why main eventers have competed in TLC matches. More than anything else, it was these stunt matches that put E&C, The Hardyz and Dudleyz on the map. They were a calculated risk, which paid off. But why does John Cena need to take such risks to get over?

Brian: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…these shouldn’t be billed as pay per views…but as “Special attraction” events similar to how they do the NXT event every 3 months or so. Rotate these gimmick events ie, Hell in the Cell, TLC and Elimination Chamber…heck even bring back King of the Ring and just air them on the network…don’t even bother to sell them to people outside of network access. TNA does something a little similar with their “one night only” series of events.

Craig: That’s a rather good idea. I’ll never argue against the return of King of the Ring, that’s for sure. Your idea would also drive people towards the Network if it was exclusive content. I know Jamie and I have shat on TLC but it will have its fans who may just spend the money to subscribe – how much is it again? – and are then hooked.

As for Jamie’s comments: it would appear that they are booking stunt matches for no real reason. Having Ziggler dive about a ring that contains a ladder, with his concussion history, isn’t a great idea as far as I can tell.

I’d be staggered if, post TLC, we were raving about a spot on the show. In reality, all the best TLC spots and bumps have already taken place elsewhere. Those matches with Edge & Christian, The Hardys and the Dudleys set the bar very high. It’s unlikely it will ever be bettered.

Brian: I agree…it was those matches with the likes of the Hardys/Edge and Christian/The Dudleys that made the WWE make the match itself into its own separate show. The same with the Mankind/Undertaker hell in the Cell match. I guess we should all be grateful that the Kennel from Hell match between Al Snow and the Big Bossman was a dud eh?

Craig: surprised WCW never dedicated a whole ppv to ‘object on a pole’ match…

You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here

One thought on “Sunday Sermon: Tables, Ladders and Chairs

  1. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2014 week 51 | Ring the Damn Bell

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