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WWE TLC 2020 match grades, results: Reigns, Owens deliver in brutal match; Orton sets Fiend on fire



WWE TLC 2020 match grades, results: Reigns, Owens deliver in brutal match; Orton sets Fiend on fire

WWE closed out a challenging 2020 on Sunday with its final network special of the year, a TLC PPV.

And just like the previous 11 months, it was a show with incredible highs and incomprehensible lows. 

SN Q&A: The Young Bucks | Mike Bennett

When it comes to the highs, Roman Reigns’ successful defense of the Universal championship against Kevin Owens in a brutal Tables, Ladders and Chairs match tops the list. 

Owens attempted to overcome Reigns and his cousin Jey Uso in a match that will likely be in the discussion for year-end lists. The intensity between the two was unrivaled as they absolutely pulverized each other throughout the match. Reigns needed assistance to finally overcome Owens, who said he would need to be killed to lose. Hopefully, this feud isn’t over. 

The show inexplicably closed with a match that had nothing to do with tables, ladders or chairs. Instead, viewers got Randy Orton “defeating” The Fiend in a Firefly Funhouse Match by leaving The Fiend engulfed in flames. It was ridiculous, but that’s what people have come to expect whenever Bray Wyatt is involved in a match.

Here’s how it all went down at the Thunderdome in St. Petersburg, Fla. 

Preshow: Otis, Chad Gable, Otis & Big E def. Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura

The main storyline here was the feud between Big E and Zayn, but it was kind of startling to see this amount of talent shoved into an eight-man tag match on a preshow. Nevertheless, the match was fine. There was nothing memorable about it, but it was a reason to get everyone involved. For the close, Zayn tried to weasel his way into a win, only to find an incensed Big E there to hit the Big Ending for the pinfall. It’s likely that Big E will get the Intercontinental championship sooner than later.

Grade: C-

Drew McIntyre def. AJ Styles and The Miz to retain WWE championship

The ending was never in doubt, but the way they got there was unnecessary as The Miz cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase late in the match. 

McIntyre and Styles tried to inject extra brutality into this kickoff match. What fans got was solid but not spectacular. That was probably due more to the lack of heat between Styles and McIntyre heading into this match; it was difficult to become emotionally invested. There were some great spots, including Styles using a chair and ladder to put McIntyre in a calf crusher, a Phenomenal Forearm reversal into a suplex on top of a ladder, and McIntyre pulling Styles off the ladder and launching him out of the ring onto a stack of tables. 

Of course, The Miz had to interfere to cash in his MITB. Omos took Miz off the ladder and dumped him through a table on the outside. Morrison attempted to smash a chair over Omos’ back, only to see it fall to pieces. Omos chased Miz to the back, which left Styles, McIntyre and Miz. After all three battled on top of the ladder, McIntyre finally grabbed the title after knocking Styles off the ladder and nailing the Claymore Kick on Miz. 

Grade: B-

Sasha Banks def. Carmella to retain ‘SmackDown’ women’s championship

Carmella probably didn’t ask for this glam gimmick that is a hybrid of something the WWE attempted with Eva Marie and Lana. But she has looked great in the ring since her return and this match was well-done. As usual, Banks bumped like a maniac, but Carmella has made her offense look a lot stiffer.

The tilt-a-whirl counter into an X-factor took the match to another level as the women hit a beautiful final stretch of counters and chain submissions. Carmella started with a Code of Silence and chained together with a sequence of failed submission and pin attempts. Banks escaped to slap on the Bank Statement, only for Reginald to pull Carmella out of the ring. Carmella took advantage with a pair of superkicks on the outside but again couldn’t get the pin. Banks countered into a Bank Statement to get the submission and retain the title.  

Grade: B

Hurt Business def. The New Day to win ‘Raw’ tag team championships

It’s difficult to figure out whether Cedric Alexander’s overzealousness is true character development or something WWE will use to kick him out of Hurt Business just as he’s hitting his stride. It still has been fun to watch because Alexander absolutely needed something for his character. And just when it looked as though it would cost his team, it got them a victory and the U.S. and “Raw” tag titles instead.

