TLC is this Sunday, but to be quite honest, are people actually excited for it?
These past several weeks leading up to the pay-per-view have been…less than stellar, to say the least. Thanks to some questionable creative choices, not only has the hype for TLC been all but destroyed, RAW has also seen record-low ratings for the last two shows.
Speaking of WWE’s “flagship show”, let’s start with RAW’s TLC matches and see where their build-ups went wrong—and in some parts, right.
I’d like to begin with the match that, on paper, seemed like one of the best on the entire card: Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship. We’ve seen plenty of battles between these two over the years, so I’m sure everyone was expecting more of the same once Ambrose turned on his former Shield brother.
But what did we get? Instead of an unhinged, unpredictable heel Ambrose, we got a germaphobe who literally got shots to avoid getting sick because of the crowd. Yeah, you read that right: The Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose, doesn’t want to contract anything from the WWE Universe
This completely killed the feud in my eyes. While I admit Ambrose is taking what he’s being given and running with it, it still doesn’t make this any better. WWE put together a great rivalry with these two back in 2014-2015, so why are they all of a sudden incapable of doing it now?
Next, we move on to General Manager-Elect, Baron Corbin, and his cronies. Corbin is set to face Braun Strowman in a TLC match, where if the former wins, he becomes the full-time general manager of RAW—much to everyone’s dismay. If Strowman wins, he receives a Universal Championship match at Royal Rumble, while Corbin is stripped of all authoritative power.
There’s just one little problem: Strowman just had elbow surgery not too long ago, and no one seems to know if he will be ready for this Sunday or not. Since then, Corbin has been boasting about how he’ll win by forfeit and continue to rule RAW how he sees fit. Too bad no one seems to care anymore.
Corbin’s time as GM has been kind of basic; he favors the heels and punishes the faces for not conforming to the status quo, nothing we haven’t seen before. To top it all off, Strowman’s injury has made this build-up nonexistent. Regardless if he’s able to compete or not, I just don’t want Corbin to win.
Then there’s the GM’s henchmen, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre, who are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While Lashley has been feuding with Elias and not really doing much else—and just now got a match at TLC, because why not—McIntyre has been one of the best things going for RAW for a while now. Finn Balor has been a thorn in the Scottish Psychopath’s side, so it made sense for these two to clash on Sunday.
Now let’s look at the action in the RAW women’s division, starting with Ruby Riott vs. Natalya in a tables match. The Riott Squad aren’t strangers to creating a little mayhem, and Natayla has been an easy target for them for months. Once her father, Jim Neidhart, passed away, it was only a matter of time before WWE felt the need to use it in a storyline.
This build has been average; Riott has done the best she can, but Nattie’s emotions are all over the place. Riott unveiled a special table with Neidhart’s picture on it this past week, and instead of Nattie becoming enraged and attacking her opponent, she just stood in the ring with a dumbstruck look on her face.
I understand that getting personal creates heat, but sometimes WWE overdoes things and fans become so numb to it. However, they will never shy away from going there, just ask Roman Reigns.
Then we come to the RAW Women’s Championship match, where Ronda Rousey puts her title on the line against Nia Jax. What should be a high-profile bout seems lackluster now because of some odd segments between the two.
First off, this whole feud seems wrong because of what Jax did to Becky Lynch last month. It gives off a feeling of WWE rewarding her with a title shot for the sake of generating heat. Yeah, she won the battle royal at Evolution, but that still doesn’t mean she should get off scot-free for legitimately injuring one of the biggest stars in the company.
To make matters worse, both Jax and Rousey were given promo-heavy segments, which wouldn’t be a problem if they both were decent at cutting them. Jax has talked about the same thing week after week after week, “I’m the Facebreaker, and I’m going to take this fist that broke Becky Lynch’s face and do the same thing to Ronda Rousey, etc., etc.” It got old real quick, and Rousey didn’t do much to make things better. Let’s hope The Baddest Woman on the Planet makes short work of Jax and we can all just move on from this mess.
Now let’s move on to SmackDown Live, starting with Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton in everyone’s favorite stipulation: a chairs match! Orton has tormented the masked luchador for weeks now, bruising his trachea with chairs and going so far as to ripping off his trademark mask. The Viper then went on to say that he didn’t understand why Mysterio agreed to the match, as if he thought he was going to win. It isn’t the best feud going into the pay-per-view, but it isn’t the worst either.
Up next is the tag teams, with SmackDown Tag Team Champions, The Bar, putting their titles on the line against The New Day and The Usos in a triple threat match. This build hasn’t been too bad—besides that iffy rap battle—but it also hasn’t shined. We know how good all of these teams can be, so it should be a decent match on Sunday.
Next is the WWE Championship match, with Daniel Bryan defending against AJ Styles. This feud is actually been pretty good; Bryan is that annoying hippie that you want to punch in the face, and gives fans all the more reason to root for Styles. Keep an eye out for this match, as it’s sure to be one of the best.
We finally make our way to perhaps the match with the best build-up on the card: Becky Lynch vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair in the first ever women’s triple threat TLC match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. This was originally supposed to be another Lynch & Flair rematch, but the rest of the SmackDown women’s division took exception.
Thus, General Manager, Paige, created a battle royal to determine a third competitor for the match. Asuka emerged victorious, and here we now are. The Empress of Tomorrow is starting to feel like a legitimate threat again, and adds an interesting element to what was already going to be a great contest.
All three women have done a great job of making fans care about this match and get excited for it, which is what the entire card should have done. This one could easily steal the show and quite possibly be match of the night.
Will TLC be a decent pay-per-view? Or did most of the build-ups doom it from the start? We’ll have to wait until Sunday night in San Jose to find out.