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 411mania » Wrestling » Columns

411 PPV Roundtable Preview: WWE TLC 2013
Posted by Sean Garmer on 12.14.2013

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Hello, and as you might have guessed I am not Stephen Randle. With Randle's life due to get very busy really soon he felt it was best if he began lightening his workload on 411. So, Randle asked if someone would like to relieve him of his duties as WWE Roundtable Organizer and I obliged.

So, here I am and believe it or not, I have actually been writing for 411mania almost eight years. I made my start in the wrestling zone as a co-author on the "Triple Threat Column," then I moved over permanently to the Games Zone when that came into existence and have resided over the "Games Top 5" for almost two years. I contribute here and there to various group columns around 411 too, but I will admit it is nice to be back doing something for the wrestling zone again.

Anyway, let's get to why you are here, one of those WWE PPV's. This Sunday, WWE presents its last PPV of 2013, Tables Ladders & Chairs or just simply, TLC. This year's edition of the three-hour show may be a historic one with both the WWE and World Championships up for grabs quite literally in a TLC match. I'm just hoping we don't get another screwy main event finish. As for the other matches on the show, Big E. Langston defends his Intercontinental Championship against the ever brilliant Damien Sandow, AJ Lee defends the Divas Championship against Natalya, and a pair of Handicap matches involving Daniel Bryan, The Wyatt Family, CM Punk, and The Shield.

Now, there is only one thing left to do and that's to give out some predictions. Here are the staff members that dared getting smashed with a Ladder to submit their thoughts today…

The Staff

Dino Zucconi, Smart Marks

Mike Hammerlock, The Wrestling Zone 8-Ball

Michael Weyer, Shining A Spotlight

Paul La Pointe, Wrestling Zone News Writer

Justin Watry, Truth And Lies

Jarrod Atkinson, Sports Entertainment 720 News Report

Nick Sellers, Canvas Critiques

Jack Bramma, Ring Crew Reviews

Sean Garmer, WWE PPV Roundtable Organizer, Games Top 5 Organizer

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Singles Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango
Pre-Show Kickoff Match

Dino Zucconi: This just gets more and more depressing, this whole Let's put Dolph on the pre-show! movement. Memories of the night after WrestleMania this year seem like they happened years ago now. I really don't know who they want to keep strong, but it probably won't matter when whoever loses here wins the rematch on Raw the next night. I'll say Fandango wins this, I guess.

Winner: Faaaaaaaandaaaaaaaaaaaaaango!

Mike Hammerlock: The real tension with this match is whether these two can do anything that elevates them into something more meaningful than the pre-show in future PPVs. Dolph and Dango can do big spots, and you don't need a ton of time to work in a few of those. It would have been nice if this match had been given so much as one ounce of build, like Kofi-Miz and the relaunch of Sin Cara. For instance, this could have been a #1 contender match for the U.S. title, because why not? So the challenge here is for these two guys to give us a reason to care when we've previously been given no reason to care. The outcome strikes me as obvious.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Michael Weyer: Ah, Dolph, how have you fallen. A good worker who should be pushed at the top but now doing pre-show with the goofy Fandango. It's a shame, the guy has great star power but not used properly, we can only hope that changes in the next year. For now, I'll give him the win and here's hoping he gets on the real show next time around.

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler

Paul Lapointe: Hey, its that Dolph Ziggler dude. The guy John Cena said nobody wanted to work with because it was a bad idea and well look at em now, har d, har har. Again outside of possibly Kofi Kingston over the past year Dolph is seemingly becoming Mr. I'll Steal the Pre-Show. And he should here as well most likely as Fandango has been doing the directionless job to everybody routine but is still looking good that people fall into when creative has nothing for them and the universe needs a reason to remember that evidently Dolph win's matches sometimes- so insert victory here in a fine but forgettable 8 minute match.

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler

Justin Watry: Neither man is doing a whole lot right now. Fandango needs to move past his gimmick. Just ask Zack Ryder how that works out - great in the short-term, bad in the long-term. On the flip side, Dolph just is not in the plans right now to move up the card. John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, The Shield, and The Wyatts are all more entertaining. I will give the win to the face because a lot of my picks favor the heels.

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler

Jarrod Atkinson: Dolph continues to tread water lately as I'm sure he's just waiting for creative to give him something to run with. In the meantime, Ziggler takes a break from wrestling Damien Sandow every week to kick Fandango's ass at stealing the show.

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler

Nick Sellers: While these two may have fallen down the card in recent months, there's still the makings of a decent match here. Fandango is still a colorful character, the likes of which we need more of, and Ziggler can still work and bump like a trooper. If this goes well, I think a feud with each-other would do wonders for the pair of them. It might get more people taking notice of them again and it gives them something to sink their teeth into between now and Wrestlemania. Ziggler appears to be in the dog-house judging by his recent losing streak, thus Fandango will probably get the decision here via a distraction from Summer Raye.

WINNER: Fandango

Jack Bramma: Neither guy has much of anything going on. Ziggler is/was mired in midcard hell wrestling Sandow in a endless loop of substandard gimmick matches that he always loses and the always announcers laugh through . On the other hand, Fandango has taken the bull by the horns and lost consecutive matches to the likes of Daniel Bryan and Mark Henry all the way down to Kofi Kingston and Zach Ryder. Given that the last three kickoff matches were Kofi/Miz, Kofi/Sandow (subbing for Big E/Axel), and Dolph/Sandow, I'd say the match means next to nothing but Dolph goes over because they can't want to de-push him but SO much, right? Bueller?

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler

Sean Garmer: I would have thought WWE would have tried to use the pre-show to continue the Brodus Clay vs. Xavier Woods feud, but alas we get a match that means absolutely nothing. Neither man has been doing much of anything so I'll just go with the face winning.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

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(Champions) Goldust & Cody Rhodes vs. Real Americans w/ Zeb Colter vs. RyBack & Curtis Axel vs. Rey Mysterio & Big Show
Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Championship Match

Dino Zucconi: Man, I'd love to go full mark and call the Real Americans winning this and running roughshod over the division like I called them doing months before they were even a team, but I don't see that happening yet. Rybaxel is there to lose on PPV, as both like to do. The Big Misterio could be fun, but their pairing seems more like a placeholder spot instead of an actual vehicle for a push. Besides, Rey needs to start messing with Sin Cara a bit. I'm sticking with the champs retaining in a chaotic affair.

