With WWE's annual Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view event coming to us this Sunday, it's only fitting to go back and look at some of the best Tables, Ladders & Chairs matches in WWE history. After going back and watching all 19 TLC matches to date, some better than others (I see you WeeLC Match). Without further ado, here's the top ten TLC matches of all time!
TLC 2010: Edge vs. Kane (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio (Honorable Mention)
This was number ten on our list last year, but it's been bumped out of the running by the clash between Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles from last year's TLC pay-per-view. However, it still earns an honorable mention for being such a special match in the career of Edge and an easily forgotten gem in the history of TLC matches.
It’s probably been six years since I actually watched this TLC match, and it’s even better than I remembered. I was actually at this event at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, and this was easily the highlight. While we didn’t know it at the time, this turned out to be Edge’s very last TLC Match before he was forced to retire in April of 2011 due to injury.
Edge was as excellent as ever, and this match truly showcased his mastery of the TLC match. The fatal-four-way aspect only added to the chaos, as Alberto Del Rio was still relatively new to WWE, while Kane and Rey Mysterio added a pair of completely opposite in-ring styles. There was plenty of carnage that made this one fun to watch, but in the end what puts it on this list is Edge’s ability to control the match and make it great while capturing the World Heavyweight Championship for the tenth time in his career.
9. TLC 2011: CM Punk (c) vs. The Miz vs. Alberto Del Rio
In 2011, CM Punk was just starting what would become his record-setting 434-day reign as WWE Champion. Alberto Del Rio was still trying to reclaim the title he’d lost to Punk, while The Miz was struggling to claw his way back into the championship picture. This is another one that was even better after a second viewing, and you could tell Punk was hitting his stride.
Alberto Del Rio and The Miz spent part of the match trying to team up against Punk, who managed to overcome quite a lot to reclaim his WWE Championship. Ricardo Rodriguez, Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer, got involved and ended up crashing through a table as a result. Del Rio introduced a pair of handcuffs during the match that were used by Miz to handcuff punk to the corner turnbuckle. Fortunately for Punk, his quick thinking let him unscrew the buckle and detach it so he could escape and ultimately pick up the win and retain his championship.
8. SummerSlam 2009: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy (c)
Consider the landscape of WWE here at this event, where the other title match of the night pitted John Cena against Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Then you’ve got Jeff Hardy and CM Punk. Hardy was barely a year into being a true main event player, and he was during only his second World Heavyweight Championship reign, the first lasting only a single day. CM Punk was struggling to prove himself as a legit main eventer and looking for a big victory.
With all that in mind, take in the fact that this match was the Main Event of SummerSlam. CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy was the Main Event of SummerSlam. The match got off to a slow start, but in the end turned out to be a true battle of attrition as the daredevil Jeff Hardy, a veteran of TLC matches, struggled against the Straight Edge Superstar. Punk definitely had a chip on his shoulder at this point, and he had something to prove.
8. TLC 2016: AJ Styles (c) vs Dean Ambrose
After giving this match another viewing a year later, it would be a crime to keep it out of the top ten. While TLC matches are often known for massive chaos between multiple competitors, there are a few one-on-one TLC matches that kept the carnage level high and told a great story. At the time, AJ Styles was only a month into his WWE Championship run and he was still riding him from defeating John Cena at SummerSlam. The most controversial aspect of this rivalry, and ultimately the ending of this match, was the involvement of James Ellsworth.
While Ellsworth has found a new gig on SmackDown Live as Carmella's pet or boyfriend or property or something, back in December of 2016 he was busy being used as a pawn by Dean Ambrose to get under the skin of AJ Styles. So far, this is the first and only time we've gotten to see AJ Styles in the environment of a TLC match within WWE, and it did not disappoint. The action was rough and tumble from start to finish, and included several unforgettable spots. Dean Ambrose setting up a ladder on top of one announce table only to come flying off it to drive AJ through a separate announce table was a great visual, but it wasn't the clear highlight of the night.
