WWE Tables, Ladders and Chairs received a shot in the arm with a wild ending to Raw this past Monday. In addition to teasing potential WrestleMania matches, the array of finishing maneuvers strongly hinted toward possible swerves ahead of Sunday's pay-per-view.
Likely swerves are based on week-to-week television booking, with the most weight being placed on Monday's go-home show.
WWE seemed to open its entire playbook of plot twists. Coming out of Raw, it seems the most likely swerves will occur in at least one, if not all, of the top three matches.
CM Punk's involvement with both Triple H and Randy Orton during the closing segment made him a candidate to get screwed by The Authority in his match against The Shield. That scenario is especially plausible considering his unfair three-on-one match was a result of Punk referring to The Authority as "uncreative" during an irreverent promo.
One foreshadowed spot, however, can easily be eliminated.
John Cena is not turning heel.
Amidst the Pedigrees, Superkicks and a flying goat, Raw went of the air with Cena standing alongside The Authority. Right on cue, this sparked familiar speculation on Twitter:
Will John Cena finally turn heel or will the Authority become a face? Find out on the next episode of DRAGON BALL Z! #RAW— Schen (@BstInTheWorld19) December 10, 2013
They are just swerving the heel turn. Not gonna happen. Makes them too much money as the face. Granted I'd love to see heel Cena vs Bryan— Gary Cassista (@DarkFalz83) December 10, 2013
A wounded and apologetic Randy Orton was once again made to look weak after being Pedigreed by Triple H.
This was Orton's punishment for causing a chain of events that led to The Game's wife, Stephanie McMahon, being laid out. The sudden and apparent change in alliances added ambiguity to an already cloudy WWE title picture.
Talk of this era's John Cena turning heel has become so common without it actually being seen that it's virtually biblical. Better opportunities have come and gone, but Cena has remained true to his brand as the WWE's All-American Dudley Do-Right. WrestleMania XXIX is the most recent example.
That stage was set for Cena to use underhanded tactics in order to score one of the few elusive victories remaining in his career. In video promos leading up to the second Cena-Rock showdown, Cena's 2013 make-believe slump and real-life divorce were each used as marketing tools to tell the story of a desperate man.
Not only did Cena remain a babyface, he squashed these rumors during an interview with Elyse Toribio of The Record beforehand, reiterating that "to sacrifice all that I do for a short-term story … it doesn't seem worth it."
Charitable efforts are of the utmost importance to the World Heavyweight champion. For that reason, he will remain a hero throughout his prime. Ironically enough, if Cena finally sold out at a pay-per-view of TLC's caliber, he would be selling fans short.
Fans would feel especially cheated if Daniel Bryan were to join the Wyatt family. Unfortunately for them, the possibilities of this happening are much stronger than a Cena heel turn.
During Raw, Bryan vehemently denied Bray Wyatt's request to join his stable of bearded followers, leading his home state of Washington in a "no" chant.
Which teased WrestleMania match from Raw are you most interested in seeing?
It's unlikely Bryan will succeed with the decks stacked against him in a three-on-one handicap match. Even if the Daniel Bryan character has no intentions of joining the Wyatt family, the storyline is setting up for just that.
Should Bryan either lose or get beaten into submission following a victory, expect him to be kidnapped once again. This time around, with Bray Wyatt intending to convert Bryan, Bryan will be more vulnerable.
The Wyatt family is not like The Shield, which is presented as three individual personalities forming one rebellious group.
The latter are a combination of Bray Wyatt and his disciples, who follow his every command. It would make complete sense for anybody, let alone Daniel Bryan, to become another disciple based on Bray's influential prowess.
The most likely of swerves should occur in the main event, which pits John Cena against Randy Orton. The go-home show gave fans a glimpse into WWE's booking future, from Punk-Orton to Punk-Triple H to Bryan-Michaels.
The more immediate future suggests The Authority, namely Triple H, will be involved in the TLC main event. Last week on Raw, Stephanie McMahon guaranteed there will be "one undisputed (and) unified champion."
The only way The Authority could be so sure of this happening is to take matters into its own hands. With both Triple H and Stephanie McMahon booked as vital parts of the main event hype, it would be a surprise if neither were involved in Sunday's finish.
There is a growing fear of Triple H somehow weaseling his way into the WWE title picture to become the unified champion. Wade Keller of PWTorch is just one of many subscribers to this theory, saying in a weekly column:
There was more foreshadowing in the final segment that Triple H will end up the Unified Champion somehow at TLC. They continue to avoid saying it will be either Orton or Cena who wins. It’s probably implied, but still, it’s interesting to parse and study the wording.
A basic finish of Cena or Orton becoming the undisputed champion seems too predictable given recent booking. In fact, so much suspicion and double-talk has surrounded the TLC main event that any finish could be construed as a swerve depending on what fans choose to believe.
Such a variety of potential outcomes creates a curiosity factor that will buoy business for the pay-per-view. With so many big names implied in a match with so much at stake, WrestleMania season has come one month early.