John: This Sunday night Boston, WWE presents their final pay-per-view event of the year: Tables, Ladders & Chairs aka TLC. The concept behind this event is that there is one tables match, one ladder match, one chairs match and one TLC match in the main event.
While the WWE product isn't great right now (I'm being generous with that statement), at least PPVs typically provide us with good matches we can enjoy. It's been a pretty strong year for WWE in terms of the matches. The problem is that there really aren't any major twists or turns that happen. We saw the Sheamus cash-in at Survivor Series three years ago, but all that "major twist" was make people groan and wonder why they are still watching. These PPV events just don't seem special anymore and that's a shame.
There are seven advertised matches with nothing set for the Kickoff Show although typically there is a match on there. It might be something like Dolph Ziggler vs. Tyler Breeze again, but it's not official.
Joining me for the preview are Christian Michael and Matty J. Douglas. As always, the match order isn't the order that we necessarily think will happen on the show. It's just a format to use for this preview.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo. Go visit his website prowrestlinglinks.com for convenient links to all kinds of different wrestling related websites.)
Ryback vs. Rusev
Christian: This could be surprisingly good if they get around ten minutes. I know the match on RAW was a stinker but it’s the Holiday Season and I’m going to be a glass half-full guy for once. I like both these guys and think they could have a really good power vs. power match.
The whole way this feud started was odd. Rusev and Lana are publicly getting back together and here comes Ryback to let Rusev know his girl was getting frisky with another dude while they were apart. I’m not sure why Rusev wouldn’t know that considering it was on national television but maybe Rusev doesn’t watch RAW. Seems like a growing trend.
WWE is in one of their “we’re not pushing Ryback” modes and Rusev needs the win to help establish him and his new stable as a force so the winner is pretty obvious to me.
Matt: Rusev seems to be right on schedule. He is now in his Bulgarian Love Machine phase, and it's just a matter of time before he fulfills the prophecy of Matty J and transitions to Dancing Rusev. It’s inevitable.
As for this match, I don’t care much for The Big Guy or the Bulgarian Love Machine. I’ve also lost any interest in Lana. Sure she’s a looker, but at the end of the day, she adds nothing to my viewing experience that any other lady couldn’t.
Winner: Rusev (because… seriously, does it really matter who wins this meaningless match?)
John: It's an easy match to predict because Rusev is ascending again (or so we think) while Ryback really isn't getting pushed much since he lost the IC Title to Kevin Owens a few months ago. What WWE needs to do with Rusev is to make him an unstoppable heel, but they aren't doing that because they want to push Rusev as more of an obnoxious heel that brags about how he's with the gorgeous Lana. His promos about "you want Lana, but she's mine" is a basic way to get heel. It's not going to make him a main eventer, though.
I didn't like their last match on Raw, so I hope this one is better. Rusev wins after a Lana distraction after 7-10 minutes or so. They need to have her get involved in matches more. Whether it's a leg trip or something else, just give her a bigger role and it will help Rusev.
US Title Chairs Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
Christian: I had forgotten Jack Swagger was even under the employ of WWE until he randomly showed up on RAW one night to confront Zeb Colter about his pairing with Alberto Del Rio. Swagger has so much talent and he should be a staple in the midcard but he just goes unseen for months at a time. It’s such a shame.
I guess this was a natural feud to do given their history. Yea, their history. You remember the time they were given the chance to be the World Heavyweight Championship Match at WrestleMania and it completely bombed? At least this time around it’s not being promoted as a major match.
The story seems all set for a Swagger title win. Colter was dumped but Del Rio and will likely help Swagger win. However, with The League of Nations just being formed and the squad being in serious need of credibility this is not the time for these guys to start losing PPV matches. So, Jack loses and falls back into the abyss and wherever the hell he was hiding.
