The WWE Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view takes place this Sunday night on WWE Network, which means it’s a good time to talk about some WWE TLC history. That’s why I’m here to guide you through the best WWE TLC matches ever.
Here’s some quick WWE TLC history:
– The first TLC match took place at SummerSlam 2000 when Commissioner Mick Foley put the Dudley Boyz (team that loved the tables), Hardy Boyz (team that loved the ladders) and Edge and Christian (team that loved the chairs) in the first ever TLC match. Earlier in 2000 at WrestleMania 16, the team had a triangle ladder match, so the TLC match was upping the ante. It was a nice WWE-style twist on the “tender loving care” phrase that people normally associate TLC with. Tables, Ladders and Chairs … oh my!
– The first WWE TLC pay-per-view took place in 2009. The most memorable moment from that show was when Sheamus beat John Cena in a Tables match to win the WWE Championship after Sheamus had only been on Raw for a few months.
– From 2009 to 2016, WWE held the TLC PPV in mid-December. This year it was moved to October and the Clash of Champions PPV will be a December show this year.
– A lot of times at TLC PPVs WWE also had a Tables match, a Ladder match and a Chairs match. The 2014 event featured a “Stairs Match” between Big Show and Erick Rowan that WWE probably regrets doing, because it was terrible.
Here’s a ranking of every TLC match WWE has had, from No. 19 all the way down to No. 1. The only matches that will be ranked are the ones using the Tables, Ladders and Chairs stipulation.
Remember, if you want to watch any of these matches you can do so on WWE Network.
19. WWE Championship: The Miz vs. Jerry Lawler, WWE Raw (11/29/10)
It took place on Jerry Lawler’s 61st birthday, and this was when WWE thought Michael Cole vs. Jerry Lawler was a great rivalry. In reality, that was one of the worst feuds of this period. After Lawler put Miz through a table at ringside, Cole went into the ring and grabbed Lawler’s foot while Lawler was reaching for the title. Lawler punched Cole to get revenge. Miz got back up, hit Lawler with the title while they were both on the ladder and pulled down the title to retain his title. This was not a good period for WWE.
18. WeeLC Match: El Torito vs. Hornswoggle, Extreme Rules 2014
This match is pretty infamous, and to date (and for the foreseeable future), it remains the only “WeeLC.” It was a pretty entertaining match since they worked hard, got some comedy spots in and managed to get quite a bit of cheers. I laughed the first time I watched, and in watching it again I really appreciated the effort of both guys. Plus, it didn’t involve that awful Cole/Lawler feud in any way, so I’m comfortable it saying it was the second-worst TLC match ever, rather than the worst.[Editor’s note: There are several of us at With Spandex who believe WeeLC is one of the very best TLC matches ever, not one of the worst. You may voice your own opinion in the comment section, just be aware we know how polarizing this match is.]
17. Bray Wyatt vs. Dean Ambrose, TLC 2014
There are plenty of matches in WWE history where the work is good for the majority of it, and then the finish is so bad that we forget about everything else. This match wasn’t for a title. It was about Ambrose trying to get revenge. After nearly 30 minutes of action, Ambrose had a TV monitor in his hands and tried to attack Wyatt with it, and he failed because the monitor exploded in his hands. That led to Wyatt hitting Sister Abigail for the win. Looking back on it now, they really shouldn’t have gone that long for a match that had such an awful finish.
16. WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. Ryback, WWE Raw (01/07/13)
If you’ve ever heard CM Punk on Colt Cabana’s podcast from November 2014, he rants about this match because he wasn’t fully recovered from knee surgery, yet WWE booked him in this 20 minute match against Ryback. Punk complained about how unsafe Ryback was to work with. Watching the match back again recently, it’s pretty good from start to finish and one of Ryback’s better singles matches in WWE. The problem is we all knew Punk was retaining to have the WWE Title match against The Rock a few weeks later at the Royal Rumble, so nobody thought Ryback was going to win this. Punk ended up with the win thanks to an assist from The Shield.
15. Unified Tag Team Championship: Triple H and Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho and Big Show, TLC 2009
This was the main event of the first TLC PPV and it was for the “Unified WWE Tag Team Championship” back when WWE loved to use too many words to name titles. I think 2009 was one of the worst years in WWE history. There just wasn’t a lot of excitement and doing a tag team title main event was weak. There was a scary bump from Jericho late in the match when he fell over the top to the floor and hit his face against a table. The most memorable thing about the match was the finish with Triple H holding up half of a broken ladder so that Michaels could climb up and pull down the titles.
