WWE TLC 2018 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2018

WWE TLC 2018 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WWE brought tables, ladders and chairs to its streaming network Sunday night with TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, the final pay-per-view of a tumultuous year.

    The event came at a time of record low ratings and star power deficiencies, yet given the quality of the Superstars on the show, there was still reason to be optimistic that the show would deliver.

    Did it, though? And who emerged from the final event of 2018 with championship gold and momentum in their possession?

    Find out with this recap of Sunday's wild and chaotic extravaganza.

Cruiserweight Championship Match: Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Buddy Murphy defended the Cruiserweight Championship against Cedric Alexander in a rematch of their Super Show-Down bout to kick off Sunday's action.

    Murphy seized an opening and blasted Alexander with a knee as the challenger soared through the air. The champion grounded his opponent and delivered some elbows to keep him close.

    A superkick to a flying Murphy was not only payback for earlier in the match, but it also allowed the challenger to mount a comeback. A Michinoku Driver earned Alexander a two-count.

    Murphy answered with a sit-out powerbomb for his own two-count.

    Alexander delivered the Lumbar Check, but Murphy got his foot on the bottom rope to the shock and awe of the former titleholder.

    The Australian recovered, dropped Alexander on the turnbuckles and finished him moments later with Murphy's Law to secure a successful title defense.



    Murphy defeated Alexander






    It certainly feels like these two are incapable of having a bad match. Again, Alexander and Murphy tore the house down with a competitive, high-impact, fast-paced bout that may not have been wrestled in front of a huge crowd but did continue to demonstrate their excellence in any setting.

    Murphy winning was the right call given how early in his reign he is. It is now imperative for management to come through with a compelling opponent so his reign does not become an afterthought. Especially given how superb he has been since embracing his run on 205 Live.

Ladder Match: Elias vs. Bobby Lashley

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Early in the match, Lio Rush provided a distraction that prevented Elias from grabbing his guitar and allowed Bobby Lashley to gain the upper hand.

    A big belly-to-belly overhead onto the ladder not only sent pain shooting down the back of Elias but also allowed Lashley to firmly establish himself as the aggressor.

    Elias recovered, fought off Lashley and more interference from Rush, and retrieved his guitar for the win.

    After the match, Elias teased bashing his opponent with the guitar, but Rush jumped on his back, allowing Lashley to recover and flatten the Pittsburgh native.

    Rush delivered a frog splash, and Lashley blasted Elias with the guitar to regain some heat.



    Elias defeated Lashley






    Take two guys unfamiliar with and uncomfortable in a Ladder match, throw them in and break the whole thing up with a commercial break, and you have a recipe for a crappy match that does neither any favors.

    Elias is barely able to build on the momentum his win should have given him because he has to bump for Rush and Lashley to get heat back on them. Lashley is the massive, jacked heel who could not win even with the assistance of a mouthpiece and has to resort to cheap shots to get a little revenge.

    Both guys look like losers, and any positivity that may have come from it was negated in short order, which is par for the course with the Raw brand of late.

Mixed Match Challenge: R-Truth and Carmella vs. Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox

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    Credit: WWE.com

    And so the WWE Mixed Match Challenge ended not with a bang, but a whimper.

    The winners of the match would earn the 30th entry into their respective Royal Rumbles and a paid vacation to anywhere in the world. Riveting.

    R-Truth and Jinder Mahal delivered some rough ring work early, including a series of roll-ups from the former.

    Carmella and Alicia Fox tagged in, and the babyfaces leveled the heels. A dance break broke out, and The Singh Brothers entered the fray. Truth dispatched them, but Fox capitalized on a distraction and delivered a flipping neckbreaker to The Princess from Staten Island.

    Carmella created separation and tagged her partner in.

    Truth unloaded on Mahal. Before he could build too much momentum, Fox tagged in and confronted Truth, exclaiming, "I'm the captain!" Fox tried to deliver the scissors kick to Truth but missed, and Carmella delivered a superkick for two.

    With Mahal dispatched of at ringside, Carmella applied the Code of Silence to score the win.



    Truth and Carmella defeated Fox and Mahal






    A few fun spots notwithstanding, this was messy and often disjointed.

    Michael Cole trying to make a big deal about Truth and Carmella earning the No. 30 spot in the Royal Rumble, when no one buys them as threats to win, is comical, but it at least puts the importance of the match over.

