12/8 Wrestlezone Recap: WWE PPV Buyrates Are In, Matt Hardy Hits the “Finish Line” in Pro Wrestling, PWG Matt Rushmore Review Plus New Features, WWE/Impact Wrestling Discussion & We Answer Your Questions
The Authority storyline has been in effect for months now, and they still struggle to draw heat. Randy Orton's reactions are still split in half, depending on how many women are in attendance. It's no wonder why the very image of Stephanie McMahon doesn't inspire hate – she's not evil, just condescending. When was the last time a bad guy got over by being sarcastic? So far, The Authority has refused to get their hands dirty, and crowds are reacting accordingly.
CM Punk has been booked in a 3-on-1 handicap match at TLC, against Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. Daniel Bryan is in a similar situation, as he'll battle the entire Wyatt Family at the same PPV. I'm not convinced these matches stay as planned. How many fans will really pay to see their heroes decimated like that; there's got to be at least some hope for the underdog. Two possible outcomes I see if the matches stand as they are: 1) Bryan and/or Punk get beaten down mercilessly to draw big heat for the up-and-comers, or 2) two heel factions vital to the future of the WWE suffer ridiculous and unbelievable losses. There's still time to change this up, and a curve ball could certainly be thrown at TLC, but they're going to have to work to sell me on these feuds. Punk and Ambrose took the first step towards that on Smackdown with a highly entertaining two-segment match I recommend checking out.
Big E Langston's first Intercontinental challenger has emerged in Damien Sandow, after winning a solid match against Dolph Ziggler on Monday Night Raw. Big E joined the commentary team who, to their credit, did a great job talking about the history of the belt. Sandow is a former Money in the Bank winner, so I see WWE's logic in getting him back into a title picture so soon after losing to John Cena, but Dolph Ziggler would have posed a much more interesting story. There's time for that, assuming Langston retains at TLC; a WrestleMania match between the two former partners could be a great midcard selling point.
Randy Orton's frustration with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon continues to grow, further separating him from the dichotomy that would make a TLC match with John Cena interesting. Drawing empathy towards Orton is the very last thing WWE should be doing to grow a top heel. Even worse, the fringe fans that normally hate John Cena aren't going to be swayed when the villain across the ring from him is at odds with The Authority. What happened to bad guys and good guys in pro wrestling? Some say the fans don't buy into them anymore; I just don't think WWE is giving them a reason to.
I've heard some chatter on social media about Xavier Woods' WWE debut, and the midcard feud that is currently developing across Raw and Smackdown. It's mostly negative, as a lot of fans don't want anything to do with family friendly characters like Brodus Clay. I find Clay's recent streak of aggression compelling. Beyond that, it's nice to see a new talent being featured without pushing him too far, too fast.
Sin Cara got possibly the upset of the year on Raw by pinning former WWE Champion Alberto del Rio. No such luck for ADR regular Kofi Kingston on Smackdown. This happens every six months or so, where del Rio suffers a series of crippling losses, then needs to regain his steam by running through meaningless opponents. Probably the biggest piece of news here is that the original Sin Cara wasn't under the mask; Hunico's arm tattoo gave that one away. You have to assume del Rio will get his rematch on Raw this coming week, and Rey Mysterio seems the likely hero to make the save after an obligatory post-match attack.
WWE seems to have forgotten that The Miz had a straight-to-television movie coming out this holiday season, as they pulled back the reigns on an already painstakingly slow heel turn. This week, in an especially heinous move, The Miz…slapped Kofi in the face. That's right. At least he wasn't shilling WWE merch like Los Matadores, or giving “bad news” to the fans like Wade Barrett; proof that no matter how bad your place in the company may seem, life can always get worse.
It looks like the Divas Championship will actually be on the line at TLC as there's a nice program between AJ Lee and Natalya brewing. I wouldn't be surprised if that conflict comes to a head on Raw this week, when one of them wins the Diva of the Year Slammy award, and the other feels slighted. It's so refreshing to get away from Total Divas as a means of telling stories on WWE television. Nothing against the hit E! Network show, there just hasn't been enough consistency between the Total Divas and the “real Divas” over the months to put anything meaningful together. There's an obvious story there to be told, but not surprisingly, it isn't coming close to compelling. All that aside, AJ and Nattie should do great work on PPV if they're given the necessary time.