WWE TLC 2012: Looking Back at the History of December PPVs
Sunday Night marks the fourth annual TLC: Tables Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view, as the WWE hopes to end 2012 on a high note.
But the December PPV slot has not always been filled by this event, with various other shows having previously assumed the role of ushering in the imminent Road to WrestleMania.
Since 1995, a total of four different PPV events have been featured by the WWE in the 12th month of the calendar year, each with varying degrees of success.
This article rolls back the clocks and takes a look at the history of December PPVs in the WWE.
1995-98: In Your House
Back when the WWE was first looking to expand their range of PPVs, In Your House shows were concocted in order to fill the months that did not feature any of the traditional Top Four PPVs.
Between 1995 and 1998, the month of December hosted four successive events under the In Your House moniker.
The first, In Your House 5: Season’s Beatings, saw a rematch of the SummerSlam 1992 classic, as Bret Hart gained revenge over the British Bulldog by defeating him for the WWE Championship. The second, however, yielded the lowest attendance of the four, with just 5,708, and it was headlined by another Bret Hart main event, this time against Sycho Sid.
There was to be no third consecutive appearance for Hart though, with the third event coming just a month after the infamous Montreal Screwjob of Survivor Series 1997. Ken Shamrock defeated Shawn Michaels via DQ in the main event, while the show notably saw the crowning of the inaugural Light Heavyweight Champion in the form of Taka Michinoku.
It was the final In Your House show of December that was arguably the most noteworthy, though.
With the Attitude Era in full swing, Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated the Undertaker in a Buried Alive match to earn the right to compete in the 1999 Royal Rumble match.
The Rattlesnake went on to shockingly finish the Rumble as the runner-up to Vince McMahon, though he later earned the right to compete for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XV via the verdict of Commissioner Michaels.
SCSA of course went on to defeat the Rock and in doing so, he defined an era that remains firmly and fondly remembered by many a professional wrestling fan.
Without December’s In Your House PPV, things may have been very different indeed.
1999-00, 2002-08: Armageddon
Between 1999 and 2008, Armageddon filled the December slot of every year bar one, the only exception being in 2001—for reasons to be explained in the following slide.
The remaining nine PPVs yielded a number of successful and memorable events.
The first-ever show saw the shocking commencement of the McMahon-Helmsley era after Triple H defeated his then-kayfabe father-in-law, Vince McMahon, before embracing Stephanie in the ring to reveal their newly formed alliance.
The 2000 show arguably topped that though, staging the revolutionary six-man Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Championship.
Kurt Angle’s main-event push was solidified as the Olympic gold medallist overcame the odds to emerge victorious, despite having to face Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Rock, Triple H, the Undertaker and Rikishi.
The match will perhaps be best remembered, though, for that bump that Rikishi took from the top of the cage at the hand of the Undertaker, in one of the most historic Hell in a Cell moments of all time.
Other blockbuster main events include Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels in Three Stages of Hell (2002) and the Undertaker vs. Randy Orton inside Hell in a Cell (2005).
Overall, the PPV will go down as one of the more successful WWE shows, with Armageddon averaging an attendance over 10,000 from its nine events.
In 2001, Armageddon was abandoned in favour of Vengeance, as WWE felt that the former title was rather insensitive given the tragic events of the September 11th attacks just a few months prior.
It was the first-ever Vengeance PPV, and truth be told, you would be hard-pressed to find one of greater significance.
The main event saw the WWE take the wholly unprecedented step of unifying the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships through the means of a four-man tournament involving the Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho.
Austin and Jericho were victorious in the first-round matches, before the latter surprised everyone by capitalizing on Booker T’s interference to defeat the Rattlesnake and become the company’s first ever Undisputed Champion.
The following year, Vengeance became a permanent fixture in the WWE’s PPV calendar, taking place in June or July of each year before being gradually re-branded as Night of Champions from 2007 to 2008.
2006: December to Dismember
Alongside the 2006 showing of Armageddon, the WWE presented another PPV in the same month of that year. December to Dismember was staged under the ECW brand name just two weeks before WWE Armageddon.
It has since become common knowledge that the show was an unfortunate failure.
The show drew just 55,000 buys, making it one of the company’s least successful PPVs of recent years. Paul Heyman was also dismissed less than 24 hours after the event, though the WWE pinned this news on other reasons unrelated to the lacklustre buyrate.
The PPV was headlined by an “Extreme” Elimination Chamber match, in which Bobby Lashley outlasted the Big Show, CM Punk, Rob Van Dam, Hardcore Holly and Test to win his first ECW Championship.
Though the show itself was damaging in the short term, it could be argued that the resultant departure of Heyman was of even greater detriment to the company’s long-term success.
2009-12: TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs
Since 2009, the month of December has been graced with a Tables, Ladders and Chairs-themed PPV, and as a result, we have been treated to some memorable events.
The first-ever TLC PPV marked the culmination of Sheamus’ monster push, as he launched John Cena through a table to win his first-ever WWE Championship, while D-Generation X defeated Jeri-Show for the Tag Team Titles in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs main-event match.
The following installment came in the midst of the Nexus invasion angle, as John Cena defeated Wade Barrett in a Chairs match, though it was last year’s showing that arguably topped its previous events.
Daniel Bryan memorably cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on the Big Show to win the World Heavyweight Championship, despite having initially promised to wait until WrestleMania to pounce on the champion.
The WWE Title match, however, was the start of something truly special.
CM Punk defeated Alberto Del Rio and the Miz in a Triple Threat Tables, Ladders and Chairs match to retain the WWE Championship and set in motion his incredible year-plus reign with his first successful PPV defence.
The match was well worth the watch, and it can be viewed in its entirety here.
As you can see, December PPVs have provided us with their fair share of memorable moments, some of which have had huge repercussions on the following year’s WrestleMania spectacle.
But what will this year bring?
The inclusion of The Shield in the main event keeps open the possibility of another shocking turn of events to close the year, though this storyline may not bear such significance on the events of WrestleMania XXIX next year.
For me, though, TLC 2012 certainly has all the credentials to be another solid December showing, despite the unfortunate timing of WWE Champion CM Punk’s knee injury.
But what do you guys think?
Comment below with your thoughts on TLC 2012, as well as the article itself and which December-PPV moments have been the most memorable in your eyes.