Winners: ... and STILL Tag Team Champions, Goldust and Cody Rhodes

Mike Hammerlock: Where's the Usos? I guess the lesson here is when there's a deep tag division, sometimes your pet favorite gets left out of the shuffle. The major question in this match is will Cesaro swing Big Show? If he does, it could break the Internet. Let's process-of-elimination this fight. RybAxel is not winning. Even if the idea is to come out of TLC with transitional champs (because the Usos need the belts), the former Heyman guys are the wrong pick. Rey and Show are there for spots. They're great in that capacity, but they don't need the belts and they're not likely to be a tag team in another month. That leaves the Rhodes brothers, who have been awesome, and the Real Americans, who have gotten over despite being a preposterous pairing. The Rhodes' win of the belt was so epic, it would be a shame if they lost in a hastily arranged match. Yet at some point Cody needs to chase singles glory and there is the brother vs. brother Wrestlemania rumor. I'm hoping that doesn't happen because I'm gaga for Goldust these days. So the Real Americans would be a good transitional champ team if the plan is to split up the Rhodes boys. Still, it seems early to pull that trigger.

Winners: Rhodes brothers

Michael Weyer: It's great to see WWE actually caring about the tag division again and a good mix of guys to heighten this battle even more. Hard to pick a real winner here as Real Americans have a good shot and don't discount Ryback and Axel. However, I'll go with the usual for four-way battles as the champs will manage to retain but great to see the tag belts get a good push once again.

WINNERS and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: The Rhodes Brothers

Michael Weyer: Alright to Rybaxel...ugh...seriously...Raxel, AxBack, yeah that's the one. If the WWE want to push the tag division at least try not to bury a team name on commentary right away because its as if they are aiming for them to fail and they wonder why we can't or won't care about talents. I mean Axel's run as IC champ was abysmal and Ryback was so hot at the start of year and now they have a funny tag team name known as the Not Paul Heyman Guys. Alright enough postured ranting for one match I guess. The WWE seems to think that Rybaxel could not carry a tag title match themselves at Rhode's Squared and have randomly inserted two other squads to spicen things up. The Real American's have the credit of at least being the former title challengers and Rey and Big Show...well they need an end of the year PPV Bonus. I mean Paul Wight needs to buy his house back from HHH. Plus the WWE PPV audience needs to see a Cesaro swing on the giant. Rhodes tension starts at the Rumble so they retain here.

WINNERS and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: The Rhodes Brothers

Justin Watry: Yikes! Who put this thing together? This is filler to me. Ryback needs run far away from Curtis Axel and never look back. Big Show and Rey Mysterio are not a team whatsoever. It just feels like they needed a spot on the PPV card. The Real Americans are getting to that point where WWE either has to make something happen...or move on. Both guys are quality single's performers, so give them the tag straps or an actual feud. Coming out to say "We The People" months in a row without anything to show for it can only go on for so long. I still love the idea of Cody Rhodes vs. a heel Goldust come WMXXX. The champs can retain on Sunday but be ready to lose in a month or two.

Winners: The Rhodes Brothers

Jarrod Atkinson: As much as I want the Real Americans to win, it's not time for the Rhodes Brothers to split up yet. The Sons of the Son of a Plumber win this one with most likely Curtis Axel taking the fall.

Winners: The Rhodes Brothers

Nick Sellers: Hopefully this doesn't turn out to be too much of a cluster, but the Four-way dynamic makes it very tough for the Rhodes Brothers to keep the straps here. It does provide a window though to move the belts onto another team without either of the Rhodes brothers getting pinned, thus losing a bit of steam in the process. As for the other teams, Rybaxel (yuck) are ok as bullying, old school heel personalities but only as a short-term fix while neither of them have anything better to do. Rey and Big Show actually make quite a fun "Little and Large" type of duo and since there isn't much planned for them between now and the Rumble, I say keep them together for a little longer while creative works out some different directions for them to take. Personally, I'd put the titles on the Real Americans, who to me are the most well-oiled machine from a tag-team perspective in the company at present in addition to being arguably the most over tag act. If they win, you then have the Rhodes', Rey & Show and the Usos as potential babyface challengers going into the new year, all of which would make intriguing prospects. It's either that or a Rhodes retention which would be fine initially, but it's only a matter of time before Zeb's lads take the belts from them, so it might as well be tonight.

Winners: They, the people.

Jack Bramma: Triple H (or someone else in power) has done what seemed damn near impossible the last several years: they have rebuilt the tag division. Don't get me wrong, it's not exactly 80s NWA/WWF territory yet, but it's come a long way in recent months. They actually have an honest-to-God division and not just the same two or three makeshift teams of Kofi and Miz trading partners with Evan Bourne and R-Truth and again with Rey Mysterio and Santino Morella for months on-end. While Rey/Show's and RybackAxel's mere presence over The Usos or Los Matadores bespeak of the same problems I was just outlining, they are innocent also-rans that will bring marginal heat and pops but will at least not stink out the joint.

Instead, this match will be a showcase for The Real Americans but particularly Cesaro and his seemingly looming face turn. The Big Swing is more over than 3/4 of the roster and Cesaro's other feats of strength – the Neutralizer and the Swiss Death from Below – aren't far behind. If they ever cut loose and let him give Brodus Clay the UFO, the WWE Universe might implode.

The Sons of the Son of a Plumber are having a spectacular run through the fall and winter, but they seem to have used up all their storyline gas on the MOTYC contenders with The Shield. Since then, they've floated around in entertaining matches but mostly as voiceless, causeless foils to the heel challengers of the week. It might be time to pass the belts on, though just out of ennui more than anything for the writers.

