Originally written November 24, 2012 on Wrestling Truth:
TLC is right around the corner and tonight some of the pieces fall in to place. Coming off his victory at Survivor Series the ever cocky Dolph Ziggler thinks he’s one up on John Cena, but after stealing a victory from Randy Orton, Cena made sure he had nothing to celebrate about. Sheamus still raging after being screwed out of his World title shot is given a second chance at TLC in a Chairs match, but can he keep it together in the run up to the PPV? And is a chair-swinging giant really what the Irishman wants? John Cena on Miz TV: The John Cena/AJ storyline has gone a little flat recently. Two people getting together is not scandalous on its own, the point was supposed to be that within the corporate WWE environment there would be repercussions for fraternizing. Yet when AJ and John Cena go at it in the ring, there’s no problem with it. So what are Ziggler and Vickie trying to prove? And why do Cena and AJ care? Or is the fact that they don’t care now the angle? I’m still holding out for AJ to screw Cena. Tonight the Miz stays natural to his character and doesn’t overdo the face turn. The fact that he’s in there with Cena means he’s a face to half the audience anyway, because they hate Cena so much. Miz asked Cena about his knee, which is no doubt going to give Ziggler the advantage when they get in the ring and explain away the loss if Cena does the job. When AJ joined them in the ring and Miz asked if Cena was in love with her, the answer was cut off by Dolph Ziggler and Raw Managing Supervisor Vickie Guerrero. Mr. Money in the Bank called AJ “trouble” and gloated about his assault on Cena, while Vickie suggested AJ needed to control her impulses. The segment didn’t really go anywhere. It simply ended with Cena making a childish joke about Vickie eating nuts and Ziggler not having any nuts. Isn’t their feud now beyond silly banter? If somebody had injured your leg would you be making nut jokes at them? There wasn’t really any hook for tonight’s show, other than the announcement that Ziggler will take on Orton in the main event. Neither man addressed the match in an interview. Ryback def. Darren Young: The Big Hungry made light work of Darren Young, while his partner Titus O’Neil continued his comedic commentary. It’s now clear that O’Neil is the charismatic one of the team. After the match O’Neil made a huge mistake by getting in the ring and blowing his whistle at Ryback. He got Shell Shocked for his trouble. It’s probably not the best decision to squash your rising tag team, who are just coming off a well talked about Raw, but something tells me they’ll get over it. R-Truth def. US Champion Antonio Cesaro in a Non-Title Match: WWE resting on old formulaic booking have given R-Truth a second chance at Cesaro, and guess what? If he gets the victory he gets another title shot at a later date as well. I guess we know who’s winning then. Cesaro still riding the evil foreigner gimmick mocked Thanksgiving before the match, and after a few short minutes Truth pulled one back for Americans by stealing the victory out of nowhere. Mathews declared that R-Truth had found a weakness in the US Champ. Are the Champs supposed to have weakness? At least this time around they can give the feud some more depth. Chairs match booked for TLC: Backstage Booker T is still worried about the hot-headed Sheamus. He informs him he’s going to have the night off and watch the show from a skybox in the audience. It’s not all bad however as the SmackDown GM gives the Celtic Warrior a rematch against the Big Show at TLC, and this time chairs are legal! Alberto Del Rio def. Sin Cara: A solid match from the Lucha Libre veterans. If anybody can work with Sin Cara it’s his old enemy Alberto Del Rio. After a fast paced bout with some impressive spots, Del Rio got the win with a Cross Armbreaker. Big Show def. Team Hell No in a Handicap Match: Team Hell No still can’t put their egos aside and it ultimately cost them their match tonight. Daniel Bryan kicked things off and was impressive against the Giant, but he refused to give Kane the tag, overstaying his welcome. When the tag did come Kane put up a solid fight and may have been able to get the victory, but the Goat Face forced his way back in with the blind tag, ticking Kane off so much that he left his partner to fend for himself. Bryan could not keep the Big Show down and fell victim to the Chokeslam. Hell No are an impressive team when they’re on the same page and not bickering, but tonight there was no bickering about who the World Champ was. As he headed up the ramp Show exchanged trash talk with Sheamus, who is burning for TLC. Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston def. Damien Sandow: Wade Barrett joined JBL and Michael Cole on commentary and once again proved he’s a notch above the smiley and stale Ghanaian. After the Intercontinental Champion overcame Sandow with Trouble in Paradise, Barrett seized the spotlight, stepping onto the announce table to make sure he had the high-flying titleholder’s attention. In no uncertain terms, the English Superstar laid down the gauntlet by informing Kingston that he would be the next victim of the Barrett Barrage when he comes after his Intercontinental Title. Big things are in store for Barrett, but it looks like he’ll have to ride through the mid-card ranks before he’s cycled in to the main event. Dolph Ziggler def. Randy Orton: The match of the night was the main event, with selling-machine Ziggler taking on Randy Orton, who seemed to be more over with the crowd than usual. At Survivor Series, Ziggler defeated Orton to become the sole survivor, and tonight he made it clear that it wasn’t a fluke. As Orton went for the RKO, Ziggler turned the tables, rolling up WWE’s Apex Predator for the quick three-count. As the smoke cleared, Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez made their way to the ring. But at the last second, The Mexican Aristocrat backed off, allowing his personal ring announcer the leap into the squared circle alone and get blasted with the RKO. Then, as Del Rio and Orton stared down, John Cena suddenly emerged, locking the victorious Ziggler into the STF on the ramp, making his bleach-blond adversary writhe in pain. He may be on a roll, but he’s certainly not celebrating. Conclusion: A mediocre SmackDown that did it’s job in progressing storylines in to TLC. Lets see the undercard given a bit more meaning.

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