The undeniable highlight goes to AJ Styles, who hit a springboard 450 splash to the outside and drove Dean Ambrose through a table in the process. It was the perfect combination of athleticism and carnage and illustrated just what Styles was capable of. Many fans had issues with the ending, as James Ellsworth came out and suddenly turned on Dean Ambrose. After Ellsworth pushed Ambrose off a ladder and through several tables, it was elementary for AJ to grab his WWE Championship and escape as champion after one of the best one-on-one TLC matches in history.
7. TLC 2012: The Shield vs. Team Hell No & Ryback
At Survivor Series 2012, The Shield arrived in WWE and made a huge statement as they helped CM Punk hold on to his WWE Championship. For the brief time between Survivor Series and TLC, they had only ambushed other people, and not yet competed in the ring. This brings us to the first ever TLC match that was decided by pinfall or submission, and it was also the in-ring debut of The Shield.
While Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose are now all mainstays of the main event picture and former World Champions, they were recent arrivals from NXT looking to make a statement at this point in time. Ryback was one of the most beloved faces in the company, and the crowd was completely behind him. Lastly, Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) was a ton of wrestling ability wrapped in a strange bedfellows package. The result was a brutal match that truly put The Shield on the map and set the stage for what they’ve become today.
6. SmackDown, May 2001: Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit (c) vs. Edge & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz
This is the TLC match that is often forgotten, and at times intentionally ignored. The simple reason is the involvement of Chris Benoit, whose name is never to be uttered by WWE due to the circumstances of his death. I won’t get into any of that, but it’s easy to say that you’re doing yourself a disservice if you pretend this match doesn’t exist. Jericho and Benoit were really starting to make their mark in WWE, and this was only one month after “TLC II” had taken place at WrestleMania 17. We got the trio of TLC teams that everyone knows, and mixed in the hard-hitting technicality of The Rabid Wolverine and the mastery of a young, agile Y2J.
The result was a SmackDown main event for the ages, as Benoit and Jericho seemed doomed from the start as the only men new to the TLC environment. Benoit seemed to be removed from the equation after crashing through a table and potentially injuring his ribs, but he fought his way back into the match and ultimately was able to pull down and retain the Tag Team Titles, making Jericho & Benoit the first men other than Edge & Christian to win a TLC match.
5. Raw, October 2002: Kane & Hurricane (c) vs. Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley vs. Christian & Chris Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy & Rob Van Dam
You may be trying to remember this match and wondering where Hurricane was during it. There’s a reason you can’t remember him being involved, and that’s because he wasn’t. Kane & Hurricane were the World Tag Team Champions at this point in 2002, and Triple H has his sights set on Kane. An ambush before the match left Hurricane unable to compete, and Kane was forced to go it alone against a group of TLC veterans.
The remnants of the brand split were clear, as this match featured some less traditional tag teams, but still included one-half of each team that innovated the TLC Match. Kane put on the match of his life, and despite taking a ton of high-impact shots, he was able to fight through it all and single-handedly defeat three other teams to remain World Tag Team Champion. Also, just in case anyone forgot, the promo from Triple H after this was the beginning of the Katie Vick storyline. Just figured you should know.
4. One Night Stand 2008: Edge vs. The Undertaker
When it comes to TLC, no man embodies it more than The Rated R Superstar. During 2008, Edge and The Undertaker had main evented WrestleMania 24 for the World Heavyweight Championship. Undertaker came out on top by making Edge tap out to the Hell’s Gate submission. In a later rematch, usage of the hold was deemed unsafe by Edge’s partner (and SmackDown General Manager) Vickie Guerrero.
Vickie stripped The Undertaker of the championship, which ultimately led to this contest being for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship. Despite his lengthy career, this would be The Undertaker’s first (and only) TLC match. Both men fought hard, but it was the numbers game that kicked things up a notch. Edge was aligned with La Familia, which included the Edgeheads (Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder). Both interfered, and ate wood for their trouble.
Taker looked set to win after he hit The Last Ride on Edge through two tables off the ladder, but Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neely came out and kept Taker from grabbing the championship. They were quickly dispatched with stiff chair shots, but by the time Undertaker was back up the ladder, Edge had recovered and pushed over the ladder, sending Undertaker through four tables at ringside and allowing the Rated R Superstar to claim the World Heavyweight Championship.
