But B-show or not, December PPVs are just as capable of delivering excellent match-ups as any other month of the year. Hell, events like Vengeance 2001, Armageddons 2006 and 2007, and TLCs 2009 and 2012 all come to mind as being very good pay-per-views, and as such, they were propped up with some pretty great matches in their own right.
This list will look at 10 of the very best matches that December PPVs have brought to us, even going as far back as the early-nineties. And they don't all have to have some sort of pre-ordained table, ladder, or chair (or all three) gimmick in order to be special matches. As you'll see, WWE's given us some tremendous variety in the run-up to the holiday season over the years.
10. Macho Man Randy Savage Vs. Jake Roberts (This Tuesday In Texas)
Ahh, the forgotten December pay-per-view! Journey back to 1991, when Savage was seeking revenge on Roberts for sic'ing his cobra onto Macho's arm. That wouldn't even be the most reprehensible thing Jake did, as evidenced at this show, when he and Savage finally locked horns.
The match was only six-and-a-half minutes, but that doesn't matter. The post-match activity takes this to a whole other level, as an angry Roberts DDT's Savage several times, and goes once more for the venomous snake. When a tearful Miss Elizabeth intervenes to try and save her man, Roberts goes full-on creep, making her beg for his life, before striking her in the face. The backstage interviews from both men need to be seen, as Roberts is disturbingly aroused by the entire scenario, while a now-conscious Savage descends to an anguished rage. Some of the best character work you will EVER see in WWE.
9. Undertaker Vs. Randy Orton (Armageddon 2005)
This match would gain a bit of notoriety for Cowboy Bob Orton's meddling, in which the WWE Hall of Famer bled profusely. Undertaker reportedly was unaware that the elder Orton had Hepatitis C at the time that Orton was bleeding on him, and understandably went ballistic when he was told after the fact. Knowing that, the match is a little more disturbing to watch.
As for the match itself, it was an above-average "Undertaker revenge match", blowing off what was essentially a nine-month feud with The Legend Killer. Lots of blood, lots of weaponry, and a satisfying conclusion when Undertaker annihilated both Orton relatives in the final moments. Matches like these are Undertaker at his best, as he combines vengeance, brutality, and stark visuals in one simple, but effective, story.
8. Paul London/Brian Kendrick Vs. The Hardy Boyz Vs. MNM Vs. William Regal/Dave Taylor (Armageddon 2006)
You have to kinda question the kayfabe logic of this match, seeing as London and Kendrick were squaring up with Regal and Taylor, when it was decided, then and there, to spice things up by sending out some ladders, as well as two teams unaffiliated with the present grudge. Eh, it's a December PPV, so whatever.
The match was what you'd expect from a car-wreck ladder skirmish, with three teams being exactly the kind of bump-heavy daredevils that thrive in that kind of environment, though with one gruesome caveat - Joey Mercury almost having his face grated off from a ladder-seesaw spot. As was the case with the Orton/Taker example, some disgusting details bear mentioning when speaking of a tremendous match.
7. The New Day Vs. The Usos Vs. The Lucha Dragons (TLC 2015)
Really, you have to love any match in which a trombone is used as a javelin of desperation. The New Day had really come into their own throughout the latter half of 2015 as obnoxiously-insincere vessels of positivity, so there wasn't much doubt that they, as wildly-cheered heels, were probably going over in this match. But that assumed result didn't dull the enjoyment of the action.
Kalisto's super Salida Del Sol through the ladder was the biggest highlight of an ambitious stunt show, followed by Big E benching pressing a ladder off of his torso, even with Kalisto's added weight. Too many well-executed spotfests in this day and age make matches like this less memorable, and it's a shame, because this was one of the better ones.
6. AJ Styles Vs. Dean Ambrose (TLC 2016)
The year 2016 belonged to Styles, beginning with his New Japan sendoff against Shinsuke Nakamura, continuing through to his epic SummerSlam match against John Cena, and then into his first WWE Championship reign. Styles capped enough a, *cough*, Phenomenal year against Ambrose in a match with tables, ladders, and chairs on hand, and it's among his top matches of the year, which says quite a bit.
