The John Report: WWE TLC 2014 Preview

tlc2014-preview

John: This Sunday night is WWE Tables, Ladders & Chairs (and Stairs) from Cleveland. There are nine matches on the show including one on the Kickoff Show, so it’s a loaded lineup in the sense that they have more matches announced than usual.

When I look at this lineup I am underwhelmed. We’ve gotten used to no WWE Champion Brock Lesnar on the show although he is expected to wrestle at January’s Royal Rumble, so the streak of PPVs with no WWE Title match ends with this one at three.

What this show tells me is that WWE’s roster is so weak on the heel side when they have two past their prime guys like Big Show and Kane wrestling on a PPV when both should probably think about retiring. Mark Henry’s another guy in the over 40 club that’s a heel, but he’s not a part of the crowd. What happened to WWE’s ability to book heels right? That’s one of their biggest problems right now.

By the way, WWE actually changed this PPV name to Tables, Ladders & Chairs…And Stairs. I’m not going to call it that because it’s stupid. For years they have been referred to as the steel steps, but stairs rhymes with chairs so somebody thought it would be cute to add it. It’s not. It’s dumb. Doesn’t really matter anyway.

Joining me for the preview are Andrew Johnson and Justin Seagull of TJRWrestling.com. Christian Michael was unable to join us this time due to work kicking his ass. The match order isn’t the order that we necessarily think will happen on the show. It’s just a format to use for this preview.

(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)

 

Kickoff Show: The New Day vs. Gold & Stardust

Seagull: It’s pretty alarming to listen to CM Punk’s podcast over the past couple weeks where he talks about WWE being creatively stifling, then hear Vince McMahon talk about the elusive “brass ring” and then they trudge out Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods as this ridiculous gospel-style babyface stable. I don’t really know what was wrong with the three of them as disgruntled heels, because I was curious to see how Kofi would do in that role. Even if they failed, what we’d get is better than what we have now. This is basically a babyface African American version of 3MB. Oh yeah, they win the match this Sunday too.

Winners: The New Day

Andrew: Remember when Big E had a last name, was the NXT Champion, and needed a 5-count to properly pin his opponents to his liking?

Remember when Cody Rhodes was a hot upstart with no downside and the momentum to be one of the biggest stars in the company?

Yeah, I don’t anymore either.

Winners: The New Day

John: It’s smart for WWE to put this “new” group The New Day against a veteran team like Goldust & Stardust. A win by TND over an established team will give them some momentum. They could be the team that takes the tag titles from Miz and Mizdow in the not too distant future. What’s sad about TND is that they are playing to the crowd too much. It’s as if they are begging for approval. Fans cheer winners. Book them strong in matches like this and the fans will support them. It looks like they are tired just from their intro because of how much they are told to play to the crowd.

As for Goldust and Stardust, the clock is ticking on Goldust’s career since he’s in his mid-40s. It wouldn’t shock me if they keep losing week after week leading to Stardust turning on his brother, going back to being heel Cody Rhodes that thinks he’s better than everybody and then possibly having a Goldust retirement match at WrestleMania. Why not? It would be cool to see.

Winners: The New Day

 

Tag Team Titles: The Miz & Damien Mizdow vs. The Usos

Seagull: WWE has the worst comedy writers ever, and true to form, they are taking something genuinely funny, which is Mizdow’s shtick, and beating it into the ground. Thankfully, Sandow is so charismatic and has such excellent timing that he’s actually keeping this thing afloat, and Miz is doing his job well by being so oblivious to how much everybody likes Mizdow and hates him. I just worry when the material goes over the line and starts becoming ridiculous.

My worst case scenario is that the stunt double gets a stunt double (stunt triple?) played by Hornswoggle. What is refreshing, though, is that there’s a sub-storyline involving The Miz and Naomi which is giving this match some extra depth. I say the champs retain.

Winners: The Miz & Damien Mizdow

Andrew: Pretty sure this match will include the following:

1) Jimmy Uso freaking out about his wife having a career of her own

2) Jey Uso screaming OOOS

3) The Miz getting punched in the face repeatedly for trying to be cool to Naomi and help her career

4) Mizdow stealing the motherfucking show.

#4 is a lock.

Winners: Miz and Mizdow

John: This is a comedy match. Miz and Mizdow are comedy wrestlers. The fans don’t really care about the actual match. They just want to chant for Mizdow, boo Miz for being a jerk to him and then react favorably whenever Mizdow does something. It’s a fun act and it’s probably going to lead to a payoff at the Royal Rumble with Mizdow eliminating Miz whether it’s on purpose or an accident. Until then, they’ll probably hold onto the gold.