14. Unified WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Randy Orton vs. John Cena, TLC 2013
At the time of this match, WWE tried to tell us it was the biggest match ever because they were going to merge the WWE Championship (held by Orton) and the World Heavyweight Championship (held by Cena). In reality, it was just another Orton vs. Cena match like we had seen dozens of times before except this had a different stipulation. It wasn’t a bad match and I give them credit for working hard, but there was nothing special about it at all. They tried a creative finish with Orton handcuffing Cena to the bottom rope, which led to Cena unhooking the bottom rope to break free. Orton still managed to win by sending Cena into a nearby table leading to Orton retrieving both titles to become the guy that merged WWE’s two major titles at the time.
13. WWE Championship: Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns, TLC 2015
Sheamus went into the match as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and I remember thinking that Reigns was going to leave with the gold. There was no way they would keep it on Sheamus for very long, yet that’s what they did. They did an innovative spot where Reigns gave Sheamus a Samoan Drop onto a table that was bridged from the ring to the announce table. When Reigns was about to win, he was attacked by Alberto Del Rio and Rusev of the short lived “League of Nations” group. Reigns fought back, but Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick and climbed up the ladder to win.
After this match was over, Reigns destroyed the heels at ringside, including Triple H. Most of 2015 saw the crowd booing Reigns, but this angle really got Reigns over as a face. It didn’t last by any means, but for one bright, shining moment, the fans were solidly begin the Big Dog.
12. WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. The Miz vs. Alberto Del Rio, TLC 2011
It was early in CM Punk’s 434-day WWE title reign that started at Survivor Series 2011 and lasted until Royal Rumble 2013. This is the only triple threat match in TLC history, which is a bit surprising since WWE loves triple threat matches so much. Late in the match, Punk was handcuffed (way to steal the spot, Orton/Cena), so he broke free by taking apart the steel that connected the ring post to the turnbuckle. Punk kicked Del Rio off a ladder, hit the GTS on Miz and Punk climbed up the ladder to reclaim his title.
11. WWE Championship: Edge vs. Ric Flair, WWE Raw (01/16/06)
This was the first singles TLC match, if you can believe it. Ric Flair is crazy and that’s why we love him. Flair was 56 years old at the time of this match, and he worked his ass off to try to help make Edge look like a credible first-time WWE Champion. Flair was a bloody mess in this one, like he was often in huge championship matches. He was bleeding so much that most of the blood was going on Edge as you can see in the pic above. There was a huge spot where Edge jumped off a ladder from inside the ring onto Flair, who was laying on a table. Huge move for Edge to do and for Flair to take. Flair made the comeback and came close to winning after he knocked Edge off a ladder that caused Edge to crash through a table at ringside. Edge’s girlfriend Lita ended up preventing Flair from getting the title. That led to Edge punching Flair off the ladder and retaining his WWE Title. The finish was a bit anticlimactic, but it was still a great match.
As a side note, Charlotte Flair (called Ashley Flair by the announcers) was at ringside for this match and was shown on screen several times screaming in support for her dad. She was 19 years old at the time.
10. World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Kane, TLC 2010
This was a rare Edge TLC match where he was a babyface, rather than his usual heel role. Kane was the World Champion going into the match. Having four men in the match led to more continuous action and less down-time; you could have somebody climb, another could do a knock down and the other two were there to pick up the slack. Del Rio nearly won, but he got pushed off the ladder by Mysterio and Del Rio took the nasty fall through the table in the aisle. Kane took care of Mysterio with a Tombstone piledriver. When Kane nearly won, Edge destroyed him with several chair shots and hit a shoulder tackle that sent Kane through a table. With all three men taken out, Edge climbed up and grabbed the world title for his tenth and final major championship.
9. WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs.Dean Ambrose, TLC 2016
Last year’s TLC main event holds the record as the longest TLC match to date with a time of 30:50. I didn’t know it was the longest at the time, but in looking at some stats now it’s impressive that Styles and Ambrose would go that long. These two had many big matches and this match was seen as the end of the rivalry with Styles defending the WWE Title against the former champion Ambrose. They used every weapon they could as they brawled all over arena.
There were plenty of cool spots like Ambrose hitting an elbow that put Styles through an announce table and an even better move when Styles hit a springboard 450 Splash off the top rope that put Ambrose through a table that was on the floor. The ending was controversial with James Ellsworth turning heel by shoving Ambrose off a ladder and through a table leading to Styles retaining his title. At least Styles made it through the match even with ripped tights. Nobody likes to see a wardrobe malfunction like that.
8. World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs. The Undertaker, One Night Stand 2008
This rivalry carried Smackdown through most of 2008 and these two men had a lot of great matches together. The Undertaker had never been in a TLC match before, so it was an interesting story to see him against Edge in this setting. They had a violent match where they utilized chairs with some hard blows to the head, ladders were used as weapons and they broke several tables. When Edge’s buddies Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder showed up, Undertaker hit them with chokeslams through two different tables. The Undertaker also gave Edge a Last Ride powerbomb off the ladder in the ring through two stacked tables.