Prediction- Alberto Del Rio retains the United States Championship
Matt: We’re supposed to care about Jack Swagger now? Oddly enough, despite his xenophobia disguised as patriotism and his fixation on wooing back his old racist pal Zeb who had adopted a more progressive mindset of inclusion and acceptance of Mexican people, there have been fleeting moments where I thought Swagger looked, dare I say, cool.
Ultimately this feud is cold. I didn’t like Zeb with Alberto, and I’m not all that excited to see he and Swagger join forces again as a Trump-like duo. This entire thing feels like a placeholder. Plus it’s a chairs match, which may be the single dumbest stipulation in the WWE today. I’d much rather see these guys battle in a Punjabi Prison Match. Seriously, that atrocity is better than a chairs match.
Winner and Still United States Champion: Alberto Del Rio (because who would put the Title on Jack Swagger after the year he’s had to this point?)
John: I get the feeling that the crowd will be dead for a lot of these matches, especially this one. Just because they added Chairs as a stipulation isn't really going to help. Their feud a few years ago produced a few good matches, but back then Swagger as actually on television regularly. Now he's basically a babyface loser and he's not going to leave with the title. It's not like Del Rio has been a great champion since he's barely defended the title. I just think WWE views him as the bigger star, so he'll retain here. Good luck getting the crowd behind ya, fellas. Better call for the "We The People" about 10 times during the match, Jack.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Divas Title: Charlotte vs. Paige
Christian: WWE turned Paige heel and had her make some very unnecessary comments about Charlotte’s deceased brother all in an effort to garner Charlotte sympathy as babyface. None of that worked because even though she seems to share her father’s in-ring ability she doesn’t have his verbal skills, at least not yet. So, now they are in the process of turning Charlotte heel because I guess force feeding us one babyface is enough for them this month.
I like both these ladies and think they’ll have a really good match but it’s time for both to move onto other things. This feud just hasn’t clicked. Hopefully Becky Lynch gets a title program with Charlotte because she is woefully underused oh and did it mention #WEWANTSASHA.
Prediction- Charlotte retains the Divas Championship
Matt: Why am I being deprived of the Submission On A Table Match that the weeks of Paige applying PTOs on the announce table was surely setting up? How great would it have been to watch Paige and Charlotte each set up tables and proceed to attempt to get their prone opponent onto the table and lock them in their respective submissions. That’s high drama (Get it? They’re elevated on top of the table).
In all seriousness, in a PPV that is incredibly weak on storytelling and emotion, at least these ladies feel like there is some real heat between them. Ric’s involvement seems gratuitous, but they’ve capture emotion, regardless of the stunts they’ve needed to pull to get it. When a show is as cold as this one, I guess I’ll take what I can get. I don’t know who I’m supposed to root for, as the booking for this has been kind of frenetic, but at least they’ve had the semblance of a story to tell (though it could be more clear and altogether better but that’d be knit-picking).
Winner and Still Divas Champion: Charlotte (because when I’m this confused by a story, I go with the finish that provides the most stability)
John: What a bizarre situation this has turned into. I feel bad for the performers. Prior to their Survivor Series match, WWE went the sympathy route in trying to get over Charlotte as a face. When that failed, they realized it was time to pull the plug on making Charlotte a good girl, so she turned heel a couple of weeks ago with daddy Ric Flair at her side. Right now it's a subtle turn. They'll probably make it more obvious on Sunday or Monday.
While I think Charlotte's going to retain, it's important to note that Becky Lynch beat Paige on Smackdown. I know Smackdown results don't matter, but that could mean Paige is going to win. What I think it really will mean is that Charlotte will get by Paige, then really go heel against her buddy Lynch and that leads to Charlotte vs. Lynch at the Royal Rumble. Long term, they'll probably turn Sasha Banks face in early 2016 and build up Banks vs. Charlotte at WrestleMania.
The match should be pretty good with 10-15 minutes of in-ring time. The booking of the divas has been bad, but at least they are getting more time on PPVs this year. What will hurt is that neither woman that likable as a performer right now. Who will the crowd support? Nobody. That's going to hurt the quality of the match. Look for Charlotte to retain by cheating.
