Alright, gang, we’re in the home stretch. It’s almost 3pm EST here in the DMV, which means there are five hours left before TLC starts. Let’s talk matches and predictions, and sort of hope it’s not the travesty we’re all expecting.
WWE just announced the kick-off match and I am feeling very conflicted about it. The kick-off show will feature a match between Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks, which is almost certain to be a barn-burner. But I have two questions: why? and why not on the main card? WWE had more than enough time to build more a feud between these two powerhouse ladies, considering the first women’s match on the RAW following Survivor Series was between Banks and Lynch. Also, why was Becky Lynch not folded into the Charlotte/Paige feud as they hinted they would earlier this month? For no good reason, I’m sure. While the match will undoubtedly be the best of the entire night, I’m not sure what purpose it’s going to serve other than filling a time slot. I hope these ladies set the bar so high that they basically wreck the rest of the card.
Winner: Becky Lynch (in order to look strong going into a feud with current Diva’s champion Charlotte)
Ryback and Rusev are going to have a match because, during Miz TV, Ryback interrupted a showing of love between Rusev and Lana to let the entire WWE Universe know details of Lana’s sex life. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, regardless of Rusev’s affiliation with the League of People No One Cares About, Ryback is basically the heel of this feud. You don’t cheer for someone who still thinks, in 2015 (almost 2016) that outing someone for being sexually involved with someone they were dating is a good insult. The only part of this whole feud that I am enjoying is Lana and how well she seems to be dealing with the fans. Not to mention she seems more comfortable in her own body and on the microphone. Her promos aren’t perfect, but seeing a noticeable improvement is reassuring.
Speaking of it being almost 2016, here is the part where I’m forced to write about Tommy Dreamer and Rhyno. Listen, I’m not a hater. I don’t get off on the idea of bashing these people. If nothing, they deserve respect for a lot of things, not the least of which being their dedication to the business for decades. But that doesn’t mean I want to watch them on my TV. It was fun to see Dreamer show up on RAW a couple of weeks ago, but I was hoping it was a one-shot deal. I am not in favor of guys pushing the end of their careers to make returns that last more than one match. That’s why the chant is “one more match”. Two is too many.
Regardless, there is absolutely no good finish to the tables match between The Wyatt Family and Team Extreme from a storytelling standpoint. Beside the fact that the Wyatts have no reason to be feuding with the Dudleys and their extreme companions, the Wyatts haven’t won a PPV match since Night of Champions in September and the Dudleys haven’t won a PPV match since their return to WWE (not counting their pre-show appearance at Survivor Series, as it was not part of an actual feud.) They BOTH need this win to appear a threat in any way, but I suppose the Wyatts need it more, as they are hoping to stick around longer than the Dudleys are likely to. Regardless, I hope no one gets actually hurt in this match.
Winner: The Wyatt Family
All of the titles are on the line at TLC. Alberto Del Rio will be defending his US championship against Jack Swagger in a chairs match. Apparently Del Rio has cast off Zeb Colter as his manager (after Swagger reminded Colter that he used to be Swagger’s racist manager, not Del Rio’s, or something) so maybe they are actually fighting over the love of Grandpa Zeb? I’m not sure. This whole feud makes me really uncomfortable. I think it’s one thing to guide your storylines with your finger on the pulse of current events, but it’s something else entirely to drive you storylines against the tides of national issues. Also, the only white American currently holding a title is a woman, so maybe we ought to back off the racism stuff. Forever.
I don’t have much to say about the Diva’s championship match between Charlotte and Paige except that I wish pretty intensely that it wasn’t happening. They’ve tried to backtrack over some of the really awful stuff they had done leading up to Survivor Series and included Ric Flair, Charlotte’s real-life father, in the storyline this time. They’re also in the process, it seems, of turning her heel, but haven’t fully committed yet. Not sure what this match will do for that idea, as nobody fully turns heel by wrestling another heel. Also this match doesn’t include any of the gimmicks normally associated with this PPV because…I don’t know why. I am very eager to see the ladies get into some of these gimmick matches, because I know they will bring something to the table (sorry) that the guys just can’t. I don’t know that I would want it to be Paige and Charlotte, but one day WWE is going to be advertising the first ever women’s TLC match and it’s going to be amazing. (NOTE: The only women’s gimmick match to appear on the TLC card to date was a tag-team tables match between Natalya, Beth Phoenix, and LayCool in 2010.)
