I’ll take “Items that can be used as weapons,” Alex.
It’s the annual edition of the Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view, and conspicuously absent from this year’s event are the absolute lack of any sort of tables, ladders or chairs.
But at least we were spared a stairs match this time.
There’s a ton of potential in each of the matches featured on what represents a smaller-than-average card; while there’s only six scheduled tilts for Sunday’s event, one of them features the debut of the most dominant woman in WWE history, another featuring the first matchup between two NJPW legends, and yet another featuring the reunion of the single most dominant stable in WWE history –or, at least it would have, had it not been for meningitis.
And we don’t mean these guys.
After a rough couple of weeks in the WWE due to sickness, a few members of the Raw-ster (roster? Get it?) were forced to pull out of the event; both Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns are being forced out of TLC, and in the case of Roman Reigns robbing the WWE Universe of the reunion of the Shield.
Roman Reigns really can’t do anything right.
However, all is not lost! In a shocking turn of events, it was announced by WWE that Bray Wyatt would be replaced by none other than the Phenomenal AJ Styles, marking the first time that Balor and Styles have faced each other in singles matches, even including their storied New Japan runs. Almost more unbelievably, RAW GENERAL MANAGER KURT ANGLE IS REPLACING ROMAN REIGNS. This marks Angle’s first action in the WWE in over a decade, and it truly is going to be incredible to watch him wrestle again. Oh it’s true, it’s damn true.
In addition to the headlining matches, the RAW Women’s Championship is defended, Kalisto inexplicably continues to get screen time with WWE, and Alica Fox still works for WWE!
Enough of me; let’s get to the action!
Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox (Pre-Show)
Well, not much to say about this one. Alicia Fox is crazy and lost a match to the Boss, and attacked her backstage. A match was setup, no way Banks loses.
Prediction: Sasha Banks
Brian Kendrick & Jack Gallagher vs. Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but a rag-tag group of Cruiserweights will kick off the action for a WWE pay-per-view.
There’s not much to be said about anyone outside of the main event picture in the Cruiserweight division; to sum it all up, Jack Gallagher is a heel now and he’s teamed with former rival Brian Kendrick and now they’re fighting people.
Should be a solid match – aren’t they always? – and will start the show off on a positive note.
Prediction: Alexander and Swann
The Demon Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles
OHMIGOD OHMIGOD OHMIGOD.
The terms “dream match” is completely overused these days, especially in the WWE; however, this match is certainly fitting of the billing.
Balor and Styles represent the best of the best in WWE right now. There’s arguments to be made for other individuals, but for my money, Styles is the best wrestler in World Wrestling Entertainment, with Balor not far behind. Even if this was simply two guys with no history, this would have the potential to be a stupendous match.
But it’s simply not true that they have no history.
AJ Styles just so happens to be the man whom replaced Finn Balor as the leader of the Bullet Club, one of the more popular nWo ripoffs in professional wrestling today. It’s astounding to me that they’ve never met one-on-one; this will mark the pairing’s first singles match against the other, even including their legendary New Japan days.
With little to no build to this story, it’s hard to tell what the WWE is looking to accomplish storyline-wise by pegging AJ Styles as Wyatt’s replacement. However, on a RAW branded show, I can’t see a Smackdown Live superstar winning – and especially against the Demon.
Prediction: Demon Finn Balor
Asuka vs. Emma
After 510 days as the undefeated NXT Women’s champion, Asuka finally makes her official WWE debut at TLC.
Asuka may be the most exciting wrestler on the roster, and I’m confident saying that even prior to her debut on the RAW brand. Just check out the clips below:
Yeah. She’s that good.
Facing Emma in her debut match is also a great decision. While she’s lower on the totem pole of WWE’s women’s division, she’s a terrific wrestler in her own right, and someone who’s faced Asuka before. Their match at NXT Takeover: London was one of Asuka’s best since signing with World Wrestling Entertainment, and it’ll be good for Asuka to get her feet wet against a familiar opponent.