I’m hoping that Naomi’s involvement in the story will lead to Maryse coming back for Miz, but that’s really just because I miss Maryse. I think the champs retain with Mizdow getting the pin after Naomi comes out to support husband Jimmy Uso, but then ends up costing him the match because Jimmy wants her to stay in the back. WWE sure loves booking couples to have disagreements.

Winners: The Miz & Damien Mizdow

 

Steel Stairs Match: Erick Rowan vs. Big Show

Seagull: Show is a heel again. The countdown to when he turns back babyface starts now. Rowan is still finding his legs as a singles wrestler after more than a year of being carried by superior talents in Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper.

This is one of the two matches where I expect to be flipping over to football to see what’s going on. I have Demarco Murray going in two fantasy football semifinals. Yeah, I know you don’t want to hear about fantasy football in a wrestling pay per view preview, but with the minimal amount of buzz for this match, can you really blame me? Show wins, I guess.

Winner: Big Show

Andrew: This is so fucking stupid. Every time Cole says the show title with that forced struggled sincerity I think of Vince screaming in his ear.

Vince-“Say it”

Cole-“No”

Vince-“Say it now”

Cole-“No, it’s dumb”

Vince-“SAY IT GODDAMMIT”

Cole-“…TABLES LADDERS CHAIRS AND STAIRS”

As for the match, it’s two big hosses throwing steel stairs at each other. I’m sure it’s going to be awesome as hell. I just can’t get past the dumb name. Tables, Ladders, Chairs and Stairs? Jesus Christ.

Winner: Big Show

John: I’m not a big fan of the stipulation. It was as if WWE felt the need to do a stipulation because most of the other matches have one. Now we have to sit through a match where these two big guys are going to fight over who gets to use the “steel” stairs as a weapon. It’s really not that interesting to me.

Since Big Show just turned heel he should probably win just to give him some momentum although I really don’t care either way. It’s cool that management is trying to get Rowan over, but the “big guy that’s smarter than he looks” angle has been done before. It will get old fast. Hopefully this is kept under ten minutes.

Winner: Big Show

 

Divas Title: Nikki Bella vs. AJ Lee

Seagull: Poor Nikki Bella. The intrigue for this match is solely focused on whether or not this is AJ’s last match coming off the heels of her husband basically tearing the company to shreds and then joining up with UFC. AJ’s promo at the Slammy Awards on Monday sure made it seem like she has one foot out the door.

The Divas Title takes a distant second in terms of story. I also really want to know what they’re doing with Brie. The 30-day period of being Nikki’s “bitch” is over. Is Brie a heel now? Did I miss where they bothered to explain it, or do I not care enough? Probably the latter. Nikki retains.

Winner: Nikki Bella

Andrew: I’m so over AJ Lee. I don’t really care for her character work anymore, her in-ring skills seem sloppy and uninspired, and if rumors are to be believed it’s because she’s on her way out. Meanwhile Nikki Bella is the new hotness with a sudden surge of talent on her side, and still has an unresolved feud waiting in the wings. This is a no-brainer.

Winner: Nikki Bella

John: For the past couple of months it has looked like AJ really doesn’t want to be there. Gee, I wonder why? Maybe it’s because her husband hates the company she works for. Yes that is probably it. Don’t you hate people that answer their own questions? Yes you do. I’m sorry. I guess I’m off track, but that’s only because this feud has bored the hell out of me and Brie Bella’s heel turn to join her sister is one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

I’ll pick Nikki to retain although I’d rather see Paige holding the Divas Title while feuding with my favorite Natalya because at least that would have my interest.

Winner: Nikki Bella

 

United States Title: Rusev vs. Jack Swagger

Seagull: It’s official. They’ve run out of people for Rusev to squash and they’re going back to the well with Swagger. Not that it’s a problem; I think Swagger is one of the more underrated talents they have on the roster. I think the U.S. title needs to be absorbed into the Intercontinental Title to give the latter some more prestige, but at least Rusev is defending with some regularity, which is more than I can say for Dean Ambrose when he held it.

It’ll be interesting to see how Swagger holds on his own, because Zeb Colter was a big reason why Swagger got over. I expect Rusev to retain in a cooldown match after one of the big spotfests.

Winner: Rusev

Andrew: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA–

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA–

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA–

Winner: Rusev

John: It’s the easiest prediction of the night. Rusev is not going to drop the US Title to Jack Swagger. It’s a shame that they’ve already run out of guys for Rusev to beat, so they went back to Swagger. At least their matches don’t suck. They know each other so well that they can have a competitive ten minute match with the crowd thinking that maybe Rusev is going to tap out, but then he’ll find a way to get out of it and give Swagger the Accolade leading to the Rusev win. We’ve seen it too many times before. On the plus side, Lana will be there. That’s always a plus.

