WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs is coming on Sunday, and things have begun to get interesting.
That’s because two featured stars are on the shelf thanks to undisclosed medical reasons. Roman Reigns was supposed to team with his newly reformed Shield faction, but he’s been replaced by Raw general manager Kurt Angle.
Bray Wyatt was booked to bring the infamous Sister Abigail to TLC against Finn Balor, but he is out as well. Balor’s Demon persona will now step into the ring with AJ Styles. Both men are former leaders of New Japan’s Bullet Club, but their past lives will likely remain in the past at TLC.
This event is all about entertaining the fans, and both men have a lot of experience doing just that.
It is the fans who will decide just how important these changes are and how the rest of the TLC card is received. WWE can put forth its best effort as a company, but the crowd decides what it likes and what it hates.
WWE Universe members are not shy when it comes to voicing their opinions. So the promotion has a great opportunity to deliver something newer and exciting while giving the fans something to be happy about. With any luck, TLC will go well and the stars involved will excel as they have done in the past.
As always, the fate of a WWE event depends on the booking.
This appears to be a way to get The Boss on the card.
If that is true, then Sasha Banks still has a responsibility to deliver against Alicia Fox. But fans know that is exactly what Banks will do; she’s accustomed to being in the bright lights of relevancy in WWE. Fox, on the other hand, is not.
That’s why this match is intriguing.
Fox could lose, which is likely what many fans are predicting. It wouldn’t hurt her that much because expectations are usually low for her. But perhaps that is changing.
If Fox can get the win at TLC, her career would be on the upswing. If the company is ready to do some serious things with her, then there may be no better time to get started than Sunday.
Banks is one of the best wrestlers in the women’s division, but this is Fox’s time to shine.
The Brian Kendrick has amazing powers of persuasion.
What else can explain his ability to take established babyface stars and turn them to his way of thinking? He did it with TJ Perkins, and he’s done it again with Gentleman Jack Gallagher. The Englishman was one of the most interesting and fun cruiserweights on 205 Live.
But now he’s just another puppet for Kendrick to manipulate.
This match at TLC could be just a throwaway bout or it could mean something more. Considering Gallagher just made the turn, it’s likely he will get the pin in the end. But that moment should lead to something else, possibly even a moment in which Gallagher cuts ties with Kendrick.
It’s just a matter of time until it happens. But until then, Gallagher will get a chance to flex his muscles as 205 Live’s newest villain.
His antagonistic resume will get another victory when he and Kendrick defeat Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander on Sunday.
Asuka is coming.
The undefeated former NXT women’s champion will make her main-roster debut at TLC when she faces Emma. The Australian has spent a lot of time taking credit for the women’s revolution, which she had little to do with.
She’s also whined and complained that she’s not getting what she deserves on Monday Night Raw. This is her chance to prove she’s a star.
But the likelihood of Asuka losing at TLC is slim. She was unconquerable in NXT and that should continue on the red brand. Defeating Emma is just the first step of a main-roster career that should see Asuka rise to the top on Monday nights.
But Emma won’t go down without a fight.
She is a capable performer and does deserve more than what she’s received thus far. But when it comes to testing The Empress of Tomorrow?
It’s just not Emma’s time.
Enzo Amore’s career has rebounded beyond anything fans could have imagined.
He was red-hot when tagging with Big Cass but then lost a step after they split. Many questioned Amore’s heart for the business, believing he was too concerned with just being a star. But since he came to 205 Live, Enzo has once again hit his stride.
It could even be said he has never looked better.
But almost as soon as he won the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at No Mercy in September, he inexplicably lost it. Now he has a chance to get back on track against Kalisto at TLC. The question is, does Amore need the belt?
Amore is over without the gold, and Kalisto is a good talent with a connection to the younger audience. Kalisto has also earned his spot on 205 Live. So while Amore may become the champ again at some point, the title is in good hands.
Kalisto should get the win at TLC, and Amore will go back to his new-found fame on 205 Live.
Nia Jax’s recent absence may have thrown WWE’s plans into turmoil, but it didn’t need to. The company has its next Raw women’s champion in Mickie James.
James is the veteran of the women’s division, and that means she has the ability to step in and take over. Alexa Bliss is a good talent and a great heel, but it could be that she’s due for a title loss. James deserves another run with a title and could start it at TLC.
Regardless of who wins at TLC, the belt is going to Asuka probably sooner rather than later.
Raw’s women’s division is in good hands with The Empress of Tomorrow eventually taking the reins. But in the meantime, James has a chance to once again show why she’s one of the best Superstars of her generation.
Bliss will get back on top, but all roads lead to Asuka.
Bray Wyatt’s twisted Sister Abigail persona was supposed to manifest itself at TLC.
But The Eater of Worlds is out, and AJ Styles is in. The SmackDown Live Superstar’s inclusion is a bit surprising, but he and Finn Balor should have a great match. This one is about much more than a shared Bullet Club background; this one is about making the fans happy.
Next to AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Styles vs. Balor is the WWE dream match fans have been waiting on.
Styles isn’t just getting Balor, either; he’s getting The Demon. It’s a character fans were expecting to see at TLC, and it’s one the company will deliver. It’s unknown what the fallout could be from this one, but it likely all hinges on how the fans react.
Could Styles move back to Monday Night Raw as a result of this contest? Or could Balor move to SmackDown Live to begin a new rivalry, or partnership, with The Phenomenal One?
It all begins with this match at TLC.
The last thing fans expected for this huge main event was a Roman Reigns absence and a Kurt Angle addition.
But that’s exactly what they are getting at TLC. Angle is lacing up the boots and getting back in the game when he tags with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose against The Miz, Braun Strowman, The Bar and Kane.
It’s an unexpected main event but one that should make fans happy in the end. That’s because the returning Olympic hero should get the pin.
Angle will likely pin The Miz to win the match for The Shield.
It would be a great jab at Miz for his constant verbal insults against Jason Jordan, but it would also be a great way for Angle to get the spotlight without necessarily hurting any of the other talent in the match.
This one may not further any storylines, especially with Reigns out of action. But it doesn’t need to. This match is about entertaining the crowd and giving fans something to smile about. The WWE faithful will not soon forget this one.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeartRadio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com.