Skip to content

WWE TLC 2013 PPV Preview

December 15, 2013

wwe tlc

Well, well, well.  WWE’s December PPVs have traditionally meant very little and have done pretty weak business over the years.  However, for some strange reason, this year’s TLC event is built around a pretty significant match – albeit one that would have meant a hell of a lot more a few years ago…

wwe tlc john cena randy orton

John Cena vs Randy Orton (WWE Championship & World Heavyweight Title TLC Unification Match)

Back in December 2001 (yes, it really was twelve years ago), WWE had a mini-tournament to unify the WWE and WCW world championships.  That very concept would have blown the minds of wrestling fans in the ’80s and ’90s.  It would have been the pinnacle of dream matches, headlining the elaborate inter-promotional WWE vs WCW card that we all imagined at some point.

Sadly, owing to WWE choosing to not break the bank to hire any of WCW’s genuine top stars at that point, the unification concept became a perfunctory exercise following the lacklustre Invasion storyline.  Hell, it didn’t even involve any of the actual WCW guys and was won by Chris Jericho after ten dozen million run-ins.

In any case, the idea of having one unified title did not even last for one year.  By September 2002, it was decided that the WWE Championship, then held by Brock Lesnar, would become exclusive to the Smackdown brand.  To compensate, Triple H and his ego were awarded a new World Heavyweight Title that would headline the Raw brand.

The new wisdom was that, by having two top titles, WWE could set up these two brands as separate quasi-promotions in their own right, with both running their own PPVs, TV shows and house shows that would rarely cross-over with one another.  It was a half-hearted effort at maintaining the rivalry fans had thrived upon during the Monday Night Wars; a plan far greater in concept than in execution.

There were a number of factors that helped hasten the decline of the brand extension.  Most notably, there was a distinct lack of depth in the WWE talent pool and so they struggled to come up with separate Raw and Smackdown cards that the fans cared about.  This was emphasised further when, in a surreal twist, ECW was resurrected (in name only) to be a third brand.

It also became apparent that the company was far more effective at promoting WWE as a brand than it was at convincing fans to believe in Raw and Smackdown as standalone companies.  The company found the lure of promoting a strong WWE brand to be a more sensible approach, which in the end led to them piling everyone onto Raw, turning Smackdown into a disposable show and having no fixed rosters for their two house show circuits.

In spite of this turn of events, the company kept both the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Title.  Ostensibly, the motivation for keeping both titles around was so that each could headline its own house show circuit.  (Well, that and increasing sales of replica belts.)  Of course, given that normal human beings are convinced to buy tickets based on the WWE name rather than any specific title, such thinking is misguided.

Both titles have taken turns as being the primary focus of the promotion over the past eleven years, usually with the one held by John Cena being the favoured championship.  In this post-brand extension era, however, it is the WWE Championship and its longer lineage that has become the undisputed primary title in the company.  The World Heavyweight Title has been diminished to secondary status and has tended to be held by guys who are fairly popular but, for various reasons, deemed to be just not profitable enough.

It is a profound imbalance but a necessary one.  There’s no sense in confusing the audience by treating both belts as equal.  In theory, the World Heavyweight Title could continue to function as a glorified Intercontinental Title without doing any harm.

So, why go the extra step to unify them now?

The obvious answer appears to be that WWE has managed to blunder its way through SummerSlam, Night of Champions, Battleground, Hell in the Cell and Survivor Series with one crappy main event finish after another.  None of them have given the fans what they wanted to see when they paid their hard-earned money to get a ticket or order the PPV.  Of course, what they want to see is Daniel Bryan and we’ll get onto that later.  Given that the company has a raging hard-on for the upcoming launch of the WWE Network, with its main selling point being the ability to get all the PPVs for a considerably lower price, it was crazy for them to be turning their PPVs into unappealing shows.  It already seems like a hard sell to convince people to pay money for a three-hour event each month when they get three hours of Raw every Monday night regardless.  Their recent booking had made this an even harder sell, to say the least.

So, scrambling around to come up with an idea for TLC, some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to have the two champions facing one another.  After all, it is easy to do a disputed finish in this sort of environment.  Neither man needs to get pinned or submit.  Both men could just climb the ladder together and grab their own title, or each take their opponent’s title.  Just yet another easy way out until 2014 when somebody makes their mind up about the WrestleMania direction.

Thankfully, the entire fanbase appeared to figure out that another screwy finish to a PPV was looming.  Just five years ago the buzz for a title unification match would have been considerable.  Part of the underwhelming response to it relates to the dynamic of the business, as explained above.  Part of it was that, try as they might, WWE cannot reignite any interest in a John Cena vs Randy Orton feud that was run into the ground long ago.  Still, the biggest part of it was that WWE had all but killed the goodwill they had left with their audience in regards to PPV.  That is a very dangerous road to travel, one that is littered with the tattered remnants of WCW and every other wrestling promotion in history that repeatedly drove away its fans.

Over the past couple of weeks WWE has since gone out of its way to convince one and all that they really will unify the titles here.  If they don’t, they are insane.  If they do, let’s be honest, would it really matter?  Only one of the titles means anything, even if the other one is now held by Cena.  Hell, they could even de-unify them in the future if they so desperately need to have a World Heavyweight Title again.  But if they don’t follow through on this promise after the last few months worth of nonsense, why on earth should anybody believe that they will get what they pay to see on any future shows?

Phew.

