WWE TLC 2013: Best Event Cards in PPV History
The most effective pay-per-view cards blend quality main events, exciting gimmick bouts, championship showdowns and interesting stories to create a show fans feel the need to hand over their hard-earned money to see.
While the card for the 2013 edition of the TLC event has not been finalized, the show has a reputation for giving young talent the opportunity to shine while surrounding them with just enough established veterans to ensure that the show does not fail to present a reason for the casual fanbase to order the show as well.
With one of the biggest matches in event history on the horizon featuring the unification of championships and two handicap matches destined to further two of the more interesting feuds currently on WWE programming, the 2013 edition has a very solid foundation thus far.
How it ultimately measures up to the TLC cards of years past remains to be seen.
In anticipation of the December 15 show, which emanates from the Toyota Center in Houston, here is a look back at the best cards in event history, ranked based solely on their appearance on paper and without regard for their actual quality in review.
4. TLC 2011
TLC Match for the WWE Title: CM Punk vs. The Miz vs. Alberto Del Rio
Intercontinental Title Match: Booker T vs. Cody Rhodes
Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Title: Big Show vs. Mark Henry
Sheamus vs. Jack Swagger
Sledgehammer Ladder Match: Triple H vs. Kevin Nash
Divas Title Match: Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix
Tables Match: Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett
WWE Tag Team Title Match: Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne vs. Epico and Primo
United States Title Match: Zack Ryder vs. Dolph Ziggler
In the year 2011, the last thing any fan wanted to see on a card was "Triple H versus Kevin Nash in a Sledgehammer Ladder match."
After all, each Superstar had as much chance to tear a quadriceps muscle as they did successfully climbing a ladder and retrieving a sledgehammer hung high overhead.
The night's main event had all the signs of a very good match if one looks strictly at those involved. However, in terms of suspense, very few thought that Miz or Del Rio posed any real thought to Punk, who was the centerpiece of the show. That hurt the ability to sell the event on his match alone.
Big Show and Mark Henry had delivered surprisingly solid matches leading up to the show, but there were questions as to whether they could maintain the quality of the bouts, and neither were good enough performers to consistently change up their offenses and spots to ensure a fresh or different match each time.
Despite the disappointing main events, there were several matches that had a ton of potential to be really fun.
Zack Ryder was as hot as any Superstar heading into the show, and his match against Dolph Ziggler for the U.S. title, built up to via Twitter and YouTube, had become one of the most anticipated bouts on the card.
Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne had enjoyed becoming a fast, energetic tag team in the same vein as The Rockers, and their scheduled title defense against Epico and Primo had the makings of a solid midcard contest.
Unfortunately, 2011 lacked the one must-see match that really sells a card to the audience and as a result, it had a more pedestrian and lethargic feel to it, despite the number of gimmick matches that lined its card and the extremely popular Punk, who was given his first opportunity to carry a show on his back.
3. TLC 2010
Chairs Match: John Cena vs. Wade Barrett
TLC Match for the World Heavyweight Title: Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kane vs. Alberto Del Rio
Tables Match for the WWE Title: Randy Orton vs. The Miz
No. 1 Contender Ladder Match: John Morrison vs. Sheamus
WWE Tag Team Title Match: Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov vs. Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater
Tables Match: Natalya and Beth Phoenix vs. Michelle McCool and Layla
Triple Threat Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title: Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger vs. Dolph Ziggler
Like its predecessor a year earlier, the 2010 card does a very good job of putting young, up-and-coming talent in key spots.
Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater were still very green but were part of the hottest angle in wrestling. Barrett, the leader of the invading rookies known as Nexus, had rapidly become a top star in WWE, and his feud with John Cena dominated the second half of 2010.
The Miz was fresh of his WWE Championship win the night after Survivor Series and a rematch against former champion Randy Orton made sense, though given Miz's TLC match against Jerry Lawler a few weeks earlier, it may have been better to use that gimmick match in this situation rather than the Kane-Edge-Mysterio-Del Rio match later.
The one match that instantly catches the eye, even more than the matches further up the card, is the triple threat ladder match for the Intercontinental title between Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger.