    Truth's post-match promo, in which he revealed they will take their vacation at WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, was harmless and silly.

    All things considered, the entire Mixed Match Challenge was very much like this match in that it was rarely pretty, often ridiculous and not at all relevant.

Triple Threat Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The New Day, The Usos and SmackDown tag team champions The Bar looked to settle their rivalry in a Triple Threat match Sunday night in San Jose, California.

    Sheamus and Kofi Kingston kicked off the match. The longtime veterans of the TLC pay-per-view battled back and forth, with each Superstar's partner breaking the referee's count and preserving the match. As the action broke down, Jey Uso tried a dive over the top rope, but Cesaro blasted him with a forearm.

    Back in the ring, Sheamus delivered the Irish Curse backbreaker to Xavier Woods.

    The Bar isolated the smaller member of The New Day, cutting the ring off and hoping to work him over en route to a victory.

    The pace picked up with the babyface comeback by Woods and a hot tag to Kingston. A Boom Drop fueled New Day's momentum, but a cross-body block by Jimmy Uso scored a near-fall. The Usos followed, delivering a pop-up Samoan Drop to Kingston that Woods broke up at the last second.

    Cesaro made a blind tag and trapped Kingston in the Sharpshooter. Kofi fought out and blasted the now-legal Sheamus with Trouble in Paradise. Woods followed with a big elbow drop from the top rope, but Jey Uso and Cesaro broke up the pin.

    Kingston scaled the ropes and delivered a falling senton to the Usos and Cesaro at ringside, and back in the ring, Sheamus blasted Woods with a Brogue Kick for the successful title defense.



    The Bar defeated The New Day and The Usos






    Given the talent involved and how many times they have worked with each other, this was somewhat disappointing. Maybe it was too much of a "been here, seen this" feeling, or maybe the layout of the match was not up to par. Whatever the case, it felt like a match that never got out of third gear.

    With that said, all three teams worked hard, and some of the near-falls were spectacular.

    The finish came off as lackluster, but The Bar retaining was probably the right move. Hopefully, this gives way to the return to relevancy of Sanity, which has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for something meaningful to do.

Tables, Ladders & Chairs: Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin

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    Credit: WWE.com

    If Baron Corbin somehow managed to defeat Braun Strowman Sunday night, he would remain in power as the permanent Raw general manager. If not, he would be removed from power.

    The crowd greeted him with a chorus of boos, and Corbin fed on it, telling the fans he would remain in power after Heath Slater made the 10-count and Strowman forfeited the match.

    Strowman appeared and reminded Corbin it is perfectly legal for someone tired of crappy general managers to help him. Apollo Crews appeared at ringside, as did new Raw tag team champions Bobby Roode and Chad Gable. Finn Balor had a steel chair in his hand as he forced the acting GM back into the ring.

    Referee Slater removed his shirt and blasted Corbin. The babyfaces took turns teeing off on The Lone Wolf, leaving him to head up the ramp. Before he could escape, Kurt Angle appeared and chased him back into the squared circle with chair shots, where the babyfaces delivered their signature moves.

    After a Coup de Grace from Balor, Slater put his referee's shirt back on and counted the fall.



    Strowman defeated Corbin






    Sometimes, fans deserve a proper payoff for their patience. After weeks of watching Corbin run roughshod over the Raw roster in below-average creative, they got to see the heel general manager written off in grand fashion here.

    Every Superstar not named Dolph Ziggler who was wronged by Corbin in the lead-in to TLC was instrumental in his dismissal from power. That is the definitive exclamation point on this match that it should have been. For that, WWE Creative deserves credit.

    Whether it would have gone quite that way without the sagging television ratings and fan backlash remains to be seen, but for now, fans tired of the lackluster television can rest peacefully knowing Raw will have a new direction beginning Monday.

Tables Match: Natalya vs. Ruby Riott

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Natalya approached Sunday's Tables match against Ruby Riott with emotions running wild following The Riott Squad's disrespect of her late father, Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart.

    That emotion was used against her early, but The Queen of Harts recovered nicely and sent Liv Morgan crashing off the ring apron and through a table.

