With the holiday season once again upon us, WWE gave us the gift of WWE TLC last night. It’s no secret I’ve been very critical of the bill the last few weeks, the company wasn’t doing themselves any favors. A pay-per-view where plunder is guaranteed should be a no-brainer. However, the talk of tater tots and 5:15 danced in the collective consciousness of most fans, ruining excitement for the event. But Vince McMahon and company gave the ultimate Secret Santa gift to fans with the pay-per-view.

Okay, let me start out with the stuff I didn’t like on the show first. Ryback versus Rusev was probably the worst match on the show. And It’s no fault of the performers themselves. There was no real issue to sink your teeth into. The two try to work together but sometimes styles don’t gel. The Bulgarian Brute and his bride to be captured the victory however making The League of Nations have a strong presence as they did all throughout the night. Poor Ryback felt like persona non grata during this whole thing.

While on the subject of the League of Nations the backstage segment where they were convening was a little lame. I’m glad the more of a cohesive unit then they have been in recent weeks. But you would think WWE would come up with something a little better than a catering table and some flags.

That leads me to my next query, where the hell was Wade Barrett? He was nowhere to be seen with the League of Nations last night. Barrett appeared in the backstage segment at their headquarters, but wasn’t seen the rest of the night. Maybe, Wade left to guard HQ so nobody takes the table.

The League of Nations is not the only unit that I see issues with from last night’s pay-per-view. Team Bad seems to be being molded into The New Day. While that may seem like a good idea to some. There is always the chance for too much of a good thing. I know they want to play off the social media interaction between the two Trios but I think it’s a recipe for disaster. I respect the fact that Naomi, Tamina and Sasha Banks are finding the personalities but to have two similar groups at the same time will make them feel like carbon copies and not original characters. You can’t manufacture what makes characters like Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi work so well together. It’s lightning in a bottle. Be glad you found it once. One unicorn is special. Two is not as unique.

Let’s be honest we all believe that Sasha Banks deserve better than this.

Now, going to use my power of positivity to talk about what I really liked about the show. Overall, I found the action to be solid. Other than the Ryback-Rusev match, everything felt like it mattered and had weight. Some may argue that the ladder match was just a car crash. And I really want have an argument or that. But sometimes that’s okay. The mixture of Kalisto doing some insane moves and Xavier Woods on commentary gave enough entertainment that I have no problem with this opening the show. The only thing I will critique is I think it’s time for WWE to elevate another tag team. I say this because The New Day seem to be untouchable for the most part. And it makes everybody else feel like they’re never going to be at the level of Woods, Kofi and Big E. They need a strong counterbalance to make them even hotter and right now they have no equal in the tag team division. My hope is WWE will capitalize on the ladder match and try to really give Lucha Dragons a title run.

We go from ladders to tables as The Wyatt Family defeated the Dudley Boyz, Rhino and Tommy Dreamer. I said on Tuesday that I didn’t see this being a win-win scenario for any faction. Maybe I was wrong. Perhaps I let my frustration cloud my judgment a little bit. Bray and company looked strong only losing Erick Rowan. They dominated the rest of the time. The question is what’s next on WWE creative’s agenda now that they’ve turned the tables, so to speak on the ECW originals. It appears that Tommy Dreamer has had his last television appearance. So what do you do now? That’s going to be the question going into tonight’s Raw. How do you capitalize on strong momentum? I imagine that it will be Rowan and Harper against Bubba and D-von at the Rumble. But considering that they are in the birthplace of Extreme , Philadelphia for television tonight anything is possible

Alberto Del Rio defeats Jack Swagger In a Chairs Match with a vicious Double Stomp in the corner on a pile chairs. These two guys did the most with the stipulation that they could in the PG era. And gave a really solid brutal fight. It’s probably the best Alberto has looked since returning to WWE. But like the match before what you do next. Is the point of this feud now to reunite Zeb and Jack? What’s the next logical step? I wouldn’t be opposed to a submission match at Royal Rumble for the US Title

Dean Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens to become the Intercontinental Champion is probably the most shocking thing of the night. This is what WWE needs to do more of. Catch people off guard I wasn’t expecting a title change. And I’m pretty sure a lot of people were right there with me given that reaction. I hate sounding like a broken record but what you do next? And I don’t just mean with the title. With Ambrose and Owens respectively. Time after time we see whoever holds the Intercontinental title get bogged down in mediocrity. I hope that doesn’t happen with Ambrose. The Intercontinental title has a history of having fun chaos along with it. So let’s on the Lunatic Fringe for a little while and make it mean something.

The Divas Title Match was good. It was physical and interesting to see a heel versus heel dynamic really play out. This was the closest thing we’ve had to an NXT Women’s match on the main roster yet. While I’m not a fan of Ric Flair always seconding daughter and her becoming like her dear old dad. It does give her a new dynamic to play off of. And it did give us a pretty cool turnbuckle spot that the women don’t usually do. I said last month that I want to see the women do something usually reserved for men and they did.

It definitely appears that were heading towards Becky versus Charlotte at some point if not the Rumble. I know fans are hoping that we will get Becky versus Sasha versus Charlotte soon. I’m only assuming that we will get a new number one contenders match tonight on Raw.

And finally we close out with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match between Sheamus and Roman Reigns. Gone were the tater tots and in its place was a lot of plunder. Both men were definitely behind the eight ball in regards to booking going into this match and they delivered undoubtably. This match and its proceeding mayhem proves what a lot of people been saying all along. Roman Reigns needs to stay silent and violent. He needs to be the battering ram that gets through the Authority’s BS. That’s where he’s most effective.

Sheamus was much more effective as champion as he proved that he loves to fight and not be a coward. They also made the league of Nations more of an entity so that was a plus.. And Roman becoming incensed that he once again got screwed from the title made them all the more likable to those fans that have blinding hatred for the Samoan superstar. The ending angle with Triple H was great. One can only assume that the COO will be facing Reigns at the Rumble. I wonder if they’re going to do a similar thing with Roman that they did with Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania, where he would have to compete twice to be in this year’s Royal Rumble. I think that would be a good angle to really sell his rise to the top of the WWE again because it seems like the most part it’s working to make him more palatable.

As I said before I think this pay-per-view climbed the ladder of mediocrity and really gave something solid for WWE to move forward from in the next calendar year. I believe there finally starting to find the footing hopefully they can take this momentum and really make the Road to Wrestlemania something special and fill 100,000 seats (90,000+ according to estimates) this April.

About The Author

Dan is host of Shooting from the Hip which you can hear every Sunday at 8pm EST, 7pm CST right here on PWpop.com.