Weeks back, the trajectory seemed aligned perfectly for The Rhodes to drop the straps to We The People and then for WTP to roll right into a feud with Los Matadores. Where does that leave us now? Is Cesaro's recent surge in popularity enough to propel The Real Americans into the belts? Does a possible face turn mean WTP is more due for a split than a championship run? I'll take The Natural Beautiful Disasters.

WINNERS: The Rhodes Brothers

Sean Garmer: Once again, we have a multi man tag match that looks to steal the show. As nice as it is to see WWE freshen up the competitors for the Rhodes Brothers, there is really only one team that could take the belts from the Rhodes Brothers here. Unless WWE wants to start the dissension between the Brothers early, (I've always felt they should have Cody eliminate Goldust from the Rumble and that's how it starts.) I don't see Goldie and Cody losing them quite yet.


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(Champion) Big E. Langston vs. Damien Sandow
Intercontinental Championship Match

Dino Zucconi: It's happening. Big E's rise to the top is beginning. Whether you like it or not, you better learn to love it. I'm very happy about this. Seeing Damien immediately drop his World Title pursuits for an IC run kinda hits me the wrong way, but I think these two will put on a good outing, and Big E comes out looking like an unstoppable force. Which is a good thing.

Winner: ... and STILL Intercontinental Champion, Big E Langston

Mike Hammerlock: On paper this is a pro forma match. Big E just started his first major push. This is his first PPV defending his belt. Sandow's job is to put up a good fight … and then job. Right? I mean, no way would WWE creative deviate from Standard Booking 101 on this one. That would be crazy. Except for one thing: if the world titles are getting unified then Sandow really has nowhere else to go for a while other than to war it out over the IC title. Suddenly this belt needs to matter a lot more than it currently does. Big E squishing the heel du jour won't accomplish that. Big E and Sandow getting into a holy war will elevate them both and put some luster back into this title. Ideally this is the first in a best-of-seven series that leaves both guys in a better position. The shake up from the unification needs to reverberate down the card, and a Sandow victory here is exactly the sort of unexpected result that would make it feel like the stakes have changed in the WWE.

Winner: Damien Sandow

Michael Weyer: Langston is getting a push and ready to blow up more in 2014. This is just another step to it as Sandow may have a shot but WWE is intent on giving us more of Big E and having him retain in a fantastic hard-hitting battle is a great way to get him over even more and give WWE another new star that's needed.

WINNER and STILL IC Champion: Big E Langston

Paul Lapointe: The E has big plans for Big E and it starts here at TLC. They seem to be lining up a program with Mark Henry next year with them working as a mentor/mentee kinda deal till Henry turns on him savagely which could make for a good little program. In the mean time the uncrowned "Champion" Damien Sandow for all intents and purposes could have meant any championship really and I guess the IC title will do. Can he "Overcome This" come Sunday? Nah, but as a former MITB winner and de-facto title challenger Langston winning here is at least a decent rub.

WINNER and STILL IC Champion: Big E Langston

Justin Watry: Not a bad spot for both guys. You have the clearly defined heel going after the clearly defined face. Best of all, Damien Sandow won a #1 contenders match on Raw to EARN a title match. They really should do more of those #1 contender matches. Big E Langston is doing well, so him dropping the IC Title now would be pointless. I enjoy Sandow as much as the next person. However, there is no reason for him to win here.

Winner: Big E Langston

Jarrod Atkinson: If you've been wrestling Dolph Ziggler for 3 weeks and then all the sudden win a number one contender match 2 weeks before a pay per view with no build other than you beat Dolph Ziggler, you're probably not going to win.

Winner: Big E Langston

Nick Sellers: With not much designated time for their segments and matches leading up to this one, they've done a nice job of building up to it. The matches have been short but have packed in plenty of action, and having the other guy on commentary in the mean-time has given it a welcome dose of hype. I'd be surprised to see Big E lose because it's still quite soon since he took the gold.

Winner: Big E Langston

Jack Bramma: Sandow has dropped the Poffo and the pink for some black and a mean streak since losing his cash-in against Cena. But he's got nothing to show for it other than a few harmless wins over Ziggler and Santino. He's got the look, the promos, good enough in the ring, and he's homegrown. His crested burnout is a mystery to me. E is a different story though. Along with Reigns, Big E is obviously another guy the company has big things in store for. Then again, I would have said the same thing about Sandow several times in the last year, so all bets are off when trying to prognosticate the stock of WWE midcarders. E has gotten solid reviews for his commentary promos the last couple of weeks, but honestly, I've been bored by him. I've read his stuff on Twitter and know the guy has personality; yet, it just isn't translating so far. Maybe he's just too nervous, maybe he's got Vince or Michael Hayes yakking in his ear but the Dean Malenko-ese isn't doing it for me so far. I've been much more into his in-ring work. Whether it was the borderline AWESOME match he had with Orton a few weeks ago or the nice little mini-feud he had with Ambrose, Big E has finally gotten some in-ring time to show his worth. I hope he gets a long reign with the belt and maybe a nice showing in the Rumble as well. A faceoff with Reigns midway through the RR with both guys having a few eliminations under their belt could be electric.

WINNER: Big E Langston

Sean Garmer: I really hope with the two big titles getting unified it means WWE will spend more time writing actual compelling storylines for the midcard titles. They could easily start something simple yet effective for this feud, in which, Langston surprises loses here and then chases Sandow all the way to Wrestlemania for the belt, but you know they won't do it. Langston just won the title and it seems WWE wants to push Big E right now so I'd expect a good match with the Master of the Five count winning out.


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Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family
3 on 1 Handicap Match

Dino Zucconi: A while back in Smart Marks I wrote about the handicap match, and the ludicrous way WWE treats them by always having the underdog in the match actually be the side with multiple participants. While I love Daniel Bryan a little too much, I'm going to hold the fort and say that at TLC, WWE remembers that handicap matches are supposed to be insurmountable odds that really screws the face over, and we'll forgive him for the loss. Hopefully this is a ridiculously brutal match, and I expect it will be.

