By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Fandango def. Dolph Ziggler (Kickoff Match)
Both Ziggler and Fandango are very good workers, so I was a bit disappointed by this match. They weren't given much time and the match seemingly jumped from first gear to fourth gear almost instantly. The finish came out of nowhere and the live crowd was hardly receptive for it. The commentators mentioned how Fandango has had a new "edge" in recent weeks. Are they talking about his loss to Zack Ryder from a few weeks ago? Meanwhile, it is a shame is see Ziggler lose on the Kickoff one year removed from beating John Cena in the main event of the TLC pay-per-view.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon Opened the Show
These two have opened several pay-per-views in recent months, and I can't really fathom why. They hyped the unification match for later in the night, but we have heard it all before and they didn't reveal any new information. I honestly don't see why it is necessary to open every event with a promo from HHH and Stephanie. It makes the pay-per-views feel like an episode of Raw, and that isn't a good thing.
CM Punk def. The Shield in a 3-on-1 Handicap Match
This match was everything I expected it to be in that it was a very good match with Punk meshing nicely with all three members of The Shield. They told a great story throughout and made it seem like Punk was indeed against all odds. They were plenty of suspenseful spots as well as featuring enjoyable action. The finish with Roman Reigns inadvertently hitting the spear on Dean Ambrose was very well done and foreshadowed an eventual Shield split. As much as I don't want to see it happen, at least they are booking the slow burning breakup correctly.
Divas Champion AJ Lee def. Natalya
By Divas standards, this was a very good match that definitely should have gone on longer than it did. Considering these two are probably the best workers in the division today, they made the most out of the time they were alotted and managed to get the crowd engaged at certain points, especially when both women went for their submission maneuvers. I like AJ resorting to dirty tactics to retain her title, as it keeps the feud between her and Natalya alive and keeps the belt on AJ for a while longer.
Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston def. Damien Sandow
They tried their hardest to provide a good match, but they crowd simply didn't care. Langston received a favorable reaction upon entering and Sandow cut a simple yet effective promo, but it wasn't enough for the fans to get engaged in the action. It was a basic match you would see on Raw, so it was nothing more than a forgettable contest. I expect the feud to continue, but WWE is going to need to do more if they want people to invest in either competitor. If nothing else, at least Langston is still champion, seeing how he won the strap only a mere month ago.
WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust def. The Real Americans, Curtis Axel & Ryback, and Big Show & Rey Mysterio in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Tag Team Match
Imagine how great this match would have been had a Ladder stipulation been added. Anyway, it was still a pretty good tag team bout in the early goings that only got better down the stretch. Once it came down to the two babyface teams, there was plenty of near-falls and exciting action that kept the crowd on their feet the entire time. The "This is awesome" chants were well deserved and the strong series of great matches involving the Rhodes brothers continues. The post-match show of respect from Show and Mysterio was also a nice touch.
R-Truth def. Brodus Clay
As much as I love the idea of turning Clay back into a monster heel, his "feud" with Truth and Xavier Woods needs to end as soon as possible. The crowd is slowly turning on him, and working against over babyfaces such as Truth is a plus, but they need to cut to the chase already. The match was nothing special and it became apparent that Truth was winning once Clay got distracted with Tons of Funk at ringside. It is good to see Clay finally break away from Tons of Funk, but we'll see if his heel turn is solidified come tomorrow night's Raw.
Kofi Kingston def. The Miz in a No Disqualification Match
I enjoyed the altercation between these two on the pre-show, but this match was absolutely atrocious. I have honestly lost track of how many times they had feuded over the years, so I don't see how their latest rivalry is supposed to do anything for either guy. I am assuming Miz is now a full-fledged heel, but I still can't be certain. The match was fine for what it was, but the live crowd couldn't have cared less. I don't blame them at all for chanting "boring". Both Kingston and Miz are in desperate need of character overhauls at the moment and I don't think putting them together in a feud is going to do anything to benefit either guy.
The Wyatt Family def. Daniel Bryan in a 3-on-1 Handicap Match
This match was very different than the first Handicap match of the evening, and I mean that in a good way. Bryan has great chemistry with every member of The Wyatt Family and they told a solid story throughout the bout. Bryan refused to stay down and the live crowd was red hot for his comeback at the end. I am glad to see The Wyatt Family go over if only because they have lost so many matches in recent months that this felt like an upset considering Bryan is a former WWE champion. I don't know where this program goes from here, but my money is on Bryan winning the Royal Rumble next month. You heard it here first.
Randy Orton def. John Cena in a TLC Match to Become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion
No matter how redundant and tiresome their feuds can be at times, you can always count on Orton and Cena to have great matches together. This matchup was no exception, as both competitors put forth a strong effort and executed several cool spots. It didn't have the big match feel that it should have with this being a unification match, but I blame that more on the fact that it only have a three week build. The handcuff bit would have been more innovative had it not just been done at this very same event two years ago. The table botch at the end was disappointing, but the commentators made up for it nicely by saying Cena hit his head on the table. I was surprised to see Orton go over clean without any interference, which helps give him more credibility as champion. The post-match segment with The Authority celebrating with Orton felt anticlimactic, but that might just be because I was expecting something monumental to occur. Perhaps they are waiting until Raw.
Despite the fact that two world titles were merged on this show, not much about this event felt special or monumental, but it was definitely an improvement over the last four pay-per-views. It was a refreshing change of pace to get a clean finish to a main event for the first time since SummerSlam. Had the last four pay-per-views not been as terrible as they were, this event would have been mediocre at best, but I would classify it as being good with most of the matches on the show being better than anticipated or meeting expectations. It will still be a while before the product is as hot as it was during the summer, but TLC was a step in the right direction going into the new year.
Don't forget to vote in the WWE/TNA 2013 Year in Review Awards! Polls close December 17th!
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