COMMENTARY | It was supposed to be a once in a lifetime match, an epic clash of two titans that hasn't been seen before and will never be seen again. The WWE unification match at the TLC pay-per-view on Sunday Dec. 15, was billed as the "biggest match in WWE history." What fans got instead was an uninspired, unoriginal and at times boring confrontation between WWE Champion Randy Orton and World Heavyweight Champion John Cena.
**As a fair warning, this commentary features spoilers from the match between Cena and Orton, so if you do not want to know the outcome of the match, feel free to quit reading.
With so much riding on the line in this match, neither Cena nor Orton brought enough to the table to live up to expectations. Instead of giving fans something they've never seen before, both men relied on the innovation and creativity of past matches to provide what little drama their match had.
The most glaring example was the sequence where Orton had Cena handcuffed to the bottom rope as he climbed the ladder. Cena broke free by unhooking the bottom rope from the turnbuckle and chasing Orton up the ladder.
If it seemed like something you'd seen before, it's because you did. Two years ago at TLC 2011, CM Punk did the same thing in a match against The Miz and Alberto Del Rio in a different TLC match. For this most recent match to use the same sequence is flat out lazy.
While that was the worst offense of the match, the utter lack of drama throughout was due to Cena and Orton simply going through the motions. None of the table spots in the match were anything that fans didn't see coming and all of them were spots used in other TLC matches.
Only once in the entire match did both men climb the ladder at the same time to battle for the belts. That sequence lasted maybe 10 seconds and resulted in the terrible finish to the match.
With the bottom rope still attached to his arm, Cena knocked Orton off the ladder, however Orton was able to maneuver his way around Cena and yank him off the ladder by tugging at the rope. It was clear that Cena was meant to crash through a table propped in the corner; however Cena didn't crash through the table as much as he bounced off the mat and grazed the table with his face.
It could've been a decent finish to an otherwise boring match, but the mistake ruined the suspension of disbelief.
And shame on the WWE for having such an important match contested in a TLC match in the first place. If it wanted to truly build an appreciation for the unification of the two championships, the match should have been contested in a tradition one-on-one match. The WWE relied heavily on the history of both championships in its buildup of the match but elected to contest the all-important unification in a gimmick match.
In a traditional match the two champions could've built the drama up better through a series of false finishes and allowed the fans to get invested in the match. In a ladder match, the drama only exists when one wrestler is chasing the other up the ladder.
I'll give the WWE credit for at least having Orton win in a clean manner without help from The Authority or anyone else. But while the WWE gets credit for that, the way it got to that ending was not worthy of the "biggest match in history" or of the fans' hard-earned money.
Matt Durr is a reporter from Michigan who has watched professional wrestling since he was 3 years old. Not just a WWE fan, Matt enjoys Ring of Honor and Japanese wrestling. He has covered University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University athletics for Annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @mdurr84.
- Sports & Recreation
- Randy Orton
- John Cena