Updated Match Card Predictions for WWE TLC 2018 After Final SmackDown
It's the holiday season, so, for most, it's a time for cheer and celebration. However, in the wrestling world, every season is a new opportunity for fighting. For years now, December has been the month for WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs.
This year is no different, as wrestlers will compete in brutal stipulation bouts including tables, ladders, chairs and even all three at once. Sunday's card includes both Raw and SmackDown figures and is packed with clashes between longtime rivals.
From the personal Tables match between Natalya and Ruby Riott to the controversial rivalry between Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio that has become a Chairs match, everyone is ready for a big role on a packed night.
However, no matches stand out quite like the two TLC matches at the event. Braun Strowman and Baron Corbin are set to fight with control of Raw hanging in the balance, but it is hard to tell if The Monster Among Men will even show up.
Meanwhile, in the likely main event, Becky Lynch will fight Charlotte Flair and Asuka in the first-ever women's TLC match, with the winner setting her path to a huge role at next year's WrestleMania 35 as SmackDown women's champion.
For all these matches and more, here are the latest predictions for what will come at WWE TLC 2018.
Mixed Match Challenge Final: R-Truth, Carmella vs. Jinder Mahal, Alicia Fox
Months have built to this clash between the two most worthy mixed tag teams, who managed just two wins in their first eight matches. While there was serious star power in this tournament to start, injuries and bizarre booking left most of it out of the finals.
Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox have never been a great threat, but neither had a match at TLC already booked. They could fit right in here and lose with dignity against a more popular team.
Carmella and R-Truth started out as an oddball pairing, but they have worked well together. Their dance breaks can work in any situation, and they have pulled off an impressive underdog run to this spot in the tournament.
This should be The Fabulous Truth's time to shine. By winning Season 2, they will solidify their alliance for months to come, and both can stop the Royal Rumble match for a few precious seconds at 30 for a huge dance break.
Prediction: The Fabulous Truth
Cruiserweight Champion Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander
205 Live has rarely crossed over to the main roster in recent months, but Buddy Murphy and Mustafa Ali proved at Survivor Series they should. This will be another big test as Cedric Alexander gets one more opportunity in the spotlight.
Murphy and Alexander made a huge impact in their match at WWE Super Show-Down together, and they can be even better. It would not be a shock if they stole the show.
While title changes can never be discounted at major WWE events, it would be surprising if The Juggernaut lost his title anytime soon. He has been a great champion for the developing brand, and nothing would be accomplished by putting the belt back on The Soul of 205 Live.
These two can make an impact together, with the future of the cruiserweight division entirely defined by the current champion.
Tables: Natalya vs. Ruby Riott
Natalya and Ruby Riott have quietly told a solid story together over the past few months, even with their rivalry heavily relying on the passing of Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. Manipulative or not, it is easy to root for The Queen of Harts.
The Riott Squad has berated and humiliated her, and Natalya can now right the wrongs they have committed by taking a victory in a Tables match. It would also be a huge momentum boost going into the new year.
For all her success over the years, Natalya can still use big moments like this to add to her legacy. This is a contest with no titles on the line, but it could still be one of the biggest matches of her career.
While the heels still need to start building momentum, it is much more likely Natalya will be in a defining role going into WrestleMania. This is the time to start building her up rather than letting her fall short in defending her father's honor.
SmackDown Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro vs. The Usos vs. The New Day
This should be an incredible match to watch, even if it has been barely developed to this point. The Usos are on one of the most incredible rolls of any WWE tag team in history, and they are working with two teams in The New Day and The Bar also in top form.
This Triple Threat could easily start the night off hot. There's not a wrestler here who hasn't proved himself worthy of better than he has been getting, with all tag team wrestling feeling underrepresented in WWE.
Sheamus and Cesaro have been great together for so long that it is hard to remember they were once solo stars near title contention. The Celtic Warrior is wearing down, and The Swiss Superman has helped keep him going by protecting him.
The time will come when Cesaro returns to singles work and likely gets a legitimate shot near the top of the card, but it is not coming soon. At this point, SmackDown's tag team division still runs through The Bar.
Prediction: The Bar
Ladder: Bobby Lashley vs. Elias
Few men are being pushed more than Bobby Lashley at the moment, but Elias is not too far down the list. Both are becoming major players on Raw, although Elias has been far more successful with his opportunities.
Despite being hugely popular, though, it is unlikely the iTunes star will be able to take down The All Mighty. Lio Rush and Lashley are being built as an unstoppable force, and their alliance is just too dominant to lose now.
It's a shame because Elias deserves the victory and the moment going into the new year. The problem is he can always make up for a loss by talking. The fans can be sold to forget anytime he fails.
Meanwhile, Lashley doesn't have much going for him. His shtick with Rush is losing fan interest. Other than his clash with Roman Reigns earlier in the year, his matches have been lackluster. He has not been the star WWE needs him to be.
That won't stop the company from pushing him to the moon, though.
Chairs: Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio
Just a few months back, Rey Mysterio returned to WWE, and it felt like he never left. He hasn't had much of a honeymoon phase in this reunion, as his feud with Randy Orton has brought him quickly back down to earth.
Despite not being treated quite like the star he should be, there's no doubt The Master of the 619 is a special talent. He and The Viper have had many great battles together, and this should be no different.
