WWE

WWE TLC: What a difference a year makes in wrestling

Barnaby Read 29/11/2016
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Roman Reigns flipped at the end of the 2015 TLC.

It is true that 12 months is a long time in sport and entertainment, and that is certainly the case in the weird and wonderful world of wrestling’s premier sport entertainment company, WWE.

The landscape of the entire programming has undergone huge transformation since last year’s TLC pay-per-view.

Back then, the show closed out in dramatic fashion, seemingly ending on a seminal note of things to come.

Roman Reigns was once again cheated out of a title, his feud with The Authority hitting its peak as Reigns decimated Triple H.

It was a shocking moment that, at the time, we wrote could spark a resurgence in Reigns that would finally see him resonate with the WWE Universe after months of booing and berating that hasn’t desisted since.

The whole segment was brutal and the potential for the storyline seemed endless, but for a number of reasons the WWE has moved in a different direction in the ensuing year and we’ve all been better off for it.

But there were signs even back then of what was to come and looking back at that 2015 TLC this week on the WWE Network, you see the seeds were being planted in terms of the top dogs shaping the main storylines in 2016 and beyond.

Beyond the Reigns finish, that card 12 months ago saw Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch squaring off; both now hold the respective RAW and SmackDown Live women’s titles.

The landscape of the women’s division [as you can read here] has possibly changed the most, Banks reclaiming her title this week in another first for the females – a Falls Count Anywhere match.

It was Paige and Charlotte facing off for the title a year ago and it is safe to say that, bar the tag-titles on RAW, the entire title picture has been painted in the New Era’s image to the betterment of WWE.

Sheamus was the man who defeated Reigns to stay world champion back then, while the Irishman now sees himself in his best spot in years in the unlikely partnership with Cesaro.

Alberto Del Rio retained his US Title against Jack Swagger and it must be said that Del Rio’s exit and Swagger’s demotion were sad but necessary moves borne out of very different reasoning.

It is Reigns who now holds that US Title and it is in his feud with Rusev that we have seen the former Shield member’s best work since that TLC event.

The most significant moves up the food chain can be seen in Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens, who were on that 2015 card battling out for the Intercontinental Championship.

Watching that bout you knew both were destined for superstardom and it was a matter of time before they were treading the well worn path from Intercontinental gold to World, Heavyweight or now Universal champions.

Owens has the latter, newly formed belt on RAW while this Sunday, Ambrose battles AJ Styles for the World title in the eponymous showpiece.

There are exceptions to the rule and the biggest loser from that card is Rusev.

He is an exceptional talent, but the WWE just can’t find a fit for him. The same was the case back then as he was shoehorned into a rivalry with Ryback, on paper a worthy contender in terms of brute force.

But the Bulgarian Brute has a lot more to offer and, looking back on the past year, his is the fate facing the most jeopardy. With that said, if the WWE can find a way to tell the story of his burgeoning feud with Big Cass in more exciting fashion then there is hope yet.

Riding on the back of the success of Survivor Series and the WWE’s brand extensions, it seems fairly safe to predict that it won’t take another year for that all to change.

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