Winners: The Wyatt Family

Mike Hammerlock: Here's the thing, Bray Wyatt's promos are too good not have the larger story of vying for Daniel Bryan's soul be the focal point here. The Wyatts don't care about winning this match. At the very least, after putting Bryan through a tremendous amount of punishment, they have to offer him the match. Luke Harper affectionately allowing Bray Wyatt to hit the Sister Abigail on him would be about 18 kinds of creepy. When Wyatt offers up the laid out Harper, Bryan can respond with the "No!" chants. Then Wyatt can counter with the "Yes!" chants. Good theater if they get there. Ultimately I expect Bryan to remain firm with his no, causing the Wyatts to go on a rampage. They'll win, but they won't be happy about it.

Winners: The Wyatt Family

Michael Weyer: I know some are saying Wyatts here and it seems likely as they're hot with Bray getting a push. But a handicap match is meant to be a valiant battle against all odds and that sets up Bryan well here. I'm going off history as often, these battles in WWE end with the hero overcoming the huge odds against him to achieve his victory. So in the end, Bryan manages to win here but still give the Wyatts a good rub to continue things on well.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Paul Lapointe: I like pretty much everybody agree that these stinkin' handicap matches are terribly weak booking for the 3 man faction parade but I see the matches as a storyline device rather then a wrestling bout anyhow. Daniel Bryan can make anybody look good for any long or short period of time and after he and Punk seemingly have had the upperhand in almost all actual match environments thus far it stands to reason he loses here. Well actually the fact that its a handicap match does but stranger things have happened, I mean John Cena can beat like what 7 people at the same time or something last time I checked. Anyhow back on point JBL seems to be way too into bellowing that D-Bry should join the Wyatts and I think he will for just a short time for what I can only imagine is Vince's idea to give him "Edge" or some crazily dumb nonsense or whathaveyou. The plus on this is it quells HHH's and Vince's delusions that Bryan is currently not the guy while getting the Wyatts over, sets up a Royal betrayal on the group by Bryan en route to winning and heading to Mania and can be booked properly. Bryan valiantly fights over the giants after playing Ricky Morton for ten minutes and when he begins to build momentum Bray leaves his rocking chair he has been sitting in the whole damn match and hits Sister Abigail and drags him off to the Bayou for reprogramming.

Winners: Wyatts

Justin Watry: The handicap matches are not anything new or original. However, for pay-per-view, tell me the last time there were two fairly big matches in this kind of setting. You can't do it. Credit WWE for going outside the box here. You can't bash them for being stale and then bash them for taking an off the wall approach for TLC...unless you just want to complain for the sake of it. Oh, right. Internet. I forgot. With two handicap matches, both have to be different. Having the same finish for each bout is no fun. Let's give one to the stable and one to the underdog. Here, The Wyatts win with Matt Morgan helping out! Why? WHY NOT?

Winners: Wyatts

Jarrod Atkinson: Of the two handicap matches on the card, this seems like the one that could go either way as far as the result of the match. Daniel Bryan is hopefully only going to be away from the main event scene for a brief time, and I'm interested to see where they are going with this. But I think I'll take the safe bet here.

Winners: The Wyatt Family

Nick Sellers: I've enjoyed the build-up to this, when originally I was against the idea of putting Bryan anywhere outside of the World title picture. The recent promo work from Bray in particular has set the tone nicely and I'm genuinely interested to see where it goes. By virtue of Bryan getting the upper hand on Smackdown, I'm expecting the Wyatt's to just about edge this one. I'm guessing afterwards they'll try to cart Bryan off again, only for him to recover and fend them off (or possibly via the aid of CM Punk)

Winners: The Wyatt Family

Jack Bramma: This match and the Punk/Shield clash almost have to be addressed in tandem. Punk and Dragon had a mini MegaPowers thing going on for a few weeks but that has been temporarily dropped in favor of stable handicap matches. Lots of directions to go from here with the Mania build not that far away. Dragon joins up with the Wyatt Clan? Dragon helps turn the Wyatts face to go against the Corporation? Dragon gets turned into another Ron Paul 2012 Kaneanite? Punk and Dragon join forces to go against The Shield and The Wyatts heading into treacherous terrain in the RR? Plant the seeds for a DB/Punk explosion that will blow off at Mania? Some glimpses that the Wyatts are in league with the Authority doing their bidding to set up either a Dragon/H or Dragon/HBK match down the road? My favorite Manias red herrings for Dragon at the moment are either: going over HBK, going over Triple H, or winning the RR and going over reluctant Corporate Heel Cena. All of which are less likely than Dragon jobbing to one of the above or feuding with Kane or Bray into Mania. Like I said, a lot of directions.

All that being said, The Wyatts went under last month to the ROH-riffic DB/Punk team, so they seem poised for a comeback. But Rowan/Harper have only consistently went over The Usos and the PTPers the last several months. Their aura comes more from their… aura than any strong win/loss ratio.

If Dragon's getting temporarily cooled off only to get the bump up back with the big boys in a few weeks, he somehow triumphs despite overwhelming odds.

WINNER: Daniel Bryan

Sean Garmer: I hope this storyline continues at least through Royal Rumble and considering what seems more likely to happen in the other Handicap match, it doesn't seem too likely that Bryan will overcome the odds here. I'd think it will come down to Bryan vs. Wyatt. The other two members of the family will do something to give Bray the upperhand and Bryan goes down to Sister Abigail. I'm hoping we see Bryan get kidnapped for real this time and perhaps we will get all the brainwashing stuff with Bryan that we didn't get with Kane.

Winners: Wyatt Family

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CM Punk vs. The Shield
3 on 1 Handicap Match

Dino Zucconi: Like I said for Bryan/Wyatts, CM Punk has no business even making this a close match. The Shield has laid waste to everyone in their path since the start, and I don't see Punk being the man to singlehandedly end this. However, just to be cool I'll say that maybe they pull the trigger on the Shield splitting a bit prematurely, and Roman Reigns costs his team the win by helping Punk? Something about having both Punk and Bryan get murdered in handicap matches isn't sitting right with me. Something's up... damn it.

