For this edition of our WWE pay-per-view predictions, I've added a little special twist. Last week, along with WWE Hall of Famer Bret "Hitman" Hart, I had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas Wright, who is a huge WWE fan. Nicholas writes a blog on wrestling as well as hockey, on which he did a "tell-all" interview with me.
I invited Nicholas to join me this month to predict outcomes for the WWE TLC PPV:
Title Unification match: WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. World Heavyweight Champion John Cena
Nicholas: Well, what ever happens in this match can not be worse than the ending of the Big Show-Randy Orton match at Survivor Series. I have heard speculation that it would be a good time for Cena to turn heel. I do not believe this will be the case, not at TLC anyway. What i do see happening is a switch in belts. Cena wins the WWE Championship and Orton the World Heavyweight Championship.
It's interesting that the biggest question being asked here isn't "who will win the match?" but "will we actually have one champion by the end of the night?" Some aren't convinced, despite the "guarantee" label, that we will in fact have a unified champion by the end of TLC. While that could be the case, I am leaning towards yes on that front, that we will see a unified champion. Will John Cena turn heel? One day, not today. There's too much invested in him as the face of WWE and with charitable appearances. Here is an alternative solution: Could he not be the face of WWE, do all those out of the ring appearances, but still work alongside the Authority in a "lesser of two evils" scenario? This doesn't mean he's a full blown bad guy, just a little twist. This was teased at the end of RAW and we could see more of that. Truthfully, it might be business as usual, and John Cena may stand tall, as we are used to seeing, as the sole main champion in WWE.
Handicap match: CM Punk vs. The Shield
Nicholas: This match has the making to be a show stealer. Punk will showcase why he is one of the best in the business. No matter who wins the match, there will be some good wrestling for all fans to enjoy. The WWE did a good job on RAW to show that there is some dysfunction within the Shield but I still don't see them losing.
Arda: I agree about this match being a potential show stealer. I like the recent teases or dissension between the Shield, most noticeably Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. We have come to the point where Romen Reigns has outgrown the Shield and its time for him to become a breakout superstar, likely as a good guy. If packaged correctly, we could certainly have the next big major star on our hands. Dean Ambrose, meanwhile, is the perfect guy to have a singles feud with Reigns, make him look like a million bucks then have a nice singles career of his own. This doesn't mean I'm leaving out Seth Rollins -- the former ROH champ will be just fine. I like the idea that CM Punk wins, leaves, and then The Shield breaks down and fight each other.
Nicholas: Daniel Bryan will put up a good fight and try to steal the show, but this is a handicap match and if the Wyatt's were to lose, it would really set them back and make them look less intimidating. I could see some outside interference taking place to benefit Bryan, but at the end of the match i do not think it will matter.
Arda: I agree with the pick -- The Wyatt Family gets a big win (in villainous uneven fashion) against a red hot popular superstar, and Bryan doesn't look weak losing against 3 superstars. I'd like this one to continue past the pay-per-view. Perhaps Bryan loses here but eliminates the three of them from the Royal Rumble. Perhaps he is forced in some way to join The Wyatt Family and do their bidding. Lots of interesting twists and turns possible here.
Intercontinental Championship: Big E Langston (c) vs. Damien Sandow
Nicholas: Brains vs. brawn. Besides the main event, this is the match that I am looking forward to the most. Though it may seem a tad too early for Langston to give up the belt, Sandow has been on a real vicious streak as of late and should not be written off so quickly. He was unable to cash in with the Money in the Bank contract against Cena, but I believe that the intercontinental championship would be the perfect stepping stone for Sandow.
I just don't see Damien Sandow as Intercontinental champion. After his stint with the Money in the Bank briefcase, I think this is more building up Langston as IC champ (and being publicly proud of it, thank goodness!) than Sandow getting a demotion of sorts. I'll take Langston with a clean victory, and Sandow moves on to another rivalry.
Divas Championship: AJ Lee (c) vs. Natalya
Nicholas: No diva is more entertaining then AJ Lee, she has been a big boost to the Divas division. With that being said, Natalya is still the better wrestler, and I will be looking forward for her to put the sharpshooter on AJ.
This has "Total Divas" written all over it. I know I have been predicting this for a while, but I truly feel that one moment in "Total Divas" needs to be one of the cast members winning the title. What a better moment than for Natalya to close off 2013 as champion, ready for Season 2 of the hit E! reality show? Give me a sharpshooter, AJ taps and the water works flow.
WWE Tag Team Title Match: Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show and Rey Mysterio vs. Ryback and Curtis Axel vs. The Real Americans
Nicholas: Wow, a four-way Tag Team Title match -- this could in many different directions. Ryback and Curtis Axel had been being built up, but I can't see these heels winning this match. Same goes for The Real Americans -- they are more entertaining when they aren't the champs, anyway. So basically, we have two choices here Goldust and Cody Rhodes, or Big Show and Rey Mysterio, and I think the match could go either way. Both teams are crowd favorites, and both can stand as legitimate champs. Even though I like the Rhodes Bros., I think the newly formed team of the Big Show and Rey Mysterio will come out on top.
Arda: The first thing I'd like to say is that Ryback and Curtis Axel's new tag team name "Rybaxel" sounds less like a tag team name and more like cold medication -- in both cases, side effects may include drowsiness (ouch!). Kidding aside, I feel that the Rhodes duo is above the tag titles, and the only pairing of this foursome I feel is truly a tag team is the Real Americans. Why not allow them a run with the gold (copper) and have the Usos feud with them? Two legit tag teams fighting over the top prize in the tag division would make me interested.
Preshow: Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango
Nicholas: I am not to sure why this match is taking place. Ziggler has been demoted to the preshow, even though I consider him one of the more interesting and dynamic superstars in the WWE today.
Arda: I agree, not sure why this match is taking place. More so, I'm not sure why Dolph Ziggler again is so low on the card. If I were able to be an exclusive Dolph Ziggler reporter, where I followed him and was able to see everything that happens to him at every minute of the day backstage, maybe I'd have a better idea, but clearly that can't happen, so I can only speculate that there are bigger things coming for the Show Off and we just have to be patient. Truthfully, even with the fans lately he has cooled off, because of his lack of exposure. Still, I give this one to D-Ziggs.