2015 is almost over – can you believe it? – which means we’re quickly approaching the last PPV of the year, TLC. One of the things I’ve been doing regularly since the summer is going back to see where WWE’s storylines were for the same PPV (or the PPV in the same time slot) the year before.
When considering the 2014 TLC card, one has to remember the fallout of 2014’s Survivor Series: Sting had debuted, The Authority was no longer in power, and Dean Ambrose had basically given up a real finish in his match against Bray Wyatt just to plug the next PPV. Afterwards, we had a series of guest GMs on RAW including Daniel Bryan and the Anonymous RAW GM making matches for TLC.
The actual PPV itself was not a bad one, but was certainly not a stand out show. For me, the two most memorable aspects would have to be the awful finish in the main event – where poor Ambrose has a TV explode in his face – and the ladder match between Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper. This might actually be my favorite match that I’ve ever seen either man in, and certainly one of my favorite ladder matches of all time. But I’m actually not a fan of ladder matches in general, particularly ones like the Money in the Bank match where there are more than two guys in the ring. So, this was just the right amount of chaos and carnage for me.
When I consider how lackluster last year’s TLC was, I shouldn’t be that shocked by what is happening in WWE’s storylines right now. They assume a large portion of their audience tunes out until the new year when we all start thinking about the Royal Rumble. Which is fine – maybe if WWE had an off-season, we wouldn’t have so many of our favorite wrestlers out injured right now. I must admit, I would prefer that they did just that, though. Why not actually take off? Just shut it all down for a month and let everyone take a break and refresh for the new year?
In my archaeological quest for information about last year’s TLC and what my own temperature was going into it, I found this article I wrote in December of last year. Wow. I was PISSED. Glad I’ve chilled out a (very small) bit since then. December was a strange month for WWE, as we saw the first live Stone Cold podcast on the WWE Network with Vince McMahon as his guest. This was also amidst the two podcasts of Colt Cabana’s that CM Punk appeared on. And Kevin Owens hadn’t even made his NXT debut yet. What a year it’s been. And this makes me think about what comes after TLC, about how we ended up where we are now.
I don’t think fans are angry with WWE because they put the WWE World Heavyweight title on Sheamus. I don’t even think fans are angry because Roman Reigns is being forced on us. I think that after a year of crappy PPV after crappy PPV, of unresolved storylines and repetitive feuds, of over-scripted promos and stalling drive, we’ve had enough. TLC 2014 was not good. The Royal Rumble in 2015 was a disaster. I didn’t even watch FastLane, and Wrestlemania 31 was offensive in it’s lack of imagination. Extreme Rules was forgettable, Payback was redundant and it wasn’t until Elimination Chamber, the PPV that wasn’t even supposed to happen, that I suddenly woke up from a nightmare of Cena/Rusev matches and something about kissing someone’s ass. At least that PPV saw Kevin Owens defeat John Cena, and also had one of the best tag team matches I’ve seen in a long time. But then Money in the Bank begins the steady decline once again with the set-up to Survivor Series (and I am reminded that I will likely never see Dean Ambrose as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.)
So based on all of the research I have done, here is my prediction for TLC: It’s going to be very bad. And so is the Royal Rumble. And even Wrestlemania 32. If WWE insists on following their trend of outdoing themselves with worse PPVs each month, they are going to wake up in April with no live viewers and no more PPV buys. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me 16 PPVs running, and I have to call it a day.