    Her friend being tended to at ringside, Riott was forced to return her attention to Natalya. The third-generation graduate of the Hart Family Dungeon delivered a big German suplex and reminded Riott, "You don't mess with my family." She tried for a powerbomb through the table, but Riott escaped.

    Sarah Logan was not quite as lucky, eating a big bodyslam through the table. That evened the odds in the favor of the former women's champion.

    Riott shoved Natalya face-first into the table adorned with the picture of her father, telling her, "Your father is ashamed of you."

    Natalya fought back and applied the Sharpshooter, but Riott crawled to the corner, grabbed the table with Anvil's photo on it and sent it crashing across her opponent's back, breaking the hold.

    The action continued, and Natalya retrieved a table with Riott's own picture on it. She also grabbed her father's jacket from under the ring and put it on, a tribute to the future Hall of Famer. Nattie positioned the table but ate a big superkick from Riott.

    The babyface fought back, positioned Riott on the table and scaled the ropes. Riott bought herself some time with a big kick and tried for a headscissors. Natalya countered and powerbombed her opponent through the table for the win.



    Natalya defeated Riott






    Natalya has been around for so long that it often feels like people forget how exceptionally talented she is as an in-ring competitor. Despite build that was at times tasteless, this was a fine match with some superb storytelling.

    Riott was excellent in her own right and again established herself as one of the future cornerstones of the women's division.

    This was Natalya's redemption story, though, and she relished the moment. Paying tribute to her father, she turned in one of her finest performances in nearly a year.

    On a night when Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey were likely to steal headlines, it was the quiet consistency of The Queen of Harts that had fans rooting her to victory in a match that was low-key but one of the better ones of the night to that point.

Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Finn Balor entered the arena to a pop far louder than one would expect for a guy the Raw writing team has diminished and beaten down with losses in high-profile matches. He stood across the ring from Drew McIntyre who attacked him backstage two weeks ago, initially calling Sunday's match into question.

    McIntyre mocked Balor as he attacked him, verbally berating him after stomping him. The bigger, stronger and more intense Scottish Psychopath chopped the Irishman and overwhelmed him early. A low dropkick to the knee, though, momentarily allowed Balor to create some separation.

    McIntyre fought through the knee pain to ground Balor and work his head and neck.

    Balor mounted a comeback, delivered a running chop and grounded McIntyre with a tornado DDT. He sent the former Chosen One to the floor and followed him out with a dive over the top and onto his opponent.

    "You're nothing to me," a recovered McIntyre proclaimed. Balor answered with a series of kicks and a roll-up for two. With the Scot down, Balor scaled the ropes for a Coup de Grace. McIntyre met him up top, though, and crotched him on the turnbuckle.

    McIntyre brought Balor off the middle rope with White Noise but could only score a two.

    Balor fought McIntyre to the ring apron, trapping him in it. As he took off for a running kick, though, the Scot dropped him face-first and took control of the bout. At ringside, Dolph Ziggler appeared and delivered a superkick. As he grabbed a chair, McIntyre booted it back in his face.

    In the squared circle, Balor delivered a dropkick to the chair, sending it into his opponent. A Coup de Grace finished McIntyre off in a big upset.



    Balor defeated McIntyre






    This was a good match that probably would have been even better with a few seconds shaved off.

    McIntyre looked like a world-beater, even overcoming Ziggler's interference, only to fall to an opportunistic Balor.

    Nothing will change regarding McIntyre's push, with the exception of the continuation of his ongoing rivalry with Ziggler, which is clearly not over.

    Balor built some momentum with this win, which he desperately needed. Hopefully, WWE resists the urge to give McIntyre his win back Monday night on Raw because this was perfect execution.

Chairs Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The rivalry between Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton, born at Crown Jewel in November, culminated Sunday in a Chairs match.

    Orton took the fight to Mysterio right off the bat, but the future Hall of Famer withstood and retaliated. That is until a missed dive in the corner led to The Viper blasting him with a chair across the back.

    The Master of the 619 recovered and delivered a sliding splash to the arena floor, using a chair to cash into the midsection of his opponent.

    An attempt at the seated senton by Mysterio off the apron missed, and he landed lower body-first on a chair.

    Orton seized the opportunity and beat Mysterio down. He sent his reeling rival into the ring and tried for a pinfall, but the greatest underdog in WWE history kicked out at two. The Viper tried to send Mysterio face-first into a chair in the corner, but the popular competitor escaped and delivered a headscissors into the chair.

