As we come to the end of 2015, I think we can all agree that this hasn’t been the best year of WWE programming. Between a number of unfortunate injuries across the board and the undeniable mishandling of the Divas Revolution, 2015 certainly will not be remembered fondly by wrestling fans. I open with this because TLC, likely, will be the culmination of these unfortunate circumstances. TLC has, traditionally, been a C-list PPV mostly due to the presence of the holiday season. It is fairly understandable that, as human beings performing on the road 50 weeks a year, that the WWE superstars would be looking forward to heading home for a brief holiday and “phoning in” a performance. Coupled with the difficulties associated with running an “extreme” show under PG rules, TLC has the odds stacked against it in the modern era. That being said, there are definitely a few gems here that could really break out from the pack.
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens
Let’s start off with the one I’m most excited for. Ambrose and Owens could absolutely tear the house down together. We’ve seen both in ladder matches in the past and they’ve shown an aptitude for the physical and storytelling-demands of the match, and are definitely willing to put their bodies on the line to sell the viciousness and danger of the ladder match, and in my opinion could overshadow the infamous Micheals/Razor IC ladder match from Wrestlemania X. As for a winner, I’m thinking that Owens will retain the belt. His run as champ so far has been pretty successful, and he’s the first guy in a long time to bring even a little bit of prestige back to the title.
What I think will happen: Owens will retain in a show stopping and hard-hitting ladder match.
What I hope will happen: Creative lets go of the reigns a little bit here so that both guys can really put their bodies on the line. This could be the last big, physical match of the year.
Divas Championship Match: Charlotte vs. Paige
Yet another example of the mismanagement of the Divas Revolution. The plug has clearly been pulled on Charlotte being a true-blue babyface, a direction which I was actually fairly behind since the roster really lacks that factor right now. Just look at how great Bailey is doing down in Full Sail. Now she’s turning heel, because Flair, while Paige is kinda-sorta getting a quickie face-turn, which is also a big mistake since her antics have been the best part of the story so far. So, we’ve got two women playing against their natural inclinations while the Divas that people are actually excited to see (Sasha, Becky etc) are sitting on the sidelines. Charlotte will probably retain to keep her story moving (and to keep Rick Flair on T.V.), but here’s hoping that this particular story dies at TLC.
What I think will happen: Charlotte will complete her heel-turn with a win over Paige.
What I hope happens: With 2015 coming to an end, here’s hoping that 2016 is the Year of the Mania season.
Elimination Tables Match: The Wyatt Family vs. Team ECW
Again, this one may suffer from the PG rating, but I for one am extremely excited for this particular match. This is a perfect opportunity not only for the Wyatts to get put over by a group of really well-established workers, but also that chance for everyone involved to steal the show. Creative hasn’t been too kind to the Wyatts recently, but this could be a wrapped-up Christmas gift to make up for it. It serves no purpose for team ECW to come out on top of this, but I can say with certainty that they are going to put on a great match with Bray and his flock.
What I think will happen: The Wyatts will come out on top and defeat team ECW.
What I hope happens: Bray gets a chance to look strong again, and Strowman has the opportunity to establish himself as a bonafide monster.
United States Championship Chairs Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
I’ve remarked a couple of times that Del Rio seems to be going through the motions since returning to the WWE. The man absolutely exuded charisma during his initial run with the company, but since coming back in October he just seems angry and apathetic. Bookings like this certainly can’t be helping. I’ve never disliked Swagger, in fact I was fully behind him ending Rusev’s streak at the 2014 Summerslam, but he’s been out of the big picture far too long for this to seem like a good match for the U.S. belt. Totally thrown together due to the Colter connection, there are far better stories that could be told here. My concern is that the U.S. belt becomes irrelevant without Cena at the helm, and throwing the strap on Swagger would likely do just that.
What I think will happen: Despite some kind of interference from a now-ousted Colter, Del Rio will retain his U.S. belt.
What I hope happens: Honestly, I do hope that Swagger gets another shot at the big show, but he needs to start small with a non-title feud against someone that he can work well with. You can’t just jump to the end sometimes.
Tag-Team Championship Ladder Match: The New Day vs. The Usos vs. The Lucha Dragons
It will be difficult to avoid comparing this to the infamous ladder matches of the past. The Hardy’s, the Dudley’s and Edge & Christian made these into must-see affairs, and we can only hope that those involved here can make lightning strike twice (or three times if we’re being technical). The New Day are, without a doubt, the best thing on WWE TV right now, but the Usos have the kind of pull with Creative that could net them another championship run now that both guys are healthy again. The Luchas are certainly the dark horses in this race, and I highly doubt that the corporate machine sees dollar bills in Sin Cara and Kalisto despite their fairly-solid run with the NXT belts.
What I think will happen: The New Day will stay on top after TLC.
What I hope happens: The New Day gets to cut a promo before the match, because those are always great.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship TLC Match: Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus
I will come right out and say that I actually wasn’t all that upset over Sheamus getting the belt at the end of Survivor Series. As far as a strong heel-champion, I can’t really think of anyone who could carry the belt like he can right now. That’s more the fault of Creative in being unable to establish new stars than Sheamus’ lack of whatever people are saying he’s lacking. We all know that the machine is firmly behind Reigns for who knows what reason and that his opportunity at the belt is imminent, but I’m thinking that they hold out one more month before pulling that trigger.
What I think will happen: Sheamus will retain, likely with the help of the League of Nations.
What I hope happens: The League gets better established as a viable threat. Despite being composed of some of the best heels in the biz right now, they’ve been completely fed to the Roman Reigns machine early on, making them look like a big-time joke. A complete missed opportunity so far that could easily be turn around, but only if it’