After such a strong showing at Survivor Series, color me surprised that TLC is looking a little stale and tired. The feuds are seemingly thrown together at random, and no one looks too interested in bringing any depth to their conflicts. This is really starting to look less like a main event show and more like another day at the office. But the WWE is full of surprises so maybe the pieces will fall into place on Sunday night.
Pre-show: The New Day vs. The Dust Brothers
I’ll be the first to admit that I really don’t get the new day. I understand it in principle (a team of mid-carders looking to get some exposure by working together) but it just doesn’t seem to gel. I really feel that this team should be a new Nation of Domination and demand respect, but instead Kofi, Big E and Xavier Woods are just kind of dancing around asking for attention rather than taking it. But TLC could be their big break as a team so maybe they’ll pull something out of their hats.
Creative clearly believes in the product, given the push they’ve been getting lately, so I’m guessing that they’ll get the win over Gold and Stardust to legitimise the New Day as contenders.
What I think will happen: Gold and Stardust will let the New Day go over on them.
What I hope happens: The New Day pull a surprise heel-turn and demand some respect from the fans.
TLC Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt
The Ambrose/Wyatt matchup at Survivor Series was a rare miss for these two. On paper, this sounds like a bloodbath but I’m practice it was a bit of a slog. Also, despite starting strong I’m storyline really hasn’t gone anywhere. But I’m thinking that with all of the TLC toys at their disposal, Ambrose and Wyatt will put on a Hard core showcase.
What I think will happen: Well it’s the middle-match and Ambrose “won” the first one, so I expect Wyatt to get the win on Sunday.
What I hope happens: That I stay awake through this one.
Chairs Match: Ryback vs. Kane
And here’s where TLC loses me. Talk about boring. What really gets me about this one is that the story should be much better than it is. Ryback got a HUGE push last month, with Stephanie McMahon dubbing him the “biggest monster in the WWE.” There’s your push right there. Bigger emphasis should have been put on Kane reaffirming his “Big Red Monster” status. Instead he threw a hot-dog at Ryback. Ryback and Kane should have competed by jobbing out smaller opponents or something else that made them look like the biggest, meanest guys around. Sort of like what Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey are doing at Thursday’s NXT takeover (which you should absolutely watch, by the way). And I am really sick of Corporate Kane. It’s just not an interesting gimmick. At least Ivan Yankem was a little interesting (#throwbackthursday?). Given Ryback’s big-time push, I’d be really surprised if he didn’t finish on top in this one.
What I think will happen: These two will lumber around each other for 15 minutes until Ryback gets the pin.
What I hope happens: Kane at least comes to the ring in his “Big Red Machine” getup and reminds everyone that he used to be the most vicious “big-man” in the business.
Stairs Match: Erick Rowan vs. The Big Show
Speaking of “big-men”, here’s another thrown-together match with two guys who don’t have a whole lot of chemistry. I think that this one will be the low-point for the evening, and likely wont last long either. Calling for an Erick Rowan win on this one is a no-brainer. He’s the young guy they are looking to push, while the Big Show was been perpetually situated in his spot for a good while now. I’m not really sure how a Stairs match differs from anything else on the card, but hopefully we’ll see something really innovative to make the match stand out a little bit.
What I think will happen: Erick Rowan will get the win so that his single’s run gets some momentum.
What I hope happens: Rowan’s character gets some development outside of “the guy who used to be in the Wyatt family and is now apparently a genius because we say so.”
Ladder Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper
This one has potential, mostly because Ziggler and Harper are guys who can have good matches with pretty much anybody. Plus a ladder match gives both guys plenty of opportunities to try some really innovative spots. Ziggler’s matches are almost always the highlights of a PPV, so I look forward to another showing from him. That being said, I don’t think that he’ll get the win on Sunday. Harper needs the belt to stay relevant more than Ziggler does, so I expect that he’ll come out on top so that he looks better going in to Wrestlemania season.
What I think will happen: Luke Harper will retain the Intercontinental championship.
