The last WWE pay-per-view event of 2018 is called Tables, Ladders & Chairs, or TLC for short. It takes place this Sunday night at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on WWE Network from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. This is the tenth year in a row where WWE has run a TLC show.
TLC features a lot of gimmick matches. There are two TLC matches, plus a Ladder Match, Tables Match, and Chairs Match. Thankfully, there is not a Stairs Match like there was a few years ago, because it was terrible. I always found things like a Chairs Match to be weird, because does that mean you can “only” use chairs as a weapon? Since weapons are allowed, you should be able to use anything you want.
There are twelve matches advertised for TLC with nothing advertised for the Kickoff Show at the time of this writing. Most WWE pay-per-views this year had seven or eight matches on the main card, so even if they move three matches to the Kickoff Show, this card will have more matches than most WWE PPVs this year.
Here’s the full lineup of twelve matches:
- Finals of Mixed Match Challenge: Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox vs. R-Truth and Carmella
- Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Cedric Alexander
- Tables Match: Natalya vs. Ruby Riott
- Ladder Match With a Guitar Above the Ring: Elias vs. Bobby Lashley
- Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre
- Chairs Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton
- Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) (c) vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E, Xavier Woods) vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)
- Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match: Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin (If Strowman wins, he challenges Lesnar for the Universal Title at Royal Rumble. If Corbin wins, he is full-time GM of Raw.)
- Raw Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nia Jax
- Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose
- WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles
- Smackdown Women’s Championship TLC Match: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka
There are some big names from Smackdown missing from this card like The Miz, United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, Jeff Hardy, and Samoa Joe, while most of Raw’s guys are a part of the show. There is no Raw Tag Team Title match, though, so that’s something that has been ignored after the title change they did this past week on Raw.
There’s a lot to get to, so here are my ten predictions for WWE TLC.
10. R-Truth and Carmella will win the Mixed Match Challenge
During the round robin portion of Mixed Match Challenge, the teams of Jinder Mahal/Alicia Fox and R-Truth/Carmella went 1-3 each. Since then, they each won two playoff rounds with announcer Michael Cole doing an over the top reaction to those wins as big upsets. It was really Cole just being sarcastic and making a joke out of this show, which is how a lot of fans view this match.
I feel like this match should be treated more seriously since the winners get the #30 spot in the men’s and women’s Royal Rumble, but it’s not like any of these wrestlers are winning a Royal Rumble next month. The winners also get to go on a “vacation,” so that should lead to some comedy bits.
I assume Truth and Carmella will win since they’re the face team and the fans do like them. The “dance break” bit that they do usually leads to the crowd cheering, so there is strong fan support for them. If Mahal/Fox win then that’s fine, but I’d rather see the Truth/Carmella team go over and have some fun as the winners.
9. Natalya, Drew McIntyre, and Buddy Murphy will all pick up victories
I expect Natalya to get revenge against Ruby Riott with a win in their Tables Match. They have had a personal rivalry with Riott ripping on Natalya’s late father Jim Neidhart by constantly mentioning him and even putting an image of him on a table on this week’s Raw. It seems to be building to the babyface Natalya winning to put an end to this rivalry.
Buddy Murphy defends the Cruiserweight Championship against former champ Cedric Alexander in what should be an exciting match. The problem for cruiserweight matches is the fans don’t get into them because people barely watch 205 Live these days. I think Murphy will retain the gold in a competitive match.
The story for McIntyre vs. Balor has seen Balor take an ass kicking repeatedly, so traditionally speaking from a booking sense, you might think Balor will get his revenge with a win here. If that happens, it might be on some counter move or a quick rollup. It’s possible, but WWE also books McIntyre as strong as anybody in the company with only one pinfall loss on Raw this year. That loss happened two weeks ago on Raw against Dolph Ziggler because of a Balor attack, so I think McIntyre will get the win here.
8. The Ladder Match with the guitar will be the worst match of the night
It’s a ladder match & it ends when I smash your dumb ass with a guitar. I’ve spent the better part of 2018 making you relevant & giving you every opportunity to have a personality. You’ve managed to fail at both. At TLC I put you behind me and ascend to space in 2019. https://t.co/H49dsImOGI
— Elias (@IAmEliasWWE) December 14, 2018
My expectations are very low for Elias vs. Bobby Lashley. It represents a lot of the things that are wrong with Raw where you’ve got a match with a stupid stipulation. The Ladder Match should have featured the three Smackdown Tag Teams because that would have been exciting and interesting to watch. Instead, we get this.
Here’s my logical question for WWE: If you have steel ladders all around the ring, does it really matter if you get your hands on a guitar? Are we supposed to believe that hitting another man in the back with a guitar (made of thin pieces of wood) is supposed to hurt more than steel ladders? That’s WWE, my friends. It’s probably best not to ask logical questions.
I assume that Elias is going to get the win since he has gotten his ass kicked by Lashley and friends numerous times in the build up to this match. If Lashley gets the win, he’ll probably get help from hype man Lio Rush. I just don’t think it’s an interesting match and the stipulation hurts it more than it helps.
