The first thing that needs to be said about this PPV is that it has the potential to be a stand-out for the year. Any PPV featuring this sort of carnage with (mostly) intriguing storylines does, and I think the booking is mostly conducive to a great night with these stipulations. For a while it seemed like the card was getting added to all the time, but after the Mysterio-Del Rio match being essentially merged with the Kane-Edge match, there are only six. There is leeway to book a further Daniel Bryan-Ted DiBiase match, but i’m not convinced they will do so, hopefully to give more time to the other matches; also another ladder match, for instance, could start to detract from the others.
Match 1) Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Dolph Ziggler (c) vs Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger
The most impressive aspects of Smackdown of late has been Dolph Ziggler’s Intercontinental Championship reign and the resurgences of Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger. Kofi has already created many special moments in ladder matches over his young career, and has a unique style which lends itself to excellence in this environment. WWE will be looking to him primarily to set the tone for this PPV. Another story is Swagger’s success in ladder matches (i.e. MITB) and if he can magnify his size and power with a ladder, then I think he could play his part in a great match. Ziggler is really the wildcard here. I’m unsure as to how innovative he will be, though the run he’s on, I wouldn’t be surprised if he created some gasps too. Ultimately, I see Ziggler holding the championship. He is on a great run right now and I don’t see a way of him moving to the main event during Wrestlemania season. Kingston and Swagger has only scratched the surface of a compelling feud, and will cancel each other out.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler
Match 2) Tables Match: Natalya & Beth Phoenix vs LayCool
If this match isn’t treated like a carnivalesque parody of a ‘normal’ tables match, which i’m confident it wont be, then I am very excited about what it means for the divas division. Though Nattie and Beth are the right and obvious winners, I don’t think it should be a squash. LayCool are talented and will need to show that to really sell this progressive move for WWE divas in to the realm of extreme, so to speak. They are definitely calculating and aggressive enough. The faces will eventually win though, possibly setting up a dream Natalya vs Beth Phoenix ‘friendly rivalry’ type feud for Wrestlemania season. The way I see it is that after beating LayCool, there will be no #1 contender, and Nattie will happily, as a competitor, allow Beth her shot, and so on from there.
Winners: Natalya & Beth Phoenix
Match 3) Ladder Match for #1 Contendership to the WWE Championship: Sheamus vs John Morrison
This could easily steal the show in my opinion. Now that Morrison has stopped trying to mock Sheamus (which he fundamentally can’t succeed at), the build-up has become interesting and intense. When they were brawling on RAW, they succeeded in making it seem like ther is genuine bad blood there, and this being their ‘rubber match,’ has a lot riding on it, especially as it’s to become #1 contender. Sheamus seem to have all the credentials for the win: former champion, king of the ring, main eventer etc, but I think there will be a shock, and John Morrison will win. HHH is due back imminently to feud with Sheamus, and Sheamus being #1 contender would mean at least another month of feuding with either Miz or Orton, or both. Indeed, I thin, ironically, to help Sheamus seem strong, HHH might return and cost Sheamus the match. This doesn’t mean Morrison will go on to become WWE champion – that would be a big mistake, but it’ll essentially be a try-out for that level. As for the match itself – Morrison needs to have the best match of his career. As I say, I think it’s a legitimate try-out for the main event level, and if he doesn’t pull out all the stops, he might flunk it. He has a good history of performances in ladder matches however (that moonsault while holding a ladder at Wrestlemania being a particular highlight) while Sheamus could get medieval (as some say) on Morriosn with the weaponry.
Winner: John Morrison
Match 4) World Heavyweight Championship TLC Match: Kane (c) vs Edge vs Rey Mysterio vs Alberto Del Rio
Up until this week, neither of these feuds had me particularly excited; Edge was repeating the same prank on Kane week after week while Del Rio and Rey were being non-specifically antagonistic towards each other. Combining the two in to one TLC match, however, has been a stroke of genius. Obviously Edge has become almost undisputed king of the match he pioneered with five others, but Rey Mysterio and especially Del Rio should have a lot to offer in this match. As for Kane, his rampage was exciting, and given the fate of his beloved father, makes sense. His rage has become relevant again. Most people seem to think Edge will take the title tonight, and for credible reasons, but to me, it almost seems a little pointless. I personally believe that while Edge has been on top of Kane of late, all this has been a way to justify Kane returning to dominance, something the fatal four way booking helps in that it allows for more victims while stopping Edge from looking weak. I think Kane’s run will last until Wrestlemania. It’s at that point, Edge would have been a good challenger, and with Big Zeke joining the blue brand, perhaps there is another face for Kane to take on before dropping the title …
Match 5) Chairs Match: John Cena vs Wade Barrett
Ah, the much maligned chairs match! I understand the criticism, but I think it is defensible. The TLC PPV was created, rightly, to not just have TLC matches, but also Tables and Ladder matches, so it seems odd to miss off the chair aspect. Also, as long as the stipulation is that you can only use chairs, then it can develop it’s own conventions. Now, the Cena debacle (i.e. being fired but appearing on RAW until he was rehired only 2/3 weeks later) has killed a lot of the heat that was inherent to this feud up until Survivor Series. What it needs is some sort of twist. At this point, a Cena heel-turn is no longer really feasible. There is a good chance Otunga could turn against Nexus, but that’s hardly headline stuff. So, it’s difficult to see where this will come from: maybe a new member(s), maybe even grow the seed of the Kane/higher poewr idea which saw Nexus help bury Undertaker? It’s difficult to tell, and it’s difficult to predict the outcome of the match. Barrett, of course, is the final man on Cena’s hit list, giving reasoning for his win. But if he does win, what then for Nexus? Well, presumably they’d have Cena out of their hair, which by now would be a good thing (unless they found a way to recreate the tension of the Hell in a Cell to Survivor Series period), it would also allow a Jericho to take Cena’s reigns as it were and return as a face to take on Nexus (Barrett being a man he, in some ways, created), but that seems like a long-shot too. However, in the face of all this unpredictability, which is obviously a good thing, i’m going to go with that fantasy scenario. So, with the help of the locker-rook and potentially David Otunga …
Winner: John Cena
Match 6) WWE Championship Tables Match: The Miz (c) vs Randy Orton
Though it’s not the technical match in which he actually won his first WWE Championship, this is undoubtedly the biggest match of Miz’s career to date. He is a main eventer by virtue of his title, but now he has to prove his worth at the main event. I’ve noticed Orton incorporating a couple of moves that are advantageous in a tables match lately – the powerbomb and the Angle slam, while Miz’s moveset is pretty bare of table breaking moves. That, however, is the only slither of reason behind an Orton victory. I would be very surprised to see WWE’s newest top heel and champion go down three weeks later. I know this books a controversial Miz-Morrison match at Royal Rumble (in that, usually you would expect an established top star in that match), but Miz is so over now and his history with Morrison is compelling enough to make it credible I think. Miz will have help, from Riley and maybe others, but he will win.
Winner: The Miz