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Daniel Bryan Continues to Amaze
July 23, 2013

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


I'm used to a steady trickle of emails, asking for my help with wrestling trivia or my insights on current wrestling events... but this weekend, the most popular question in my in-box was, "So, The Rick, do y ou still think George Zimmerman is a shithead after he rescued people after a car wreck last week?"

The answer is "Yes." Because a display of basic human decency doesn't undo a massive display of remarkable shitheadery. But also because "stopping to make sure 4 completely uninjured people are able to get out of their SUV" doesn't make you a hero. In fact, it only underscores the whole "wannabe cop" thingie. Just in a slightly more flattering way in which he didn't manslaughter a kid.
So, having saved myself the trouble of individually answering 11 whole emails on the sugject, I can now turn to the reason you're here: what happened on RAW. We ride....

After several weeks without it, the Video Introduction For the Attention Deficit Crowd is back... and then we cut straight to the darkened arena in Austin, TX, where a drumroll portends the arrival of our new RAW General Manager...
After being credited (in kayfabe) for last week's outstanding edition of RAW, GM Maddox says he wants to do even better this week. And tonight, it all starts with the official contract signing for the WWE Title Match at SummerSlam.

John Cena enters first, and Maddox peppers him with loaded questions about why he picked Daniel Bryan as his opponent. All of them boil down to "You picked him cuz he's a tiny little hobbit and you know you can beat him, right?" Cena, of course, denies this, and says he was just listening to the people.
Challenger Daniel Bryan then enters, and Maddox asks him if he honestly believes he earned, or even deserves, a title shot. Bryan fires off a single "YES!" before the crowd picks up with several more. Maddox keeps trying to belittle Bryan, but Cena jumps in and questions his motives, suggesting that he's oblivious to reality, a reality in which Daniel Bryan is the hottest wrestler in WWE, and the fans -- and Cena himself -- have realized he's deserving of this title shot, even if the "dumbasses [Maddox] answers to don't see it" (read: Vince, Kevin Dunn, et al).
Cena then turns to Bryan and says "Just because I hand picked you to face me at SummerSlam doesn't mean I'm just going to hand you this title." Cena says he has all kinds of respect for what Bryan's accomplished, and that he really is the best challenger out there. But at SummerSlam, being the best won't be enough to beat the Champ. Cena signs the contract and hands it over to Bryan.
Bryan immediately signed the contract, and was preparing to speak, when Maddox talked right over him with a proud "There you have it, courtesy of Brad Maddox, the main event of....."
"NO!" bellows Bryan. "You do not interrupt me ever again." Bryan says he knows he deserves this title shot, it's what he's been working towards his entire career. And if anyone (again, subtext here is "Vince and Co. who in turn are controlling Maddox") doubts him, watch SummerSlam and he'll gladly prove himself to the world.
Maddox pounces on that notion of Bryan proving himself. So he suggests Bryan "prove himself" right here, tonight. Bryan is MORE than happy to accept a match. But wait, Maddox never said "match." He's talking about "matches," plural. Bryan's only marginally taken aback, and when asked if he still thinks he can prove himself with the deck stacked against him, the answer is an emphatic "YES!" Maddox tries to counter with a smarmy "NO!"
"YES!" wins.
Solid opening segment. Cena, for once, presented a coherent thesis that sufficed for both the storyline (the kiddies) and the smart subtext (showing respect for Bryan), instead of careening wildly between the two extremes. Maddox continues his streak of being more Eric Bischoff's son than Garrett is, except with more ludicrous wardrobe choices (I mean this as a compliment so long as Maddox is just an onscreen smarmy heel, and not the actual in-over-his-head backstage boss of the place). And Bryan was Bryan: he didn't say much, because he's more into "show" than into "tell." Good stuff.
Sheamus is sporting a wicked bruise on his left leg, from Money in the Bank. And if you didn't see the pictures from a week ago, trust me, what you saw here was still about 1500 times LESS ugly than it was.
As soon as the bell rings, del Rio immediately goes after said leg with kicks and punches. From that point on, the story of the match is that Sheamus is essentially working on one good leg. Not QUITE as compelling as the June PPV where del Rio took advantage of Ziggler's concussion, but in the same vein.
