WWE TLC 2012 Results: Match-by-Match Breakdown
WWE's 2012 edition of TLC introduced the world to The Shield, saw A.J. Lee turn on John Cena and featured a fantastic opener.
Before any of the night's matches began, WWE opened the pay-per-view with a chilling salute to the victims of the Newtown tragedy, as the bell rang 26 times before an evening of sports entertainment got underway.
Wood splintered, ladders cut flesh open, and the echo of steel-chair shots rang through Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
Aside from the results of TLC's matches, this list examines the true winners in the bigger picture, highlights the matches' best moments and rates them overall on a 5-star scale.
Matches earn their rating based on the effectiveness of the storytelling, the excitement of the action, the high spots, the realism and overall fan enjoyment.
Team Rhodes Scholars vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
A great match choice to open the show, these two teams fought for the right to challenge Team Hell No for the tag titles.
The Tables match stipulation set up the pay-per-view perfectly, and the fast-paced action served as a kickstart to the night.
As Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow sauntered down to the ring, they began to poke fun at the Brooklynites around them.
Insulting the home crowd is not new territory for heels, but Sandow's act felt refreshing, as he tailored it specifically to Brooklyn.
"Is there a life form any lower than the Brooklyn hipsters?" he said.
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara attacked first, working together quickly and smoothly. Team Rhodes Scholars soon recovered, stomping on Sin Cara and eventually trapping his leg between the ring steps and the ring post.
It was brutality coupled beautifully with aerial artistry.
Rhodes and Sandow pounded their opponents into the ring barricade. Mysterio came back with a flurry of offense.
Sin Cara went for a springboard move off the ropes, but Rhodes charged at him and pushed him off. The masked superstar fell through the table, giving Team Rhodes Scholars the win.
The speed of the match, the use of the available weapons and the surprise ending made for a high-quality match that was among the event's best.
Best Moment: The ending
Rhodes pushing Sin Cara into the table provided an unexpected, thrilling way to end a great match.
Real Winner: Cody's mustache
The crowd feverishly chanted "Cody's mustache!" With all the talent the man has, it may be a piece of facial hair that gets Rhodes completely over with fans. The mustache chant may soon supplant "Yes! Yes! Yes!" as WWE's hottest crowd interaction.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Antonio Cesaro vs. R-Truth
In the opening moments, R-Truth taunted the United States champ with his trademark gyrations. Beyond that, there was little for fans to take home beyond TLC.
The short match suffered from a painfully-slow pace.
It felt like the entire match was a series of rest holds. Perhaps this is WWE's way of protecting Cesaro's injured hand, but it's certainly not exciting to see a wrestler clamp on a headlock and sit on it until the crowd grows restless.
After kicking out of a few kicks from R-Truth, Cesaro nailed the Neutralizer for the win.
Best Moment: N/A
The short match didn't have any standout moments.
Real Winner: Antonio Cesaro
WWE continues to have Cesaro defend his U.S. title on pay-per-views and each time lets him come out with a convincing win.
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Wade Barrett vs. Kofi Kingston
Amidst chants of his name, the Englishman dominated Kofi Kingston for the most part.
However, Wade Barrett looked strong despite the loss.
Barrett was the more powerful man in the ring, as he grounded Kingston more than fans are used to seeing. He cranked Kingston's head with every hold.
The match saw spurts of emotion and several near-falls.
As entertaining as those were, the battle felt incomplete. Some of that may just be that Barrett and Kingston weren't given a ton of time. It may also just be that they weren't at their best this night.
In one awkward exchange, both opponents stared at each other in confusion before Kingston delivered the S.O.S.
Kingston slipped out of a Bull Hammer just in time to win the match with a Trouble in Paradise kick.
Barrett delivered a vicious full-nelson slam.
Real Winner: Intercontinental Championship's Prestige
The IC title was made to look difficult to obtain. Even with Barrett's size advantage and recent success over Kingston, he was denied the gold. Having the title change hands every month or so cheapens it. A match like this gives the championship an air of importance.
Rating: 3.25/5 stars
The Shield vs. Team Hell No and Ryback
The Shield's debut exceeded expectations. In the pay-per-view’s best match, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns introduced themselves to WWE audiences loudly and with an impactful force.
An infectious wildness pervaded throughout the match.
It began with a brawl outside the ring. Adrenaline powered the action beyond that, earning well-deserved, "This is awesome!" chants from the Barclays Center fans.
The Shield's teamwork was machine-like, always managing to find a way to outnumber their opponents despite the match being three vs. three. They came off as vicious and crafty, as they utilized the brutality of their surroundings.
They once again powerbombed Ryback through a table. They buried Kane in debris.
Ryback, Kane and Daniel Bryan all had their bursts of heroism, but eventually the wolves won out. From the opening to the climax, the six men involved held tight to our attention and did not let go.
It was a letdown when Reigns pinned Bryan after smashing him through a table, not because of the outcome, but because it meant the masterpiece was over.
