Ring Rust Radio is the best wrestling show on the airwaves, and this week was no different. With strong opinions on TLC, John Cena, Matt Hardy and more, this is where you need to get all of your weekly WWE nuggets.
Bleacher Report featured columnists Mike Chiari, Donald Wood, Brandon Galvin and Michael Cahill give the lowdown on all things going on in the wrestling world. Former WWE Superstar Matt Hardy also joined the panel to provide his inside perspective on the wrestling business.
With another unpredictable episode of Ring Rust Radio in the books, you can't afford to miss another second of the action. Catch us live every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET (some language NSFW) or follow us on Twitter @RingRustRadio.
Some Language NSFW.
Dec. 17: TNA Superstar Austin Aries
Breaking Down John Cena vs. Randy Orton
Although the build has only lasted for three weeks, it can certainly be argued that World Heavyweight champion John Cena vs. WWE champion Randy Orton at TLC this Sunday is among the most highly anticipated matches in recent memory. Cena and Orton are the two most successful Superstars in WWE over the past decade, so it is fitting that they will do battle in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the Unified Championship Sunday night.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Who Leaves TLC as Unified Champion?
Despite the fact that the creative team has only had half the time to prepare for TLC in comparison to Survivor Series, there is far more excitement surrounding Sunday's event. WWE did a particularly good job when it came to the final segment on the go-home edition of Raw.
An ascension ceremony was staged, and a number of former WWE and World Heavyweight champions were in the ring to observe. Both Cena and Orton did an excellent job on the mic, and the events that followed sufficiently hyped up the pay-per-view.
Cena and Orton inevitably began to brawl, and when CM Punk tried to break it up, Orton went after him. Triple H then pushed Punk down, and Shawn Michaels hit Punk with Sweet Chin Music. Daniel Bryan took Michaels out with a running knee, but when Orton tried to RKO Bryan, he accidentally knocked Stephanie McMahon down. This led to Triple H hitting Orton with a Pedigree. The show closed with Cena standing next to The Authority as Orton looked on in confusion.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
After what happened on Raw, there was plenty of discussion regarding a Cena heel turn, but that clearly isn't going to happen. Cena standing next to The Authority was simply done to generate some buzz, and it did that effectively.
The true question relates to who will leave TLC as Unified champion. Between the two men involved in the match, Cena makes the most sense. Orton has floundered to a certain extent as WWE champion, and it's hard to imagine The Authority helping Orton after what happened on Monday, so Cena could easily win clean and essentially maintain the status quo.
Failing that, however, don't be surprised if Triple H is Unified champion by the end of the night.
Triple H's character is unifying the titles for a reason as he is attempting to centralize power. Since Triple H is a heel, it's unlikely that he wants Cena as champion, and it's clear that he is no longer in Orton's corner either. Triple H is looking to establish the face of the company, and it's certainly possible that he believes that he himself is the best man for the job.
Backstage News on Cena and Hulk Hogan (WrestlingInc.com, via Wrestling Observer Newsletter)
Breaking Down TLC Handicap Matches
Although much of the TLC focus is on the Unified Championship match, and for good reason, there are several other intriguing matches worth keeping an eye on as well. Daniel Bryan will take on the Wyatt Family, CM Punk will face The Shield, Big E Langston will defend the Intercontinental Championship against Damien Sandow, AJ Lee will defend the Divas Championship against Natalya and the team of Cody Rhodes and Goldust will defend the Tag Team Championships in a Fatal 4-Way match.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Will the Handicap Matches Play Out?
The two undercard matches that figure to garner the most attention are the three-on-one handicap matches that Bryan and Punk have been placed in. Although putting handicap matches on a pay-per-view card is unconventional, it actually makes sense in this case. Both Bryan and Punk have been thorns in the side of The Authority as of late, so it's only fitting that Triple H, Kane, et al would want to punish them by placing them in very difficult positions.
From a match quality perspective, both of these bouts should be quite good. Bryan has already had solid contests against the likes of Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, and he is more than capable of carrying them along with Bray Wyatt.
On the other side of the ledger, Punk vs. The Shield should be fantastic. Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins always manage to impress regardless of whom they are put up against, and it just so happens that they will be facing one of the best in the business in the form of Punk.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Since having both Bryan and Punk lose would be a bit too obvious, it's likely that at least one of them will find a way to pull out a victory. Despite the fact that I see Bryan going on to win the Royal Rumble, he shouldn't be the one to win on Sunday. His current angle with the Wyatts has everything to do with them trying to recruit him. If Bryan wins, then it will defeat the purpose. Having the Wyatts go over would extend the storyline and further the notion that Bryan could potentially turn heel before he ultimately vanquishes them in the Rumble match.
As for Punk, there is a decent chance that dysfunction among The Shield will allow him to come out on top. There has been a lot of turmoil within The Shield recently, especially between Ambrose and Reigns. Punk already acknowledged that he was "going down" at TLC, but it can't possibly be that easy. Look for some type of miscommunication to plague The Shield during this match, perhaps culminating in Reigns accidentally spearing Ambrose. Punk would then steal the win, and The Shield's inevitable breakup would be accelerated.
Potential Backstage Heat Over Bryan's Raw Reaction (EWrestlingNews.com)
RRR Interview with Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy has been one of Ring Rust Radio's favorite guests over the past year-plus, and he reminded us why once again this week as he brought a fresh and interesting perspective to the show. Hardy is best known for his long, successful stint in WWE, but he is currently making waves on the independent scene, and he has truly reinvented himself as a performer.
Question on Everybody's Mind: What's Next for Matt Hardy?
Hardy is no longer in a position that forces him to work each and every night like he did in WWE, but he still has plenty on his plate. Hardy has one date remaining with Ring of Honor, and he has made the most of that by turning it into an angle. Hardy threatened legal action within the storyline if ROH refused to book him, so he will take on Adam Page at Final Battle in a match that is sure to please.
In addition to that, Hardy will wrestle for the relaunched Extreme Rising promotion. Hardy will take on rival Luke Hawx in a grudge match Dec. 28 in Philadelphia, and there is little doubt that he'll have to play the heel role at ECW Arena. He and Hawx have been engaged in a heated and personal feud, and the strong fan reaction will undoubtedly make it even more special.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Despite the fact that Hardy is now 39 years of age, he continues to evolve as a performer. Hardy candidly addressed that on the show and admitted that he is more comfortable with himself now than ever before. That is blatantly obvious based on the character that he currently portrays as he's embraced the indy crowd's disdain for him. It ultimately doesn't matter if fans boo or cheer as long as there is a strong reaction of some kind, and Hardy is buying into that line of thinking in a big way.
In addition to all the special things Hardy and his new bride, Reby Sky, are doing on the independent scene, Hardy still has time to analyze the mainstream wrestling companies. Although he doesn't watch WWE and TNA religiously, he has plenty of strong and insightful opinions when he does.
Hardy discussed the fact that today's wrestling fans are much smarter than they were in past years, and that dictates a shift toward a more reality-based product. Hardy clearly gets it when it comes to what the fans want to see, and that much is apparent when you consider how much he has grown from a character perspective.
RRR Season 4 Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Brandon Galvin: 40
2. Mike Chiari: 35
3. Michael Cahill: -10
4. Donald Wood: -40
For more wrestling talk, listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot topics or catch the latest episode in the player below (some language NSFW).
Follow @RingRustRadio on Twitter.