By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Stephanie McMahon and Kane Interrupted CM Punk
Although I am still not thrilled with WWE's current product, at least they are taking a step in the right direction by inserting Punk into the ongoing Authority. As he stated in his promo, he has always been rebelious against authority, so it's a natural fit for him. The handicap matches have been done to death since August, but at least this one pitting Punk against all three members of The Shield at WWE TLC has the potential to be great. Adding an extra stipulation to it would be a nice touch as well.
Damien Sandow def. Dolph Ziggler in a No. 1 Contender's Match for the Intercontinental Championship
It was nice to see these two have an actual one-on-one encounter without a stipulation attached, although there wasn't much they could do in only four minutes. Nonetheless, they made the most out of the time they were given and the right person went over. I hate to see Ziggler so underutilized, but Sandow was the better choice here and it is a good addition the TLC undercard. Furthermore, Big E Langston did well on commentary and didn't seem as nervous as he has in past promos.
Natalya and The Bella Twins def. Divas Champion AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka and Summer Rae
The Divas matches continue to mean nothing, which is a shame given the immense amount of talent of the women involved. This match was fine for what it was, but it didn't receive much time and AJ getting pinned/submitted yet again was ridiculous. I realize it is probably setting up a Triple Threat at TLC between AJ, Natalya and Brie Bella, but isn't their a better way of going about it? At least Summer was cast in a serious role this time around and didn't dance all around the ring.
Daniel Bryan def. Erik Rowan
To my knowledge, this was the first time we have seen Rowan compete in singles action on WWE TV. Granted, I still say Luke Harper has much more potential as a breakout performer and is better in the ring than Rowan, but Roawn held his own against Bryan and looked dominant throughout. The roll-up finish help protected Rowan, but how many losses can The Wyatt Family take before their act gets damaged? Thankfully, Bray Wyatt's post-match promo was excellent and stirs the pot as far as a possible Bryan heel turn goes (even though that would be a terrible idea).
R-Truth and Xavier Woods def. Tons of Funk
The match was mediocre at best and the crowd couldn't have cared less despite both tandems being fan favorites, but it was all about how Brodus Clay's pending heel turn was furthered. Not only did Woods get back his win over Clay from last week, but tension was teased between Clay and Tensai, leading to further speculation that Clay might be turning heel sooner rather than later. There is much more money in Clay as a monster heel and I think it is safe to say that The Funkasaurus shtick has run its course.
Sin Cara def. Alberto Del Rio
The crowd hasn't cared about Del Rio in a long time and Cara recently returned (I believe this was his first match back), so it was only logical that the live audience didn't react to anything in the match. These two work well together, but they have had far more entertaining matches in the past. I was genuinely shocked to see Cara defeat Del Rio, cleanly no less. It is obviously a huge boost for Cara, but I don't know if it was meant to benefit him or to devalue Del Rio.
The Shield def. Big Show and WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust
It was a standard six-man tag for most of the match, but the competitors picked up the pace after the second commercial break. It was nice to see The Shield score so much offense over Big Show (who showed no ill effects of having a concussion from last week) only to battle back and score the victory. It was a good, clean win for The Shield that I hope leads to more matches between them and the Rhodes brothers. Could a tag team title ladder match be in the works for TLC?
Ryback and Curtis Axel def. The Miz and Kofi Kingston
The match was decent while it lasted, but nothing special. It was your basic tag team bout with the predictable ending of Ryback and Axel going over. Speaking of such, does anyone know why those two are still teaming despite not being "Paul Heyman Guys" anymore? Anyway, I wasn't surprised at all to see Miz slap Kingston after the match, but I wish it was Kingston turning heel instead. This was nothing new, as these two have traded several slaps in recent weeks.
Mark Henry def. Fandango
It was evident from the start that this was going to be a squash match, so I didn't expect anything other than that. Fandango got in some offense over Henry, but not enough for him to look good in defeat. He hasn't mean anything in months, so I guess it doesn't matter anymore anyway. The finish was botched a bit, but they recovered nicely at the end. Oddly enough, Heny's sexual gyrations were disturbing and entertaining at the same time.
The Real Americans def. The Prime Time Players
Please, PLEASE don't tell me that Titus O'Neil is going to be permanently saddled with a puking gimmick going forward. It is almost as asinine than Natalya's farting gimmick from a few years ago. What purpose does it serve and who actually finds it funny? The match featured nothing out of the ordinary and was more of the same from the two teams. I hope to see The Real Americans contend for the tag titles again in some form or fashion at TLC.
WWE Champion Randy Orton and World Heavyweight Champion John Cena Signed the Contract for Their Unification Match at WWE TLC
Contract signings can get dreadfully boring fairly quickly, and this one was no exception. Orton's mic skills left a lot to be desired, whereas Cena cut a strong promo that had a lot of realistic elements to it. Even still, it wasn't enough to make me look forward to their title match at TLC, nor did their brawl that everyone saw coming from a mile away. I fear that they gave away too much in that brawl by having it go so long, but I guess they needed Cena to get the upper hand this week after Orton was the last man standing last week. If nothing else, at least Triple H was the central focus of the segment and didn't attempt to get himself over per usual.
Last week's show was such an atrocity that this show actually felt like a slight improvement. That isn't saying much, though, as this edition was more middle-of-the-road than anything else. Thankfully, they did a great deal in building up the TLC card and adding a number of new matches to the event, so it is nice to know they aren't waiting until the very last minute this time around to hype the pay-per-view. Next week's show will be taken over by the Slammy Awards, so don't expect the episode to be fully focused on building toward TLC.
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