Just days after putting on one of the best wrestling’s shows of the year, WWE followed up with TLC, one of the many gimmick PPVs in their calender. It was another card which looked strong on paper, even if it did include a ‘Stairs Match’, which is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard.
However, this PPV ended up showing exactly why gimmick shows don’t work. In the opening match of the night, Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper put on a fantastic ladder match, they put their bodies on the line and the crowd were into it. At the end of the night, Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose put on a good TLC match, put their bodies on the line even more and the crowd sounded like they couldn’t care less. Why? Because, over the couple of hours in between, they had seen a whole host of men put their bodies on the line, they were jaded by it.
Hardcore wrestling can be great, some of my favourite matches of all time involve cages and ladders, yet it also needs to be used right. Does anyone really feel like Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose need the brutality of TLC to sort out their feud? Even more so, does anyone actually want to see Eric Rowan and Big Show hit each other with steps> It’s not needed and it devalues these matches for when they do make sense.
TLC also showed some of the problems with WWE’s current booking policy. As much as I enjoyed the IC title match, it was one of the prime examples. Luke Harper only won the title off Ziggler a month or so ago and has been booked as a bit of a monster. Yet, when push comes to shove, he drops it back to him on PPV. Where does Harper go from here? Does he go back after the IC title? Does he feud with Eric Rowan? Does he vanish into the midcard> Ziggler also doesn’t benefit from this. If he had only recently been called up to the roster and had battled to get the IC title, this would have been a huge moment. Instead, this is one of the many times he has won it and it doesn’t feel special. Ziggler should be on course for the biggest push of his career, yet I can’t help but feel this is WWE’s idea of the pinnacle.
Elsewhere, Big Show came out of his one millionth heel turn and beat Eric Rowan. Now I love Show, he is one of WWE’s go to reliable guys, but he is not relevant in 2014. The audience care little for him apart from as a special attraction and heating him up at this point in his career makes little sense. Rowan on the other hand, is breaking out of a faction as a babyface who can get it done in the ring, he should be red-hot. Yet, defeats like this point towards the fact that he actually can’t get it down in the ring. So why should we care?
There was some pros to this PPV. As I said, Harper and Ziggler put on a great match. Both of those guys could be huge. Reigns showed that bit of star power when interrupting the Cena Rollins match, as the crowd popped big for him. Although he then seemed awkward in his backstage promo, why don’t they pre-tape those? Wyatt and Ambrose also continued to be great character wrestlers. Even if an exploding TV is one of the dumber finished WWE has come up with recently. It’s a real shame this feud has so far been a bit hit and miss, as I believe it could be one of the central programs in WWE for a long time to come. On paper they compliment each other, I just wonder if they have been given the writing to do so in real life.
TLC is the last stop before we get on the road to Wrestlemania and it did nothing to convince me that was a road I wanted to join. Of course, I still will, but I am not excited for it. I am actually more worried. The main roster has once again been out shined by the developmental system and if you are one of the top brass in WWE right now, that has got to be something that makes you question what you are doing.