As we approach WWE's annual TLC pay-per-view, the end of another year and the beginning of what looks to be a huge year for the company, there are a number of stars competing on the big show who need a victory to build momentum for 2013.
WWE doesn't treat wins and losses like they matter, though the audience knows far better than to just pay attention to someone who is failing to come out on top more often than not. In fact, losing streaks to wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, et al. is what has held them back for so long.
So, for the final time in 2012, here is a look at the stars who need to have their hand raised on pay-per-view.
What better way to cap off Ziggler's year than to prove to the audience that the creative team really is behind him by giving him a victory over John Cena, the company's biggest star, in the main event of a pay-per-view?
Ziggler has been put through the wringer so many times by this company that it is a testament to his ability as a performer, both in the ring and on the microphone, that he is still relevant. While most stars would have fallen off a cliff, Ziggler's star is still shining bright.
But if WWE were to take away a guaranteed title shot from Ziggler after teasing him winning the title many times since he won the briefcase at Money in the Bank, it would send a loud, clear message about where he is on the totem pole.
Cena doesn't need to win this match to get his (presumed) title match with The Rock at WrestleMania. He can win the Royal Rumble next month, then use the shot to challenge The Rock.
Having Cena lose against someone he has beaten hundreds of times over the last year isn't going to hurt his standing. Instead, it will actually help to elevate Ziggler.
Which Star(s) Most Needs A Victory At TLC?
Instead of keeping his momentum going forward, WWE has done everything in its power to make sure that he is just treading water. He lost to CM Punk at Hell in a Cell, albeit thanks to a corrupt referee. He was beaten down by The Shield at Survivor Series, preventing him from winning and not factoring in the decision.
If WWE wants this whole unbeaten monster gimmick to work, Ryback has to start winning matches again. He has proven himself to be a dreadful talker, and he still leaves a lot to be desired in the ring, so all he has is his "winning streak."
On the opposite side of the spectrum in the same match, WWE appears to have really gotten behind the new trio made up of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns.
The group, which came to be known as The Shield, has been all over Raw and SmackDown, beating up top stars and making a name for itself. This is exactly how WWE should be handling a high-profile debut for a group of unknown stars.
There comes a time, though, when just having them beat people up on television isn’t enough. They need to start wrestling matches and, more importantly, winning those matches.
You only have one chance to make a good first impression to a WWE audience, so having The Shield lose their debut match is not the best way to get them over. As much as Ryback might be the creative team’s flavor of the month, there is more potential and upside in this new faction.
WWE has to make the call about what it feels is more important: An undefeated gimmick for a performer without much talent and natural ability, or a debuting faction that has a long way to go to reach its potential.
The last time WWE was faced with a similar decision, Nexus was beaten soundly at SummerSlam by a group of WWE stars, and the group never took off.
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.