Winner and Upset Special: CM Punk (after Roman Reigns turns on The Shield)

Mike Hammerlock: Allow me to invoke two separate unofficial rules of pro wrestling. 1) When there are two three-on-one handicap matches on the same card, the underdog will win at least one of them. 2) When the odds seem insurmountable for the face, that's when he becomes nearly invincible. Unlike the Wyatts, the Shield does care about winning this match. For the longest time, no three wrestlers could beat these guys in a fair fight. Punk by himself in an unfair fight cannot possibly hope to win. He's even verbally admitted he can't win. So he's going to win. The seeds of dissent between Ambrose and Reigns have been sewn. I'm not a fan of that. The Shield have been a different kind of faction. It would be cool if they came up with a different kind of split - one that doesn't end in them fighting each other. Alternately, it would be cool if the split wasn't along the lines we're expecting, but if Rollins got sick of the Ambrose/Reigns pissing contest and turned on them both to help out the guy who happens to be his idol, Punk. Rollins is certainly Punkish in the ring and he's been on the Punk career track. I can dream. Yet the more likely outcome is dissension in the Shield ranks between Ambrose and Reigns spills over into the match and Punk takes advantage for the victory. Hopefully HHH and Steph come out to watch the expected slaughter only to have Punk lord his win over them.

Winner: CM Punk

Michael Weyer: I'm going against the grain here in flipping who loses which handicap match. With the Shield still going strong, Punk would be a good way to assert them even further and build them back up well. It'll be a good match and unlike the other one, Punk will be dominant in handling his opponents but in the end, he ends up falling prey to sudden cheating to suffer a cheap pin. Might I be wrong? Maybe but would be a good surprise for WWE to pull switching our expectations around on these.

Winners: The Shield

Paul Lapointe: The seeds have been planted for the Punk VS HHH blood feud to re-commence after the debacle that was the afterburn feud following the Summer of Punk angle two years back. I am hoping this go around that the ball is not dropped on this storyline. So with that in mind the Shield is showing tension and though Punk is the best in the World the Shield just do not lose much in 6 man's so losing to one man I think does way to much harm. I do think it breaks down and Punk has it in the bag following Dean Ambrose's attempt to take the final pin after Punk is triple powerbombed and after Punk survives and the walls begin to crumble around them it may look like that for a secound or two. Sure Punk could benefit from such hubrus but I see Ambrose dropping the ball, Seth bumping for it and Roman Reigns managing to pick up the pieces and hit a SPEAR out of nowhere to get the pinfall much to Dean's chagin. Plus Mania needs its six man disasterpiece and one working and dyfunctional group in the Rumble come January.

Winners: The Shield

Justin Watry: Now we flip the script. The Wyatts can win their handicap match. The Shield can lose theirs. I would hold off the big breakup of these three guys until WrestleMania XXX season or shortly thereafter. In the meantime though, you can continue planting seeds. CM Punk keeps talking about walking into an impossible situation. While he may be right, he may also be setting himself up for the "miracle" victory against all the odds. Let's have Punk win, as he and Bryan are my two favorites to win the Royal Rumble next month. Just curious: If Punk wins, will fans call him SUPER PUNK? Anybody? Nope.

Winner: CM Punk

Jarrod Atkinson: We've seen the Shield start to show signs of coming apart with little moments between Ambrose and Reigns, and I look for this match to be no different. Most likely a member of The Shield screws another one to cost the team the match, with Punk pulling of the miracle.

Winner: CM Punk

Nick Sellers: It's interesting that they've been teasing discontent in the Shield's ranks of late, and it does give Punk a weakness to exploit in their game-plan from a storytelling perspective. Even with all the recent hype about Roman Reigns I'd still be surprised if the Shield broke up quite so soon. I think the tease on Raw might've been intentionally playing up to the recent speculation as well as giving Punk that aforementioned window of opportunity. I think we'll see more of that in the match, only for them to come together as a unit and *just* finish Punk off before it's too late to get the pin in spite of a plucky babyface effort. As with the Wyatt handicap bout's conclusion, I expect Daniel Bryan might try and return the favor for his comrade before the heels can do any more damage.

Winner: The Shield

Jack Bramma: Where does Punk go from here? Maybe he, not DB, is the one that Vince and Co. see money in as a potential RR winner and triumphing face to take down the Authority. I would love a WM card of Triple H or HBK/Dragon, Punk/Cena for the strap, and Taker/Brock. Then again, Reigns is obviously the chosen one especially given his Diesel-like run through SS. Perhaps, he'll get another Diesel-esque tirade in the Rumble match itself and almost single-handedly take out Punk on Sunday.

But before I cut loss on a 1000-word fantasy booking screed, I'll just save all of you and say that it seems too predictable for both handicap matches to end the way all 3-on-1 matches should always end. The ending to RAW was just a little too hot for it to roll over into paint by the numbers at TLC. I see only one of the DB/Punk matches going according to plan and the other ending in a surprise victory. Since DB's getting the nod, that means it's pin me, pay me for Punk.

WINNER: The Shield

Sean Garmer: As many have pointed out already, WWE has began sewing the seeds of dissent between Shield members Ambrose and Reigns. I'd like to see them hold off on the complete break-up of The Shield until after the Rumble, but it doesn't mean WWE can't sprout a full blown flower of messy stuff on The Shield's future in this match. Punk has already said he doesn't think he can win, which usually means he will defy the odds and do just that. Reigns will accidentally spear Ambrose causing Punk to pick up the surprise win.

Winner: CM Punk

 photo AJLeevsNatalyapic_zps619b30cc.jpg

(Champion) AJ Lee vs. Natalya
Divas Championship Match

Dino Zucconi: Hey, a Divas title match with two competent wrestlers in it! SICK! As a Hart Family Acolyte, I've long rooted for Natalya, and I'm happy that she's finally back in a match with some importance attached to it. Sadly, she's locking horns with AJ, who continues to kick roughly 15 types of ass as Divas champ. I just don't see the good times coming to an end quite yet, and I'm leaning with the champ to retain in what looks to be a fun encounter.

