TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs was a professional wrestling pay-per-view event and WWE Network event produced by WWE for their Raw, SmackDown, and 205 Live brands. It took place on December 16, 2018, at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. It was the tenth event promoted under the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs chronology and the first since 2010s TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs to be dual-branded.
Twelve matches were contested at the event, including two on the Kickoff pre-show. In the main event, Asuka defeated Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in the first womens triple threat Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match to capture her first SmackDown Womens Championship, which was also the first time the title was contested in the main event match of a pay-per-view. On the undercard, Dean Ambrose defeated Seth Rollins to win his third Intercontinental Championship, Daniel Bryan defeated AJ Styles to retain the WWE Championship, Ronda Rousey defeated Nia Jax to retain the Raw Womens Championship, and Braun Strowman defeated Acting Raw General Manager Baron Corbin in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match to earn a Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble and stripping Corbin of all authoritative power.
1.1. Production Background
TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs is an annual gimmick pay-per-view, generally produced every December by WWE since 2009. The concept of the show is based on the primary matches of the card each containing a stipulation using tables, ladders, and chairs as legal weapons, with the main event generally being a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. 2018 was the tenth event under the TLC chronology. Following WrestleMania 34 in April, all WWE pay-per-views ceased being brand exclusive, thus the 2018 event featured wrestlers from the Raw, SmackDown, and 205 Live brands. 2018 also featured the first-ever womens triple threat Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match.
1.2. Production Storylines
The card consisted of twelve matches, including two on the Kickoff pre-show. The matches resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed villains, heroes, or less distinguishable characters to build tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. Results were predetermined by WWEs writers on the Raw, SmackDown, and 205 Live brands, with storylines produced on their weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, and the cruiserweight-exclusive 205 Live.
On September 4, 2018, the finals of the 2nd Mixed Match Challenge were scheduled for TLC. On November 12, the winning team were reserved the number 30 spot for both the mens and womens Royal Rumble matches at the Royal Rumble. On December 11, the final two teams were determined to be Mahalicia Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox and Fabulous Truth R-Truth and Carmella.
On the October 22 episode of Raw, after Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose captured the Raw Tag Team Championship from Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, Ambrose suddenly attacked Rollins, turning heel. Two weeks later on Raw, Ambrose attacked Rollins again, after the latter lost the titles in a handicap match against AOP Akam and Rezar. The following week, Ambrose burned his Shield gear and explained that being part of the group had made him weak. Rollins was scheduled to defend the Intercontinental Championship against Ambrose at TLC.
On the Raw prior to Survivor Series, Braun Strowman demanded to have another Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar as well as a match against Acting Raw General Manager Baron Corbin, who had cost Strowman his Universal title match at Crown Jewel, and get to choose the stipulation for both. Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon agreed under the condition that Strowman would help Raw to victory over SmackDown at Survivor Series, and that he would not touch Corbin until after the event. Stephanie also said that if Raw was successful in the interpromotional matches on the main card at Survivor Series, she would consider making Corbin the permanent Raw General Manager. Raw indeed won all interpromotional matches on the main card, with Strowman scoring the final elimination in his respective match. The following night on Raw, Strowman was granted a match with Corbin at TLC and chose a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. Stephanie added the stipulation that if Strowman won, he would get his Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble and Corbin would be removed from authoritative power, but if Corbin won, Corbin would become the permanent Raw General Manager. On the same night, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre kayfabe crushed Strowmans elbow with the steel steps. Strowman required surgery, leaving his TLC match in limbo. The following week, Corbin said he would not cancel their match and would accept the win by forfeit.
At Evolution, Nia Jax won a 20-woman battle royal to earn an opportunity at the Raw Womens Championship. At Survivor Series, she was the sole survivor of the womens elimination match. The following night on Raw, Jaxs championship match against Raw Womens Champion Ronda Rousey was confirmed for TLC.
On the November 13 episode of SmackDown, Daniel Bryan defeated AJ Styles to win the WWE Championship after hitting Styles with a blow while the referee was down and continued to attack Styles after the match, thus turning heel. On the following SmackDown, Bryan explained his actions, stating that he was following his dreams and that the fans were not with him during his recovery to return to the ring, and christened himself the "new Daniel Bryan". A rematch between Styles and Bryan for the title was scheduled for TLC.
