While the card is always subject to change and WWE has had many instances in the past where events have been shifted around, we typically know at least the name and date of an event two months or so in advance. That hasn’t been the case with WWE TLC, which was originally rumored to be somewhere in December (likely the 19th or, eventually, the 12th).
Now, Fightful Select has reported the reason everyone is so hush about this is because there is no event in December. Well, now, that makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it?
My first reaction was to be annoyed that I’m just finding out about this now. To be honest, I had planned to write several articles surrounding this topic, and now, my December has to be adjusted. Woe is me. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think of overall positives and negatives that come out of this. So that’s what we’ll be addressing today. What are the pros and cons to this decision to cut the December pay-per-view from the lineup?
Pro: A Longer Build for WWE Day 1
According to Fightful’s sources, the reason why this December event was scrapped was because Nick Khan has put more focus on WWE Day 1 set for January 1, 2022. The thought process is that that will be a bigger show and take the place of TLC in mid-December.
If we’re looking for positives, we can say that this will give WWE more time to develop storylines coming out of Survivor Series and heading into Day 1. Instead of having 3 weeks to go from the Raw vs. SmackDown event to setting up new challengers for champions and the like, they’ll have nearly 6 weeks to reestablish the rosters post-draft and let the repercussions from Survivor Series really play out.
When done well, a longer build to a pay-per-view can lead to more meaningful matches. Back in the day, when there were only four major events per year, they felt like they mattered more. When WWE spends much of its resources spreading everything thin, the so-called “special events” no longer feel special, and TLC would have likely fit into that category.
Half the matches would have been on TLC with the other half on Day 1, or it would have been an instance where Day 1 was just a series of rematches nobody cared to see a second time.
Con: A Longer Build for WWE Day 1 (Yup)
You read it right. The same pro and con. That’s because the key to the previous thing being a positive was the phrase “when done well” and that isn’t always a guarantee, especially in today’s landscape.
WWE has steered more and more into the direction of being lazy and booking repetitive matches, dragging out storylines well past their expiration dates and having no idea what to do until the last minute, wandering aimlessly creatively until the eleventh hour. Just because they’ll have 6 weeks to develop better stories doesn’t mean they will. Instead, we could be in for 5 weeks of utter nonsense with a go-home rush to a series of random matches that mean nothing.
WWE likes to talk about how they tell long-term storylines and fans need to be patient, but we’ve seen perpetually how often that patience is rewarded versus how often we’re just being strung along with WWE thinking “We’ll figure it out later” hoping time will sort out every problem. Then, when push comes to shove, directions change, feuds are dropped and it’s chalked up to “oh well” and we’re supposed to forgive and forget and move on.
If Day 1 is Nick Khan’s baby, maybe he’ll push for more oversight. However, he’s not the direct head of WWE Creative, so even if he’s harping on it being a priority, it doesn’t mean the rest of the team will be able to manifest that.
Pro: More Room for Other Projects
Taking a pay-per-view out of the calendar means December won’t require as much attention for that specific event. Instead, the end of the year could be focused on some of the other things that sometimes get pushed aside.
For example, this makes it easier for WWE to dedicate time to the Slammy Awards. While it’s far from the most important thing like WrestleMania, it’s still a good way to wrap up the year, remind fans of some of the good things from the past 12 months and play into the “end of the year recap” mentality people have in December.
Maybe we can finally see some more shows on the WWE Network, which has pretty much dried up since the shift to Peacock. Almost nothing gets released anymore, even if it’s already been filmed, strangely enough. But if people aren’t focusing on hyping up TLC, could we get another edition of The Ultimate Show, for instance?
At the very least, the lack of a pay-per-view means there’s no excuse for “everything else” having more attention put onto it, which means everything else should theoretically be better quality.
Con: A Shorter Window for Royal Rumble 2022
Nixing a December event to go with something on January 1st means while there’s more room in the last month of the year, by proxy, there’s less room in the first month of 2022.
Inevitably, the January 3rd episode of Monday Night Raw will deal with the fallout from WWE Day 1. It pretty much has to, or that means WWE would blow past it and make it seem like it didn’t really matter, which can’t happen if you waited over a month since Survivor Series for this to take place.
That means there is then only 3 weeks until Royal Rumble to really build the entire card, as I would hope it wouldn’t consist of carryover feuds that are still lingering from the November-December build. That would be too long of a stretch.
Three weeks, if done well (key words, again), can work. The Royal Rumble matches speak for themselves and we just need to set up some potential winners for that, as well as establish challengers for the four world titles and maybe one or two other matches. But I don’t want to see a scenario where we spend half of November-December dawdling, the rest of December leading to Day 1, and then those 3 weeks are just waiting for Royal Rumble to happen so the title matches from Day 1 can happen on a repeat.
For example, let’s say Big E defends the WWE Championship at Day 1 against someone like AJ Styles. WWE will likely be too pressed for time to set up a new feud that’s worthwhile for Royal Rumble and will just go “Let’s run back Styles challenging Big E again. Maybe, if we really feel like we need it, we’ll make it a gimmick match, but we probably don’t need that if it’s Royal Rumble season. Let’s just do a regular rematch.” That’s bland, uninspired, weak, and lazy, and something WWE has done time and time again.
