WWE TLC 2013: Matches That Will Exceed Expectations
While WWE's Survivor Series pay-per-view last month may have been a dismal flop, fans should expect Sunday's TLC event to provide satisfying, top-quality entertainment, especially in the ring.
Indeed, the card has several bouts that we should expect to surpass expectations. WWE may be in a difficult place right now—both critically and commercially—but its roster has arguably never been better.
So, in terms of impact and their placing on the card, here’s a prediction of the five matches that will surely deliver in Houston later this week…
5. Dolph Ziggler vs. Fandango
As announced on Monday’s Raw, former World Heavyweight champion Dolph Ziggler will take on newcomer Fandango Sunday in the pre-show event.
While the 33-year-old Ziggler has undoubtedly been wasted over the last few months, he remains a phenomenal talent and one of the very best wrestlers in the entire company.
For his part, Fandango has fast been improving as a wrestler since his debut earlier this year. He may never be Shawn Michaels in the squared circle, but he can churn out perfectly respectable performances if needed.
Expect the two to churn out a pretty decent bout at the show, particularly if Ziggler thinks he has something to prove.
4. Big E Langston vs. Damien Sandow
At TLC, Big E Langston faces his first significant bout since winning the Intercontinental Championship from last month on Raw when he takes on Damien Sandow.
This bout may be a big test for Langston.
WWE is clearly flirting with the idea of turning the star into a main event wrestler, and a strong performance here against Sandow will greatly aid his cause.
Sandow, too, may feel he has a lot to prove coming off of his failed Money in the Bank cash-in against Cena. They’ll both try, and the results should be good.
3. A.J. Lee vs. Natalya
Divas champion A.J. Lee will defend her belt against Natalya on Sunday in what should be one of the better WWE women’s matches of the year.
Natalya, unlike previous title challenger Brie Bella, is a terrific, well-rounded wrestler who's more than capable of delivering on the big stage. And thanks to her exposure on hit reality show Total Divas, it seems the third-generation wrestler now has the connection with the fans that she was missing before.
Lee, too, is arguably at her very best as a performer right now. She’s stepped up in 2013 as the one woman who can carry the division as both a personality and an in-ring wrestler.
Expect these two ladies to provide something very special at TLC.
2. Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatts
Following the frenzied crowd reaction Daniel Bryan received on Monday's Raw, his handicap match against the Wyatts this Sunday might be worth tuning in for just to see how crazy the fans in Houston go for former WWE champion.
Regardless of how Vince McMahon or Triple H may feel, the former ROH wrestler is the hottest attraction in the company right now—and it's thrilling to watch him emerge as a genuine star.
Besides that, look for Bryan to work incredibly hard in the bout and continue to prove himself as one of the very best wrestlers on the planet.
We should also expect to see Bray Wyatt—a very underrated wrestler—step up as a top heel and show the necessary brutality and callousness as he attempts to take Bryan down and crush his spirit.
1. Randy Orton vs. John Cena
OK, so no one is terribly excited for the Randy Orton vs. John Cena main event bout this Sunday. Even the unifying of the world titles, which should be a massive deal, comes off as a total afterthought.
As I noted recently, it’s hard to see the match drawing a big number of pay-per-view buys, either.
However, one area the bout should surely deliver is with in-ring quality.
Orton and Cena have churned out fantastic, gripping matches in the past—SummerSlam 2007 springs to mind—and they’ll both have their working boots on here, too.
At the very least, we can envisage this bout to be far superior to the utterly dreadful Orton-Big Show main event at Survivor Series.