TLC has more or less snuck up on us like a thief in the night. With all of the mega events that have occurred since Summerslam and with Wrestlemania season about to begin, TLC feels like it is getting lost in the shuffle. Nonetheless, the WWE has spent a large amount of time on a wide range of stories and the card looks to be very interesting on paper. Here are my thoughts:
The Eternal Optimist Presents: TLC Preview & Predictions.
Before I delve into the announced matches, there are three matches that haven’t been announced that could potentially be added to the card tonight on Smackdown – Randy Orton/Rey Mysterio Samoa Joe/Jeff Hardy and Rusev/Shinsuke Nakamura. I’m here for all of them. All three have been built well on TV and I’d be comfortable with either man winning in any of those matches. There are ten announced matches already so I’m thinking at least one or two of these get left on the cutting room floor.
Additionally, I’m just not going to go in a deep discussion on The Mixed Match Challenge. It’s a concept I didn’t care about before every single team got changed due to injury. Here’s what I know. 1) I couldn’t tell you who is going to be competing; 2) it’s dumb to give the winners the 30th spot in each Rumble because that spot has recently been the subject of tremendous intrigue; and 3) regardless of entering last, no one that wins the MMC is going to be a contender to win the Rumble. NEXT.
Alright, onto the good stuff:
Ladder Match: Elias v Bobby Lashley:
I have to be honest – I am dangerously close to no longer wanting to walk with Elias. He’s had an odd relationship ever since he debuted on the main roster – an overwhelmingly impressive ability to connect with the fans through his segments while also having a complete lack of success in doing so in his matches. The face turn isn’t doing him any favors – the tweaks that he had made to his character in order to pander to the fans just make his schtick seem forced.
This match doesn’t make a ton of sense on any level. Neither man is well suited to be in a ladder match and neither man has been inspiring the crowd with their in ring work. This could be a complete stinker and on top of that, both men are in a position where it would be better not to lose. Here’s to hoping that they outkick their coverage.
Prediction: Elias wins – he took the fall against Lio Rush this week and since this doesn’t feel like a long term storyline, a redemption victory is in the cards.
Tables Match: Natalya v Ruby Riott:
This has low key been one of the better put together stories in recent memory. The WWE has done a tremendous job of incorporating a real life tragedy into a compelling angle. To me, this match represents the next logical progression in the Women’s Revolution – a rock solid mid card match to go along with the headlining title bouts.
Prediction: I’d like to see Ruby win as she’s the up and comer and Natalya doesn’t have a lot of upside, but I think that this match will be a feel good moment for Natalya and the fans.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Buddy Murphy v Cedric Alexander:
I appreciate the WWE’s desire to include a cruiserweight match on all PPVs, but this booking feels like a step backwards to me. Taking the belt off Cedric and putting it onto Murphy was a step in the right direction. Going back to the well with Alexander just makes this match feel like a placeholder. Couldn’t the WWE have come up with a fresh challenger instead?
Prediction: Murphy wins. There’s nothing else you can do with Cedric as champion again.
Drew McIntyre v Finn Balor:
It’s without question that Drew McIntyre is going to be the man on Raw sometime within the next year and since I believe Finn’s best role is as enhancement talent, I’m good with this booking. Drew isn’t losing on a PPV in December and certainly not to someone of Balor’s ilk. His progression is coming along nicely, I just hope that the WWE takes their time with him and makes sure that he sticks.
Prediction: Drew wins in what I’m expecting to be an excellent match.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Bar v The Usos v The New Day:
I really don’t care about the storyline or lackthereof – you can put any combination of these three teams together and I’ll be watching. They ARE the Smackdown tag division and I’m expecting an excellent outing here.
Prediction: The Bar wins. It’s a coin flip for me, as I don’t see how the outcome of the match affects the division in any capacity.
TLC Match: Braun Strowman v Baron Corbin:
I’m not expecting an actual match here as I don’t think there’s any way that Braun is cleared to wrestle. The way this goes down is intriguing to me. I could see anything from a semi-physical angle with Braun to cementing Rollins place as the anti-authority figure to Bray Wyatt making his return. I’m expecting that whatever the WWE has planned with this angle, it will shape the landscape of Raw heading into Wrestlemania season.
Prediction: No match at all. I’ll go with Braun showing up for some type of angle to lead into the Rumble match.
WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey v Nia Jax:
The storyline has largely fallen flat for me but I’m interested in the match for the simple reason that Rousey seems to ALWAYS deliver on PPV. Her previous match with Nia was quite good and I am expecting that this will be better. The most interesting part of the match isn’t the outcome but whether or not the WWE chooses to keep Nia strong and push her “Facebreaker” persona going forward.
Prediction: Rousey wins. The WWE is just treading water with her until they can set up Becky and/or Charlotte again.
WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Seth Rollins v Dean Ambrose:
Like many, I haven’t been enamored with how this story has been presented on TV. With that said, I think they’ll have an opportunity to tell the right story in the ring on Sunday. With their track record and the fan interest in the match, I have no doubt that they will deliver.
It sure looked and felt like the WWE was positioning Rollins to be the anti-authority top face on Raw to go against Baron Corbin. Does that mean that he’s going to end up facing Lesnar at Wrestlemania for the title? I believe so. Thus, there’s only one reasonable outcome here.
Prediction: Ambrose wins. Seth is above the IC belt at this point and it feels like they are moving him onto bigger and better things.
WWE Title Match: A.J. Styles v Daniel Bryan:
I’ve been very critical of Bryan since his return, but his persona as a heel has been incredible over the past few weeks. The lack of a gimmick match indicates that this feud is far from over and that TLC won’t be the blow off. The winner seems pretty straightforward, but I’m expecting an utterly fantastic match between the two.
Prediction: Bryan retains and this feud continues through the Royal Rumble.
Smackdown Women’s Championship TLC Match:
Here’s to hoping this is the main event of the show. I am beyond excited for this one. Becky and Charlotte have absolutely delivered every time they’ve been in the ring with each other. Both are red hot right now and I am thrilled that Asuka was included in the fray. I feel that a TLC match is perfect for the level of physicality that she brings to the table.
This match is the perfect opportunity to get the title off Becky and position her to move to Raw and challenge Rousey in the main event of Wrestlemania. The only real question is which of the other two wrestlers should become champ. I think if done correctly, you can create a viable second Women’s title match for Wrestlemania.
I’d like to see a full fledged heel turn for Charlotte. I think that doing so can kick off the build to a rematch against Asuka at WM35 with a more clearly defined face/heel dynamic. Thus:
Prediction: Charlotte wins. I don’t have any real confidence in this prediction, so I’m going with what I want to see rather than logic.
That’s a wrap kids. All in all, despite it’s under the radar status, I think there are many matches on the show that should deliver in a big way when it comes to the actual in-ring product. Thank you for reading, sound off below!