It's those jarring sights, those unbelievable risks, that keeps our eyes glued to the action. From the time that the TLC match was conceived more than 18 years ago, the limits of what could happen inside (and outside) of a WWE ring would be bellied up to, and even pushed beyond their cemented parameters. And it didn't take long for the TLC Six (Edge, Christian, both Hardy Boyz, and both Dudley Boyz) to set near-unmatchable standards for WWE-approved insanity.
The following list will look at ten signature spots that best exemplify the absolute madness of a TLC match. Some are a little more memorable than others, while a few of these entries deserve a little more recognition for just how batty they were.
10. Dead Man Falling (2008)
The Undertaker isn't exactly one of the first people you think of when it comes to TLC match participants. Hell in a Cell? Definitely. Casket matches? Of course. Buried Alive matches? Certainly. But while Undertaker can swing a mean steel chair, he's not exactly a core TLC guy. This statement holds true, even after taking a truly hellacious bump in one such match.
Undertaker and TLC master Edge warred up to par at the 2008 One Night Stand pay-per-view, in what is admittedly one of the less memorable (but nonetheless excellent) TLC matches. Putting this match over the top was the clinching spot, in which 43-year-old Undertaker falls off of the tilting ladder, through a two-by-two set of four tables. Others have taken similar high-risk bumps, but Undertaker going through with such a bump surely merits mention.
9. Tabled In Toronto (2006)
As evidenced in our list of best TLC matches ever, Edge's involvement in the match has been frequent, and his body has bore the aches and swelling that have come with many painful landings in these battles. Just as was the case with the aforementioned match list, you'll see Edge's name pop up a few more times, beginning with this disquieting bump.
In the closing stages of his WWE Championship match against John Cena at Unforgiven 2006, Edge was taken out with a pretty emphatic "checkmate" of a finish, taking the FU from high up on a ladder, through a double-decker table tower. The move at least was a little more controlled than some of what we'll see soon, but man does that still make my sciatic region quiver.
8. Architect Deconstructed (2012)
The Shield's debut match on the main roster would see the faction take part in plenty of thrills and spills, either with they themselves ending up in a heap, or their opponents bearing the brunt of some bone-rattling landings. From the go, Seth Rollins was established as the group's daredevil, displaying a cultured grace that would serve him both on offense, and as a tackling dummy.
After Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns left Rollins to essentially babysit Ryback by the entrance way, a series of events unfolded that led to Ryback chasing Rollins up to the top of a "decorative" ladder. The conclusion of the chase saw Rollins unceremoniously flung off the ladder by his waistband, crashing awkwardly through several tables. When The Shield celebrated at the end, Reigns and Ambrose had to prop their partner up as though it were WWE Films' latest release, Weekend at Colby's.
7. Jeff From Above (2000)
This had been a Jeff Hardy staple throughout all of 2000 - the Swanton Bomb from a really high place, through some poor foe laid out on a table. His daredevilry ended a table match at the 2000 Royal Rumble, and the same move took he and Bubba Ray Dudley out of the triple ladder match at WrestleMania 2000. Him and Bubba would end up in the same situation came SummerSlam.
Only this time, Bubba peeled himself off the table in time, leaving Hardy with nothing to land on except flimsy lumber and the unyielding arena foundation. Wasn't the first Jeff Hardy wipeout, and it damn sure wasn't the last, but it's definitely among his more famous air assaults, even if the intended victim did escape harm.
6. Destroying Nature (2006)
Even as he was still performing capably in his middle age, we wondered just how long Ric Flair could sustain himself as a mostly-regular performer. Wrestling in a TLC match a month before his 57th birthday seemed unthinkable (Flair in a TLC match at *37* would've been hard to reconcile), but Flair held his own in the WWE Championship battle with Edge, subjecting himself to some pretty wild spots.