Eight Man Elimination Tables Match: The Wyatt Family vs. The Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer & Rhyno
Christian: This match came about because WWE was due for their ECW reunion. It seems as if someone in wrestling is having one every 6-8 months and overuse the word “extreme” because WWE owns the rights to ECW. Then WWE who can say “ECW” overuses “extreme” anyway because they love buzzwords.
I like that this is an elimination style match. It’ll make it into good chaotic fun with a few table spots instead of just one. The only acceptable ending to this match is a dominant win for The Wyatt Family.
Prediction- The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman survive)
Matt: I have very little confidence in the prowess of several of the men in this match. Luckily they don’t need to be great wrestlers to pull off a chaotic tables match. We all know the ECW geezers are being fed to the Wyatts so that we forget that they’ve been losers for the last few months. I’m hoping it is a quick and dominant performance by The Wyatts. No need to make it seem like these dinosaurs can hang with them.
Just have The Wyatts annihilate them and move on to more interesting things, like dominating the Royal Rumble in January. Can you imagine Bray being like the 6th entrant, and bringing out a rocking chair, sitting on the stage and waiting? A few entrants later there’s Strowman. Then Harper at 15. Then Rowan at 18. Now that the whole family is together, they march upon the Rumble and Annihilate anybody inside. Cool moment right? I’m totally looking past TLC.
Winners: The Wyatt Family (because nothing shocking or surprising is going to happen here)
John: I think it's both sad and funny that WWE couldn't properly hype an elimination match at Survivor Series, yet they set one up a month later with a stipulation. Their creative team really just don't care at this point or maybe they are inept. I'm not sure what it is.
The Wyatt Family should win this match and they should do it easily. As most people watching WWE can figure out, this is about making the Wyatts look strong after they were beaten clean at Survivor Series. The other four guys (Team ECW in their "Reunions Never Die" tour) are in their 40s, have nothing left to prove and have no reason to do well in this match. Use the veterans to put over the younger talent. It's pretty simple. I think all four Wyatt Family members should survive the match, but I wouldn't be shocked if Luke Harper and Erick Rowan get eliminated. I'd be shocked if Bray Wyatt or Braun Strowman were beat.
Winners: The Wyatt Family
Tag Team Titles Ladder Match: The New Day vs. The Usos vs. The Lucha Dragons
Christian: I would have added the Dudley Boyz to this match and changed it to a TLC Match. That would be pretty awesome. This match should be pretty awesome it its own right. I’d like to see The Lucha Dragons get a shot at being Tag Team Champions because I think Kalisto could be something special, but I also don’t see a need to take the titles off of The New Day.
The New Day being champs just makes their act so much more obnoxious. You’re like “ugh these guys are such jerks” but then they win and brag about it. It works. The Usos are there merely to do some splashes off the ladders. They seem more occupied having Roman Reigns’ back in his battle against the evil foreign guys.
Prediction- The New Day retains the Tag Team Championship
Matt: The story behind this match is that The New Day has been beaten by both teams in some form or another and tried to weasel their way out of defending their titles against either of them, but ended up having to face both of them in a ladder match. (Sidebar: What does doing all these favours for The Authority get New Day, if not a little preferential treatment? Yet The Authority put them in this wildly disadvantageous match. Is it meant as an on screen metaphor? No matter how great black WWE stars do, even when that’s becoming the most over act in the WWE, management will never give them a big break the way they do for somebody who never goes above and beyond like, let’s say Sheamus?).