The match started with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods abusing Alexander in what appeared to be a near squash, but Shelton Benjamin’s powerhouse offense ensured they’d stay in the match. It was a fun back-and-forth that included a final stretch of Benjamin dominating and then Alexander sneaking a tag, hitting his Lumbar Check for the pinfall and giving Hurt Business the belts.  

Grade: B-

Asuka and Charlotte def. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler for women’s tag team championship

We all know where this is heading, right? Charlotte returned to replace Lana as Asuka’s tag team partner, so now we can begin the countdown to when Charlotte turns on Asuka. 

This match was fine for what it was, which wasn’t much more than a Charlotte showcase that comes at the expense of everyone else on the “Raw” roster.

Jax and Baszler spent a lot of time in control of Asuka, who finally escaped and made the tag to Charlotte. Charlotte immediately went after Jax, who is responsible for putting Charlotte on the shelf earlier this year. The pace kicked up a notch as Asuka hit a hip attack on Jax to the outside, which left Charlotte and Baszler together. Charlotte escaped the Kirifuda Clutch and nailed Baszler with Natural Selection to become a grand slam champion. 

It’s all very predictable because you can’t keep Charlotte away from the gold. 

Grade: C+

Roman Reigns def. Kevin Owens to retain the Universal championship

This was an absolute slugfest that delivered on all accounts. 

Owens had been incredible in the build to this match with an intensity that could only be rivaled by Reigns. After weeks of being attacked, it was only right that Owens began the match sneak-attacking Reigns and annihilating Jey Uso. But Reigns would take advantage of the numbers game and get the upper hand once Owens clobbered Uso and sent him to the back. 

Owens added to his history of selling out in brutal gimmick matches with extra intensity in this affair as he took some vicious bumps throughout. A sequence in which Reigns powerbombed Owens onto a ladder, sent him crashing through a table and delivered a Samoan Drop through a third was incredibly violent.

Reigns attempted to nonchalantly climb the ladder but the resilient Owens made one last-gasp effort. Reigns speared him through a table for his troubles. The incredulous look on Reigns’ face as Owens kept coming back. Owens baited Reigns into missing a spear through the barricade and set in motion another series of brutality.

Owens hit Reigns with a pop-up powerbomb through the table and got his hands on the title until, you guessed it, Uso stopped him. Uso received a stunner for his troubles. Owens raced back up the ladder but was met by a low blow from Reigns, who sunk in a guillotine to retain. 

It’s unfortunate that these two won’t be involved in a long-term feud because they are made for each other. Reigns continues to be the best heel in the business. Here’s hoping WWE finds a place for Owens to excel. 

Go out of your way to watch this match. 

Grade: A

Randy Orton def. The Fiend in a Firefly Inferno Match

For no real reason, WWE closed a TLC show with Orton and Bray Wyatt performing in a match that didn’t involve tables, ladders or chairs. Despite the history of horrible matches these two have had together, WWE was determined to try again. Well, add another silly match to the list. 

This time, it was a Firefly Inferno Match. While not as tragically bad as the House of Horrors match at WrestleMania 33, it wasn’t very good, either. It was The Fiend plodding around and getting in some offense while Orton scurried away and did his best to not be set on fire. The match is supposed to end when someone gets set on fire. These matches are never good. 

There was a pickaxe in the match for no real reason and The Fiend attempted to set Orton on fire in a rocking chair. 

It was all just plain silly. Orton finally backed The Fiend into a wall of fire and then hit him with an RKO with flames coming off his jacket. 

The match should have been over then, but Orton grabbed a gasoline can and set The Fiend’s entire body on fire as the show went off the air.


Grade: D

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Warriors’ Draymond Green ejected for yelling at . . . a teammate?



Warriors' Draymond Green ejected for yelling at . . . a teammate?

Warriors forward Draymond Green was on the receiving end of a horrible technical foul call Thursday night. To make matters worse, it was his second tech of the game, which meant he was ejected. 

Why was the call so bad? Because Green was yelling at a teammate, rookie James Wiseman, rather than an official or an opponent when he got T’d up.

Green was incredulous as he got the news during Golden State’s game against the Knicks.

Oddly, neither of the other two officials chose to confer with colleague John Butler and make sure the second-quarter technical was legitimate. They, too, had to have heard what Green was yelling inside the empty Chase Center.

