One of the advantages that WWE has over a company like, say, the UFC, is that it can dictate all of the story lines and matches it wants. As 2012 draws to a close, the TLC pay-per-view represents the last significant event for WWE to set up all the feuds it needs for the Royal Rumble.
Of course, everything at TLC was thrown into upheaval when CM Punk underwent knee surgery last week. With the WWE championship not being contested on this show, some of the drama has been taken away.
Still, the top of the TLC card is going to shape a lot of what happens in WWE at the start of 2013. If Survivor Series is the unofficial start of building to WrestleMania, TLC has the enviable task of putting the pins up that will be knocked down at the Royal Rumble.
Here are the best and most logical outcomes possible at the TLC pay-per-view on Sunday night.
Ladder Match: John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler For World Title Contract
If we are going to accept that WWE is going with Cena vs. The Rock for the WWE championship at WrestleMania, then the best, easiest and most logical way to get to that point is have Cena win a guaranteed title shot, either here or at the Royal Rumble, and Rock to win it all at the Rumble. Then you can build the match for two months.
Ziggler probably should have used the Money In The Bank briefcase months ago, but it was clear WWE never had an idea for when the right moment was, much less what to do with Ziggler even if he won the title.
Even though the stipulation when Ziggler won the briefcase was that it was for a guaranteed world championship match, WWE thinks no one pays attention to its stipulations, so Cena can get a WWE title shot without anyone really noticing.
It is sad to see that Ziggler will get screwed over again, because he continues to look great in the ring and is getting stronger on promos, but WWE has to look at the big WrestleMania picture right now.
John Cena defeats Dolph Ziggler
World Heavyweight Championship Chairs Match: Big Show (c) vs. Sheamus
For the longest time, Sheamus looked like the unstoppable hero that was just going to run through everyone on SmackDown this year before being put in a big match at WrestleMania.
Then three months ago ,WWE decided to put the title on Big Show. It was a smart move, because Sheamus running through everyone can get really old really fast. Now that their rivalry has continued, it is time for both men to find something new.
Considering that Sheamus is the star that WWE is building SmackDown around, he should walk out of TLC with the championship. He isn't going to win the Royal Rumble again after being the upset winner last year, so put the belt on him and build someone up to challenge him at WrestleMania.
Big Show is a great character because he understands how to play both sides of the coin, but at his age and lack of ability, there is no reason for him to retain the championship heading into the most important time of the year for WWE.
Sheamus defeats Big Show
TLC Match: Daniel Bryan, Kane and Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns
This is the one match where I am torn about what to do. First, let me say that Kane and Daniel Bryan are irrelevant in the outcome. They are great performers—Bryan is the best wrestler in the company—but their involvement in the match will play no role in the outcome.
No, this comes down to whether WWE wants to keep pushing Ryback as an unbeaten monster and ruin the pay-per-view match debut of The Shield, like what happened to Nexus a few years ago at SummerSlam, or if WWE wants to put The Shield over the face team in their debut.
The Shield can go over Bryan or Kane without pinning Ryback, but that would make three straight events where Ryback has not won, so it gets harder to sell people on the idea that he is an unbeatable monster.
Ultimately I think the members of The Shield have more upside for the future than Ryback, who is a bad wrestler and an even worse talker. Therefore, it makes more sense to put them over in this spot.
Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns defeat Bryan, Kane and Ryback
Check back for more on the WWE as it comes, and check out Bleacher Report’s Wrestling Page to get your fill of the WWE. For more WWE talk, check out Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot topics you just can’t miss.