WWE TLC 2013: Best All-Time Performers in Traditional TLC Matches
On December 15, World Wrestling Entertainment will present its annual TLC pay-per-view from the Toyota Center in Houston.
The main event will feature World Heavyweight champion John Cena taking on WWE champion Randy Orton in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.
It will be Orton's first opportunity to compete in the bout and only Cena's second appearance in the insanely popular gimmick match.
Can they etch their names in the history books alongside the great performers in TLC match history?
That remains to be seen.
In anticipation for that huge main event between two of the great Superstars of this generation, here is a look back at the performers who have cemented their legacies as some of the best to ever swing a chair, climb a ladder or crash through a table.
These are the five greatest performers in TLC match history.
Matt Hardy, Christian and the Dudley Boyz
Founders of the Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, their matches against one another revolutionized the business.
While Edge and Jeff Hardy may be recognized as the breakout stars of those bouts, it was Christian, the Dudleys and Matt Hardy that were the glue that held them together.
Their lack of appearances outside of those three original matches may keep them outside of the top five performers on this list, but by no means does it lessen the impact or their importance on the legacy of the Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.
5. Chris Jericho
First Appearance: 2001
Win-Loss Record: 1-2
The Ayatollah of Rock-and-Rolla made his first TLC match appearance on the May 24, 2001 episode of SmackDown, teaming with Chris Benoit to defend the WWE Tag Team Championship against the Dudley Boyz, the Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian in the first-ever four-team TLC match.
Despite the chaos and carnage happening all around them, Jericho and Benoit were able to escape the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim with their titles intact.
Jericho would not be so lucky in his next two Tables, Ladders and Chairs match appearances.
On the October 6, 2002 episode of Raw, he teamed with Christian against Bubba Ray and Spike Dudley, Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam and World Tag Team champion Kane, who was fighting without partner The Hurricane, who had been injured earlier in the evening.
Y2J stayed very active throughout the match, delivering a bulldog to Bubba Dudley from the top of a ladder and applying the the Walls of Jericho to Van Dam atop another ladder, but it would be Kane who overcame the odds, scaled the ladder and retrieved the Tag titles.
Seven years later, at the December 13, 2009 TLC pay-per-view, Jericho would step back into the squared circle for his third TLC match. This time, he and Big Show would defend the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship against Triple H and Shawn Michaels, known collectively as D-Generation X.
It was a completely different match than years past, a smartly worked one in which big bumps were used sparingly and only to get the story of the match over.
Jericho, one of the greatest minds in the business, worked well with Michaels and Triple H to devise the match, and while it is not held in the same regard that the other spottier, more dangerous clashes in match history are, it was a very good effort by four Superstars guaranteed to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
In fact, it is the match against DX that solidified Jericho's spot at No. 5 on this list. Without it, he would have been another member of the big, clustered TLC matches made famous early in the decade. Regardless of their reputations within the industry, working with Triple H and Shawn Michaels is a very big deal.
It means they trust that you, as a performer, can hang with them in high-profile matches, and that is just what Jericho did.
First Appearance: 2002
Win-Loss Record: 1-2
The Big Red Monster is the last person one would expect to be included on a list of the greatest TLC match performers, but the fact of the matter is that he has competed in three very different matches, against an assortment of Superstars and has delivered outstanding performances each and every time.
On October 6, 2002, he single-handedly defended the World Tag Team Championships against Bubba Ray and Spike Dudley, Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy and Chris Jericho and Christian in a four-team TLC match. He took a great deal of punishment in the match and had no partner to rely on, yet he still was able to retain the titles.
He would not compete in another TLC match for eight years.
In December of 2010, he entered the TLC pay-per-view as the World Heavyweight champion having vanquished his brother The Undertaker two months earlier. He would be faced with the challenge of Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio and Edge, all of whom were great in-ring workers, leaving him as the biggest question mark in the match.
Kane answered his doubters by delivering another solid performance in a losing effort. Despite his impressive power maneuvers and his decided size advantage, he was unable to prevent Edge from doing what he does best.
Two years later at the same event, Kane would join Daniel Bryan and Ryback as they attempted to derail newcomers Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns of The Shield.
An outstanding Match of the Year candidate ensued, and Kane's high-impact offense made for some incredible spots. Unfortunately for him, a big spear by Roman Reigns through the guardrail ended his night. The Shield would go on to pin his partner, Bryan, and win the star-making match.
What Kane has been able to achieve in TLC matches, for a man of his size, is nothing short of extraordinary. Given the fact that he is oftentimes surrounded by superior in-ring workers, he always seems to bust his butt to keep up with them.
He brings his best to these matches and more than deserves credit for it.
