Heath Slater, Rhyno vs. Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton: WWE TLC Match Preview and Pick

Tom Clark@tomclarkbrFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2016

Credit: WWE.com

If Heath Slater and Rhyno are the unlikeliest duo in WWE, then Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton are a close second.

But now the odd couples have a big match coming at WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs on Sunday when they compete for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. It's been a puzzling situation for some, mostly because no one could have predicted this would become an actual showdown.

There seems to be no other reason to book this match other than to give the revamped Wyatt Family something to do.

But therein lies the key to why the contest is likely going to happen in the first place. This is not about the coveted tag team titles. It's also not about Slater and Rhyno, who have done an admirable job of getting over with fans despite their unusual pairing.

This is about Orton and his inevitable betrayal of Wyatt.

Fans knew this was a possibility from the beginning. In fact, it may have seemed like a foregone conclusion. After all, why would Orton decide to suddenly change his mindset and team with the man who had been trying to psychologically destroy him for so long?

The answer was simple—it was all a sham.

Orton likely never had any intention of joining forces with The Wyatt Family for an extended period of time. This was his opportunity to gain Wyatt's confidence, get access to the inner circle and then pull the plug on the partnership when it suited him.

The only way to beat a villain like Wyatt is to play the game on his terms, and that's what Orton was doing.

But the more they appeared together, the better they looked. The odd combination suddenly didn't seem that odd anymore, as the two men began to work well together. Fans who had likely believed it was all a ploy on Orton's part perhaps began to feel it wasn't.

Was this what WWE wanted for Orton?

An Orton-Wyatt team doesn't seem that far-fetched, as their gimmicks are similar. Orton's role as The Viper takes him to dark places, and he does a great job of portraying the sinister snake in the grass. He can't be trusted because he only has his best interests at heart, and he only cares about himself.

Perhaps the voices in his head are his own.

Wyatt is the epitome of the self-serving, charismatic cult leader. He preaches about family, but his true motives are known only to him. He cares more about saving himself than saving anyone else, and he hides behind his position as prophet the entire time.

Maybe the two men are not so different after all.

But in the midst of a probable Orton turn at TLC, Slater and Rhyno are going strong as the tag champs. On a brand that features the established Usos and upstart American Alpha, there seems to be no good reason why the belts are on a manufactured tag team. 

Slater and Rhyno are over, and they're entertaining, but is that enough?

If the purpose was to keep The Usos and American Alpha from the championships so that the tag team roster could be deeper, then the titles may not change hands. But if the company feels the time has come to make a change, then there could be new tag champs at TLC.

The issue becomes how much time WWE wants to invest into The Wyatt Family storyline.

If Orton is indeed going to turn his back on Wyatt, then the thought may be to prolong that moment as much as possible. That means there will either be new tag team champions crowned at TLC, thanks to Orton, or Luke Harper will take the blame for The Wyatt Family losing.

Orton is a master psychologist and has been playing Harper against Wyatt.

The Viper may cause Harper to lose his spot in The Wyatt Family at TLC. Choosing his newest protegee over his longtime disciple will draw Wyatt even closer to Orton, which means Orton would have succeeded in his quest to destroy the family from the inside out.

The fact is that Slater and Rhyno should retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championships at TLC. There's more drama in The Wyatt Family losing due to Harper's intervention, and that leaves the door open for the story to continue.

Slater and Rhyno can keep the championships, and Orton and Wyatt will eventually go to war.


Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online here