What was supposed to be a celebration of The Shield’s return is set to look vastly different as card changes gave WWE TLC 2017 an abrupt makeover.
Roman Reigns was set to join his fellow Hounds of Justice in their first match as a team since 2014. Bray Wyatt was going to transform into his Sister Abigail alter-ego. Neither is healthy enough to compete, however.
And so, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles will walk into Sunday’s TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs pay-per-view as all-star backups.
BREAKING: @RealKurtAngle RETURNS to action at #WWETLC replacing @WWERomanReigns; @FinnBalor to battle @AJStylesOrg! https://t.co/galIK0bFz6
Fans will still get to see Asuka make her debut on the main roster after a historic NXT run. Unless fate is cruel enough to take that away, too.
The ninth edition of TLC will also feature the matches for the Cruiserweight Championship and Raw women’s title. It wasn’t a deep card before the changes, and now it’s quite a weird one with the brand’s general manager and a SmackDown Superstar stepping in.
Read on for a full preview of the PPV, complete with backstage buzz and picks.
News, Potential Spoilers
Major rearranging had to happen to respond to backstage medical issues. WWE.com announced that Angle will replace Reigns in the five-on-three main event and Styles will take Wyatt’s place.
There’s potential for more booking turmoil, as Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet noted that a spreading illness could impact Sunday’s action:
Ryan Satin @ryansatin
Hearing this viral meningitis scare on the Raw roster is very real and could definitely affect the TLC card.
Hopefully, Reigns and Wyatt are the only ones who have to be pulled.
As for the Cruiserweight Championship match, the Kalisto era may not last long.
The King of Flight dethroned Enzo Amore on Oct. 9. His first defense of the cruiserweight title, though, could be his last.
The #Cruiserweight Title will be on the line when @KalistoWWE defends his championship against @real1 this Sunday at #WWETLC! #205Live https://t.co/UqKMUhU8MN
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Wrestling Inc), WWE plans to have Amore win back the cruiserweight crown.
- Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox
- Brian Kendrick and Jack Gallagher vs. Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander
- Kalisto vs. Enzo Amore (Cruiserweight Championship)
- Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles
- Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James (Raw Women’s Championship)
- Asuka vs. Emma
- Kurt Angle, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. The Bar, The Miz, Kane and Braun Strowman (TLC)
- Banks over Fox
- Swann and Alexander over Kendrick and Gallagher
- Amore over Kalisto
- Balor over Styles
- Bliss over James
- Asuka over Emma
- Angle, Rollins and Ambrose over The Bar, The Miz and Strowman
Balor vs. Styles
Balor will have to wait to face Wyatt’s ghostly second self. The Eater of Worlds’ medical issues will push that collision back.
Instead, he will get a surprise dream match against Styles.
In terms of in-ring action, this is going to be a blast. Both guys are stellar athletes. Both employ a high-octane style.
They will have to lean on their physical gifts, as there will be no build and no story for this bout. This is a last-minute substitute that is poised to be miles better than the original.
Bliss vs. James
It’s been over seven years since James has been a champion in WWE. That can change in an instant on Sunday.
The veteran will face the feisty, cocky champ in a match that has the potential to be TLC’s sleeper bout.
It’s been a bumpy road for @MickieJames and #RAW #WomensChampion @AlexaBliss_WWE to this Sunday’s #WWETLC showdown! https://t.co/H0uHuHKW43
Bliss has antagonized her former ally by mocking her age. Never mind that James is 38. Bliss has been acting like she’s 98.
The jokes will stop on Sunday when James looks to kick and fight her way to victory.
Over 520 days as NXT women’s champ. An unmatched 10-0 at TakeOver events. Asuka storms into Raw with numbers like no one else.
The dominant force will first collide with Emma, a foe she conquered in London in 2015.
Those two are capable of putting on a great show as we saw that night, but it’s a safe bet Asuka simply swallows up the Aussie here.
WWE has hyped up Asuka’s arrival in a big way. Her first match promises to build on that with a steamrolling performance.
An Olympian Joins The Shield
The Shield’s reformation is put on hold. But there’s still a battle to be fought and a main event to be had.
There will be an odd energy surrounding this contest as Reigns’ absence is disappointing, but Angle’s unexpected return counteracts that to a point.
Angle hasn’t wrestled for WWE since 2006. This isn’t how anybody dreamed up his comeback, but here it is, with the monstrous Strowman and a crowded ring.
For the moment, this is the only match to use any of the TLC stipulations. That means all the PPV’s usual chaos, carnage and what-did-we-just-see moments will all be in one spot. It won’t have the emotional weight of The Shield riding high again, but it will be a wild one.