Winner: ... and STILL Divas Champion, AJ Lee

Mike Hammerlock: AJ is the safest bet of the night. She will be holding her belt straight through to Wrestlemania (where I want a divas elimination chamber with Lita and Victoria making comebacks). The good news about this match is it may be the most watchable divas contest in a very long time. Natalya is a pro and the match should get a decent amount of time. It will be more than eye candy, and don't take that as a knock on Natalya's looks. I guarantee you Tyson Kidd is very happy man.

Winner: AJ Lee

Michael Weyer: Love to see Natayla win here as the E! show gives her a push. But AJ is such a dominant champ, hard to see it ending here, they'll want to continue her push toward Mania. So a good match between two actually good wrestlers but in the end, AJ manages to retain to continue her great style.

WINNER and STILL Divas Champion: AJ Lee

Paul Lapointe: Though AJ has been treading water as of late in the booking department as the WWE pushes all the buttons on the remote for us to tune in to Total Diva's seemingly AJ has been pushed to the wayside. Though that is a tad true in my gut I still think that Natalya goes into TLC as a challenger and she still leaves without the belt. Out of all the Total Divas' Nattie is the one I would want to dethrone AJ and deserves to win given our choices at the moment. But I want to see a driven Nattie want the title for herself as a champion and not some promotional prop for some crappily scripted reality show...so cue the water works and the breakdown once she loses and then comes the interview where she says she needs this for herself and she claims the strap at the Rumble. Also Total Diva's is going on hiatus soon right...they need time to film new stuff for next years premiere.

WINNER and STILL Divas Champion: AJ Lee

Justin Watry: Is Kharma ready to return yet? Nobody on the current roster should take the WWE Divas title from AJ Lee. Now Natalya. Not Aksana. Not Tamina. Not even Stephanie McMahon. Well, maybe. Either Kharma or Mickie James has to be coming back for the Road to WrestleMania XXX. For my interest to be there, AJ has to retain until then.

Winner: AJ Lee

Jarrod Atkinson: I hate Total Divas. This is looks like it could provide the "feel good moment" of the season for Nattie, but I feel like there's still a few miles in the AJ and Tamina combo and AJ needs that belt so Tamina has something to guard.

Winner: AJ Lee

Nick Sellers: The most interesting Diva's title match of the last few years. Some have drawn parallels between HBK and Bret, calling this the Women's equivalent, and there's definitely some legitimate comparisons you could make. I hope they're given a decent amount of time on the show to strut their stuff because they could put on a stellar bout if that's the case. Total Divas has done wonders for Natalya in terms of providing an extension to her character, while AJ is the most over diva in the company since the likes of Trish Stratus and Lita were around. AJ will probably retain but if things go well, I think there's plenty of mileage for a feud between these two and a rematch down the road with Natalya ultimately winning the strap.

Winner: AJ Lee

Divas Title Match: AJ Lee © vs. Natalya

Jack Bramma: Natayla looked strong on RAW, so I figure an AJ retain here. But I've almost always struck out on the Divas, so I'm adopting the Costanza Opposite.

WINNER: Natalya

Sean Garmer: I'd like to see this become an extended feud because if Brie got to have a few months against AJ then why not Natalya? AJ should keep things going strong in what could be a very interesting Divas match. I just hope WWE gives it some time to tell a story.


 photo JohnCenavsRandyOrtonpic_zpsc714cb8b.jpg

John Cena vs. Randy Orton
WWE & World Heavyweight Championship Unification TLC Match

Dino Zucconi: First things first, I believe that we're only going to have ONE champion at the end of this show. Per the Monday Night Rule that was established during the Attitude Era, John Cena looks like he'll lose because he closed Raw standing tall over a fallen Orton. Now, that rule isn't quite the 100% bet that it used to be, but it's still usually pretty spot on. So, Randy Orton is your Unified champion? Would that be an upset? I don't think so. I see John Cena winning this match and putting his stamp on being the actual "Face" of the company. I'm actually close on this, but I'm sticking with John Cena winning this. Unless they throw Jericho in there as a last second addition, in which case Jericho wins and becomes the only man to beat Austin and Rock in one night to be a Unified Champion, and then to beat Cena and Orton in one night to do the same. But yeah, John Cena.

Winner: ... and NEW Undisputed Unified WWE World Heavyweight Champion of the World, John Cena

Mike Hammerlock: I'm tempted to pick Abeyance as the big winner here. That guy was dominant a few months ago and he never got his rematch. Despite the insistence that there will be one champion after this match, there's still two belts hanging and if it's not physically impossible to pull separate belts then it's technically possible we'll get a belt swap. I keep convincing myself the WWE won't do that because it surely knows people will hate it, and I don't mean Internet hate it (where you vent your anger), I mean don't-buy-another-PPV-for-a-very-long-time hate it. What could happen instead is a third wrestler could spoil the party. Sheamus has got to be close to ready to return. This is also just about the time of year when Chris Jericho comes out of wrestling hibernation. It's been odd how no one is saying his name during this whole unification storyline. He might decide it's time to remind people who the Unifier is.

Anyway, count me among those whose takeaway from Monday night was that Randy Orton now imagines a screwjob coming his way, so he'll be plotting a counter screw. How he does it I'm not sure. The reappearance of Vince McMahon would make sense here. Yet Vince wouldn't wow the audience. We expect Vince to pop up unexpectedly from time to time. Two names leap to mind. First, Batista. The big guy technically got run out of the company by Cena and we'd all mark out if he reappeared. Second, Hulk Hogan. Cena's stolen almost the entire Hogan playbook. Hogan at Wrestlemania and involved with Cena probably sells a lot of tickets/PPV buys. They don't even have to be fighting each other (e.g. Cena-Undertaker with Hogan as the special guest ref). Point here is Randy goes full devious and gets himself a sneaky win.