The basic pattern for the opening mintues was: (1) Alberto with a methodical attack, (2) Sheamus with big power move, suggesting an attempt to steal an early win rather than keep wrestling on one leg, (3) Alberto kicks out and resumes methodical attack. The pattern broke about 5 minutes in when Alberto decided to start softening up the arm. He tried a rope-assisted armbreaker, but Sheamus just flat punched him in the eyeball, and sent him crashing to the floor.
Alberto down. Sheamus struggling to regroup. Let's watch some...
Back, and del Rio's right back in control again. It seems (ON THE WWE APP~!) that Sheamus tries to follow Alberto outside the ring, during the break, and Alberto promptly sent him into the steel ringsteps to regain command. So it's a few more minutes of Heel Beatdown, with Sheamus' convincing hope spots interspersed.
Finally, Sheamus begins his for-realz fire-up, and rattles off a series of moves (including the 10 of Clubs), before hitting the Irish Curse. But that move required that he slam del Rio across his (injured) left leg, and it ends up hurting Sheamus just as badly.
Both men down, both men up. Trade blows, Sheamus wins, and decides to go to the top rope. But with his injured leg, it's slow going, and Alberto catches him with his run-up enzuigiri. Sheamus crashes to the mat, and as soon as he gets up, del Rio nails him with a superkick, but to the injured leg (instead of to the jaw).
It's looking like curtains for Sheamus, but when del Rio goes for the cross armbreaker, Sheamus is able to backdrop his way out of it. Sheamus follows up with White Noise. Or at least, he tries to. He gets Alberto up, but then his left knee gives out, and del Rio takes advantage by falling back into a perfect crucifix pinning combo. Sheamus can't muster a response to the surprise pinfall.
Your Winner: Alberto del Rio, via pinfall, in about 15 minutes. Very good. Soundly conceived from a storyline/psychology perspective (again, a slighly milder version of the Ziggler/del Rio match), and even more soundly executed. Throw in an enthusiastic crowd, and even a crusty old 25-year-old formula can be tons of fun.
Backstage: Renee Young interviews Booker T and Teddy Long about Vickie Guerrero being named new SmackDown General Manager. At first, they seem to be in agreement that Vickie is a poor choice. But then Teddy gets a little overzealous in his belief that he was the runaway best choice, and Booker's all "Whoa, dawg, I was already the GM, you were just filling in for me while I was injured." And Teddy continued heeling it up a bit, but accusing Booker of milking his injury for 3 long months while he (Teddy) was hung out to dry. Booker then tells Teddy to get his head straight, or else Booker might toss him out of the building just like Vickie did on Friday. Huh. I'm not exactly sure what the point is of Booker and Teddy feuding, since they aren't wrestlers, and there's currently no GM opening for them to vie for (unless the Maddox Era is going to end abruptly), but whatever... maybe this somehow leads to Teddy Long returning to the managerial ranks after all these years? He might be the missing piece of the puzzle for the Prime Time Players...
CHRISTIAN vs. TITUS O'NEIL (w/ Darren Young)
Speak of the devil, it's the PTPs...
Not much to see here. Christian out-quicked Titus to start, then Titus laid in with the standard mid-match beatdown. The highlight was a possible new signature spot where he did Austin's old "stomp a mudhole" spot, but blew his whistle between each stomp. Other than that, the announcers were mostly ignoring the match to make jokes about the Royal Baby.
[Also: for the second week in a row, I noticed Lawler refering to Christian as "that young man." Which, from Lawler's perspective, is probably appropriate. But it's still sort of odd for the rest of us to see a guy in his 40s being called "young man."]
Then Christian fired up, Young tried to interfere, but it backfired, and Titus took the Killswitch. Done and done.
Your Winner: Christian, via pinfall, in about 4 minutes. Too time-compressed to amount to much, but the fact that Christian won via clean pinfall continues his hot streak. The announcers really drove that point home, too. I'm starting to wonder if they're building Christian up to face del Rio (I assumed it was just to get him back on level with either Ambrose or Axel)...
Backstage: Josh Mathews interviews Ryback. The main topic: Does Ryback enjoy intimidating people? The short answer: Yes. But Ryback takes the longer route, discussing how he's the top of the food chain, and anybody beneath him DESERVES to be intimidated. Being intimidated is the only way they can save themselves. Because if they think they should stand up to Ryback, he will destroy them. In closing, he asks if Josh is intimidated. Josh decides it's best to run away at Mach 7.
