TLC is the red-headed step child of the WWE calendar, always somewhere between “overhyped” and “underdeveloped” without a legitimately classic show in the whole lot of them. Will this year be any different?
Your Monthly Reminder: While the name of these reviews is “Bang for Your Buck”, because of the Network, it’s now less of “getting your money’s worth”, and more “how much does having access to something like this make me want to renew my subscription” or, more succinctly, “how ‘special’ was this event/match, really?”. Which means that instead of just taking into account things like: major character shifts, definitive conclusions (which are different from clean finishes) and moves that don’t make their way to Raw, it’ll focus more on “how many times would I rewatch this”, “would I show this to non-fans as a reason why wrestling is worth watching” and “how different was this historically?”
Each match is rated on a sliding scale between -1 and -1: Matches worth multiple rewatches are +1, a match you may watch or skip 0, and things that make you reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The scale is arbitrary, of course, but it’s based around the idea that a match will be fundamentally watchable, repeatedly so.
As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match basis):
As per usual, I’ll be using what I said from the What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I was to predicting what would happen and whether or not it lived up to my pre-established expectations. You know, like an adult.
The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (with Xavier Woods) vs. Gold and Stardust
What Nick Wants to Happen: A match that shows a clearly defined persona for The New Day, likely something along the lines of the Kofi and Big E. catapult show, while The Dust(y) brothers get a chance to actually work at full speed the way they did as The Brotherhood. Also, JBL and The King keep the casual racism to a low hum.
I think Bill Hanstock is a great wrestling writer and likely an even better man, but I found myself wildly disagreeing with him — and the Masked Man in what was probably the saddest episode of Cheap Heat ever — with/regards/to both of these teams, as Mr. Hanstock believes that these are “two teams going nowhere fast” and Mr. Shoemaker believes that the crowd has already turned on the trio. Sure, this is whole enterprise is likely beneath someone like Big E. and even the Dust(y) Brothers, but just the fact they this match was on a pre-show tells you that they likely have some kind of plans for at least one of these teams moving forward.
And after Big E’s failed run as a preacher, giving him fellow clergymen spreading the Gospel of The New Day seems like it could be going somewhere not entirely idiotic, and, at the very least, I am unwilling to call the program anywhere near dead in the water. Because, while your mileage, I have to admit, I got exactly what I wanted. As I made clear last night, I wasn’t expecting this to be anything other than a trailer match for both teams where they could both work out their spots and help develop a rapport with the audience.
There are bits and pieces of this match I could have done without like the ill-timed endspot/Big E’s inability to figure out if he was the legal man or not, and it’s clear to me that both teams — along with the tag division — definitely have a long way to go to reach their full potential. But, considering all of the factors, this was still the type of match that they can continue to put on the preshow to make it feel completely meaningless.