5 Questions: WWE TLC 2017 (Shield, Sister Abigail, Cruiserweights, Asuka)

{Editor’s Note: This was written before the card changes Friday night. Look after the original article for the author’s additional thoughts on the changes.}

 

1 – Can The Shield create the same magic 5 years later?

Five years ago, 3 “stars” from FCW appeared at WWE Survivor Series during a WWE Championship match to powerbomb Ryback through the announce table. The former Tyler Black, Jon Moxley and Leakee weren’t just rookies on the main WWE roster, they were practically unknown to the majority of the audience. To say the trio made an impact on their debut would be an understatement and they followed this debut up with one of the most impressive stable runs of the modern era. They defeated teams consisting of Randy Orton, Batista, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Triple H and even The Undertaker. And it all started at TLC 2012 in a match against Ryback and Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan). Five years on and these 3 “rookies” are three of the biggest names in the sport. Reigns and Rollins are both multi-time World Champions with Ambrose have one World title win as well. The reunion has been well received and interest in their return match together is high but will it deliver? When they won their debut match at TLC in 2012, it was a surprised and it was looked at as a good start for 3 fresh stars. Now they are in a match with The Miz, Sheamus, Cesaro, Braun Strowman and Kane. Not the top stars of the company and not fresh, budding talent. It’s a match that just seems to be… there. We will see Sunday if the nostalgia of The Shield reunion can carry through a TLC match or if it will die as soon as their entrance through the packed Target Center is over.

2 – Will the “Sister Abigail” character work?

Bray Wyatt is a unique character that has worked since its debut. What was once looked at as a Waylon Mercy rehash has outperformed many people’s expectations, even becoming a World Champion. And since the beginning there’s always been that dangling carrot of when will we finally see the infamous “Sister Abigail”. Who will play her? What would she look like? For awhile, I even pegged an unknown Alexa Bliss to play the role. But instead, in a peculiar twist, Bray Wyatt himself will play the Abigail role. Now, plainly speaking, I want this to work. Wyatt has needed a new dynamic to his character and this would do the trick. But will it come across creepy and goosebump-inducing? Or groan-inducing? This can go wrong in so many ways that I truly hope they (WWE & Wyatt) have something truly special planned.

3 – Will Asuka be used correctly on the main roster?

It is finally Asuka’s turn in the harsh spotlight of WWE’s main roster. She’s already proven to be a force for the women’s division and for women’s wrestling in general but will she continue on the same pace every Monday night? While it appears to be a no-brainer to let the undefeated Empress run roughshod over much of the roster, that can lead to problems as well. One can hope that the recent bookings of Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman have proven that monsters can be unstoppable in today’s WWE, former NXT standouts The Ascension prove otherwise.

4 – Can the Cruiserweights deliver on PPV?

The Cruiserweights have three segments booked for the PPV/Kickoff show. A tag team match, a championship match and… a PowerPoint segment. MS Office product placement aside, this shows character development for the oft-forgot about Cruiserweights and is providing 7 different men the opportunity to show the WWE audience why they should care about the division. While other factors like TV time limits may still come into play, the ball is largely in the court of Gulak, Kendrick, Gallagher, Swann, Alexander, Kalisto and Amore.

5 – Is RAW still better than SmackDown?

While it may be coming off of one of the worst viewership ratings in recent history, creatively and match quality-wise, SmackDown has reached a peak. Hell in a Cell was a massive success and the core of the SmackDown roster is one of the best we’ve seen in years. But the blue brand still plays a supporting role to the flagship Monday Night RAW. Sunday is a perfect place for the Superstars of RAW to prove why. Every star (except Brock Lesnar) is booked on one of the most talked about gimmick PPVs of the year. The Shield, the most popular WWE stable of the current generation, has reunited while the most dominant woman in professional wrestling is debut at the big dance. The time is right and stage is set for RAW to solidify its place as the best and biggest show WWE has to offer. Yet, I don’t see it happening.

 

LAST MINUTE CARD CHANGE QUESTIONS

  • Why is Kurt Angle’s first WWE match in 10 years in an unpromoted, multi-man match with no storyline?
    • Kurt Angle is a WWE Hall of Famer and one of the greatest in-ring performers in history. His return to the WWE earlier this year was a huge deal and an amazing moment for fans. His first time competing in a WWE ring should have been built for months, culminating in a WrestleMania worthy match against an opponent who compliments the Olympic Hero’s style. Instead he’s been pegged as a last-minute replacement for Roman Reigns in what was supposed to be a Shield reunion. Why? No one knows. Angle wasn’t even with the company when The Shield was active and except for one segment last week, has never interacted with them at all. There’s no logical sense for Angle to be in this match and while I understand WWE needing a big name for Roman’s replacement, I think most people will be scratching their heads rather than appaulding this decision.

 

  • Will Finn Balor versus AJ Styles be the Match of the Year?
    • Hear me out… AJ Styles and Finn Balor are two of the most popular wrestlers in the world today. They are also two of the best performers inside the ring as well. A match between these two men is huge and could have been big business with the right promotion and storyline. We didn’t get that but we are in a different scenario that may prove magical. The WWE is scrambling and need to fill a PPV card when some of their top stars are unavailable. To do that, they’ve tapped two of their best and have said to go out and entertain. Styles and Balor don’t need a story to put on an amazing match and now, unlike Styles’ matches with Kevin Owens, they won’t be burdened with trying to tell a WWE story. All they have been tasked to do is be the best in the world and I truly believe we will see something special Sunday night.
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