Mark Henry hits the ring, and generates the sweet, sweet cheap heat by reminding everybody that he's from Texas. Despite the fact that Austin is not, technically, anything like the rest of Texas (a week after WWE was in Brooklyn, now they're in the only other city in the union with more Hipsters Per Capita), the crowd applauds.
Henry says he's proud to be Texan. He's proud of the effort he put into his WWE Title Match against John Cena. The only thing he's not proud of is what the Shield did to him last Monday. He wants to rectify that the only way he knows how: by fighting them 1-on-3 again.
Oh, you poor, dumb man. Even Cole, JBL, and Lawler all agree this is the stupidest idea ever.
So here come the Shield, licking their chops. Just like last week, Henry takes the early advantage by bum rushing one of them. But as soon as all three have swarmed, he's in trouble. The Shield's well en route to another Triple Powerbomb when the Usos run out for the save.
Jimmy and Jey take care of Rollins and Ambrose, and then step back to let Henry finish off Reigns. The Shield regroup outside the ring, and then decide to leave. Inside the ring, Henry's not exactly thankful for the assist, so the Usos keep their distance while Mark shouts various unpleasantries about how this isn't over and he's gonna get the Shield.
Backstage: Daniel Bryan is warming up for his match(es), when John Cena walks in. What follows is Cena trying to be supportive and cordial, while Bryan is stubborn and proud (but not quite the ultra-defensive guy he was during his "weakest link" days). It ends with Cena saying "Hey, I just want you to be at 100% at SummerSlam" and Bryan saying "Hey, don't you come out during my matches tonight, I can handle it myself." I definitely like the idea of this exchange, but man alive: was that phony and over-scripted, or what? Bryan's usually really good at coming off naturally, even when saying the wackiest things, but this struck me as extremely stilted, for some reason.
We're all adults here, so let's not pretend this was something it's not.
Your Winner: Dolph Ziggler, via pinfall, in 3-4 minutes. Move along.
After the Match: Big E. Langston ran out and steamrolled Dolph, while AJ followed and cheered him on. But Dolph came back, out-quicked Big E., and left the big man sulking at ringside while Dolph stood tall in the ring.
So it's MizTV with the cast of the E! Network diva show.
The segment was terrible: it consisted of an extended clip of the show (which got soundly booed by the live audience) and a few soundbites from the ladies before one of them slapped Jerry Lawler.
Let me just say this: even before this segment, I knew that E! was a terrible network, and this was a terrible idea for a show, and anyone who wants to watch it was a terrible person. Now, after this segment, I propose that these three notions are actually fundamental, indisputable laws of nature, not just ideas of mine.
Not even Brie's nipslip could make up for this inexcusable pollution of the airwaves. And I say that as a giant fan of nipples and the shapely boobies to which they are attached.
Backstage: Brad Maddox is hanging out in his office. In walks Triple H. HHH wants to know if there's any truth to what Cena implied earlier about Maddox cowtowing to "the dumbasses he answers to," and if Maddox thinks HHH has something against Daniel Bryan. HHH then basically answers his own question by saying he, personally, loves Daniel Bryan, but he knows "the old man" doesn't. He then suggests to Maddox that there are two trains leaving the station: one will take him far into the future, the other is a dead end. Which train will Brad get on?
HHH leaves, but just as quickly, Stephanie materializes on the other side of the screen saying "Hey, my wacky husband and my wacky dad, eh? Whatchya gonna do?" Then she suggests she has an idea for how to deal with them, but she has to know Brad's "on board" with her. "On board? Like on a train?" mutters a bewildered Maddox. "Yes, precisely like that, Brad." Maddox makes some kind of sound that sounds like "OK." Steph leaves to cook up her scheme. Whee.
CODY RHODES vs. FANDANGO (w/ Summer Rae)
Damien Sandow is out to do color commentary, which basically consists of him driving Michael Cole crazy by insisting that it's impossible to "screw" someone in an every-man-for-himself match (which is true enough) while also coming up with all kinds of titles by which Cole should address him ("Duke of Decency," "Lord of Literacy," and -- most importantly -- "Uncrowned World Champion").
Meantime, Cody and Fandango have a decent little contest, sticking to a basic time-compressed formula of heel beatdown, followed by Cody's comeback... in this case, the comeback was supposed to climax with a moonsault by Cody, but Fandango was WAYYYYY out of position (and he made it worse by almost sprinting to try to get into position, resulting in a trainwreck rather than a clean miss). So they improv'd to get back to Cody being on the brink of victory, at which point Sandow decided to interfere.
