WWE TLC 2017
October 22, 2017
Target Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

  • August Baker: He is 12-3 in predicting winners in the last two WWE PPVs. Getting that close to WWE’s booking logic is a dangerous place to be, so join him on Twitter @augustbaker12.
  • Andrew Sinclair: Fresh off writing three essays in 10 days, he’s back again for another WWE PPV. Follow along on Twitter @AMSinclair97 for average banter and regular, if varied, content.
  • Joe Lanza: The King of Banter, The Most Compelling Voice In Wrestling Media, Internationally Acclaimed Broadcast Journalist (as heard on BBC Radio), A Reasoned & Well Explained Man, The Kenta Kobashi of Sex, and now, As Quoted in Forbes Magazine. Miraculously, Rich had coaxed Joe into writing something. Don’t follow my shoot account unless you like Joey Votto and college basketball. You’ve been warned. @JoeMLanza

Alicia Fox vs. Sasha Banks

August Baker: I’ll be honest, I didn’t know this match was happening. Not a great start to a preview. While Alicia has new, furry-friendly, merchandise, there is no universe in which she should beat Sasha Banks. Which probably means it’s happening. But if it happens on the pre-show, does it really happen? At any rate, I tried writing “Alicia Fox” as my prediction three times, and just couldn’t do it. Prediction: Sasha Banks

Andrew Sinclair: I don’t object to this at all. Fox has new merch and they clearly are trying to reboot her as a singles star after the ‘romance’ angle with Noam Dar/Cedric Alexander/Rich Swann finally ended. Sasha has nothing to do and this gives her a decent win. Inoffensive, which, by the standard of the rest of the booking, is a compliment. Prediction: Sasha Banks

Joe Lanza: In a company that runs five weekly shows and 40 hours per month of original bell to bell content, everyone on the roster should be involved in a storyline of some sort. When you look at someone like Alicia Fox, she’s been employed by the company since 2006 (TWO THOUSAND AND SIX), which believe it or not, makes her one of the longest continuously tenured performers in company history…yet the average fan could probably count her television programs one one hand.

There was a time when it wasn’t this way. There was a time that everyone on the roster, from world champion to lower mid carder, was always, always involved in a program. Hop into a DeLorean and ask a fan in 1989 what Brutus Beefcake is up to, and they’ll tell you he’s in a heated feud with Outlaw Ron Bass. Skip back to 1988, and that same fan will know that Demolition has been having issues with Ken Patera & Billy Jack Haynes. It’s 1987, and Butch Reed is giving Koko B Ware all he can handle 5th from the top all over North America. And they achieved this with a couple of hours of squash matches and two hours of Prime Time Wrestling per week, and four PPVs per year. Nobody gets over anymore because nobody has anything to do. This is the least efficient promotion on Earth in terms of using their copious air time.

Anyway, Alicia Fox has something to do. And after a dozen years, a t-shirt. Prediction: Sasha Banks

WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Mickie James

August Baker: How does Mickie James keep getting stuck with these terrible stories? Remember “Piggie James?” Why does someone hate her so much that they put her in these embarrassing storylines where she gets mean-girled until she cries and, to add insult to injury, loses her match? I guess she could win here, but taking the belt off your highly marketable champion and putting it on a woman you’ve been mocking for months isn’t a smart move. And besides, there’s only one lady on the Raw roster now that Bliss should lose the belt to, and it ain’t Mickie James. Prediction: Alexa Bliss

Andrew Sinclair: My regular partner in crime has already covered the stupid storylines involving Mickie James (hey, they’re on a par with TNA when they suggested James Storm shoved her in front of a train!), so I’ll leave that. The build to this has been solid enough and it feels like a solid placeholder defence for Bliss before she eventually loses the strap to Asuka. Prediction: Alexa Bliss

Joe Lanza: Alexa Bliss should win this, in definitive fashion, as the star from the previous generation puts over the current champion and potential future star clean as a sheet in the center of the ring. The problem is that this company is booked like absolute shit, with zero logic, and very little long term thought put into anyone, especially the deeper you dive into the prelims. And make no mistake, for all of the revolution talk and occasional TV main events, this women’s title is essentially a mid card title, complete with hot potato changes and goofy multi person title matches to swiftly remind us where it stands, lest we dare get invested in it. Logic should prevail, but it shouldn’t shock anyone if Mickie wins to set up a one week TV angle that nobody will remember by the next PPV cycle. Prediction: Alexa Bliss

“The Demon” vs. “Sister Abigail”

August Baker: First, it was Man vs Man. Then it was Demon vs Man. Then it was Man vs Man II: Man Harder. Now it’s Demon vs Sister Abigail. Next it will be Man vs Man III: With a Vengeance. Prediction: No one wins. We all lose.

