Well, what an odd turn of events. Both Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt have been pulled from tonight’s TLC due to medical issues which have yet to be confirmed. Some reports claim it may be viral meningitis or the mumps. This is also suspicious in that WWE has been known to suspend wrestlers due to a breach of its Wellness policy without disclosing it to the public. Either way, we’re getting two replacement superstars in their stead.
Kurt Angle will be replacing Roman and joining the Shield in his long awaited return to the ring. The three will be facing off against the 5-man teach of Miz, Cesaro, Sheamus, Braun Strowman, and the (completely out of left field) returning Kane. Many fans weren’t sure if we’d see Angle in competition in WWE or if he was considered too much of a liability. But now we know. Booking-wise, this is a weird choice in how to bring him back. Zero build up and no rhyme or reason. They’re just throwing the Olympic gold medalist into a match as if he were an alternate. It doesn’t make much sense why the Raw General Manager would be allied with Rollins and Ambrose, but oh well. He’s back and is bound to make an Impact after being out of action for so long.
Angle is one of those obsessive, crazy athletes. He only ever wants to be the best on any given show. So, as a competing General Manager, he’s going to put on a show to prove to everyone that he’s not some retiree coming back for a one-off (Shane McMahon, eat your heart out). He is one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time, but the fans are almost definitely going to chant, “You still got it!” like he doesn’t know that. Angle never lost it.
The other replacement for Bray Wyatt isn’t as much of a shocker, but it’s just cool. AJ Styles will be filling in for the Eater of Worlds and jumping over from the Smackdown brand to face Finn Balor. Even if this isn’t a big return, it’s a highly anticipated dream match between two former leaders of NJPW’s Bullet Club. And the timing on this is intriguing. It was rumored that WWE recently sent out a cease and desist order to Bullet Club’s Young Bucks over the rights to “Too Sweet.”
This isn’t below WWE to be so petty, and adding this match last minute could be an extra dig at Bullet Club. And it’s a pretty successful dig, considering it’s going to be a great match. These two replacements definitely take the wind out of both The Shield and Sister Abigail storylines, respectively. But it’s being traded out for something better and TLC will be worth watching. It’s always funny to see how WWE can put together a great card, but only when backed into a corner. Thank goodness they just had Kurt Angle lying around for damage control.
Originally, I was excited for this event for the debut of Asuka. And I still am. The card became stacked overnight and now the Empress of Tomorrow is just one of the reasons to watch this event. It’s all bizarre and completely random, but it’s also new and interesting. The WWE Universe needed a few curveballs and they hit it out of the park. See? There was absolutely no precedent for that baseball analogy. Entirely no place for it, but I did it anyway. And thanks to the magic of randomness and chaos, we’re going to get a hell of an event at Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, and AJ Styles, and Kurt Angle, Apparently.
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke