WWE Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2013 Preview
December 15, 2013
By David Stephens of Wrestleview.com

WWE needs a home run. Tables, Ladders & Chairs is about to blast off in a new direction. When Cena left the company in August it seemed as though The Authority was going to plow their way through the souls of the fans. The search for the face of the company produced controversial results but not convictions. John Cena has come home to save the masses. At least that’s the concept going into the PPV. John Cena plans to retake his throne and make history as the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship are unified. It will be up to the Apex Predator to slither out every move in his arsenal to fend off the perennial Superman.  

Intercontinental Championship Match
Big E. Langston (Champion) v. Damien Sandow

Langston has quickly turned into a fan favorite. His raw aggression and strength give him an immediate advantage over his opponent. Langston needs to focus on his power game and be relentless. He has yet to display a substantial ground game which does not necessarily mean it is lacking but certainly does present it as a possible liability. The Intercontinental Champions’ best shot at retaining his Title will rely on brute physicality and a vertical offense. The more punishment that Langston can dish out with slams, the less speed Sandow will have to drop relentless elbows. Sandow will attempt to keep Langston grounded as best he can. Working the tree like thighs of Langston will limit his lift abilities.

Tag Team Championship Match
Cody Rhodes & Goldust (Champions) vs. Big Show & Rey Mysterio vs. The Real Americans vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel

Almost all of these teams have a legitimate chance of winning the match. Indeed a lot of a four team matches may just come down to chance. Ring presence and awareness are key. While only two legal men may be in the ring at one time it seems inevitable that the action will all spill to the inside by the end. The Rhodes Brothers must also face a real possibility that they could be tagged out of the match at some point and never gain a chance to re-enter. In fact, while an underhanded tactic, it would certainly behoove the other three teams in the match to charge the Champions at the start. A few tosses into the barricades and some skullduggery could help guarantee new Champions. Everyone is looking to capitalize, but the team of Rybaxel does seem to be lacking motivation. Perhaps still wounded by their separation from Paul Heyman they cling to each other like abandoned children and have yet to find a good home. The Real Americans can ride on the coattails of Antonio Cesaro. He has been involved in countless multi-man matches during his career. Jack Swagger is the inevitable weak link on the team as he seems to have a knack for not quite being in the right place at the right time. Big Show and Rey Mysterio have a lot to prove. That’s a dangerous proposition for opponents of the two insanely talented men. Big Show is still frustrated by his encounter and psychological torture at the hands of the Authority. Rey Mysterio is only recently back from injury and thirsts to show the fans that he still has “it”.

Divas Championship Match
AJ Lee (Champion) v. Natalya

Natalya has been securing the upper hand in this feud as of late. AJ Lee suffers a major size advantage going up against her opponent. Coupled with the fact that AJ reportedly had a fainting episode a bit back and one is left wondering if she is at her peak level for this match. Tamina has proven to be a less than reliable bodyguard. For a well-built woman it still only seems to take a slight thump off the apron to knock Tamina out of action for several minutes. AJ’s nimbleness is also a weakness of sorts in this match. It may allow her to counter out of some tricky situations but not every instance. When Natalya is able to apply the full force of a Sharpshooter AJ is essentially immobilized. The sheer size differential alone makes making the crawl to the ropes of salvation a monumental task. This match will pit the heart of AJ against one of the most technically talented females in the company.

CM Punk v. The Shield

This is an odd one for a PPV. There seems to be little to no chance that CM Punk can possibly walk out as the winner. In fact Punk himself holds this to be true. He has readily admitted that he does not have a chance of winning the match. Instead, Punk plans to take down as many of his opponents in the process of his own demise as he can. There were hints this past week on RAW that there may be some dissention in the ranks of The Shield. If this comes to fruition it could go a few ways. One possibility is that The Shield crumbles. It may be an errant spear or suicide dive that takes out a member of The Shield by one of their own. The Best in the World will be seeking every opportunity to close out the match. Even a split second delay in communication could allow for a surprise roll up. It’s also possible that Punk will seize on the dissention and figure out a way to create harmony in the group. Perhaps leading them into the light of a Straight Edge lifestyle could bring about a reemergence of the heel messiah that Punk embodies so perfectly. Or, and the most logical conclusion, The Shield is going to shatter every bone in Punk’s body. Punk may get in his swings but unless some serious stones fall out of place this will go down as a slaughter.

Daniel Bryan v. The Wyatt Family

Bryan finds himself in the second 3-on-1 Handicap match of the night. Much like his longtime friend, Bryan is in a nearly helpless situation. But there is a difference. The Wyatts are not interested in this match because they want to pick up a victory over a former World Champion. They have bigger conquests at stake. Perhaps it is the beard that drew their first ire but the Wyatts have their sights set on the flying goat. The question in this match is not whether or not Daniel Bryan can survive the onslaught of the Wyatts. The question in this match is whether or not Daniel Bryan can survive a conversation and baptism.

Title Unification Match
Tables, Ladders & Chairs
John Cena (World Heavyweight Champion) v. Randy Orton (WWE Championship)

When the stat books are opened up and the past decade of the WWE is examined there are two inescapable names: Randy Orton & John Cena. Sure there are plentiful others on the list but at this stage they are the only two that matter. Randy Orton is the bad guy. John Cena is the good guy. Orton is willing to cheat and lie his way towards every cheap victory. John Cena scoffs at such notions with his constant mantra of hustle, loyalty and respect. These two men have wrestled countless times over the years. Both men have Championship totals in the double digits. Different periods have seen each man thrust into the spotlight for a chance to became the face of the company. Randy Orton has stumbled both inside and outside of the ring. John Cena’s biggest struggle seems to be with the WWE Universe itself.

A match like TLC is unpredictable by design. There are so many possibilities. There are so many foreign objects that can be tossed around and battered against opponents. Outside interference is a real likelihood in this match. The Authority has shown no mercy at several PPVs so to think that TLC would be an exception is foolish. It wouldn’t even be past Triple H to somehow find a way to take the Title for himself – if he felt it was best for business. Still, providing Authority shenanigans are kept to a minimum this match could be a magical moment for the company.

These may not be the two men that some fans want in the match and that’s understandable. But it doesn’t diminish the importance of what the match represents. It’s the end of an era. The brand split which has effectively been slowly killed off over the past several years is coming to a close. Yes it will exist in a bastardized form for tours, but the days of two distinct and significant brands are over. Triple H believes that there should only be one WWE and only one Champion.

The Unified Title hanging above the ring awaiting its claimer may just be one of the most picturesque and fleeting images imaginable for a feud that has spanned a decade. For Randy Orton and John Cena this is their King Arthur moment. Only one man will be able to pull the sword from the stone, the Title from the air, and become the Champion of Champions.

David Stephens

Follow me on Twitter! @TheDaveStephens