It’s the last WWE pay-per-view of the year with no WWE Title match on the card. That’s because WWE Champion CM Punk had arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this month.
As a result of that, we’re not really sure what match may end the show. It could be Cena vs. Ziggler, Sheamus vs. Show or The Shield vs. Ryback, Bryan and Kane, which is what I'll list last in the preview. I think the order of the matches adds to the unpredictability of the show.
Pre-show: “Santa’s Helper” No. 1 Contender’s Diva Battle Royal: Alicia Fox, Layla, Natalya, Kaitlyn, Tamina Snuka, Rosa Mendes, Aksana, Cameron and Naomi
There’s no AJ Lee in this match. She was on the graphic that they showed on Raw, but then she was taken out of the match. I’d imagine that was the case to keep her strong, because they’ll likely have her as the No. 1 contender heading into WrestleMania against Eve.
For storyline purposes, they can say that Vickie Guerrero is the one that took her out of the match because AJ lost to Vickie last week on Raw.
As for this match, we don’t know when the winner gets the title match, and I doubt that winner is going to beat Eve for the Divas Championship.
I love how some of these women are one match away from winning a title when they never have matches on television. I’ve heard really good things about Naomi in the ring, though, so it will be interesting to see if she gets a spot or two to show what she can do.
I think the contenders to win the match are Layla, Kaitlyn and Natalya. Since Eve has already beaten Layla and Kaitlyn multiple times, it would make the most sense to give Natalya the victory. However, making sense has never been a regular thing for the way the divas are booked, so I’ll pick Kaitlyn to win this one. Winner: Kaitlyn
Tables Match for No. 1 Contender’s to Tag Team Titles: Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow)
It would have been nice if there was more build to the match since there was nothing on Raw or SmackDown involving these teams, but I’m pretty sure this was thrown together in the last week. The original tables match was going to be The Shield vs. Bryan, Kane and Miz (or Orton), I believe. They obviously had to change that, so that’s why we got this.
We’ve seen these teams have multiple matches over the past few months, and they’ve been very good. This time, with the tables stipulation thrown in, it will have a different feel for the match because they won’t have to tag in and out. The tornado rules (meaning all four guys going at it at once) will mean the action will be fast paced from the beginning.
I’d expect them to get between 10-13 minutes and for Mysterio and Sin Cara to get a lot of spots that look like near victories, but ultimately, I like Team Rhodes Scholars to get the win.
It just makes more sense for them to win because they’re the heel team and the champs are babyfaces. Plus, I think a lot of us expect Rhodes and Sandow to win the tag titles in the near future, so a win here puts them in that position. Winners: Team Rhodes Scholars
United States Championship: Antonio Cesaro vs. R-Truth
They’re doing this match again? R-Truth as a babyface is boring. Cesaro beat him at Survivor Series in a clean manner. There’s no reason to do the match again except to get Cesaro on the pin and to give him another win.
While I have nothing against giving Cesaro wins, can’t they find somebody else for him to feud with?
As a Cesaro supporter, it’s great that he’s getting a dominant US Title run. However, I’d love for him to be in a feud that is better than your typical “good guy vs. bad guy” and actually has a story behind it. Is that too much to ask? It probably is.
Much like last month, Cesaro will likely win a seven-minute match with the Neutralizer once again. Winner: Antonio Cesaro
Intercontinental Championship: Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett
I think it’s time for a title change. Kingston’s had a decent run as the IC Champion, and based on commentary, they’re trying to push him hard, but I don’t think holding the title does a lot for him.
They had Barrett beat Kingston clean in a non-title match on Raw to earn this match, so that makes me a bit hesitant to pick him. Still, with the way things have been booked the last couple of weeks, I think it’s likely that Barrett will leave victorious.
Their chemistry is pretty good. If they get more than 10 minutes of in-ring time, I’d expect a very solid matchup.
Hopefully, they come up with something exciting for the finish because I think if they have Barrett duck the Trouble in Paradise and then comes back with a hard Bull Hammer elbow, it would be a memorable finish. With Barrett’s finisher, I don’t like that he has to hold the guy, spin them around like a dance move and then hit it. It would be better if it came out of nowhere. Winner: Wade Barrett
Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank contract: John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
I’ve seen interviews with Ziggler in recent weeks where he talked about how this match is the biggest of his career. I think that’s a valid statement. Cena’s the top guy in WWE whether he has the title or not. You may not like it, but it’s the truth. He’s the measuring stick. If they put you in a match with him, you need to step up and deliver because there’s more attention on you than ever before.
I don’t think Ziggler will disappoint us. He’s reached the peak of his career, and he’s performing at such a high level. My biggest worry is that he takes some ridiculous bumps that put him at risk for injury, and I think in a big ladder match setting, he may overdo it.
Remember that bump at Money in the Bank over the announce table when he landed hard? There were other scary bumps in that match too. He needs to be smart about what he does because we don’t want to see him on the shelf.
I’m disappointed that they have shied away from the John Cena knee injury angle. They did that the night this feud was set up, then Ziggler tackled him in the locker room and Cena was favoring the knee. Within a week, the injury was gone.
I thought they could have used that worked injury as a way to build up how smart Ziggler is because he should have attacked Cena’s knee for weeks leading up to this match. It’s not necessarily a way to handicap Cena. It would be more about how Ziggler has a matured as a performer and has become vicious with the way he attacked the knee. That was an opportunity lost.
How do you book the match? I think the finish will see Vickie Guerrero make her way down to ringside when Ziggler is close to losing. Then, AJ Lee could come down to the ring. A brawl between the women could happen, AJ could get hurt, Cena could change his focus to her and that could allow Ziggler to win this match.