Now it isn’t the classic TLC match I’ve been dreaming about since this PPV came into existence, but I guess I’ll take what I can get. As far as storytelling is concerned, there could have been more, and I’m hoping there will be once the Lucha Dragons have been removed from this rivalry. The idea of Jimmy Uso getting upset because his wife keeps hanging out with New Day is ripe for the pickings. She can keep saying they’re just her friends, but New Day can subtly be trying to put the moves on her. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The New Day (because nothing of note will happen on this show)
John: I think this is going to be the match of the night. I like ladder matches when there are more than two guys involved because then you can set up the spot better. Two guys can climb, do some moves on there, bump off and others can go up. If it's one on one, there's a lot of sitting around doing nothing and guys aren't given time to sell moves properly.
All three teams are very good in the ring. The story could be a bit better, but that could be said about anything in WWE right now. It just doesn't feel like the right time to have New Day drop the titles. What I would do is keep the gold on them until WrestleMania at which point they drop the titles in a two on two tag match to whoever the face team is. Whether it's the Usos, Lucha Dragons, Dudley Boyz or even a NXT team like Jordan & Gable, that's when the next title change should be.
In the end, look for the champs to retain. Even though it 2 vs. 2 vs. 2, it wouldn't surprise me to see some Xavier Woods interference to help his team win. It's not like there are rules in a Ladder Match anyway, so he can interfere all he wants. I think he'll be a big factor in the finish.
Winners: The New Day
Intercontinental Title: Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose
Christian: I don’t want to complain about seeing my two favorite active WWE Superstars in a title match on a PPV but I’m going to anyway. While I think the match is going to be very good, I just don’t see the point in it.
They’ve barely done anything to create a feud between these two because Dean Ambrose’s time has been occupied with helping out Roman Reigns. To keep up the WWE’s own storylines on RAW I’d have the Usos face Bad News Barrett and Rusev and Ambrose vs. Alberto Del Rio for the United States Championship since it makes more sense to have Reigns’ amigos in matches against the League of Nations instead of seemingly random title matches.
You can still have your Tag Team Championship Ladder Match with The New Day against the Lucha Dragons and since Kevin Owens should be on every PPV he could still defend his Intercontinental Championship against a pick ‘em of Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger or Neville. Pretty simple if you ask me.
Since this is the match WWE booked we’ll stick to this. I can see a scenario where both guys win but it’ll be more likely that the League costs Ambrose the match and allows Owens to retain.
Prediction- Kevin Owens retains the Intercontinental Championship
Matt: I wrote extensively about how disappointing this build has been. You can read that piece here if you haven’t. They still have a month to drag this thing out for, I guess. Royal Rumble is the end of the line, because that’s when Sami Zayn shows up as a surprise entrant and kicks Kevin Owens’ ass setting up their rivalry heading into Wrestlemania for the Intercontinental Championship.
In the meantime WWE, tell us a story between Ambrose and Owens. Something better than popcorn in the face and lawyers getting beat up. Please WWE! Make this rivalry personal. The Family Man vs. The Man Without one. Oh and #UncuffAmbrose!
Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Kevin Owens (because nothing noteworthy is happening on this show)
John: There was so much potential for this to be some great feud, yet there was barely any effort put into it. Owens missed Raw two week ago due to being sick and then this past week on Raw they only furthered the story by having Ambrose toss a drink and popcorn onto Owens. It's lame. They did have a longer segment on Smackdown, but as I say all the time if it happened on Smackdown it's as if it didn't happen due to how low of a profile that show has these days.
Ambrose got the win over Owens at Survivor Series in a non-title match. It was good, but it left me wanting more. My hope is they get 15-20 minutes to have a great wrestling match. Look at the rest of the card filled with gimmick matches. Let these two have a classic match and it could stand out.
I think Owens makes for a great IC Champion, so he should keep it. I just don't like Ambrose losing as much as he does, which makes it difficult to predict a specific finish. I think Owens will leave the victor, though.
Winner: Kevin Owens
WWE World Heavyweight Title TLC Match: Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns
Christian: You have to go back to when John Cena defended the WWE Championship against R-Truth back in 2011 to find a major title match I’ve been less interested in. (Note from John: I think you're forgetting Big Show vs. Randy Orton at Survivor Series 2013 because that sucked too!)