At Survivor Series, SmackDown Womens Champion Becky Lynch was originally scheduled to face Raw Womens Champion Ronda Rousey, but due to a legit broken nose and concussion sustained just days prior to the event, Lynch was replaced by Charlotte Flair, who was disqualified for brutally attacking her opponent. On the following SmackDown, Flair explained that she attacked Rousey for Lynch, but a week later, she said that she actually did it all for herself. When a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match between the two for the SmackDown Womens Championship was scheduled for TLC, the remaining eight women of the SmackDown roster took exception, demanding their chance at the championship. An ensuing eight-woman battle royal was won by Asuka, who was subsequently added to the TLC match, making it a triple threat TLC match for the title, also marking the first womens triple threat match contested under the stipulation.
At Survivor Series, Drew McIntyre and Finn Balor came to blows when tagging in to the mens elimination match, resulting in a confrontation between the two. Balor also made an enemy of Acting Raw General Manager Baron Corbin, who scheduled Balor to face McIntyre at TLC.
On the SmackDown 1000 episode on October 16, The Bar Cesaro and Sheamus defeated The New Day represented by Big E and Xavier Woods to win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship with help from Big Show. On the November 27 episode of SmackDown, The Usos Jimmy and Jey Uso defeated The Bar. On November 30, a triple threat tag team match between the three teams was scheduled for TLC.
On the December 3 episode of Raw, The Riott Squad came out and distracted Ronda Rousey and Natalya, after which, Nia Jax and Tamina attacked Ronda and Natalya. The Riott Squad then powerbombed Natalya off the ring apron through a table. On December 6, a tables match between Natalya and Riott was scheduled for TLC.
Following Rey Mysterios full-time return to the WWE, Randy Orton began attacking him after matches. A chairs match between the two was scheduled for TLC.
For several weeks, Elias and Bobby Lashley interrupted each others promos, often ending in a brawl between the two, also involving Lashleys manager Lio Rush. On November 30, a match between Elias and Lashley was scheduled for the TLC Kickoff pre-show. On the December 10 episode of Raw, it was revealed their match would be a ladder match with a guitar hanging above the ring.
At Super Show-Down, Buddy Murphy defeated Cedric Alexander to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. Murphy then successfully retained the title against Mustafa Ali at Survivor Series. On December 10, 205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick scheduled Alexanders contractual rematch for the TLC Kickoff pre-show.
2.1. Event Pre-show
During the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs Kickoff pre-show, two matches were contested. In the first match, Buddy Murphy defended the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Cedric Alexander. In the end, Murphy performed "Murphys Law" on Alexander to retain the title.
In the second match, Elias faced Bobby Lashley in a ladder match with a guitar hanging above the ring. In the climax, Elias won the match by ascending the ladder and retrieving the guitar. After the match, Lashley attacked Elias.
2.2. Event Preliminary matches
The actual pay-per-view opened with the finals of the second Mixed Match Challenge which saw Fabulous Truth R-Truth and Carmella face Mahalicia Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox. In the end, Carmella applied the "Code of Silence" on Fox forcing her to submit to win the match. With the win, Fabulous Truth won an all-expense-paid vacation to a destination of their choice - to Carmellas dismay, R-Truth chose WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut - as well as R-Truth and Carmella receiving the number 30 spot in the mens and womens Royal Rumble matches, respectively.
Next, The Bar Cesaro and Sheamus defended the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against The New Day Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, with Big E and The Usos Jimmy and Jey Uso in a triple threat tag team match. In the end, Sheamus hit Woods with a "Brogue Kick" for a pinfall to retain the title.
After that, Braun Strowman fought Baron Corbin in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. Heath Slater was appointed as referee by Corbin. Corbin made his entrance, ready to win by forfeit if Strowman did not answer the referees ten-count. Midway through the referees ten-count, Strowman made his entrance with his arm in a sling. Strowman stated that because it was a TLC match, that also meant that it was no disqualification, and if anyone wanted to assist him, they could. Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, and Finn Balor then appeared, each wielding chairs. Slater removed his referee shirt and attacked Corbin. Crews, Roode, Gable, and Balor then proceeded to attack Corbin. As Corbin tried to leave the arena, he was intercepted by former Raw General Manager Kurt Angle, who attacked Corbin with a chair. In the climax, Crews, Roode, Gable, Angle, and Balor performed their respective finishers on Corbin in the ring. Strowman then pinned Corbin for the win, earning a Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble and stripping Corbin of his authoritative power.
After that, Natalya faced Ruby Riott accompanied by Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan in a tables match. Midway through the match, as Natalya attempted to knock Riott off the apron and through a table, Morgan pushed Riott out of the way, thus crashing through the table herself. As Logan attempted to interfere, Natalya performed a body slam on her through another table. In the end, Natalya won the match by putting Riott through a table with a powerbomb from the top rope.
