by Daniel Johnson, Kyle Childers, Dave Pendleton, Doug Nunnally and Justin Watry
Editor’s Note: Doug Nunnally is a music journalist who has also covered pro wrestling and is joining the WWE Pay-Per-View Roundtable for a guest appearance. Nunnally’s work can be found on his website, sound-gaze.com and he can be followed on Twitter @musicdoug. Justin Watry is a writer for 411mania.com and nodq.com and he can be followed on Twitter @justinwatry. Long time writer for The Johnson Transcript, Kyle Childers/Hawk Jefferson is the author of the Hawkeye’s Hangout series and is the co-host of the Ruthless Aggression Podcast, which can be found on iTunes, Sticher and Podbean here, here and here, respectively. Childers can also be found on Twitter @hawkjefferson. Dave Pendleton is a writer for The Johnson Transcript who debuted on the site with an interview with independent wrestler Victor Andrews.
The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (with Xavier Woods) vs. Gold and Stardust
Daniel Johnson: Good to see WWE is finally getting behind the stable of Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi Kingston. NOT! Relegating The New Day to the pre-show just demonstrates how little faith WWE has in this group. Heck, the trio are probably jealous of the push Serotonin got in TNA. In a perfect world The New Day would defeat Gold and Stardust. They’d then get at least a tad more of a push. Oh yeah and Stardust would turn on Goldust because it is time for Cody Rhodes to be set free. However, this isn’t a perfect world. Still, I see The New Day coming out on top in this one, but going no place fast in the long run.
Kyle Childers: Why is this match happening? Oh yeah, because the pre-show needed a match and this is a way to get The New Day on pay-per-view without having to put them on pay-per-view. A lot of the hot has come off the brothers Rhodes recently but it’s still not great seeing them in “food for new acts” role. Yeah, The New Day is winning and I’m okay with that.
Dave Pendleton: I absolutely love The New Day. I think they have a great thing going with these three guys and I do not see any way that they will end up losing to the former Rhodes. Any combination of The New Day makes a great match, and I particularly love the double team moves they use with Xavier and Kofi bouncing off of Big E. It should be a nice solid match.
Doug Nunnally: New Day make their pay-per-view debut as a faction…on the pre-show. Please tell me I’m not the only one bothered by this. The gimmick’s cheesy, but it has more potential than others these days. It should be fun though if it goes more than 10 minutes, but that’s doubtful.
Justin Watry: I am refusing to pick Stardust, as it is just a ridiculous use of Cody Rhodes. Another year of his gone, too bad. The New Day did already lose a match, so it is not wild to think they may lose again. Still, The New Day win because their theme song is pretty catchy.
Rusev (c) (with “The Ravishing Russian” Lana) vs. Jack Swagger for the WWE United States Championship
Daniel Johnson: Wait, hold on a second! WWE are already recycling Rusev’s feuds? Well, at least Rusev and Jack Swagger have had some decent chemistry in the past and their original feud was never really ended properly. Also, Rusev giving Zeb Colter a beat down in the beginning of December makes things a little more interesting. Horrible acting by Swagger in that backstage reveal segment by the way. Rusev retains the WWE United States Championship, but hopefully Swagger is made to look strong in the process.
Kyle Childers: I briefly considered copy and pasting one of my earlier previews of this exact goddamn match but that’d be lazier than WWE creative going into this show so I’ll just say that Rusev probably wins. It seems like no matter what, WWE is determined to use Swagger as nothing more than an upper-midcard filament man, which is sad because he has most of the skill set required to be a big time main eventer.
Dave Pendleton: Unfortunately, WWE does not know how to build someone to stardom anymore. If they did they would let Swagger get the win in this match over the evil Russian, Rusev. After months of being undefeated and continually breaking down Swagger, Mark Henry and The Big Show, Rusev has finally gone too far and injured Uncle Zeb. Swagger should come into this match hot and finally gain retribution for America and win the US title that seems made for him. It is just too bad that WWE wants to build Rusev up to what will more than likely never amount to much of anything because I do not think Rusev will ever make it out of the high midcard. Rusev wins this match because WWE is clueless.
Doug Nunnally: I for one am glad to see this match-up again. They could come back to this feud every few months and I’ll always be happy because it makes sense (unlike other feuds) and it has heat. I’m not expecting this to be their best match, but I am looking forward to it.
Justin Watry: If Jack Swagger was going to defeat Rusev, it would have already happened. It did not, nor should it. Rusev has bigger fish to fry come WWE WrestleMania 31. John Cena is the long standing rumor for that match-up. While it may seem impossible now, keep in mind I also ripped on reports of Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena being planned for WWE WrestleMania XXX…and then it turned out to be true. Oops! Regardless, Rusev wins.
