WWE TLC 2013 has a history of great matches to live up to.
Since 2009, the December pay-per-view has produced several powerful stories in the ring. Ladders, tables, championships and surprises have made TLC one of WWE's most anticipated events on the calendar.
Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio and Kane appear more than once on the list of TLC's best clashes so far. Randy Orton, Big E Langston and The Wyatt Family get their shot to compose their own masterpieces when TLC 2013 kicks off. Can they outdo a brutal battle over the No. 1 contender's spot or The Shield's unforgettable debut?
TLC's best bouts are ranked here based on which ones had the most thrilling in-ring action and the most compelling story, buildup and stakes.
Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett: Tables match (2011)
John Cena vs. Wade Barrett: Chairs match (2010)
D-Generation X vs. Chris Jericho and Big Show: TLC match (2009)
For two consecutive years, Barrett put on solid performances at TLC.
His match against Orton is one of the better tables matches, as it effectively used the threat of going through a table to create suspense. Against Cena, animosity and creative usage of chairs resulted in getting the crowd's attention.
Those matches that didn't have enough spark or sufficient lasting images to be graded an A, though. No championships were on the line either time, and in 2010, the momentum of the Nexus vs. Cena angle had already faded.
At the first-ever TLC pay-per-view, Shawn Michaels and Triple H teamed up against Jeri-Show for the Tag Team titles.
There were fun spots and good chemistry to go along with the match's star power. Other matches from the event just produced more emotion and created more enduring memories.
United States Championship matches rarely feel so significant as when Zack Ryder defeated Dolph Ziggler at TLC 2011.
Ryder all but created his own momentum. Not spotlighted enough in his eyes, Ryder took to social media and YouTube to churn up buzz himself. The height of that self-propulsion came in the form of a memorable championship win.
Speed powered the match, the two athletes zooming around the ring.
Ryder fought through the champ's best moves, and with fans pumping their fists and his dad tearing up in the audience, "Long Island Iced Z" hit the Rough Ryder to cap off a well-worked match.
Longer, more prominent bouts surpass this on the list, but it had more than enough emotion to land the seventh spot.
Put a ladder into one of Christian's matches and greatness is sure to be born.
He and Shelton Benjamin delivered an engaging clash where both men soared from and crashed into ladders. Creativity, risk-taking and athleticism helped these two steal the show.
Mid-match, the match's momentum stalled, though. Blood dripped from a cut under Christian's eye, forcing the doctors at ringside to stop the match and attend to the cut.
The hiccup in the ring action and the lack of prestige surrounding the ECW Championship at this point in its existence keeps this from climbing higher in the rankings.
With the WWE Championship hanging above the ring, two of CM Punk's enemies did everything they could to stop him from reclaiming it.
This match felt bigger and was more intense than Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin. The image of Punk escaping from being handcuffed in the corner is a highly memorable one.
The three foes' in-ring chemistry was excellent, leading to a match that had great flow.
The buildup holds it back some, though. The story surrounded Del Rio getting a match after losing to Punk at Survivor Series and Miz believing himself to be a victim of a WWE-led conspiracy. Neither of those had the kind of spark that makes for feuds that fans are unable to forget.
Rivals with more animosity and clashes with more intrigue leading up to them edge out this excellent showing.
A megastar collided with a rising star; power clashed with speed. Dolph Ziggler was after more than keeping his Money in the Bank contract. This was an opportunity to prove that he was worthy of the main event and that he could take down WWE's top dog.
John Cena and Ziggler worked magnificently well together.
The match's energy was electric. The surprise of AJ Lee turning on Cena and joining forces with Ziggler capped off a great match.
How then do you top a bout like that? For the top three matches on this list, the answer is added brutality and intensity.
Two rivalries merged to make for an instant classic.
Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio entered the match with bad blood aplenty. Maddened by his hunt for The World Heavyweight Championship, Edge kidnapped Kane's father, Paul Bearer. All four foes collided in a match filled with all the danger and violence one expects from a TLC bout.
Rey Mysterio sped around the ring and gave one of his best performances in recent memory. Edge soared, Del Rio cracked his boot against heads and Kane was an enthralling brute in a match packed full of huge moments and drama.
The spots of this Fatal 4-Way were bigger and more breathtaking than the ones from either Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena or Del Rio vs. The Miz vs. CM Punk. The combination of two rivalries elevated this as well.
The next match on the list passing this one up is a testament to just how entertaining the masterpiece that John Morrison and Sheamus composed that same night.
Fighting over the right to become the No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship, John Morrison and Sheamus managed to make victory feel as vital as air.
After the two longtime foes had beaten each other with ladders and bashed each other with their signature moves, the thrill ride just kept going. Climax followed climax.
The blend of Morrison's athletic prowess and Sheamus' power made for a highly intriguing bout. Add to that the animosity these two had built up in their battles at Survivor Series and in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament, and this is easily one of the best ladder matches in WWE history.
Sheamus vs. Morrison not landing the top spot here isn't based on anything this was lacking, but instead the near-perfection that stole the show in 2012.
This is how you make an entrance.
The Shield's first WWE match is the best the TLC pay-per-view has seen thus far. The bar is now set incredibly high.
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose introduced themselves to the WWE audience at Survivor Series when they attacked Ryback. The Shield became the kings of the ambush, the masters of the numbers game.
Mystery and intrigue elevated the anticipation for this bout. Who was this trio in black? Would Team Hell No and Ryback be able to stop them?
The action delivered on that buzz in a big way. The Shield's chemistry was undeniable, Ryback hurled Rollins into a table and Daniel Bryan and Kane wrestled a hard-fought, dramatic match.
That formula made this TLC bout more enthralling than the Fatal 4-Way from 2010 and a touch more exciting than John Morrison and Sheamus' classic.