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Predicting the match order at TLC 2020

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It’s one thing to predict the winners and losers at TLC 2020, but how about taking a guess at the match order on that card?

WWE has announced six different segments for the main card of TLC.

Here is my subjective view of how important each of these six segments rank, ordered from most important to least important.

  1. Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles
  2. Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
  3. Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
  4. Baszler & Jax vs. Asuka & ???
  5. Sasha Banks vs. Carmella
  6. New Day vs. The Hurt Business

The SmackDown side of the card only includes two matches, so I am going to make up for that by adding a seventh segment to this lineup.

Main event

The main event will either be Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles or Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens.

Reigns and Owens have the more personal feud, but there isn’t any reason to take Owens seriously as a threat to Reigns. Owens has been physically dominated by Reigns on three straight episodes of SmackDown heading into this event. On top of that, the stipulation here means that Jey Uso can interfere at will, which only amplifies the disadvantage for Owens.

I laughed out loud last night during SmackDown when Owens, after getting his ass kicked for the better part of two hours by Reigns and Uso, emerged from the rubble and actually uttered the words, “At TLC, I’m gonna take the Universal title...” I have no idea what this delusional man is talking about, everything that has happened over the last three weeks indicates otherwise.

That’s a long-winded way of saying that Reigns vs. Owens should not be the main event because Owens hasn’t been presented as a credible threat to the champ. McIntyre vs. Styles makes a lot more sense to close out the night, particularly with a Money in the Bank cash-in potentially being in play.

Opening match

The opening match of the night is usually one of the mid-level attractions with good work rate that doesn’t require a dedicated video package ahead of time to hype it up.

This card doesn’t really have any obvious choices for the opening match. The New Day can always slide into that spot, but the least important match of the night doesn’t typically open a WWE pay-per-view.

Asuka’s tag team match comes with the hook of a mystery partner. If that partner turns out to be Mandy Rose or Dana Brooke, then this match will not be a good choice for the opening segment. But what if the mystery partner is Charlotte Flair? The return of the Queen would be a big deal and a good way to open the show. Royal Rumble 2021 (and road to WrestleMania) is just around the corner, so I think there’s a decent chance that Flair does indeed return at TLC. I’m putting this one as the opener.

That gives me the following card:

Segment 1: Baszler & Jax vs. Asuka & ???
Segment 2:
Segment 3:
Segment 4:
Segment 5:
Segment 6:
Segment 7: Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles

Everything else

When WWE books multiple Hell in a Cell or Elimination Chamber matches onto one card, they usually spread out those gimmick matches across the card. The same thing should happen at TLC 2020 with the two titular gimmick matches. Whichever one of McIntyre or Reigns is not in the main event will probably end up near the middle segment of the card. Therefore I’m putting Reigns vs. Owens in Segment 4.

That gives me the following card:

Segment 1: Baszler & Jax vs. Asuka & ???
Segment 2:
Segment 3:
Segment 4: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens
Segment 5:
Segment 6:
Segment 7: Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles

Now it’s a matter of deciding which two matches immediately precede Reigns, and which two matches immediately follow Reigns.

Considering that Reigns’ match has the big gimmick attached to it, I’m going to follow it up with that extra unannounced SmackDown match that this card appears to be lacking. I expect it to be something that is obvious filler, rather than a higher stakes match like Sami Zayn vs. Big E. A quick match featuring Otis sounds about right. How about Otis vs. Cesaro for Segment 5?

The Fiend is usually a safe bet to wrestle in the upper card, so I’m going to put the Firefly Inferno match in Segment 6. But if this is not a cinematic match and instead turns out to just be a regular Inferno match, then there is a chance it could appear earlier in the night if the logistics of setting the ring up don’t mesh well with such close proximity to a TLC match.

That leaves New Day and Sasha Banks for Segment 2 and Segment 3, in some order. I’m opening the event with a women’s match, so I’ll refrain from putting another women’s match in Segment 2. That means New Day go in Segment 2, and Banks lands in Segment 3.

Finalized card

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

Segment 1: Baszler & Jax vs. Asuka & ??? (10 minutes)
Segment 2: New Day vs. The Hurt Business (12)
Segment 3: Sasha Banks vs. Carmella (11)
Segment 4: Roman Reigns vs. Kevin Owens (22)
Segment 5: Otis vs. Cesaro (4)
Segment 6: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton (15)
Segment 7: Drew McIntyre vs. AJ Styles (20)

That’s my prediction for the match order at TLC 2020. What’s yours?