The Miz and Damien Mizdow (c) vs. The Usos for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Daniel Johnson: To start off with what sounds like the most obvious point ever, I don’t think anyone would argue Damien Mizdow is The Undertaker of his generation. Yet, if he keeps turning gold into crap the way he has been with this gimmick he may at least be the Kane of it. Whether any of us personally enjoy Mizdow he gets a crowd reaction, which is more important than any individual opinion. I don’t see WWE bailing on Mizdow or The Miz yet. Plus, Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso don’t really need another run with the WWE Tag Team Championship, at least not yet. The Miz and Damien Mizdow will retain and do it clean.
Kyle Childers: It’s too soon to do a title switch after the Mizs just won the title but with WWE trying to juggle the Naomi/Uso/Miz angle as well as planting the seeds of the Miz Powers exploding, this match gets a bit more difficult to predict. I guess the Mizs retain, probably after Miz takes advantage of some Mizdow offense to pin Jimmy to keep both angles moving.
Dave Pendleton: Miz and Mizdow will more than likely keep the titles here, but we may see more friction between the two with Mizdow upstaging Miz. I really like Damien and his work as Miz’s stunt double has been great. I woud like to think that being a stunt double was his idea, but it probably was not and he probably hated the idea but he has made the best of it and has really shown how talented he is through this strange gimmick. This will be a good match and Mizdow bumping everywhere and selling his imaginary damage will be fun to watch as always.
Doug Nunnally: I love The Usos and the year they’ve had on top of the midcard, but in no way should the run Miz and Mizdow have end anytime soon. I don’t expect this to be a great wrestling match, but this will probably be one of the more purely entertaining portions of the night by a longshot.
Justin Watry: No explanation needed. Winner: The Miz and Damien Mizdow.
Erick Rowan vs. The Big Show in a steel stairs match
Daniel Johnson: This match has some intrigue for me, but only in that I’m curious to see how wild WWE is willing to let these guys get. Given Show’s age I’m guessing not too wild. Erick Rowan will probably win this one with an “upset.”
Kyle Childers: Instead of a match, they should do an intellectual triathlon. “Who can solve the most Rubick’s Cubes in 90 seconds? Who can blind taste test five different wines and identify them? Who knows more Leo Tolstoy quotes?” That is something I’d rather see than these two goons in a stairs match. The fuck is that even? Are stairs the only legal weapons like in a chairs match? That seems incredibly impractical. And they’re fighting because Show is a bully? And why is Show talking about his family all the time while telling the fans to cram it? I get what they’re trying to do, but it’s not coming across well. Erick Rowan wins because Big Show doesn’t.
Dave Pendleton: Why is there such a thing as a stairs match? It makes no sense. The stairs are used in almost every match. Are there going to be extra stairs around ringside? Do you have to use the stairs to win the match? This is just inconsequential, a match like this used to just be called hardcore or before that no DQ. Just because a weapon is involved does not mean you have to invent a “new” match type. Big Show is only used to put talent over now, which actually does not even happen because according to Vince McMahon there is not anyone on the roster willing to step up and reach for the “brass ring” so Rowan will win and I will not care.
Doug Nunnally: I’m very conflicted. Part of me loves them pushing someone new like Rowan, but a slightly bigger part of me realizes Rowan is just not that good. This match is going to be a chore and a stairs match at that? Jesus. Shoot me now.
Justin Watry: Going against logic here and picking Big Show. Erick Rowan is a few weeks away from being a Fandango or Santino Marella kind of comedy act. Big Show can still be presented as a favorite to win the Royal Rumble due to his size and legacy, even though we all know he has no chance. The seven foot giant wins here and is hyped as a Rumble threat for January.
Ryback vs. Kane in a chairs match
Daniel Johnson: Ryback has been looking like a beast for a while now CM Punk complaints aside. Kane doesn’t need the win and probably doesn’t want it. I’m mildly excited for this match just to see how ruthless WWE is willing to let Ryback as a face be. On the negative side, Kane is still incredibly boring and stale in 2014. If Kane wins this one then NXT Takeover: R Evolution was a horrible show (it wasn’t).
Kyle Childers: Can we just take a second to fully appreciate how absurd the chairs match gimmick is? Imagine this in the Attitude Era where people were disappointed if Raw lacked five unprotected chair shots to the head. And to top it off, why are these two even having this match? It feels like “Well, we’ve got two big guys with nothing to do, let’s give Ryback a pay-per-view win.” The Ryback main event rehab train keeps rolling at TLCS.
Dave Pendleton: Kane seems to be serving just about the same purpose as Big Show right now as someone to feed to people that WWE wants to push. This match should be decent as long as Ryback does not brutally injure Kane in some way. I feel about the same way about a chairs match as I do a stairs match, just call it hardcore or extreme rules and be done with it, they are probably going to use all the gimmicks anyway. I will say with almost complete certainty that Ryback will win this one.
Doug Nunnally: As bad as a stairs match sounds, it’s not like the chairs match have been knocking them out of the park these past two years. Put one average worker in there with someone infamously known as “dumb as fuck” and you’ve got a recipe for disaster here.
Justin Watry: “Feed me more!” Those chants were loud on Monday night. Considering it was a quiet live crowd, they surely did react to Ryback. Kane? Yeah, no reason to win this. The big guy should rack up a bunch of big wins leading to WrestleMania 31; I think he has a good chance this year to have a decent spot on the card. I welcome it.
Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler in a ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Daniel Johnson: If John Cena and Seth Rollins don’t deliver then this should easily be match of the night. Dolph Ziggler gave one of the highlights of his career last month at WWE Survivor Series 2014. If he turns in a great performance here even the WWE brass may have to seriously consider giving him a run with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. A real run at top that is rather than holding the World Heavyweight Championship when it was at about the level of the WWE Intercontinental Championship (at least when the latter title was used to its full potential). This could go either way which makes the match that much more exciting, but the folks at WWE probably want to establish Luke Harper a little more. Harper will win this one and Dolph will bump his ass off.
Kyle Childers: This match exists to give Ziggler a chance to #ShowOff and I’m okay with that. Ziggler works well in this sort of environment and Luke Harper is a tremendous talent that thrives in most situations, I see no reason why this will be any different. Ziggler likely wins so they can say, “Look! We’re doing something with Ziggler!” while allowing Harper to lose the title without being pinned.
Dave Pendleton: This will be the show stealer, no pun intended. Both Ziggler and Harper are extremely talented and Harper can do things that no big man should be able to do. Aside from the looks and brutality, I really do not see the Bruiser Brody comparisons that so many people make about Harper. I feel that Harper is much more similar to a Bam Bam Bigelow in the respect that he is super talented and agile for his size. I am certain that Ziggler will take brutal, horrendous bumps in this match and it will be fantastic. I feel like Ziggler will win this match as it seems he is finally being pushed pretty strongly. I can only hope that he does not get injured by someone this time around so he can finally get what he deserves, a real legitimate push toward the world title.
Doug Nunnally: If this match gets fifteen minutes, I’d be surprised if it’s anything less than four stars. Ziggler is on a roll lately and Harper is great as well. Their last match was booked absolutely horribly, but was pretty damn good all things considered and this is the match I’m most looking forward too.
Justin Watry: This could be your match of the night. I would actually not be surprised to see Dolph Ziggler regain the IC title. Not sure why…it just would not surprise me. Luke Harper is my prediction because he can stay where he is at on the card going forward, where Ziggy could move up (or down) depending on the day. Harper as IC Champ works for now.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt in a tlc match
Daniel Johnson: The beating Dean Ambrose gave Bray Wyatt at Survivor Series was epic. Well, except for the part where he set up the ladder just to pose on it. Really? Come on! At least do a splash if nothing else. Anyway, Ambrose is flying higher than ever while Wyatt is sinking faster than a bag of unwanted kittens (forgive the tragic imagery). Common sense dictates Ambrose will win, but perhaps WWE doesn’t want to completely bury Wyatt just yet. In the end common sense will prevail.
Kyle Childers: This is a TLC match? Why? What the fuck are they going to do, hang the broken chair above the ring? Actually, that’d be pretty cool, they should do that. This angle really hasn’t been working for me thus far outside of a few flashes of brilliance from both performers, but this is sure to be a fine match with Ambrose coming out on top.
Dave Pendleton: I think the feud between Wyatt and Ambrose is much better on the mic than it is in the ring. I was really looking forward to their match at Survivor Series and it was actually pretty disappointing. This will be a huge brawl and I am sure they will do some pretty horrible things to each other. I will put my money behind Wyatt on this match, he needs a win to get some more heat.
Doug Nunnally: Here’s the thing: Bray’s beyond stale. Beyond. He needs to stop talking and just start destroying people. The stretcher job with Dean was a good start, but then we’re right back to talking. I have low expectations for this TLC match with nothing on the line and I’m begging for them to prove me wrong.
Justin Watry: This could easily be the match of the night, just like the ladder match. If WWE gives these two guys 20 minutes or so, it could be a TLC classic. I have very high expectations for this battle. Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose are in need of a victory, and as seen many times this year, Dean Ambrose does not technically need to win for his character to work. Bray is hit or miss with his act as of late, so I am curious to see where he goes next. Giving this match to Ambrose after a wild brawl.
Nikki Bella (c) vs. AJ Lee for the WWE Divas Championship
Daniel Johnson: Can WWE just bring in the women from NXT for this division already? Your bathroom break of the night is sponsored by the WWE divas division. Nikki Bella will probably win and we will probably see another match involving one of these two or both at the WWE Royal Rumble 2015.