    Orton answered with a snap powerslam for two.

    Mysterio escaped a draping DDT attempt and tried for 619. Orton dumped him over the top rope, but Rey delivered a big kick to ground his opponent. A top-rope dive, though, was greeted with a chair to the gut by the third-generation star.

    Mysterio finally executed the 619, but Orton cut off any further attempt at a sustained comeback, dropping him face-first on a chair.

    Rey would send Orton face-first into a steel chair and score a fluke roll-up for the win.



    Mysterio defeated Orton






    This was perfectly acceptable wrestling from two old pros who know how to have a good match and have had several with each other over the years.

    The spots were calculated and safe, and the finish was clever without overusing finishers.

    Mysterio going over was a surprise given the steady momentum Orton has been building as a heel. It suggests the program is not over, and given the prospects for them elsewhere on the SmackDown card, that is not a bad thing.

Raw Women's Championship Match: Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Ronda Rousey's dominance over the Raw women's division faced its toughest test Sunday night, as The Baddest Woman on the Planet battled Nia Jax in a Raw Women's Championship clash.

    Jax was accompanied to the squared circle by Tamina Snuka, creating an intimidating atmosphere for the champion.

    Rousey frustrated The Irresistible Force early, ducking, dodging and jabbing away at the challenge. She tried for a kick, and Jax caught her leg. The challenger reminded her opponent of the face-breaking right hand.

    The former UFC star rolled through for an armbar, but Jax powered out and slammed her down in a sit-out powerbomb.

    Jax worked over Rousey, wrapping her shoulder around the post as Michael Cole reminded fans that the champion cannot use her armbar as effectively without full use of her arm.

    Rousey finally escaped the grasp of her opponent, trapping her in a sleeper. She rolled through again and looked for that armbar, but Jax made it to the ropes. The Irresistible Force rolled to the floor, taking the champion with her, and slung her into the guardrail.

    Rowdy scaled the ropes and flew off with a cross-body block to the floor, wiping Jax out. It only netted her a two-count, though, as her opponent powered out. Rousey unloaded with rights and lefts and a big step-up knee. She followed with a hard right hand for two.

    Rousey delivered another cross-body, but Jax rolled through and delivered a big Samoan Drop for a two-count that left the challenger in disbelief.

    With the champion on her shoulders, Jax scaled the ropes for a Samoan Drop. Rousey fought out and delivered a sunset flip powerbomb for another near-fall.

    Rousey tried for the armbar, but Tamina provided interference. Jax tried for her Face Breaker, but Rowdy caught her arm and applied the armbar. Jax tapped out instantly.



    Rousey defeated Jax






    It is still incredibly early in Rousey's career, but she is already earning the reputation as one of the best big-match performers in professional wrestling. When there is a pay-per-view and the lights are on bright, she delivers.

    This was no different.

    Rousey sold like hell for Jax, making her look like the unstoppable monster she was meant to be and exploding with her comeback when the time called for it. She looked like a seasoned pro, hitting all of her timing marks and picking up another extraordinary victory in what has been one of the best rookie years in the history of sports entertainment.

    Jax was good here, too, wearing Rousey down and working a strong and believable style.

    She lost the most of anyone in defeat Sunday night, as the tapout took away some of her killer aura. Luckily, a bit of strong booking on Raw should help her recover. If WWE officials have that in mind.

WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The rivalry between AJ Styles and The New Daniel Bryan escalated Sunday night, as The Phenomenal One battled the WWE champion in his contractually obligated rematch.

    Yes, the ring announcer actually referred to the champion as "The New Daniel Bryan."

    Just as he did early in the match with Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series, Bryan frustrated Styles by stalling at ringside, unwilling to lock up with his opponent on his time.

    A frustrated Styles took the fight to him, delivering a dropkick and sending the champion to the floor. Bryan recovered, though, and began targeting the midsection of his opponent with a series of hard kicks to the ribs. He continued his cerebral, concentrated attack for a few minutes, trying to drive the air out of his challenger.

    Bryan cut off every attempt at a comeback until a big clothesline from Styles turned him inside out.

    Styles pounded away at Bryan, using hard rights to the face and body. He took the fight to the floor, slamming The Beard's face into the steel steps. Back inside, the champion begged off, to which The Phenomenal One responded with a fireman's carry backbreaker for a two-count.

