The last WWE pay-per-view of the year is upon us! This weekend’s TLC: TABLES, LADDERS & CHAIRS (and Stairs!) promises to bring the violence with multiple action-packed match-ups, including a handful of exciting title matches. This is my first TLC pay-per-view and its shaping up to be a good one, even if the World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar is still MIA. Even without the Beast Incarnate, this should be a great night. Hit the jump to see my picks for the night and remember to follow me Sunday on Twitter when I live tweet the show!
THE NEW DAY vs DUST BROTHERS
I am totally 100% behind The New Day. Kofi, Big E, and Xavier have all been underutilized in the past and this new gimmick is a great opportunity for all three men to showcase their over-the-top personalities and great in-ring work. I’m not terribly happy about this being pushed to the pre-show, but there is way too much going on at this event to put them on the main card. Personally, I’d give this feud more time to percolate, perhaps with a singles match on the pre-show that will lead to their PPV debut as a stable next month at Royal Rumble. Unless Stardust and Goldust do something sneaky here to get a win, The New Day need a big win here to keep their momentum going. Of course, WWE doesn’t have the greatest history of building momentum for new things (like Xavier’s debut for example), but I love this new team so much that I just can’t imagine them losing.
Prediction: THE NEW DAY
ERICK ROWAN vs BIG SHOW
Steel Stairs Match
I have become completely bored with the Big Show. He is still a competent, albeit slow as molasses, wrestler and he is still good on the mic, but his constant heel/face turns and his reliance on just two facets of his character (the monster and the crying baby) has made him completely interesting. He’s good, then he’s bad, then he’s good, then he’s bad and only two months has gone by. Blech. Erick Rowan, on the other hand, is totally awesome and I’m glad to see that he wasn’t completely dropped when Bray Wyatt “freed” his protégés. I wish he had better theme music though. It just doesn’t fit his character at all. I’m not sure how far they can carry Rowan’s character, but he sure is fun to watch in the ring and he won’t last long if he loses here to Big Show. I say Big Show loses here and then Rowan moves on to battle Harper for the IC strap for a few months.
Prediction: ERICK ROWAN
KANE vs RYBACK
To me, this is the second easiest match on the card to pick. Ryback has been on a roll lately and I don’t see the WWE bookers derailing that push by having him lose to Kane, who really doesn’t need the rub he would get from a win here. I’ve always thought that the “chairs” stipulation on a TLC show was a bit ridiculous because it just means that it is a hardcore match (much like the “stairs” match will be for Rowan and Big Show). That being said, I think this could be a fun brawl. The two men have very similar styles and Ryback has really upped his game over the last few months. A win here for the Big Guy will put him back into the echelon that he reached a few years ago during his poorly booked feud with John Cena (the Ryback heel turn was so stupid). I look for this one to be short and hard-hitting, with Ryback picking up his biggest win in two years by beating Kane.
JACK SWAGGER vs RUSEV ©
United States Championship
If Kane and Ryback is the second easiest match to pick, this retread is the easiest. Rusev will not drop the title to Jack Swagger here. If he loses, it will be by count-out or disqualification. No matter what, though, Swagger will not take the title here. They have done a good job of making this more personal than the usual USA vs Russia template for a Rusev feud, with Swagger avenging the injury to Zeb Colter. Oddly enough, this is the first time that Rusev has really done anything heel-ish. Before attacking Zeb backstage, Rusev has just been showing his love for Russia, with the only bad guy move being his alliance with the Authority. Everything else has been Lana’s comments. He doesn’t cheat and until now, he hadn’t done anything dastardly. This is a move in the right direction to me. I’d like to see Rusev destroy Swagger here, then do a bad-guy beatdown, which will help build him as a monster for his next major feud. I see this as a transition to Rusev’s eventual first loss, which will likely come from a top-tier superstar.
AJ LEE vs NIKKI BELLA ©
After last month’s insulting-to-your-audience Divas Championship debacle, I really hope we actually get a match here. I could go into my usual rant about the main roster’s treatment of female talent, but chances are if you are reading this, you’ve been reading it and already know my thoughts. If you haven’t, just know that I really like women’s wrestling and the main roster is a joke compared to NXT. That being said, I would much rather see AJ win the title because she is a considerably more interesting character and much better wrestler, but Nikki has made strides both in the ring and on the mic. This is her chance to really “step it up.” If there is any Diva that can make Nikki look like a credible champion, it is AJ. I am going into this match with low expectations, but still hoping for the best, especially since the next logical step will be Nikki vs Brie for the title (though they totally dropped the ball on that feud).