7. Rey Mysterio beating Randy Orton should lead to Mysterio getting into the WWE Title picture
The reason this is a Chairs Match is because Orton attacked Mysterio with a steel chair multiple times. It fit Orton’s heel persona as a guy that likes to go after the wrestlers that are popular with the fans. On the last Smackdown, Mysterio retaliated with a chair attack from behind as revenge for all the Orton attacks.
When WWE decided to bring back Rey Mysterio as a regular on Smackdown, my assumption was that he would receive a pretty big push because after being out of the company for a few years. Why bring him back and not push him, right? Mysterio is fresh again. I think they want to build momentum with him.
As I look over the Smackdown roster to see who might challenge the current heel WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, there aren’t a lot of names that jump out at me. That’s why I’m leaning towards Mysterio winning this match because if he does, he could be a potential WWE Champion challenger that Bryan can beat.
I’m going with Mysterio for the win although it’s not a lock or anything. This match could go either way because even if WWE wanted to build up Mysterio for a WWE Title shot at Royal Rumble, there’s plenty of time before that. Since Mysterio got the advantage on the last Smackdown, it makes me a bit leery of my pick for Orton to lose, but I’ll stick with it because I think Mysterio could use the win more.
6. The Usos will become the next WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions
As you can see from the graphic above, the three teams in the Smackdown Tag Team Title match have all been five time champions. Some of those reigns have been on Raw and also back when there was only one set of Tag Team Titles, but it all counts the same in WWE history. A stipulation likely would have made this feel like a bigger deal although maybe WWE is going to save that for WrestleMania in a few months. How about a ladder match at WrestleMania? That would be cool.
This is the kind of match where any team could win and none of the teams would be hurt by a loss. All of them have credibility. The way I’m leaning is towards The Usos winning. or perhaps The Bar retains since they won the titles two months ago and maybe WWE will want them to have a longer reign. The last time The Usos held the titles were at WrestleMania when they put over the Bludgeon Brothers.
I’m going with a win for The Usos just because it feels like the right time for them. They have been on a winning streak for a few months, which sets them up nicely for their sixth title reign. Out of these three teams, I’d go with The Usos as the most likely to beat The Dudley Boyz record as 10-time champions because The Usos are twin brothers that will likely remain a team their entire careers. The other teams in this match will split up at some point, so I think this is about setting up The Usos on the road to becoming the best tag team in WWE history.
5. Braun Strowman will beat Baron Corbin in a TLC Match in under three minutes
Bold prediction? I think so. What we know about Strowman’s status is that he had elbow surgery on November 27 and he hasn’t appeared on WWE television since Corbin took him out. The surgery was believed to be the removal of bone chips in his elbow, so it’s not like he had a broken elbow or broken arm like WWE might say to put over his toughness in recovering from it.
The way Corbin has talked about the match on WWE TV makes the viewers believe that Strowman isn’t going to show up and that Corbin will win by forfeit, which would mean Corbin is the full-time Raw GM. That’s the deal they made with Strowman getting a Universal Title match at the Royal Rumble if he wins this match.
There are rumors that maybe Bray Wyatt will make his return to take Strowman’s spot and he’ll beat Corbin to cost Corbin the job of full-time GM. It’s also possible that Kurt Angle takes the Strowman spot and beats Corbin. If they do either of those things, it isn’t as interesting as Strowman getting the win for himself, so I think that’s the route they need to go with this.
What I expect is for Strowman to show up, not take a single bump and absolutely destroy Corbin with tables, ladders and chairs in a match that is over in less than three minutes. Strowman can stay off live events and wrestling on Raw for however long he needs before his Royal Rumble match at the end of January. By the time we get to the Rumble, Strowman should be fully healed.
I would be very surprised if Corbin wins this. Everything on Raw has been building to put an end to his boring reign of terror and I fully expect Strowman to be the guy that ends it.
4. Ronda Rousey will continue her reign as Raw Women’s Champion
The first time Ronda Rousey faced Nia Jax was at Money in the Bank in the summer when Jax was a face and Alexa Bliss showed up to cash in Money in the Bank, which led to her leaving with the Raw Women’s Title. This time, Rousey is the champion and Jax turned heel by joining up with her distant cousin Tamina, so WWE has tried to tell the story that it will be tough for Ronda to keep her title.
I think this match will be better than a lot of people think. I say that as a guy that isn’t fond of Nia Jax matches, but I get her appeal from WWE’s viewpoint because she’s the biggest woman on the roster (not like most girls!) and we all know Vince McMahon loves bigger heel wrestlers. Sometimes when Rousey wrestles, her selling looks bad, but when she’s against Jax, it will be easier for Rousey because she can sell for Jax’s running body attacks, clotheslines, and other power moves.
This should be a win for Rousey because she’s going to hold that title until WrestleMania. It’s possible that she loses the title and then wins the Royal Rumble, but I think holding the Raw Women’s Title until WrestleMania is the smart move. Moving Rousey to Smackdown on Fox before next October is happening at some point, although it’s not going to be right away. Save it for next year.
3. Dean Ambrose will cheat to become the new Intercontinental Champion
One of the most popular questions I have been asked in the build up to this show is: Why is Rollins vs. Ambrose not a stipulation match? I didn’t know the answer right away, but after thinking about it for a bit, I came to the realization that it’s likely because there will be a cheap finish to this match.
If they did a TLC match, ladder match, tables match, or chairs match, then there would likely be a decisive winner. However, when it’s a regular match, that’s when there can be a cheap finish with a heel like Ambrose cheating to win the title. It’s possible that Rollins wins, though, because he’s the guy that has been beaten up repeatedly, so he’s due to get his revenge as well.
I’m all about Seth Rollins moving on from the Intercontinental Title. Rollins has either been competing for or holding the title for the last year. You would think that the guy would be sick of it and he would want to move on, but it hasn’t happened. The good news is there’s a rumor that Rollins might get a bigger push on Raw as the guy that faces Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. Will it be the Universal Title? I don’t know, but it’s very possible.
This should be a very good match between two guys that wrestled eachother a lot in 2014 and 2015. It’s been a while since they had a major singles match, so it will feel fresh again. I think if Rollins retains the title here, then Ambrose is going to win the title on Raw before the Royal Rumble because I think Rollins winning the Royal Rumble match makes sense.
2. Daniel Bryan will find a way to retain the WWE Championship against AJ Styles
They are my two favorite guys in WWE, so I’m excited about this match. It’s like Rollins/Ambrose in that it should probably be a match that has a stipulation on it, but instead, we’re just getting a regular match. The reason for that may be due to the same thing I mentioned with Ambrose where WWE might want Bryan to retain the title by cheating. It would fit Bryan’s character to do that.
What I’ve noticed since Bryan turned heel last month is that he has been utilizing a heel hook leg lock as a finishing move instead of the Yes Lock that he does on the head/arm of an opponent. The heel hook leg lock is like Kurt Angle’s Ankle Lock submission and I like it as a finisher for a heel like Bryan because he is great at working over the leg of an opponent.
This match will probably get around 20 minutes and it will be outstanding. I expect Bryan to work on the leg the entire time and the finish will see Bryan win with the heel hook leg submission. I think the visual of Styles tapping out to lose the title would put over Bryan huge as a deadly submission wrestler that will be tough to beat. Styles has been pushed hard for three years. He’s not going to be hurt by putting somebody over clean, especially when WWE is trying to get Bryan over as the new WWE Champion.
1. Charlotte Flair will become Smackdown Women’s Champion again and have a face-off with Ronda Rousey to end the show
I really hope the Smackdown Women’s Championship match with Becky Lynch defending the gold against Asuka and Charlotte Flair is the main event. After all, this show is called TLC and it’s the first ever women’s TLC match. If WWE is serious about this “Women’s Evolution” and we know they are, then this is the match that should headline TLC.
The popular theory going into this match is that Becky Lynch drops the title, wins the Royal Rumble and faces Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania. I think that theory makes a lot of sense, so maybe WWE tries to swerve us, but the easy thing is to just do it that way. Should it be Asuka that wins her first title or should it be Flair again? I’m going with Flair mainly because Asuka stood tall on the last Smackdown.
Give us the Rousey vs. Flair rematch at Royal Rumble with each woman as the champion on their respective brand with no titles on the line. It can be a Survivor Series rematch with a Street Fight stipulation so that there can be no DQ for Flair this time. Meanwhile, Becky Lynch wins the Royal Rumble and goes on to challenge Rousey for the Raw Women’s Title at WrestleMania because Lynch wants to prove that she is the baddest woman on the planet. We all know that Raw needs a spark going into WrestleMania and I think the presence of Becky Lynch would help a lot.
Charlotte calling me out on TV and online for “missing time.” Again, The Man will just provide the truth in the face of lies. pic.twitter.com/wEGuktuaPd
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) December 7, 2018
Will the supporters of Becky Lynch be mad if she loses the Smackdown Women’s Title? Probably, but I hope they see the big picture. The Royal Rumble is one month away and she’s the best choice to win that match. If you like Lynch, you should be happy if she loses this title because winning the Royal Rumble almost as big as winning a title.
This should be an outstanding match with Lynch, Flair, and Asuka all working well together in big matches. I hope Lynch is smart about some of the bumps she takes since he has been out of action with a broken nose and a concussion, so don’t do some crazy table spot that could lead to another injury. Be smart about it, please.
I’m going with Charlotte to win, but it’s not a lock. I just think it makes the most sense in terms of the long term storyline direction. If it doesn’t happen, that’s okay. The Smackdown Women’s division is one of the best things going in WWE, so I have faith in the talent being able to pull off whatever they are booked to do.
I think TLC will be a pretty good show with the women’s TLC, WWE Title match, Rollins/Ambrose and Smackdown Tag Team Title matches interesting me the most. I am concerned by there being too many matches and some of them might be boring, so that could hurt TLC a bit. As long as the best matches get the most time, TLC should be a successful show worth checking out this Sunday night.
You can watch WWE TLC this Sunday, December 16th at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on WWE Network with the Kickoff Show beginning at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. The expected run time is somewhere between three and four hours. If you miss it live, you can watch it on demand at your own convenience. I’ll be back on Monday for a review of the event.