In mere hours, WWE will present the fourth annual TLC event live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for their final pay-per-view of 2012. Despite only six matches advertised for tonight's televised card, each contest looks to be enjoyable in its own right, regardless of the stipulation at hand.
Despite WWE Champion CM Punk's untimely injury, the main event of tonight's event looks as compelling as ever, as Ryback and Team Hell No do battle with The Shield in a six-man TLC tag team match.
Given the talents involved, I'm expecting an entertaining contest that will hopefully close the show.
Another highly anticipated match on the card involves Dolph Ziggler defending his Money in the Bank briefcase against John Cena in a Ladder match. Both guys have an equal opportunity to walk out with a future World Heavyweight title shot in hand, so the unpredictability of this bout has me incredibly intrigued.
As we get closer to the Road to WrestleMania, anticipation builds as three major championships will be contested on tonight's show, with two other grudges culminating as well. With the year of double digits coming to a close, who will rise above and conquer as we quickly approach the spring spectacle known as WrestleMania 29?
Here I am once again joined by the past, present and future of Bleacher Report to help me analyze tonight's electric pay-per-view with their intelligent insight on all things wrestling.
Without further ado, please allow me to introduce the recognizable talent of SiD and and Daniel Massey, otherwise known as the Evolution of Bleacher Report (with the exception of Nate Scaccia who couldn't participate this time around), for the most jam-packed prediction article ever conducted!
GSM: We had a solid storyline going on in the Divas division for the past few months. But the fact it was put on hold might be due to Eve's recent injury. The Divas have hardly been featured on television in recent weeks, so it's somewhat difficult to pick a definite winner for this one.
After what happened this past week on Raw, the only logical winner for this match would have to be Alicia Fox, although I'd love to see Natalya pull out the surprise victory.
SiD: The pre-show this year will not only feature some great action, it will also feature Jerry Lawler's favorite aspect of the WWE: the Divas! Numerous Divas will compete in a Battle Royal match to become the No. 1 contender to Eve's Divas Championship. While Eve has been an excellent champion, the only challenger she has had till now is Kaitlyn and Layla.
I expect that to change now, and hopefully this Battle Royal will add the spice to the Divas Division. But on the other hand, other than Kaitlyn, none of the divas deserve a title shot at the moment, and therefore, I pick Kaitlyn. On a side note, expect Kaitlyn to look extremely beautiful in this Battle Royal.
Massey: I can’t think of a better way to bring Christmas to the WWE than a Divas “Santa’s Little Helpers” match. Let’s face it, the Divas division is now non-existent and there are no feuds to bring into TLC anyway so they might as well please the male members of the audience. I have no idea who is going to win this match and nor do I care. I’m there for the costumes and that is that.
Final Consensus: Kaitlyn-2, Alicia Fox-1
GSM: The winners of this match will be named the new No.1 contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championships. This bout was added at the very last minute this past week on Raw, so it doesn't have much of a build-up, but it's still a nice addition to the card nonetheless.
These two teams have provided fun matches together in the past, so I expect this contest to be no different. Since Kane was the one who put Cody Rhodes on the shelf last month, I fully expect Team Rhodes Scholars to go over here in order to feud with the WWE Tag Team Champions.
SiD: The two best tag teams in the WWE, Rhodes Scholars and Rey Sins, will face each other this Sunday for another brilliant tag team match. Once again, the No.1 contendership will be on the line. After a returning Cody Rhodes has been paired again with Damien Sandow, they are back to being an efficient team, with Rey Sins looking to have a good competition.
Rey Mysterio, alongside Sin Cara, have been teaming for a long time, yet, in my opinion, do not stand a chance against the intelligence of Rhodes Scholars. Adding a Table match stipulation to this bout will alter the prediction a little bit, but the end result still stays the same.
Therefore, I fully expect Rhodes Scholars to win this match by putting Sin Cara through a table, and receiving their rightful Tag Team Championships.