The Shield executing a double superplex off a table on Daniel Bryan
Real Winner: The fans
Not only did WWE fans get to witness a near-perfect match, but they may have been looking at the company's future in Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Eve vs. Naomi
After winning the battle royal on the TLC pre-show, Naomi became an unexpected challenger to Eve's Diva title.
This match seemed to be about two things: The first was to continue to make Eve look like a dominant champ, who is both vicious and self-serving, while the second was to have the WWE Universe see what Naomi can do other than dance.
Though she slipped up on a couple of her moves, she wowed with her athleticism. She delivered a leg drop where she got incredible height and used the ring ropes as her playground.
The Divas match didn't have enough time to go beyond superficiality, though.
Eve won with a neckbreaker, ending the truncated action.
Best Moment: Eve's post-match routine
Just like on Raw after defeating Alicia Fox, the Divas champ took time to pose after her win. It's a welcome addition to her matches, a well-placed touch of showmanship.
Real Winner: Naomi
She may wish she could redo some of those moves, but she introduced herself as a wrestler to the WWE audience. Her agility begged to be noticed.
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
3MB vs. Alberto Del Rio, the Miz and Brooklyn Brawler
This match had a singular note.
If fans enjoyed seeing Brooklyn Brawler being dusted off, then this was a fun-filled match. Otherwise, it may have come off as an annoying waste of time.
3MB traded insults earlier with The Miz on Miz TV. Inexplicably, a group featuring a Scot and an Indian-Canadian took on xenophobic tendencies. Their attack on the Spanish-speaking announcers and Ricardo Rodriguez led to an impromptu match and the strange pairing of Alberto Del Rio and Miz.
The match itself was fine.
The majority of the entertainment value is born from the surprise appearance of Brooklyn Brawler, who looked every bit of his 51 years.
Miz hit Jinder Mahal with a Skull-Crushing Finale and then had Brooklyn Brawler finish him off with a Boston Crab.
This wasn't wrestling’s version of high art, rather, it was a fun throw-in where the bad guys got their comeuppance.
Miz announcing Brooklyn Brawler as the mystery partner.
Real Winner: 3MB
The group garnered some heat by attacking Ricardo Rodriguez and the Spanish announce team. They got to appear on a pay-per-view and remind people that they still exist.
Big Show vs. Sheamus
In a battle that bloodied Sheamus' mouth, World Heavyweight Champion and challenger once again slugged it out until they were both bruised and sweaty.
Big Show spent much of the match seemingly afraid of the steel chairs around the ring. He kicked one out of Sheamus' grasp and darted away from Sheamus later on.
The two men pounded each other with fists, with boots and with chairs.
Their inventiveness with the chair added to the match. Sheamus used it to aid his flying battering ram maneuver. Seconds later, Big Show speared both Sheamus and the chair.
In the end, Big Show brought out a giant-sized steel chair, whacked Sheamus in the back with it and covered him for the win.
Best Moment: Sheamus delivered White Noise to Big Show on a chair.
The match had a handful of violent moments like these, but this one earned the biggest reaction from the crowd.
Real Winner: Big Show
The world champ took everything Sheamus could give out yet again and came out with the gold. Being booked to out-tough Sheamus is a rarity.
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
Before his ladder match with John Cena, Dolph Ziggler gave an interview where he bemoaned how unfair it was that he had everything to lose and nothing to gain.
The fact is that a Ziggler win was a chance to prove that he was on Cena's level.
It had its flaws, but that story came across in an effective and thrilling match to end the night.
From the very beginning, Ziggler had an extra gear in his strut. He knew in reality and in terms of kayfabe, that this was the biggest match of his life.
After a cautious start, the tension built and the ladder shots got more vicious.
Cena's eye was bloody for much of the action, but he waved off the referee's help.
The Cenation leader whipped out some surprising moves like a headscissors takedown which sent Ziggler through a table. Regardless of what he threw at Ziggler, The Show Off managed to find a counter.
There were stunning moments that sucked fans in.
Ziggler slapped a sleeper hold on Cena atop a ladder and when it knocked Cena out, both men crashed into a waiting table.
The match suffered from minor issues as well. Too often both men were visibly calling out spots. Doing a better job of disguising that would have added to the match's realism.
Cena's attempt at a monkey flip was awkward and jolting.
Flaws aside, both Cena and Ziggler delivered a main-event worthy match. Ziggler showed he can deliver in the brightest of spotlights.
What people may be talking about more than Ziggler's journey, though, is A.J.'s shocking actions.
She turned on Cena and pushed him off the ladder, causing him to lose. What her motivations were will be fodder for the next Raw and beyond.
A.J. betrays Cena
Real Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Though it wasn't a clear victory, a win over John Cena is mighty meaningful. With the Money in the Bank contract safely back in his hands and a defeat of Cena on his resume, Ziggler looks poised for a huge 2013.