It's the last WWE Pay-Per-View of the year as WWE TLC takes place this Sunday night in Houston, Texas. The main event is a WWE Title Unification match that WWE is billing as the biggest match in WWE history. Do we really feel that way? No. I get why WWE promotes it like that, but I'm not sold on it being the biggest match ever.
What disappoints me about this PPV is that they haven't added stipulations to any matches other than the main event. My assumption is they do that because they don't want anything else to steal the show. They want the main event to stand alone. In past years they had a Tables Match, a Chairs Match and a Ladder Match in addition to the TLC match, but this year it's just one gimmick match. I think the show would have benefitted from having another stipulation match this year. It's not a bad lineup, though. It could be better than the last four PPVs, which were all disappointments to me. There are seven announced matches, so let's get to it.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango (Kickoff Match)
There's no story to this one other than they're two midcard wrestlers without much of a direction. It's amazing to me that Ziggler might have had the moment of the year the night after WrestleMania when he won the World Title and now he's barely on the radar. The way he's been booked in the last six months has been brutal. Last year he even main evented this show against Cena. Fandango doesn't have much going for him other than the dancing. Both guys are good in the ring, so if they get ten minutes it should be solid opener. I'll go with the Ziggler win just because I think when there's no storyline it makes more sense to have the babyface win the first match.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Tag Team Championship: Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Big Show & Rey Mysterio vs. The Real Americans vs. Curtis Axel & Ryback (Rybaxel?)
This was added on Smackdown. The Show & Mysterio team has only tagged up a couple of times, yet they get a tag title shot because they're former main eventers? I guess so. I'm trying to implement WWE logic here. The Real Americans would have likely received the shot if they had one team challenging, so they warrant a spot. The Axel/Ryback team is a result of neither guy really doing that great as a singles act. I'm fine with them teaming up. This could have been perfect for a tag team ladder match, but like I mentioned at the top WWE wants to keep the TLC main event special as the only gimmick match. They'll probably get 12-15 minutes and I think the champs will retain. The Real Americans won clean over Cody & Goldust on Smackdown, so that gives away the likely finish of the champs getting the win.
I think Goldust and Cody will likely lose the tag titles either at the Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber, which will lead to a split for their team and a match at WrestleMania likely with Goldust in the heel role. I don't think they're ready to drop the titles yet, but if they do it will likely be The Real Americans that win it. I think they should save it until the Rumble in a regular tag match. For now, keep the titles on the Brotherhood.
Winners: Cody Rhodes & Goldust
It seems like AJ Lee has defeated every diva in WWE at some point in the last six months since she's won the Divas Title. This is the first time she's had a singles PPV match against Natalya, though. I can't even remember the last time Natalya even had a singles match for the Divas Title on PPV. I'm glad it's happening because I think there's a chance that this can be a very good match. There's a nice dynamic between them since AJ is a crafty heel champion that finds ways to get the win while Natalya is a submission expert who is also one of the most powerful divas that WWE has ever had. Both of them have submission finishers too, so I like that they will be able to have some sequences where they're going for their finishers. The crowd will likely be interested in it too.
As far as a winner goes, I think the champ will retain. The reason I think it is because Natalya has had the advantage on television routinely, so I have to consult the old reliable "win on TV, lose on PPV" theory. Natalya beat her in a tag match to earn the shot. She's also looked strong heading into the match. Of course WWE could go against the theory and put the title on Natalya, but I think they're going to keep it on AJ for at least another month. It wouldn't surprise me if she held it until WrestleMania. I don't know who she's going to drop it to. I just don't think it will be here even though Natalya's my favorite diva and I would love to see Natalya have that moment because it's been three years since she held it.
Winner: AJ Lee
Intercontinental Championship: Big E Langston vs. Damien Sandow
This is the most predictable match on the card. Langston will win. He won the title less than a month ago, so why would they have him lose it so soon? That makes no sense to me. He's a guy they want to build up into a top guy over the next year or two. He's following that traditional path that so many wrestlers have been on where they get the IC Title before winning more important titles. Also, the good news for the IC Title is that with the World Title Unification it will make the IC Title more valuable again. Sandow's a solid midcard heel that should have some kind of gold in his possession in the near future. He won't get it here. Oh and Big E, look out for that Mark Henry heel turn because turning heel is what he does.
Winner: Big E Langston
Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family (3-on-1 Handicap Match)
The 3 on 1 handicap match idea isn't one that I love. I realize that WWE's doing it because they have heels running the show that are going to do everything they can to make things unfair for the top babyfaces. That's just how it is. Hopefully they do something to change that storyline up (bring Vince McMahon back as the babyface owner?) because seeing two of them on one PPV lineup is a little too much for me.
My prediction for this match is a win for the heels. I think they'll go 12-15 minutes with Bryan putting up a fight. He'll likely get a couple of nearfalls or near submission, but ultimately lose due to the numbers game. I think they should do something where Bryan takes out Rowan, takes out Wyatt and then turns around right into that devastating Harper clothesline just when it looks like Bryan might win. I think that would work well. Plus, I'm writing this as I'm watching Smackdown and Bryan just avoided an attack on the Wyatt Family by taking them out using his speed. He had the advantage, so that would favor the Wyatts. I was picking them anyway.
