By Chuck Carroll
If you would have told me a week ago that the WWE TLC card featured Kane, I would have said you were crazy. But there he is, in the main event no less. It was just a few weeks ago that I asked Kane whether he would be returning to WWE and he said, “never say never.” Anytime a wrestler says that, you know something is up.
If you were to have bet The Shield would face The Big Red Monster, Braun Strowman, Sheamus and Cesaro, and The Miz in a five-on-three handicap match in their return bout, you would have become a millionaire many times over. Nobody made that bet. Nobody. Who could have possibly predicted that this would be where WWE was going? Yet, it makes all the sense in the world. Sheamus and Cesaro have recent history with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, while a signature win over Strowman would help cement Reigns atop the WWE heap. Like it or not, he is the next John Cena, with an equal chorus of deafening boos and thunderous cheers. But where does Kane factor into all of this? The speculation is that the storyline will unfold to reveal he’s seeking vengeance for The Undertaker’s loss at WrestleMania. The Miz seems to be the odd man out, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he and Curtis Axel settle into a feud after Mr. Perfect’s son was passed over in favor of Kane in the match.
Keeping with the monster theme, does anyone really know quite what to expect when Sister Abigail debuts? Her appearance has been shrouded in mystery, with Bray Wyatt wearing a vail of sorts during her promos. My hat is off to WWE for picking October to do this match. Finn Balor’s Demon versus Sister Abagail is very fitting for Halloween.
Elsewhere, Enzo Amore has gone full-blown heel and will try to reclaim the WWE Cruiserweight Championship when he faces Kalisto. Mickie James is also out to wear the gold once again. A win over Alexa Bliss would make her a seven-time WWE Women’s Champion. Whoever wins that match will likely go on face Asuka, who’s making her main-roster debut against Emma.
So who will win? Aaron Oster of Rolling Stone and I have been tapping into a network of sources to get some answers. Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald is off traveling the world, but did manage to send picks for a few of the matches.
Tables, Ladders & Chairs 5-on-3 Handicap Match
The Shield vs. Braun Strowman, The Miz, Kane, Cesaro & Sheamus
Chuck: This is actually one of the most difficult matches to pick on the card. Logically, it would make more sense for The Shield to lose in their return match to continue storylines heading into Survivor Series and ultimately WrestleMania. But at the same time, it’s The Shield returning. Would WWE really gamble on squashing a reunion that was years in the making? Nope. Look for Curtis Axel to get involved in the finish. Pick: The Shield
Scott: I’m sure with tables, ladders, chairs and Strowman around that this will be a fun match. The Shield really turned a lot of heads during the early days within the TLC environment. I don’t see Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose losing here right after reuniting. Although stranger things have happened, but all signs point to a happy ending, to the “Hounds of Justice” leaving victorious. Pick: The Shield
Aaron: I’ll give WWE credit here. They’ve concocted a scenario where it’s plausible that The Shield loses. Miz, Cesaro, and Sheamus are an easy win for The Shield. Strowman changes things though. I’m not sure exactly what Kane changes, but a 5-on-3 does make the odds even higher. The Shield will have to overcome the odds in this one. Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that they didn’t reunite The Shield to have them lose their first match. Hopefully they do it in a way that keeps the heels looking strong, particularly Braun Strowman. Pick: The Shield
RAW Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Mickie James
Chuck: Mickie James deserves a ton of respect for what she’s accomplished in her career; capturing six women’s championships is no easy feat. But at this point in time, it is her job to help elevate those coming up in the ranks. She knew this would be the deal when she returned to WWE earlier this year. Plus, everyone is clamoring for an Alexa Bliss vs. Asuka championship match. Pick: Alexa Bliss
Scott: Mickie James and Alexa Bliss have done a great job building up interest for their championship match. James, in particular, has been strong on the microphone, holding her own against “Five-Feet of Fury.” It’s nice to see the veteran be given the opportunity. That said, Bliss is clearly on the path to facing the incoming Asuka. It’s only inevitable. Pick: Alexa Bliss
Aaron: Mickie James has been great over the past month (and pretty much always, but she’s taken it up a notch lately). While I wish the storyline revolved around something besides age, she’s been great, and the crowd is firmly behind her. I can certainly see a situation where WWE gives her a short final run with the women’s title. However, I think there’s too much going on in the women’s division to mess around with token title reigns. Everything is pointing towards Asuka, and the progression from the title should help move towards that direction. Even if Alexa gets the belt right back, it would seem to stall that progression. Thus, she retains here. Pick: Alexa Bliss
