TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs has a fantastic gimmick. It is a hardcore event, instituted as a PPV, but inspired by a type of match made famous in the Attitude Era, and it thrives today. Simply put, the WWE Universe loves them some violence.
Gimmicks aside, the PPV still needs the right people.
The December event now proceeds without one of WWE's biggest stars, its current champion. He is just one guy, but his absence will be felt to an extreme degree. Here are five reasons alone why the WWE Universe will miss the champ and the end-of-the-year show could suffer.
In his last two PPV title defenses, CM Punk has managed to overcome Ryback—but he hasn't done it on his own.
Punk first defeated Ryback with help from rogue referee Brad Maddox. He then retained his title against Ryback and John Cena when a debuting group known as The Shield took Ryback out of the picture, allowing Punk to pin Cena.
Ultimately, Ryback has been screwed twice.
Hungry for more, Ryback received yet another rematch, this time at TLC. That is, until Punk was injured. The injury actually makes sense from the standpoint that it will be difficult to maintain Ryback's legitimacy while handing him a third straight loss. Add in that a loss seems almost automatic for Ryback because of The Rock's main-event involvement at Royal Rumble in January.
Still, questions remain.
Is Ryback going to shift focus to The Shield and drop his desire to be WWE champion? Once he gets revenge on The Shield (assuming he does), is he going to skip an opportunity to do the same to Punk?
Yet again, an abrupt end to something that was going strong.
This slide is unfortunately going to contain more questions than answers. However, that's what removing the WWE champion from competition does.
There are three matches on the card that are "tweeners." They have the potential to be a main event, yet they lack a certain "oomph" needed to end the year's PPV schedule on the highest note possible. Let's look at each of them.
Big Show (c) vs. Sheamus
Because the WWE Championship won't be defended, it makes logical sense for the World Heavyweight Championship to be the main event.
Sheamus looks to regain, while Show hopes to continue in possibly his first real meaningful reign. To boot, this one features two massive talents (size-wise) and chairs. This one should define "heavyweight throwdown" with chairs, Brogue Kicks and WMDs galore.
But the WWE Universe doesn't quite take to these two men as they do other talent.
Sheamus doesn't appear as popular as a Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan or even a John Cena. And Show at this point, isn't a credible main-event Superstar as he should soon be passing the torch.
Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena
This match features the man of today (Cena) versus the future (Ziggler). Additionally, there's the Money in the Bank briefcase on the line.
However, there might be a revolt from the Internet Wrestling Community if Cena main events and wins.
If Ziggler wins, it's all too predictable. Losing the briefcase would strip him of momentum.
So it's either unfavorable or predictable.
Team Hell No and Ryback vs. The Shield
It is highly likely that this is the main event for TLC 2012. It has the most intrigue, the best build up and the largest repercussions attached to it moving forward.
There's just one minor gripe.
It could have been argued that Ryback's sudden shot into main-event territory was too fast—and rightfully so. But if you thought his rise was fast, then The Shield's ability to main event is completely unfair.
Ryback had plenty of squash matches first. Then he worked his way through The Miz and a few other midcard guys before making his biggest splash. The Shield's first match together on the major-league roster would be the main event at the year-ending PPV.
Most of all what the WWE Universe misses if CM Punk is not on the card is a phenomenal competitor.
Let's face it: Punk is an outstanding talent.
Without him on the card—the same guy who put together match of the year type performances against Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and John Cena earlier this year—it's detrimental.
It's like watching the Pittsburgh Steelers play without Troy Polamalu. The team will carry on, and there's potential for a win, but he's just so darn talented it's that much less fun to watch.
Punk is the Polamalu of wrestling. TLC is no longer a Monday Night Football competition between the Steelers and Ravens. Now it's just a Sunday-morning matchup against the Browns.
OK, so it's not that bad. But that's how talented Punk is.
We've seen throughout the year just how good CM Punk's matches are in singles competition. Now imagine him in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match with the WWE Championship on the line.
That image will have to stay in your brain.
Not only has Punk proven the supreme ability to put on wonderful matches, he's thrived in his few opportunities in TLC matches. So far in his career, Punk has wrestled in two of these matches, and he has been victorious in both.
First there was a match against Jeff Hardy at SummerSlam 2009. Then of course, there was the 2011 title defense against The Miz and Alberto Del Rio. In both, Punk went head-to-head with guys of similar style and won.
This year, he would have had the chance to take on a much larger opponent.
At this point though, it's not even worth talking about what might have been, because it's not going to happen.
The most obvious reason that CM Punk will be and should be missed at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs 2012 is that he is the WWE champion.
What's a PPV without a WWE Championship match?
It's a travesty.
Earlier this year, many were crying afoul that Punk's WWE Championship title matches weren't headlining pay-per-view events.
Since then, he not only has earned the spot, but the worth and necessity to be there. But this time it's not a matter of him fighting in the second-to-last match; it's that he's not even featured on the card.
Having one of your biggest stars sidelined at the closeout show is not something the WWE wants. Having their champion be that injured Superstar is even worse for business.