Tables, Ladders, Chairs… & Stairs Preview

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“Although we’ve come to the end of the road, still I can’t let go.”

Place to Be Nation, as those beautiful “boyz” from Philly once crooned, we have come to the end of the road. The pay-per-view/special event road of 2014 has reached its conclusion. It’s been a year with many peaks and valleys to say the least. We saw many breath-taking moments mixed with the surreal. From Daniel Bryan capping off the ultimate underdog story, to Sting’s historic appearance that led to the demise of The Authority, 2014 has been one of the most historic and, at times, polarizing PPV years the company has ever seen. While not everything that happened this calendar year was 5-star worthy and many are still for lack of a better term, “butt hurt,” that we never see the WWE World Heavyweight Champion on television anymore, the roster is still deep and the in-ring product hasn’t suffered one iota.

This Sunday’s TLC & S match card is evidence enough that my previous statement rings true. We have a whopping nine matches, all of which have a purpose. No filler on this night and there likely will be no need any of those throwaway add-on affairs we have been treated to all year. Sure there might be opportunities to reach up and make a sandwich or as they said in No Holds Barred, “bleed the old lizard,” but no one on this card is being thrown out there just to earn a payday. It’s very much like a Vince Russo/Attitude Era event in that respect and hopefully I can convince you naysayers out there by the end of this piece. So let’s get this bad boy stared shall we?

KICKOFF MATCH

The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) Vs. Gold & Stardust

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As strange as this may sound WWE, you can actually have a tag team match on a ppv that has nothing to do with the titles. It can happen fellas, just go with it! These two teams are on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. The New Day just loves everything and everybody. Even in defeat, those boys continue to have a song in their hearts and a gusto second to none. What’s their motivation? Who cares! Have they found a higher power? Well if so, they probably aren’t allowed to talk about it! Regardless of where said happiness comes from, one team looking to turn those smiles into frowns is the Rhodes’ boys. Gold and Stardust find their motivation in the cosmos and upon losing their hardware last month, it has been their mission in life to cover the shining New Day in darkness. I see this being an entertaining warmup to what I hope is a fun television feud leading into the new year. It stinks to see Cody and Dustin fall so far, but this will be nothing more than a showcase of the newly formed babyface trio. MCGINN’S PICK: THE NEW DAY

DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Nikki Bella (C) Vs. AJ Lee

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In a rematch from Survivor Series, Nikki makes her first title defense on pay-per-view against the division’s standard-bearer for the past few years. Bold prediction alert: I think this goes longer than 35 seconds. If you believe the stories that these two were literally given no time at Survivor Series, you have to think these girls will have a few extra minutes to get a good story across. I mean honestly, what the bleep was the point of the whole Bella breakup angle if Brie was just going to screw AJ after being her sister’s slave? It’s horse hockey! AJ, who by the way, is the longest-reigning Divas Champion in company history, deserves better than to lose her strap in some half-assed booking decision. Okay, I’m starting to get mad again. Bottom line, AJ thinks the Bellas have no talent and Nikki did the unthinkable and called AJ a “little girl from New Jersey.” Obviously heads are going to roll in this one. For whatever reason, the E loves their Bellas and are probably too stupid to do the right thing, so Nikki will likely retain and then move on to something else that’s pointless. MCGINN’S PICK: NIKKI BELLA

UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

Rusev (C) Vs. Jack Swagger

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I know what you’re going to say. “McGinn, how is this not a throwaway match? Everyone knows Rusev is winning this.” It’s not a throwaway match because at least these two have a history together. Sure, it’s step down for the Russian killer to go from the main event last month to a return bout with a guy he dispatched on several occasions months ago. Maybe these two brutes just work well together. At least they added some sizzle to this overdone steak by having Rusev decimate Swagger’s mentor, Zeb Colter nearly two weeks ago. Swagger looks to avenge Zeb’s broken leg by turning around and fracturing Rusev’s ankle in the Patriot Lock. I know they “have” to keep Rusev strong to eventually be fed to someone like Cena, but a victory by Jack would certainly be sweet redemption after almost a year of knockdowns. Just playing devil’s advocate I guess. Storyline wise, Swagger should win, but the realist in me tells me that our national nightmare is far from over. MCGINN’S PICK: RUSEV

INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP LADDER MATCH

Luke Harper (C) Vs. Dolph Ziggler

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Luke Harper is one of more unlikely IC champs I can remember in recent history. If you were to tell me that he would be carrying a strap long before Bray Wyatt would up in the big leagues, I would have thought you were having a few dozen drinks with Andre “The Giant” in his prime. But here we sit, knocking on the door of 2015 and the workhorse of the now defunct Wyatt Family is showing off some bling over his severely stained tank top. Dolph, meanwhile, was last seen being the ultimate hero to millions when his victory at Survivor Series spelled the end of Hunter and Stephanie in power. Sure it took one monumental appearance by one of the all-time greats to achieve said triumph, but in the record books it will say that Dolph Ziggler – everyone’s favorite whipping boy – captured the win for Team Cena. He is riding the wave of a lifetime and as long as the fabled WWE World Heavyweight Champion is too cool to show up on television, we need a fighting champion on some form of programming. Too many heels are clogging up the title picture and you just can’t deny Dolph at his hottest. Unless of course, he loses here only to win the Rumble and beat Brock at Mania, but that, friends, would be crazy talk. So barring that, Ziggler pops the crowd and regains his Intercontinental Championship. Harper doesn’t need it anyway, plus he’ll look like a million bucks after chucking Ziggler around all night. Lock it up, new champ! MCGINN’S PICK: DOLPH ZIGGLER

STEEL STAIRS MATCH

Erick Rowan Vs. Big Show

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Quick aside, take a look at this promotional picture. Doesn’t it look like Show is the happy-go-lucky gentle giant figure while Rowan looks like a hillbilly, extra from Deliverance, psychotic killer? Both guys are massive and the stairs gimmick will make this at minimum tolerable, but this could be the low point of the evening. Some argue that Harper should be in Show’s place and we could see the Wyatt boys have a train wreck of a brawl on the big stage. Unfortunately, we’re treated to another Big Show heel turn that no one in their right mind would ever ask for. I’m curious to see how creative they will be with using stairs as a primary weapon. How many times can one guy get thrown into a set of stairs anyway? In my estimation, Show should put over the new big guy on campus and then quietly retire or become a full-time Network analyst. Rowan is also untested as a singles guy on pay-per-view so his development is also worth watching. The theme from Raw this week was for guys to “step up.” I see Rowan doing just that and will appropriately have steel stairs to guide him on his way. MCGINN’S PICK: ERICK ROWAN

TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH

The Miz & Damien Mizdow (C) Vs. The Usos

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As far as the term “total package” goes, this match should have it all. High flying maneuvers, comic relief, double-teaming, double-crossing and perhaps a few “This is Awesome” chants in between it all. The Usos have been a joy to watch all year. It seems like you can put them with anyone and the match has that show stealing factor that cannot be denied. Wyatts, Shield, Rhodeses, heck, even The New Age Outlaws were somewhat enjoyable to watch when they squared off with Jimmy and Jey. They rightfully deserve to be the Tag Team of the Year. On the flip side, has there been a more satisfying development than the emergence of Mizdow as an insanely over with the fans commodity? He helped save a turd sandwich of an undercard at Survivor Series simply by sticking with his character and supporting his A-lister teammate. The Miz/Mizdow cheer/boo combination is pure gold. I just have the feeling that his match will get the crowd off on the right foot. Now add to that the whole Naomi angle, and this could be a classic. Miz is trying to help Jimmy’s wife become a star in Hollywood which is causing some strife in the Uso household. Will Jimmy’s distrust get the better of him? Will Naomi choose glitz and glamour over family and love? One thing’s for certain, the ending to this will be must-see. I think the champs retain, but this on-screen drama will surely have a sequel. MCGINN’S PICK: MIZ & MIZDOW

CHAIRS MATCH

Ryback Vs. Kane

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Here is where we see the ugly underbelly of having gimmick-themed pay-per-views. Is this really a match you would pay to see or would you settle to see it on Raw or Smackdown and be done with it? The only thing keeping this on the card is the fact that they can use chairs legally. That’s it! Ryback is coming off a lackluster showing last month which was odd considering he was hyped as the top “free agent” in the company leading into Survivor Series. Conversely, Kane is a monster with no mask, no role in the Authority and basically wrestling in dress pants. If they are smart, Ryback crushes him in under two minutes. Chair shots galore, Meat Hook, Shell Shock and ring the bell. If Ryback is going on to bigger and better things, he can’t be struggling to get offense in against an aging Kane on PPV. It’s feeding time for The Big Guy in Cleveland! MCGINN’S PICK: RYBACK

TABLES MATCH

John Cena Vs. Seth Rollins

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This and the last match could be the toughest to call since the company could go in several different directions depending on the outcomes. To set the stage, these two have been on a collision course since Rollins nearly cashed in his Money in The Bank briefcase at Night of Champions. Cena felt he got screwed out of regaining the WWE’s top prize thanks to that interference and blames the former golden child of The Authority for that missed opportunity. An added stipulation to this match was made by the Anonymous Raw GM who said that if Cena loses on Sunday, he will no longer be the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight title. That is perfectly fine with me! I think they have run Cena/Brock into the ground. In 2012 it was fresh. Then at Summerslam, when Brock pummeled the franchise of WWE, it was wildly successful and to some, shockingly amazing. By the time they came around to Night of Champions, it wasn’t unique anymore. That match needs to be a special attraction and not just an excuse to get two big names on the card. What does that have to do with Rollins? I think this is the perfect opportunity to give the young guy the rub. Since winning at MITB, what’s Rollins’ signature win that established him as the future of the company? So why not do it here against the biggest name possible? It’s a tables match after all. Rollins can win without pinning Cena, which opens the door for Cena to slip on the proverbial banana peel allowing a heel victory. It’s not unheard of for John to do the job on a December PPV and I just think Rollins needs it more. If we are to believe that at some point in 2015 we will utter the phrase, “our heavyweight champion Seth Rollins,” wouldn’t a special event win over John flipping Cena establish him as a main event player? Cena will have his day up at the top again, you can believe that. I just think if you are going to have a shocking upset that will get people talking leading into the next night’s Raw, this match provides the perfect setting for an OMG moment. MCGINN’S PICK: SETH ROLLINS

TABLES, LADDERS & CHAIRS MATCH

Dean Ambrose Vs. Bray Wyatt

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And now, the match that gives the PPV it’s namesake. Minus the whole stairs thing though I’m sure they will find a way into this one as well. These two have been playing mind games since Hell in a Cell and their demolition derby culminates right here. Here’s a thought, if Cena loses and this goes on last, does this make this match a possible battle for the #1 contender position? Stranger things have happened but they basically have been selling this match as a main event since Ambrose buried Wyatt with tables and chairs on the night of Survivor Series. Both of these guys need a shining moment entering 2015. Much like I wrote last month, it’s hard to call this one because they both literally need to win. The loser certainly could remain over with the Universe, but how long can guys go before they are labeled as losers? I think this is a huge step forward for a guy like Ambrose. I don’t think the company expected him to be a huge star coming out of The Shield, and now he is as popular as ever. I’m not saying he’s immediately inserted into the title picture, but a tremendous showing here can only help his chances. Wyatt could become the character babyface Jim Ross wants him to be in the New Year and that could open the door for other opportunities. But the time to strike with Ambrose could be now and this show might need a happy ending. The brutality and violence will be off the charts in this one. Definitely a bout with show-stealing potential. I might be unstable for thinking it, but I think the Lunatic Fringe will out-crazy Bray Wyatt on this night. MCGINN’S PICK: DEAN AMBROSE

So there you have it! Be sure to follow us at Place to Be Nation for the very best coverage of TLC and Chairs you will likely find on the internet. In addition to the PPV live blog Sunday night, stay tuned for the PTB Network Reaction Show along with my Raw Recap next week! Enjoy the show, PTB Nation!

Author: Dan McGinn

Dan McGinn is a former Minor League Baseball announcer, a five-star General in the #sweatervestarmy and an all around babyface who you should be happy to take home to dinner. He also happens to write about wrestling.