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There isn’t enough time for all these SmackDown feuds at TLC 2018

WWE’s TLC event is set to take place on Sun., Dec. 16, 2018, at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. There are currently 10 matches booked for the card:

  1. Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nia Jax (Raw women’s championship)
  2. Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka (SmackDown women’s championship)
  3. Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose (Intercontinental championship)
  4. Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles (WWE championship)
  5. The Bar (c) vs. The Usos vs. The New Day (SmackDown tag team championship)
  6. Braun Strowman vs. Baron Corbin (TLC match)
  7. Natalya vs. Ruby Riott (Tables match)
  8. Elias vs. Bobby Lashley
  9. Finn Balor vs. Drew McIntyre
  10. Mixed Match Challenge Final

Based on current SmackDown storylines, many fans are anticipating that some or all of the following matches could also be added to TLC:

  • Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Rusev (United States championship)
  • Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton
  • Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe

The glaring issue here is that the TLC card is already jam packed with 10 matches, and it’s going to be very difficult to find room for three more matches.

To help illustrate this point, here is a list of every WWE pay-per-view (PPV) since Backlash 2018, which is when WWE officially ditched the concept of brand-exclusive PPVs. For each event I will include the number of matches on the main card, the number of matches on the Kickoff show (if applicable), and a listing of every main card match that lasted less than seven minutes (7m 00s) long:

Backlash: 8 main card matches, 1 Kickoff match

  • There were no main card matches under 7m 00s

Money in the Bank: 10 main card, 1 Kickoff match

  • 6m 35s: Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn
  • 0m 32s: Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss

Extreme Rules: 10 main card, 2 Kickoff matches

  • 5m 24s: Carmella vs. Asuka
  • 0m 06s: Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

SummerSlam: 10 main card, 3 Kickoff matches

  • 6m 09s: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns
  • 4m 39s: Alexa Bliss vs. Ronda Rousey
  • 1m 55s: Braun Strowman vs. Kevin Owens
  • 1m 31s: Finn Balor vs. Baron Corbin

Hell in a Cell: 7 main card, 1 Kickoff match

  • There were no main card matches under 7m 00s

Super Show-Down: 10 main card matches

  • 5m 42s: Naomi & Asuka vs. The IIconics
  • 2m 21s: Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz

Evolution: 7 main card matches

  • There were no main card matches under 7m 00s

Crown Jewel: 11 main card, 1 Kickoff match

  • 6m 58s: Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz
  • 5m 25s: Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley
  • 5m 25s: Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton
  • 3m 16s: Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman
  • 2m 29s: Shane McMahon vs. Dolph Ziggler

Survivor Series: 7 main card, 1 Kickoff match

  • There were no main card matches under 7m 00s

The first thing worth noting is the only event that reached 13 total matches (including Kickoff) is SummerSlam. Three of those 13 SummerSlam matches took place on the Kickoff show. This is a strong indication that TLC doesn’t have room for three more matches, unless perhaps the Kickoff show will include three matches.

The next thing I noticed is that every event that included 10+ matches on the main card ended up with at least two matches that lasted less than 7m 00s. This makes me think that even if Braun Strowman versus Baron Corbin is a quick squash due to Strowman’s elbow surgery, that doesn’t necessarily create room for additional matches. The fact that TLC already has 10 matches booked implies that at least one or two matches will be cut for time anyway, so Strowman’s match would simply be designated for that required slot.

If WWE adds exactly one of those three potential SmackDown matches to TLC, there would presumably be 10 main card matches and 1 Kickoff match. The above information shows that a couple of those main card matches will suffer for time as a result. Anything added beyond that will simply crunch even more matches for time.

The most optimistic scenario to replicate is probably what happened at Extreme Rules, where there were 2 Kickoff matches and 10 main card matches, including a 6 second squash. If Strowman’s match is a one minute squash, perhaps two of those three extra SmackDown matches can be squeezed onto the card. There would need to be two Kickoff matches in this scenario.

Unless WWE is going to present a two hour Kickoff show crammed with 3 matches like SummerSlam, a 5 hour main card like WrestleMania, or a whole bunch of very short matches like Crown Jewel, I don’t see how TLC has room for these three extra SmackDown matches. I’d even argue that TLC is as packed as it should get right now, and adding additional matches at this point will drag down the general quality of wrestling due to the time crunch.

Which matches do you think will make the cut, Cagesiders?

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