We preview WWE TLC…
After a pretty lacklustre Survivor Series, we’re looking to have a good PPV to close out WWE’s rather pathetic 2015. The year started off strong with Lesnar as champ and got even better while Rollins was on top (though he was booked to be the world’s biggest goofball), but since Rollins’ injury and the absence of Lesnar, Undertaker, Sting, John Cena and Randy Orton, WWE TV has been the Valley of the Midcarder – and WWE’s 50/50 booking of all of its performers has come back to bite them on the ass. So bad are things at the moment that Sheamus – who barely won a match since winning Money in the Bank – is now your WWE World Heavyweight Champion and is flanked by King Barrett (lost virtually every match he’s had since winning King of the Ring), Alberto Del Rio (floundering in the midcard due to a poor pairing with Zeb Coulter) and Rusev (who is being punished for being in love with a woman prettier than him). WWE promised change, they just gave us more New Day segments. As such, ratings for Raw are in the toilet, and at their lowest in almost twenty years. Because of the erratic booking that’s been changing week-to-week, there isn’t a lot of hype going into the PPV. So, what’s in store?
Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE really had a chance to make Sheamus their Connor McGregor, a cocky Irishman who constantly wins and brags about how great he is. You know there are other people better on the card who should be champ, but Sheamus is and you want to see someone you love beat him for it. Instead we have a clown as our World Champion and he’s facing the one person people want to see even less as World Champion. So here are are, Sheamus vs. Reigns in a TLC match. At least the gimmick of the match should provide enough high spots to create some excitement, but there isn’t much hype going into it. With that said, Reigns vs. Big Show in an Extreme Rules match from earlier this year was genuinely one of the most surprising bouts of 2015, so there is a chance that The Big Dog can drag this into the 3* range. It’s still not the right time to put the belt on Reigns, and taking it off Sheamus at this point would be worse than keeping it on him. With the feud being built around The League of Nations vs. Roman’s Family (which would have been a great match for Survivor Series last month), expect a lot of run ins and a screwy finish.
Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
The two men who would have been better suited as WWE World Heavyweight Champion are resigned to simply be the midcard feud over the IC title. Having seen the match they had last month and with my own two eyes at a house show while over in London, this should be a great affair if given enough time. Ambrose doesn’t really need the championship right now, so they should keep it on Kevin Owens. However, with Sami Zayn returning to the ring for NXT’s UK tour next week, there is a chance they could build to Owens vs. Zayn in a revenge match for the January Takeover show prior to the Royal Rumble. And if they do that, Owens doesn’t need the IC championship.
The New Day vs. Lucha Dragons vs. The Usos in a Triple Threat Ladder Match for the WWE Tag Team Championships
There is zero heat going into the match, but this should be tremendous fun. The problem with The New Day is that they’ve been overexposed by a writing team who can’t think of any creative ideas, and because of that the act has almost become stale. They’d be better off putting the belts on The Usos or Lucha Dragons, but The New Day will likely retain. Whatever the case, this should be a fantastic match.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger in a CHAIRS MATCH for the WWE United States Championship
These two are only feuding because Del Rio was teamed with Zeb, and now that partnership is over this match feels meaningless. Swagger hasn’t been on TV for so long many people will have forgotten that he was even employed, and yet here he is fighting for the US Championship. Blimey, Cena drops the belt just two months ago and it already feels like any old prop for someone to carry around. You know, like it has been for the decade prior to Cena winning it at WrestleMania. Del Rio needs to win this match, and then WWE need to do something drastic with him and put him in a big-money feud. If he’s being paid what he claims he’s being paid, he should not be wasting his time with Jack Swagger on PPV.
Team ECW vs. The Wyatts in an Eight-Man Elimination Tables Match
For nostalgic reasons alone, this should be a fairly fun match. EV2.0 reunite for one final match (who remembers that faction?) as they take on The Wyatts in a tables match. To be honest, it’s just nice to see Dreamer and Rhyno back on PPV. Glad to see them get a nice pay date. The Wyatts, as always, should be in a bigger feud and this feels like quite the step down from The Undertaker and Kane, but it’s a few more ‘legends’ for them to beat. Oh, wait, they didn’t beat Taker and Kane did they? Then I don’t know what they’re doing with them. Anyway, this should be fun and The Wyatts will get some semblance of a rub from the win.
Charlotte vs. Paige for the WWE Divas Championship
At least this time it’s not being build around Charlotte’s real-life dead brother. But at the same time, Charlotte’s slow burn heel turn isn’t mixing with Paige’s clear heel persona. So they either have a very bland heel vs. heel match-up, or they do a double-turn and establish Paige as the underdog babyface against Ric Flair 2.0. As with last month, if they’re given time this should be quite a good bout. But this feud does need to end, and they need to be better using talent like Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. If they are turning Charlotte fully-fledged heel here, she needs to win.
One would also assume that Ryback vs. Rusev and Tyler Breeze vs. Dolph Ziggler are on the card, but the official WWE website doesn’t have anything about them.
Overall, this has the opportunity to be better than Survivor Series. A lot better, in fact. While they’ve been building feuds between Rusev, Ryback, Breeze and Ziggler, they’d be better off not being on the card and allowing these other matches to shine. But whatever the line-up, WWE need to have some big plans heading into 2016 as we’ve got a long period of time between now and the Royal Rumble, and then there’s a small matter of the Biggest WrestleMania of All-Time to build to. Hopefully, TLC will give us an idea of where they’re going.
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and a contributor on The Flickering Myth Movie Show. You can follow him on Twitter @ThisisLukeOwen.