WWE TLC 2011: Can the Booking Team Come to the Creative Team's Rescue Again?
Last year when I analyzed Pay-Per-Views (PPVs) and build-ups, my major critique was that PPVs suffered from bad build-ups due to the lackadaisical writing of WWE's creative team.
While this year displayed a vast improvement in the PPV department, closing out the year with the WWE proved that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Only this past week did the writers finally decide to mention the fact that the matches were finally booked for WWE's Tables, Ladders, and Chairs PPV to be aired on the second Sunday of December.
I blame the extremely late set-up of the card for the lack of time the creative team actually had to promote and build up the PPV.
With events such as the Slammies and a Smackdown that became the live Mick Foley version of A Charlie Brown Christmas featuring Hornswoggle, I believe foolishness is what prevented a proper building up of a PPV. This PPV had the potential to draw a plethora of fans.
On top of that, John Cena is not involved in any match. While most of the Internet wrestling community acknowledges this by saying the WWE is finally giving Cena a rest and giving the other stars a chance to shine, I refuse to accept that as an excuse.
At this point, the writers are stuck on what to do with Cena's character, especially with the Rock gone again and over half the fan base hating him now more than ever. They still don't want to pull a character change in order to freshen him up, so they have been toying with him back and forth for the past few weeks while forgetting that a PPV is drawing near.
They will probably find something for Cena to do come Sunday night though—I'm sure of it.
However, the card does have solid and interesting match-ups going. Let's take a look at what we should expect from the last PPV of the year.
Mark Henry (c) vs. Big Show
I'll be honest. It's time for this feud to end.
Year after year, Smackdown constantly suffers from a shallow main event pool that causes them to rely on older superstars to take the spotlight.
Big Show, after another hiatus, has returned to seek revenge and inflict more damage on Mark Henry, the current World Heavyweight Champion.
My main problem with this feud is that it has dragged on long enough, with Big Show making sporadic appearances and gains here and there. And unlike a lot of the IWC, I'm just not into Mark Henry. I believe there's a good reason it took him 15 years to finally win a big title.
In addition, their last match in the Survivor Series was not all that great to me. The crowd did get into it here and there, especially when Big Show got on the top rope, but it was a slow battle between two typical, big older men.
There is no chance the Big Show will win the title though. WWE seems to be set on Mark Henry having a good, lengthy novelty reign like they gave Kane last year.
Winner: Mark Henry. But I predict another same ole, same ole match.
Triple H vs. Kevin Nash
Another matchup that I'm not sold on, but I do trust that Triple H will try his very best to get a decent in-ring bout out of Kevin Nash.
This feud has suffered from uncertain writing and booking coupled with poor timing and setbacks. I remember the news that Kevin Nash had first failed his physical, which in all honestly doesn't shock me. Clearly judging by the little ring work he has had, Kevin Nash isn't in the best shape to wrestle.
Quite frankly, I'm pretty worried Triple H will get seriously hurt. One of the main reasons people thought Triple H's injury was real was because the night before, Triple H had to sell a badly-botched powerbomb from Nash.
Coupled with Nash's ring work are his god-awful promo skills. Though in all honesty, Nash to me hasn't been able to cut a decent promo since his last days in the WWF as Diesel. Even in the WCW, I thought Nash was the weakest link out of the NWO in terms of entertainment and mic skills.
I trust that the sledgehammer will be the tool used to keep the crowd alive during this bout, with Triple H at its handle.
Word backstage is that Triple H hasn't been proud of how this feud has been built up, so I think Triple H will try his very best to put on a good hardcore-style matchup in order to make up for things.
Unfortunately , Nash may not do the same.
Winner: Triple H. I trust that he will make this match worth watching.
Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Zack Ryder
Now here is where things get more interesting.
Dolph Ziggler (the current United States Champion) and Zack Ryder are at the forefront of the rising young talent pool in the WWE. Ziggler in particular has worked double-duty in several PPVs because people are high on his skills and potential.
