Although the spotlight ahead of WWE pay-per-view events is always placed on the main-event scene, there are some terrific mid-card matches scheduled for TLC. They deserve to steal some attention from John Cena and Co. leading up to Sunday.
The fact WWE champion CM Punk isn't on the card due to injury presents an opportunity for another superstar to steal the show. There are several options among the mid-card matches, from Wade Barrett to Antonio Cesaro.
All told, TLC should be a solid end to the year's PPV schedule. Let's examine some of the overlooked matches and make predictions for all of them. Hint: It's setting up to be a good night for heels.
Which tag team will become the No. 1 contenders?
Team Rhodes Scholars vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
The winners of this match will become the No. 1 contenders for the Tag Team Championships. Just the fact the tag division is getting a tables match on a PPV shows how far it has come in recent months after being an afterthought for so long.
Since Cody Rhodes returned from injury on Monday night and was immediately thrust back into the spotlight, it would appear that he and Damien Sandow are in line for the push. Sandow, in particular, has been impressive over the past couple weeks.
Mysterio and Sin Cara haven't been featured as prominently lately, which actually makes it a surprise they were given this opportunity. It should be a really good match overall, with Team Rhodes Scholars picking up the win.
Prediction: Team Rhodes Scholars
Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett
What's great about this match is that it features two superstars hoping to earn a massive push in the near future. Regardless of the outcome, the WWE Universe should get to see a tremendous back-and-forth battle between two wrestlers on the rise.
Kingston has been on the brink of a major breakthrough for awhile. It just hasn't happened yet. Barrett was on a roll before getting hurt in February and is now establishing himself again. Both guys will be looking to raise the bar on Sunday.
Ultimately, expect Barrett to become the new Intercontinental champion. He's held the belt once before. Doing it now would show the "Barrett Barrage" is back in full force, and would help him remain in the spotlight while he waits a main-event opportunity.
Prediction: Wade Barrett
Antonio Cesaro vs. R-Truth
While expectations weren't too high when this feud began leading up to Survivor Series, Cesaro and R-Truth have actually done a nice job with it. They have strung together a couple good matches in a row and their TLC encounter should be no different.
Cesaro originally won the United States Championship at SummerSlam. His title reign has now lasted over 100 days. During that time, he's established himself as somebody who can handle himself on the mic, which is a good skill to have.
On the flip side, R-Truth is a reliable veteran and has done a good job handling all the different roles the creative team has thrown at him over the past few years. That said, Cesaro's reign should continue to see if he can keep building momentum.
Prediction: Antonio Cesaro