Cody hit a Disaster Kick to send the MitB briefcase into Sandow's face, then hit CrossRhodes on Fandango for the win.
Your Winner: Cody Rhodes, via pinfall, in 5 minutes. Not much of a match, but it definitely advanced a story. With so many turns and shades of gray, lately, in WWE, it doesn't seem like Cody has quite as much natural momentum for his turn as others. Luckily, it seems as though Sandow's such a fantastic natural heel that it's working anyway. One of these weeks, Cody should be more over than his moustache.
So, CM Punk hits the ring in street clothes, limping, and basically looking like the proverbial something the cat dragged in. We're reminded not just of what Brock Lesnar did to him last week, but also of the beating he took at MitB.
And when Punk grabs a mic, his first order of business is to run down his various maladies. But his second is to point out that he's still standing. Knock him down, he gets right back up. In fact, Punk theorizes that's what'll make him different from any man Brock Lesnar has ever faced... Punk acknowledges all of Lesnar's past accolades, bluntly calling his UFC Title the most impressive of them all (I bet Vince loved that). But Punk says for all Lesnar's greatness, he didn't really accomplish any of it by being the strongest, by being the fastest, or by having the best technique.
Lesnar accomplished it all thanks to fear. And CM Punk says he does not fear Brock Lesnar, not even a little bit. And once you take that out of the equation, Brock may still be stronger, but in every other facet, Punk is the best in the world. Without fear, Lesnar is nothing. So, with that settled, Punk wants to move on to the matter of his former best friend, Paul Heyman...
In short, Paul Heyman made a mistake by choosing to screw Punk in order to placate his other client, Brock Lesnar. Heyman couldn't separate personal from professional, and now, he's got the worst of both worlds. He's made a mortal enemy out of CM Punk, and he's stuck with the lesser client in Lesnar.
But hey, don't take his word for it. He's willing to prove it in the ring. He wants Lesnar. He wants "the Beast." In fact, he wants to call it "The Beast vs. the Best" at SummerSlam. First, ice cream bars, now, a catchy byline. Truly CM Punk is a marketing genius!
It is at this point that Paul Heyman pops up on the TitanTron, with a "via satellite" notation. Immediately, Punk questions it, because -- unlike almost all other characters -- he's actually watched wrestling, and knows that "via satellite" is a ruse pretty much half the time. Nice touch.
But Paul insists that he and his client (who is offscreen, of course) really are at some alternate location, and proceeds to commend Punk for his marketing skills, too. Paul likes "The Beast vs. the Best." But before he answers the challenge, he has a little theory: Punk's trying to act like a hero. And heroes tend to be one of two kinds of people: (1) cowards who have been backed into a corner and are trying to save face, or (2) fools who actually believe their own bullcrap. So which is it, Punk? Are you a coward, or a fool?
Punk's neither, and he just wants a straight answer. So fine. Paul says he knows Punk is good, but PUnk isn't the best, and wouldn't have accomplished anything he accomplished without Heyman. Without Heyman, Punk is easy pickin's. So yes,  yes, a thousand times yes, Brock Lesnar will face CM Punk at SummerSlam. And it won't be The Beast vs. The Best. Because "the Beast IS the Best." ZING~!
Staredown. Yes, a staredown against a giant TV screen. But it worked. Then they played Punk's music, and he celebrated getting the match he wanted.
Not as dense or compelling as last week's Punk/Heyman promo, but hey, it was still good. A little longwinded in spots, but it also did a really nice job amping up the interest for Punk/Lesnar and created some great soundbites with both "the beast vs. the best" and Heyman's twist on it ("the beast IS the best").
This Friday on SmackDown: Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto del Rio in a non-title match. I likey. As I've been saying for the past week or two, milking RVD for a SummerSlam title match (before he reverts to an HBK/part-time-ish schedule strikes me as a great idea).
As the bell rang, RVD was still doing Points-To-Self on the turnbuckles, so Wade just clobbered him from behind. Standard beatdown for about 2 minutes, then a big comeback from RVD, with all his standard moves. And also one new-ish one: it appears as though he's going to keep the Molly-Go-Round in the aresenal.
I should probably start calling it by its more generic name (a seated senton), but screw it, any excuse to remember Molly Holly is a good one.
Five Star Frog Splash (either on purpose or due to forgetfulness, RVD did NOT do Points-To-Self while on the top rope, which I took as a sign he learned his lesson from the start of the match), and we're finished here.