Zack Ryder is the epitome of what self-promotion can do for somebody. When the Creative Team doesn't have any eggs boiled for you, you just have to go and boil them yourself.
While neither of them are my cup of tea, I give them both credit. The feud is also one of the few feuds that has actually been built up for a good amount of time.
I predict that Dolph Ziggler will come out victorious. As popular as Zack Ryder has been, I noticed he still isn't being built up as a credible ring performer. The fact that he got his title shot because John Cena helped him win a match (pretty much doing the work for him) speaks volumes to me. Also, keep in mind that his partnership with Hugh Jackman helped him beat Dolph Ziggler a few months ago.
I still have a feeling WWE doesn't quite take Ryder seriously enough to make him a champion yet.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Cody Rhodes (c) vs. Booker T
Cody Rhodes is another young superstar who is climbing up the ranks. After finally getting rid of his mask, Rhodes is ready to make a name for himself.
Booker T has been assigned the task of helping Cody Rhodes look credible. While this is an odd matchup, unlike Nash, Booker T is actually interesting on the mic and is in better shape to perform a solid match.
My only issue is that I somewhat wish Cody Rhodes could face a young and rising superstar to feud with him for the Intercontinental title.
But again, this to me speaks to Smackdown not having much depth with its roster. Ezekiel Jackson has been demoted back to WWE Superstars, and the likes of Jinder Mahal and Ted Dibiase Jr. are barely worth anybody's time.
I predict that this will be another solid match up, but Cody Rhodes still needs to work on his charisma (in the ring and out).
Winner: Cody Rhodes
Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett
My favorite match on the card is Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett.
For the past few months, Randy Orton has proven why he is one of the top guys in the business. I remember when the IWC was jumping down Orton's throat during the Christian feud, but he has shut his detractors up since then. His match with David Otunga on the live Smackdown episode was one of the only good things about that show.
Wade Barrett is another guy who has won over his critics. He's finally showing that he is superstar material on his own. He is a big guy who can pull off a damn good match. To me, he is one of the few men of his size who has credible charisma in the ring.
In addition, this has been one of the better build-ups on this card. Since the Survivor Series, Wade Barret has been getting the better of Orton. Barrett, all on his own, has built himself up as a credible threat to The Viper.
However, I predict that Orton will come out on top in this match. Barrett has been getting most of the wins in the majority of the feud, so now it's time for Orton to return the favor.
Winner: Randy Orton
CM Punk (c) vs. The Miz vs. Alberto Del Rio
Last but not least, CM Punk will be defending his WWE title in a Triple Threat match against The Miz and Alberto Del Rio.
For one, I'm surprised that the WWE is actually letting Del Rio have another chance at the main event, though I have a strong feeling it will be his last one. Del Rio has somewhat become the heel-version of Cena.
His character has grown stale very fast with predictable promos and poor booking. He barely has half the heat he did earlier this year.
But again, I blame more of that on the writers. These days, the writers feel the need to push young superstars fast while condensing their characters in the process. This especially holds true for heels, which is why I caution Dolph Ziggler enthusiasts to be careful with rallying Dolph for the main event scene so soon.
The Miz is another talent who has suffered from this same problem. With Awesome Truth broken up, they've decided to put him back in the main event scene.
CM Punk has been his usual self in this feud, but he hasn't had much material to work with besides another pointless contract-signing (not enough opportunities for "pimpbombs" to be dropped so to speak).
I predict that CM Punk will retain the title. If I were the bookers, I would keep the title on Punk as long as possible. They've got to build Miz back up again as a singles competitor, and they need to send Del Rio back to the mid-card and reboot his character.
Winner: CM Punk
All in all, I expect an average/decent PPV. As far as the creative team is concerned, they just realized that there was a PPV coming up last Monday, but I believe good matches and booking will have to bail them out again as far as fans caring about this event is concerned.
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Also check out my other articles in my profile! If you are an old or new wrestling fan, definitely check out my series analyzing the WWE after the Attitude Era.
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