WWE TLC Reactions: Is The Fiend Dead?
By Ryan Satin
WWE’s TLC pay-per-view left wrestling fans with one big question: Is this the end of The Fiend?
Yes, we witnessed an evil clown murder on Sunday.
Before I unpack my thoughts on that – don’t worry, I have a lot – let’s cover a few other things that happened on the show first.
Obviously an event named Tables, Ladders and Chairs is going to be heavy on weapon violence, and that’s exactly what we go throughout the night as opposed to standard wrestling matches.
If that’s your thing, this show was for you.
For me, it can be a bit redundant when half of the matches on a show feature hardcore elements. Especially when two of the matches have the exact same gimmick simply because of the name of the event.
That being said, everyone wrestled their ass off and it was entertaining from beginning to end.
I’d also be remiss not to briefly mention the kickoff show match.
If you didn’t watch, the list of names involved will surprise you, because this breadth of talent in one match probably should’ve been on the main card.
Daniel Bryan, Big E, Otis and Chad Gable vs. Sami Zayn, King Corbin, Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro was incredibly entertaining while also progressing the current Intercontinental title program.
Big E showing he can continue to be a fun guy in this feud with Sami Zayn, while also displaying the serious edge people behind the scenes seem to think is necessary for his progression, has been exactly what he needs since splitting from New Day.
If I were a betting a man, which I am if scratchers count (and poker), I would think it’s only a matter of time before Big E wins the Intercontinental Championship.
As for whether that will happen Friday night on SmackDown when they face-off again for the title, I’m not so sure.
My mind leans towards a Big E title win at Royal Rumble.
The opening TLC match between Drew McIntyre and AJ Styles was not quite what I was expecting from these two, as it didn’t really feel like things got going until the final stretch.
Once McIntyre press slammed Styles to the outside of the ring through a table, though, the match finally started to pick up.
As many others said online, Miz didn’t look very smart by nonchalantly climbing up the ladder after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract.
Under normal circumstances this may have made more sense, but Omos was RIGHT THERE … and he’s kinda hard to miss.
The biggest positive of this match was the fact that Drew came out of it looking like a beast still, and now there’s no longer a looming Money in the Bank threat, which makes McIntyre’s path to WrestleMania pretty open ended. Wonder if a certain fella will want that spot.
The TLC match between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens later in the night was much more entertaining in my opinion.
Both guys beat the hell out of each other and Jey Uso being involved the whole time practically made it a handicap match. Now Owens’ character has a reason to continue his feud with Roman and hopefully get another title shot at Royal Rumble.
I don’t expect KO to win there either, but the rub he’s getting from being in a World title program again – opposite Roman Reigns, no less – has reignited his character.
Hurt Business Win Tag Titles
Whether you’re a fan of the team or not, I think we can all agree this was for the best.
WWE needs more strong tag teams and New Day will be considered one of the top teams on Raw with or without the belts.
Shelton Benjamin, on the hand, needed the credibility boost and Cedric Alexander had to win the belt in order for his character to validate himself for turning heel to join the team.
Speaking of Cedric, I’m digging his recent wildcard mentality of tagging himself into matches in order to actually get the win for his team in a rush. It makes him look incredibly smart.
Especially when he does it to get victories over Kofi Kingston, a former WWE Champion.
Charlotte Flair Returns
As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Charlotte being revealed as Asuka’s mystery partner got a hugely positive reaction on social media after it happened.
Had the internet not spoiled her reveal a few hours before, this probably would’ve been an even bigger moment when it happened.
But, alas, The Queen making her return to WWE TV after six months away is a huge boost for Raw anyhow and I’m looking forward to the inevitable implosion of her team with Asuka.
Could we be in store for another WrestleMania matchup between Charlotte Flair and The Empress of Tomorrow?
I certainly wouldn’t be against that if they can find a way to make the build compelling enough.
The Fiend Gets Burned Alive
I’m gonna separate this part of the article into positives and negatives, because I think the Firefly Inferno Match had both.
First, the positives:
Visually, this was so damn cool.
The fire being spread out across the ThunderDome, as opposed to around the ring like they’d be forced to do with fans, allowed for more creativity than usual in an Inferno Match.
Using a cinematic editing helped as well, since they were able to perform cool stunts like the line of fire going towards Orton on the rocking chair and The Fiend having his face shoved in the flames.
The ending of the show with Randy Orton setting The Fiend on fire like he did the Wyatt Compound also poses some interesting questions over the next few weeks.
Is The Fiend alive or dead?
Could his inner being have vanished before being set on fire?
If not, does burning The Fiend like a witch on a stake breathe life into a new iteration of the character?
Could it possibly bring back the old version again?
Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Wait, sorry, I got off track.
Anyway, you catch my drift. What I’m trying to say is that I like the intrigue and mystery this whole thing brings along.
The storyline between Orton and Wyatt needed something else to feel special. I’m not sure I would have suggested setting someone on fire to achieve this, but it happened and I’m clearly not complaining.
Moving on to the negatives, this match was pretty one-noted since the very nature of the match calls for it.
As much as everyone involved tried to keep it fresh with creative spots, a lot of it came across as looking like a scene out of a movie as opposed to a wrestling match to me.
Even if that was the intended purpose, I think there is a portion of the audience who gets turned off by that sort of thing when it’s done to such an extreme level – especially on a show that had two other gimmick matches.
If this had headlined an event that wasn’t as gimmick-heavy as TLC, this would’ve been different, but I just didn’t feel like there was a lot of thrilling wrestling itself in the marquee matches and the pay-per-view slightly suffered because of it.
Regardless, the end of show spectacle made it all worth watching just to get to that.
Now I hope The Fiend, or Bray Wyatt, or whatever name he might go by next, is kept off TV until at least after the Royal Rumble. I would maybe even wait until after WrestleMania if Orton is already slotted for a match with someone else.
You can’t go full scorched earth on a wrestler, then have them pull a George Costanza by returning to work again in a few weeks like nothing ever happened.
That would ruin everything.
I’m hoping they have bigger plans to usher in his return.