What I hope happens: These guys put on a match that’ll challenge Shawn Micheals vs. Razor Ramon for the best-ever spot.
U.S. Title Match: Rusev vs. Jack Swagger
I feel like I’ve seen this one before. Oh yeah, back at Summerslam. Same guys, same set-up, and probably the same finish. Creative has given Rusev the Goldberg push, in that he’s never lost by submission or pinfall. After so many months it would be pretty dumb to end that streak on a throw-away PPV without really pushing the match. Also, the last time these two met wasn’t anything to write home about, so unless they really pick up their game this’ll probably be another bust.
What I think will happen: Rusev will keep his winning streak alive.
What I hope happens: Same as last time: Swagger comes out to Hogan’s theme song.
Divas Championship: AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella
And what’s a WWE PPV without a 5-minute AJ Lee match? This one seems more like an afterthought than anything else, and likely is being built purely on AJ’s popularity. You can’t not have her on the card, she’s the only diva that anyone actually likes. So we’ve got another rematch. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought that Nikki was given the belt so that we might see something different. You know, mix things up a little instead of shoveling the same old stuff in our faces? Maybe next month I guess. Considering that there wasn’t even a match last time, it’s very possible that Nikki will take this one so that she actually looks like she deserves the belt. However, given AJ’s overwhelming popularity with the fans, and the fact that she was voted as Diva of the year, she might just take it back after all. It really could go either way, but in the interest of seeing something different I’m going to go with Nikki Bella on this one.
What I think will happen: Nikki Bella will retain as champion.
What I hope happens: Creative starts treating the Divas like people instead of pretty playthings. It’s time for them to get some actual story-telling time.
Tag-Team Championship: The Miz and Mizdow vs. The Usos
This’ll be the highlight match for me for sure. Who doesn’t love Mizdow? He is the comedy element that is missing from the rest of the WWE Universe, and does he ever know how to use it. Mizdow is a great gimmick, and everyone in creative has to know how over it is with the fans. So I am personally looking forward to seeing how they plan on capitalizing on Mizdow’s success. Putting the Usos over on this one would be a travesty, unless it somehow contributes to a Miz vs. Mizdow feud, which I would be 100% behind. But I think that they’ll save something like that for Wrestlemania season.
But you know what really gets me about this feud? The storyline treats Naomi like an object, rather than a person. Miz approached her about getting in touch with a producer, and she didn’t reply. Jimmy Uso slapped the Miz around and warned him to stay away from his wife, and she didn’t say anything. She’s just there. She doesn’t have an opinion on the matter, or literally anything to say about the situation. She’s a piece on the board, rather than a person, and I think that’s kind of deplorable. If she is going to be used in this storyline she has to be more than just something used to push the plot. She needs to bring her own perspective to the storyline. This, for me, is a huge mistake and a missed opportunity to flesh out a pretty bare-bones story.
What I think will happen: Miz and Mizdow will retain the tag-team championships.
What I hope happens: Mizdow is placed front and center to really show what he can do, both as an in-ring performer and as a comedic genius.
Tables Match: Seth Rollins vs. John Cena
Why is John Cena back in the main event? I thought that HIAC, and Survivor Series might have proven to the higher-ups that the new talent like Ambrose and Wyatt are the ones that the fans come out to see, not good ol’ Johnny Jorts. Rollins may be one of the best talents in the business right now, but unless Cena actually lets him show off a little bit it’s not really going to matter. Besides, with Cena’ s #1 contender spot on the line, he’s all but guaranteed to win and have another boring match with Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. What a huge step back for creative.
What I think will happen: Rollins will be another up and coming talent sacrificed on the altar of John Cena.
What I hope happens: The finish at least involves an interesting spot, like Reigns or Orton interfering in order to give Rollins someone to feud with going in to Wrestlemania season.
So there you have it. After a great month of programming it looks like this one is just being phoned in. But hey, you never know, they might have something up their sleeve. See you all back here at Chinlock for the Aftermath following the show. And do yourselves a favor and watch NXT!