The match almost veered into R-rated when Styles' tights ripped during the match, but it didn't deter the men from continuing onward with their focused battle. Some really nifty spots in the homestretch (Quebrada DDT off the apron) put this above the expected fare, and into a much higher realm, as the struggle and the spottiness combined into one helluva combined effort.
5. Christian Vs. Shelton Benjamin (TLC 2009)
One of those criminally-forgotten matches that gets unearthed years later by somebody with social media clout, and people give it a look before concurring, "Damn, that was awesome - (wrestler) was really, really good." Christian and Benjamin rate among the more underrated talents that graced WWE rings in the 2000s, but were sadly propping up the dying ECW brand at this time. Their ladder match for the show's top belt (well, only belt) deserves more love.
The match gets over an early hurdle (temporary stoppage due to Christian bleeding) in order to build to a workmanlike battle, with tons of climb break-ups, and the expert counters that come from two men who know their craft. Both men had thrived in ladder matches previously, and this easily rates among each man's best singles matches, ladders or no ladders.
4. Chris Jericho Vs. The Rock (Vengeance 2001)
Let's get the negative out of the way here: Jericho pinning Rock to win the World Heavyweight title caused some of the weirdest silence ever heard after a match. The mini-tournament to determine an undisputed WWE Champion had already seen Steve Austin advance to the final match, and most of the attendees probably thought they were getting Austin vs. Rock once more. Jericho's win seemed to surprise San Diego, and not in the best way. Hopefully, that put them on a certain list.
But no matter, Jericho/Rock was an excellent match, comparable to their No Mercy and Royal Rumble matches, as the two simply had impeccable chemistry. Rock was one of Jericho's most selfless opponents and did his best to establish Jericho as a true main eventer in their matches together. This match here, with the renewal of spiteful finisher thefts and not-so-subtle taunts, is the sort of heated battle they were capable of together. Which is to say it's awesome.
3. Kurt Angle Vs. The Rock Vs. Steve Austin Vs. Triple H Vs. The Undertaker Vs. Rikishi (Armageddon 2000)
Well, it took a flatbed truck and some woodchips, but WWE found a way to continue the streak of having somebody take a scary bump off of the cage. Can't imagine that landing ass-first in a thong onto shredded timber feels too good, but at least Rikishi etched a place in history for that fall.
As a chaotic brawl, the match proved wildly entertaining, with blood-soaked slugging encompassing not only the Cell's sprawl, but around the arena as well, six men fighting for WWE's top prize. Somewhat lost in the mayhem was the brief Rock/Austin staredown before the two began throwing hands, a subtle hint of a marquee match to come.
2. Bret Hart Vs. Davey Boy Smith (In Your House 5)
Welcome to 1995 WWE, where the pay-per-views can be mediocre-to-abhorrent, only for Bret Hart and/or Shawn Michaels to bail it out with a high-class wrestling match. In this case, it was The Hitman's turn to save the show, battling his brother-in-law for the WWE Championship. Davey Boy tried to make this match mirror his big win over Bret for the IC title three years earlier, but of course, Hershey ain't Wembley.
Hart discreetly added his own blood to a match that was both highly-scientific and viscerally-brutal, as Smith was fighting much less respectfully of Hart than when he was a babyface at SummerSlam 1992. But Hart, the valiant hero, found a way to outwit Smith in the closing seconds, the sort of titanic struggle that Hart proved he could have with many opponents, though they especially well against either of the British Bulldogs.
1. The Shield Vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane, And Ryback (TLC 2012)
Given the spotty track record with developmental call-ups at the time, The Shield stood out in clear contrast, as they made a crushing mark on WWE immediately. They were unlike any of the one-note basics that preceded them through NXT's game-show phase and the like, and were presented as ruthless assassins from the word go. And their debut match could not have gone better.
Among all of the chaotic spots and the weapons-based anarchy, The Shield were presented as calculating and cohesive, smarter and more fluid than any three stars that came together as a makeshift unit. They were the most brilliant and effective trio ever assembled, it seemed, and their divide-and-conquer strategy rang through an Attitude Era-esque showcase that created many Shield fans in just one night.