WWE closes the year with TLC, and while the build has been lackluster, the show could be very good.
Last year's TLC was widely considered to be disappointing, if not an outright debacle. While the Ziggler/Harper match was good, the other matches ranged from lackluster to ridiculous. This year's card does look a little better.
While the build up to the show has been disastrous, it has left us with some solid matches, where nearly all of them have some point of intrigue. The IC title match should be very good between Owens and Ambrose. The tag team title ladder match has the potential to be Match of the Year quality.
Even the much-maligned main event of Reigns vs. Sheamus should be a good match.
While the booking has been bad, the wrestling has been great, even over these past weeks, so TLC may end up standing out as a beacon of light in an otherwise dark few months for the WWE.
Here are my thoughts and predictions for TLC:
Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio for the US Title in a Chairs match
Ah yes, the chair match. At least a ladder and a table match already exist and have set rules. A match where you can use chairs and only chairs is rather silly when you think about it. What would happen if someone grabbed a kendo stick from under the ring? Would they be DQ'd? Anyways, moving past that, there really isn't anything interesting they could have done for this match. Swagger vs. Del Rio does nothing for pretty much anyone. I like Swagger fine, Del Rio is what he is. But against each other, especially the way this was built ... or wasn't built ... is just bad. This was built more or less as Swagger vs. Zeb Colter, and now Colter isn't even part of it. Colter appearing may be the only thing that saves this match. However, I can't see Del Rio losing the belt, especially not to Swagger. And if the whole Colter rolling away thing just ends up being a swerve ... ugh.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Title
This feud has been a bit weird to this point. Ambrose and Owens are two of the better mic workers in the company. Yet, for the most part, they've barely interacted on the mic. They've also had a golden opportunity to throw back to the beginning of this year, when Ambrose was clamoring for the IC title, and they've ignored that, as well. Well, the second part at least is way more believable than the first. This feels like it should continue, yet with the Rumble right around the corner, it's hard to see a lengthy feud for the IC title being involved. It's not impossible by any stretch, just seems a bit unlikely in this situation. I'll say Owens retains, but if you told me Ambrose won to move it to another heel (say, Rusev?) then I could buy it. Then again, having Owens retain only to run into Sami Zayn at the Rumble ... well, that's something that WWE couldn't even mess up, right?
Winner: Kevin Owens
The Usos vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day in a ladder match
This is the odds-on favorite for match of the year. All three of these teams are athletic and should be able do some great things in the ladder. It's certainly premature to say that this will rival the great triple-threat ladder matches of the early 2000s, but it's not out of the question either. The New Day are already more athletic than the Dudleys as it is. Anyways, I shouldn't be comparing before the match even happens. As far as the winner, it's really hard to see The New Day dropping the titles here. They'll win, maybe even with Xavier Woods climbing the ladder and grabbing the belts when everyone else is fighting. If the New Day somehow does lose though, it's probably because they have bigger and better things in store for them. It's just hard to see whatever that would be as we start the Road to Wrestlemania. But I don't see that happening.
Winners: The New Day
Paige vs. Charlotte for the Divas title
This match is less about the match and more about how Charlotte acts during it. They've been teasing a heel turn, or at least a tweener turn, for Charlotte. She did deceive Becky Lynch to win their match on RAW a couple of weeks ago. In NXT, Charlotte was a much better heel than a face. So it's possible that someone at WWE has picked up on it. Granted, when she was a heel, it was more of a cocky heel that knew she was bigger and more athletic than people, and less of a cheating heel like Ric. So we'll see exactly where this goes. It certainly would make sense to have Charlotte turn with the current landscape. Sasha Banks seems primed for a face turn with the crowd firmly behind her. Becky Lynch is already face. If Bayley gets called up, clearly she's a face. So if all the primary contenders are face, then they might as well turn Charlotte. So, I think that we could see Charlotte win here with a little bit of deception. It won't be outright cheating, but I could see her pulling one over on Paige to finally knock Paige out of the title picture. Charlotte definitely wins though.
The Wyatt Family vs. The ECW Originals in an elimination tables match
This match feels right if they're looking to rebuild some of the credibility that the Wyatt Family lost after being squashed by Undertaker and Kane. It's not perfect by any stretch, but it'll serve the purpose. As for the ECW team, Rhyno makes a lot of sense considering he was already under contract and hanging out in NXT. Tommy Dreamer is fine. I would've liked to see Spike, but what can you do? Anyways, this match shouldn't be in any doubt. If the ECW crew wins here, then WWE has just completely lost all sense of what's right and wrong in wrestling. This will be a fun match, people will go through tables, and the Wyatts will win.
Winners: The Wyatt Family
Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus for the WWE World Heavyweight Title
This match is the one match where you can make a very reasonable case for either person winning. It's pretty clear that when this started at Survivor Series, they wanted Sheamus to hold on to the belt until Royal Rumble. Having Sheamus cash in only to lose the next month makes no sense. Yet, what has happened in the past few weeks can't be ignored. Ratings are tanking, people are hating the segments with Reigns and Sheamus. Fans left the arena en masse before the main event segment in the go-home RAW. They're just not buying into any of it. Can the WWE afford to go down this road for another month?
If I'm WWE, I just say screw the plans before. I call an audible and I speed up the inevitable. Roman Reigns wins at TLC. Yes, you would get people screaming about how stupid it was that Sheamus ever had the belt, but that's better than not changing anything over the next month. I have him win, I have Sheamus get his rematch over with soon, and Reigns moves on to something else for the Rumble.
The something else is tricky, because there aren't a lot of heels who would be ready to immediately get a title shot. Which is why maybe, just maybe, they pull out a trick that they wanted to have at this point last year and we finally get Reigns/Triple H at Royal Rumble. That would be much better than Reigns/Sheamus 2, though I do expect that to be a decent match. So that's how I'd book it. Will they do it? It's perfectly rational to have doubts. But it's a logical course at this point.
Winner: Roman Reigns