Call me a curmudgeon, but I’m not thrilled with what the WWE is offering us lately. After enduring Hell in a Cell last weekend, fans are getting another gimmicky pay-per-view — “TLC” — on October 22 in Minneapolis. As you might imagine, “TLC” doesn’t stand for “tender, loving care” in the WWE version, but “tables, ladders, and chairs.” Oh my.
TLC was made popular during the much-revered “Attitude Era” in the late nineties and early aughts. It was a stipulation that was created and mastered by The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, and the Dudleys.
Most wrestling fans remember how epic those early tag-team matches were; they happened in an anything-goes epoch and the WWE roster was full of high-flyers that made it work. But in today’s PG era of wrestling, it’s just weird to see Hell in a Cell and TLC being used as watered-down annual pay-per-views. I’d be all for the WWE changing them to WCW branded events as a nod to the history. But maybe that’s just me.
I understand the business angle of gimmicky pay-per-views — i.e. they sell — but in my humble opinion, the matches just don’t contain the same elements that used to make them special.
The company has tried to combat that by stocking the cards full of interesting (if not Wrestlemania-caliber) matchups like what we recently saw at No Mercy. With Survivor Series on the way, WWE punching up some storylines on both the RAW and SmackDown brands heading into their traditional team-vs-team event on November 19th.
On the RAW side of things, you have the reunion of The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose) who appear to be main eventing this TLC card against The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, and Braun Strowman in a 4-on-3 handicap match. The carnage is going to be epic and I’m curious if this leads into a bigger Survivor Series-type feud.
Also on the card, Alexa Bliss will be defending her RAW women’s title against Mickie James. Both these ladies can put on a good show in the ring, but it will be another woman not involved in the match who will steal the spotlight. Former undefeated NXT Champion and Japanese sensation Asuka will make her WWE RAW debut against sacrificial lamb Emma.
While I’m a little soured on the gimmicky nature of recent WWE events, TLC should at least be a fun night of carefully crafted stunts and big spills, so grab your table, maybe borrow a ladder from your neighbor, and of course that empty folding chair that’s always conveniently laying nearby, and let’s throw down some odds and predictions for the upcoming TLC card.
TLC 2017: ODDS AND PREDICTIONS
NB: card is subject to change; one or two more matches may be added over the next week.
The Shield vs. The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro & Braun Strowman — 4-on-3 Handicap Match
It’s fantastic that The Miz is involved in this match because he can sell this entire storyline better than anyone on the roster. Teaming him up with Cesaro and Sheamus and not the “Miztourage” was a good way to get a couple more quality workers into the mix.
But adding the Monster in Braun Strowman is the real cherry on the top here. It raises the stakes for cruel punishment.
As great as this match could be, there appears to only be one logical winner. Putting the fresh reunion of The Shield over would be the best plan of action and doing so also builds Roman Reigns as a more “likable” character as the WWE pushes him towards a rumored showdown with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania.
But not so fast.
Having The Shield lose could potentially set up a bigger Survivor Series match in November. It’s weird to have the face team at such a disadvantage for no reason other than the WWE wanting to cram Strowman into the main event, and maybe softening a Shield loss a tad?
For now, I’m going to go with the safe bet of putting The Shield over.
Predicted winner (and odds): The Shield (2/3)
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Mickie James — Raw Women’s Championship
This match will be overshadowed by the debut of Asuka and that’s okay because this is an easy match for me to call. Bliss will lose the title soon, but it won’t be to Mickie James.
No offense to James, who gets a well-earned opportunity in the spotlight, but putting the title around her waist at this time doesn’t make sense. The WWE will put the title around the waist of whichever wrestler it wants to see Asuka beat at a major pay-per-view. Bliss has the requisite name-value and a feud between her and Asuka would be a good WWE salvo for the Japanese sensation.
As I’ve written many times in regards to women’s matches, anything goes when it comes to booking. However, for now, I’m going with Bliss retaining.
No stipulation has been added to this match yet, but that could change.
Predicted winner (and odds): Alexa Bliss (7/13)
Asuka vs. Emma
Emma defeated Bayley, Sasha Banks, Dana Brooke, and Alicia Fox in a Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match to earn the right to face Asuka in her main-roster debut at TLC. Not sure how much any of them wanted to win that match.
Asuka will be a huge name in the WWE and the path of destruction she laid in NXT will continue on the RAW brand. So, of course, the lesser-used Emma is merely the first lamb to the slaughter as they build Asuka into an undefeated, Goldberg-like superstar.
This is the easiest prediction on the card. It’s nothing but a squash match.
Predicted winner (and odds): Asuka (1/49)
Kalisto (c) vs. Enzo Amore — Cruiserweight Championship
I love how Kalisto won the title in surprising fashion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they build more heat for Amore by having him beat Kalisto via heel tactics at TLC. It’s a tough one to call, though, so the odds are close to even.
Predicted winner (and odds): Enzo Amore (9/11)
Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt
This match doesn’t have a stipulation as of now, but this is the fourth time these two are going at it and I’m bored. Wyatt recently showed up on RAW in a very weird pre-taped video segment in which he revealed himself as Sister Abigail. He was apparently taken off weekend house shows and both Bray and his brother (Bo Dallas) were missing in action on Monday Night RAW with no real explanation from the WWE.
Not sure what is going to happen now that we have Bray’s alter ego in the mix. But I do know that Balor might be the next one to take on Brock Lesnar in a month or two. So it makes sense to keep Balor strong.
Predicted winner (and odds): Finn Balor (2/3)