Next, Finn Balor fought Drew McIntyre. During the match, Dolph Ziggler emerged from the crowd and performed a superkick on McIntyre. Ziggler obtained a chair only for McIntyre to perform a Claymore kick on Ziggler. In the end, Balor capitalized on the distraction and performed a "Coup de Grace" on McIntyre to win the match.
After that, Rey Mysterio faced Randy Orton in a chairs match. Mysterio performed a hurricanrana on Orton to win the match.
In the following match, Ronda Rousey defended the Raw Womens Championship against Nia Jax. In the end, after an evenly contested match, Rousey forced Jax to submit with an armbar to retain the title. Backstage, Jax was then attacked by Becky Lynch as revenge for breaking her nose prior to Survivor Series. Rousey was later interviewed about renewing her rivalry with Charlotte Flair, commenting that "paybacks a bitch".
Next, Daniel Bryan defended the WWE Championship against AJ Styles. In the end, Bryan rolled up Styles for a pinfall victory.
In the penultimate match, Seth Rollins defended the Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose. In the climax, as Rollins attempted "The Stomp", Ambrose kicked Rollins and performed "Dirty Deeds" to win his third Intercontinental Championship.
2.3. Event Main event
In the main event, Becky Lynch defended the SmackDown Womens Championship against Charlotte Flair and Asuka in the first-ever womens triple threat Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match, which was also the first time that the championship was contested in the main event match of a pay-per-view. Early in the match, Asuka powerbombed Flair through a table. Outside the ring, Lynch positioned both Flair and Asuka on an broadcast table and performed a leg drop off a ladder. Asuka barely escaped while Flair took the bulk of the attack. Later, Flair performed a spear on Asuka through the barricade and then put Lynch through a table with a flip. Back in the ring, Flair climbed the ladder to grab the title, but was stopped by Asuka. Flair then set up another ladder. Asuka was knocked off the ladder, while Flair and Lynch continued to trade blows until Ronda Rousey appeared and knocked over the ladder, sending Flair and Lynch to the outside. In the end, Asuka seized the moment, ascended the ladder, and grabbed the title, thus winning her first SmackDown Womens Championship.
3.1. Aftermath Raw
The McMahon Family opened the following nights Raw, stating they would now be running both Raw and SmackDown as a unit with no general managers. Baron Corbin confronted the McMahons to have another chance to become the Raw General Manager. Triple H said that if he could defeat Kurt Angle with guest referee Heath Slater, then he could become the Raw General Manager. Mid-match, however, Triple H added Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, and Apollo Crews to make it a 4-on-1 handicap match that Corbin lost, definitively ruling him out of the position.
New Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose said he took the title from Seth Rollins, but would not stop there. He called out Rollins, who didnt show up, and then issued an open challenge for the title, which was answered by Tyler Breeze. After defeating Breeze, Ambrose was attacked by a member of his SWAT team, who revealed himself as Rollins.
Raw Womens Champion Ronda Rousey said she delivered what she promised in regard to her actions at TLC against Nia Jax, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch. Rousey then issued an open challenge. All the women wanted a shot, so Stephanie McMahon scheduled an eight-woman gauntlet match to determine Rouseys challenger for the following week, which was won by Natalya. Natalya, however, lost her championship match to Rousey.
After a backstage confrontation between Finn Balor and Dolph Ziggler at TLC, a match between the two on the following nights Raw ended in a no-contest after Drew McIntyre interfered and attacked both men. A triple threat match between the three was won by Balor the following week.
Bobby Lashley and Elias had a rematch on the December 24 episode of Raw in a Miracle on 34th Street Match, which was won by Elias.
3.2. Aftermath SmackDown
Becky Lynch addressed her loss, stating she wanted to face Ronda Rousey for costing her the SmackDown Womens Championship. Charlotte Flair interrupted, saying that Becky needed to stand in line and if it was not for Ronda Rousey, she would be an eight-time womens champion. New SmackDown Womens Champion Asuka then successfully defended the title against Naomi in an impromptu match. The following week, Lynch defeated Flair and Carmella in a triple threat match to earn a match against Asuka for the title at the Royal Rumble.
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan said he destroyed AJ Styles at TLC along with the Yes Movement. In a subsequent tag team match pitting Bryan and Andrade "Cien" Almas against Styles and Mustafa Ali who moved over from 205 Live, Bryan was pinned by Ali. The following week, Styles earned another title opportunity against Bryan at the Royal Rumble by winning a fatal five-way match.
3.3. Aftermath 205 Live
On the December 26 episode of 205 Live, General Manager Drake Maverick scheduled Buddy Murphy to defend the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at the Royal Rumble in a fatal four-way match with his opponents to be decided in qualifying matches.