The Demon vs. Sister Abigail
Chuck: I’m going to miss the promos these two have been cutting leading into this battle. They’re very much a departure from WWE’s typical formula on the mic. Despite the fact the card reads Sister Abigail vs. The Demon, this is Bray Wyatt versus Finn Balor, round two. With Balor capturing the first meeting, it seems that Wyatt is due here to kick the can down the road a little longer. Maybe we haven’t seen the last of those promos after all. Pick: Sister Abigail
Aaron: I love the supernatural. I love camp. I hate everything about this. Camp, in its very nature, needs to be somewhat light, and entertaining in an over-the-top way. That’s not what they’re doing here. Instead, it’s goofy snapchat filters and bad voice modulators. I hope this is the end. And the only way I can see that happening is if Finn Balor beats Bray Wyatt once and for all. A Sister Abigail win just would continue things. Also, it comes down to this: what has more staying power, The Demon or Sister Abigail? The answer is clearly The Demon, so don’t risk messing that up here. Pick: The Demon
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Kalisto (c) vs. Enzo Amore
Chuck: If you’ve been following wrestling news over the past week and half, you know that the real story here isn’t that Kalisto is champion. It’s that Neville allegedly walked on WWE after being told he would be losing to Enzo Amore once again. A company official emphatically denied that rumor when I inquired. They said it was “100% false.” However, Neville is still nowhere in sight. Enzo was never supposed to lose the belt, so he’s probably going to get it back here. Pick: Enzo Amore
Scott: It’s not the first time Kalisto has won gold. Unfortunately, when he won the United States Championship, he lost it immediately. That kind of tainted the moment for the masked performer longterm. Now WWE has another shot at elevating Kalisto along the same underdog lines of Rey Mysterio. A win here would go a long way in doing that. Pick: Kalisto
Aaron: Kalisto’s title win was very odd. We know that there were off-screen circumstances that swirled around it, and it was done in a messy way. Why would you have the man who was going to put Enzo in his place win in an underhanded way? It makes me think that Enzo’s run on top is going to continue. Maybe Kalisto is going to dethrone Enzo again down the line, after a suitable chase. But Enzo will win the title back here, so somebody, whether it’s Kalisto or someone else, will get that big pop when they eventually win. Pick: Enzo Amore
>>MORE: From the world of Pro Wrestling
Asuka vs. Emma
Chuck: I’ve pointed out many times that WWE has a history of having big names lose in their debut match. However, this will not be one of those times. Asuka built an enormous following in NXT and relinquished the title with an unblemished record after being injured. A loss here would be more surprising than Goldberg’s “blink and you missed it” win over Brock Lesnar at last year’s Survivor Series. Pick: Asuka
Scott: The good news for Emma is she got her second straight Pay-Per-View match. The bad news is it’s against one of the most dominating female performers of all time. These two have met before in NXT, as Emma proved a good opponent for Asuka, who was new to the company. She is being utilized in a similar role. Sorry, Emma. This is all about solidifying Asuka. Pick: Asuka
Aaron: C’mon. It’s Asuka. The only question is if this will be even mildly competitive, or if this is going be to a Goldberg-esque performance. I’m going with Goldberg-esque, personally. Pick: Asuka
Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann vs. Gentleman Jack Gallagher & The Brian Kendrick
Chuck: Pretty much all of 205 Live is being built around Enzo Amore right now. So this match feels almost like a throwaway, despite a wealth of talent in the ring. Just for grins, I’m going with good guys here to balance out heel Enzo’s win. Pick: Cedric Alexander & Rich Swann
Aaron: This is one of those matches where it doesn’t really matter who wins, so it’s hard to pick. I’m just glad that the cruiserweight division is getting two matches on the main card. By the way, the video they played before their segment on RAW… why couldn’t they have done that over the past year? Anyways, I’ll go with the heels winning here, just because Swann and Alexander got over on them on RAW and 205 Live this week. Pick: Gentleman Jack Gallagher & The Brian Kendrick
Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox (Kickoff Match)
Chuck: Alicia Fox is so underrated! Her over-the-top psycho tantrum character is phenomenal. We saw her snap on Monday Night RAW and assault Sasha Banks and a referee backstage after losing to her once again. Does she get a win here? I want so badly to say yes, but… Pick: Sasha Banks
Aaron: I’d love to see an Alicia Fox win here, especially since Sasha won on RAW. However, I think that Alicia’s backstage assault will serve as her “win” in this feud. Either way, hopefully she gets more of a push after this. Pick: Sasha Banks
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.