Pruett's Pause: WWE TLC 2013: What is the value of "history" and WWE's definition of it? Randy Orton becomes the WWE Undisputed World Heavyweight Unified Champion of the World, and more!
By Will Pruett
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"History has been made." - Gorilla Monsoon, in calling any title change, whether major or minor. This is a familiar refrain in WWE. Never has it been repeated more than it was during TLC. Yes, WWE loves making "history" as they define it. "History," for them, is a construct through which more merchandise and more pay-per-views may be sold. Their "historical" moments are marketing devices. There's nothing wrong with this, but it does make one wonder how historical TLC really was.
While WWE doesn't have any responsibility to accurately present its own history, they seem to love rubbing history in our faces. In wrestling today, the main objective of wrestlers is constantly to "define their legacy," to "etch their name on the best of all time list," or any other version of this convoluted idea. It's not enough for a wrestler to claim to be the best today, they must claim to be the best of all time. It's not enough for a wrestler to be really good, they must make history with every moment.
WWE is a company obsessed with historical dominance and not the here and now. This is one of the major flaws WWE presents today. When they try to sell a show (and I mean really sell a show), they do so by guaranteeing history. They make fans feel like they are seeing a match and a rivalry for the ages. They give the super special build up to events and matches that don't deserve it. Everything is "one of the most controversial" or "one of the most historical" nights in WWE history after it has happened. Why not just one of the best?
We were told over and over on this show how historical the evening was. Somehow Triple H and Stephanie McMahon's pointless opening promo demonstrated "the enormity of this night" according to Michael Cole. JBL mentioned how calling the main event "would be an honor." Even John Cena got in on the hyperbolic fun stating "Tonight is history" before he ran down the entrance ramp.
When did wrestling become about historical impact and not athletes wanting to win matches to earn a shot at the championship? Some will say this night helped the new WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but it didn't. It demonstrated how pointless even a major title unification is in the light of WWE's version of "history."
And now for some random thoughts...
- While the "history" subject rubbed me the wrong way, I would be remiss not to mention how much I actually enjoyed this show. Most of it contained some good storytelling and decent in-ring action. WWE seemed to put its string of obnoxiously poor pay-per-views since SummerSlam behind it with this effort.
- Triple H and Stephanie's show-opening promo probably should have been on the pre-show. It would have been a decent final moment to throw to the start of the pay-per-view. Why not convince the fans who may watch the free preview to make a sudden impulse buy?
- WWE made a wise choice by opening the show with C.M. Punk. Why not start the show out with a hot wrestler? I know the opening match used to be an insult, but that hasn't been true for over ten years.
- The Shield's inner-chaos kind of worries me. I figured we would see an epic showdown between The Shield and The Wyatt Family at WrestleMania, but I can't see The Shield keeping it together for that long. I hope we get to see these factions collide, even if it does lead to The Shield imploding.
- I believe the Divas Championship match was helped by the controversy between A.J. Lee and the host of the Breaking Amish reunion specials. Natalya and A.J. actually had people buying into their near-falls and near-submissions. This is a luxury most Divas matches do not have.
- Big E Langston vs. Damien Sandow was a quality match, but it kind of felt like filler. It was built up well enough, but the in-ring work was basic. Big E could go on a tear as Intercontinental Champion, which is now the second most important title in WWE.
- The four-way tag match was slightly more entertaining than I expected it to be. I was surprised by this, since the workhorses of the tag division this year have been The Uso's and the Shield, who were not in this match.
- Why are Goldust and Cody Rhodes super-chill with hugging Big Show? He knocked out their father simply because he didn't have a lawyer yet just a couple months ago? This is one of those moments where WWE, with all its focus on "history" likes to forget history. It's weird.
- Brodus Clay vs. R-Truth kind of surprised me. It was a filler match, but it was a filler match with two wrestlers who have had TV time dedicated to a story between them and it forwarded the story in a significant way on pay-per-view. I'm not into Brodus' new act (and everyone knows my disdain for R-Truth), but this wasn't all bad.
- Speaking of filler, Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz was even more of a filler match. It killed the crowd, since there is no reason to care about either man or the outcome of the match.
- Kofi Kingston is the least exciting character in WWE. I remember caring about him for about a month in 2009, but aside from that, why is he around? What is he trying to accomplish? What is the point of Kofi Kingston?
- Daniel Bryan losing to The Wyatt Family worked for me. Bryan needs to lose in order to make his big wins mean more. He also was a part of an awesome story being told. Bray Wyatt, especially, performed well in this match. I'm excited to see this feud continue.
- The big question: Will this loss actually be enough to upset Daniel Bryan? Losing the WWE Championship about 1,427 times didn't, so my hopes aren't high.
- Remember at WrestleMania XXVIII when the crowd erupted for the opening bell of the match? That is the sound of a historical match beginning. This show merely had the sound of a normal match beginning.
- The main event felt like a well-choreographed series of spots with small interludes in between instead of a great wrestling match. This feeling is reminiscent of Cena's series with The Rock.
- Quick logic question: Why would anyone just wear trunks in a TLC match? It seems like Randy Orton would be better off in regular pants and a shirt. Does Randy Orton even own pants?
- Orton was at his super-villain best as he took his time while John Cena was handcuffed. He should have also explained his diabolical plot to James Bond.
- My Champion of Champions will always be Booker T, based on his victory at Cyber Sunday 2006.
- The use of the bottom rope by Cena and Orton was a very fun touch. The bump John Cena took to end the match was sadly not as impressive as it was meant to look.
- Randy Orton has never seen a task that could be done in ten seconds and not taken three minutes to do it.
- The most shocking thing about the end of this show was actually the lack of shenanigans from The Authority and Vince McMahon. I was expecting a SummerSlam-esque ending with a Triple H pedigree and championship win. Alas, all we saw were hugs.
- Who's job is it to proofread the on-screen graphics in WWE? First we had the "2012 Slammy Awards" on Monday night, then we saw the "WWE World Heavyweigh Champion" on this show. Attention to detail should be more of a priority.
- John Cena does "I'm sad because I didn't win" outside the ring really well.
While this show was not historical (aside from actually having occurred, which I believe would be the definition of historical), it was good. WWE finally came through on pay-per-view without a cop-out or a cheap finish. We also had some good in-ring action supporting the main event. It wasn't a home run show. I would barely give it a B, but it's much better than the D and F range we've been in since Night of Champions.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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