Winners: The Wyatt Family
CM Punk vs. The Shield (3-on-1 Handicap Match)
This 3 on 1 match has my interest more than the other ones. It's nothing against the guys in the other match at all. The reason I'm excited is because Punk didn't really work against The Shield in the last year until the past few weeks, so there's a lot of freshness to it. It's certainly better than watching him wrestle Curtis Axel or Ryback month after month. I think they're going to get about 15 minutes, Punk will look like he's got no chance to win and JBL will talk about how dominant The Shield is. That's what announcers do to give away the upset finish.
I think CM Punk is going to win for two reasons. The first reason is because I think this match is taking place as a way to lead to the split of The Shield. We saw at Survivor Series that Roman Reigns became a breakout star by eliminating four guys and becoming the sole survivor in their match. Now is the right time to start setting up the split so that when they get to the Rumble, they can go after each other and maybe Reigns can be a big star in that match. If they want to slow burn it that works too. The other reason is I think WWE wants to put Punk back in the WWE Title picture. Whether that means Punk is going for the WWE Title at Royal Rumble or he's the guy that wins the Rumble match, I think Punk has been kept away from the WWE Title since February because they want him to get back in the title scene in early 2014.
For the finish, my idea is this. Punk can make his comeback. Ambrose is the legal man for the heels. Punk gets a nearfall on Ambrose, which Rollins breaks up. Punk applies the Anaconda Vice on Rollins to take him out of the match. Reigns gets in the ring, he goes for a Spear on Punk that Punk avoids and Reigns hits Ambrose with it. Punk dumps Reigns outside the ring, hits the GTS on Ambrose and gets the win. Post match, Ambrose is furious with Reigns. They have a shoving match. Rollins tells them to stop it. The seeds are planted for the split while also putting Punk over. I think that would work well. I'm very interested in seeing how they book this one.
Winner: CM Punk
WWE Unified Championship: World Heavyweight Champion John Cena vs. WWE Champion Randy Orton (Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match)
I think the presentation of this match has been well done. I do have some questions, though. Will both championships hang from the rafters together like we saw on Raw and Smackdown? I assume that's the case. If that happens, though, the chance for each man to come down with one title is possible. The other question I have deals with what title are they going to use going forward? I assume it's the WWE Title because it debuted earlier this year and it has the WWE logo plastered right on it. I think it makes more sense to keep that one.
I'm going with Orton because I think it makes more sense for him to carry the title into the new year and possibly into WrestleMania. The one point they drove home on television is that they guaranteed that there would be one champion at TLC that they will be the "Champion of Champions." They've said it over and over. It's a heel like Triple H saying that he guarantees it meaning he'll do what he can to guarantee that Orton is the one that leaves. Smackdown this weekend ended with Orton saying they know exactly where they faith lies. There's some doubt in Orton's mind. Some people even think Cena could turn heel. I don't think so, but that thought is out there for some people.
If Cena wins it, then what? There really aren't heel challengers out there for him. Plus, Cena kicked Orton's ass two weeks ago on Raw. Then this past Monday on Raw, Orton was the one down on the mat after a Triple H Pedigree. That's typical WWE booking in building up a PPV. The other reason I like Orton in this match is because I think there's a chance for interference. Think about it. Cena rarely loses via pinfall or submission. In a TLC match, he doesn't have to get pinned or submitted. He lost the WWE Title to Sheamus in a Tables Match four years ago. Last year he lost in the main event of TLC in a Ladder Match against Ziggler. As I've written before, he wouldn't have lost clean to those guys. It happened in stipulation matches because they want to protect him at all times.
As far as the match goes, I think it has the potential to be really good. I think the best Cena/Orton match was their Ironman from four years ago. It wasn't a match of the year contender, but they know how to put together an exciting match. They'll likely get 20 minutes, I expect a few tables to be broken and for the finish to be very creative too. I just have a feeling that somebody's going to cost Cena from winning whether it's Triple H or Kane or somebody out of nowhere, I think Orton's going to win. If they do the deal where each guy comes down with one title then maybe that's the thing that leads to Vince McMahon coming back on Raw.
The appealing thing about this match to me is how they end it. I'm picking Orton, but I'm not that sure of it. It's not an easy match to predict. That's okay, though. I like unpredictability. It makes me more interested in the match. I think WWE has done a very good job of building this match up especially after the strong ending from Raw. Hopefully the match lives up to the hype.
Winner and New WWE Unified Champion: Randy Orton
I think TLC will be an above average PPV because there are some enticing matchups that can be really good if they are booked well. I'm speaking about the two 3 on 1 handicap matches and the main event. The tag title match could be a show stealer if they are given the time (more than 15 minutes) for it, but I don't expect them to go that long. At least the main event has a special feel to it. It's better than having Big Show in it like they did at Survivor Series. No offense, big guy.
I don't expect TLC to be the best PPV of the year or anything like that. I just think it's going to be better than the last four PPVs that were all disappointing and forgettable shows. End the year on a high note, WWE.
My review of TLC will get posted on Monday because I will not see it live. Blame the NFL. Once the Royal Rumble gets here I'll go back to writing PPV reviews live. Thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org