I don’t expect a Cena win and I don’t expect Ziggler to win in a clean manner, so they’ll have to come up with some kind of creative finish for this match.
I’d be shocked if this got less than 15 minutes of in-ring time. It will probably hit the 20-minute mark. I thought that maybe they would go on last, but because of what I think will happen in the World Title match, it’s better for this one to happen before that.
Plus, like Ziggler said on Raw, he was going to beat Cena in this match and then he was going to win the World Title later in the evening. I believe him. Winner: Dolph Ziggler
World Heavyweight Championship Chairs Match: Big Show vs. Sheamus
I’m perfectly fine with this feud getting three pay-per-view matches. Unlike the Sheamus vs. Del Rio feud, which was boring, this one has kept my interest. I think the Chairs gimmick may hurt the match quality a bit because it’s hard stipulation to work with, but I think both guys are experienced enough to build the match up the right away.
That’s what impresses me the most about heel Big Show: His matches really make a lot of sense. If you haven’t done so already, listen to Big Show’s Wrestling with Rosenberg interview. After hearing Show talk about some “inside” things in the business, it really made me respect him a lot more.
I’m predicting a title change here. I know it’s rare for somebody to win a title and then lose it back to the guy he beat two months later, but it’s only because of what I think will happen after the match. Doing the match again with Big Show winning once more seems like a waste of time to me.
It’s not like WWE to have a top babyface lose twice on PPV in a title match situation. Sheamus is one of the most heavily protected talents on the roster. I doubt he has more than five losses on television and pay-per-view this year. That’s why I think he’ll win this match, which should be a very physical 15-20 minute battle. I’m looking forward to it. Winner: Sheamus
After the match, I think Dolph Ziggler will come out and cash in his Money in the Bank contract on Sheamus to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. I know it’s similar to last year when Daniel Bryan did it in the same fashion at TLC, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
I think TLC needs to be remembered for something special, and for Ziggler, it can be his night to go up to that next level. A victory over Cena plus the World Title would be huge for him.
Keep in mind that while I have a good idea on what's happening on WWE programming, I’m rarely right on these Money in the Bank cash-in’s, so don’t get your hopes up haha!
Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match: Ryback, Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield
It’s surprising to see a match like this in the main event position of a pay-per-view, but you can make the argument that this is the best story in WWE right now. The Shield has brought a lot of excitement to television because you just don’t know what they’re going to do, and that has created a buzz in WWE.
I’ve seen enough of Rollins and Ambrose in the indies and FCW/NXT (YouTube has plenty of matches if you’re curious) to know how good they are in the ring. Reigns is pretty solid from what I’ve seen, although he’s more of a power wrestler while the other two can work a number of different styles. I think Rollins’ athleticism will really allow him to stand out from the pack when he gets to show that especially as a babyface.
The way the match has been set up is pretty basic, with The Shield costing Ryback the WWE Title at Survivor Series and then attacking Bryan and Kane randomly. As mentioned earlier, the Bryan and Kane attacks were done to set up a tag match also involving Miz or Randy Orton on their team. Then, CM Punk had knee surgery and they had to put Ryback into the match.
I don’t think it would be wise to have The Shield lose this match. They need to go over even if it’s in a cheap manner. Starting off the group with a loss in their “first match” would be a bad way to get things going. Learn from jobbing The Nexus in the SummerSlam 2010 main event. Don’t make that mistake again.
Just like the last two Ryback PPV matches, the finish will be hard to predict. I doubt many people predicted an evil ref would cost him the WWE Title at Hell in a Cell. We just knew Punk would keep the title. I doubt many people knew that The Shield would do a run-in to end Survivor Series and cost Ryback the title there either. Again, we just figured Punk would leave with the WWE Title.
I credit WWE for being two for two in terms of coming up with creative finishes that we weren’t expecting. What will they do this time? It wouldn’t shock me if we see a fourth member of The Shield debut (Kassius Ohno? Bray Wyatt? Richie Steamboat?) or we find out somebody is the leader of the group.
Perhaps this is the night when we find out that Punk and Heyman are really affiliated with them. Heels lie, after all. They could have Punk sitting at ringside for the match, then somebody gets thrown into him and he limps over to crush them with a chair.
During a promo The Shield did on SmackDown two weeks ago, they mentioned a “sword.” That immediately made myself and many others think about Brock Lesnar, who has that sword tattoo on his chest. If you had Lesnar show up here, you could set up a potentially huge WrestleMania match against Ryback if that’s the direction they want to go in. I’m not sure how they can do it, but the possibilities are endless.
I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but I think The Shield will win. They’ll probably pin Daniel Bryan because Ryback is very protected obviously. Kane could lose too, but Bryan is more likely. I don’t think a loss hurts Bryan or Kane too much anyway. They’re so over that they are fine.
With pinfalls or submissions allowed in a TLC match setting, it will be quite the challenge to build an interesting match. I have my faith in all six guys putting on an entertaining match, though, so I am looking forward to it. Winners: The Shield
It has the potential to be a very good pay-per-view. I don’t think there’s one match on the card that is going to blow us away as a match of the year contender or anything like that. However, I expect a lot of very good to great matches up and down the lineup, minus the pre-show battle royal. I think it’s a predictable show for the most part.
If everything goes right, we could remember this night as a major breakthrough for Dolph Ziggler and for something big happening in the main event. In that sense, the PPV could be considered a major success. If nothing big happens, I’d be surprised.
John Canton is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. You can read more of his work at his website TJRWrestling.com along with his talented staff of writers. He also writes a lot about the NFL at TJRSports.com, so check him out there as well! You can follow John on Twitter @johnreport, too.