Tomorrow night is another instalment of the gimmick fest that is the WWE TLC pay-per-view. I’ve never liked the kind of shows where the gimmick match is the feature (Hell in a Cell, I’m looking at you) but there is almost nothing that makes me want to tune in tomorrow night.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship – TLC rules
Sheamus vs Roman Reigns
Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose
Tag Team titles – ladder match
The New Day vs Lucha Dragons vs The Usos
United States championship – Chairs match
Alberto Del Rio vs Jack Swagger
WWE Divas championship match
Charlotte vs Paige
4-on-4 Tables elimination match
The Wyatt Family vs ECW Originals
Who even cares? match
Ryback vs. Rusev
Reigns vs Sheamus – why should I care?
I watched the Survivor Series main event – the world title match between Reigns and Ambrose for the vacant belt – and was a bit surprised to see it as a straight-up eight-minute wrestling match between the two men, with little in the way of relationship or story development.
Reigns won the match to win the World belt for the first time, surprising nobody, but was himself taken out just five minutes and fifteen seconds later by the current champ Sheamus thanks to his Money in the Bank briefcase.
Sheamus has since surrounded himself with some heavies known as the League of Nations: Alberto del Rio, Rusev and King Barrett – the latter two of which deserve better. Reigns responded by siding with The Usos and Dean Ambrose to form The Family; typical WWE writing.
But pretty much every week on Raw has been the same old formula; Sheamus, with the blessing of The Authority, sticks Reigns and his mates into tough matches. Reigns then overcomes adversity, punches multiple people in the face, and stands tall at the end of the night.
So many times, in fact, that anyone who comes up against him, no matter the numerical or underhanded advantage, ends up looking like an idiot because they couldn’t tame one man.
And so, coupling Roman’s complete invulnerability with Sheamus’ complete inability to win a match on any terms, together into the main event of TLC means I’m not at all tempted to watch it.
I’m not trying to hate on Reigns, honestly I’m not. Like his spiritual predecessor John Cena, I can see the appeal. He’s got the look, some decent moves and is a solid performer in the ring. But he is being made out to look like a complete berk – despite or even because of the way he’s being portrayed. I don’t buy that he’s an unstoppable force of nature, and I don’t feel sorry for him when it’s proven otherwise.
To get some sympy from me (trademark: Scott Steiner) Reigns needs to lose matches, cleanly. He needs to come up short like the heroic babyface, and to triumph in the end. There’s only one person who I can genuinely conceive of beating up four people single-handedly – and they’re not paying him enough to turn up every week.
When Reigns (and the aforementioned Brrrrock Lesnaaaaaar) lost the main event of Wrestlemania 31 to a briefcase-wielding Seth Rollins, it was credit to Rollins for being the smartest guy in the room. Credit which he was soon robbed of at every turn in the following weeks and months, as the likes of Reigns, Cena and even bloody Kane made him look like a pillock week in, week out.
I felt bad for Reigns because he’d worked to get there, and even could’ve had Lesnar beat in that great main event match, but for the wily Rollins.
Responding to that near-miss with an immediate return to Unbeatable Mode completely robbed Reigns of any relatability. Not even the cash-in by Sheamus at Survivor Series restored any of that goodwill for the storyline because it was so predictable and, in my own case, because I like Sheamus even less than Reigns.
So as the two of them prepare for a World Title match tomorrow night in Boston, I’m really struggling to think of a reason to stay tuned in until the end. Or, aside from Owens-Ambrose and the three-team ladder match, to tune in at all.