Winner: Rusev

 

Chairs Match: Ryback vs. Kane

Seagull: I’ve also got Mark Sanchez going on Sunday night, although I also have Tony Romo on my team and am unsure of where to lean. Yep, you guessed it. This is the other match I plan on skipping. One of the unspoken effects of Punk’s podcast is how everybody views Ryback, who was getting a pretty big babyface push the past month. Now he’s being seen as a stupid, green-as-grass oaf who legitimately hurts people. Yes, he’s always been that, but the WWE had done a good job of masking his lesser qualities.

I’m not sure why they’re still pushing Kane. He can still go, but it’s been a long time since he’s been truly relevant. There are a crop of hungry guys and gals down in NXT that could use the exposure. The Big Guy wins.

Winner: Ryback

Andrew: Ryback has a long storied history of HATING FURNITURE so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s in a match where he gets to throw around chairs with the care and grace of a gorilla handling packages marked fragile. Maybe they can add couches and call this TLCSC or whatever.

Winner: Ryback

John: You know how Ryback should be booked? In three minute squash matches where he wins easily. Instead, they put him in boring matches where the crowd loses interest because he’s a below average in-ring performer. Kane is almost 50 and bores the hell out of me. I respect him for what he’s done, but it’s time to move on. Either put him in a tag team or stop putting him in PPV feuds. Ryback should win. I hope it’s less than seven minutes because otherwise it will be really bad.

Winner: Ryback

 

Intercontinental Title Ladder Match: Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler

Seagull: This match should open the show. I’m worried about Ziggler’s health because he’ll probably be expected to bump his ass off the entire match with Harper getting in one truly big bump at the very end. I’m not too fond of the Intercontinental Title (or any title, for that matter) being passed around like a hot potato, but it makes sense to have Ziggler back as the IC champ. The main event babyface scene is too crowded right now with Reigns and Orton coming back, plus Cena and Ambrose already at the top, so Ziggler needs to hold down the upper midcard for a little bit. Plus, it would be boring for all the champions to retain, so a Ziggler win will spice things up. Hopefully he can hold it for a while, and maybe even attempt to unify it with Rusev’s US title.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Andrew: Of all the matches on the card this has the least build, but the most potential to be a show stealer. Ziggler has been on a roll lately and Harper is a hossy mechanic of the highest calibre, and both are creative enough to make this interesting. I’m going in with high hopes.

Before Raw I was going with Ziggler. He was on this crazy upswing where he can pull wins out of his ass, and I thought WWE was finally gonna shit or get off the pot with him. Then Raw happened and he lost to Rollins in the opening match, so now I’m not so sure.

I don’t see the upside of another Ziggler run, but then again I don’t know what the fuck WWE is thinking anymore so why not.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

John: This should be a good match between two guys I like. I think Ziggler has lost some of the momentum he had three weeks ago at Survivor Series because instead of being in a bigger feud, he’s still feuding for the same Intercontinental Title that he’s usually battling for.

Harper’s push makes me happy because he’s a unique talent that has the skills of a smaller man. He’s quick and agile with believable offensive moves. Fans are buying into him as the IC Champ, which is why he should still hold onto the title.

Ziggler lost the IC Title so he can move up, so there’s no reason for him to get it again. The problem with moving up is WWE has done such a crappy job of building up heels that there’s really nobody for Ziggler to feud with aside from Rollins or Wyatt, both of whom might be busy going forward.

I’m going with Harper retaining. I just don’t think it would be smart to take it off Ziggler for a month, then put it back on him and then we’re left wondering if this guy will ever be elevated. No matter who wins, I just hope they get 15-20 minutes because if they do it will be one of the best matches on the show, which is the usual for Ziggler.

Winner: Luke Harper

 

Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt

Seagull: Is it just me or has this feud not really clicked? Maybe I expected too much, or maybe it’s because both of these guys are wacky personalities and need a straight man to work against on the mic. It’s not oil and water mixing; these two guys are oil and oil. Still, their match at Survivor Series was a decent brawl, and with the TLC gimmick thrown on this match, they have the potential to do some crazy things.

This match could go either way, but there are a ton of heels winning so far, so I’ll pick the babyface and take Ambrose.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Andrew: I really wish this feud was stronger. As strong as say the epic feud between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens taking place in NXT for example, which you can read about here.

Cheap plug out of the way, I don’t know about this. I’m sure it’ll be fun, I’m just having a problem caring. And that’s not a good thing when your guys have been feuding for two months and use their PPV matches to set up the next one.