The sad part is I like both guys and think they’ll have a very physical, entertaining match. The problem is WWE made Sheamus into such a loser as the Money in the Bank winner that it is nearly impossible for me to care about him as Champion.
The outcome is this match is pretty predictable in my eyes. Sheamus and Roman Reigns tear each up apart for about 15 minutes. Reigns is in a position to win the match and here comes the League of Nations. Reigns’ boys show up and it’s an all-out war. After about five minutes of that somehow the only guy still upright is Sheamus and he grabs the title and wins the match. Sounds about right.
Prediction- Sheamus retains the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Matt: We’ve arrived at the cherry atop this bland sundae. The one match that should have some pretty decent heat on it given the circumstances, but has managed to cool itself off in record fashion. Between Roman smiling up a storm on Raw after having been screwed out of the WWE Title the night before, and Sheamus’ inherent abilities as a cooler, there seems to be zero palpable animosity between either of these superstars. It’s like I’m watching a elementary school production of a WWE feud (don’t forget to smile and deliver your lines exactly how they were written at a 4th grade level). That final promo segment on Raw was the worst!
There was literally one segment that had some spark to it, and that was Sheamus’ backstage interview after Reigns pinned him in the 16-man Tag Team opener on Raw. Sheamus seemed pissed and had and anger that I wish both these guys would exude more often. Instead I feel like I’m watching a feud between two failing comedians. Knowing Sheamus, this match will bomb. He is in general, a heat vacuum. I expect no different here.
Winner and Still WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Sheamus (because nothing noteworthy is going to happen. Now that I’ve said it like 6 times, watch something noteworthy happen. If it does, you're welcome)
John: Sheamus won the WWE Title three weeks ago at Survivor Series. While there's a chance that WWE could take the title off him, it would damage his career a lot and I don't think they are going to do that to him.
The most likely time for the title change is the Royal Rumble. It can be Reigns vs. Sheamus in a one on one match like a steel cage to prevent outside interference. That show is over a month away too, so there's plenty of time to build it up and hopefully it'll mean something. Plus, it could keep Reigns out of the Rumble match. I don't know if it's the plan, but it sounds good to me.
In terms of match quality, I think it'll be pretty good. Even though both guys have their critics, they have both shown they can have excellent matches if they are given time. Reigns is also very good when he can use some weapons. Fans pop for things like a guy doing a Spear through a table, so they will be able to get some big pops for the major moves. I also expect them to get about 15-20 minutes.
As for the finish, I can't see Reigns losing clean in a regular one on one match. My prediction is that there will be a huge brawl with The League of Nations coming out to help Sheamus only to be stopped by Dean Ambrose and The Usos, so then it'll look like Reigns is about to win when somebody else interferes. I don't know who, but I get the feeling that somebody else will join the League of Nations in order to help Sheamus win. They could even go so far as to have Triple H be the one that stops Reigns. I just don't see Reigns winning and I don't see him suffering a clean loss, so somebody else interfering is the most likely scenario to me.
Lastly, it would be best if they didn't mention "tater tots" again. Leave it out of video packages and don't have the announcers bring it up. That awful promo on Monday needs to be forgotten as soon as possible.
John: I'm not sure if it's ever happened before, but all three of us agree on every pick in the seven matches. That means it's a predictable card unless we are all way off base. That's a problem with WWE right now because the booking is so predictable and boring that it's hard for fans to get excited about the current product. We want surprises, but we're not getting that. It's a shame because there is a lot of talent on the roster even with all the injuries. It's also a show full of heel wins. I'm not sure if that's how it will end up, but that's what the booking suggests.
I won't see WWE TLC live on Sunday night due to a family commitment I'll be at, so the review will be up on Monday morning.
Christian - @Christian_973
Matt - @MJDP_GSE
John - @johnreport
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