We could end up splitting the difference where Day 1 took what feels like forever to get to that point and then it just happens to continue, leading to a Royal Rumble event that is a two-match card where the only things people are genuinely interested in are “Who wins the Royal Rumble matches?”
Pro: Big Matches on Television Episodes
On the topic of spreading themselves thin, some feuds coming out of Survivor Series will simply need to end prior to Day 1 and Royal Rumble. They’ll hit their expiration date sometime in December and WWE will have to pull the trigger on some finality.
Without a pay-per-view to build around, that means those matches should likely be on episodes of Raw and SmackDown. This is good for two reasons:
- More interesting matches with stakes and big names means higher ratings.
- More interesting matches are simply more interesting, so the shows themselves should be better to watch.
I don’t know about you, but I’m annoyed when the card for a pay-per-view seems like half the card, lately, is made up of nonsense, while other matches that should be on the event are put on the TV shows instead. I still have no idea why Dominik and Rey Mysterio didn’t win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania instead of failing to win it on SmackDown, then winning it a few weeks later. Baffling. But if there isn’t an event, there’s nowhere else for them to go, which makes it okay.
I’d rather watch an episode of Raw that feels like a pay-per-view than to watch a pay-per-view that feels like an episode of Raw. Wouldn’t you?
Con: The Champions Could Be Delayed
Some champions are in limbo right now and it’s starting to look as though WWE might plan on keeping it that way until practically February.
Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch haven’t settled their titles. Flair can’t keep the Raw Women’s Championship on SmackDown and vice versa. But while Bianca Belair could beat Lynch at Crown Jewel and solve one of those issues, nobody is challenging The Queen. Her title just isn’t on the line and she flat out isn’t feuding with anybody at the moment.
After Crown Jewel, the build for Survivor Series will begin. Guess what’s also not happening there—title matches. Flair and the others get a pass for an entire month into November.
Then, with no event in December, that means the next time outside of television that we’d see someone defend their titles would be Day 1, which, as we’ve established, could end up falling victim to the “split the difference with Royal Rumble” rule. Royal Rumble is treated like an afterthought for some title matches as they aren’t the bigger draw and then, it’s WrestleMania season, where we know the champions will likely retain up until April.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Flair in particular has the momentum to do practically nothing with her title from now until April, only maybe having a weak challenger or two to beat in do-nothing matches that are so obviously not going to have a title change that they aren’t even worth watching. I don’t want Roman Reigns to face nobody for four to six months. I’d rather see champions be fighting champions and actually defend their titles at least once a month.
Pro: TLC Doesn’t Need to Continue
For all intents and purposes, the cut pay-per-view was TLC. It’s happened in December since 2009 (minus 2017 when it was in October), so it’s doubtful this would have been something else like Payback.
While I’ve pitched before that I’d much rather see a return to less gimmicky pay-per-views and names like Breaking Point and Fully Loaded, which give you just as much of an opportunity to put a stipulation match on the card as anything else, but don’t pigeonhole you into forcing a Hell in a Cell feud just because that’s the name of the event, maybe this is an opportunity for WWE to realize that.
There has never been a need for the TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view. While a tables match and a ladder match are indeed different from one another, a “chairs match” isn’t even a thing. It’s just a regular No Disqualification match by any other name (No Holds Barred, Street Fight, Extreme Rules, etc) where the Superstars just so happen to follow a magical rule where they only use chairs and not other weapons, whereas in any realistic fight, they’d use all other weaponry available just the same.
Likewise, TLC matches are just ladder matches. If the belt or something else is suspended and you have to climb a ladder to retrieve it, that’s the same exact match. Just because the wrestlers happen to use a chair and a table at some point doesn’t mean it’s a different match concept any more than a Falls Count Anywhere match doesn’t become a Last Man Standing just because the referee starts counting to 10, and a steel cage match doesn’t become a Caribbean strap match if someone were to start whipping their opponent with one.
Con: But TLC Matches are Fun!
Ignoring the name itself, these matches are indeed fun to witness, so not having the TLC event in December means we’re likely not seeing something like this any time soon.
In my mind, Jeff Hardy is a perfect opponent for Roman Reigns during this lull. He’s credible enough as a former multi-time world champion and an established, big name that he can challenge The Tribal Chief with some legitimacy, but it’s not as though we’re burning through a WrestleMania match in the middle of nowhere. When The Charismatic Enigma loses, people won’t be too upset, and when he challenges with some sort of gimmick like a TLC match, people are willing to accept that it’s a foregone conclusion because the match can be fun. That gimmick also makes it seem, if not just for a moment, that he might have a chance.
Technically speaking, WWE can still do this. It can happen at Day 1 or it can happen on Raw or SmackDown. That’s the beauty of not having a pay-per-view with the name where you need to do it then, as you can just do a Punjabi Prison match out of nowhere without it having to take place at “WWE Punjabi Prison 2021 in September” or something. But since that’s completely up in the air, you have to assume it’s not happening, rather than that it is, just because it is an option on the table. It’s an option for WWE to bring back the Championship Scramble match and that hasn’t happened, has it?
I’ll sacrifice TLC for a regular ladder match on an episode of Raw or SmackDown, or at WWE Day 1, if need be.
Do you wish WWE would hold a pay-per-view in December, or are you happy with this decision? Keep the discussion going in the comments below!