Tuesday, June 25, 2024
EditorialPanic Mode: WWE Sickness Outbreak May Ruin More Than Just TLC 2017...

Panic Mode: WWE Sickness Outbreak May Ruin More Than Just TLC 2017 Event

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Good lord, today has been stressful for journalists like myself, but it has to be even crazier for the folks over at WWE.

In case you haven’t been following the big news, an outbreak of the mumps has caused major changes to the TLC card for this Sunday, since Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns had to be pulled from the show.

As a response to this, WWE opted to go with the replacement options of AJ Styles randomly being paired up with Finn Balor while Kurt Angle of all people will fill in for Roman Reigns.

There are so many things to unpack when it comes to this, and to be honest, part of me is in total panic mode not just for TLC itself, but for many other things going forward.

Allow me to indulge my overly stimulated mind for a moment to just lay out everything that I’m trying to analyze as a potential problem that could arise from this situation. Also, apologize for what is going to amount to a wall of text, and I fully anticipate a “You worry too much daddy” comment to be posted below, Harley.

Time to spitball.

First things first, if you’ve followed my previous posts here and elsewhere on the net regarding the pay-per-view, you know by now that I had very little faith in this event. It was abundantly clear that WWE hinged the show’s success on it being super cool that The Shield reunited along with Asuka’s main roster debut squash match.

I’ll give them credit that they at least had Braun Strowman fighting Ambrose and Rollins ahead of time to piggyback off his feud with Reigns as a means to include him into the match, and I’ll also fully admit that Kane’s appearance was a total surprise and I like that there’s potential to have him feud with Reigns over The Undertaker’s retirement.

The Miz’s direction has been kind of crazy, The Bar’s replacement of The Miztourage makes some sense, but really, this was kind of nuts.

It also made no sense that this is a TLC match because there’s nothing to climb the ladder to retrieve, which in itself is an entirely other argument because TLC matches are just ladder matches to begin with and shouldn’t exist at all—but without something to climb to get, this is literally just a generic No Disqualification match, meaning why is this even called TLC?

Anyway, deep breath. Let’s move on.

Now that we aren’t getting Roman Reigns in the match, this means The Shield reunion has been put on hold. When that is going to happen is an entirely unknown entity to not just us, but WWE’s officials, too.

Somewhere down the line, we’ll see it happen, and that’s okay, but there’s no denying that it won’t have the same impact unless they get lucky. We very well may be looking at a scenario where by the time we see them team up, it’s not going to feel as special or cool because it will have had a random stop on the momentum train.

In the best case scenario, the crowd still loves it, the WWE Universe eats it up, and we all feel happy inside like originally planned. Let’s hope that’s the case.

Even in that scenario, though, it still pushes WWE’s plans further back than originally intended. We can guarantee that WWE didn’t start booking TLC a few months ago with the intention to have everything fall apart like this, so how is this going to affect the plans for the build to Survivor Series, which in turn will affect the Royal Rumble and so forth?

Remember, there isn’t a Raw pay-per-view scheduled for December—just Clash of Champions for SmackDown. If this match doesn’t take place at TLC, then whatever they wanted to do in the meantime has to happen on a regular episode of Raw or at Survivor Series, while not getting in the way of other ideas.

For instance, if the plan was to set something up here so Roman Reigns and Kane could have a singles match at Survivor Series, then we could definitely still see that happen at that show if Reigns is healthy enough to return to action by then. The match with The Shield teaming up will just have to happen on Raw and be built up as a big television episode instead. WWE is flexible. It can work.

Now, Kane is just going to have to look like he’s targeting Reigns’ friends since he can’t get his hands on Reigns. That’s your excuse, WWE. Run with it and hope that it just doesn’t feel too awkward.

What about Kurt Angle, though??

This is huge, in so, so many ways.

One of the big problems we have here is that Kurt Angle’s in-ring return is going to have happened just completely out of the blue with zero build whatsoever to indicate that.

At best, we can argue that he and The Miz have been argumentative as of late, and that he could get so pissed with the way things are that he just wants to step in to put the ankle lock on the intercontinental champion to shut him up.

However, Angle against The Bar, Kane and Braun Strowman? How is that going to work going forward? There should be tension on Raw episodes to come, and I hope WWE doesn’t just sweep that under the rug. They’ll need to address that.