    Knee strikes to the face of Styles and a big suplex allowed Bryan to regain momentum. The Yes! Kicks to the body of his opponent were met with chants of "No!" by the fans, but that did not stop the champion from blasting him with a kick to the side of the face.

    Styles delivered a dragon screw leg whip, leaving the champion writhing in pain. Bryan cut off the onslaught directed at his knee and tried for a headscissors off the top. The Phenomenal One rolled through and tried for the Styles Clash.

    Styles applied an ugly half-crab in an attempt to force a tapout.

    Bryan escaped and applied the LeBell Lock, renamed following the heel turn. Styles countered into a roll-up.

    The Superstars traded strikes, with exhaustion setting in.

    Styles delivered the springboard 450 splash but immediately went to nursing the ribs that had been so beaten down and punished earlier in the bout. The challenger followed up moments later with a Calf Crusher that left Bryan screaming in pain. The champion, though, rolled toward the ropes and broke the hold.

    Styles tried for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Bryan dodged it. The champion tried for a running knee, but his opponent evaded it. A small package was countered, and Bryan retained his title.



    Bryan defeated Styles






    This was a fine match. It was smartly wrestled with a finish that protected both Superstars and established Bryan as a wrestler who does not need cheap low blows to retain his gold.

    With that said, it still feels like there is an all-timer to be had between these two.

    They are too good and too talented not to deliver a legitimate Match of the Year candidate that leaves fans buzzing. They have not hit that point in their program yet. They have had several strong matches that demonstrate their chemistry between the ropes, but they have yet to have that jaw-dropping bout fans expect from two all-time greats.

    Hopefully, the finish creates the opportunity for them to go out at the Royal Rumble and have the quality match both they and the WWE Universe deserve.

    With all that said, it was nice to have a heel win a high-profile title match cleanly in the center of the ring.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Two months after Dean Ambrose betrayed Seth Rollins in a shock Raw moment, The Lunatic Fringe challenged The Architect in the penultimate match of TLC.

    Chants of "burn it down" spilled from the stands as the Superstars circled each other.

    The competitors wasted little time taking the fight to the floor, where Ambrose slammed Rollins face-first into the commentary table. Cutting a slow, steady and methodical pace, he took the fight to the champion. He grounded him and worked the head and neck. A big Irish whip into the corner was followed up with a nasty clothesline by the heel for a count of two.

    Everything Rollins attempted, Ambrose had an answer for.

    A series of near-falls led to frustration mounting in Ambrose, who confronted the official. He mocked and belittled the IC champion, patting his face and taunting him.

    Rollins momentarily mounted a comeback, but Ambrose cut him off and applied a cloverleaf submission.

    The Kingslayer finally delivered a Sling Blade, followed by a blockbuster. Unfortunately, his knee slowed him down. He continued to fight through it, but a sunset flip powerbomb went particularly badly as Rollins' knee collapsed on him.

    He fought through and delivered a buckle bomb, but he was clearly struggling.

    The Superstars traded strikes before a double cross-body block left both men reeling.

    Late, Ambrose began talking to himself, with the frustration setting in. Rollins capitalized on an opening and delivered the ripcord knee to the face. He went up top for a frog splash, but The Lunatic Fringe got his knees up and rolled the champion up for two.

    With Ambrose perched on the top rope, Rollins ran the ropes and delivered a superplex, following up with the Falcon Arrow for two. Of course, he no-sold the knee during the move and only tended to it after the fact, but who's counting?

    As Rollins took the fight to Ambrose, the latter extended his fist in The Shield's first bump. The Architect responded after a brief hesitation with a kick. He told Ambrose he didn't want this to be this way and then said this was for Roman Reigns. He slapped The Lunatic and went for the Stomp.

    Ambrose delivered Dirty Deeds from out of nowhere and pinned Rollins to win the title.



    Ambrose defeated Rollins






    There will be a natural inclination to defend Rollins and Ambrose out of some blind loyalty or the fact that the former delivered some of the best performances of 2018, but this was not a good wrestling match—at all.

    It was slow, overly long and relied far too heavily on storyline drama rather than letting the Superstars go out and deliver the type of wrestling match they are more than capable of.

