Mt. Killamanjaro: WWE’s 2011 TLC PPV Preview

Mike Killam

WWE's end of the year pay-per-view TLC is significant in quite a few ways. Not only does it mark the end of 2011, thereby ushering in a brand new Road to WrestleMania come January, but it may also be the first time in 44 consecutive PPV's that John Cena does not appear. Late in 2010 was the last time Cena went without a PPV match, however he was still the heavy focus of the Raw product, nearing the end of the Nexus angle, and worked as Guest Referee during that event. And the reason that Cena was out 44 PPV's ago..? You guess it: injury. Since returning to win the Royal Rumble, Cena has not been off a WWE PPV, and that is significant in my opinion. 

Some speculate that he will show up and involve himself in Ryder's United States title match, while others believe Cena when he says he'll be watching the show on PPV. The most intriguing thought is that this may very well be WWE's way of testing the waters with a non-Cena event. If they are still able to maintain buys and keep the crowd hot, it may be a great indicator of things to come in the future. Certainly we'll see Cena (ha…get it?) wrestling heading into Mania, but if they know they can rely on CM Punk, Orton, Miz, Barrett, Kane, Mark Henry, etc. to bring in the bacon, they have all the room in the world to turn Cena heel. 

But enough about the things that WON'T happen at TLC…let's get to the action that IS most definitely fast approaching! 

Intercontinental Championship – Cody Rhodes vs. Booker T
Here's what I really hope DOES NOT happen tonight: Booker T wins the championship, makes a huge deal of returning to the ring, only to drop the belt to Cody on tomorrow night's Raw or Friday's Smackdown. That does nothing to put over Rhodes, a future main eventer, and only achieves a meaningless victory for a former World champ. Booker has had his time, Cody needs to pull out the victory here. 

What I think would be incredibly interesting, is if they somehow tied in Cody's potential feud with Goldust tonight. Booker has a lot of history with The Bizarre One, and the fact that he's Cody's sibling could make for a compelling transition. Regardless, the champion needs to retain and keep his title reign going strong heading into WrestleMania. I can't imagine an outcome with Booker winning that would be good for everyone involved. 

United States Championship – Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder
In the last month Dolph Ziggler has managed to pull some of the greatest matches of the year, one of which was with the current reigning WWE Champion. At the same time, and with a lot of help from John Cena, Zack Ryder has taken a giant step towards being a credible mid-card champion. I still don't quite "get" him, nor do I think he's an exceptional talent on the mic (or in the ring), but the emotion displayed last week, as well as the crowd reaction sold me on this match. 

The masses have been chanting for a Ziggler loss, catapulting him into the main event with his mid-card baggage removed. Don't get your hopes up too soon kids… Ziggler is a main event star, no doubt about it. But the WrestleMania main event card is filling up fast, and unless he wins the Royal Rumble and moves on over to Smackdown (Bryan v Ziggler v Henry?) I would say his push to greatness is due post-Mania. Don't give up hope though…Ziggler is a natural talent, and he deserves a slow, natural build. 

Tables Match – Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton
This is why, in my book, Randy Orton is a very under-rated Superstar. He gets all the hate from the same people whining about Cena being in every main event, but what most don't realize is that Orton hasn't been nearly the focus Cena has while on Smackdown. He's helped Christian, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes, and likely Wade Barrett reach new levels on their quest to the main event. With Henry as champion, Orton has had time to fill that upper mid-card role and give it a lot of credibility. In this way, Smackdown has been able to put out two main event quality matches on nearly every PPV in the last few months! 

I like the dichotomy of Orton and Barrett, and if they are serious about pushing the Barrett Barrage to the top, Orton should probably not leave TLC with his arm raised. I won't rule out him winning the match, but Barrett needs to look strong going into 2012 no matter what they do. 

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