As Undertaker was about to win, Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neely (who? Bam Neely!) helped Edge by trying to attack The Undertaker. Edge recovered as Undertaker climbed up, but Edge shoved the ladder over and Undertaker went crashing through four tables that were stacked up outside the ring. It was one of the biggest bumps of The Undertaker’s career. The interference may have hurt the match in terms of quality, but it fit the storyline perfectly and I respected The Undertaker so much for taking a huge bump through four tables. The loss meant Undertaker was “banned” from WWE, which only lasted about a month.
7. WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Edge, Unforgiven 2006
John Cena was one of the best opponents in Edge’s career, so it’s only fitting that they had one of the greatest TLC matches ever. The atmosphere surrounding this match was really cool because it was in Edge’s hometown, so Cena was booed by the majority of the fans, which had started to become a regular thing at that time in the US, but it was even stronger here. They did some huge bumps throughout the match and I was surprised Cena was willing to do the bump where Lita shoved him off the ladder leading to Cena going through the table on the floor. That’s such a risky move that makes me cringe whenever I see it, but they did it perfectly. They also did a spot where Lita accidentally hurt Edge because it caused Cena to knock Edge off a ladder through a table on the floor.
The finish of this match is the best in TLC history at least for singles matches. They battled on the ladder and two refs were there to hold the ladder. Normally a ref isn’t needed in the ring for a match like this, but sometimes they would hold ladders for safety purposes. Seeing stuff like that is pretty silly, but these guys needed the refs to balance it for them. Cena put Edge up on his shoulders and gave him the FU (later became the Attitude Adjustment) through two stacked tables that were in the ring. I liked it because it was a definitive ending. This was a war and Cena found a way to win it.
6. World Heavyweight Championship: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy, SummerSlam 2009
This is my favorite feud of the last decade. The brilliant storyline had CM Punk turning heel after cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase and becoming an egomaniac after it. Most of us knew going into this match that Jeff Hardy’s contract was up and he was likely leaving the company, so the outcome of this match wasn’t a surprise at all even with Jeff walking in as champion. It didn’t hurt it, though. I’ll never forget the Swanton Bomb that Jeff did that put Punk through the announce table. We have seen Jeff put people through tables off a ladder before, but this was likely the highest ladder he has done it with. They did a slow climb, Punk knocked Hardy off with a kick and a punch and Jeff fell hard leading to Punk grabbing the title to win.
The reason this one is so special to me is because the feud warranted a blowoff match in a TLC setting. Sometimes these stipulation matches happen where WWE just does them for the sake of doing them. In this case, this was a heated rivalry that needed to end in a match like this. Hardy was the risk taker that he always was, but Punk managed to use his intelligence to end up winning back the World Heavyweight Championship.
I think TLC tends to be better when it’s not a singles match, but this one remains the best singles TLC match ever.
5. WWE Tag Team Championship: Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz, SummerSlam 2000 (TLC 1)
This was the first TLC match, and the second time these three teams had a major PPV match, following a damn good ladder match at WrestleMania 2000 earlier in the year. Of course, as we all know, these six men topped themselves the following year, but that’s coming. This match featured many moves off of ladders, plenty of guys going through tables and even Jim Ross calling Edge a “son of bitch” for hitting a Spear on Lita on the floor.
One of the better spots was when Jeff Hardy went to give Bubba a Swanton through two tables at ringside, but Bubba moved out of the way. At WrestleMania that move worked for Jeff, so Bubba had it scouted. Proof that psychology is important in any match. Bubba Ray took the bump off the ladder through the tables stacked on the floor, which became a signature bump in this kind of match. Same with Matt going back-first through a table on the floor. Edge and Christian, the heel Tag Team Champions, ended up retaining their titles.
4. The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose) vs. Ryback, Daniel Bryan and Kane, TLC 2012
The Shield’s first match in WWE was a TLC match that was a lot better than any of us thought it was going to be. A lot of us knew Rollins and Ambrose were great wrestlers based on their work in developmental, but Reigns was mostly an unknown at that point. The trio of Team Hell No (Bryan and Kane) ended up as the perfect opponents for them. There was a nasty bump by Rollins in the match where Ryback threw him off a ladder onto stacked tables and the back of Rollins’ head hit another table. He ended up okay, but it looked bad. Daniel Bryan was incredible in this match. I know that’s not a surprise to anybody that watched him during his career. It’s just so fun to re-watch his matches because he was such a gifted in-ring performer.
