WWE TLC Preview: Is pro wrestling finally dead?

wweMonday Night Raw is seeing one record-low rating after another. TNA is getting a fifth of the viewers on Destination America that it was getting on Spike, and now it’s moving to the former TV Guide channel, and good on you if you knew that was on basic cable, but it is.

There’s never been more in terms of options for fans: WWE, TNA, NXT, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground, New Japan, Global Force Wrestling.

None of it is worth a damn.

Wrestling, once again, is dying. You want to doubt that, then you have to explain the final segment of the go-home Raw, what was supposed to be the final sell for this Sunday’s TLC pay-per-view.

The main thrust of the segment: babyface hero Roman Reigns, and tater tots.

The segment, written by 10-year-olds, you have to imagine, had Reigns calling WWE champ Sheamus, who until a couple of weeks ago was a show-opening jobber, “tater tot,” and Sheamus denying that he was, you know, a “tater tot.”

This went on for a while, right around 10 minutes, all told.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Tick.

“Tater tot.”

The two eventually grappled, got pulled apart, then ostensibly got sent to the principal’s office to write “sticks and stones will break my bones” on a chalkboard a hundred times before they could go home.

If it seems at all reminiscent of the Vince Russo burying WCW era, yeah, all we’re missing here is G.I. Bro, but it’s not just WWE that is suffering from a general malaise.

TNA is asking us to endure yet another endless tournament on its way to the neverland of Pop TV. Ring of Honor is apparently unwilling to showcase its talents and is saddled with the production values of cable-access TV.

Global, for its part, is a little too excited about a new tour of high-school gyms to allow that it has to be worried about its lack of TV presence.

WWE is the big leagues, on paper, but the sum of its existence right now is Roman Reigns, Sheamus, and tater tots.

This is your main event at the upcoming TLC pay-per-view on Sunday. Two guys who each need a dance partner to carry them along in a singles match, and the reason we’re supposed to be in a lather to see them is that the one calls the other “tater tot.”

The match of the night will come much earlier, when Intercontinental champ Kevin Owens defends against Dean Ambrose. This one has two guys who are the perfect dance partners and also top-flight on the mic working together in what will be a classic.

Sure, put them on the undercard; makes sense.

We also get a tag-team ladder match with New Day defending the WWE tag titles in a three-way with the Lucha Dragons and the Usos. Another classic with the workrate of the six men in this one.

Alberto Del Rio defends the U.S. title against Jack Swagger in a match that won’t be as good as it should be, because for whatever reason, WWE doesn’t use Swagger in a way that showcases his in-ring talent.

Charlotte will defend her Divas title against Paige: a rare matchup between the top two performers in a division. We have to hope that these two work with each other more in the future.

And then the show opener with the Wyatts taking on Team ECW because, why the hell not?

The news this week that Daniel Bryan might be done for good is hanging over this TLC. Seth Rollins is on the shelf through WrestleMania. The hope against hope is that the return of John Cena from a two-month hiatus to tape a reality TV show will somehow get things moving in the right direction.

It doesn’t take much to figure that the folks in charge at TNA, ROH and elsewhere will be watching closely to see if WWE can reverse its recent slide.

WWE is the gateway drug to the mat sport, in a manner of speaking, and if people aren’t interested in what the big boys are doing in New York, then they’re not likely to be paying attention to Nashville, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

And nobody is buying tater tots.

– Preview by Chris Graham



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