Massey: Making this No. 1 contenders match a Tables match was a stroke of genius. Whoever pitched that, if you are reading this, bravo, sir. This has added extra flair and excitement to what would have been a standard tag-team match to find out who will challenge Team Hell No at the Royal Rumble.
With Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio, I’m sure the two teams will find extremely inventive ways of being eliminated by a table. I am not entirely sure who will end up being on top in this contest, so I will proceed to make an educated guess. You’re welcome.
Final Consensus: Rhodes Scholars-3, Mysterio/Cara-0
GSM: While the feud between United States Champion Antonio Cesaro and R-Truth has been nothing out of the ordinary, it's been pretty standard for the most part. Truth has been extremely bland since turning face earlier this year, so having him win the title here would make absolutely zero sense.
Cesaro, on the other hand, has progressed nicely since capturing the U.S. title at SummerSlam and has a very bright future in WWE. Without question, Cesaro retains here and maintains possession of the star-spangled prize for a long time to come.
SiD: These combatants will face off, once again, for the precious United States Championship at the last pay-per-view of the WWE this year, TLC. An event where Tables, Ladders and Chairs reign supreme, this match contains no stipulation, as Cesaro and Truth will tear the house down in a simple, no-nonsense bout which has the potential to top their previous match at Survivor Series.
As for my predictions for this match, it's quite obvious that Antonio Cesaro will retain his championship once again, and I expect him to engage in a feud with The Miz as soon as possible. But as far as this match goes, I expect Cesaro to pick up the victory.
Massey: This United States Championship match is the least cared about match on the card in my opinion. I don’t care for Antonio Cesaro and if Truth loses to him again, I will lose all faith in Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love. That’s how much R-Truth needs this title.
Cesaro, the Alberto Del Rio of the mid-card has been failing to get over as a heel with fans since he joined.
He doesn’t have the look of a champion to me and I find it hard to become engrossed in his character. Bring cool R-Truth back—give him the title and turn him heel, watch the fireworks. This match is a result of no other viable contenders for the US Championship. Though it has had the right build-up, I hope this is a short match due to my lack of enthusiasm for the current title holder.
Final Consensus: Cesaro-2, Truth-1
GSM: This is probably the most excited I've been for an Intercontinental Championship match in a long, long time. The belt really lost some steam after Big Show won it at WrestleMania 28 and it hasn't felt as meaningful since, but Wade Barrett's involvement in the title scene has reinstated my interest.
While it's safe to say that Barrett should be in the World Heavyweight Championship picture right now, the IC title is a nice consolation prize that could do wonders for both him and the strap. Kofi Kingston has been a good champion in the last two months, but Barrett could be doing so much more with it.
Expect the match to be very well wrestled as well.
SiD: While arguments on Twitter have exceeded limits with #TeamKofi and #TeamBarrett feuding with each other, this feud finally presents us the match we've been waiting a long time for.
The Wildcat Kofi Kingston will finally step in the ring to take on England's favorite son Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship. Wade Barrett is one of the youngest and the hungriest stars in the WWE, and as of now, he is credible enough to deserve a World Title Reign.
Kofi Kingston, on the other hand, has been the king of mid-card for a long time now, defeating jobbers for no reason whatsoever and winning irrelevant championships and carrying them as a prop. Therefore, it's time for Kofi Kingston to lose the championship to someone better, and it's time for the Winds of Change to stop blowing, because the Barrett Barrage has begun.
I expect Kofi Kingston to eat a Bull-Hammer, causing Barrett to become a two-time Intercontinental Champion.
Massey: This is another well-worked feud that has had adequate build-up for me to care about this match. The Barrett Barrage has been fairly successful since coming back after an extended injury.
Making Barrett challenge for the Intercontinental Championship is an extremely smart move on WWE’s part as The World Heavyweight Championship is tied up indefinitely for the time being.
By putting Barrett in a feud with Kingston over the secondary title, they are able to build Kingston as an upper mid-card talent and Barrett remains relevant in his quest for the World Heavyweight Championship. I think Barrett will gain this title tonight as he has been on the receiving end of Kofi Kingston’s finisher too many times for it not to happen. Kofi Kingston has been on a roll lately but I still don’t care for him as champion.
Give the belt to my fellow Englishman, WWE. You know it’s the right thing to do.
Final Consensus: Barrett-3, Kingston-0
GSM: This feud started out terribly in late September, but their awesome match at Hell in a Cell was certainly the turning point. While their match at Survivor Series wasn't as spectacular, it was still good enough to maintain my interest in this ruthless rivalry.Sheamus has brought back the aggressive side of his character, while Show has been booked dominantly since capturing the title.
Chairs matches are never that great (see: 2009, 2010, 2011), but I'm hopeful these two will be given enough time to provide a solid contest.
As far as who the victory will be, it's too early for Sheamus to reclaim the strap now, so I'm pulling for Show to retain the title here and hold it going into WrestleMania 29.
SiD: Big Show is our World Heavyweight Champion, and after defeating the seemingly unbeatable Sheamus, he has become the largest World Champion currently.
Sheamus, however, is a tough Irishman who wants his championship back badly. But here's the twist: many dirt sheets have been reporting that Randy Orton will face Sheamus at WrestleMania for the World Title, which means that Sheamus will regain the title soon.
But on the other hand, Big Show can't lose his title so soon. So, what do I think the WWE is going to do? In my opinion, the Big Show will retain his championship, but will lose it at Elimination Chamber.
Therefore, Big Show retains with 640 knockout punches.
Massey: This Chairs match has had an excellent build-up, especially with the no-contact clause that was put into the contract. It gave a fresh angle on a feud that is going into its third major PPV match. Sheamus and Big Show are two heavy hitters that have had two fantastic matches at the past two PPVs, and I think they will make it a third.
Sheamus suits being the champion and what with this being a Chairs match, I think this will be an extremely violent end to Big Show’s reign.
Big Show has been shown to be scared and worried about his contest with Sheamus, and the fiery temper of the Irish man has intensified the emotional aspect of the match. I personally cannot wait to see how far WWE will go with this match especially with backstage talks about producing an edgier product.
I think Sheamus will win the match after devastating the Big Show with multiple chair shots. This prediction is also based on the rumor regarding Sheamus facing Randy Orton for the title at WrestleMania 29.
Expect bruises, broken blood vessels and a hell of a lot of screaming.
Final Consensus: Show-2, Sheamus-1
GSM: Dolph Ziggler has improved immensely since his WWE debut four years ago, but more specifically over the last year upon leaving the mid-card. He's had some breakout moments in 2012, but they'll amount to nothing if he loses to John Cena on Sunday night. Cena has gotten the upper hand over Ziggler for a few weeks now, which Ziggler is due for a victory anyway.
Plus, what justice will the Money in the Bank briefcase do Cena?
Ziggler deserves to be World Heavyweight Champion, whereas I fear Cena would put the golden prize on the line against The Rock at WrestleMania 29 in a title unification match if he were to win here. These two have had some amazing matches in the past, so I'm presuming this will be the match of the night.
Although it's unlikely, having AJ join Ziggler here would be the best booking, but again, I'm not holding my breath. Ziggler must win here, and once he does, he will officially solidify himself as a main-event caliber Superstar in WWE.
SiD: While many IWC pundits desperately want Dolph Ziggler to kick the living daylights out of Cena and retrieve his briefcase, they are still sitting in fear due to the possibility of John Cena walking away with Ziggler's everything.
Dolph Ziggler has been ready for quite a while now, and John Cena..well, let's just say that Cena has been relegated to meaningless storylines in the past. But now, that changes, as Cena takes on Ziggler in a Ladder match for the Money in the Bank briefcase.
Cena had originally won the Raw MITB, before losing it to CM Punk, but now, he aims for the SD MITB, and possibly a World Title opportunity, which seems impossible.
Therefore, I pick Dolph Ziggler for this huge win, to become a credible future champion.
