Even though WWE champion CM Punk isn't on the TLC card due to injury, the creative team did a nice job of putting together a strong group of matches without him. It's a show that will give emerging superstars a chance to steal the spotlight.
On a similar note, every superstar outside of the established group—such as John Cena and Randy Orton—wants to end the year on a positive note as they look to earn a push in 2013. Every pay-per-view match is a golden opportunity to make a statement.
Let's break down the three most intriguing matches on the card and predict a winner for each. By the end of Sunday night, fans should have a good idea of storyline directions heading into next year.
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
This match is a perfect example of what Ziggler has had to deal with in his quest to become a main-event superstar. Cena won the WWE title Money in the Bank briefcase, cashed it in, didn't capitalize and now has a chance to win Ziggler's World heavyweight title briefcase.
During the same period of time, Ziggler has struggled to maintain any type of momentum. Every time it seems like the WWE is setting him up for a push, he gets scaled back. The result of his briefcase defense will say a lot about how the company views him.
Either Ziggler will win, setting himself up for a monster push to become champion, or he'll lose and fade back to midcard feuds. Given his almost unmatched in-ring ability and solid mic skills, it's time to give him a chance. He should pick up the win.
Prediction: Dolph Ziggler
Big Show vs. Sheamus
Big Show and Sheamus have had some entertaining encounters. The pair won't end up on any "feud of the decade" lists, but the two superstars have actually built up some pretty good chemistry. It should pay off at TLC.
Since Sheamus just finished a long title reign a few months ago, giving him the belt back already wouldn't make much sense. Show has excelled in the role of an unstoppable heel—his best gimmick—and should remain as champion.
The other aspect to consider involves Ziggler. If this match happens after he retains the briefcase, there's always a chance he could cash in and make it a night for the ages. Given his lackluster booking, however, it doesn't seem likely the WWE would make that big of a leap in one night.
Prediction: Big Show
The Shield vs. Ryback and Team Hell No
The Shield is exactly what the WWE needed. The roster had become stagnant in recent months. It was in dire need of a couple of fresh faces to help liven things up. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns have provided that, and much more.
From the wide-scale view of preventing injustice—which is vague enough to keep fans guessing about its meaning—to the minor intractable like the crazy camera movement and angle during their run-ins, it's been a smooth transition for the NXT stars.
Considering how much momentum they have built up in recent weeks, giving them the victory would be the right move. One of the members of Team Hell No—Daniel Bryan or Kane—will take the fall so Ryback can keep his aura of invincibility in tact as well.
Prediction: The Shield