Andrew Sinclair: Angry reacts only. What in the name of all things holy is this match? Bray in drag vs a human pumpkin-spiced latte? If Bray has got meningitis and this gets cancelled I won’t shed a tear. He’ll probably recover enough to suck the life out of Balor’s push once and for all. Prediction: Does it matter? Pumpkin-spiced latte.

Joe Lanza: Contrarian Twitter doesn’t even bother putting over Bray Wyatt anymore, and these are the same goofs who will tell you Jinder Mahal is a raging success. Prediction: What the fuck is this shit?

The Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher vs. Cedric Alexander and Rich Swann

August Baker: Hey, the 205 Live guys get two whole matches! Wow! As maybe one of the few people who actually enjoys 205 Live, I dig heel Jack Gallagher. I keep hoping he’s just messing with THE Brian Kendrick though, and will revert to his gentlemanly ways soon enough. Unfortunately there’s no direction for any of these guys, and no one really cares, but it should be a fun enough match. Prediction: Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann

Andrew Sinclair: This is the first time there’s been more than one Cruiserweight match on a WWE PPV since they reintroduced the belt last September. I actually have a theory about this one – the beatdown segment on Raw saw five heels beat down Kalisto and Mustafa Ali, leading me to think they do a 5-on-5 at Survivor Series, probably on the kick-off. Alexander and Swann in the case have something to do, so they can take the loss here more than the newly heel Gallagher and his mentor Kendrick. Eight minutes of fun. Prediction: Jack Gallagher and Brian Kendrick.

Joe Lanza: Two 205 Live bouts is mighty suspicious on the heels of Neville walking out. Could this be the company throwing a bone at the little fellas while morale is low and dudes are quitting? Or was this just happenstance, with so many of the usual PPV suspects tied up in the bloated main event? Probably the latter, but possibly a combination of both. Prediction: Ced & Swann

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Kalisto © vs. Enzo Amore

August Baker: Poor Neville. Is there anyone who has received more half-hearted pushes and half-hearted crowd responses in the past couple years than Kalisto? A guy who should be the next Rey Mysterio is put in go nowhere feuds that just serve to fill time in the dead space of three hour Raws. I don’t know if being Cruiserweight champion is an upgrade or not. His lackluster crowd responses makes me wonder if the title goes back to Enzo. Prediction: Enzo Amore

Andrew Sinclair: I miss Neville. Giving the belt to Kalisto was obviously meant to be a big moment but I can’t help but feel they only did it as a tribute to Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero, and he’s dropping it here as Enzo begins a long run with the strap. For just the second title match on this show we’ve got one hit-and-miss wrestler, one bad wrestler and a propensity for shenanigans in the finish. Fantastic. Prediction: Enzo Amore

Joe Lanza: When will Vince realize Enzo has a last name and have it dropped? I feel like “Enzo” rolls off the tongue better than “Enzo Amore” anyway. I like Kalisto just fine, but I don’t see him as a star or any kind of difference maker even at the near meaningless 205 Live level. He’s only champion because they were backed into a corner when Neville quit, short circuiting the Neville/Enzo feud, so it makes too much sense here to put the title right back on Enzo. Prediction: Enzo Amore

Asuka vs. Emma

August Baker: Asuka is the obvious winner here, so let’s talk about what’s next. Asuka taking the title from bratty Alexa Bliss is the most logical way to go. Asuka becomes the best wrestler in the women’s division the moment her music hits. She’s the female Brock Lesnar, a destructive force that should mow through everyone in the division. But she can also turn on the charm and charisma in a way Lesnar can’t. Unlike most people coming up from NXT, Asuka will be a star immediately. At least until Vince decides some Monday afternoon she should lose to Alicia Fox via rollup. Prediction: Asuka

