7 Most Defining Moments in TLC History
Human flight and demolition derbies of flesh and steel have made WWE's TLC matches one of the company's most compelling elements.
Since the first official TLC bout on Aug. 27, 2000, and even before that, wrestlers have used innovation and fearlessness to compose moments that changed wrestling's history. Which of these most shaped the future beyond them?
Fans will not be surprised to see both Jeff Hardy and Edge appear on the list as they are two of TLC's many fathers. Terry Funk and Shawn Michaels appear too, as the match's grandfather and great grandfathers are represented as well.
The following moments are ranked based on how well they answer the following questions.
How iconic are the images they created? How much did they impact Superstars' careers? How much did the moments contribute to the TLC lineage and history?
As dominant as John Cena has been over his career, it's hard to imagine categorizing one of his wins as an upset. When he hurled Edge through a set of tables at Unforgiven 2006, though, that's exactly what it was.
Edge was the king of the TLC match. He and Christian won the first two bouts in its history. "The Rated-R Superstar" also knocked off Ric Flair in the first-ever one-on-one TLC match.
Cena's Attitude Adjustment that dethroned Edge in his hometown is one of the most memorable and iconic images of any TLC match.
That alone earns it a mention. Knocking off Edge on his court, at his game, was big for Cena's career, establishing him as a powerful force. It doesn't, though, have the historical impact on TLC matches as the moments ranked above it.
CM Punk's surprise escape comes to mind when compiling TLC's most exciting moments, but it's not nearly as iconic as the ones composed in the match's earliest years.
The win allowed Punk to continue what would be a historic reign as WWE titleholder.
Careers and the TLC match were more affected by the moments above it, though.
7. The Shield Debut
Flirting with a five-star rating in your first WWE match is a rare feat.
That's what The Shield did at TLC 2012 in a match that began the trio's career in blistering fashion. The greater Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose become, the more this stunning first bout will mean.
Despite the crashes, falls and spears that this contest offered, there isn't a singular moment that one can truly call iconic.
That has this slide down to the seventh spot as the list, as does the fact that this wasn't as much of a pioneering effort as what the TLC's first warriors pulled off. Ambrose and Rollins suplexing Bryan off a table was innovative, but not as memorable as what ranks higher here.
6. Bubba Dudley Sent Through 4 Tables
SummerSlam 2000 was the official birthplace of the TLC match.
The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian's display of insanity that was their match at WrestleMania 2000 was officially a Triangle Ladders match. At SummerSlam, Bubba Dudley took a trip that would be mimicked again and again.
Famous for putting their opponents through tables, it's a painful bit of irony that Dudley would end up on the receiving end of this memorable image.
The match as a whole furthered the momentum that those teams created at that year's WrestleMania and would build upon the next year. The crash through a mass of tables went on to become a staple of TLC bouts including the ending to the aforementioned John Cena vs. Edge match.
Its contribution to TLC as well as its somewhat iconic nature pushes it ahead of The Shield's big moment.
5. Terry Funk Piledrives Ric Flair
Over a decade before the first TLC match, Terry Funk introduced the world to the possibility of a table being a weapon.
Randy Savage first used the piledriver as a means to split a table in half, but Funk's moment came on a bigger stage. Ric Flair had just defeated Ricky Steamboat for the world title at Wrestle War 1989. Funk felt dismissed by the new champ and so sent him head first into a table.
This moment lives on, long past when Funk struck the blow.
It launched one of the best feuds in wrestling history and laid the initial groundwork for tables to become incorporated into wrestlers' arsenals. As famous as it is, you won't see this piledriver in as many highlight clips and compilations as the moments ranked above it, though.
4. Shawn Michaels Dives from Ladder
Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X wasn't the first TLC match, or even the first ladder match, in WWE history. It popularized the ladder match, however, more than any bout before it.
Of the many jaw-dropping moments from that night, Michaels leaping from the ladder onto Ramon is the one most clear in most fans' heads. It is the image WWE chose to include in its intro video package for years.
That leap is tame compared to what fans are used to today, but it certainly inspired the likes of The Dudley Boyz, The Hardy Boyz and Edge and Christian years later.
The moment also established Michaels as "Mr. WrestleMania." His reputation for stealing the show at the premiere event began here. Only moments with more immediate and direct impact on the TLC lineage find themselves higher than this.
3. Edge and Christian Win Tag Team Titles
Edge and Christian stood atop a table that strode across two ladders and collected the tag team championships. The moment capped a wild match that made both the winners and the losers famous.
This clash at WrestleMania 2000 wasn't called a TLC match, but the bent ladders, clanging chairs and splintered tables provided the genesis for those matches.
The ending saw two rising stars capture gold and soon develop a reputation for a mastery in all things ladders. The team would win the first and second TLC matches in history, Edge would win the first one-on-one version and compete in six of the first seven TLC bouts.
The only thing dropping this triumphant moment out of the top two spots is a pair of moments that have created even more enduring images.
2. Jeff Hardy's Sacrifice
Jeff Hardy dove from at least 20 feet in the air and crashed onto a pile of his enemies. He did a similar spot in the TLC match at SummerSlam 2000, but this is the one that people tend to remember most.
The fact that it was at WrestleMania certainly helps in that regard. It came during a bout where the audience was expecting Hardy and his brother, The Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian to top their previous daredevil-inspired work.
Hardy sacrificing his body here for the sake of his team and for the sake of our entertainment spoke to a trait that now defines him—fearlessness. That spot is one of many that set the standard for drama and violence in these matches.
It was a move that Hardy was the victim of that beats this out in terms of being iconic.
1. Edge's Famous Spear
Edge spearing Jeff Hardy from high above the ring is to TLC what Undertaker throwing Mick Foley off the cell is to Hell in a Cell.
The WrestleMania X-Seven shocker is both the most iconic image from the match's history and the spot from its history that simply won't be topped. Edge and his opponents were looking to top their work from SummerSlam 2000, No Mercy 19 and the previous WrestleMania.
He and Hardy created a collision that set the bar for TLC danger impossibly high, a moment that WWE has listed as TLC's greatest.
It helped cement Edge's status as WWE's version of Evel Knievel and led to him being one of the most popular Superstars of his generation.
One has to give this spear maximum points in terms of being iconic and high marks for both elevating Edge's career and pushing the TLC match forward.