With two TLC matches for their top two men’s titles on the card for Sun., Dec. 20’s WWE PPV, the company opted to split them up. That gave us a surprising opening match for the 2020 edition of TLC - Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles for the WWE championship.
One possible outside influence on this no disqualification match entered the ThunderDome with the challenger - AJ’s massive bodyguard Omos. Another had been on the Kickoff show moments before - Mr. Money in the Bank, Miz.
None of that factored into the early part of the bout. That was mostly about an angry champion using his power advantage.
The veteran Styles has a plan, though. He started taking shots at Drew’s left knee whenever he could. Not only did it take away some of that power advantage, but also... if you can’t climb, you can’t win a ladder match, right?
Both men integrated the stipulation into their strategies by the midway point of the match. After the champ suplexed a ladder onto a downed Styles, the challenger regrouped to lace McIntyre’s left leg through a ladder and apply his calf crusher submission.
Big spots followed, but the biggest ones of the match came when Styles finally used a ladder as something other than a weapon. First, McIntyre grabbed AJ mid-climb, carried him to the ropes and threw him over through a table on the floor.
Then, as Drew climbed, Miz ran in. He attacked the champ’s injured leg, powerbombed him though a table in the ring, and directed John Morrison to cash-in to make the match a Triple Threat.
But when the A-Lister climbed, Omos got into the ring. He carried Miz to the ropes and dropped him through another table on the floor. Morrison tried to take out the big bodyguard, but a gimmicked chair exploded over Omos’ back.
Those two raced off, and left us with the legal men battling atop two ladders.
Each guy took turns knocking one of the others down, and with Styles and Miz duking it out, it looked like we’d get a new champion. But the King of Claymore Country pushed a ladder into the ladder the were on, sending AJ bouncing to the floor. After hitting Miz with his finisher, McIntyre climbed and retrieved his belt.
Miz is now the fifth failed cash-in in Money in the Bank history, and Drew McIntyre will continue a great run as champ into a new year.
Get complete TLC results and coverage of the entire show here.