Prediction: NIKKI BELLA
THE USOS vs THE MIZ/MIZDOW ©
WWE Tag Team Title Match
I am so glad that WWE is finally adding some storyline material to the tag team division, with Jimmy Uso and his wife Naomi starting a storyline with the Miz that adds a lot of fuel to this feud. Hopefully that will give this match-up legs for a few months as I think that these four competetitors have a ton of chemistry in the ring and I could see the two teams battle it out for the next several pay-per-views before we finally see the Miz and Mizdow break up. Plus there are rumors that Maryse, the Miz’s wife, returning and this would be a great way to bring her into the fold. Perhaps Mizdow would bring her in to battle Naomi, which would upset Miz? That would be awwwww-some (you know, like what Miz says). Either way, Miz and Mizdow keep the titles, but the feud continues for another month or two.
Prediction: THE MIZ/MIZDOW
DOLPH ZIGGLER vs LUKE HARPER ©
Other than the Wyatt/Ambrose battle, this match is easily the one I’m looking forward to most on the card. Both Ziggler and Harper have had huge years thanks to their spectacular efforts in every single match. Ziggler might just be the most well-rounded wrestler on the roster and Harper is one of the most athletic “big men” I’ve ever seen in the ring. I am showing my age on this one, but the styles of these two wrestlers are very similar to Shawn Michaels (Ziggler) and Razor Ramon (Harper), who put on THE ladder match many, many years ago. While this won’t be quite as high-flying as some ladder matches we’ve seen since then, all of the components are there for an instant classic. If booked right, these two men will tell an incredible story in the ring that will take Luke Harper from a solid mid-card star to an all-new level. Expect lots of “this is awesome” chants during this match and a standing ovation in the end when Harper grasps the strap to retain the title. Normally I never want to see Ziggler lose, especially on a pay-per-view, but the quality of this match should be so high that it won’t matter!
Prediction: LUKE HARPER
JOHN CENA vs SETH ROLLINS
Blah. Blah. John Cena. Blah. Blah. Blah.
I don’t mind that Brock Lesnar and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship aren’t on TV every week. I think it adds a mystique to the title that we haven’t seen in years. I don’t, however, like that it means that Raw has almost exclusively focused on John Cena the last few months. Seth Rollins is one of my favorite in-ring performers and so I’m glad to see him in such a high profile match and I know that Cena is capable of putting on a great match with Rollins (aside from his “Super Cena” no-selling bullshit comeback that makes me angry every single time). So, wrestling-wise, this will be a solid showing. The problem is that the storyline just doesn’t interest me at all. Cena is fighting for his #1 contender status, but Rollins isn’t fighting for anything. It’s yet another Cena-centric storyline that will lead to him wrestling Brock presumably next month, which is totally pointless. We’ve seen that match twice already. There is no point in them spending all of this time and money on Brock just to put Cena over once again. There are better performers out there that deserve the spotlight. That being said, as much as I would love to see Rollins win here and then Cena take some time off to deal with his loss, history shows us that won’t happen. Cena wins. The crowd boos. Schrodt loses interest.
Prediction: JOHN CENA
BRAY WYATT vs DEAN AMBROSE
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match
I know that Cena and Rollins will likely be the final match of the night, but I really hope that this match headlines the show. It is the namesake match of the show after all. Honestly, I do not care who wins this match. I’m that excited about it. Wyatt and Ambrose are probably my two favorite wrestlers on the roster right now and the build-up to this match has been really, really awesome. They used the ending to their match at Survivor Series last month and cranked it up to 11 with a number of great moments, including the destruction of Wyatt’s chair and the fantastic ambulance unloading on this week’s Raw. Ambrose has been on a total upward path since the dissolution of the Shield earlier this year, but Wyatt is still floundering a bit after the terrible booking of his feuds with Jericho and Cena. I’d love to see Wyatt “unleashed” here as a true monster heel, something we really haven’t seen from him yet. If he comes unhinged, which this type of match is perfect for, this should be something really special. Like I said, I really hope this is the main event, but if it isn’t, every match that follows will pale in comparison.
Prediction: BRAY WYATT
What are your thoughts? Share them here or tweet them to me at @RyanSchrodt!