3. WrestleMania 2000: Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (c)
I can hear people yelling already. “But that wasn’t a TLC match! That was a Triangle Ladder Match!” Yes, it was billed as a Triangle Ladder Match. However, after consideration, I don’t think it’s fair not to include it. TLC wouldn’t exist without this match, and the Dudley Boyz made sure there were plenty of tables to go around this time.
This was the next step up from the first ever tag team ladder match between The Hardy Boyz and Edge & Christian at No Mercy in 1999. The WWE Universe had never seen this level of tag team chaos, and they ate it up. During the match, Jeff Hardy climbed the biggest ladder he could find and hit a huge Swanton Bomb onto Bubba Ray Dudley to send him through a table, a moment that still looks truly iconic to this day.
This was also the beginning of Edge & Christian’s dominance in TLC matches, as when the dust finally settled they were perched on a table placed over two ladders to create a platform and they had the Tag Team Championships in hand. While the event may not have called it a TLC match, if you watch it, it absolutely is one. These three teams were just beginning to revolutionize tag team wrestling, and this is as unforgettable as any TLC match.
2. SummerSlam 2000: Edge & Christian (c) vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz
While WrestleMania 2000 was the first TLC match in spirit, this event featured the first official Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match in WWE history. The Hardy Boyz were the kings of the ladders, The Dudley Boyz loved their tables, and Edge & Christian were quite fond of using steel chairs for the Con-Chair-To. It was then Commissioner Mick Foley who made the match, and as they say, the rest was history.
This match plays like a greatest hits, as all of the moments that have become staples of TLC matches were on display, but they were innovative at this time. Jeff Hardy tried to put Bubba Ray Dudley through a table with a Swanton Bomb off a huge ladder, much like he did at WrestleMania only months earlier. Unfortunately, Bubba rolled out of the way and Jeff crashed through the table alone. One of the biggest moments in the match saw Bubba Ray Dudley go careening off a ladder through four tables at ringside, and he crashed through them with ground-shaking force.
The tag teams were one of the hottest things going at this high point of the Attitude Era, and this was a great example of it. In the end, we got to see Jeff Hardy dangling from the championships, and it was a huge hit with a ladder by Edge & Christian that sent him crumbling to the ground. Shortly after, the duo were able to scale the ladder and reclaim their tag team championships in the first official Tables, Ladders & Chairs match.
1. WrestleMania 17: Edge & Christian vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (c)
Of course this is number one. This has to be the best TLC match of all time because it is one of the most iconic matches of all time. If you watch the Triangle Ladder Match and the inaugural TLC match at SummerSlam, it was clear that these three teams were still figuring out this new genre of in-ring carnage that they’d innovated. By the time WrestleMania 17 arrived, they had perfected the art of the TLC match.
I have to briefly mention that this match was amplified by the event it took place at WrestleMania 17 is arguably the most well-rounded and complete WrestleMania ever, and it had so many instant classics. It was the absolute height of the Attitude Era, and was just before the mess of the WCW/ECW Invasion took place and threw everything out of whack. These three teams had been going at it in one way or another for over a year by the time they came together this time, and they truly put on the perfect TLC match.
The match was filled with plenty of magnificent moments, and it also included a third wheel for each team. Rhyno (for Edge and Christian), Lita (for The Hardy Boyz), and Spike Dudley (for The Dudley Boyz) all got involved in the match and tried to help their teams leave with the championships. Lita got in on the action like one of the guys, and Spike & Rhino ate a Swanton Bomb through two tables from Jeff Hardy.
Of course, the most memorable moment of this match, and of TLC matches in general, was seeing Jeff Hardy dangling from the championships before being speared in mid-air all the way down to the mat by Edge. In the end, it was the assistance of the Man-Beast Rhyno that helped Edge & Christian take the win and claim the Tag Team Championships, putting the exclamation point on the greatest TLC match of all time.