All three are immensely talented individuals and the thought of Ziggler and Kingston, both established ladder match competitors, throwing caution out of the window with big bumps and high spots while Swagger destroyed them both with his high-impact offense and spectacular mat wrestling ability, is intriguing.
Unfortunately, the 2010 suffers from a decided lack of star power.
As was the norm, Cena and Orton held down key spots on the card while Superstars such as the aforementioned Ziggler, Swagger, Kingston and former World Heavyweight champions such as Edge and Rey Mysterio were expected to bring workrate in the show's signature Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.
The integration of young, budding stars with established veterans works sometimes, but there were still questions about whether Barrett and Miz were ready for the positions they were put in, and there was great doubt as to whether John Morrison, who took on Sheamus in a No. 1 Contender's Ladder match, was ever going to mature into the star the company wanted him to be.
A solid card but one with one too many questions surrounding it.
2. TLC 2012
Ladder Match for the Money in the Bank Briefcase: John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
The Miz, Alberto Del Rio and the Brooklyn Brawler vs. 3MB
Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Title: Sheamus vs. Big Show
Divas Title Match: Naomi vs. Eve
Tables, Ladders and Chairs match: Ryback, Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield
Intercontinental Title Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett
United States Title Match: R-Truth vs. Antonio Cesaro
No. 1 Contender Tables Match: Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow
The 2012 TLC card was thrown into disarray when it became known that WWE champion CM Punk would be unable to compete due to a knee injury.
That allowed newcomers The Shield to secure a spot on the card in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match against Tag champions Kane and Daniel Bryan and the surging Ryback. With no previous performance to judge them by, there was a lot of interest in the members of The Shield and how they would perform having been thrust into such a high-profile match.
The Sheamus-Big Show Chairs match was the latest in a series of matches between the Superstars that had stunned audiences with their quality. Few could have expected that the Celtic Warrior and the World's Largest Athlete would have had the kind of chemistry they did, but their Hell in a Cell title match was an outstanding Match of the Year candidate while their rematch a month later at Survivor Series was also strong.
Many wondered if they could make it three-for-three in terms of great pay-per-view matches.
The story surrounding John Cena and Dolph Ziggler, involving AJ Lee's relationship with Cena, had taken what could have been a rather pedestrian Cena-Ziggler feud and injected it with intrigue.
Was AJ having an affair with Cena? Would she get involved in the big ladder match main event? How would Vickie Guerrero, the instigator of the rivalry and generally a thorn in AJ's side, play into the match?
The writing had been strong to that point and many wanted to see how it would play out.
What the card lacked in star power, the creative team did a fairly good job in making up for with interesting stories at the top.
1. TLC 2009
TLC Match for the Unified Tag Team Titles: D-Generation X vs. Jeri-Show
Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton
Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Title: The Undertaker vs. Batista
Tables Match for the WWE Title: John Cena vs. Sheamus
Women's Title Match: Mickie James vs. Michelle McCool
Intercontinental Title Match: John Morrison vs. Drew McIntyre
Ladder Match for the ECW Title: Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin
The inaugural TLC pay-per-view, which took place December 13, 2009 and emanated from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, featured six championship matches.
The Undertaker versus Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship in a Chairs match was a bout that, on paper, could have main-evented WrestleMania. The two had a long history together and had been in some of the hardest-hitting, highest-impact matches of the last 10 years.
The additions of John Cena, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Big Show and Chris Jericho significantly strengthened the star-studded card.
What the 2009 show did extremely well was put young, up-and-coming stars in position to leave an impression on the audience.
Shelton Benjamin had received opportunity after opportunity to prove himself as one of the stars of the future. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he was never able to capitalize on those opportunities. His athletic ability and natural skills, however, earned him another shot to steal the show against one of the great ladder match competitors in Christian.
Drew McIntyre had been dubbed the "Chosen One" by Vince McMahon in the weeks and months heading into TLC, and he would receive his first shot at championship gold when he challenged John Morrison for the Intercontinental Championship.
Sheamus, an Irish-born Superstar with a unique look, was given his first opportunity at the WWE title in a Tables match against John Cena. It was a huge step for the relative newcomer, and there was a lot of intrigue surrounding the match and questions as to whether or not he was ready for the spotlight that came with it.
All in all, a solidly built card, even if the thoughts of Big Show in a Ladder match are a bit scary.