So, after an incredibly solid start to 2013 and an excellent streak of post-WrestleMania content, did WWE end this year with a whimper or a bang? Well, if "A" equals "bang" and "F" equals "whimper", by all your votes WWE's annual TLC pay-per-view was more an awkward squawk. Like the sound I'd imagine a rooster making if I hit it with my car.
Sometimes I make jokes.
TLC wasn't terrible, nor was it great. Who knew minimal story-telling, lackluster build and a less than interesting fall season could produce such an underwhelming show? I'm guessing the 100,000 people that didn't buy Survivor Series last month had a clue. The 60% of you who graded TLC as average or below probably had a clue. WWE definitely had a clue, since they shotgunned a unfication match into existence in less than a month.
While the votes for best match were surprisingly split, I thought Randy Orton and John Cena walked away with the show. While not better than the 6-man TLC match at least year's PPV, these guys had a lot of heart, and they made it look like the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was worth fighting over. Even with little-to-no build Orton and Cena managed to pull together something entertaining, and probably the only match of the night I'd consider going back to watch again. The spots were solid – despite Cena failing to go through a table – and there was a nice spread of all the various hardware available at ringside, and then some. I really got a kick out of the handcuff spot, and seeing Cena fight up a ladder with the ring holding him back. It was a creative and fresh story-telling device that brought a lot of raw emotions to the closing minutes of the match; Cena's desperation was palpable.
The tag title 4-way match was decent, but I thought it suffered from a few segments that stretched on too long. There also wasn't a lot of personal animosity between anybody in the ring. If anything, the champions had more reason to hate Big Show – a fellow babyface – more than the Real Americans or the Paul Heyman rejects. It's nice to see so many different teams working a lengthy match on PPV, but it could have easily been better with more than two days notice and some tension between the competitors.
Despite my skepticism, CM Punk pulled off a really intriguing win over all three members of The Shield. People were calling the Roman Reigns accidental spear left and right from the moment he injured his eye – which looked almost legitimate, for what it's worth – but often the simpler, more predictable route is ultimate better. Out-smarting three guys into giving up their numbers advantage gave Punk that much needed sliver of hope that the fans needed to engage in this match. Excellent work from everyone involved.
While Daniel Bryan's handicap match didn't go quite as well for him, I thought he put up a decent showing and the crowd remained invested in him. Quite simply, the match just wasn't as good as Punk-Shield. Bray Wyatt is must-see entertainment whenever he's on my television screen. Still, I'm not sure how excited I am to see this rivalry continue post-TLC. The good news is, it's going to be Royal Rumble season soon, adn WWE books all the mini-feuds they possibly can to give the big 30-man match some extra drama.
The rest of the TLC card was just forgettable. Miz-Kingston and Clay-Woods are two lower concern feuds that I like watching on TV, but I definitely didn't pay to see their matches. AJ Lee and Natalya had a pretty decent Divas match that was, at the very least, better than Fandango's pre-show "victory". If WWE insists on having pre-show matches, at least have the decency to let me watch them, rather then take ad breaks for 90% of the action. And as always, Big E. Langston continues to impress. His matches aren't quite "must see" yet at this point, but he is dominant, and his name value increases with every win. The crowd is really getting behind him.
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