In the end, though, it feels like The Apex Predator is on an important run on SmackDown, built as an unstoppable force who will dominate everyone in his path. He put down Jeff Hardy, who quickly recovered, and Mysterio can do the same.
This will be a brutal testament to The Legend Killer's legacy, with Orton likely adding even more of an insult on top of the injuries he inflicts upon the future Hall of Famer.
Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Balor
Welcome to Drew McIntyre's WWE. The Scottish Psychopath has taken over Raw week by week, with his complete domination of Kurt Angle the most emphatic statement yet. Since returning to the company, he has been on an incredible role.
For all his popularity, Finn Balor has never been as revered or respected as McIntyre is in his current role. This match could be great, but it still feels like a mere warm-up for the Scot, who should have a huge role on the Road to WrestleMania.
There's no doubt the Irishman will bring his all with a rare recent opportunity on pay-per-view. He's one of the best pure workers in the company, with an athleticism that allows him to work well with anyone.
It's a shame that he is just a stepping stone for bigger acts, though. McIntyre needs to make a statement right now, and he will do it at Balor's expense unless he brings out The Demon.
Raw Women's Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax
Ronda Rousey feels like an afterthought on this card.
Her first clash with Nia Jax at Money in the Bank in June was a huge turning point in her career, as she and The Irresistible Force put on a show that established both of them in the division. Since then, they have lost steam.
Jax has gotten major heat backstage and is struggling to keep her standing in the company with multiple lackluster performances. Her alliance with Tamina has not done her much good and is most likely just the fallback story for after she loses.
Meanwhile, The Baddest Woman on the Planet is stalling for time until her real rivals return to the picture. She should be fighting Charlotte Flair right now, but it is good to save that second clash for a bigger event.
This whole match comes off as filler. It is clear Rousey will win: She is the champion, and Jax is hardly the challenger she should be. Hopefully, the two can at least walk out of this feeling as good as they did the first time out.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
Few stories have been more personal than the relationship between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.
From their battles in Florida Championship Wrestling before it became NXT to their time together as The Shield to their two major breakups, these two have been inseparable as friends and foes.
While their recent feud has been inconsistent, few things are more certain in WWE than Ambrose and Rollins working well together. They have incredible chemistry that makes every match between them a spectacle.
This will be a fantastic match that continues to build up both men on the Road to WrestleMania. These two should be heavily featured at the next Showcase of the Immortals, and it begins with the result of this match.
The Architect could be in line to compete against Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship, but he can only do so after losing the intercontinental title. The Lunatic Fringe is the perfect man to take it from him.
Ambrose has had his former friend's number since turning, and he should be able to take that advantage to the next level by ripping away Rollins' prized belt.
WWE Champion Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles
The new Daniel Bryan has been a breath of fresh air, giving new life to one of the best wrestlers in the world. He has been electric and fierce in the ring, utilizing his new persona to change his whole style by returning to his technical roots.
While AJ Styles was a great WWE champion, his time has passed. He comes off fairly secondary next to the emphatic run of The Beard. That won't stop this match from being excellent, though, with both men already showcasing their brilliance on SmackDown.
Following up his incredible clash with Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series, this will be another statement match for Bryan, who can prove once more he is still one of the best performers in all of WWE.
The Phenomenal One will bring his all, but it is no longer his time on SmackDown. A new man has taken his house going into the Road to WrestleMania.
TLC Match: Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin
It is still hard to tell if Braun Strowman will return to action by Sunday. His elbow injury seems too serious for him to be wrestling. However, it is also unlikely Baron Corbin will be walking out with a forfeit while gaining permanent power as Raw general manager.
The options would be either to change the whole card at the last minute to ensure someone beats the red brand's acting GM or have Strowman walk in and smash without much exertion. Either way, The Lone Wolf is going to be returning to a non-authority role.
At this point, the easiest bet is a complete squash. The Monster Among Men has shown before just how quickly he can smash normally competitive opponents, and Corbin is no more threatening than Kevin Owens was to Strowman.
As long as Strowman can hit a running powerslam, he will get his victory on Sunday with little effort and hopefully start healing in time to clash with Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble on January 27.
TLC: SmackDown Women's Champion Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka
Becky Lynch is the biggest star in the entire company. She is popular at a level that does not even seem possible, getting the biggest reactions at shows she's not even appearing on. That makes this TLC Triple Threat easily the biggest match of the night.
However, nothing points to The Irish Lass Kicker retaining her title. WrestleMania 35 needs a main event, and no contest has more potential than Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey. In order to get there, though, both women cannot still be champion.
The best answer would be for Asuka to take the championship. The Empress of Tomorrow has spent the past year since WrestleMania 34 waiting for another real opportunity, and she is ready for the spotlight. She would be perfect to take up Lynch's role on SmackDown.
However, it is far more likely Charlotte will regain her crown. She has held eight women's championships, tying Trish Stratus and The Fabulous Moolah for the most of all time. If she wins on Sunday, she takes first place all for herself.
WWE has always been massively behind Charlotte, who has found her niche again recently. She will likely take the title to a champion vs. champion clash with The Baddest Woman on the Planet at Royal Rumble.
Prediction: Charlotte Flair