Seth Rollins hits CM Punk with an Enzuigiri.
While not quite at the level of the great shows the company was putting on throughout the spring and summer, WWE absolutely broke their streak of bad pay-per-view events tonight with TLC 2013. There were four matches that were no less than very good, and even the match that got "boring" chants, The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston, was technically well-worked.
Overall, the card felt much more like a turning point than recent WWE events. Aside from the Wyatt Family vs. Daniel Bryan, which is clearly continuing (but it's not so clear where they're going), most of the ongoing programs going into the show came to a definitive ending or set up something new.
Most obvious is the big main event storyline that closed the show. Randy Orton won the inaugural WWE World Heavyweight Championship cleanly in the TLC Match main event over John Cena. As expected, it wasn't the stunt show that many TLC matches are, instead being heavy on "only in WWE" storyline moments involving props like handcuffs. Still, it delivered, and Orton got a nice, clean win, which was refreshing given how paranoid some people got about this match.
With no controversy, that presumably makes room for the match hinted at in last Monday's closing segment on Raw: Orton vs. CM Punk at the Royal Rumble.
Even if they hadn't shot the angle, it would be about time for Punk to be back in the main event/title picture. The booking definitely hinted at it, with him getting the most impressive win of his post-title-reign run, a clean win over all three members of The Shield. Punk has been flat for a while, but brawling with Orton and Triple H on Raw, he finally felt fresh. And it carried over, with him looking strong in winning a really good PPV opener over The Shield.
As for The Shield, their eventual split leading to a Roman Reigns babyface push is seemingly a lot closer to happening. Reigns was made to be fairly sympathetic tonight, fighting back against an eye injury suffered when he flew into the announcers' desk. He was also part of the miscommunication that led to the finish, as he accidentally speared Dean Ambrose.
Reigns has absolutely been the breakout star of The Shield, and so far WWE is doing a good job moving the breakup/turn along at a slow pace with subtle angles. Your mileage may vary if it's too soon, though.
While he likely won't get much attention, one wrestler to watch after tonight is Brodus Clay. He's finally, finally a monster heel again, has been abandoned by the Funkadactyls and Sweet T/Tensai, and is presumably no longer a Funkasaurus. The gimmick was initially amusing, but it's well past its expiration date now.
Brodus was really impressive in his original guise as Alberto Del Rio's bodyguard, having surprisingly good matches and looking kind of like a comic book villain. He really never should have turned in the first place, as he was coming along really well. Time will tell if he will be able to overcome having a preliminary comedy gimmick for so long.
While The Miz and Kofi Kingston had what was technically the best match of their feud so far, it was clear that both guys need a long break from being on TV. They're too overexposed at the level they're at, and a heel turn didn't remedy the problems with Miz, who has fallen ridiculously hard after main eventing WrestleMania as WWE Champion less than three years ago.
Something like this would probably be worse for Kofi in the short term, as Miz at least is well-suited for a public relations role like the one David Otunga has. Still, what else can you do with them?
Wanna kvetch about Randy Orton winning? Have suggestions as to what foreign countries WWE can mail Miz and Kofi to? Let us know in the comments.