If I were still into hip hop music, Iíd be tempted to begin this column with some Eminem inspired quotes. Thankfully however I kicked that habit back in eight grade and have been a proud supporter of punk rock and the Scorpions song ďRock You Like a HurricaneĒ ever since. Seriously, on a scale from epic to LUGER WON THE TITLE, how great is that song? The only thing better is the fact that mizfan and I just spent the last day putting together this wrestling column and our top five greatest bad movie actors of all time! For those wondering, the rapscallion listed Tommy Wiseau in all five spots with William Shatner getting an honorable mention (ďheís either the greatest bad movie actor ever or the worst great actor everĒ), while I listed Wiseau, Nicolas Cage, Freddie Prince Jr, Casper Van Dien and Casper Van Dien again. When you make Starship Troopers, you get on the list twice.
An acting GAWD!
But enough about the art of poor filmmaking, we have a preview column to put out! Yes kids, TLC is tonight and after spending a month nuking all the good work they built up from August through October, WWE has managed to get back on some sort of track thanks to a title unification match and a RAW finale that wouldíve put tears in the eyes of Michael Bay. And since I foolishly forgot to get an intro from mizfan here, we are just going to jump right in. So greetings followers and mizfans, letís get to work.
A Flicker Vertigo: TLC Preview
Pre Show Match
Fandango vs. Dolph Ziggler
What to Expect: The pizza guy at my door while I donít watch this match. He better have a Sprite with him! Iím sure the match will be solid and all, but frankly I think the WWE couldíve done a better job here with the pre show match, especially with built in feuds like Kofi vs. The Miz and Brodus Clay vs. Xaiver Woods hanging around. I wouldíve preferred either of those matches, even if they didnít have the potential a Zigger-Fandango had. Plus, more Brodus right now is good for my health. More Main Event Playa please!
You know, I've always hated Johnny Curtis, and I maintain that this whole Fandango thing is a marginally interesting concept wasted on an inferior performer, but I will say this: he's not a horrible wrestler. The match should, at the very least, be solid enough. Never let it be said I wasn't fair to the man! I do think it's awfully sad to see Ziggler in this position though, I distinctly remember you telling me earlier this summer than Ziggles' depush was all a work and we were sure to see him back on top soon. Sadly this seems to not be the case, and he's once again been condemned to midcard hell (or even lower!). Some good action, but with a depressing undertone if you bother to think about it.
Winner: Ziggler takes it, and goes back to relishing that John Cena brought him up on RAW this past Monday. The Rumble cannot get here fast enough for Mr. Ziggles.
If Ziggler loses this one, he's in way, way more trouble than any of us thought. Fortunately I don't think it's quite that bad yet, Dolph is the clear favorite in this placeholder match.
Four Way Match for the Tag Team Championships
The Rhodes (c) vs. The Real Americans vs. Axelback vs. Mysterishow
What to Expect: First of all, can you even remember the last time WWE had a tag division deep enough to field a match like this? After several years and failed starts on the Triple H Make A Wish To Restart The Tag Division train, we have finally arrived at a pretty good place. You can expect a lot of fast paced action and psychologically sound wrestling, and also Ryback will be there. The people to watch the most closely are both of the Rhodes boys, particularly the miraculously rejuvenated Goldust, and of course the utterly fantastic Antonio Cesaro as they are likely to contrive to steal the show between them. As for team Has Been and team Never Will Be, they will do a fine job making up the numbers but in the end will only be bodies to fill some time between the best parts of the action.
No comment on my Mysterishow name I gave to the old timers?! Thatís some of my best work there! That rivals Duchovnyís Oscar caliber performance in Evolution dammit! Getting back on track, Iím sure youíll be surprised to hear that I actually like this Axelback team. Itís actually the perfect function for Ryback right now after his career went the way of The Wicker Man, and anything that keeps the smiling washcloth known as Curtis Axel on my screen is a total winner. They have a place in WWE as a team, unlike the thrown together unit of Mysterishow. The only gripes I have about this match, which I think could be excellent, is that I donít quite understand why the WWE didnít make it a ladder match and didnít include The Usos. This match was begging for both, and instead got neither. Perhaps the WWE was afraid of it overshadowing the main event?
Winner: Doesn't make a lick of sense to take the belts off the Rhodes, who may lack any kind of story whatsoever these days but have you heard those Goldust chants? Dude is gonna sneak up on Daniel Bryan if they're not careful, and I don't mean in a "Seven" sort of way.
Ha, Seven. Am I the only one who thought that gimmick was the equivalent of Shatner actually playing Michael Myers? Great stuff. Completely with you on the result here as the Rhodes have at least till the Rumble till they start to implode. As for Goldustís popularity, I wouldnít be surprised at all if the WWE actually did give him at least one World title shot in the near future, especially since they can use it to perhaps jumpstart a Rhodes feud.
