In the pantheon of WWE pay-per-view events for 2012, the company saved it's best for last with the TLC show last weekend. It was the perfect conclusion to what has been a very inconsistent year for the company, while providing a lot to look forward to in 2013.
One of the best parts of TLC was how predictable it was. Usually when an event is set up with matches that need to have a certain ending, WWE will change plans at the last minute to swerve the audience.
That was not the case this time, as several new stars were able to come out looking much stronger than they did before the event. Here are the stars who saw their stock take a big leap in the right direction heading into the new year.
The Shield Defeating Team Hell No & Ryback
No one knew what to expect from The Shield trio after their Survivor Series debut. It was exciting to see WWE bring up some stars from NXT to enhance the roster, but questions about how ready they were—or at least Roman Reigns—for the big stage left some doubts.
All of those questions were answered in a big way during their TLC match, as they came off looking like superstars in one of the best matches WWE has put on in a long time.
Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns were not overwhelmed in any way by the stage they were on, and even managed to hold their own against Daniel Bryan—who is arguably the best wrestler in the world—and Kane, one of the most consistent performers WWE has.
Granted, they were protected from the standpoint of this being a TLC match, so they were able to use more gimmicks and deviation than they would in a normal match, but all things being considered, this was a stellar debut for the group.
Dolph Ziggler Defeating John Cena in a Ladder Match
While I hated the fact that WWE had to have Cena defeat Ziggler twice on television prior to the pay-per-view to illustrate the point that he is the superior star, it was great to see Ziggler get a big win over a top star on pay-per-view for the first time in what feels like a year.
It would have been easy for WWE to put Cena over, give him the briefcase and cash in his title shot against The Rock at WrestleMania. Instead, Ziggler gets to keep the shot that he so desperately needs and was able to go over in a fantastic match.
Sure, WWE couldn't just put Ziggler over clean. A.J. had to do her thing and cost Cena the match. But at some point WWE has to understand what it has in Ziggler and make him look like the superstar he can so easily become.
Antonio Cesaro Defeating R-Truth
Even though the match between Cesaro and R-Truth was short and not particularly memorable, it served a clear, concise purpose which is not always the case with these top-of-the-card matches on a WWE pay-per-view.
He is not over with the audience yet, but Cesaro's upside is tremendous. WWE clearly sees that and used this match as a way to showcase everything that he can do. There is a slow build going on with him right now, which is smart.
WWE audiences need to learn about Cesaro before they fully embrace him. Throwing him into major feuds right now would only do damage to his character and his future potential. Keep him in matches where he can look strong while showing his impeccable talent for now.
Then, perhaps sometime around the summer of 2013, start getting him into more prominent feuds where fans latch onto everything he can do. You have to start somewhere in wrestling. For Cesaro, the beginning came at TLC on Sunday.
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