Pruett's Pause: WWE Raw - Daniel Bryan actually shows discouragement and frustration, Brock Lesnar Bork Lasers Mark Henry, C.M. Punk helps The Shield fight, and more!
By Will Pruett
So, what was that? I tuned into Raw expecting Big Show in a diaper (at least in video package form), a few long matches due to the smaller crew, and absolutely no plot development. I expected one or two Royal Rumble participant announcements at the most. This turned out to be quite the action packed episode of Raw. WWE chose not to phone it in for their final episode of 2013 and left us with a ton of questions.
The biggest questions after this episode relate to Daniel Bryan. He apparently joined The Wyatt Family at the end of the show. His frustrations (which echo the frustrations do most insider fans) have to do with "the machine" not allowing him to win. Bryan is turning to the dark side because there has been no other path.
Is it possible this is a way for WWE is quell the fan outcry about Daniel Bryan? If he is suddenly turning on his fans, will they turn on him? This way, even if Bryan does resume his fan-friendly "Yes" routine, it wouldn't be as effective. This theory may sound paranoid, but given how Bryan was pushed from the end of SummerSlam to today, paranoia is justifiable.
On the other hand, this could be the best thing for Bryan. He has become a cartoon character. He runs around yelling monosyllabic words. He never gets truly upset. He never seeks vengeance. Daniel Bryan had transformed into what fans hate about John Cena. He was the same no matter what happened to him.
This is actual character development for Bryan. He is showing true frustration. He is discouraged, just like a normal person would be. He is legitimately mad. Bryan might be turning his back on his fans, but he has every reason to do so. The fans have supported him, but he knows he can't get ahead.
While I'm not sure this is the best direction for Bryan as a character, it is actual development for Bryan. We haven't seen a character get developed in WWE in quite some time. Bryan's story in 2014 could be one of the most interesting things WWE.
And one for some random thoughts:
- C.M. Punk's opening segment was a really great way to get Punk over, put Roman Reigns over, continue The Shield's dissension, and fill a large portion of the show with a long match. Punk vs. Seth Rollins was a slightly clunky, but very fun match to open the show.
- The Shield's dissension worked better for me before the commentators discussed it. Sometimes, it's best to just take the simpler approach and let the segment speak for itself. Subtlety is too rare in wrestling.
- Kane's mask looks pretty silly in a display case in an office.
- Bryan's willingness to run the gauntlet was kind of odd.
- The announcement of John Cena vs. Randy Orton in a "no stipulation match that can only be won by pinfall or submission" was all sorts of weird. If the match cannot be won by disqualification or count out, aren't those stipulations?
- The Batista return videos still strike me as lazy. I wish we were seeing better packages that told more of a story. When a Footlocker commercial is better than the video WWE puts together, there's a problem.
- Dolph Ziggler's pink hair streak is bad. Please stop making poor choices, Dolph.
- How over are Kofi Kingston and The Miz? Great Khali defeated them in an app vote.
- WWE seems to be attempting to push the Intercontinental Championship simply by making the matches for it seem important. Big E Langston is also benefitting from this push. If they can keep this up, both the title and Langston will benefit.
- Fandango vs. Langston wasn't the epic match Michael Cole made it out to be, but it was a passable effort. I suppose it would be weird if he called a match on television passable.
- Bad News Barrett is still pretty bad, but on an elevated platform rising from the ground, it is slightly funnier.
- Old School Raw is going to be a very fun show next week. The addition of Punk vs. Reigns really helps the show.
- WWE loves it when mainstream sports stars acknowledge them even a little bit. It's an awkward thing.
- Damien Sandow vs. Khali was better than I thought it would be.
- I did my best to ignore the R-Truth match. This was a wise choice.
- DirecTV decided to be super lame by not clearly broadcasting the Brock Lesnar segment. Way to suck.
- Triple H bringing back Brock Lesnar doesn't make a ton of sense, but it definitely fits in with Triple H's lack of character consistency.
- Brock Lesnar (through the great Paul Heyman) declaring himself the number one contender after Cena vs. Orton is very exciting. Could this be WWE's planned main event for Elimination Chamber? Would Lesnar vs. Orton work? I know I'd rather see a Lesnar vs. Cena rematch.
- Mark Henry did need to be made an example of. It was an entertaining attack.
- The Tribute to the Troops shows would seem so much cooler without the annual self-congratulatory video package from WWE. It's a really cool thing for them to do, but I don't need to hear about it so much. Calling it "the most patriotic show of the year" is an odd way of pandering anyways.
- Daniel Bryan's match against Luke Harper was pretty good. Harper is the best work of the Wyatt Family, so I get why he went a long time with Bryan. It was a fun ride to go on.
- I knew Bryan wouldn't actually get his hands on Wyatt, but I was surprised to see the post-match developments.
The craziest thing to happen on this show was actual character development. I'm sure some people will be upset about turning Bryan, but if this is a true turn and if he is going to get to show a darker side, I think it could work. Aside from Bryan's turn, Lesnar's return was also pretty exciting. WWE seems to be kicking off Royal Rumble, Network launch, and WrestleMania season.
So, what did you think of the show? Agree? Disagree? Either way, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to follow me and interact on twitter at twitter.com/itswilltime.
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