Divas Championship Match
AJ Lee (c) vs. Natalya
What to Expect: Finally, a little bit of daylight for the Divas division! While I certainly wonít say that this storyline has been King Lear, itís at least been far more serviceable than the past few months when the WWE hilariously failed to get the Bellas over. At least now they seem to be trying that somewhat away from the Divas title. Best of all, the match should be pretty good too as both AJ and Natalya have proven capable performers in the past. My question to you mizfan is will they be given the ample amount of time to deliver a good performance, and can this match actually surpass AJ-Kaitlyn from Payback as the best Divas match of the year?
Cult, last time you brought up the Divas division to me I went on an arson related rant and quite possibly set fire to my kitchen. I maintain the division is basically unsalvageable in it's current state, and I most certainly maintain that AJ is rather overrated these days, but I'll admit if there was a women's match in WWE I might consider watching this would probably be it. The problem is as much as I like Nattie in the ring, I just can't really find any reason outside of it to care about her. Anyway, I expect them to clock in well under 10 minutes so it likely won't matter, and AJ/Kaitlyn be damned the 2013 bar for women was set miles higher over in TNA by Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell.
Winner: Part of me wants to see Natalya win and have a tearful celebration while the Houston crowd boos mercifully at her. Anything that continues to show how stupid the WWE is in keeping the Total Divas face and AJ a heel is a winner in my book. Alas, I think the WWE remains on the smart end here and has AJ retain. Theyíve gone this long that they might as well wait till Wrestlemania in order for The Geek Goddess to get whatís coming to her.
AJ is still a heel? Really? Ah, whatever. She'll retain anyway, Nattie just ain't a sports entertainer.
Intercontinental Championship Match
Big E. Langston (c) vs. Damien Sandow
What to Expect: I don't care if Maverick wants to call me a Negative Nancy again, I just can't get around the fact that I don't care at all about Big E Langston. Now please don't get me wrong here, we're not talking Curtis Axel levels here where I become physically unable to care. I'm just saying I don't care now. He still hasn't shown me anything to make me care about him. He seems to be all muscle without a good knowledge of how to show off his power effectively, which he should probably ask Cesaro about, and while he's shown a couple flashes of personality he doesn't seem to know how to make it come across consistently. Also, his hair and wrestling gear are both still really stupid. HOWEVER, I am a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge nerd for Damien Sandow and I believe his fantastic character work will be more than enough to make this a fun contest to watch. Expect a lot of wonderfully heel antics from Sandow as he plays off the generic big man.
I love Big E., and I honestly have no idea why. I donít think heís quite over yet to be considered for the heights some are saying heíll reach, but I can see why he appeals to the WWE and I am always interested in what heís doing. Ditto for Sandow, and hence why I think WWE has done a solid job building up this match. It wonít heal all the wounds the IC title has suffered over the years, but itís a nice procedural before the major surgery. You know, as long as Derek Sheppard isnít performing it; seriously, would you buy this guy as a doctor?
Winner: As much as I love Damien, I can't see him picking up the IC strap so soon after they slapped it on muscley Carlton Banks. Big E is coming out the winner.
Has to be Big E., but I wouldnít be surprised if they extend the program a bit to the Rumble, creating the first actual feud for the Intercontinental Title since the Sega Dreamcast. I know the reports have said that Mark Henry will take on Langston, but I can see WWE holding off on that till Mania, which seems to be a better fit anyway for that match.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family
What to Expect: Let me just say that I get why the WWE chose to book both Bryan and Punk in handicap matches for this PPV. Yes, its lazy booking and yes Iíd much rather see Bryan and Punk doing something a bit more exciting right now. But with bigger fish to fry this month and the Royal Rumble only just around the corner, I donít blame the WWE for letting both guys linger in the background for a bit before going back into the limelight. That said, thereís really only three things about this match that intrigue me; how long Bryan will last for, how loud the crowd will be for Bryan and will the WWE be stupid enough to ignore the reaction he got this Monday that some of my friends have said was louder than any Steve Austin pop. Hyperbole galore mizfan. Although to be fair, I havenít heard a crowd that loud since the Cubs won the World Series in a dream I had.
I may be assaulted by our readers again, but I have to say I find this kind of booking to be awfully weak sauce. Handicap matches are rarely fun, especially when one side is stuck with only one man. It's all prolonged beatdowns and waiting for the inevitable hope spots, which usually stretch believability even when done well. It's wrestling shorthand to show a guy has the odds stacked against them, and it's the laziest way to accomplish that. It never helps anyone either, either the single guy loses which is the obvious outcome, or even worse he wins and a whole team is made to look foolish. Eh, my gripe with the premise aside I expect this to be at least marginally entertaining. I still believe Bryan is the best in ring performer they've got, and I expect he can pull something solid out of this mess. The real question is whether WWE will change their game plan based on the crowd reaction this past Sunday...
