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WWE TLC 2013 PPV Review

December 18, 2013

wwe tlc

WWE saw out their PPV calendar for 2013 with TLC, a show that started out strong, dipped along the way and could not overcome its inherent flaws at the end…

wwe tlc cm punk shield

C.M. Punk beat The Shield in 13:42, pinning Dean Ambrose via Roman Reigns’ Spear

One year on from their debut match at TLC 2012 and it is striking to see the comparative lack of reaction that the Shield get nowadays.  Their current spot as hired goons for the McMahons is not exactly basking them in glory.  Still, there is a chance that it could pay off when the impending break-up does happen.  Dean Ambrose’s recent flourishes of little things – slicking back his formerly wild hair, dressing up nice for the Slammy Awards – indicate that he will be the one suggesting that the gang stays with the Authority in order to make big bucks.  Roman Reigns will be the more down to Earth good guy who winds up telling them to stick it and going solo.

Seth Rollins, well, he will also be somewhere.

In keeping with the theme of upcoming events, this opening bout was more angle than wrestling match.  It was still entertaining, as it would have to be given the level of talent involved, with Reigns again getting the limelight as he cost his team the victory by kicking too much ass.  There remains a large question mark over his ability to work a lengthy singles match but the man sure seems to be dedicated to improvement, so let’s not rule out his chances.  WWE has been booking this break-up slowly but surely over the past few weeks and it does seem to be the best time to do it, before the Shield gimmick finally runs its course and starts hindering these three.  Chances are that we will either get the official break at WrestleMania or right before it.  If they can hold it off until the big day itself then there’s a chance of a Wyatts vs Shield match at Mania, which would certainly be much-welcomed by the fans.

So far as Punk is concerned, well, just another day at the office for him.  At this point his ambivalence towards the WWE product is laid out bare for one and all to see.  There’s still every chance that he could wind up in a major title program for WrestleMania, which could placate him somewhat, but even then the focus would remain on John Cena and whatever the McMahons are up to.  As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens.

Predictions: 1-0

wwe tlc aj lee natalya

A.J. Lee pinned Natalya via roll-up to retain the Divas Championship in 6:35

A surprisingly decent match for the WWE women’s division standards of late.  The bout was overshadowed to an extent by some recent backstage controversy involving A.J. Lee.

In case you hadn’t heard, a sports reporter named Michelle Beadle allegedly has a history with C.M. Punk.  She said something inappropriate and/or irritating to Punk whilst backstage at the recent Tribute to the Troops taping.  Punk did not cause a fuss about it but A.J., his current girlfriend, wound up confronting Beadle about it.  Depending on which source you choose to believe, this confrontation was either in a private room or in front of everyone, either in a calm but firm manner or in a hysterical shriek.  Either way, WWE is far from keen on having the few celebrities they can get to appear on their shows being treated as anything less than royalty.

Whether or not Michelle Beadle constitutes a celebrity remains a mystery.

Some thought that this would have resulted in A.J. dropping her title here, although frankly that would have done nothing but help make a mountain out of a molehill – in particular with regards to Punk’s current interest in anything.

As it transpired, WWE did not deliver any obvious public punishment to A.J. and so she remains Divas Champion.  Given that, along with Natalya, she is by far the best female wrestler on the main roster at present, this is a bit of a relief.

Oh, and now seems as good a time as any to drop this into the mix…

cm punk aj lee cartoon

Predictions: 2-0

wwe tlc big e langston damien sandow

Big E Langston pinned Damien Sandow with the Big Ending to retain the Intercontinental Title in 6:28

As expected, this was just a standard, brief, perfunctory title defence for Big E.  There was nothing offensive here but nothing to get especially excited about either.

The live audiences remain indifferent to Langston.  It is clear that he has some charisma and presence – but equally as clear that he has yet to figure out how to piece it all together into something that connects with the fans.  He seems to have managed to acquire Cena as a mentor, which means he will get considerably longer than most to try and get himself over.  For the time being, however, he has a long way to go before he can become half as much fun as Sandow’s new T-shirt.

Predictions: 3-0 

Goldust & Cody Rhodes retained the Tag Team Championships over Big Show & Rey Mysterio, Ryback & Curtis Axel and the Real Americans in 21:05

In order of elimination:

  1. Goldust pinned Ryback with a roll-up;
  2. Big Show pinned Antonio Cesaro after a knock-out punch; and
  3. Cody Rhodes pinned Rey Mysterio with the Cross Rhodes

This was a last-minute addition to the card.  It is one of those peculiar things that Show & Mysterio and Ryback & Axel, two teams who have barely wrestled any tag matches with one another, can stroll up and get a tag title opportunity regardless.  It is even more peculiar that we sat through three months of a Big Show main event push that didn’t work, that everyone knew was not going to work, that WWE persisted with nonetheless and only at the very end did they finally drop it before the seemingly logical blow-off of a Show/Hunter match.  Instead, we were subjected to all of that crying, whining and blubbering by the giant, that Battleground main event non-ending, that dreadful Survivor Series main event match and the degradation of the Daniel Bryan main event push, all so that we could wind up with Big Show in a makeshift tag team, getting a random title shot in a four-way – and failing.

