Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail than we can during a live recap. Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts, questions and comments below or hit us on Twitter.
We watched the titles be raised above the ring last night. According to Cole, it's to be the last time we'll see the two titles together on Raw again. Seattle responded by giving us a hot crowd that was especially hot for anything that involved the hometown boy, Daniel Bryan.
Let's talk about the last things first. The ascension ceremony was a good segment, with John Cena giving a strong promo. Like him or hate him, he has a knack for delivering the "preacher man" promo when needed and he did last night. He ripped Orton in a scathing promo and wisely used Daniel Bryan's popularity to help counter his normal amount of detractors. Was it planned? Hard to say, but in any event it worked.
As good as Cena was though, the live crowd stole it. They were passionate for Bryan, who was out there among the "twenty champions" that watched on in the segment. Various face characters played into it, then Triple H tried to cut the legs out from under it even though it wasn't full-on successful.
The rapid fire finishers capped off the segment well. They used it as another opportunity to tease Bryan vs. Michaels when Bryan hit the running knee on him. I don't think it happens, but it was a fun tease, none the less.
The end of the show also teases some strange possibilities. Cena standing with the Authority begs the question if Cena will turn. I don't see that happening, but at least it adds a layer to the story. It definitely proves that the Authority has issues with Orton. But to say the least, many, including myself, will weep if Triple H somehow interjects himself and names himself the champion in light of all of Stephanie's hype comments over the past couple weeks.
But the overarching theme of the night was the Slammys. On this night, they did a good job of keeping them relatively harmless and short, and they put a lot of the silly awards on WWE's website or App instead of on the show. They kept a good balance of promoting the pay per view and also awarded the more important awards live.
Worth pointing out is the fact that the live crowd didn't agree with the votes at times. They crapped all over the Bella Twins winning Diva of the Year, and it seems that Rock vs. Cena was NOT the match of the year (and this coming from a Rock fan). But, it was what it was and I'm not losing sleep over this.
TLC is just a few days away. I am hoping that WWE ends the year with a better pay per view event than we've seen of late, so that 2014 starts off strong heading into Royal Rumble. I want to feel better about this product.
Other Points of Note:
Chinks in the Shield?
CM Punk vs. Dean Ambrose was a fantastic match. They told a great story and worked very well together, though I do bemoan a secondary champion losing a non-title match like this. Part of that story is that there's friction in The Shield. Ambrose told the other two to stand down and that "he has this" against Punk. They actually walked away before returning to assault Punk after the match. Is this a red herring, or a foreshadow of a Punk win? Hard to say, but in any event, this was a highlight of the night and raised interest in their match on Sunday.
The live crowd got to start off the night hot as they welcomed home Daniel Bryan, who hails from Aberdeen, WA which isn't all that far away from Seattle. Bryan delivered in his opening match with Fandango, giving them his normal crowd pleasing moves. Fandango also delivered when he was given his moments too. I would like to see Fandango leave behind the boogie shoes and be Johnny Curtis, but his work in this match leaves me looking forward to his match on Sunday with Dolph Ziggler in the pre-show.
In Need of a Rebuild...
WWE seems to be giving some shine to tag teams lately, and the match with the Wyatts vs. the Usos is a good example. The two teams had a good back and forth affair, with the right team (the Wyatts) picking up the victory. They're going into a match at the pay per view, so that makes sense.
The Usos definitely have a future ahead of them, and likely even a title run. But, the Wyatts need a bit of a rebuild. They haven't been handled well of late, and they seem to be on a bit of a losing streak on TV. Some of those losses weren't necessary and it took a bit of the shine off their act.
The Quick Strike:
- Brodus Clay is definitely turning, and it's coming sooner than later. Much, much needed for the big man.
- Tensai sold his part in Clay's beatdown of Woods by saying 'yo, what are you doing?' and trying to help hold him off. Nicely done.
- Another week, another great match involving the Rhodes Brothers. They are really delivering right now in the ring. I would like to hear more from them on the mic though.
- I figured Ryback and Axel were being positioned for a tag title shot but maybe I was wrong on that. Then again, WWE could always just book the match and go there anyhow.
- The New Age Outlaws were a few weeks late on the Dumb and Dumber impersonation with their brightly colored tuxedos. Daniels and Kazarian had pulled that off in TNA already.
- The live crowd just didn't care about Del Rio vs. Sin (Hunico) Cara and it seemed to go on longer than needed. Sad especially in light of Del Rio being concussed in the sunset flip powerbomb spot.
- Yet again, Natalya pays tribute to Bret Hart by winning with the Sharpshooter. That's fine. But that Divas match was rushed and felt so unimportant heading into a title match at the pay per view.
- One more thing about the Outlaws: I do like seeing these guys, and WWE could still make some money with them. I hope they take advantage of that opportunity.
That's it for this week. Look for TLC previews and predictions later this week, and join us for live pay per view coverage on Sunday night starting at 7:30PM EST.