3. CM Punk
First Appearance: 2009
Win-Loss Record: 3-0
The self-proclaimed "Best in the World" touts the best win-loss record of any Superstar to appear in more than one TLC match.
Making that record even more impressive is the fact that all three of those wins came in matches for either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship.
In 2009, he entered the Staples Center in Los Angeles as the challenger for Jeff Hardy's World Heavyweight title.
The August 23 match had tremendous build behind it and was the first time Punk was an undisputed heel.
Hardy threw caution to the wind, as he had a tendency to do, but it was Punk who took advantage of his one slip-up and capitalized, winning the title in an outstanding match.
Two years later at the December 18, 2011 TLC pay-per-view, Punk's role was reversed. He entered the event as champion and was forced to fend off two very game opponents in The Miz and Alberto Del Rio. Punk was so clearly the biggest star in the match that something needed to happen to give fans a feeling that he could realistically lose.
Miz and Del Rio used handcuffs to keep him at bay, but, as any good babyface would, Punk eventually escaped his bind and retrieved his title for the win.
On January 7, 2013, Punk once again entered a TLC match as champion, this time returning to the dark side as the most hated star in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Less than 100 percent and suffering from a knee injury, Punk defended his title against Ryback in a match that was originally scheduled for a month earlier.
Despite his injury, Punk took several big bumps, but thanks to interference from The Shield, he was able to extend his history-making title reign by another day.
CM Punk, like another Superstar on this list, is a cerebral performer. He can successfully fuse the elements of a basic wrestling match with those of the chaotic TLC contests to create a totally unique, fresh match.
All three of his matches are different from one another, and that is a testament to the type of talent CM Punk is.
2. Jeff Hardy
First Appearance: 2000
Win-Loss Record: 0-5
The Charismatic Enigma is one of the founders of the TLC match and the grand master of the big spot.
Through the first four TLC matches in WWE history, Hardy played a major role in the most memorable moments of those bouts.
In the inaugural Tables, Ladders and Chairs match that took place on August 27, 2000, Hardy climbed a 20-foot ladder outside the squared circle with the intention of delivering a huge Swanton Bomb to Bubba Ray Dudley. Dudley rolled out of the way and Hardy crashed through a table. It was the first time that Hardy had attempted the move, only to have his opponent roll out of the way.
At the April 1, 2001 WrestleMania X-7 event, Hardy was featured in two memorable moments. The first was his Swanton Bomb onto Spike Dudley and Rhyno, and the other was the amazing mid-air spear he took from Edge that has been replayed ad nauseam in WrestleMania video packages for the last 12 years.
In the May 24, 2001 SmackDown match, he came off a smaller ladder, leapfrogged a taller one and delivered a double leg drop to Bubba Ray Dudley, who was laying prone on an announce table
Finally, in the October 6, 2002 Raw TLC match, Hardy took a very scary backdrop over the top rope and through a table at ringside. While the others were relatively safe, this one was incredibly dangerous and could have led to series injury had he missed the table. Considering the strength of the match, it was unnecessary.
The World Heavyweight Championship match against CM Punk had a number of stellar, risky spots from Hardy, but they were relatively subdued compared to some of his other appearances in TLC bouts.
Jeff Hardy is the embodiment of what TLC matches are about. He sacrificed his body more than any other Superstar in match history solely for the entertainment of the audience. He displayed a live-for-the-moment attitude and, by doing so, gave fans the amazing moments and spectacular spots they expected.
He, more than anyone else, is responsible for the popularity the match type enjoyed early in its infancy.
First Appearance: 2001
Win-Loss Record: 5-2
Whether it was in singles or tag team competition, the Rated R Superstar has amassed a sparkling resume in TLC matches that has made him the greatest performer in match history.
He and tag team partner Christian helped lay the groundwork for the match while later bouts against Ric Flair, John Cena and Undertaker introduced TLC to the main event scene.
Edge's final go-round in the match he helped popularize came at the 2010 TLC pay-per-view when he, Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio challenged World Heavyweight champion Kane. He would win the match and his final World title.
Edge was a mastermind of the squared circle. Through seven Tables, Ladders and Chairs matches, he was able to lay out matches and spots that were fresh and different.
Working with the aforementioned Flair, Cena and Undertaker, all of whom were not adept to taking big bumps, Edge and his opponent were forced to come up with ways to satisfy fans expecting an insanely dangerous match while protecting their bodies.
They did, and it helped prevent the TLC matches from falling into a tired, boring pattern.
Unfortunately, his involvement in the high-risk matches would lead to his surgically repaired neck breaking down. By 2011, he could not longer risk the potential for paralysis that could result from one wrong fall.
He retired from the ring one week after defeating Alberto Del Rio to retain his World title at WrestleMania XXVII.