Yesterday's TLC pay-per-view (PPV) was a banner night for WWE, a rare show, which got rave reviews from everyone, including our very own Geno Mrosko.
The highlight of the night, was The Shield proving it doesn't take several years to get over, if you're ready for the spotlight, by delivering a performance more than worthy of their lofty main event billing, and one that will go down as one of the best debuts in WWE history. Not to be outdone, John Cena and Dolph Ziggler stepped up to the plate by having a ladder match main event that came close to equaling the pole vault high bar set by the newcomers; capped off by a predictable, yet satisfying and well received, storyline twist where AJ Lee cost her bemused love interest the briefcase. There were solid performances up and down the rest of the card, too.
Then it will be unsurprising to note: WWE management were over the moon with these outstanding showings; a highly unusual occurrence these days, what with Monday Night Raw's stagnant ratings getting them regularly upset and moody:
"Vince McMahon and HHH were praising everyone's work last night after TLC."
The poise and confidence displayed by Dean Ambrose in particular was vindication for Triple H, who has long tabbed Ambrose as a potential breakout superstar, and is behind his mega push; something he was likely yearning for after his earlier handpicked projects in Drew McIntyre, Kharma and Sin Cara, all failed to pan out, partly due to their own personal shortcomings in handling the responsibility that comes with such a role.
Perhaps the most surprising result on the PPV event, was Big Show successfully retaining his World Heavyweight Championship against Sheamus in a tables match that seemed to blow off their feud together, as The Great White was pencilled in to face Randy Orton at WrestleMania 29 for that title belt. As Bryan Alvarez reported today, this is not a sign WWE has lost faith in Sheamus, or that plans have already changed. Indeed, he's been told Sheamus is in the running to win the Royal Rumble for the second year in a row, instead of the obvious winner in John Cena to set up his WrestleMania rematch with The Rock.
It remains to be seen how Orton ends up with the title though, if he's immediately turning heel on his return from injury, and of course, now that this news has been publicly leaked the chances of it actually happening are greatly lessened.
The most disappointing aspect of the whole TLC event was the rushed nature of Alberto Del Rio's babyface turn and the tepid reaction to it. This was unnecessary, given that he's been going nowhere fast for the last couple of months. The sudden nature of Del Rio's changed role is indicative of continuing dissatisfaction at Rey Mysterio's long term reliability. This, given he's one Wellness policy violation away from being fired, his knees could fail on him again at any moment, and having recently taken unscheduled time off to deal with a personal matter, that and Sin Cara's attitude and sloppy work.
With Mexico being such a key foreign market, and the ever-growing Hispanic population in the United States, there's a recognition within WWE that they urgently need a top babyface of Mexican descent to appeal to that audience, and with no-one in developmental ready to fill that role, Del Rio got the nod. So the future seems very bright for him, despite the foreboding start to his run as a good guy.