TLC. Not the nineties female R&B outfit but the name of a popular gimmick match in the WWE, popularised at the turn of the century by The Dudleys Boys, The Hardy Boys and Edge & Christian as they duelled for the then coveted World Tag Team gold.
Nine years ago when the above superstars competed in the first ever Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at Summerslam 2000, not one of them could have envisaged that almost a decade later, an entire PPV would be named after this singular gimmick.
However, come December, this is what’s going to happen. In these PG days of no blood, bras or panties, the ?E? in it’s infinite wisdom have decided to scrap the traditional December PPV moniker ?Armageddon? and opt instead for TLC.
This decision continues the vein of entire PPV’s being christened after a solitary gimmick, as October brings with it the decimation of ?No Mercy? and instead the debut of ?Hell In A Cell?.
However, despite these aforementioned stipulations proving to be more than popular amongst the WWE Universe’s populace, is it really necessary to brand entire shows around them? Have the powers that be in Stamford over estimated the status of these matches in forming these ideas?
To me, the answer is a defiant YES. I?m not heckling the creative team members or whomever was the driving force behind these decisions, because they?re obviously just looking at ways at keeping the product fresh and different, and kudos goes out to them for not wanting the fans to see the product grow stagnant. But in this writer’s opinion, this isn?t the way.
Already we?ve seen PPV’s given themes. The Royal Rumble being the most stark case in point, as for over 20 years it’s unique selling point has been the 30 man over the top rope battle royal main event. Add to that the lure of two Elimination Chambers drawing custom to No Way Out in the past two years as well as Extreme Rules featuring stipulation matches exclusively, before I?ve even mentioned the upcoming submission based Breaking Point and interactive Bragging Rights (formerly Cyber Sunday/Taboo Tuesday) and it’s almost too thick a head soup to even contemplate nourishing yourself on.
I believe this is effectively the WWE realising their PPV schedule is bloated and has been for years now. Thus they?re throwing solutions at the problem and hoping something sticks. Nevermind that they could easily lose No Way Out, Judgement Day, Extreme Rules and Bragging Rights and the product would be all the better for it. Feuds would be given time to develop, rather than being rushed into empty slots on PPV’s, and most importantly, we the fans would be more enticed into buying the shows if they weren?t thrown at us with no rhyme or reason other than ?well we have to put something on cos we can?t go a month without a big show?.
But now they?re booking themselves into a corner. For months now fans have been able to see on the company’s PPV schedule that Hell In A Cell is approaching. So they?re expecting a Hell In A Cell match to headline the show. This forces creative’s hand in an unnecessary manner. Hell In A Cell has predominantly been a feud ending match. Usually for high profile feuds at that. Now, as October creeps ever nearer, there’s one feud that could realistically fit an outing in the Cell and that is Randy Orton vs John Cena.
But does anyone remember what happened the last time these two were booked in a blow off gimmick match at an October PPV? Cena tears his pec days before and the match has to be scrapped. Luckily HHH was on hand to have two surprisingly good matches with Orton (how did their lousy chemistry together allow them to put on two good matches in one night?) and salvage what was a desperate situation.
But now say something similar happens. One of the superstars in the featured match goes down with an injury, or a suspension even. Who would Orton or Cena face who could legitimately claim to be deserving of sharing the Cell with them? There’s no one. HHH is involved in a falls count anywhere submission match with Legacy and has feuded with Orton so much that even the men themselves must hate the sight of each other in the same ring.
There would be nothing. And let’s face it, it?d be an incredible rush job to throw Cena and Orton into the Cell so early into this series of matches. Given the talent and instant chemistry between the two, they could feud for a couple of matches more after the October show.
So it seems to me that creative aren?t overly worried that they don?t have a blood feud to take into the cell and are instead using the Cell as the selling point and not the superstars. Which is ok. If it works. Vince wants buy rates and will do whatever he can to produce big numbers. HIAC and TLC are both landmark matches. So you can see where the idea for these shows has come from. Guarantee the fans the matches they love well in advance and they?ll clamour to see the outcome.
Ever heard of over saturation? In fact, ever heard of TNA Lockdown? The PPV where every match is a cage match. It’s a disaster. And it is not a trend the WWE needs to follow. In the past 12 months we?ve seen ladder or TLC matches headline three PPV’s (No Mercy 2008, Extreme Rules 2009 and Summerslam 2009) and now we?ve got another PPV guaranteed to be headlined by one, or maybe even two TLC matches. That’s far, far too much. The fans love these matches because they don?t see them every week. They?re a special attraction. That’s part of the aura surrounding them. Like HIAC, only the most demanding of situations calls for them to be brought in to settle a score. So throwing them out at several events a year lessens the impact and the shock value surrounding them.
Likewise with the Cell. Ok we?ve not seen a HIAC for over a year now, but if this is to be an annual deal, it may as well just be any other match. Like the Last Man Standing match. Something we didn?t see too much of until 2007 and then forget about it. HHH and Orton alone have had three. That’s before you mention Batista/Undertaker, Edge/Cena, Batista/Kane, Big Show/Undertaker, HBK/Jericho, Big Show/HHH and Big Show/MVP, all of whom have taken part in these contests in the last two years or so.
When you give people too much of something, even if it’s a good thing, they become numb to it. So they become numb to TLC and HIAC matches and the various other stipulation contests that are being turned into their own showcases, and before long they know they don?t NEED to watch them because they already have a good idea of what’s going to happen. Thus, all this work by the WWE will have been for nothing as they won?t have any increased buy rates and revenue to show for their efforts at keeping their product fresh.
I don?t want to seem like I?m another guy in a long line of people Queuing up to bad mouth WWE creative, because I genuinely think they?ve been doing a great job the past few years (despite Raw being a bit weird and stale this year), but they can?t honestly believe this seemingly panic mode booking is going to cure anything. It won?t spike buy rates and it won?t herald the beginning of a new Attitude era period of success.
Again, I appreciate their effort and am over the moon that they?re looking at every avenue possible to shake things up PPV wise. It’s just a shame that the revenue streams that come with PPV buys and sponsorship deals necessitate their importance to the current product. Otherwise we could lose a good four, five or maybe even six and evolve the product that way.
I would love to think that I?ll be proved wrong and these upcoming stipulation shows will do gangbusters at the box office, but unfortunately I don?t foresee anything of the sort happening. Quality wise I believe we can expect some pretty good to great things, just don?t cross anything in the hope that the product benefits anything from it.
Until next time Casa ? ites, it’s been emotional, and you?ve been fantastic. Arrivederci.