This match? Asuka hasn’t lost yet, and there’s no way she loses her debut.
Cruiserweight Championship Match - Kalisto © vs. Enzo Amore
Let’s all take a moment to remember the (rumoured to be) recently departed Neville.
After an eight month stretch that likely represented one of the best stretches of his career, Neville has reportedly asked for his release from WWE. While nothing official has been released, it represents a huge blow to the Cruiserweight division, and especially when this is the main event that we receive.
Look, nothing against Kalisto as a wrestler, but I’m not sure if there’s anyone on the roster I care less about that him. The little-to-no reaction he received when he initially debuted on 205 live speaks for itself; it was an underwhelming moment for an underwhelming show, and that’s only exacerbated with him as a champion. He’s essentially the opposite of Enzo; a terrific wrestler with absolutely no ability to speak on a microphone whatsoever.
Job badly done.
While I hate to say it, Enzo Amore has consistently been the most entertaining part of the Cruiserweight division since debuting. He’s officially heel, and while still an atrocious wrestler he’s still entertaining enough on the microphone. With his debut has also seen an increase in 205 Live viewership – albeit slight, it’s something that you’ve gotta be sure Vince McMahon and co. notice.
With no other real viable challengers built and Enzo seemingly bringing on a few associates, I think they’ll flip the title back to the Realest Guy in the Room
Prediction: Enzo Amore wins the Cruiserweight Championship
RAW Women’s Championship Match - Alexa Bliss © vs. Mickie James
Well, here’s a match I suppose?
That’s not to say I dislike either lady; I enjoy both, and I’m a huge Alexa Bliss fan. This feud, however, is eerily similar the “Piggy James” feud between James and Lay-Cool in Mickie’s previous run with the WWE – it’s just bad.
Whenever a feud is based on something such as someone’s age, it really doesn’t make for entertaining TV; that’s exactly the case here. Not even Bliss’ skills on the mic can save some of the material she’s been handed in recent weeks.
I hate to say it, but this match is destined for the death slot just before the main event, and I can’t see them making a title change there.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss retains
Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match - Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Kurt Angle vs. The Miz, the Bar, Kane and Braun Strowman
Sierra. Hotel. Intensity. Integrity. Intelligence. Echo. Lima. Delta.
In a PPV featuring the debut of the most dominant women’s wrestler in WWE history, the big story coming out of TLC is the return of the Shield – or at least it would have been, save for a case of meningitis passing through the WWE locker room.
We just can’t have nice things.
With Roman Reigns being forced to pull out of TLC due to illness, the WWE Universe is deprived of the Shield reunion we’ve been clamouring for since Seth Rollins broke them up over three years ago. There’s no two ways about it – this sucks for the fans. However, in having to adjust on the fly, WWE may have made their most interesting decision in years.
For the first time in over a decade, Kurt Angle will be wrestling in a WWE ring as Reigns substitute. It’s a genuinely shocking decision; while Angle had been rumoured to have returned to WWE in order to wrestle in a retirement match down the line, he’d recently mentioned that he hadn’t cleared a WWE physical and didn’t envision returning before the end of the year. With various severe injuries throughout his career, one just hopes that they’ve done due diligence in allowing him to return to the ring.
In saying that, Angle last wrestled in February and hadn’t looked to miss a beat in recent appearances. While he’ll be slower than in his prime, this is Kurt Angle we’re talking about; he’s an all-time great, a WWE Hall of Famer and an Olympic Gold Medallist.
While Angle may be the biggest name returning, he’s not the only major star to make an appearance in the main event.
Or should we say KANE event?! No, no we shouldn’t.
Kane made his triumphant return on the go-home edition of Monday Night Raw, teaming with Braun Strowman to take down Roman Reigns in a steel cage match. The future mayor of Knox County has now joined the team of the Miz, the Bar, and Strowman to take on the Shiiield.
It’s going to be fantastic to watch Kurt Angle in a WWE ring again, and even better when they pick up the victory.
Prediction: Rollins, Ambrose and Angle