Posted December 16th, 2018 by Bill Apter

The Predictor Predicts: WWE TLC 2018
he Predictor Predicts: WWE TLC 2018

By Don “The Predictor” Murphy (@DonThePredictor on Twitter)

A very happy holiday season to the entire 1wrestling.com Universe. As the year comes to a close, it’s refreshing to look back at the year in wrestling and realize that it’s a great time to be a fan. New promotions are popping up; younger talent is start to come into their own and there are now more ways than ever to consume content. For the WWE, the end of the year is really the beginning of the 2019 roller coaster. Very shortly after the new year, we will officially be on the road the WrestleMania (yours truly is looking forward to being in attendance). And toward the end of next year, Smackdown will debut on the FOX network, likely with a different look and presentation. Add to that the promise of roster shakeups and NXT call ups; and you have yourself something to look forward to. But first, we stop in San Jose, California at the SAP Center for the annual “Tables, Ladders and Chairs” show. Now, there’s been a lot of discussion around falling ratings and I’ll say that some of the booking, especially on Raw, has been questionable and flat at times. But, they’ve taken the best things about the product right now to feature on this show. I’m not usually a fan of gimmick matches, but for many of these matches, stipulations make sense. Let’s run down the card!
WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan defends the WWE Championship against AJ Styles

Topline Thoughts: One of the bright spots on the roster right now is Daniel Bryan. I felt that his return to full-time action was a bit flat, which can be attributed to poor booking decisions. I was skeptical about turning him heel, but he has knocked it out of the park. There’s no doubt that he and Styles will tear the house down and that this is likely only the beginning of a longer program. I am very much looking forward to see how Bryan’s heel persona evolves, and my even bigger question is – assuming he keeps the title, who does he face at WrestleMania? Styles is the most credible opponent he has right now? Might we see a trade to Smackdown from Raw? Do we see an NXT call up here? The next several months should be very interesting.

The Predictor Predicts: Daniel Bryan retains the WWE Championship

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Seth Rollins defends the WWE Intercontinental Championship against Dean Ambrose

Topline Thoughts: Even though this is a gimmick-themed show, I am happy that they resisted the temptation to add a stipulation here. You could get away with it, but these two are just starting out on a journey and we’re not quite there yet. Ambrose as a heel has also been a highlight of the show lately. It would be very easy to cheer him as the “cool heel,” but he’s managed to combat that nicely by focusing much of his anger on the fans. These two can wrestle a great match, but this will be a brawl – one where I think the first round of the feud goes to Ambrose, putting Rollins in title chase mode.

The Predictor Predicts: Dean Ambrose wins the WWE Intercontinental Championship

WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match: Ronda Rousey defends the WWE Raw Women’s Championship against Nia Jax

Topline Thoughts: A bad botch turned out to make Nia Jax a top heel act. Now, there are some that feel she should be demoted given her past botches. But, if you listened to the chorus of boos at the Survivor Series, you can’t ignore the heat and with a somewhat flat Raw women’s roster, you need all that you can get. I will say that I would have booked Nia as more of a monster than someone who is intimated by Rousey. And, while I think they are building to a Rousey-Becky Lynch, my hope is that in the loss, they find a way to keep Jax strong because, as I said, they need everything they have until they shake the roster up again.

The Predictor Predicts: Ronda Rousey retains the WWE Raw Women’s Championship

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Match/Tables, Ladders and Chairs: Becky Lynch defends the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair and Asuka

Topline Thoughts: Speaking of the best thing in the WWE right now, that brings us to Becky Lynch. This is the match I am most looking forward to. At first, I was a bit concerned that the Charlotte-Becky program would run a bit flat, but they’ve managed to keep it interesting. And, I am pleased that they’ve found a way to make Asuka relevant again. In fact, I think the play here will be to take the title off of Lynch here so that she can win the Royal Rumble in January and challenge Rousey. Charlotte doesn’t need the title at this phase, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the title end up with her again. In the end, my gut tells me that Asuka gets a run with the title and then it will be up to creative to position credible challengers for her.

The Predictor Predicts: Asuka wins the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Bar defends the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship against The New Day and The Usos

Topline Thoughts: There’s really not much to say here. These are the only three credible tag teams on the Smackdown roster right now, though it’s curious as to why Sanity isn’t featured more prominently. They will work a great match and have a decent history. Beyond that, there really isn’t anything new to speak of. I think the titles stay where they are.

The Predictor Predicts: The Bar retains the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Buddy Murphy defends the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Cedric Alexander

Topline Thoughts: 205 Live, as a brand and show, get a bad rap. It’s going to take some time, but they’ve made some nice additions to the roster recently and Buddy Murphy has re-invented himself nicely since his NXT days. He and Cedric have the potential to steal the show and while it might not be the most memorable match on the show, it will be good. I expect Murphy to retain as he continues to build his championship credibility.

The Predictor Predicts: Buddy Murphy retains the WWE Cruiserweight Championship

Singles Match: Baron Corbin meets Braun Strowman

*If Corbin wins, he becomes the permanent general manager of Raw. If he loses, he loses all authority. If Strowman wins, he will receive a WWE Universal Title Match against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble

Topline Thoughts: I may be in the minority, but I think Corbin does a great job as the arrogant heel authority figure. Though Strowman is dealing with an injury, there is no doubt in my mind that he shows up tomorrow night and beats Corbin in what will likely be a quick squash. They’ve really played into the injury and Corbin winning by forfeit, making it all but guaranteed that Strowman somehow gets the win.

The Predictor Predicts: Braun Strowman defeats Baron Corbin

Ladder Match: Elias meets Bobby Lashley

*Elias’ guitar will be hanging above the ring. Whoever gets to it first can use it.

Topline Thoughts: Elias as a babyface hasn’t gotten over as you might hope at this stage, but he’s still positioned as a top act. That said, while I’m not usually a fan of things on a pole, or weapons up for grabs, it makes sense here, given that it’s been part of the storyline. I do miss Lio Rush’s work on the house mic, but still find the pairing of he and Lashley to be entertaining. They’ll continue to need strong heels moving forward, so I see Lashley getting the nod here.

The Predictor Predicts: Bobby Lashley defeats Elias

Singles Match: Finn Balor meets Drew McIntyre

Topline Thoughts: Watch Drew McIntyre in 2019. Though I think he’s better positioned as a babyface, his heel work is strong and he’s poised to be a major main event player in 2019. This should be a great match and a good showcase win. They’ve been using Balor more lately, which is a good thing. I’m hoping they can continue to do so after this program has run its course.

The Predictor Predicts: Drew McIntyre defeats Finn Balor

Tables Match: Natalya meets Ruby Riott

Topline Thoughts: On the one hand, it’s nice that there’s another feud going on, aside the ones for the championships. I do think it’s cheap heat, lazy booking and in poor taste to work Jim Neidhart’s death into the storyline, but I can overlook it, as it gives this match a little extra juice.

The Predictor Predicts: Natalya defeats Ruby Riott

Chairs Match: Randy Orton meets Rey Mysterio

Topline Thoughts: The effort will be there, but as both are veterans, I feel that they could have put together a more compelling story. Right now, it’s just been filler content, but I’m hoping they can add another layer to this story during this match.

The Predictor Predicts: Rey Mysterio defeats Randy Orton

Mixed Match Challenge Finals: R-Truth and Carmella meet Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox

Topline Thoughts: The Mixed Match Challenge isn’t my thing, but if a charity is benefitting, it’s all good. Carmella and Truth are mildly entertaining, so it’s nice to see them get a little exposure.

The Predictor Predicts: R-Truth and Carmella defeat Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox

Category: Wrestling.

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