Can John Cena snag another briefcase at TLC?
Despite the absence of WWE champion CM Punk, the Tables, Ladders and Chairs lineup is filled with high-stakes showdowns for Sunday night's 2012 event.
Four prominent individual clashes will be on the line in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York to cap off the WWE pay-per-view slate in style. Two of the three most prized individual fights will be straight-up singles matches, but the wildness of TLC will definitely play a factor in the other matchup.
Here is a breakdown of the marquee battles between wrestling juggernauts you won't want to miss.
Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena
This may very well be the main event of the evening, and will feature Cena challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship money. It will be located in a briefcase, which the wrestlers will need to scale a ladder to get to. First man to the cash takes it all.
Who will win?
The significance of the case is that Ziggler won it back in July's pay-per-view, and it gives him a free match to go for the World Heavyweight Championship itself.
Cena had a briefcase from the Money in the Bank event, but was the first to not win his championship matchup after cashing in, falling to CM Punk. However, considering Cena is the ultimate babyface in the WWE, it would be surprising to see him lose yet again in this one.
However, Ziggler is not short on confidence, as he has taken to Twitter in the days leading up to the fight to talk trash to add to the two's heated exchange on Raw from November 26:
Ziggler (@HEELZiggler) December 14, 2012
The charisma and mysterious nature of his character due to his briefcase has Ziggler on the cusp of massive stardom. Beating Cena would solidify him as a possible rising champion, rather than relegating him to just another face in the WWE crowd.
It's possible that The Shield could interfere should Cena be in a position to win the match, since the team attacked him on Raw this past week. It would also make sense if Ziggler is indeed meant to be the next big star.
However, pulling that same stunt twice so close together seems somewhat unlikely. With two losses to Cena in recent Raw events, Ziggler is due to have a breakthrough and defend his briefcase.
Sheamus vs. Big Show
Big Show took back the World Heavyweight Championship belt with a triumph over Sheamus in October's Hell in a Cell PPV event.
After Sheamus was denied the belt again in November's Survivor Series due to interference from a referee, he took a steel chair to Big Show and smacked him with it repeatedly—more than 25 times in all. Sheamus was about to perform his signature finishing Brogue kick move until The Show dragged the ref in between.
With both men undoubtedly eager to square off once again, SmackDown stipulated a no-contract clause last week. That meant that Sheamus and Big Show couldn't attack each other until their scheduled battle in Brooklyn.
It is only fitting that this becomes a chairs match in the context of the Survivor Series melee, and it truly could go either way. The no-contract clause has built the anticipation for the matchup even more.
This feud has gone on long enough, though. It must be decisively resolved either way, and it appears that the good guy Sheamus will finally get his way.
Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett
Both of these wrestlers have some nifty finishing moves, and one of them is sure to be on display with the Intercontinental World Championship on the line.
The title is Kingston's to defend, but Barrett is one of the emerging names on the WWE midcard. A victory here would mean far more for him, as the Englishman could be featured in one of the 2013 main events.
Meanwhile, Kingston has held the belt since October, and last faced Barrett in the Survivor Series elimination match. Despite being one of the top midcards, it seems as though Barrett has a little more upside.
Barrett's background as a bare-knuckle boxer creates him as a fascinating personality and someone who has come very far in a short time. According to Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun, Barrett got his WWE break in Britain and was hired along with Sheamus.
This is no knock against Kingston and his title belt, but it seems Barrett has more of a future as a potential star. That should translate to victory in this one—courtesy of an elbow-to-the-face Bull Hammer.
R-Truth vs. Antonio Cesaro
Another midcard matchup, but this one has the United States Championship up for grabs, which is currently held by Cesaro.
Since defeating Santino Marella in August's SummerSlam event, Cesaro has retained the championship. R-Truth tried to wrest it away from him at the Survivor Series event, only to be defeated.
Both have been talking themselves up, but Cesaro is the prime candidate of the two to break onto the main event scene next year. Since R-Truth hasn't been as heavily utilized down the stretch of 2012, it is a massive opportunity for him.
That said, Cesaro has definitely established his identity better with a successful midcard run. Defending the United States Championship would be a big step, and sustained greatness at his current level would add prestige to the title he currently holds.
Even though he isn't the babyface in this one, expect Cesaro to win this match cleanly and once again cap it off with The Neutralizer finisher.