Massey: It seems the WWE has learned its lesson (for this PPV at least) and has built up every match, which has resulted in me being pumped to see what happens at tonight’s extravaganza. Dolph Ziggler found himself in a feud with Cena as a result of mini-feud between his manager Vickie Guerrero and Cena’s love interest AJ.
However, this is the best thing that could have happened to Dolph Ziggler as giving him a storyline to really stick his teeth into has brought the best out of the up-and-coming superstar. Putting the Money in the Bank briefcase on the line has added a bit more weight to the match also.
Dolph Ziggler can make himself an even bigger star by knocking off John Cena at this PPV and that will help to propel him to the title picture. However, it is likely that Dolph will keep his briefcase close to his chest until after WrestleMania. Expect Vickie Guerrero and AJ to get involved.
Final Consensus: Ziggler-3, Cena-0
GSM: While CM Punk vs. Ryback for the WWE Championship was originally advertised for the event, plans frantically changed after Punk underwent emergency knee surgery a few weeks back. However, what we're getting instead is a nice substitution and will see The Shield compete in their first official televised WWE match.
Given the TLC environment, I look forward to the intense action this match will surely include.
Ryback suffered loses at the last two pay-per-views, so it'd only make sense for him to bounce back here with a victory over The Shield. I'd be ecstatic if Shield won, but taking a loss won't hurt their strong momentum as long as they're booked correctly thereafter.
SiD: The Shield have been an absolute machine, with repeatedly destroying Ryback and Team Hell No and various other Superstars for one purpose: to bring honor back in the company. The stable of Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins has made itself very clear, and they have proclaimed that they indeed are the shield from injustice.
After helping CM Punk defeat Ryback, the Shield have beat down many faces, and are unstoppable.
Enter Team Hell No and Ryback, and we have ourselves a perfect combination of speed and agility, combined with power. To continue this storyline, I would certainly expect the Shield to win here, thus cementing themselves as a legit threat in the WWE.
Expect Roman Reigns to defeat Daniel Bryan with the spear, or the triple power bomb to show the entire roster that injustice will be eradicated.
Massey: To say this match has been thrown together at the last minute, it still feels like WWE is giving us a main event quality match in the face of Punk’s injury. This shows the importance of good storyline writing. Because WWE had a successful storyline with The Shield, their backup plan for TLC doesn’t feel like a rip-off.
However, I am completely torn in terms of who is going to win this match.
Ryback has extremely bad form at PPV events having lost twice, albeit in extenuating circumstances, so he desperately needs to show his dominance. However, if The Shield lose then they will also lose their dominance and it will be the same story as it was with The Nexus.
The Shield need the win more than Ryback and Team Hell No if they are to cement a legacy in a dodgy WWE history, as CM Punk has done by being the longest reigning champion in 25 years.
They have to be the next big stable in the WWE and it will help with keeping the television broadcasts fresh. They may need an interference from other members of NXT who would be able to be called up to the main roster to join this group but The Shield have to win for storylines' sakes.
Final Consensus: Shield-2, Ryback/Hell No-1
Overall, WWE TLC has proven to be a surprisingly entertaining show in the past, so I have high hopes for this year's installment as well. Each match on the card has the potential to be either exceptional or extraordinary, so with the right results, this could be an event worth watching for sure.
This is also the first pay-per-view in quite awhile that not all the matches are extremely predictable, with each bout having a certain sense of suspense attached to it. As we quickly progress towards the Road to WrestleMania, expect seeds to be planted for feuds that will unravel in weeks to come.
With only six matches advertised for the main card, don't be surprised to see additional bouts added on as filler. Although WWE Champion CM Punk won't be competing at tonight's event, he's since stated he will be present at the show regardless.
If he does commentary during the main event similar to 2010's installment, that alone is worth the pay-per-view purchase.
I'd like to thank SiD and Daniel Massey for collectively participating in my WWE TLC preview. Both of them put in valuable time and thought into making their respective predictions. Drop a comment with your thoughts going into the WWE TLC event and be sure to tune in tonight for the one night of the year where tables, ladders and chairs are unleashed!
Watch my latest WrestleRant video for my full predictions for the show.
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