All of which begs the question… what on earth will they come up with for Big Show’s 2014 main event push?

Lest anybody get the wrong impression, this was indeed the match of the night.  That it was primarily built around Goldust working as the babyface in peril is no coincidence.  It is safe to say that nobody could have predicted just how good this man would be in 2013, or that his random return to action would have been so much more successful than what the likes of Chris Jericho or Rob Van Dam achieved earlier in the year.  The short-term plan for Goldust was reportedly to break-up with his brother and allow them to finally work a singles bout together at WrestleMania.  This could still work but it seems likelier than ever that it would require Cody to go heel out of frustration with his older brother ‘losing it’ whenever they do drop the tag titles.

There were some subtle teases of such frustration during this match, with Cody seeming more irritated than concerned about his brother being stuck in the ring getting worked over for so long.  It then wound up being Show who he made the hot tag to – and Goldust was way more keen on the post-match babyface handshakes than his brother was.

Whatever they get up to going forward, this has certainly been the best year for tag teams that WWE has had in the past decade.  From the sheer fun on Team Hell No, through to the dominance of the Shield and now the resurrection of Goldust & Cody Rhodes, it has been one heck of a ride.  Never mind the end of the World Heavyweight Title, WWE could easily headline their secondary house shows with a tag title match at this point and more than deliver a satisfying main event match for the fans.  By all accounts, this is something that Triple H is keen to maintain in 2014 and quite rightly so.  Hell, when you’ve got three hours of Raw to fill up every week then it is a big help to be able to send out a few tag teams to take up half an hour with some quality action.

R-Truth pinned Brodus Clay with a roll-up in 6:02

This is the point that the PPV sputtered to a halt.  Up until here the matches were all generally well-received and the crowd seemed to be having a great time.  Then came two “bonus” matches that nobody wanted to see.  Worse, the wrestlers involved were incapable of changing the fans’ minds about that.

For some reason, a comedy undercard duo of two fat white guys that dance badly are being broken up so that at least one of them, Brodus, can become a serious upper mid-card monster heel.  This was teased in an infuriating backstage “comedy” skit that culminated in Kane using a Brodus toy to beat up a Cena toy.  It’s enough to make you miss the 1980s when nothing was any more serious than this but at least had a nice cocaine sheen to the nonsense.

Oh, and this heel turn is via a prolonged angle in which Brodus realises how stupid the Tons of Funk team is, how irritating the Funkadactyls are, how Tensai seems to know nothing about wrestling, how stupid R-Truth’s rapping gimmick is and how much Xavier Woods needs a slap.  The best gimmicks may well involve real life being turned up to full volume but this is doing so in a rather unflattering way to say the least.

Worst of all, Brodus Clay’s wrestling remains just as poor as his dancing – only at least the bad dancing was an excusable part of the act.  There is a certain point at which you just have to leave your jobbers to jobbing or else ditch them and try harder with a fresh face.

Kofi Kingston pinned The Miz with the Trouble in Paradise in 8:02

Yes, again.

Kofi is supposedly the babyface in this feud… probably… it is hard to tell, especially since this match came about when Miz was just doing his job on the “expert’s panel” and then Kofi walked up and slapped him across the face like an utter bastard.

So, maybe Miz is supposed to be the babyface?  Or maybe not, since he did work this match as the heel… but then he worked as a babyface to help save Mick Foley at the Main Event tapings this week.  The man is on track to beat Big Show’s record for random turns in one calendar month at this rate.

Needless to say, neither man has any clear character or motivation at this point.  Coupled with the fact that both guys have been over-exposed and under-protected over the past umpteen years and you’ve got yourself a lot of boring chants, my friend.  The sad thing is that Miz and Kofi were truly trying hard here, working nice and snug and treating this as though it was a major WrestleMania grudge match.  For all the good it did them, WWE may as well have flashed the Triple H Technical Difficulties warning sign on the screen for 8 minutes and called it quits…

Triple H Technical difficulties

 

 

wwe tlc daniel bryan wyatts

The Wyatt Family beat Daniel Bryan in 12:24 (Bray Wyatt pinned Bryan with Sister Abigail)

Daniel Bryan tends to have very good matches on PPV.  The Wyatts have so far had pretty dull matches on PPV, if not outright bad.  Here, the two acts met somewhere in the middle.  This was far from terrible but it was definitely a step down from what Bryan has been able to achieve on a regular basis before.  The feud is likely to continue so perhaps a singles match involving Bryan and Bray Wyatt would be better.

Now, random zany theory time…

The Wyatts arrived in WWE and damaged Kane so much that he decided to go become a normal and join up with the Authority.  They then started on Kane’s little buddy, Bryan, and have been hoping to convince him to join their team so that they can bring down the machine.  So, what if the Wyatts are doing the dirty work of the Authority?  They got the wild card that is Kane sorted out before he could cause any difficulties, then tried to get Bryan, who has been a constant headache for Hunter and Stephanie, to join up with them as well.  This could be a back-up plan of sorts for the Authority, with them using the Wyatts for behind-the-scenes damage control and the Shield for up-front kick-punching.  They could then wind up pitting both teams against one another whenever the Shield do finally start the break-up process.