Winner: One of the stables is going to lose a handicap match this Sunday; spoiler alert, it wonít be the Wyatts. Theyíll win this match here, although I wouldnít be surprised if it were by disqualification as Bryan resorts to whatever it takes just to survive. Either way, I see Bryan standing tall after the match, regardless of the outcome.
Gotta agree again, the Wyatts are the clear favorites here. Got to keep Bryan down to continue building for his final vindication, right? Hopefully they don't wait too long...
CM Punk vs. The Shield
What to Expect: All the same complaints I listed above apply here as well, but I won't dwell on it. At the very least we do have the added benefit of the Shield's dissension to consider here, which adds a wrinkle and a possibly not-horrible out to find a solution to the winner of the match. I'm still not personally sold on Roman Reigns as the next great performer, beyond his truly excellent spear he has yet to stand out much to me, but as a unit the Shield is far greater than the sum of their parts. Expect this to be the more entertaining of the two handicap matches, Bryan or no.
You bring up a very good point about Reigns; I like the guy and I think he has a great future, but Iím increasingly puzzled as to why heís been anointed the future star of WWE when heís only the third best guy on The Shield. Ambrose to me is clearly the best (he has CM Punk potential and then some) and Rollins has impressed me much more than I ever thought he would. Again, I think itíll be a moot point as all three will likely be World Champions one day, but Reigns as of right now is still the George to Ambroseís Paul and Rollinsí Lennon.
As for the match itself, I think itís a tad more intriguing than Bryan-Wyatts simply because of Punkís recent involvement with The Authority. Anytime Punk is taking on the evil empire is always a cause to take notice, and I expect no different here.
Winner: Gotta think Punk ekes out the win after a little confusion over in Shield land, right? Could mean some very interesting things for him if he wins, though I honestly hate the idea of the Shield losing and the large side of a handicap match.
Iíll agree for now, but I must admit mizfan that Iím starting to believe WWE may be throwing us off, especially since itís now being said this match will be an elimination match. It wouldnít surprise me at all now if Punk has a great showing only to lose by a Reigns spear while Bryan is the one to overcome everything and defeat the Wyatts. I havenít seen this much unpredictability since the Cubs started the offseason. Oh wait, that was completely predictable. DAMN YOU THEO!
TLC Match to crown an Undisputed WWE Champion
John Cena (WHC) vs. Randy Orton (WWE)
What to Expect: First off, congratulations to the WWE for actually giving us this match here instead of at Wrestlemania; at the very least, the WWE was able to realize that Cena-Orton there wouldíve been a disaster from a fans standpoint and that a unification bout wouldnít have been a huge draw at an event that is itself a draw. For that reason alone, I was somewhat excited for this match. Now following the epic ending to RAW this past week, I canít wait to see it. Forget about the match quality here, which will range from good to potentially great in my opinion; the real question is how will the WWE end it? Will they give us the lazily booked ďeach man grabs a beltĒ finish? Will someone else come in and steal the belts, setting up something bigger for the Royal Rumble? Will it end clean, ironically now the most shocking ending WWE could give? For my money, I see only three ways it can end; Orton retains with the help of The Authority, Cena finally turns heel and sides with The Authority, or Triple H takes the belts for himself. How are you feeling on this one mizfan?
Pheeeeeeew, what not to expect? I think we can at least rule out the bullshit "both men take a belt" scenario after so much emphasis has been placed on there being a single winner. So that lazy ass option is off the table! But what will we see? Probably a bucket full of interference, but who it will benefit remains to be seen. A lot of possibilities are hovering around this match, without a doubt.
Winner: I am very, very tempted to say that Triple H will somehow walk away with both belts and I wouldnít be surprised if it happened at all. But I canít escape the fact that Triple H doing so would pretty much make Randy Orton useless; if Triple H is champion, that pretty much leaves Orton to plummet right back down the card and I just donít see that happening. Therefore mizfan, there will be no conspiracy finish here; Orton will grab both belts with the help of The Authority after they tease betraying him for Cena. Thatís my story and I am sticking to it.
I hate to agree again, but great minds must think alike. As interesting as a surprise Triple H win could be, I just can't see him wrestling the full duties of a champion at this point in his career. Expect to see Orton come out on top when the dust settles, leaving Cena free to pursue some long overdue business with the Undertaker sooner rather than later...
There you have it kids. Hope you enjoyed it, and hope you enjoy TLC tonight. Iíll be back next week to American Motion Sickness business, while mizfan Iím sure will have something excellent in store for you as well. Till then, donít forget to tip your waitress, stock up on that Pepsi and Sprite and remember itís never too late to ask for The X-Files 3 for Christmas.
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