Earlier this year I proclaimed a match between Daniel Bryan and CM Punk at Over the Limit to be the best match of 2012 in WWE. I still stand by that proclamation, but now, only slightly. I can't say I'd have ever guessed a six-man TLC match featuring a hoss who some might call the modern day second coming of Goldberg to be one of the strongest offerings in a year of pro-wrestling, but expectations are to be defied and even better, "TLC 2012" emerges as one of the better minor pay-per-view events of the year; even with the original Main Event scrapped due to injury.
The event has its fair share of mediocrity, with the opening tag team bout between Team Rhodes Scholars and a combo of Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara tedious, even at less than ten minutes, being only slightly better than an equally long Intercontinental bout between Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett. Sadly, as usual, the time-filling Divas match is three-minutes best skipped over. However, that is the extend of pay-per-view matches that would be mediocre on TV.
Antonio Cesaro facing R-Truth is a short match, but both men give it 100%, with Cesaro showing why he's future main event material yet again. The penultimate match, a six-man tag of The Mix, Alberto Del Rio and The Brooklyn Brawler vs. 3MB is nothing technically accomplished, coming together at the last minute after a mid-event segment involving The Miz and 3MB, but the nostalgia factor and conclusion, all due to the inclusion of perennial jobber and hometown favorite, The Brooklyn Brawler will make the most jaded fan smile. However, the real goods come in three specific matches.
The Big Show and Sheamus lock up in a real brutal chairs match for the World Heavyweight Belt; it's every bit the definition of a brawl and the size of both men give the stakes a subtle enhancement. The conclusion manages to defy definition, capturing sheer brutality with a visual sight gag that will be remembered for a long time. Despite his age, Big Show can still entertain a crowd and will forever be a foreboding presence and Sheamus sells this convincingly while still establishing dominance. The other match between Dolph Ziggler and John Cena was thrown together following an injury by CM Punk; what should have been a ladder match for the WWE Title turns into a ladder match for Ziggler's Money in the Bank briefcase. Any knowledgeable fan knows the outcome beforehand and on paper the match has no meaning, but Ziggler and Cena entertain the crowd to the limit and justifiably Ziggler gains some further credibility in the process.
The highlight of the disc and easily the second best match of 2012, is the six-man TLC match between Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) with Ryback and The Shield (Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins). The Shield has been a much-needed boost to the WWE main event storyline and all three men bring down the house in their debut, showing a level of team cooperation we haven't seen in years. Their opponents are crowd pleasers and all get a chance to shine, even if the end result is The Shield going over, proving their dominance and place in the WWE. The match is just shy of 25-minutes, but it never drags, balancing some technical wrestling at times (mainly stuff involving Daniel Bryan) with team synergy and good old-fashioned brawling. There are some excitement inducing spots that make both sides come out looking great and the bottom line is, the fans got their moneys worth from this match alone; the rest of the very solid evening is sheer icing on the cake.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer sports brilliant, rich color reproduction of the event itself. Detail levels are not as strong as something sourced from a modern HD broadcast should be, possibly due to some minor compression artifacts that seems to be the standard for WWE DVD releases (it's much better than a few years back).
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio is a solid, albeit non-mind-blowing experience. Commentary is front and center, but never mixed to overpower the sounds of the arena, nor do the mics focused on the in-ring action feel off-balance. A few matches in, and the sound isn't as immersive as being live (simply due to the constant commentary), but there's nothing to detract from the experience. A Spanish 5.1 track is also included.
The lone extra is an interview with Dolph Ziggler conducted by Matt Striker.
I still wouldn't put it anywhere near Attitude Era levels of quality, but "TLC 2012" is one of the best minor pay-per-view events of last year. Even in the face of a replacement, meaningless (from the storyline) main event, there's something for everyone here and the balance of quality matches is greatly appreciated. Come for the big six-man tag and enjoy the rest while you're at it. Highly Recommended.