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As reported by many sources, an outbreak of Viral Meningitis has hit the WWE locker room and made a number of stars pretty ill. Bo Dallas has apparently been off TV recently because of it and there were also strong reports that Bray Wyatt had the illness. It was then being reported that significant changes to the card for TLC were likely as a result.
Well, those changes have happened, and they’ve left wrestling fans all over the world speechless.
— WWE (@WWE) October 20, 2017
Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns have been removed from the show as a result, but have been replaced by AJ Styles and the return of WWE legend and Hall of Famer, Kurt Angle.
There is so much massive stuff going on here it’s hard to even know where to start.
Apart from the main event, TLC was a pretty average looking card, but with one announcement, it just became the biggest show of the year. A show that shouldn’t really be happening.
Kurt Angle coming back to wrestle again is something we’ve all been craving since he became general manager of Raw, he’s one of the best wrestlers of all time, so seeing even one more match with him in WWE was always going to be a treat. Now out of nowhere, it’s happened, and he’s going to be working with some amazing talent we never thought we’d get to see him fight. One of the stars he’ll be up against is Cesaro. Those two are both technical wrestling masters with amazing physical ability. If they get the chance, even if it’s only for a couple minutes, what they could create could be unforgettable. It’s easy to forget that this is also a TLC match, so that opens up even more mind-blowing possibilities.
In the middle of all this, Bray Wyatt is being replaced by AJ Styles, meaning we’ve now got AJ Styles V Finn Balor. That’s another dream match. Another two of the best wrestlers in the world, linked through their connections to The Bullet/Balor Club made this a tantalising bout we dreamed of seeing play out since Styles signed with WWE. 20 months later, we’re finally getting it.
Wrestling fans around the world are buzzing, all of a sudden TLC can’t come soon enough. We’re getting two dream matches that both could be match of the year candidates. This is more out of nowhere than the average RKO.
Obviously, these changes have been made because TLC is a network special. They’d promised the reunion of The Shield which was a pretty big deal, so just a quick patch job up job was never going to do. The changes had to still be a draw, and still had to be a big deal, as people have paid premium prices to see this event, and you aren’t going to want to lose out on people tuning in because the matches you got people hyped for are no longer happening. Even though this is been pretty out of control for WWE, they have really gone all out to make sure that this event still feels special.
The thing is, in their desperation to ensure that this is the case, I feel as though they’ve wasted a lot of potential here.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for these matches, and I’m loving that this is happening, but it feels like a bit of a waste of two huge matches.
You can get months of exciting material from things like this, teasing doing them (like when they teased a Balor Club reunion above), slowly building stories towards them with promos and segments that build excitement and give a buzz like the one we’re feeling now. The moments that build to these kinds of matches are sometimes as exciting and entertaining as the matches themselves, they contribute to what makes them feel so special. These matches are both WrestleMania main events, and they’ve been thrown onto a B-PPV with no build and no story behind them two days before the event. It feels like in one blow, the potential of two hugely entertaining programmes in the future just lost their edge.
Sure, with a bit of a tweak, Angle could still wrestle again and they could have a proper Balor/Styles programme later down the line. But they’ve lost a great deal of impact now because of the fact that they’ve already happened. The first time they happen, there is a sense of the unknown that contributes to the buzz of seeing it happen. That isn’t there anymore, and although I understand the need to ensure the PPV remains a draw, they’re sacrificing two huge programmes in the future just to save one B-PPV. That solves a short-term problem, but it’s a loss in the long term.
Plus, neither of them really make sense in storyline terms either. For someone who is meant to be an unbiased authority figure, randomly teaming with the face’s to take on the heel’s without any real reason to do so doesn’t make too much sense. As well as that why would Styles come over from SmackDown to Raw for this match? What is his or Balor’s motive? Understandably, in such circumstances, working out all of this isn’t of immediate concern to WWE, they’re just worried about making sure the event remains a success, but it still takes away from these a bit.
Has This Ruined The Shield Reunion?
Worse than that, the buzz from having a Shield reunion is also kind of gone now as well. Like above, after you’ve done it once, the excitement begins to fade as the element of surprise is gone. You spend months thinking “would they ever do it? And if so how? Imagine how amazing it would be the moment it happened”. We’ve had that moment now, we know how they did it, but we haven’t had the chance to see the payoff from it in the form of a match. It’s likely it’ll still happen later down the line, but again, it feels like it’s lost its momentum, recreating all of that momentum so that it culminates with the same pay off will be pretty much impossible.
Obviously, this isn’t WWE’s fault, it’s beyond anyone’s control, but it’s still a bit of a shame.
WWE Facing a Meningitis Crisis
Through all this excitement, it’s only right to give some thought to the reason behind these changes.
There are multiple things that can’t be confirmed here, as they cant specifically name the illness for legal reasons, but WWE have confirmed in a statement to ESPN that three of their performers have been diagnosed with a viral infection. Bray and his brother Bo Dallas were both reported to of had Viral Meningitis and to be feeling unwell before this announcement was made though, so it’s likely that this is the case.
It’s also unknown just how bad they have the virus, but it’s been noted that Raw creative are drafting plans for Raw after TLC without Roman. That would suggest he isn’t too perky. It’s a pretty serious situation that WWE will be keen to resolve as quickly and effectively as possible.
Viral Meningitis is an unpleasant virus, it’s great that all this happening, but really not so great that we’re getting it because these guys are feeling unwell. Performers hate having to sit on the sidelines, and having to watch the wrestling world lose its mind at something that is happening because of their illness must be awful for them. They’re great performers and can only wish everyone involved a speedy recovery.
On a side note, it’s also worth noting that Kevin Owens has been sent home from the SmackDown South America tour due to personal reasons and that Styles had also missed a show due to illness. Clearly, Styles can’t be too bad as he’s been put on the show for Sunday, but it seems WWE are facing a bit of crisis here.
Just One More Sleep
In amongst all of this, the fan in me is absolutely buzzing. It’s a shame the way it’s come about, but Kurt’s return and Styles V Balor are both a very big deal, so it’s impossible not to enjoy it, even if it makes no sense in storyline terms. Bryan Alvarez also reports that Balor and Styles are likely to be given a lot of time for their match, so with all this going on, I now can’t wait for TLC.
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