This Sunday night is WWE Tables, Ladders & Chairs (and Stairs) from Cleveland. There are nine matches on the show including one on the Kickoff Show, so it's a loaded lineup in the sense that they have more matches announced than usual.
When I look at this lineup I am underwhelmed. We've gotten used to no WWE Champion Brock Lesnar on the show although he is expected to wrestle at January's Royal Rumble, so the streak of PPVs with no WWE Title match ends with this one at three.
What this show tells me is that WWE's roster is so weak on the heel side when they have two past their prime guys like Big Show and Kane wrestling on a PPV when both should probably think about retiring. Mark Henry's another guy in the over 40 club that's a heel, but he's not a part of the crowd. What happened to WWE's ability to book heels right? That's one of their biggest problems right now.
By the way, WWE actually changed this PPV name to Tables, Ladders & Chairs...And Stairs. I'm not going to call it that because it's stupid. For years they have been referred to as the steel steps, but stairs rhymes with chairs so somebody thought it would be cute to add it. It's not. It's dumb. Doesn't really matter anyway.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of my friend Steve Melo.)
Kickoff Show: The New Day vs. Gold & Stardust
It's smart for WWE to put this "new" group The New Day against a veteran team like Goldust & Stardust. A win by TND over an established team will give them some momentum. They could be the team that takes the tag titles from Miz and Mizdow in the not too distant future. What's sad about TND is that they are playing to the crowd too much. It's as if they are begging for approval. Fans cheer winners. Book them strong in matches like this and the fans will support them. It looks like they are tired just from their intro because of how much they are told to play to the crowd.
As for Goldust and Stardust, the clock is ticking on Goldust's career since he's in his mid-40s. It wouldn't shock me if they keep losing week after week leading to Stardust turning on his brother, going back to being heel Cody Rhodes that thinks he's better than everybody and then possibly having a Goldust retirement match at WrestleMania. Why not? It would be cool to see.
Winners: The New Day
Tag Team Titles: The Miz & Damien Mizdow vs. The Usos
This is a comedy match. Miz and Mizdow are comedy wrestlers. The fans don't really care about the actual match. They just want to chant for Mizdow, boo Miz for being a jerk to him and then react favorably whenever Mizdow does something. It's a fun act and it's probably going to lead to a payoff at the Royal Rumble with Mizdow eliminating Miz whether it's on purpose or an accident. Until then, they'll probably hold onto the gold.
I'm hoping that Naomi's involvement in the story will lead to Maryse coming back for Miz, but that's really just because I miss Maryse. I think the champs retain with Mizdow getting the pin after Naomi comes out to support husband Jimmy Uso, but then ends up costing him the match because Jimmy wants her to stay in the back. WWE sure loves booking couples to have disagreements.
Winners: The Miz & Damien Mizdow
Steel Stairs Match: Erick Rowan vs. Big Show
I'm not a big fan of the stipulation. It was as if WWE felt the need to do a stipulation because most of the other matches have one. Now we have to sit through a match where these two big guys are going to fight over who gets to use the "steel" stairs as a weapon. It's really not that interesting to me.
Since Big Show just turned heel he should probably win just to give him some momentum although I really don't care either way. It's cool that management is trying to get Rowan over, but the "big guy that's smarter than he looks" angle has been done before. It will get old fast. Hopefully this is kept under ten minutes.
Winner: Big Show
Divas Title: Nikki Bella vs. AJ Lee
For the past couple of months it has looked like AJ really doesn't want to be there. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe it's because her husband hates the company she works for. Yes that is probably it. Don't you hate people that answer their own questions? Yes you do. I'm sorry. I guess I'm off track, but that's only because this feud has bored the hell out of me and Brie Bella's heel turn to join her sister is one of the worst I've ever seen.
I'll pick Nikki to retain although I'd rather see Paige holding the Divas Title while feuding with my favorite Natalya because at least that would have my interest.
Winner: Nikki Bella
United States Title: Rusev vs. Jack Swagger
It's the easiest prediction of the night. Rusev is not going to drop the US Title to Jack Swagger. It's a shame that they've already run out of guys for Rusev to beat, so they went back to Swagger. At least their matches don't suck. They know each other so well that they can have a competitive ten minute match with the crowd thinking that maybe Rusev is going to tap out, but then he'll find a way to get out of it and give Swagger the Accolade leading to the Rusev win. We've seen it too many times before. On the plus side, Lana will be there. That's always a plus.
Chairs Match: Ryback vs. Kane
You know how Ryback should be booked? In three minute squash matches where he wins easily. Instead, they put him in boring matches where the crowd loses interest because he's a below average in-ring performer. Kane is almost 50 and bores the hell out of me. I respect him for what he's done, but it's time to move on. Either put him in a tag team or stop putting him in PPV feuds. Ryback should win. I hope it's less than seven minutes because otherwise it will be really bad.
Intercontinental Title Ladder Match: Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler
This should be a good match between two guys I like. I think Ziggler has lost some of the momentum he had three weeks ago at Survivor Series because instead of being in a bigger feud, he's still feuding for the same Intercontinental Title that he's usually battling for.
Harper's push makes me happy because he's a unique talent that has the skills of a smaller man. He's quick and agile with believable offensive moves. Fans are buying into him as the IC Champ, which is why he should still hold onto the title.
Ziggler lost the IC Title so he can move up, so there's no reason for him to get it again. The problem with moving up is WWE has done such a crappy job of building up heels that there's really nobody for Ziggler to feud with aside from Rollins or Wyatt, both of whom might be busy going forward.
I'm going with Harper retaining. I just don't think it would be smart to take it off Ziggler for a month, then put it back on him and then we're left wondering if this guy will ever be elevated. No matter who wins, I just hope they get 15-20 minutes because if they do it will be one of the best matches on the show, which is the usual for Ziggler.
Winner: Luke Harper
Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt
This could be the best match of the night because the stipulation promises that it will be a violent match, at least by PG WWE standards. I'm not a big fan of TLC matches without something for the guys to climb because then there's really no use for a ladder. At least when there's something to climb, it makes sense that a guy would jump off one of them to put a guy through a table. In a match without anything to yank down, what's the point of the ladder really? That's just a minor gripe.
I have liked their promos although this feud isn't as good as Rollins vs. Ambrose was. That Rollins/Ambrose rivalry was special and this one is just okay. With that said, it's the feud that has the best build on this show and chances are good that they're going to get 20 minutes for this match, which is great.
I've been torn in terms of picking the winner, but if you look at the origins of the feud it started two months ago at Hell in a Cell. Ambrose should get his revenge to win the feud. The problem is that WWE is lacking on the heel side, so a Wyatt win would really help. The next PPV is Royal Rumble, though, so Ambrose winning probably wouldn't hurt Wyatt since they're both likely to be tossed into that Rumble match.
I'm going with an Ambrose win although it's far from a lock. Make sure you watch this one because it should be really good.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Tables Match: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
(If Cena loses, then he is no longer the #1 contender to the WWE Title.)
Cena's going to win. Anything other than that would be a legitimate surprise to me just because of the stipulation that is in place. It's just like Survivor Series last month when they put in an awful stipulation that ruined the result of the match. WWE wants to put in a stipulation to make the match more enticing to the viewer, but they suck at putting in good stipulations that make sense. It's very frustrating as a viewer.
I don't agree with people saying they should have had Rollins put his Money in the Bank briefcase on the line. I'm glad they didn't. It's not a title. It shouldn't have to be defended. I know WWE has done that in the past, but that doesn't mean it's a smart move. Seth Rollins is an awesome performer that gets better every time he's out there and I'm looking forward to him cashing in the briefcase whenever he does.
Table matches do nothing for me. I think putting a guy through a table is not that appealing for a match as a finish. They don't feel like a big deal when we've seen so many wrestlers put through tables several times every month. It's just not as visually appealing as WWE thinks it is.
I think what's going to happen is Cena's going to be dominant for much of it, then Joey Mercury & Jamie Noble are going to interfere a lot to help Rollins. Cena might even put them through tables to neutralize them. Something will happen to make it look like Rollins is about to win the match when Randy Orton makes his return after being gone for over a month and goes after Rollins. The announcers could play it up as a shock that Orton is there to help Cena although he's really there to get after Rollins. Cena puts Rollins through the table and wins.
This should be good because of the time given, but it's really hard to have a great Tables match when the wrestlers are so limited with what they can do.
Cena wins and keeps his number one contender status to face Lesnar at Royal Rumble. The build starts the next night on Raw.
Winner: John Cena
The three best matches will probably be Ambrose/Wyatt, Harper/Ziggler and Cena/Rollins as long as they get 15 minutes or more. If that happens then this will be a good show. The other matches just don't have as much potential in terms of really stealing the show. My concern is that there just won't be enough buzz about the show. Maybe Orton comes back. That's really it as far as something big happening.
I'll be posting my review of TLC by 12pmET on Monday. I'll be watching the NFL game, so I'll see the PPV either late Sunday night or early Monday AM. There will be a full recap of everything that happened with the results and analysis of everything on the show.
Thanks for reading.