At the end of this match Dean Ambrose will attack Wyatt with a bunch of lower tier WWE Superstars and then throw everyone over the top rope, setting up their match at Royal Rumble.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

John: This could be the best match of the night because the stipulation promises that it will be a violent match, at least by PG WWE standards. I’m not a big fan of TLC matches without something for the guys to climb because then there’s really no use for a ladder. At least when there’s something to climb, it makes sense that a guy would jump off one of them to put a guy through a table. In a match without anything to yank down, what’s the point of the ladder really? That’s just a minor gripe.

I have liked their promos although this feud isn’t as good as Rollins vs. Ambrose was. That Rollins/Ambrose rivalry was special and this one is just okay. With that said, it’s the feud that has the best build on this show and chances are good that they’re going to get 20 minutes for this match, which is great.

I’ve been torn in terms of picking the winner, but if you look at the origins of the feud it started two months ago at Hell in a Cell. Ambrose should get his revenge to win the feud. The problem is that WWE is lacking on the heel side, so a Wyatt win would really help. The next PPV is Royal Rumble, though, so Ambrose winning probably wouldn’t hurt Wyatt since they’re both likely to be tossed into that Rumble match.

I’m going with an Ambrose win although it’s far from a lock. Make sure you watch this one because it should be really good.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

 

Tables Match: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins

(If Cena loses, then he is no longer the #1 contender to the WWE Title.)

Seagull: I don’t like stipulations that make things too obvious. It’s obvious that Cena is winning this. It would be more interesting if it was Cena’s #1 contendership vs. Rollins’ Money in the Bank briefcase, because then the outcome will be a bit in doubt.

Cena’s record in Tables matches isn’t really that good actually. He’s lost clean (if you can call a tables match clean) to Sheamus and R-Truth. I don’t think it happens here. Cena vs. Lesnar III at the Rumble, and hopefully that’ll put an end to Cena going for the belt.

Winner: John Cena

Andrew: It’s easy to just say LOL CENA WINS FUCK YOU, but I’m hesitant. Cena doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to tables matches, mostly because it’s a way for him to lose without saying he lost, and WWE eats that kind of shit up. It would be a good way to get Cena away from Brock at the Rumble so that he can move toward his feud with Rusev (it’s gonna happen, Rusev was born for Cena jobs) without incident.

Of course that finish creates more questions than WWE can usually handle, but I’m thinking it’s the likely option.

Winner: SETH Rol-

HAHA JUST KIDDING CENA WINS FUCK YOU LOL

John: Cena’s going to win. Anything other than that would be a legitimate surprise to me just because of the stipulation that is in place. It’s just like Survivor Series last month when they put in an awful stipulation that ruined the result of the match. WWE wants to put in a stipulation to make the match more enticing to the viewer, but they suck at putting in good stipulations that make sense. It’s very frustrating as a viewer.

I don’t agree with people saying they should have had Rollins put his Money in the Bank briefcase on the line. I’m glad they didn’t. It’s not a title. It shouldn’t have to be defended. I know WWE has done that in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s a smart move. Seth Rollins is an awesome performer that gets better every time he’s out there and I’m looking forward to him cashing in the briefcase whenever he does.

Table matches do nothing for me. I think putting a guy through a table is not that appealing for a match as a finish. They don’t feel like a big deal when we’ve seen so many wrestlers put through tables several times every month. It’s just not as visually appealing as WWE thinks it is.

I think what’s going to happen is Cena’s going to be dominant for much of it, then Joey Mercury & Jamie Noble are going to interfere a lot to help Rollins. Cena might even put them through tables to neutralize them. Something will happen to make it look like Rollins is about to win the match when Randy Orton makes his return after being gone for over a month and goes after Rollins. The announcers could play it up as a shock that Orton is there to help Cena although he’s really there to get after Rollins. Cena puts Rollins through the table and wins.

This should be good because of the time given, but it’s really hard to have a great Tables match when the wrestlers are so limited with what they can do.

Cena wins and keeps his number one contender status to face Lesnar at Royal Rumble. The build starts the next night on Raw.

Winner: John Cena

 

Final Thoughts

John: The three best matches will probably be Ambrose/Wyatt, Harper/Ziggler and Cena/Rollins as long as they get 15 minutes or more. If that happens then this will be a good show. The other matches just don’t have as much potential in terms of really stealing the show. My concern is that there just won’t be enough buzz about the show. Maybe Orton comes back. That’s really it as far as something big happening.

I’ll be posting my review of TLC by 12pmET on Monday. I’ll be watching the NFL game, so I’ll see the PPV either late Sunday night or early Monday AM. There will be a full recap of everything that happened with the results and analysis of everything on the show.

Follow us on Twitter at the following places.

Andrew – @TheAEJohnson

Seagull – @PocketSeagull

John – @johnreport

If you want to send an email, send it to me at mrjohncanton@gmail.com as well. Thanks for reading.