In many ways, WWE TLC was a surprisingly great show. Of course, some matches fell down a cliff before they began (i.e. Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose), but other matches were wildly fun to watch in ways we didn’t expect (i.e. Nia Jax vs Ronda Rousey).
Keep in mind, “emotionally satisfying” does not mean “best.” We couldn’t possibly call any match during last night’s TLC event “match of the night” over Asuka vs Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch. Those three nailed it out of the park during the main event.
However, if we’re talking about a match that made us feel a wide range of emotions from beginning to end, no match did that better than Natalya vs Ruby Riott.
For over a month now, Natalya and The Riott Squad have been embroiled in a bitter feud focused on the legacy of the Hart family. The feud reached its crescendo when Riott had the audacity to snap in half the sunglasses of Natalya’s late father, Jim Neidhart, right in front of her.
Whether you were a fan of the story’s direction or thought it was tasteless, it’s hard to deny that it didn’t do wonders for everyone involved. Natalya’s never been this unanimously cheered and beloved in her babyface career, while The Riott Squad have been hotter than ever.
The stable continued to get the drop on Natalya every week after this. This would include the faction slamming the Neidhart daughter with The Hart Foundation’s trademark Hart Attack, and later on, powerbombing Nattie through a table.
In the following week’s build-up, Riott promised to do it again at TLC, only on Sunday, she would do so on a table lathered in a portrait of Nattie’s father.
The scathing storyline gave birth to a beautiful payoff at TLC. Going into the show, all we wanted to see out of this match was to see The Riott Squad finally get their comeuppance while Natalya got her reprisal for once. The last thing any of us wanted to see on this night was Riott get her hand raised.
The match saw Natalya put all three members of The Riott Squad through a table; the group’s leader through a table of herself no less. Not only that, but the match highlighted a few callbacks to previous moments in this feud.
The moment where Natalya donned her father’s old school jacket before pointing to the sky is the perfect encapsulation of this match and this feud’s conclusion. The match was one big satisfying feel good moment. The kind of moment that professional wrestling was made for.
It’s easy to criticize WWE for what they do wrong, but for once at least, WWE got this one right. We got the perfect babyface we were invested in seeing win, the perfect heel that we wanted to see vanquished, and most importantly, the perfect end to a storyline. This one could’ve easily been done wrong, but as it turned out, it couldn’t have been executed more perfectly.
It truly was the Excellence of Execution.