By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
These predictions were made with no help from the betting lines because I’m not a dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking, cheater. In other words, I’m guessing just like you are. Join me for live coverage of WWE TLC beginning with the Kickoff Show at 5CT/6ET. Dot Net Members will have exclusive access to the audio review hosted by Jake Barnett and I after the show. Join us on our ad-free website via PWMembership.net.
We’re back in the familiar mode of the actual lineup looking more attractive than the build made it out to be. But don’t you dare complain about the booking. Instead, take a moment today to give thanks to Vince McMahon and his creative team because writing five hours of television is hard work. Never mind the fact that Vince’s issue of placing all his eggs in the baskets of a couple main event wrestlers while half-assing the booking of the rest of the roster is a chronic problem.
Ignore the fact that Vince fosters an environment where his writers write for him rather than the audience far too often. And don’t you dare question the logic of booking on the fly and doing rewrites in the middle of shows even though no other television production would be insane enough to operate in such a manner. It’s hard because Vince McMahon wants to collect Raw’s third hour programming fee and his ridiculous approach to writing television makes it hard, but it’s hard, dammit!
It’s not enough that you’ve stuck with the product instead of doing what you would do when the writing for a regular television show you once enjoyed takes a turn for the worse. Maybe if you would have stopped and appreciated those television writers instead of turning the channel then those shows would have improved. So I beg you to take just a moment during this holiday season to give thanks for your military members, first responders, and Vince McMahon’s creative team (and not in that order).
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka in a Triple Threat TLC match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: The real main event regardless of whether or not it closes the show. I don’t have a strong feeling about the outcome. Lynch is a fairly new champion and she’s been on fire, so she could easily retain. A heel Charlotte taking the championship to free up Lynch to win the Royal Rumble match to set up a match with Ronda Rousey is appealing. Asuka winning could free up Lynch and Flair to somehow get to a three-way with Rousey while also giving Asuka the boost she needs. So there are some genuinely intriguing options and this should be a hell of a match. I can’t even use my trusty pick’em coin to let fate make my prediction because it’s a three-way. When in doubt, go with the champion. And if Vince McMahon is announcing a shakeup on Monday, I could see them moving Charlotte to Raw in part to set up the rematch with Rousey.
Becky Lynch retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Championship: The build to the first match of the latest feud between Rollins and Ambrose gets a C grade. They’ve had some decent moments and it’s been better than damn near anything else on the wretched Raw show, but ultimately it’s not a match that people seem to be buzzing about. I’m going with Ambrose to somehow take the championship to free up Rollins for a Royal Rumble match entry and perhaps even a Rumble win.
Dean Ambrose wins the Intercontinental Championship.
Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship: I can’t say enough that the New Daniel Bryan is great. Bryan’s heel turn pulled him out of his greatest hits funk and he’s now doing some of the most creative work of his career. Bryan just won the championship and there’s no reason to think he’ll lose here unless Vince McMahon is looking for scapegoats for Smackdown’s slumping ratings. Please don’t let this be yet another finish caused by a shot to whatever is left AJ’s mangled balls.
Daniel Bryan retains the WWE Championship.
Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin in a TLC match: Vince McMahon has lost his way, but even he can’t think it’s a good idea to have the top babyface tell viewers that his show sucks and is drawing record low television ratings, blame the authority figure, and then keep the authority figure in power. I assume Strowman shows up and destroys Corbin in short order. Even if they surprise us and have Corbin win by forfeit, there’s no way he survives Raw in the general manager position with the crazy old man showing up tomorrow.
Braun Strowman wins.
Ronda Rousey vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Championship: I see this as a slam dunk win for Rousey. I guess I should leave the door open ever so slightly for the possibility of Jax getting a cheap win to open the door for Rousey being the person who enters the Rumble match and wins to earn the right to face the Lynch and/or Charlotte. I pray not if only because I don’t think I can handle Jax screaming “my title” in future promos.
Ronda Rousey retains the Raw Women’s Championship.
Sheamus and Cesaro vs. New Day vs. The Usos for the Smackdown Tag Titles: How bad is the booking for the tag division these days? These three teams have been positioned as the strongest tag teams in the company. Thus, this should have been positioned as a big showdown match, right? Instead, New Day hosted a rap battle between the other two teams on the go-home show. It was mildly amusing and yet it did nothing to make this match or the tag titles feel important. All three teams have held the tag titles before and probably will again. I’m numb.
Sheamus and Cesaro retain the Smackdown Tag Titles.
Drew McIntyre vs. Finn Balor: McIntyre inexplicably lost by pinfall for the first time on television to Dolph Ziggler in a match with zero buildup. As such, it’s hard to imagine him losing again just a couple weeks later.
Drew McIntyre wins.
Bobby Lashley vs. Elias in a ladder match: But not just any ladder match. No, they are going to hang a guitar hanging above the ring. The match doesn’t end when someone pulls down the guitar, but they can be the first to use it as a weapon. When will WWE realize that less is more with these gimmick themed shows?
Natalya vs. Ruby Riott in a tables match: The exploitation of Jim Neidhart’s death presumably concludes with Natalya getting some measure of revenge by putting Riott through a table. This match just can’t end with Natalya lying in a heap and crying again, can it?
Buddy Murphy vs. Cedric Alexander for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: The cruiserweights will have one of the better matches of the night and the masses still won’t care about 205 Live. Same story, different pay-per-view. Pull the plug on the cruiserweights having their own show and spread its roster members across all three brands.
Buddy Murphy retains the WWE Cruiserweight Championship.
Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox vs. R-Truth and Carmella in the finals of the Mixed Match Challenge for the No. 30 spots in the Royal Rumble matches: Two of these four people are going to be the 30th entrants in the Royal Rumble matches. Do you really want to kick off the hype for the Rumble by telling viewers that Jinder and Alicia are the first two entrants? By the way, I despise the way they whored out the 30th spots in the Rumble in a sad attempt to make people watch the MMC. Does the men’s or women’s Rumble match get the dance break?
R-Truth and Carmella win.
Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton in a chairs match: The TLC gimmick match overkill continues. The build for this one looked like it received about five minutes of thought. Mysterio needs the win because they’ve already made him just another guy. I’m guessing he won’t get it or if he does Orton will destroy him afterward or on Smackdown to put Rey in revenge seeking mode to keep this feud going.
Randy Orton wins.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Konnan, who discusses his return to the ring for MLW and shares the crazy story of how he started in pro wrestling.
The Best of The Boom features Tony Schiavone joining Jason Powell in this May 30, 2018 discussion in which he looks back on when he went to Ric Flair's house for his first pro wrestling assignment, his year with WWE, his one appearance for TNA Impact Wrestling, and more...