One of which saw a bloody Flair laid out on a table at ringside, vulnerable to a diving attack from Edge, who had leapt with a splash from a ladder that was inside the ring. Edge's participation in such a risky stunt is hardly surprising, but The Nature Boy? Flair engaging Mick Foley in a barbed wire-laden brawl at SummerSlam was the height of extreme for middle-aged Flair in 2006, but this was damn close.
5. Head And Shoulders Above (2009)
Chris Jericho would call this "...one of the worst (bumps) of my career," in his third collection of memoirs, and the ugly finish to it makes it easy to understand why. There was no satisfying visual crunch to complete this spot, but it merits inclusion on just how damn frightening it was. Jericho said that even rehearsing the spot was scary.
The idea was that, because the ladder had been broken, both Jericho and Big Show, as well as DX, would have to get creative if they were going to retrieve the Tag Team belts. This led to Jericho standing on the seven-foot Big Show's shoulders, which would lead to Shawn Michaels Superkicking Show, causing Jericho to fall off of Show, and through a ringside table. Problem is, Jericho mostly missed the table, though he did smack his face on the corner of it after a spiralling fall. Thankfully, it didn't turn out worse.
4. Bubba Bombed (2000)
The original TLC at SummerSlam 2000 etched its place (and the gimmick itself) into history with a fast-paced array of near-finishes and table-breaking tumbles, setting high standards that would prove difficult to top, even to this day. It was in this match that wrestlers falling out of the ring from the top of a ladder truly became a thing, with Bubba Ray Dudley as one of the pioneering victims.
There Bubba was, standing near the peak of a rather tall set of rungs, belts within reach, when Edge and Christian pushed the ladder over. Bubba went careening into a stack of four tables situated at the end of the aisleway, understandably taking him out of the match. And it wouldn't be the last time that Bubba Ray would fall victim to a bad landing like that one.
3. Bubba Bombed II: Now With More Matt (2001)
There are many people who don't care for sequels, and I'd like to think Bubba Ray Dudley is one of them. TLC II at WrestleMania X-Seven was a sequel worth getting excited about, but somehow I doubt Bubba Ray was feeling all warm and fuzzy about repeating his plunge into wooden and metal abyss. Though at least time, The Broken One would be breaking the tables with him.
WWE newcomer Rhyno had the privilege of pushing the ladder over, sending his fellow future NWA/TNA World Champions (man, that's a weird statement) flying into the aisle, where they make shrapnel out of four tables. And these tables, they didn't just break - they EXPLODED into fragments on impact. If the table's function is to at least break the fall somewhat, then these ones failed Misters Hardy and Dudley.
2. Blind Faith (2000)
In the previous two examples, we've seen wrestlers sustain what is probably a 12-foot drop through stacks of tables while covering another 15 feet of horizontal distance. Being the victim in those examples is definitely no picnic, but at least it's somewhat easier in those cases to brace for impact, since you can see the target.
Matt Hardy didn't have it so easy when he took a positively-horrifying fall at SummerSlam 2000. D-Von Dudley lifted one side of the ladder that Hardy was standing on, causing our favourite Mattitude guru to fall backwards through a set of tables at ringside, with somewhat comparable velocity. It requires a lot trust (as well as cajones) to take that sort of bump, not being able to see the target as you plummet backwards.
1. Surface-To-Air Missile (2001)
What sometimes goes unmentioned is that Edge and Jeff Hardy performed this very spot on Raw six months earlier, in a ladder match for the show's first episode on what was then known as TNN. It was crazy then, and it was even crazier when done before 68,000 fans inside the AstroDome. But it's this one that gets all the glory.
Hardy had his mitts wrapped around the skyhook, dangling perilously over the ring. He tried to brace his feet on a nearby ladder, which Bubba Ray Dudley removed from the equation. As soon as Hardy swung back to the centre point, Edge flew from a corner ladder with an absolute gem of a spear (the best one of his career), knocking Hardy from his grasp, and sending both men hurtling dangerously toward the canvas. The spot is as terrifying as it is visually stunning.