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411’s Instant Analysis 12.16.12: WWE TLC 2012

December 17, 2012 | Posted by Scott Slimmer

Hey kids, I’m Scott, and this is 411’s Instant Access: WWE Survivor Series 2012. Instant Access is the companion piece to 411 Live Pay-Per-View Coverage and features immediate reaction to wrestling pay-per-views. The focus in Instant Access is on first thoughts and initial reactions instead of play-by-play with the goal of providing you with instant access to one writer’s thoughts on the show. Here’s the team for Survivor Series:

Scott Slimmer, author of Don’t Think Twice.

Okay kids, enough with the explanations. Let’s get to the wrestling.

“Santa’s Helper” No. 1 Contender’s Diva Battle Royal
Layla vs. Kaitlyn vs. Natalya vs. Tamina Snuka vs. Alicia Fox vs. Rosa Mendes vs. Aksana vs. Cameron vs. Naomi

Match Result: Naomi wins the “Santa’s Helper” No. 1 Contender’s Divas Battle Royal
Match Length: 5:25
Match Analysis:
Slimmer: Using the pre-show to set up a match on the main card is a great way to tie the pre-show into the rest of the show without burying an entire storyline or feud on the pre-show, so in that regard I like the idea of this Divas Battle Royal. The actual match was sloppy and forgettable, but I do like the fact that WWE broke out of the Layla and Caitlyn rut that the Divas division has been in for months and gave Naomi a chance to shine. Naomi and Eve ended up having a sub-par match later in the evening, but that’s understandable for the first time a Diva is elevated into title contention. I’ll at least take the fact that WWE took a chance on putting a new Diva in the title scene as evidence that they’re trying to make a change in the Divas division.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ½*

No. 1 Contenders’ Tag Team Tables Match
Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara vs. Team Rhodes Scholars
Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara vs. Team Rhodes Scholars

Match Result: Cody Rhodes pushes Sin Cara off the top rope and through two tables at ringside to win the match.
Match Length: 9:31
Slimmer: There was a time, not so long ago, when it was considered something of a miracle just to see a WWE Tag Team Title match on PPV, but now we’ve got a No. 1 Contender’s Match with a gimmick and the tag champs wrestling in the co-main event of the show. The WWE tag team division certainly has a long way to go, but it seems clear to me that it’s heading in the right direction. This was a fun match between two of the best tag teams in the promotion, and they did a great job of teasing table spots throughout the match. Having the heels pick up the win made the most sense given that the champs are faces, but Rhodes and Sandow also needed the push more than Mysterio and Sin Cara. Team Hell No vs. Team Rhodes Scholars would be a ton of fun at the Royal Rumble, and as we’ve seen in the past, having that match wouldn’t necessarily mean than those four guys couldn’t enter the Royal Rumble match as well.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ***

United States Championship Match
Antonio Cesaro (Champion) vs. R-Truth
Antonio Cesaro vs. R-Truth

Match Result: Antonio Cesaro defeats R-Truth with the Neutralizer.
Match Length: 6:41
Slimmer: Here’s what I wrote about the match that Cesaro and Truth had last month at Survivor Series: “I’m always glad to see Antonio Cesaro on PPV, and I suppose this was a decent enough match to keep him busy this month, but my problem is that it never felt like he was in any jeopardy of losing the match or the title. This was clearly a throwaway match and a throwaway feud, and ultimately those kinds of matches and feuds really don’t do Cesaro any good. WWE used to know how to book important and compelling mid-card title feuds (i.e., Hart, Perfect, Michaels, Razor, etc.), but lately the mid-card titles just seem like ways to keep guys busy until maybe they’re ready for the main event. I’d much rather see Cesaro burn time with the United States Championship that be buried or forgotten, but it’s just a shame he isn’t being given the chance to really showcase his skill along the way. Almost as worrisome is the fact that I have no idea who he feuds with next now that he’s gone through Truth. Last month I said that Truth was the only guys that made sense for Cesaro to feud with, and now I’m flat out of ideas. Part of the problem is that many of WWE’s mid-card faces and heels are tied up in the tag team division, but I applaud the effort that WWE is putting into rebuilding their tag team credibility. It’s just unfortunate that the mid-card titles had to be put in a holding pattern in order for the tag team division to get a chance to shine.” Every word of that remains just as true this month.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: **½

Intercontinental Championship Match
Kofi Kingston (Champion) vs. Wade Barrett
Kofi Kingston vs. Wade Barrett