Kyle Childers: While there are rumors swirling that AJ Lee is leaving after TLC, that rumor pops up almost every single pay-per-view so we’ll just ignore it. I appreciate their attempt to create a diva’s feud, but WWE creative is not equipped for this sort of thing and it’s doing none of the performers any good. I’m going with darling Nikki on this one because I just don’t like AJ.
Dave Pendleton: The only thing that makes this interesting to me is the war of words that these two have been having. AJ’s “Talent is not sexually transmitted” comment on Raw a few weeks back was great and Nikki’s rant on SmackDown that got edited to death was just as scathing. Nikki has actually gotten quite a bit better at wrestling in the last year and AJ is just plain great so it may be a decent match, it will probably still be the match I use for my bathroom break, but I do have a slight interest. I am going to pick Nikki on this one with some interference help from Brie Bella.
Doug Nunnally: I love AJ, but for some reason, she hasn’t been that great since returning to me…except on the mic of course. I don’t know, maybe she is out the door, but if she is, let’s hope her last match isn’t putting over Nikki Bella…although if it is her last match, let’s hope she tries and out-Flair, Ric Flair by getting a good match out of a Bella.
Justin Watry: AJ Lee was Divas champion through 2013 and up until the night after WrestleMania XXX. Then upon her return, she won the title back right away. Oh, and after losing the belt to Paige, yeah, she won it right back for another title reign. Following that, AJ “won” the Diva of the Year Slammy Award. Why am I saying this all? Because it easily shuts up all the nonsense about CM Punk leaving WWE having anything to do with AJ Lee and her career. Clearly, she has not been affected one bit. It is just another one of those lovely conspiracy theories that have no truth to them. With all of that being said, Nikki Bella retains but no, it has nothing to do with CM Punk. Put away the tin foil hats, folks.
John Cena vs. Seth Rollins in a tables match where if Cena loses he will no longer be the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Daniel Johnson: Please save us Seth! Keep Brock Lesnar from being wasted in yet another match with John Cena. Don’t get me wrong Lesnar and Cena have fantastic chemistry, but we’ve seen it. In 2003. Then again in 2012. Then again in 2014. Then again. A fresh pairing with Lesnar should happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes his two year stint with the company with his only fresh match being with CM Punk. As for this encounter the pressure is on Rollins to deliver the main event spot. Cena wins this one, but if Rollins gets on even footing with him at all during this performance it could only help him. Getting a shine, even a little one, from the Hulk Hogan of the modern era can’t hurt when the company has faith in you. Also, if Sting shows up for this event, which he really should, it will be for this match.
Kyle Childers: I want to say that Rollins has a real shot at winning this one because it’s long been established in WWE canon that Cena’s Kryptonite is the tables match. It’d be great for Rollins who has all the heat and momentum in the world right now to beat John effin’ Cena in a big time match. But then who does Lesnar face at the Rumble? Rollins would be the obvious choice but heel vs. heel on a big four show for the title won’t happen so that means Cena likely wins barring Randy Orton returning to challenge Lesnar at the Rumble.
Dave Pendleton: Rollins has to win this match. If Vince McMahon does not think any of the young talent has what it takes to be a star than he is obviously not watching his product. Rollins and many others have shown time and again that they want to become stars and they have everything it takes. To become a star, some current stars have to lose big matches and this is one of those matches. There could be some shenanigans in this match to make Cena “accidentally” fall through a table. Rollins will win this match or WWE may just prove they do not want to make new stars.
Doug Nunnally: Seth in the main event for the third straight pay-per-view is great even if it’s obvious Cena’s winning, which I have no problem with. Seth is playing an old school heel perfectly and there’s no real reason for him to win in this match especially if Orton interferes to set up that feud. I’m hoping this will be great and a breakout performance for Seth, but it’s a tables match and part of me thinks it will be overbooked to hell with run-ins and what not.
Justin Watry: Seth Rollins was in the main event of Survivor Series. Seth Rollins was in the main event of Heck on a Deck. Seth Rollins was involved with the main event match at WWE Night of Champions (2014). Plus, he was the big story over the entire summer. Yeah, I would say he is doing alright for himself. He is just another example of an indie star signing with WWE, and moving past all the laughable excuses of “WWE does not like indie guys who are small and blah, blah, blah.” Talent is talent, and all the same things said about Seth Rollins are currently being said about Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, Kevin Owens and other NXT stars. Talent is talent. Seth Rollins has it and will be a WWE World Heavyweight Champion in 2015 (likely right after WrestleMania 31). Unfortunately, this match is about John Cena winning so he can face Brock Lesnar for the title one more time next month.
Photos 1-3, 6-9: en.wikipedia.org
Photos 4-5: Daniel Johnson / Johnsontranscript.com
Categories: Smooth Runs