WWE TLC 2013 Results: Best and Worst Booking Decisions from Latest PPV
In the wake of any pay-per-view event, the booking is immediately called into question.
What worked? What did not?
Why did it or did it not work?
It is no different less than 24 hours removed from the TLC pay-per-view, which saw Randy Orton defeat John Cena to become the first unified heavyweight champion in 11 years and CM Punk score an impressive victory over The Shield in a three-on-one handicap match.
Daniel Bryan once again found himself on the losing end of a major pay-per-view match, this time against the Wyatt Family in a second handicap match.
With the road to WrestleMania XXX rapidly approaching, the booking of every WWE event will be heavily scrutinized.
With that said, what were the best and worst booking decisions from Sunday night's major pay-per-view extravaganza?
Find out after the jump.
Best: Reigns Accidentally Spears Ambrose
From the moment dissension among Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose was teased prior to Survivor Series, it became clear that it was only a matter of time before The Shield split and the three talented individuals involved went their own ways.
That dissension was, in all likelihood, intensified when Reigns exploded across the squared circle with a spear and accidentally flattened his partner with the effective finisher.
This type of miscommunication is exactly what The Shield has avoided throughout its dominant 2013, and the fact that it came into play just prior to the seeds being planted for the eventual split of the faction is a bit of booking brilliance.
The spear will further drive a wedge between Reigns and Ambrose en route to what should be a major blowup between the two.
Where that leaves Rollins, who has been the understated, underrated workhorse of the group, remains to be seen, but whether fans believe it is too early or not, the split between the co-MVPs of WWE in 2013 is rapidly approaching.
Worst: Handicap Matches on Pay-Per-View
Over the last three years, their presence on WWE programming has increased significantly, and over the last year, the company's creative team has leaned on them like a crutch to cover up for lazy booking.
While the decision to use those matches on free television may be forgivable, to an extent, featuring them on pay-per-view and expecting your audience to pay to see them is not.
There were far better ways to utilize the talent involved in both three-on-one handicap matches and still tell the stories the creative team wanted to tell without delivering cheap matches that would inevitably solidify the beliefs of the fans that the show was a B-level production, if not worse.
CM Punk could have easily taken on Dean Ambrose in singles competition while sticking to the accidental spear from Reigns that cost The Shield the match. Instead, the company opted to deliver Punk and Ambrose on both SmackDown and Raw leading into the event instead.
Daniel Bryan versus Bray Wyatt was a fresh match that could have been put over as something special and, perhaps, sell a few extra pay-per-views. Instead, that match was sacrificed in favor of another handicap match that never succeeded in being of higher quality than anything fans would see on free TV.
The handicap matches, while not inherently bad, did little to add anything in terms of importance to the event.
Best: AJ Lee Retains the Divas Championship
With all of the rumors surrounding Divas champion AJ Lee and the potential heat that was on her for a backstage altercation with Access Hollywood's Michelle Beadle, it seemed as though the likelihood of her losing the title was greater than ever.
Luckily, the company did not opt to let the breaking news influence its booking decisions, and AJ retained her title over Natalya in a very good match.
The win takes AJ one step closer to history by breaking Maryse's record for the longest Divas Championship reign.
Try as hard as the company may to sell its fans on the cast of Total Divas, AJ is still the most over woman in the company, and taking the title off of her to give it to one of the women from a reality show or as punishment for a celebrity getting their feelings hurt is the wrong reason.
AJ's win was the right move for now, but it will be imperative that the company present a new challenger that has fresh, new reasons for wanting to challenge the champion and is not simply the Total Diva of the week.
Worst: Adding Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz to the Card
Was it nice to see both Kofi Kingston and The Miz get a spot on the pay-per-view? Yes. Both are still, despite the booking inconsistencies over the last year, talented in-ring performers.
But their story over the last month has failed to develop, and no one is really sure why they are still fighting.
Throwing them onto an event card with no prior announcement made it look like an afterthought. Couple that with the lackluster story and two Superstars with no real direction, and you have the perfect recipe for a disappointing match with an even worse crowd reaction.
Had the match been announced on Raw or SmackDown and the company had given the two a reason to be fighting, the result would have been much better than it actually was.
Instead, both Kingston and Miz had to settle for their hard work being the emphasis for bathroom breaks across the country.
Which is incredibly sad for performers of their talent level.
Best: The Implosion of Planet Funk
Brodus Clay's heel tendencies Sunday night drove partner Tensai and the Funkadactyls away from ringside and left him prone to a roll-up from R-Truth. The disintegration of the Planet Funk faction is best for everyone involved, with the possible exception of Tensai.
The Funkasaurus gimmick has run its course, and despite the crowd trending younger, it never really caught on like it had the potential to.
Now, Clay can transform into the brute-force monster that many expected him to be two years ago. He can tear through the competition en route to bigger and better things than he would ever have the opportunity to achieve as a lovable, dancing babyface opening matches across the country.
Naomi and Cameron will be fine in the Divas division, where they can focus their attention on in-ring work.
Where Tensai goes from here should be interesting. Surely, he cannot simply go back to being the ruthless heel. That did not work the first time. He could continue on as Sweet T and reprise the "Hip Hop Hippo" gimmick he filled in the early 2000s.
At this point, it may be his best option.
Worst: The Bryan-Wyatt Handicap Match
The problem with handicap matches on pay-per-view has already been discussed in great detail.
The reason the Daniel Bryan vs. the Wyatt Family handicap match lands under the "worst" headline is because the company failed to advance the story, or lack thereof, between the two sides.
Leading into the show, the creative team had done a choppy, uneven, lazy job of telling the Bryan-Wyatt Family story. First, Bryan was abducted. Then he was dropped off in a parking lot. Then...well, no one really knows because Bryan was back to wrestling like nothing ever happened.
Sunday night, Bryan lost another pay-per-view match, and then he was cradled in the arms of Bray Wyatt. He was left lying as Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan posed in the center of the ring.
And that was that.
There was no follow-up, no advancement. Instead, the match happened for the sake of filling out a pay-per-view card.
Worst was the fact that the company once again asked Bryan to play the role of plucky babyface who fights back but who ultimately falls in defeat. It no longer works, and sooner or later, management is going to have to decide if Bryan is one of its elite, main event talents and push him as such or let him settle back into the midcard.
Best: Randy Orton Wins the WWE Heavyweight Championship
Randy Orton's victory over John Cena Sunday night was one of the best booking decisions of the evening because the state of the roster makes it such.
At this point, there are not enough legitimate, main event heels for Cena to have defended the title against should he have won. Alberto Del Rio and Orton are unquestionably the strongest villains, while The Viper has a plethora of babyfaces to defend the title against. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio all are potential No. 1 contenders.
The fact of the matter is that the heel roster is not strong enough to present fresh new matchups, and that is largely the fault of the creative team, which has built up and broke down so many young talents that they are not and may never be perceived to be at the main event level.
Damien Sandow, Jack Swagger, The Miz, Ryback and Wade Barrett are only a few examples.
While what's "best for business" has been debated in storylines for the better part of the last five months, in reality, the answer is "Orton as WWE Heavyweight champion."
For all the wrong reasons.