Of course, it makes no damn sense for the corporate heels to use crazy southern gothic cultists as their hired goons – but then this is the same promotion that created something called the Corporate Ministry.

Or, maybe the Wyatts are planting Kane and Bryan into the system to bring it down from within.

Or, maybe we’ve just re-discovered The X-Files on Netflix and am going off the deep-end on convoluted conspiracy ideas.

Let’s just move on and hope that WWE can do something with the obviously talented Bray Wyatt that lives up to the perception of him as a major star.

Predictions: 4-0 

wwe tlc john cena randy orton

Randy Orton beat John Cena in 24:36 to unify the WWE Championship & World Heavyweight Championships in a TLC Match

So it would seem that is that for the World Heavyweight Title.  Farewell, Piccadilly, so long Leicester Square.  We shall remember you always for the great times that you have given us.  The peculiar sight of people cheering as Jack Swagger took you from the clutches of Chris Jericho.  The cheeky joy of you asking people to buy a PPV to see Rey Mysterio versus the Great Khali.  The unbridled amazement that was a 15-minute first reign for Dolph Ziggler (and a one-match second reign).  Truly, you have invigorated the wrestling industry over the past eleven years and shall be missed with a respectful sorrow usually reserved for the likes of Nelson Mandela.

There, are you happy now WWE?  Is that sufficient gratitude towards the grandiosity of this match?  By the time this main event came around we had resorted to yelling “We Believe!  We Believe!” at the TV, in the vain hope that the endless parade of hyperbolic video packages about how important this unification match was would stop and we would be free to move on with our lives.

Instead, we were subjected to Michael Cole yelling on and on and on during the match itself about the supposed importance of this occasion.  At that point we resorted to smothering ourselves with cushions.  Instead of that putting us to sleep to dream sweet dreams, however, we were still subjected to the nightmare of another Cena/Orton match.

It isn’t even as though this was a bad match – not at all.  From an objective point of view, this was a perfectly acceptable match.  It was also one of the safest TLC matches we will ever see, which is hardly surprising given that Cena is held together by will power and Orton seemingly gets paid a hundred thousand dollars for each bump he takes.  Compared to the likes of the WrestleMania 17 TLC match involving Edge & Christian, the Hardys and the Dudleys, this was a mild disagreement between drunken aunties at the Christmas dinner table.

That wasn’t the problem, though.  The match was still well put together and inventive in its own way, even with a call-back to some other Cena/Orton match in which Orton handcuffed Cena to the ropes.  The problem was that it was a Cena/Orton match!  It is a pairing that has been seen all too many times and is beyond played out, not least of all because neither man has changed their character in any significant way since the last ruddy time this match was booked.

At one point in time, such a long-running and repeated pairing would have been an indicator of an epic rivalry.  When coupled with how much both men have been shoved down the audience’s throat over the past decade on top, however, it does nothing but trigger the gag reflex.

Anyway, Orton won both belts, or unified them, or something.  He is now the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and apparently that moniker will hold, with the WWE Championship belt eventually becoming the only one that the champion carries around.  It would be a good time to debut a new title belt but then they just did that earlier this year, which is yet another indicator of how manically last-minute WWE put together this unification process.

The real danger is what happens going forward.  Inevitably, there will be some form of a Cena/Orton rematch.  This may be at the Royal Rumble, or that may involve Daniel Bryan, potentially in a three-way.  In WWE logic, Bryan seems to merit a title shot despite having just lost a match at the PPV.  The Authority booked him in a non-title match against Orton on Raw, despite having just spent six damn months trying to ensure that Orton and not Bryan was the champion.  Orton, for his part, seems quite happy about this despite Triple H having laid him out with a Pedigree last week.  Cena seems fairly keen on getting his rematch but also wants Bryan to get one.  Don’t try to figure out anybody’s motivation here.  Just sit back and admire whatever shiny things you see, like in The Matrix sequels.

So, what of WrestleMania itself?  It is entirely possible that Cena/Orton will headline that show too.  More adventurous predictors than I have put out the idea that Hulk Hogan could be in Cena’s corner and Bob Orton in Randy’s corner, in order to get a link to the main event of the first-ever WrestleMania in 1985.

So far as anybody can tell at this point, however, WWE’s only current plans for WrestleMania are “let’s do something with Cena and get Hogan involved, Undertaker can go play with Brock Lesnar if he wants and something with Vince and Hunter somehow… now, how the hell does this Network thing switch on?

For which they will probably be rewarded with a giant leap in TV revenue as their current Raw and Smackdown contracts come due in the US, UK and India, thus allowing all involved to buy plenty more of that tasty, tasty Kool-Aid to drink.

Predictions: 5-0 (100%)

Predictions 2013: 52-11 (83%)

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From → Wrestling, WWE

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