Winner: Randy Orton

Michael Weyer: Now the real question is if Sandow chooses this moment to cash in...oh, never mind. This is a big one as after a decade, WWE finally puts aside for just one big belt and the build has been good. It's tempting to go with Orton here to give him the push as he has HHH in his corner and all. But then again...it's Cena. It's a TLC match which he's good at and he's coming back from long absence to take it to the top. Both guys will bring their A game and work a great match with nasty spots to entertain fans. But it comes to one question: Who do you think WWE wants as the big guy at the top in the new year, Cena or Orton? Yep, just as I thought as mark another big moment for a guy who, despite his detractors, is the star of the company and this cements it.


Paul Lapointe: Aw, that Ascension ceremony sure was something hey folks? I mean the crowd was electric for an epic match between two of the hottest acts of today, I mean 2008 or 07, or 09 or whatever year it is now I guess. I mean these guys are the be all end all in wrestling right now nobody else should or can hold a candle to them when it comes to prowess, relevance or emotional attachment so this moment will cement them as the guy. Sarcasm aside times have changed but the SAFE booking mindset that is Vince's perogative at the moment is going down history lane with two of his chosen golden boys and though Cena is always the obvious choice it seems as always since the summer that the highly telegraphed HHH turn to help Orton again takes the cake here. Cena will NEVER turn heel not even tweener and if you tease it, it does not mean we shall come. Plus Cena is Hogan and the unified title would be but a prop on him and makes the new weasly Randy Viper more of a despised figure, plus I think the E has Hogan/Cena plans for Mania and Bryan/Orton redux alongside Punk/HHH and Taker/Brock. Screw job is as a screw job does. Vince Russo would be proud on this night.


Justin Watry: When this match was first announced, I figured some sort of screwjob finish was coming. For some reason, WWE has decided to end their last few PPV events in an odd way. Don't ask me why. Thus, I assumed the same was coming at TLC with each grabbing a belt or something. As the weeks went by, I put my trust into WWE. Call me gullible, naive, or any other name. I believe the company will finally pull the trigger and have ONE top champion. Of course, that begs the question: Who wins at TLC? The obvious pick is always John Cena. No matter what, he is always the best option. Being the biggest star of the past decade, you can never go wrong predicting a PPV victory for him. After thinking about it, my mind shifted to WrestleMania XXX. If John Cena is going to be involved with The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan or some other attraction, the belt will not be needed at all. Randy Orton on the other hand? He can easily face Daniel Bryan one last time or even CM Punk for the belt. Mr. RKO is someone who may NEED the title in a few months - much like Chris Jericho at Vengeance 2001. Cena does not NEED anything to stay relevant. Then PWTorch started to float the rumor that Triple H was going to win the title at TLC. Apparently, he will win and drop the belt to Daniel Bryan or CM Punk at WrestleMania XXX. Hey, that is the rumor from PWTorch. Don't yell at me! We all know how trustworthy some of the online junk is...yet this story was so ridiculous and out of nowhere. Was he just plain crazy or crazy like a fox? Triple H seems to fancy himself on losing clean at Mania. Not always mind you but more often that not. Barring all of the made up RUMORS and false headlines out there on the internet, that scenario actually intrigued me. If Punk or Bryan are going to stand tall at the end of this story line, who better to defeat at WMXXX than HHH for the championship? Sorry for the long explanation, but the payoff will be worth it.

Winner: Triple H

Jarrod Atkinson: The ending to Raw gave us a glimpse of what a Cena heel turn could be like but we all know that's not going to happen. Cena is the face of the company and doesn't need another moment like this to elevate him. If there is an undisputed champion crowned at TLC, it will be Randy Orton. I feel like some sort of shenanigans will occur, whether it's an outside interference, the pull the other person's belt down thing, or whatever other trick they can pull, but whatever it may be John Cena will not be wearing gold on Sunday.

Winner: Randy Orton

Nick Sellers: John Cena's contribution to the build-up for this bout -with only a three-week window- has been exceptional and he has single-handedly sold the match. A couple of well produced video packages from WWE's excellent production team have been nice bonuses, but Cena has verbally obliterated all before him and as a result, genuine interest has now been created to see where this one's headed. Orton might be a solid enough worker, but every time he's near a microphone he threatens to suck the life out of whatever's going on around him. Cena is the complete opposite, giving a composed, yet fiery delivery with several key points accentuated in the process. As much as Cena has produced plenty of hype for this around in such a short timeframe, imagine how much better and how much more important this would feel with even more time to sell the importance of such a unification. Also, one aspect we're all forgetting: The match itself will be brilliant. Cena never disappoints in the big match environment, and it's very rare to see a TLC bout come out as a dud. Even if they have the audacity to just switch the titles as was originally speculated, I can't wait to see how this transpires and it's almost impossible to call, which just makes it even more interesting. I think the authority plays a part in keeping the gold on Orton on the show, with Cena having to wait to extract his revenge until the new year.

Winner: Randy Orton

Jack Bramma: Ever since Vickie randomly announced that ADR's opponent for the WHW strap at Hell in the Cell would be Alberto Del Rio with almost no build, the booking has been quizzical to say the least. After passing a torch of a kind to DB at Summerslam, Cena rode off into rehab sunset to let Dragon be the face of the company. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. Buyrates and ratings were lackluster. Rather than ride Dragon into the fall, WWE stretched the payoff out over four agonizing PPVs seemingly Lugering DB in the process. After months of screwjobs and belittling the new possible top face and the top heel of the company, the suits panicked. Cena was wheeled back out $6 million man style and within two days had disposed of his two biggest challengers to the world strap, ADR and Damien Sandow. But why not put him immediately into the WWE Championship picture?

After vanquishing ADR in a respectable but predictable match at HITC, Cena appeared backstage with Trips and Co. in a throwaway segment. Orton was throwing a fit wanting the Authority to give him some underhanded upper-hand in his looming main event with Big Show, but when he burst into the H's office he was greeted with a troubling sight – John Cena, new World Champ, leaving a private meeting cordially with the heel Authority that was supposed to be watching his back, the face of the company, not the actual face of the company.