Match Result: Kofi Kingston defeats Wade Barrett with Trouble in Paradise.
Match Length: 8:23
Slimmer: Kingston and Barrett had an advantage over Cesaro and Truth in that they didn’t already face each other at the preceding PPV. In addition, while I never thought Truth had a shot of winning Cesaro’s title, I truly did give Barrett a fighting chance. Of course, to be fair, I am a HUGE Wade Barrett mark, so in this case my analysis is something less than objective. This wasn’t a particularly memorable match, but Kingston and Barrett did do a nice job of balancing Kingston’s high flying spots with Barrett’s power and brawling spots. I’d be happy to see this feud continue for another month, but my guess is that they’ll meet in the Royal Rumble match itself rather than in another one-on-one title match. I still believe Barrett is a star in the making, so the only question is whether he’ll spend time as the Intercontinental Champion or slingshot straight to a world title at some point in 2013.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: **¾

TLC Match
Ryback & Team Hell No vs. The Shield
Ryback & Team Hell No vs. The Shield

Match Result: Roman Reigns defeats Daniel Bryan with a powerbomb off the second rope through a table.
Match Length: 22:44
Slimmer: I was surprised this match was booked so early on the card, but I suppose that made sense given the drama in the main event. However, even with it being in the first half of the card, this is the match that stole the show. This match was all about brutality, and at times it felt like more of a street fight than a traditional TLC match. But don’t get me wrong – that’s a good thing. The high spots in traditional TLC matches sometimes fee contrived, but this match focused on weapon-enhanced carnage rather than weapon-dependent carnage. (And yes, the big Rollins / Ryback ladder spot at the end was super contrived, but that was only one spot in a 20+ minute match.) The good news coming out of this match is twofold for the Shield. First, and most obviously, they won the match. They would have been dead in the water if they lost on such a big stage in their debut, so picking up the win was almost a necessity for them. Second, and almost more importantly, each member of the Shield was able to showcase a unique in-ring style. Rollins came off as the technical high flyer of the group, Reigns was the powerhouse, and Ambrose was the sadistic bastard. That’s how you build a truly effective stable – give everybody a unique personality on the mic and a unique style in the ring. It’s amazing to think that five of the six guys in this match came out of the NXT system. That truly speaks to the success of WWE’s current developmental approach. The main event may have had more drama, but in my mind this was the most important match on the card.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ****¼

Divas Championship Match
Eve (Champion) vs. Naomi

Match Result: Eve Torres defeats Naomi with the Heart Breaker.
Match Length: 3:07
Slimmer: As I said above, I was pleased to see that WWE gave someone other than Layla and Caitlyn a shot at the Divas Championship. As soon as Naomi won the battle royal, Steve Cook tweeted me to say that Naomi was actually a decent wrestler, so there was hope for the title match later in the evening. Unfortunately, the match that Eve and Naomi ended up having was one of the shortest and weakest Divas title matches we’ve seen on PPV in quite some time. The match seemed designed simply to put anyone other than Layla or Caitlyn in the challenger’s position but never to really make her seem like a credible threat to Eve’s title. My guess is that this will be Naomi’s last title shot for quite some time, and next month we’ll see either Layla or Caitlyn back in title contention.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ½*

Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Big Show (Champion) vs. Sheamus
Big Show vs. Sheamus

Match Result: Big Show defeats Sheamus with a shot from a REALLY FUCKING BIG CHAIR
Match Length: 14:08
Slimmer: This match felt somewhat underwhelming due to the level of brutality we had been led to expect. Sheamus and Show have demonstrated on numerous occasions that they can do a hell of a lot of damage to each other with their bare hands, so we could only image the destruction they could bring with chairs. In addition, Show and Mark Henry had an absolutely hellacious chairs match last year at TLC, so it seemed reasonable to hope for something similar this year. Unfortunately, this match seemed to focus on teasing brutality more than it did on actually delivering brutality. In many ways, this match used the psychology of a tables match where you tease the big spots but only really deliver at the end. I mean, yes, there were definitely chair shots throughout, but they weren’t the kind of truly brutal chair shots that you would expect from two guys like Show and Sheamus. In fact, as far as I could tell, the most brutal shots in the match were still Show’s chops to Sheamus’ chest. With Show picking up the win for the third time in a row, I finally have to doubt if Sheamus will get another shot at the title next month. If WWE is seriously about Del Rio’s face turn, then it might make sense to have a face Del Rio challenge Show for the title at the Royal Rumble. Unless, of course, Sheamus seeks retribution at either Raw or Smackdown this week and leaves Show in a position where Dolph Ziggler, still in possession of the MitB contract, could take advantage of the situation.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ***¼

The Miz, Alberto Del Rio, & The Brooklyn Brawler vs. 3MB

Match Result: The Brooklyn Brawler defeats Jinder Mahal with the Brooklyn Crab.
Match Length: 3:19
Slimmer: I thought the weird thing about this match was that WWE was trying to make us buy both Miz and Del Rio as faces. And then the Brooklyn Brawler showed up. Look, I understand pandering to the crowd and getting cheap pops. It’s a time honored tradition in this industry. But honestly, the New York crowd would have popped a whole lot more for Zack Ryder (or even Santino Marella) than they did for the freaking Brooklyn Brawler. WWE’s basic approach to storytelling is to assume that their fans don’t remember anything that happened more than four weeks ago, and yet for some reason they thought the Brooklyn Brawler would pop the crowd. Right. Even more troubling was the fact that the Brawler nonsense completely overshadowed Del Rio’s face turn. If Del Rio only turned face for the night and this match is essentially going to be treated as out of continuity, then I suppose it’s not much of a problem. But if WWE honestly sees Del Rio as a viable face moving forward, then having him play second fiddle to a washed up jobber in his debut as a face was an incredibly bizarre decision. Oh, and as I am contractually obliged to remind you all, I have always and will always detest 3MB, and not even in a good way. But really, if you were going to job a member of 3MB to a “legend,” why the hell was it Jinder Mahal instead of Heath Slater? At least jobbing Slater would have been a funny little nod to his pitiful track record.
Match Rating:

Ladder Match for the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Contract
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler
John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler

Match Result: Dolph Ziggler retrieves the MitB briefcase to win the match after AJ tipped the ladder as Cena was about to win the match.
Match Length: 23:18
Slimmer: Well then. We all assumed we knew what was going to happen in this match. And yes, sure, okay, somebody out there probably called Ziggler retaining, so maybe we “all” didn’t assume Cena was going to win. But the vast majority of us thought Cena had this in the bag, and I was certainly one of them. When the TLC match went on in the middle of the card, I was sure that the evening would end with John Cena celebrating in the middle of the ring. It all just seemed too perfect and too convenient. And yet here we are, and I’m happy as hell to say that I was dead wrong, but first things first. Cena and Ziggler had a great match, and they both stepped up their game. Ziggler rose to the occasion as he always does when put on the big stage, but I have to give credit to Cena for continuing to grow as an in-ring performer, even after ten years in WWE. I mean, a hurricanrana? Really? REALLY? It may not have been the prettiest rana in history, but it was really damn impressive from a guy who theoretically “can’t wrestle.” And then there was the finish with AJ causing Cena the win. There will probably be people bitching about the fact that Ziggler didn’t get a clean win, but the Ziggler fans out there should just be happy he got the win at all. Ziggler’s a sneaky, slimy opportunist in much the same way that Edge was, so it makes perfect sense for Ziggler to take the win any way he can get it. And then there’s AJ, who tonight cemented herself as the most fascinating Diva of the year. In 2012 she made a significant impact on both the WWE and the World Heavyweight title picture, was the General Manager of Raw, made out with most of the main eventers in the company on camera, stole the hears of at least 97% of the IWC, and was completely screwed out of the top spot in the 411 Hot 100. Ziggler is better off with MitB than he would have been without it, Cena is more interesting without MitB than he would have been with it, and AJ is walking (and skipping) proof of how interesting Divas can be when just given a damn chance. Great match with fascinating booking – oh hell yeah.
Match Rating:
Slimmer: ****¼

Final Thoughts

Match of the Night:
Slimmer: Ryback & Team Hell No vs. The Shield (****¼)
I gave **** ¼ to both the TLC and the MitB matches, and I easily could have given MotN honor to either of them. They were both great matches, but I’m giving the edge to the TLC match due to the fact that it had more brutality and the fact that it played a crucial role in elevating three rising stars. But honestly, the best news here is that there were two matches that legitimately could have been MotN, in contrast to some shows where it’s hard to find a single match that really deserves the honor.

Trash of the Night:
Slimmer: Eve vs. Naomi (½*)
It was nice to see someone other than Layla or Caitlyn challenging Eve for the title, but this match just didn’t work. Naomi could be a decent title contender in time, but she needs to spend more time wrestling and less time dancing before that’s ever going to happen.

Final Analysis:
Slimmer: This turned out to be a decent show from both the in-ring action and the storyline points of view. Three of the four big gimmick matches (tables match, TLC, and MitB) delivered, and the TLC and MitB matches also significantly advanced two major storylines. The worst parts of the show (Divas title match, the Brooklyn Brawler, fuckin’ 3MB) all came and went quickly, and that gave the highlights of the show a chance to shine. There was more good than bad here, so tonight I can walk away happy.

Slimmer: ***

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Scott Slimmer