With Angle returning to the ring, this means we now have to speculate that he’s been cleared the whole time, and that there’s definitely potential for a match at WrestleMania. If that’s the case, who is he going to face? This isn’t the time to write up a full article about that, but my guess is Triple H. We’ll get more into this at another date, but I’m just putting it out there for now.

Angle’s presence in this match changes so much of the dynamic that it will be exciting to see what happens, because this could be a total mess or it could be a lot of fun purely because WWE won’t have a plan to follow.

You’d have to imagine WWE had some ideas for spots that they can’t do anymore, since Angle isn’t the same person as Reigns. He doesn’t have the youth, the size, the power, or the gimmick of being the third man in The Shield to do the powerbomb on his side.

I’m worried about Angle’s health, though, since this is a TLC match. Reigns could have—and most likely would have—taken some decent bumps here and there, and I don’t want to see Angle do the same thing and risk his potential future matches just to try to bring some pops into one match on the card.

I’m disappointed that we couldn’t get a bigger build to Angle’s return, and in a storyline that would make a lot more sense. We’re not out of the woods as far as looking back on this in a year and thinking of it as a major clusterfuck, as there’s at least some potential that WWE could sort this all out, but I don’t have a ton of faith.

Sister Abigail is Dragged Out Even Longer…

Ugggggggggh. I’ve been so sick and tired of this Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt feud going on forever, and now this means we’re going to have it last even longer.

This whole possession angle was the most interesting thing they’ve done so far, and admittedly, there might be quite a few people who wanted to tune in to see that more than anything else. I’m not one of those, but it sucks for those people who were in that category.

Now, we’ll have to wait even longer, and if this match is going to be pushed to Survivor Series, I’m not sure I can handle another four weeks of the same promo leading up to that match. If it’s on Raw, let’s get it out of the way as soon as possible and just move on.

On the optimistic side of things, it’s cool that we’ll get AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor, since fans have been clamoring for that for a long time.

The pessimist in me has two things to say about that, even though I hate to rain on the parade. To echo the Kurt Angle situation, it sucks that this wasn’t set up some more because in an ideal world, this could be a bigger feud, so I hope they don’t kill off any excitement for a future pairing and that this just whets our appetites instead. I’m not too worried about that, though.

What I’m more worried about is how if WWE doesn’t know the full extent of this mumps outbreak, is it really smart to have someone from the SmackDown side of things come over to interact with the Raw crew? Couldn’t AJ Styles potentially pick something up and then spread that infection over to the blue brand, leaving WWE with months of random sick people having to bow out of shows on both Monday and Tuesday nights, along with leading into Survivor Series and onward?

To round this all out:

This card was a mess. Even if this sickness fiasco didn’t happen, there was no way TLC was going to go down as a masterpiece, because the majority of the matches were things most people wouldn’t care about.

As much as I like Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, The Brian Kendrick and Gentleman Jack Gallagher, nobody was going to go gaga over that match. Nobody would really care about Asuka vs. Emma outside of “oh hey, Asuka’s on Raw now.” Mickie James is a placeholder feud for Alexa Bliss. Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox is the epitome of something you can skip. I value Drew Gulak’s PowerPoint presentation, but few else care. Enzo Amore will probably take the title back from Kalisto and reset things to the status quo of Zo.

WWE didn’t do a good enough job planning out a better card in the weeks leading up to this show and between the lack of preparation mixed with the problems of the brand split forcing repetitious feuds (Wyatt/Balor) going on too long plus a more shallow talent pool to work with in crisis scenarios, that’s why we’re in the situation we’re currently in.

With all this sickness causing even more chaos, this has the potential to be an absolute travesty of a pay-per-view and one of the worst in a very long time, but it also has the potential to be so incredibly whacked out crazy that WWE’s creative team basically throws their hands up in the air, says “screw it”, turns into the skid and it can be a total blast.

What we have to hope for is that even if TLC itself turns out to be horrible, the sickness is contained, the booking plans are able to be salvaged and that this doesn’t ruin the Monday Night Raw episodes to follow, the SmackDown roster at all, or the plans for Survivor Series.

If it does, we could be in another environment like WrestleMania 32 where injuries prevented the ability to book certain matches in advance, leading to a really lackluster card that we look back on and have to make excuses for.

This is crazy, and it will be interesting to see how things play out.

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