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.  Got questions, comments, or thoughts of your own?  Weigh in in the comment section, or hit us on the Twittah Machine.

With the holidays coming up, I definitely will not be writing this piece on Christmas Eve, but will likely be back with a New Year's Eve edition.  Be watching for something fun that night.

We have a solitary champion now, and his name is Randy Orton.  Last night, they really attempted to establish him as the heel champion, and I think they succeeded.

The Authority, for the first time, took a bit of a back seat to the main event picture.  Orton opened the night with a decent verbal segment with John Cena, but it went on too long.  That seems to be a trend over the years with Orton promos - while adequate he isn't the strongest mic worker in the world.

The Authority does continue to keep Daniel Bryan out of the title picture, for now, with their antics.  One can only assume that Bryan will go on to get his shot via the Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber, if indeed the plan is to put the title on Bryan.  I think WWE is missing out with that, as Bryan is way, way over with most live crowds.

The treat of the night with these two though was the main event match.  This match was the one most fans really wanted to see back in October and September, but never got.  Last night was also the right night to get a screwy finish with the low blow by Orton.  I had no problem with this.  It would not have made sense to have Orton win clean, nor for him to lose clean after just winning the title.

I could have done without the John Cena run-in for the save at the end.  It felt out of place to me a little.  Further, I just get this feeling that they're trying to use Cena to help Bryan get over or sell this feud.  That isn't necessary.  Just book Bryan to deliver spirited, and intense promos and focus less on yelling "yes!" (let the fans do that) and he will be able to do the rest.

I am also very cautiously interested in how they move forward.  Will they go with a Cena/Orton/Bryan triple threat match?  Will Cena and Bryan each get a one-on-one shot against Orton?  Hard to tell.  I'm not immediately a fan of the triple threat match, but it could be a good story.

One more Authority related note:  I really thought that CM Punk and Shawn Michaels would produce a memorable piece of television.  Sad to say, that didn't happen.  When Michaels' music hit, I perked up immediately and got interested in what would go down.  As I noted last night, it seems like Michaels is mailing it in a bit right now in his performances.  To be fair, Michaels said on Twitter that he got a "late call" on this appearance, so perhaps that had something to do with it.

We have two holiday shows to muddle through, but then it's time to build to the Rumble, here in my backyard of Pittsburgh, PA.  Here's hoping that Rumble, and the Mania season in general, infuses more life into the product.

Other Points of Note:

Business as Usual...

Cody Rhodes and Goldust are on a roll.  They just continue to deliver good match after good match, and last night was no exception.  Could these two work a good match out of also-rans like Great Khali and David Otunga?  Hopefully, I didn't just book that...

The good sportsmanship adds a nice dynamic to these two teams' work together.  One can only assume that the tensions will grow somehow, but I don't think it warrants a turn for one or the other team.  In fact, I hope they DON'T do that.

Here's to a long run for Goldust and Cody also.  It's far too soon to pit them against each other as brothers, and this team really seems to be clicking both in the ring and with fans.  Book it at Mania 31, WWE - not Mania 30.

Showing Off, Evenly...

Dolph Ziggler and Fandango had another good match on Raw, and it felt very much like a repeat of their work at TLC with a few minutes shaved off.  Because of that, and the "even steven" booking, it just ended up feeling forgettable.  I am interested in what these two can do in a long match, but right now it feels like WWE hasn't a clue what to do with this pair.

It's Getting Funky Up in Here...

I think there's money in a monster heel Brodus Clay.  When he first debuted as a heavy for Alberto Del Rio, it seemed to work.  They repackaged him as the Funkasaurus, and it worked, for a while.  Now, that gimmick has overstayed its welcome by a lot of months and I'm curious as to where they go with his heel turn.

The problem is that right now it feels like it's stuck in the undercard.  He splashed Tensai a couple times, then immediately lost all that heat when R-Truth and Xavier Woods drop kicked him out of the ring.  The right call would have been to have Clay destroy everyone in the ring and move on to something better.

The Quick Strike:

- I enjoyed watching Big E. Langston and Mark Henry take on The Real Americans.  They're clicking as a team right now.

- I can only assume that Langston and Henry are headed for a feud when one of them turns on the other.  Makes sense for Henry to be the heel.

- I see big things ahead for The Uso Brothers.  They deliver good, high energy work in the ring and the fans seem to be getting on to them.

- The fans seemed hung over a bit during the six-man tag because The Shield lost to Punk in a handicap match at TLC.  They picked up for the finish though.

- All this tag team talk has made me realize something:  WWE's tag division is the deepest it has been in YEARS and they have a solid team to center around in Cody and Goldust.

- Bad news:  Bad News Barrett is the worst news.  That's all.

- One reason why there won't be a "Raw Afterthoughts" next week:  Good Santa vs. Bad Santa.

- AJ is a heel.  To reinforce this, they have her appearing as an "elf" with Bad Santa next week.  That goes against the cheers she gets, but that is the clear role definition.

That's it for this week.  We'll have Raw coverage for you next Monday, and I will be back with Raw Afterthoughts on New Year's Eve, at least tentatively.