Andrew Sinclair: It’s impossible for me to echo what August has said enough. Asuka has so much star power and I want nothing more than for WWE to push her to the moon. Emma wasn’t who I expected to get this spot and it feels like a chance for her to show something more than she normally gets in 4-minutes on RAW. Asuka winning in dominant fashion and moving onto a title programme with Alexa is one of the few things to look forward to on this show. Prediction: ASUKA

Joe Lanza: I saw Emma have a kick ass house show match vs Bayley years ago, and thought for sure that pairing would wind up being a TakeOver match. Welp. Emma’s stock is near zero right now, serving as the jobber to the star here for Asuka. If this company decides to ever make cuts again, she’s a prime candidate for a Stardom tour. Prediction: Asuka

5-on-3 Handicap Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match
The Shield vs. Braun Strowman, The Miz, Kane, Cesaro & Sheamus

August Baker: When this match was first announced, I was pumped. The Shield vs Miz, Cesaro, and Sheamus was a damn near perfect match. Then they added Braun. I like Braun, but he has no business being in this match. Then they added Kane. Kane! Mutherfucking Kane! What?!? Why?!? This went from being a perfect match to being a giant clusterfuck. Only the WWE could take their biggest ace in the hole, a Shield reunion, and put them in a Lose-Lose situation. Either the Shield loses their return match, or they emasculate every major heel on Raw. There was no need for this. No need. Is anyone more excited about this match now that Kane is here? Is anyone, any fucking person on Earth, going to subscribe to the WWE Network because KANE is in this match now? I don’t care about rumored future Undertaker matches. I care that the WWE took an idea that people wanted, that made people excited, and WWE’d all over it. Fuck it’s annoying. Prediction: The Shield. Why not.

Andrew Sinclair: Piss off. Like actually piss off. I remember tweeting how pumped I was for the return of the Shield and a three-on-three TLC match with the Miz and the Bar was a great main event. They had the chance to make it for the tag straps and the Miz’s IC title but now we’ve got the drizzling shits. I get Braun had nothing to do, but surely an open challenge would have been a better use of the time? Handicap matches suck but they only work when you have the face team valiantly fighting against the odds before eventually being overcome by the numbers game. That’s how Survivor Series matches work, that’s how the Unit Survival matches in Dragon Gate work. Adding Kane adds nothing to network subs and it’s made me further lose interest in their product . For a company that’s all about the moments™, they’ve stuffed this one. Prediction: The Shield.

Joe Lanza: WWE loves the handicap match, which is one of the dirt worst stipulations in existence.

To me, there is only one way to book a heel heavy handicap match. The valiant babyfac(es) fight to THE DEATH, with HEART and GUTS, but come up short in the end. The heels MUST win, or they are emasculated geeks. Why would I take the heels seriously in a fair fight when they can’t even beat the faces with an advantage? As long as the faces fight hard and look good in losing, it’s impossible to come away looking bad in defeat, so why bury the heels? But that’s what this particular company does over and over and over and over. “Can [insert indestructible babyface here] survive THE NUMBERS GAME?!”, screams Michael Cole, moments before John Cena or Triple H or Stone Cold Steve Austin thrash the heels, killing their credibility in the process, as we all wonder why the biggest company in the world with the best resources can no longer create stars or put together compelling matchups. These scenarios make the babyface look great (in theory, but not when done so often that they are expected to win, negating the intended rub of overcoming odds), while stripping away any value the heels may have had in creating stars down the line. A much more effective story is “Can you believe John Cena nearly beat three men?”, with the bad guys getting what they deserve when the fight is fair.

Anyway, this match is FUCKING GARBAGE. The heel side, especially with Braun present, should not lose. The Shield reunion was the easiest story ever, a simple crowd pleaser, and they should have never been booked into this muck. Unless they have a huge storyline twist up their sleeve (Braun walking out on Miz does not qualify), this is classic “booked yourself into a corner” bullshit.

And not only that, we have to endure out of shape (and never good to begin with) Kane. GARBAGE. Prediction: The Shield