Powell's WWE TLC Hit List: Randy Orton beats John Cena to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion, WWE Tag Team Championship four-way, C.M. Punk and Daniel Bryan handicap matches
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to the 71-minute WWE TLC audio review that Chris Shore and I recorded last night. They will be listening to my WWE Raw audio review later tonight. Join us on the ad-free version of the website by signing up for membership now via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
WWE TLC Hits
Randy Orton vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship: It was refreshing to see a clean finish to a pay-per-view match. Cena's character can't even complain about the handcuffs since he duct taped Batista and Ryback to the bottom rope in the past two win matches. The wrestlers worked hard without taking crazy bumps aside from the accidental bump that Cena took at the end of the match. That spot hurt the finish because they didn't have the big spectacle bump of Cena crashing through the table, but it didn't ruin the match by any means. One of the problems I sensed is that the majority of the fans didn't seem to have a favorite in the match. Cena received his usual mixed reaction, but the fans who booed him didn't seem to be rooting for Orton. WWE tried hard to give this a big match feel. It felt bigger than the recent pay-per-view main events, but it didn't feel as big as a unification match should.
Goldust and Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show and Rey Mysterio vs. The Real Americans vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback for the WWE Tag Team Championship: The best match of the night, which shouldn't surprise anyone since it involved the reliable duo of Goldust and Cody. I was pleasantly surprised that the match came down to the tag champs facing fellow babyfaces Show and Mysterio. The intensity really picked up at that point and the live crowd bought into the near falls. As much as I would like to see Goldust face Cody at a WrestleMania, I hope they hold off on that until WrestleMania 31. These guys are doing too good of a job as tag champions to break them up now, plus their singles match would mean more if they held off. This was the best Mysterio has looked since he returned to the ring, and he and Cody always work well together. I was surprised that we didn't at least see a tease for Antonio Cesaro performing the Cesaro Swing on Big Show.
C.M. Punk vs. The Shield in a handicap match: The better of the two handicap matches. The live crowd was hot for the pay-per-view opener, and everyone involved played their parts well. It was laid out nicely with Reigns at ringside. I expected him to return and put Punk away with the spear, so Punk avoiding it and Reigns spearing Dean Ambrose instead to set up the win for Punk was a cool moment. I assume this all plays into the eventual breakup of The Shield even though there didn't seem to be much friction amongst the faction afterward. Still, I am curious to see how this plays out on Raw tonight.
Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family in a handicap match: I assumed Bryan was losing his handicap match once Punk went over, yet I couldn't rule out the possibility of a quirky finish with Wyatt sacrificing one of his minions with the goal of coaxing Bryan to join him. Thus, the outcome wasn't totally predictable despite Punk's early win. Wyatt has done so little in the ring since joining the main roster that it felt like a moment when he checked into the match. The crab walk is phenomenal and the live crowd's "that was freaky" chant was great. The ongoing issue with the Wyatt Family is that WWE hasn't put real heat on them. They feel like an attraction rather than a collection of heels. Of course, that could change if they continue to work with the most popular wrestler in the company.
A.J. Lee vs. Natalya: The Michelle Beadle drama really helped the match. My guard was up for a punishment title change, and Lee acknowledging the number of days she's been champion during a promo and then kissing the title belt before the match had me wondering if she was going to lose the match. The in-ring work was better than the last time they worked together on pay-per-view. I also liked the way Natalya sold the loss afterward and I hope they follow up on that rather than going right back to business as usual with a bunch of Total Divas vs. Non-Total Divas silliness on tonight's Raw.
Overall show: I gave the show a C-plus grade. It was really an average show, but I gave it the "plus" because WWE didn't deliver a screwy main event finish. Yes, it's come to that. This isn't a show that you need to go out of your way to see if you passed on watching live, but the advertised matches were mostly adequate to good. The show was dragged down by the bonus matches. It didn't help that the popular Bryan lost his match right after those two flat bonus matches. It may have been the right move creatively, but the crowd really needed a boost at that point in the show. By the way, Vince McMahon's appearance at the end of the pre-show was a nice last minute hook for the pay-per-view, but his actual role on the show was totally uneventful.
WWE TLC Misses
The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston: I really liked the brief angle on the Kickoff show. The pre-game show usually has a predictable formula, so it was nice to see something out of the ordinary. However, the actual match was flat and the fans haven't been given enough incentive to dislike Miz. The No DQ stipulation was worthless. It seemed like it was added only so Miz could remove the turnbuckle pad in front of the referee. I really want to like this mid-card feud, but it's been executed so poorly from a creative standpoint that it feels meaningless.
Brodus Clay vs. R-Truth: I was excited about Brodus Clay abandoning the played out Funkasaurus act until this match. The verbal exchange between Clay and Tensai was really weak and Clay came off like a dopey undercard guy rather than a monster who doesn't give a damn about anyone or anything. The fans had no reason to care about this match and reacted accordingly.
Big E Langston vs. Damien Sandow: A minor Miss for a formula match. Nothing about this stood out. It just filled time and gave Langston a forgettable win. I still see more in Sandow than Langston at this point and I remain disappointed by how little WWE has done with Sandow since he turned in the eye opening performance against John Cena in the Money in the Bank cash-in match. He did his part, but WWE has not held up their end of the bargain creatively.
Fandango vs. Dolph Ziggler: I was looking forward to this match and hoping that they would get enough time to get the show off to a good start. They did what they could with the time they had, but they were given four minutes and 40 seconds with a commercial break that cut into that time. Can we hurry up and get to the part where Ziggler ditches his lousy entrance music, alters his look, and turns heel? The guy works too hard to not be rewarded for it.
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