    The crowd reacted in kind, greeting it with "boring" and "Becky" chants throughout.

    The timing was weird, the action was far too stop-and-start for fans to really get into it, and the result was a lackluster bout that did nothing to create any real excitement for the storyline going forward.

    Like so many of their matches in the past, Ambrose vs. Rollins fell flat when the lights were brightest rather than delivering that jaw-dropper so many expect. Perhaps at this point, after so many disappointing outings, it is time to expect just plain good out of them rather than the extraordinary.

    No one would be more happily wrong than this writer if they finally meet expectations.

TLC Match for the SmackDown Women's Championship

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The indisputable star power of Becky Lynch and the intensity of her rivalry with Charlotte Flair, mixed with the wild card of Asuka, led to the women of SmackDown Live headlining Sunday's pay-per-view in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match for the brand's women's championship.

    Flair and Lynch talked trash to start, but Asuka initiated the action.

    The first big bump of the match came when Asuka slammed the champion off the top rope and onto a ladder, leaving The Man writhing in pain. The Empress of Tomorrow continued her dominant run, delivering a powerbomb to Charlotte off a ladder and through a table.

    Lynch prevented Asuka from retrieving the title. Moments later, with those women on the floor, Flair climbed the ropes and delivered a moonsault to the floor, wiping both opponents out.

    The Irish Lass Kicker recovered and blasted her opponents with steel chairs until Flair sent her into the guardrail.

    Lynch recovered and set up both a table and a ladder. She positioned both of her challengers on the German announce table and climbed the ladder. She launched herself off with a double leg drop, but Asuka moved, leaving The Man to drive her weight into Flair.

    Lynch and Asuka fought up a ladder, each jockeying to retrieve the women's title. The Queen reappeared and delivered several shots about the bodies of her opposition with a kendo stick, wielding it in a way that would make The Sandman smile.

    Kicking Asuka out of the ring, Flair turned her attention to the ladder. One last shot to The Empress dropped her back to the floor. Several more left her screaming in pain. Lynch reintroduced herself and delivered a Bexploder to The Queen and into a table propped against the guardrail.

    Asuka, sick of being the punching bag, unloaded on Lynch with the same kendo stick. Flair halted her fury with a spear through the timekeeper's position.

    Back inside the squared circle, Lynch tried to grab her title, but Flair cut her off. The friends-turned-enemies faced off, exchanging hard rights before an all-out brawl broke out.

    Flair positioned Lynch on a table at ringside, saying, "The Man always bows down to The Queen." She launched herself off the ropes with a senton, driving The Lass Kicker through the table.

    Flair scaled the ladder and was inches away from winning the title when Asuka appeared. She fought The Queen off, with the women exchanging blows. Lynch reappeared, grabbed a ladder and set it up alongside Flair and Asuka. With The Empress down, The Man paired off with her rival.

    Ronda Rousey appeared, knocked both Flair and Lynch off the ladders and walked to the back, drawing a chorus of boos from fans.

    In the ring, Asuka scaled the ladder and grabbed the title for the win.



    Asuka defeated Flair and Lynch to win the title






    The final pay-per-view of 2018 brings with it another Match of the Year candidate featuring Lynch and Flair.

    This one may have been the best of the year, though.

    What a violent, brutal and intense battle between three women seeking championship gold. Lynch and Flair continued their rivalry, but Asuka refused to be overlooked, as she had been for the majority of the year. She was the buzzsaw fans fondly remember from her days in NXT, a relentless force who took tremendous punishment but fought through it to stick around by the end of the match.

    Rousey interfering made perfect sense within the context of her story with Lynch and Flair and was teased earlier in the night.

    There will be some who criticize WWE for taking the title off Lynch, but to get her on to Rousey, she needs to be on the Raw brand. With Vince McMahon's "Shake-up" coming Monday night and the overwhelming popularity of The Lass Kicker right now, expect her to be a permanent fixture on the flagship show as WWE embarks on the Road to WrestleMania.

    Flair's work in the match cannot be understated. She was brilliant, taking big bumps and probably suffering some internal injuries following the leg drop off the ladder. Yet she fired up when necessary, fought through the pain and was integral to the overall success of the match.

    On a night when there was some question about whether WWE would give the women the main event slot, they took the opportunity and ran with it, delivering an all-timer in the annals of TLC matches.