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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents - TLC Review and Ranking the Survivor Series Matches
By Dave Fenichel
Oct 25, 2017 - 9:07:57 PM

Hi kids.

This was quite the week in WWE. Not only was TLC this past Sunday, but the WWE went all in on announcing the entire Survivor Series lineup. With that in mind, today’s column will take a quick look at the past and a more in depth look into the future. I’ll give you my brief thoughts on TLC, and provide a ranking of the Survivor Series matches based on how likely I think that they will deliver solid entertainment value. Without further ado, off we go.

Quick Hits on TLC:

Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox had a strong outing to kick off the preshow. Alicia Fox is underrated. She does a great job with mannerisms that add to her matches. It was a foregone conclusion that Sasha was going to win, but they did their job.

Who knew that Drew Gulak actually had a personality? His presidential candidate schtick really worked for me. I got a chuckle out of him getting his time cut and using the panel to spew his propaganda. It’s the kind of angle that has absolutely no chance of getting over with the general audience, but will entertain me for as long as it lasts.

Asuka had a 3 star match to open the main card against Emma, but this was not how I would have booked her. I think someone of her stature who has been built in NXT to be an unstoppable force shouldn’t be in a 50/50 match with a glorified jobber her first night on the big show. The WWE has some work to do if they want her to be as successful on Raw as she was on NXT.

The cruiserweight tag match was everything the cruiserweights should strive to be in the 205 Live era. I absolutely love me some Cedric Alexander. There are plenty of great workers in the division, but it just feels like he has an extra gear. Cedric gaining the pin for his team is a good sign that he’ll be pushed to be a legitimate challenger for the title. I am on board with that.

Alexa Bliss had the best match of her career at TLC. Granted, the bar hasn’t been set particularly high there, but I really enjoyed this one. Mickie James brought her A game, and Alexa did well to keep up. I’d like to see a prolonged feud between the two, and Mickie’s post-match interview gave me hope that this one will have another chapter.

The Cruiserweight title match served its purpose. The WWE had made a short-sighted decision to hot-shot the title over to Kalisto, and they used Sunday Night to remedy the situation. Enzo is the money player in the division, and he absolutely needs to be the man holding the strap. The match was nothing special, but not nearly as terrible as our community would like you to believe. It served its purpose, and Enzo can now move on to bigger and better things.

Holy cow. Styles v Balor was fantastic. This might be the best one on one match of the entire year. When the post-meningitis shakeup was announced, I salivated at this matchup. They didn’t let me down. I was particularly impressed in that they were able to put on a 4 to 4 ½ star match without excessive use of finishing moves. AJ did a better job of putting Finn over in one night than everything else Balor has been involved in since his return combined. Good stuff all around.

Speaking of major shakeups, Kurt Angle’s return to the ring and the corresponding TLC match was everything that I thought it would be. The action was a fast and furious train wreck. Angle hit all his spots and popped the crowd. The WWE was smart to protect him through an injury angle and take him out for the majority of the match. This allowed the really crazy spots to occur without Angle coming off as an onlooker. The match was fun and I’m glad that Angle was able to get another moment in the sun.

Overall – I thought this was a very solid show from top to bottom. Prior to the shakeup, this looked like one of the worst cards on paper in Pay Per View history. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by both the changes to the card and the actual product itself.

Ranking The Survivor Series Matches.

The WWE went full speed ahead during the first week of Survivor Series hype. They announced six matches, presumably the entire card, on Raw. The WWE decided to go with a Raw v Smackdown theme, as every match either pits champion v champion or brand v brand in an elimination match.

Sit back, relax, and follow along as I rank in the matches based on how likely they are to entertain on game day:

#6. Raw Women v Smackdown Women – 5 on 5 Elimination Match.

I rank this dead last because the track record of female elimination matches isn’t great. They often get more time than they deserve, and the action can be choppy and bland. Not all is lost here. I’m interested in seeing how Asuka is booked here. I’d love to see her portrayed as the monster she should have been against Emma. However, choosing Alicia Fox and Becky Lynch as the respective team captains doesn’t inspire confidence. Neither are anywhere close to the top of the pecking order on their brand, and neither make you think that this match carries the importance that it should. All in all, while this match could very well deliver, I have my doubts.

#5. Intercontinetal v United States Champion: Baron Corbin v The Miz?

I put a question mark here because I strongly doubt that this is the match that will actually occur at Survivor Series. While the WWE has had a long history of making face v face matches work, heel v heel matches are avoided at all costs. With that being said, I believe that either The Miz or Baron Corbin will lose his title prior to Survivor Series. My money is on the Miz. Corbin just won the US title, and it’s unlikely that the WWE would make another switch so quickly. The Miz on the other hand, has been champ forever. I could easily see the title moving to someone like Matt Hardy, Jason Jordan or Finn Balor. I rank this match second to last because facts are facts – Baron Corbin just isn’t that exciting. Regardless of who he is paired up against, it plays like a standard mid-card match. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is.

#4. Women’s Champion v Champion – Alexa Bliss v Natalya?

Once again, I put a question mark behind this one because like with the Miz v Corbin, I don’t see this as being the match we will end up with. My rationale is the same – heel v heel matches just don’t work. Unlike the Miz v Corbin, I’m torn on which diva won’t make it to Survivor Series. On one hand, the WWE could shoot the Raw title over to Mickie and run Mickie v Natalya. On the other hand, having Natalya drop the title to Charlotte would lead to a blockbuster match. I’m leaning towards the WWE going the Charlotte v Bliss route here. If so, this becomes must-see.

#3. Universal v WWE Champion – Brock Lesnar v Jinder Mahal.

Don’t get me wrong. As I mentioned in a previous column, I’m ready to move on from Jinder Mahal’s world title run. With that said, I think he’s the PERFECT opponent for Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. First, Lesnar has run through just about everyone on Raw. Facing Jinder at Survivor Series isn’t taking away the spot from someone who deserves it. Second, Brock Lesnar excels against wrestlers that he can toss around. For all of his in-ring flaws, Jinder takes a beating as well as anyone. This will work. Lesnar will dominate much to everyone’s delight. His Royal Rumble feud will show up and decimate him. Jinder will pick up the fluke win and the wrestling world will spend weeks talking about it. This is a home run for everyone involved.

#2. Raw Men v Smackdown Men – 5 on 5 Elimination Match.

This match checks in at #2 for the opposite end of my argument for the women’s match being ranked last. The main event survivor series elimination match has delivered over and over again. It happened in 2014 with Dolph Ziggler. It happened in 2016 with Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. It will happen this year. Both male rosters are loaded with talent perfect for this match. I’m expecting the match to look something like Roman/Miz/Cesaro/Sheamus/Strowmann v Orton/Zayn/KO/Styles/Roode. It’s hard to think that lineup is anything less than spectacular.

#1. Tag Champions v Tag Champions – The Shield v The Usos.

Is this match was a bottomless pit of soup, I’d lap it up every minute of every day for the rest of my life. I’m a sucker for tag team wrestling and 2017 has been a spectacular year for it. The tag title TLC match was arguably the best match on Wrestlemania 33, and both The Bar v The Shield and The New Day v The Usos produced multiple classics that will stand the test of time. At this stage in the game, there isn’t a bigger “dream” tag match than The Shield v The Usos. I expect these two teams to absolutely tear the house down. I will have my popcorn ready.

That’s a wrap kids. Before I go, here’s a teaser. I have a new column series in the works. Stay tuned! Thank you for reading. Sound off below!

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