Winner: Charlotte (if only so they can set up the next feud to be with Becky Lynch)
The triple-threat ladder match between tag-team champions New Day, the Usos, and the Lucha Dragons is likely to be an exciting one. Two thirds of the teams were a part of the Elimination Chamber match for the tag team titles at Elimination Chamber back in May – one of my favorite tag team matches of all time. It was so well-designed, and had me on the edge of my seat. I am getting a little bored with New Day’s antics, but I know their in-ring work, paired with the Lucha Dragons and the Usos will make for something fun, funny, and (at the very least) watchable. Really hoping for a title change here, as the tag titles are due for a move.
Winner: The Lucha Dragons
The Intercontinental championship match between champ Kevin Owens and my personal favorite Dean Ambrose makes me shake my head. There are so many things wrong with this match. Why would a character like Dean Ambrose want a title anyway? Just to take it away from Kevin Owens? Fine. But then he’d better throw it into the harbor when the match is over. They can refer to that as the Boston IC Party.
The other thing that bothers me about this match is that it’s just a singles match for the title. They are participating in a gimmick PPV and they’re not using the gimmick. Fine, not all of the matches need to, but we’re talking about Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose. As much of a huge Ambrose mark as I am, Owens could out-wrestle him any day. He doesn’t play at Owens’ level. The only way to make this match even SEEM even would be to include props of some kind. AND THIS IS THE PROP PPV. Ambrose is great with props, and Owens is no stranger to a ladder match. So why is this match just a straight-up singles match? No one knows. The mystery continues.
Winner: Kevin Owens
Finally, we have the TLC match for the WWE World Heavyweight championship. I don’t think there’s any chance we won’t end up with eight guys in the ring when the League of Nations, Dean Ambrose, and the Usos all run in to their comrades’ aide. If that’s true, then the match is going to end in a disqualification, and Sheamus will retain. And why shouldn’t it? I guess a clean win from Sheamus will mean that the feud is over and that’s preferable from an audience perspective. But it would be a true moment of pure idiocy to put the title on Roman Reigns in such an unceremonious manner, when the audience has basically forsaken him entirely. I expect most of the match will focus on Reigns being dominant and them some kind of typical-heel nonsense will keep him from becoming champion. I just hope it’s over quickly.
Winner: Sheamus (as it will most certainly not be the audience)
By my predictions, most of the heels are the more likely candidates to pick up a win. That being said, I don’t know what they could be setting up for Roman Reigns, the Usos, and Dean Ambrose if they all lose tonight. It certainly doesn’t make any of them underdogs and there isn’t anyone except Kevin Owens who I think is a true favorite (or even remotely plausible) to win the Royal Rumble next month.
Catch me on Twitter live-tweeting the whole shebang, beginning with the pre-show at 7pm EST. And look for my (likely pissed-off) round-up tomorrow!
1. This year is the 7th TLC PPV.
2. The World Heavyweight Championship has changed hands at TLC more than any other title: 3 times in 6 years.
3. Both the Intercontinental and Tag Team tiles have changed hands twice at TLC.
4. The only title to never change hands at TLC is the Diva’s championship.
5. In 2012, there were no title changes at TLC.
6. Sheamus has won two matches at TLC and lost two.
7. ADR and Jack Swagger have both only ever lost matches at TLC, with three losses for Swagger and two losses for Del Rio.
8. The Wyatt Family, Rusev, Ryback, and New Day have all appeared on the TLC card only once before and won their matches.
9. Dean Ambrose first appeared at TLC as a singles competitor last year in a TLC match against Bray Wyatt and lost.
10. The Usos won a tag team title match against The Miz and Mizdow last year, but it was by disqualification so they did not win the titles. They won two weeks later on RAW.