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Predicting the match order at WWE TLC 2016

It's one thing to predict the winners and losers at WWE's TLC 2016, but how about taking a guess at the match order on that card?

WWE has announced 6 different matches for TLC 2016, excluding the pre-show.

Here is my subjective view of how important each of these 6 segments rank on the TLC 2016 card, ordered from most important to least important.

  1. AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose
  2. Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss
  3. The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler
  4. Slater and Rhyno vs Orton and Wyatt
  5. Nikki Bella vs Carmella
  6. Baron Corbin vs Kalisto

It is important to come up with a list like this to get an idea of which matches are going to be placed in the key spots on the card or take up the most time, and which matches might end up in the cool-down spots or be given the least amount of time.

I struggled to come up with the above match rankings; the only things clear to me are that Ambrose is in the most important match and Kalisto is in the least important match.

Miz and Ziggler had a lock on that second spot for a while but it feels that their feud peaked over a month ago and is clearly on a downward slope. However there are only 6 matches on the card right now and so there is a strong chance that their ladder match could still get the second most time on the card and be treated as a big deal.

Meanwhile Orton and Wyatt were given a huge win at Survivor Series. They are also generally positioned better on the card than Nikki and Carmella, and this has been evident these last 2 weeks with the Nikki/Carmella feud barely represented on the November 22 edition of SmackDown Live, and with Orton/Wyatt closing out the November 29th episode.

However Nikki and Carmella have been feuding for around 3 months and this match feels like the peak of their feud, whereas Orton’s team doesn’t have a developed story with Slater and Rhyno. The deciding factor for me is once again that I think Orton will be given more time to wrestle than Carmella. Nikki and Carmella weren’t even given 10 minutes at No Mercy; perhaps WWE would prefer to not ask Carmella to wrestle much longer than that just yet.

Some readers might scoff at this list and think that Randy Orton clearly belongs in the second slot, or that Nikki versus Carmella is way more compelling than both Miz and Orton’s matches. I wouldn’t argue too much with anybody who strongly disagrees with my rankings here.

The main point is that it is really difficult to confidently rank the matches from 2 through 5, and that is going to make the match order on this card especially difficult to predict.

Opening match

The opening match is usually one of the mid-level attractions that doesn’t require a dedicated video package ahead of time to hype it up. Due to my struggle to rank 4 of the matches on this card, they must all be considered for this opening match.

There is plenty of backstory available for the matches involving Becky, Nikki, and Miz that lend itself very well to those dedicated video packages. That leaves Orton’s tag team match as one that could be more likely to open the show, as there isn’t much of a story between the Wyatt Family and Rhyno/Slater.

However, the main event of TLC is going to involve climbing a ladder to retrieve the belt, so I think WWE might want to create as much space as possible between Ziggler’s ladder match and the main event TLC match. WWE opened the 2014 and 2015 TLC cards with a ladder match, and I think that logic could rule the day here again.

Miz and Ziggler don’t really need another dedicated video package; their feud has lost some steam and the Miz’s title victory over Ziggler from a few weeks ago can be quickly summarized in a recap video during his entrance.

That gives me the following card:

Segment 1: The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler
Segment 2: ?
Segment 3: ?
Segment 4: ?
Segment 5: ?
Segment 6: AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose

Everything else

Segment 2 will probably go to one of the shortest matches on the card. Corbin and Kalisto fit that bill pretty well. But I also think that WWE might want to go with one of the women’s matches early in the night, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t really trust Carmella to wrestle a long match. That means I’m going with Carmella and Nikki Bella in Segment 2.

With only 6 matches on the card, a relatively short Segment 2 should be followed up with a match that is more important than Kalisto’s in Segment 3. I don’t expect consecutive women’s matches, so that means Orton gets the call for Segment 3.

That leaves Segments 4 and 5 for Becky’s tables match and Kalisto’s chairs match. Are there any logistical reasons to think a Chairs or Tables match would make less sense to run right before the TLC main event gimmick? Nothing obvious comes to mind.

This pay-per-view (PPV) could really use a 7th segment of some kind to break up all of these gimmick matches at the very end, so maybe an unannounced filler match will be placed right before the main event. But for now I think it probably makes the most sense to use Kalisto’s match for that cool-down purpose.

I am a little hesitant to put Becky in Segment 4 because WWE doesn’t seem to ever run two women’s matches in a span of three segments. Following that logic would force me to put Becky in Segment 5 in order to keep her far enough away from Nikki’s match (Segment 2). I am going to violate that rule for this show, but I am not thrilled about the decision.

Finalized card

So here is my final prediction for the match order at TLC 2016, along with guesses on the bell-to-bell match times.

Segment 1: The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler (18 minutes)
Segment 2: Nikki Bella vs Carmella (10)
Segment 3: Slater and Rhyno vs Orton and Wyatt (13)
Segment 4: Becky Lynch vs Alexa Bliss (13)
Segment 5: Baron Corbin vs Kalisto (9)
Segment 6: AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose (24)

These 6 matches probably won’t be enough to fill out a 3-hour card, so WWE will either have to add more content to the PPV or cut it down closer to 2.5 hours.

That's my prediction for the match order at TLC 2016. What's yours?

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