MORE: Wiseman impresses Kerr with ‘Giannis play’

Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the game that one of those other officials, Ben Taylor, told him at halftime that Butler thought Green was yelling at him and not Wiseman.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was just happy to see Green gone.

“Draymond, we caught a break when he got thrown out,” he said postgame, per The Associated Press. New York won the game 119-104. 

The NBA can decide to rescind Green’s second technical once it gathers all the information about it. Based on the Warriors’ reactions and Taylor’s reported admission, expect that T to go away quickly on Friday. Too little, too late, but at least some justice will be done after Green was done wrong by the officials.

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NBA trade rumors: Cavaliers to send Kevin Porter Jr. to Rockets following outburst



NBA trade rumors: Cavaliers to send Kevin Porter Jr. to Rockets following outburst

The Cavaliers have found a taker for Kevin Porter Jr.

Cleveland is trading the second-year wing player to the Rockets, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported late Thursday. It will receive a protected second-round draft pick in return. The Associated Press reported the deal was pending NBA approval.

MORE: Cavs’ Sexton beats Nets’ Big 3 in double OT

The Cavs decided to move Porter after he threw a tantrum over the team giving his locker to newly acquired veteran Taurean Prince and moving him to another part of the locker room. The Athletic reported the Jan. 15 outburst included Porter throwing food and being “combative” during an argument with general manager Koby Altman.

Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Monday spoke of Porter as a soon-to-be-former member of the organization.

“We all want to see Kevin be successful,” Bickerstaff said, per The Athletic. “I still feel that way. So whatever it is that happens in the future for him, I hope nothing but the best for him. And it’s part of our responsibility as coaches to give everyone our all and try to make the best of every situation. I can say that we did that.”

Porter did not play for Cleveland this season because of unspecified personal issues. He was charged with weapon and drug offenses last November in Ohio following a car crash. Prosecutors later dropped the charges, ESPN reported. 

He played in 50 games (three starts) for the Cavs last season as a rookie, averaging 10.0 points and 3.2 rebounds. 

Houston will waive injured guard Chris Clemons to make room for Porter on the roster, Feigen reported.

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Blue Jays preparing to play home games in Florida if necessary, report says



Blue Jays preparing to play home games in Florida if necessary, report says

The Blue Jays are making contingency plans in the event the Canadian government prevents them from playing home games in Toronto at the start of the 2021 MLB season because of COVID-19 concerns.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday that the club is looking at its spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., as a possible alternate site and that the Jays and Dunedin officials have held preliminary discussions about holding regular-season games at TD Ballpark.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Jan. 12 that the Canada-U.S. border would remain closed to nonessential travel through at least Feb. 21, and on Jan. 16 Ontario extended emergency measures within the province through Feb. 19 as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase.

MORE: New stadium to replace Rogers Centre in Toronto, report says

“We would welcome the opportunity if they were to open their season here,” Vince Gizzi, Dunedin’s parks and recreation director, told the Times. “It would just be wonderful for our city, if they were restricted from going in and out of Canada, that they could play here.”

The Jays were forced to play their entire 60-game schedule last year in the U.S. after Canada prohibited them from playing at Rogers Centre amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The team played its home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., the home of its Triple-A minor league affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, beginning in mid-August. The Bisons’ 2020 season had already been canceled, making the stadium available to the Jays full time. 

The Bisons are scheduled to resume playing there next spring, although the exact opening date is unclear because MLB is still deciding when to begin the 2021 minor league season.

Dunedin is also home to Toronto’s affiliate in the Single-A Florida State League, but the Times speculated that any scheduling conflicts could be resolved by having the minor league team play on one of the fields adjacent to the stadium inside the Jays’ complex. The parent club’s home opener is scheduled for April 8. 

MORE: Blue Jays’ free-agent moves assure AL East respectability

The Times noted that MLB and the MLB Players Association would have to approve moving games outside Toronto. 

The NBA’s Raptors are dealing with a similar prohibition. They’ve moved their home games this season to Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., home of the NHL’s Lightning. Dunedin is about 30 minutes west of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The Maple Leafs are playing their home games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto but are not scheduled to leave Canada in the regular season. The NHL placed all seven of its Canadian teams in one division for the 2021 season and are having them play just each other, with games taking place entirely within Canada.

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