I've started and restarted this review over and over. This is probably my seventh or eighth draft at this point. So I'm just going to put it down on paper: this PPV sucks. It sucks because there is not an ounce of good storytelling in any of these matches beyond very minor moments that do not actually tie into the match. The best match of the night was the main event versus Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt, which was a pretty fine match. But every single other match was just spots after spots, moments after moments, with nothing to tie them together.
I've talked about it before, but stipulations to matches need to matter. They need to be a part of the match. They need to make sense, be urgent. If you do a "Stairs Match" merely because it rhymes with "chairs" and Rowan threw some stairs on an episode of Raw to set it up, it is pointless. It is just a match where the stairs are legal ... which is kind of true in most matches. A chairs match is even worse, because it is just "here are some chairs, hit each other with them then pin someone." A table match has a point ... but it is a stupid one that proves nothing. First idiot through a table loses. A ladder match used to have meaning, but it has become so diluted that it doesn't matter any longer, it is just an excuse for big guys to knock them over and little guys to jump around.
A TLC match should be a culmination point! The first match had character because it was about three teams that each had a unique weapon they used, so the match was put together. The second one was a sequel that blew the roof off the first one, involving the same guys. The third and fourth were both about the heroes having enormous odds to defeat to overcome, about story! And then they were just tied to Edge's character ... and then they weren't even tied to anything. I appreciate that a story was created here for this match, but you did things in reverse order, like the WWE always does now. They have a PPV with a stipulation and force stories to mold to those stipulations. Usually you get generally entertaining, but not really GOOD matches. I'm tired of it as a fan.
Even worse than all that, the matches that didn't have stipulations are also atrocious and lacked storytelling. Mizdow did the Mizdow thing and the Miz continues to be the worst wrestler the WWE pushes at all. Rusev beat Swagger again in basically the exact same way he did before. Nikki and AJ tried hard to put on a good match, but it was so formulaic and basic that even though they did fine it didn't go anywhere or do anything.
EVEN WORSE, when you create a stipulation like "this character loses and then bad things happen" like they did for the tables match, you know the outcome already! When faces have "if you lose, bad thing happens!" added to a match, one of two things happen: they win, making the point moot, which is the majority case; or they lose because it was a "leaves the company" match or a retirement match. I defy you to point to a single person who thought Cena was going to lose. Even worse, if he had, it would have lead to a more interesting story!
This PPV was all sound and fury without any substance. No WWE Champion, again. No match stipulations that mattered, just people hurting themselves to get themselves over, or even worse, coasting by on TV quality garbage. Even Ryback, who I am a huge mark for, couldn't deliver for me with his slow plodding match that had exactly two exciting spots that happened at terrible times and could have been used to actually create an intense climax. I found myself talking about anything else instead of watching the PPV the first time around, and the second time was a huge chore.
Supposedly, the WWE roster who saw NXT R Evolution (my review here) said that they were going to punch it up a notch or they were upset that they don't get opportunities. You guys have opportunities all the time to make a match great. You guys just don't know how. Ambrose and Wyatt were allowed to do their thing, and that match was pretty good. It will probably be someone's favorite TLC match, because it involved their favorite wrestlers only. NXT R Evolution didn't have a single crazy stipulation match, and it had one less hour, and still it generated more content and better wrestling than the past 6 WWE PPVs.
Honestly, I'm tired of watching WWE PPVs. I watch them to review them. But I feel like I just write the same thing every time: these aren't good, you don't know how to make good matches, these characters just continue to do nothing. Really, can you name what the Usos gimmick actually is? Or John Cena's? Or most of the roster? Everyone is just "guys." They all have to sink or swim without support. And it sucks. Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper tried to kill themselves for our entertainment, and still couldn't provide a match filled with any story, and there was plenty to have in that feud! Height advantage, that early injury to both men, controlling the ladders, ANYTHING. But nope, it was just spot after spot, set up a thing and then "forget about it" so that it can be used at the end of the match.
Vince McMahon tends to, at least I believe, think that his wrestling shows need a "main character" and that that is the only character that you should tell stories with. Hulk Hogan to Bret Hart to Shawn Michaels to Stone Cold to the Rock to HHH to John Cena. And now Roman Reigns, who has been a Sole Survivor, ruined a Hall of Famers record in the Royal Rumble, and been trained to be just as formulaic as Hogan, Hart, Cena, Orton, all Vince's favorites. He tried so hard to ACT in his promo on TLC it just had me laughing. Even worse when he screwed up his lines and got stuck staring in the camera for a nice long time trying to get back on track.
Want to watch awesome wrestling? Watch NXT R Evolution. Want to get your gimmick match jollies? Lucha Underground just had an amazing triple threat ladder match, and put it online for free to people to watch on their Facebook page.
All that stuff said, we are heading into my favorite time of year for wrestling: the Road to the Royal Rumble, my favorite match and PPV. Except we know what is going to happen this year, because Roman Reigns is being shoved down our throats so hard. I have never turned on a guy I used to like so hard ... since John Cena, actually.
See you guys for the Royal Rumble. It is an odd number year, which is historically not a great thing for Rumble PPVs. It is also the later half of a decade, which once again is not a good sign for Royal Rumbles. I have very low expectations. That's probably the only way I can get any excitement up for it at all at this point.