It was the kind of chance encounter that would slowly build and later boil over into a WM clash that the Fed perfected years ago. They did it with Brock/Goldberg; they did it with HBK and Taker; they did it with HBK and Angle; they even did it with Heidenreich and Snitsky. At the same time though, it's at least the fifth or so major heel turn tease since 2005 for Cena. Is this more bandwidth fodder or is there some substance to a heel turn possibility now?

The UWF brawl to end RAW has every booking possibility up in the air from Cena turning heel to Orton getting yet another push as THE guy to Cena and Orton switching belts to Trips himself descending deity-like from the ladder with both belts.

I honestly have no idea. The track record seems to suggest taking the underdog heel in gimmicky circumstances – Flair winning the 92 RR, Jericho winning the tournament – and the challenging or returning face in a straight up, one-on-one match – Goldberg beating Hogan, Warrior beating Hogan, Punk beating Cena, Flair beating Sting.

I'll take Cena with the Authority's help – not a heel turn, but maybe a heel nudge.


Sean Garmer: I have to say that the final segment of Monday's RAW gave me a complete 180 on this match and now I am totally giddy in anticipation for this one. Regardless of the outcome, Cena and Orton should give us a great match here. I'm sure there will be lots of drama, overbooking, and crazy crap happening. As you've hopefully been reading, there are so many ways this one could end that it adds even more to the anticipation. I'm inclined to go with the one that sees Orton win the belt here with the help of The Authority, only for Cena to win the belt at The Rumble.

Winner AND NEW Unified WWE Champion: Randy Orton

Before we get to the end, I should take this time to remind you to follow the 411 family of zones on Twitter!



Dino Zucconi: Overall, this is clearly a one match card. Sure, the handicap matches may be a bit intriguing as well, but I'd assuming most people are getting this show for the Unification match. I don't think this will be a bad show - TLC is usually chaotic entertainment if nothing else. However, I don't see this being a giant show in terms of storyline, outside of the main event, of course. Or if Roman Reigns leaves the Shield. I'm personally undecided on if I'm getting this yet. There's a giant UFC card coming up, and that might be a better use of money. However, if you have the extra cash, I'd splurge on this show and enjoy a decent card. I wouldn't be too hard on myself if I missed it, though. We'll lean towards NO BUY.

Mike Hammerlock: Despite the quick turnaround from the last PPV, the build for TLC has been better than Survivor Series. You certainly can't complain about the talent they're putting in the ring. Hopefully we don't get any unannounced filler featuring Khali. Each of these matches, given appropriate time, can deliver. This could be one of those PPVs where the WWE showcases the absurd amount of talent on its roster. The title unification match is an extremely big deal even if it's going to be far from the conclusion of this storyline. At the very least, Cena or Orton will be invoking a rematch clause for the Royal Rumble. The IC title may be rising back into prominence. Cesaro might just swing Big Show. Two of the WWE's big four, Punk and Bryan (with the other two being Cena and Orton), are paving their respective roads to Wrestlemania. Got a feeling this will be one of the WWE's better PPVs of the year. Buy (or at least watch it in your standard manner)

Michael Weyer: A one-match show to be sure. Sure, we have some good stuff on the undercard of the handicap battles and the tag match. But no, it's the main event that's the reason to watch and it should be a good affair. So, if just for the history of the title unification, I'll say go ahead and watch it and send 2013 off in a good way for the company. Buy

Paul Lapointe: The ending of RAW was EPIC and fun and did just enough for me to think I should buy this show but at the end of the day its still a nah from me. I say this mainly because on a PPV rather then thrown together matches we have handicap matches and the main event is still Orton/Cena in 2013. Plus I always order the Rumble and will be saving myself for what I hope to be a supersized RR next month. No Buy

Justin Watry: As I stated in my weekly Truths and Lies column on Monday night, this card actually looks good. The handicap matches may not be ideal but are intriguing enough as being something different. The Diva, IC, and Tag Title matches should all deliver even though the build has been less than stellar. In the end, this pay-per-view will hinge on the main event. In a column (for another website), I stated that WWE should give Orton and Cena nearly an hour. We know they can come through. After not having a one on one PPV match for over four years, let them just go at it! Tables. Ladders. Chairs. If this will be the only gimmick match of evening, go all out. For that reason alone, this may be worth the purchase.

Buy/No Buy: Your choice! There is an interesting NFL game on Sunday night. The Survivor season finale is also on. Plus, I will be recording my Big Brother audition video very soon. Or there is the TLC PPV to enjoy. All of those are great ways to spend a Sunday night in ice cold Wisconsin. What is not a great way to spend a Sunday night is by committing theft online. Stealing the PPV is illegal and will not even be considered from myself. Only law abiding paying customers have a right to their opinion. I do wonder if when the WWE Network launches, they go after all the illegal streams and take them down one by one. Sure, some would likely pop back up. However, if I ran WWE, when their network started up, I would go after them all BIG TIME! Then what will all the thieves do? Pay to play folks...pay to play. You decide.

Jarrod Atkinson: This card has the same feel as last month, storylines will progress and rematches will most likely occur on Raw the next night. Despite the possibility of a historical moment of an undisputed champion I can't justify spending $50 on it. Save your money for the Rumble next month. No Buy

Nick Sellers: For all the criticism the build for this show has received, it's been much, much, MUCH better than Survivor Series up and down the entire card. The three midcard title matches all carry a degree of interest, the two handicap matches feature four great acts in both of them, and that's before we've even gotten to the TLC Champion of Champions match. The build hasn't been perfect, but the event itself has every possibility of delivering the goods. Buy

Jack Bramma: Lots of intrigue after Monday. I'm buying. Buy

Sean Garmer: This is where it sucks that real life sometimes kicks your ass. I just moved into a new apartment, put my daughter in a new daycare, and had to turn all the utilities on too. I'm zapped of money right now and worried I can't even buy my kid a Christmas present. So, this will be a NO BUY for me. However, if money wasn't an issue I would consider purchasing the PPV because the one historical moment and the rest of the undercard seem more worth it than they have been the last few PPV's.

See you next month, and remember to join 411 for our LIVE PPV coverage, starting at 7:30pm Sunday night, and 411 Instant Access immediately following the PPV!


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