Case study: One Night Stand 2008, Undertaker vs. Edge (TLC match for the vacated World Heavyweight Championship)
The bell rings and Edge ducks a clothesline from Undertaker. Undertaker, however, drops Edge with a big boot. Undertaker connects with punches, body blows, and headbutts to Edge. Undertaker Irish whips Edge and strikes Edge with a clothesline. Undertaker twists Edge’s right arm as he climbs the turnbuckle and walks on the top rope to deliver Old School. Undertaker follows it up by hitting Edge in the face with a running big boot. Undertaker leaves the ring to grab a ladder.
Analysis: Although this match is named TLC for a reason, I like how they spent about two minutes in the ring applying basic wrestling moves before a table, ladder, or chair came into play. The goal is to climb a ladder and retrieve the title hanging above the ring, but it’s best to weaken one’s opponent in order to do so without interruption. Undertaker laid out Edge and then went to the outside to find a ladder. It also makes for a more realistic approach, considering both men wish to inflict pain on one another rather than race to the finish line. The audience is not forced to wait for an unreasonable amount of time for a weapon to be introduced in the match to the point where they grow impatient, so Edge and Undertaker’s timing is just right.
The ladder smacks Undertaker in the face when Edge performs a baseball slide, bringing Undertaker down to his knees. Edge steps outside the ring and sets a table on top of another table by the entrance ramp. Edge walks towards Undertaker who attacks Edge with a ladder. Undertaker rams Edge’s face into the steel steps. Undertaker stacks two tables beside the two tables that Edge placed on top of one another. Undertaker lands on the steel steps face first after Edge catches him in a drop toehold. Edge sets up a ladder in the center of the ring and begins to climb it.
Analysis: It’s evident that a high spot is being foreshadowed with the placement of the four tables. Despite its predictability, Edge and Undertaker hype a forthcoming table spot in the early portion of the match in hopes of erasing it from the minds of the viewers as the match moves along. They also avoid wrestling around that area from this point on to prevent the camera from spotlighting the tables repeatedly. Of course those tables will inevitably break, but some fans may actually forget about them if other high spots are featured throughout the course of the match. Edge and Undertaker ensure they do.
Undertaker slides back into the ring and pulls Edge off the ladder. Undertaker folds the ladder and rests the ladder on the top turnbuckle. Undertaker attempts to go for Snake Eyes, but Edge slips out and shoves Undertaker directly into the ladder. Edge places a ladder on the opposite turnbuckle. Undertaker reverses an Irish whip from Edge and sends Edge crashing into the ladder. Undertaker momentarily leaves the ring to bring a third ladder into the ring. As Undertaker begins to climb, Edge recovers and meets Undertaker on the ladder. Undertaker throws him off and Edge goes flying into the ladder sitting atop the turnbuckle. Edge knocks Undertaker off the ladder as well and Undertaker bounces off the ladder resting on the opposite turnbuckle. Undertaker lifts Edge for Snake Eyes and drops him on a ladder. Edge falls to the outside after taking a big boot from Undertaker. Undertaker grabs a chair and drives it to Edge’s kidney and back. Undertaker positions Edge on the apron for his signature leg drop. As Undertaker goes for the leg drop, Edge grabs the chair and places it underneath Undertaker’s right leg causing Undertaker to go down in pain.
Analysis: Edge and Undertaker are showing a great deal of creativity in their use of the ladder. They are also working at a good pace and building up to the bigger spots. Prior to utilizing a chair, Undertaker and Edge focused on using only a ladder for the bulk of their offense. They have yet to use a table which is perfectly fine because they are maximizing their use of the ladder before transitioning to a table. Creativity is most valued in this type of match.
Edge bridges a ladder on the apron of the ring and the security wall. Undertaker attempts a Last Ride, but Edge counters with a low blow. Edge strikes Undertaker’s face with a pair of chair shots. Edge stands on the announce table after placing Undertaker on a table. Undertaker goes through the table when Edge delivers a splash off the announce table. Edge reenters the ring, sets up a ladder, and starts to climb. Undertaker rushes back into the ring to shove Edge off the ladder. Edge, however, lands on his feet and lays out Undertaker with a Spear. Edge sandwiches Undertaker’s right leg on the ladder. Edge delivers several chair shots to Undertaker’s right leg. Edge nails Undertaker across the head with chair shots as well. Edge tries to Con-chair-to Undertaker, but Undertaker low blows Edge.
Analysis: Chair shots to the head were not yet banned at this point. Edge targets Undertaker’s right leg which tells the story of Undertaker having to overcome a leg injury to win this match. In addition, an Undertaker loss seems more plausible since Undertaker is vulnerable. Undertaker’s low blow on Edge signified Undertaker’s payback on Edge for Edge’s low blow on Undertaker earlier in the match. There was meaning behind the low blow and the timing of it could not have been better.
Undertaker chokeslams Edge onto the bridged ladder on the outside. Undertaker appears to be on his way to victory when Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder (Edge’s henchmen) interfere and blindside the Undertaker. Hawkins and Ryder place a table on top of another in the ring. Undertaker fights back and chokeslams Hawkins and Ryder through separate tables on the outside. Meanwhile, Edge recovers and spears Undertaker. Undertaker, who was standing on the apron, leaps all the way into the barricade. Edge starts to climb to the top of the ladder when Undertaker rolls back into the ring and gives Edge a Last Ride through two tables.
Analysis: The Last Ride through two tables was a believable match ending spot. Of course, if one still remembers the four tables that were set outside the ring then obviously this match is far from over. Undertaker deserves credit for selling the leg injury very well. He used the ropes for leverage and hopped on the ladder to reach for Edge. The crowd is emotionally vested which is always a sign of a quality match.
Undertaker again looks to be on his way to victory when Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neely (members of La Familia and Edge’s allies) rush to the ring and assault the Undertaker. Guerrero and Neely miss on a Con-chair-to attempt on the Undertaker. Undertaker capitalizes and delivers chair shots to Guerrero and Neely. With Edge still motionless after taking the Last Ride through two tables, Undertaker seizes the opportunity and climbs the ladder. Edge suddenly rises and tilts the ladder, sending Undertaker crashing through four tables on the outside. Edge ascends to the top of the ladder and retrieves the title to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Analysis: An exciting finish filled with one high spot followed by another. Undertaker and Edge took their fair share of punishment and deserve to be recognized for their efforts. It’s rare to see a man of Undertaker’s size take such a hard fall through four tables.
Additional Comments: This match resembled everything that a singles TLC match should be. Both men put their bodies in harm’s way and worked hard to deliver a memorable performance. The live crowd could not have asked for more. Undertaker participated in his first TLC match and shined in defeat. Edge portrayed his role as an opportunistic heel perfectly by having four men aid him to victory.
Verdict: A terrific TLC match.
Final rating: *****
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Kevin Pinto- firstname.lastname@example.org
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