I don’t understand why WWE are consistently producing brilliant build-ups to pay-per-views and failing to deliver on the hype. I mean, I see it coming. I just don’t know why they do it. The card for TLC is starting to look mildly appealing, but it’s way below par still. A lot of the guys could and should be involved in much better things. Meanwhile, the free television shows are mostly good and often great. It builds a lot of anticipation for the pay-per-view (which is the desired effect) but I’m starting to enjoy these shows more than the paid ones. That’s a dangerous tightrope to walk, when it comes to securing buys. Let’s see how this week’s episode did.
Hour One: CM Punk opened up the show with some microphone barbs for The Authority from the ring. Stephanie McMahon came out to the ramp and invited out Kane. The Shield subsequently surrounded the ring, but were called off by Steph. She demanded that Punk be “respected” and “admired”. Kane thought he should also be “challenged” and announced a 3-on-1 handicap match between the involved parties at TLC. I guess on paper this is great, but I want more for Punk. This was an interesting start though.
Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow began the physical competition in a number one contender match, with the winner getting a chance to fight for the Intercontinental Championship at the pay-per-view. Big E Langston joined the announcers. Sandow got the win and a slight improvement in fortune. WWE continued to do a good job promoting the unification match with stats, facts and history. It’s a boring match on paper, but they are doing their utmost to hype it up good. Tamina, AJ Lee and Summer Rae took on The Bellas and Natalya in what turned out to be a very good six diva tag team match. AJ skipped around the ring for most of the match, which made the otherwise dead crowd chant “AJ’s crazy!”. Natalya rolled up AJ for a big win in the end. There was a lot of impressive work here from these ladies. Credit where it’s due!
We got to see the debut of an awesome new “#BadNewsBarrett” segment, in which he delivered patronising bad news to the crowd. It’s not exactly a main event spot, but at least our Wade is back on TV and making me laugh. Randy Orton told Brad Maddox to deliver a message to The Authority, ordering them to recognize him as the best superstar of all time and “bigger than the WWE”. Daniel Bryan took on Erick Rowan in a singles match.
JBL was on top form throughout the entire broadcast, cracking wise, at one point describing William Shakespeare as a “goof” and saying that Bryan would be a “great Wyatt”. Bryan picked up the hard fought win, and everything went dark. Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen and cut a promo trying to convince him to join the family. If that wasn’t enough, he was then greeted in the corridor by his former friend Kane, who informed him that he will be joining Punk in having a 3-on-1 handicap match at TLC, his match being against The Wyatts.
Hour Two: Brodus Clay and Tensai took on R-Truth and Xavier Woods. Michael Cole described Brodus Clay as being “like a Victoria’s Secret model going down a runway” which the others were rightfully, and hilariously, flabbergasted by. The announce team for this match were just incredibly funny. Team Woods got another win and a Brodus Clay heel turn looks imminent. Sin Cara made a rare appearance, sporting a cool new tattoo. Things seem to be on the up for the guy after he performed a very good, botch free match and got a huge shock win over Alberto Del Rio.
John Cena did a really good job in his backstage interview with Renee, making the TLC unification match seem like a really big deal. The Shield cut a short but sweet promo on CM Punk, before heading to the ring for six man tag action against Big Show and The Rhodes Brothers. The commentators were again on top form here, constantly funny and entertaining. I’d say this was probably the best announcing for Raw since the days of Jim Ross. The Shield are so hot on tag psychology, such a throwback. It’s a joy to watch! They had another typically long, show-stealing match. Rollins got the roll-up win on Goldust after a festival of excellent high spots concluded the match.
Hour Three: CM Punk was with Renee backstage to “address” The Shield. He was Jericho-esque with his “I feel pretty” song, when asked about the handicap match. He finished off all serious, declaring “I’m going down. The question is, how many of The Shield am I going to take with me?”. Then we saw more of Bad News Barrett. The Miz and Kofi Kingston were back together to face Ryback and Curtis Axel. The bully pinned Kingston after an uneventful match. The Miz slapped his partner in the face to tease the heel turn again.
Mark Henry took on Fandango. It was mostly a squash for the big man, with a bit of resistance from the ballroom dancer. He danced at Summer Rae who was on the outside, which got the crowd chanting “Sexual Chocolate!”. He let out a little smile. We were re-shown the whole train-wreck vomit thing from Smackdown with Titus O’Neill. He and Young took on The Real Americans in what turned out to be the main event, ahead of the contract signing at the end of the show. I hope Cesaro and Swagger are pals in real life, because they look so happy working together. The sure-to-be future World Champion Cesaro won the match with a mean uppercut on Young.
Then after much anticipation, the contract signing was upon us. Before it got started, Lawler announced the results of the app poll asking the “universe” what they thought the new Champion should be called. They went with “The Unified Champion”. I think that’s awful, but oh well. Triple H and Stephanie came down to the ring, and The Game joined Lawler in conveniently forgetting the existence of Chris Jericho and the Undisputed Championship, in an attempt to make the Cena and Orton match seem historic. He reeled off all of the famous, iconic champions who have held both belts. It’s an impressive list, but this is not the first time a unification match has happened, ever. It was great when Stephanie kept saying “and Triple H” at the end of the lists. The two of them are so good at this kinda stuff.
Randy Orton and John Cena got to speak. Orton touched a nerve when he said that he is better than every single one of the names listed, including Triple H. This sparked a really great back-and-forth between he and Cena, which boiled over into a very heated confrontation and eventually a brawl. John Cena put over Orton so well in this promo, and on the whole, it was just great. I’ll admit it. They are starting to actually make me want to see this match. I know it’s happening. I’m trying to fight it, but it’s hard!
They brawled inside and outside of the ring, and you can guess the instruments of violence they used on each other: tables, ladders and chairs. It all concluded with Cena putting Orton straight through a table in the ring with the AA, and holding both the belts high above his head.
As always, I will explain my rating. It may seem like an astronomically high one, and maybe I’m just being too optimistic. But I have to say, it was a very entertaining show. From the matches to the segments, I was entertained from start to finish. It seems like a part of another great run of build-up shows, which will eventually end with a let down. TLC has consistently been a good show over the past few years, and the theme of the pay-per-view doesn’t hurt. Nonetheless, I’m not overcome with anticipation for two handicap matches and a rivalry I’ve seen a dozen times. That’s how good this show was. It made me stop caring about that stuff. It made me somehow excited about the pay-per-view.
Thanks for reading,