It was a smart move to put The Shield over the way they did with Reigns hitting a Powerbomb on Bryan through a table. That match really opened people’s eyes about The Shield and gave them a lot of credibility right away. What really stood out about this match is that it felt like a fight from the moment it started because they were brawling on the floor leading to fights all over the arena. Since there were no titles to grab, it was about beating down your opponents. It just like a more physical TLC match that made more sense storyline wise instead of guys being put through tables randomly just to pop the crowd.
3. Tag Team Championship: Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit vs. Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz, WWE Smackdown (05/24/01)
This was the first four-way TLC match and the only match on this list that took place on Smackdown. Doing a TLC match on Smackdown was such a rare thing, but it was designed to make things difficult on new champs Jericho and Benoit. I remember reading the spoilers after the taping thinking how excited I was to watch a match I already knew the outcome of. Benoit took a huge bump when he jumped off the top rope to try to put Matt through a table, but Matt moved and Benoit went through the table looking like he was knocked out.
This match contained a lot of the same spots that existed in the SummerSlam 2000 and WrestleMania 17 TLC matches, yet they managed to top it because they also went seven minutes longer than the SummerSlam 2000 match. Jeff Hardy did another spot with Bubba Ray using a table except this time it was a leg drop that put Bubba through it. It’s an incredible match with the story of Benoit getting taken to the back during the match selling a rib injury, then coming back to a huge ovation and ultimately getting the win for his team.
I realize the Benoit stuff is hard to enjoy today compared to when it happened 16 years ago, but this “forgotten TLC” is one of the best versions of this match that I’ve ever seen,
2. World Tag Team Championship: Kane vs. Bubba Ray and Spike Dudley vs. Christian and Chris Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam, WWE Raw (10/07/02)
Raw Roulette was a gimmick that WWE liked to use when they would go to Las Vegas during Eric Bischoff’s run as General Manager, and this was the first Raw Roulette show they did. They spun a gimmicked wheel to set up stipulation matches and on this show they went with a TLC match in the main event. It’s also the first TLC match in Raw history. Kane walked in as one half of the Tag Team Champions without his partner The Hurricane, who was attacked by Triple H and Ric Flair backstage.
The crowd was so hot for all of it. When RVD did the Van Terminator on Kane while Hardy held the chair, the pop was massive, and the crowd just got more wild as the match went along. The finish of the match saw Jericho near the top of the ladder, Kane got back to his feet again and delivered a chokeslam off the top of the ladder.
The story of the match was all about the other wrestlers trying to neutralize Kane, who was the No. 1 contender to the world title at the time, and was booked like an unbeatable monster. Kane kept on coming back for more, so it had this story where you wondered if he was somehow going to win even when he didn’t have a partner in his match. Ultimately, Kane did win and it was treated like a big deal. Sadly, after the match, Triple H mentioned Katie Vick, which was the beginning of one of the worst storylines in WWE history.
1. WWE Tag Team Championships: Edge and Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz, WrestleMania X-Seven (TLC II)
I, like you, have seen this match more than any TLC match in history, in part because it took place at what I feel was the best WWE PPV ever, WrestleMania X-Seven. This really is one of the greatest matches in WWE history, and it’s unlikely that any three tag teams could top this.
What I loved about this match is the way they built on SummerSlam 2000 and the WrestleMania 2000 ladder match. The SummerSlam match had just Bubba Ray shoved off a ladder through two tables, but in this match it was Bubba with Matt, so it made it look more devastating. There was also the addition of Rhyno helping E&C, Lita helping the Hardys and Spike helping the Dudleys with all three of them contributing in a big way. For example, it was Rhyno that put Bubba and Matt through those tables. It was also Rhyno that helped Christian get up the ladders to win the match, so it showed that heel E&C team were the smartest because their friend was the biggest factor in the match.
The most memorable moment from this match is when Jeff Hardy was hanging from the titles above the ring, the ladder was removed from underneath him by Bubba and Edge hit the greatest spear of all time as he jumped off a ladder leading to him crashing with Jeff in the ring. Jim Ross’ call for that spot was legendary: “Oh my God, Edge from the 20-foot ladder with a spear on Jeff Hardy! For the love of God, Jeff Hardy may be broken smack-dab in half!”
Everything in this match was done perfectly. You could tell how much planning went into it because every spot was built up well and nothing felt out of place. It wasn’t just a violent match where they took stiff chair shots or broke about a dozen tables. It was about every move making sense, so it’s not just a “car crash” style match like some people think of when they watch a TLC. It was a smart wrestling match that utilized the TLC weapons to their fullest.
That’s the list. I know that no two people are ever going to agree on something like this, but at the very least, it may make you want to re-watch some of them ahead of Sunday’s WWE TLC event. Tell us your own rankings in the comment section!