The funny part is that the actual winner does not really matter.  Maybe Cena wins, maybe Orton wins, it has no real bearing on their future direction as they still do not have one.  All the focus is on Triple H and the McMahon family anyway.  Logic dictates that, since Raw ended with Orton being down and out, that he will get the win at the PPV.  That would allow them to fulfil their promise to the fans and still keep the heat on this stupid Authority angle until a valiant hero triumphs over their evil at WrestleMania.  That your options for this hero would appear to be Cena, Vince McMahon, or even, god help us, Hulk Hogan, is an entirely different rant for another time.

Winner – Randy Orton

wwe tlc cm punk shield

C.M. Punk vs The Shield

In a rather baffling turn of events, WWE seems to have incorporated their booking ineptitude of late into a storyline.  There are too many people trying to come up with the “creative” (at present the on-screen booking is done by Triple H, or Stephanie McMahon, or Kane, or Brad Maddox, or Vickie Guerrero, or the occasional confused guest host).  They are all scrambling for attention and praise from the head honcho and singularly failing to get it.  They go out of their way to protect the handsome chosen one (Orton) and ignore or screw over the talented fan favourites like C.M. Punk, who wind up getting booked in random, pointless matches with stupid gimmicks.

It’s all very, very meta.

Perhaps we are all in for a lovely surprise and this will all lead to a satisfying pay-off at WrestleMania, blowing all expectations and coming to be regarded as a lauded, ground-breaking, critically acclaimed piece of television.  But one would suspect not.

So, on-screen at the very least, Punk is now booked in a 3-on-1 handicap match with The Shield because he won’t shut up unless he’s given something to do and nobody came up with any better ideas.  It is a far cry from Punk’s last program, the logically-structured and entertaining feud with Paul Heyman that both men had far more creative control over.

At least the match itself ought to be fairly decent given the strength of the talent involved.  Punk can be a babyface-in-peril that the audience genuinely cares about, while Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have fine-tuned their dominant heel work over the past year.

Obviously there has been a steady stream of unspoken dissension between Ambrose and Reigns of late.  The obvious outcome here is for that dissension to become more vocal, giving Punk an opportunity that he can exploit to get the win.  Whoever takes the fall on the Shield side should not lose anything by it, provided that WWE is capable of booking their implosion without cocking up yet another thing…

Winner – C.M. Punk

wwe tlc daniel bryan wyatts

Daniel Bryan vs The Wyatt Family

See above, only add on the part about how they’ve even managed to book themselves to over-do the same gimmick on the same card.  It’s so meta its as if Grant Morrison had taken charge of the creative department, only with less hallucinogens.  Probably.

Still better than the Rob Liefeld approach of booking gimmicks like the Chair Match, though.  Dodged that one this year.

As noted above, Daniel Bryan is one of the most popular stars in the company right now.  Much like with Rey Mysterio in 2006, however, WWE’s management does not see him as actually being one of their top stars.  This has led to a strange middle ground of WWE’s on-screen management pointing out repeatedly that Bryan is not a suitable top star, despite live crowds voicing their support for him at great volume and at great length.

Again, it is hard to know what may come out of this.  WWE could follow this dynamic through to the logical conclusion of Bryan getting his revenge on Triple H and/or Randy Orton at WrestleMania, possibly even winning the title back for a proper reign at that point.  Or he could just be ignored in favour of Sheamus or whoever, even as the fans continue to chant for him, since WWE knows people are not going to actually stop watching altogether.

For now, Bryan is in a curious feud with the southern gothic cultists, the Wyatts.  For some reason, their leader, Bray Wyatt, has taken to Bryan and is trying to recruit him to their side.  Perhaps it is the instinctive attraction between beards.

The storyline has not been especially well thought through.  Shocking, right?  For instance, at one point Bryan was “kidnapped” by the Wyatts – and then later on the show his fiancee, Brie Bella, acted as though nothing had happened to him.  The kidnapping was then turned into Bryan being found in a parking lot later that night, yet guys like C.M. Punk were still cutting promos about how Bryan had been missing all week.  It’s all pretty goofy and, coupled with Wyatt’s unknown motivation, makes it hard to care much about the feud.

Unlike the other handicap match, one would suspect that the heels are going to win here.  The Wyatts are nowhere near ready to break-up and Bryan losing would – or could – fit into his storyline.  The match should be passable, which means a massive improvement over the Wyatts PPV standards so far.

Winner – Daniel Bryan

wwe tlc aj lee natalya

A.J. Lee vs Natalya (Divas Championship)

Another go-around for Natalya and A.J. in their seemingly endless feud over how shit some people think Total Divas is, compared to others who disagree.  Quite profound.

At some point, one would suspect that Natalya would wind up winning the title to prove A.J. wrong.  After all, she is meant to be sticking up for the TV show that WWE is so proud about.  Plus, in the latest episode, her pet cat died!  Give a girl a break, right?

So, expect A.J. to retain then.

Winner – A.J. Lee

wwe tlc big e langston damien sandow

Big E Langston vs Damien Sandow (Intercontinental Title Match)

Just a perfunctory bout to pad out the card whilst trying to get Big E some traction as the new great hope of the midcard.  Sandow is a tremendous heel and the dynamic between these two is fresh, so there is plenty of potential for this to be an entertaining five minutes.  Langston retains, of course, and with a bit of luck shows more of his natural charismatic personality than he has done in recent weeks.

Winner – Big E Langston 

Advertisements

From → Wrestling, WWE

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: