Posted December 4th, 2016 by 1Wrestling News Team

By Don Murphy

Tonight, we get yet another offering from the Smackdown brand, as the WWE presents its annual TLC (Tables Ladders and Chairs) show from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. On paper, it’s a solid lineup and, as I’ve said in past reports, I have enjoyed what the creative team has done on the Smackdown side, particularly with a limited roster pool. For one, they don’t have that third hour that has the tendency to make Monday Night Raw drag. And, the Smackdown team generally does a better job building stories, which I attribute to the former NXT creative team members, who are now contributing to Smackdown. However, given the roster’s lack of depth, my biggest question coming out of tonight’s show will be “what’s next?” Who will be slotted into the Number One Contender spots, to challenge for all of Smackdown’s titles? Frankly, there really haven’t been any hints over the past several episodes, so Tuesday night’s show should be very interesting. But, before we worry about that, let’s concern ourselves with tonight and the six advertised matches we’ll see, including four championship matches. Let’s run down the card…

Main Event: AJ Styles defends the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Dean Ambrose in a “Tables, Ladders and Chairs” Match

Analysis: When I started to reflect on this storyline, and where we’ve gone over the past several months, I’m conflicted. On the one hand, there’s the “good.” AJ has matured so much as a character, since he joined the WWE. He plays the “cocky, yet, paranoid, heel champion” so well and his reactions to Dean have made this feud enjoyable. Plus, the two work really well together in the ring. However, for all the “good”, I feel like the creative team has been spinning its wheels building to this match. The buildup has been less about the actual match, and more about the role James Ellsworth will play in the outcome. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the character Ellsworth plays. I “get” why he’s become a cult favorite. But, I also think making him a main player in a championship match is too much, especially since he’s not going to be in the upper mid-card down the road, beyond being someone’s sidekick. For this match, given Ellsworth’s continued lobbying to be in Dean’s corner, I see Ellsworth turning heel to cost Ambrose the match and title. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess. He could be AJ’s lackey, helping him win matches, but I’m not sure Styles “needs” something like that to continue to get heat. And, it will only serve to prolong the “comedy” aspect of AJ’s character, whereas the champion should have more of a serious edge to him. Then, of course, there will be the question of, “who challenges for the title next? But, let’s worry about that after Tuesday.

Murphy Predicts: AJ Styles retains the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, likely due to a James Ellsworth heel turn

WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship Match: The Miz defends the WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship against Dolph Ziggler in a Ladder Match

Analysis: This will likely be the last match between these two before they move on to other things. I’ve really enjoyed this feud, particularly the Miz’s heel work. He’s doing the best he can to make the IC title relevant again and at this stage, his character needs the title, and the title needs him. For Ziggler, there’s no doubt that he will make the match itself memorable, but I think it’s finally time to lose the babyface character and the dated 80’s references, spend some time off of TV and re-emerge as an edgier heel. Since I see the Miz retaining tonight, hopefully that is the trigger that puts this in motion. For the Miz, there have been no clues as to who his next challenger will be, but it will likely be a part of his continued storyline with Smackdown General Manager, Daniel Bryan.

Murphy Predicts: The Miz retains the WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch defends the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss in a Tables Match

Analysis: I don’t think the Smackdown writers planned to have this storyline go beyond one match, but Becky’s recent injury delayed their first match and gave Alexa the chance to evolve her character, which has been stellar. For that reason, I am hoping there’s some more mileage to this feud. The simple solution to prolonging the story would be to put the title on Bliss, which sets up an automatic rematch. That would be ideal, because I just don’t see anyone else on the women’s roster as a compelling challenger at this stage. I suppose they could go back to Natalya, but her character these days is more annoying that heelish.

Murphy Predicts: Alexa Bliss wins the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Rhyno and Heath Slater defend the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship against Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton

Analysis: This will likely be a blowoff match for the Rhyno/Slater story, as the new Wyatt “Family” will go on to feud with American Alpha. The build here has been a hot mess. American Alpha won a title shot two weeks ago, only to have to face the Wyatts last week for the shot, with no explanation given. I still feel that we are getting a really drawn out story, which will eventually re-engage us in an Orton-Wyatt feud, once Orton finally turns and reveals he was playing Bray the whole time. I am hoping that, during the turn, it results in American Alpha winning the titles, so that we can get back to their feud with the Usos, which has the potential to be great, but hasn’t really had the chance to take off yet. For Slater and Rhyno, I still think both have some equity, so hopefully, this won’t be the end of a relevant journey for either.

Murphy Predicts: Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt win the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship

No-Disqualification Match: Nikki Bella meets Carmella

Analysis: This has been another well-done feud, as Carmella is a natural heel. I am hoping that the no-DQ stipulation results in a Carmella win, since she needs the equity, while a non-clean loss will not impact Bella at all. Eventually, with some more seasoning, Carmella could evolve into a cocky heel champion character. But, that’s down the road, as best.

Murphy Predicts: Carmella defeats Nikki Bella

Singles Chairs Match: Baron Corbin meets Kalisto

Analysis: This a blowoff to a feud that never really took off. The WWE has something with Corbin; it’s just a matter of figuring out what they have and how to use it. Perhaps they could move him into a feud with Dean Ambrose, after Ambrose moves on from AJ Styles. Both seem to have a decent chemistry and the promos would be great. Kalisto would be best-served to work in the Cruiserweight Division full-time, and hopefully, that will be the case.

Murphy Predicts: Baron Corbin defeats Kalisto

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