SmackDown Tag Team Champions The New Day def. The Revival (Ladder Match)

MINNEAPOLIS — The New Day retained the SmackDown Tag Team Championships at WWE TLC by the narrowest of margins, in one of the most brutal of matches, against the most tenacious of opponents.

It was as much a referendum on ya boys’ continued dominance as it was on their challengers, The Revival, whose in-ring philosophy suggests they’ve never looked at a ladder, let alone climbed one. The Revival were more than creative enough to hold their own even if they’re not exactly high-flyers, but New Day – to use an old but appropriate saying — simply wanted it more.

Either that, or they simply found themselves ahead following a war of attrition that saw everyone tossed through, slammed on (or through) and hit with a ladder of some kind. The Revival’s no-flips-just-fists strategy paid early dividends. They let New Day flip right into their hands, then let the fists fly, but as the match progressed, they began to use the ladders as key components in their maneuvers.

Big E, whose knee somehow wasn’t in five pieces by the end of the match, was suplexed onto and then splashed through a ladder he had set up. Kofi Kingston, just seconds off a showstopping springboard DDT off a falling ladder, was yanked off a second ladder straight into a Shatter Machine. And, in the closing moments, Kingston found himself threaded through the rungs of the ladder as Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson climbed to a fingertips’ length of the SmackDown Tag Team Titles.

But then — but then! — Big E rose from whatever laddery grave he had been consigned to, seized Dash Wilder halfway up a ladder and executed a Big Ending off the side, taking them both out and leaving Dawson simply aghast. Kofi, still trapped within the rungs, rose with his last breath to smash Dawson in the face with the dangling SmackDown Tag Team Titles, sending the tag team specialist tumbling into a nest of twisted metal. With no one left to fight, Kofi climbed the last step and grabbed the titles. Kingston retained the prize and capped off a match — and a year — in which he fought through adversity, climbed to the peak and took what he had earned. With all due respect to a very game Revival, it doesn’t get much more old-school than that.