Your Winner: RVD, via pinfall, in 4 minutes flat. Another fine showcase match for RVD, which is exactly what you need if you're gonna give him a non-title win on Friday. Which is kind of what I'm expecting them to do.
Backstage: Daniel Bryan is WALKING~! His match(es) are next. I glance at the DVR timer and realize: if Bryan's gauntlet is the final segment of the show, we're gonna get 50+ minutes of the guy. Holy hell!
DANIEL BRYAN vs. JACK SWAGGER (w/ Zeb Colter and Antonio Cesaro)
This is introduced as a "Gauntlet Match," but it's open ended, so we don't know who the opponents are, nor how many. Colter prefaces the match with a few comments about how Texas used to be a great state, but now it sucks almost as bad as the rest of the New America (and of course, Austin is even worse than the rest of Texas). Then he promises Bryan a beating at the hands of the Real Americans (plural), which either means they're planning to cheat, or he just telegraphed Bryan's second opponent. D'oh.
Match starts, and sees Swagger take advantage off a distraction. But not for long. The Texas crowd takes great joy in chanting "OU Sucks" at the former Sooner, which distracts him. Bryan pounces. A few kicks. Then the YES! Lock. Fin.
Your Winner: Daniel Bryan, via submission, in 2 minutes flat. We're just getting warmed up, folks.
After the match: Justin Roberts announces that Bryan's second opponent is, indeed, Antonio Cesaro. But first, we must break for...
DANIEL BRYAN vs. ANTONIO CESARO (w/ Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger)
Joined in progress, with Cesaro in control of Bryan. After a few minutes, Bryan rallies with a chop block and a few moves focusing on Cesaro's knee. Then some YES! kicks. Then he goes up top...
But while Zeb distracts the ref, Swagger got up on the apron, and shoved Bryan off the top rope. He falls, and Cesaro catches him in mid-air with a wicked Elevation Uppercut. First convincing near fall of the match... when Bryan kicks out at 2, Cesaro and Colter both get on the ref's case. While they're distracted (and while Bryan's recouping), we break for...
Back, and they've apparently been going full-speed-ahead throughout the break, as we join a back and forthy exchange of near falls in progress.
Also, I basically loose all ability to do a straight play-by-play call, because -- much like last week's RVD/Jericho match -- they don't stick to any of the basic pro wrestling narrative forms for which I have shorthand phrases. Instead of a "standard heel beatdown" and "hope spots" and "end games," this was a more free-flowing and fast paced spectacle, with what were essentially tiered End Games starting about 8 minutes in.
You just felt like the match could end at almost any time, and yet, you were hugely relieved when it just kept going and going. In other words, don't take my word for it, just go youtube it. Awesome.
For as much as this was a showcase for Bryan, I will say Cesaro came off looking great, too. He hung with Bryan every step of the way, showing off his usual arsenal (which is convincingly stiff) while adding new flourishes (at one point, I shit you not, he rattled off about 31 consecutive rapid-fire forearm shots aftering winning a game of "YES!"/"NO!"). Good times.
Finish was a testament to how hard-fought the battle was. Both men were up top, jockeying for superiority. Bryan was thinking belly-to-back superplex, it seemed, but then that got turned into Cesaro looking for supercarana (maybe). But Bryan then slid through Cesaro's legs and down to the mat. Bryan yanked Cesaro down, and seemed to have the advantage, but Cesaro swung wildly with another Uppercut attempt... Bryan dodged, and got behind Cesaro, and rolled him up with a surprise pinfall. Just like that it's over, and it took every trick in Bryan's aresenal.
Your Winner: Daniel Bryan, via pinfall, in 18 minutes or so (over 20  minutes counting what we missed by joining in progress). Just flat out tremendous. Right there with RVD/Jericho from last week in terms of being just about the best you'll ever get on free TV. And credit to WWE for a clever bit of "spoonful of sugar" booking; if you tell people Bryan vs. Cesaro is essentially your main event, it's not gonna bode well for ratings. But if you tell them Daniel Bryan Gauntlet Match, and slip a 20 minutes Cesaro match in there, then before you know it, the medicine has gone down oh so smoothly. Crafty. Or to use another analogy: Antonio Cesaro is broccoli, and those of us who are grown-ups and have good taste like him. But tonight, WWE figured out a way to slather him in bright yellow "cheese" sauce. As a result, the unwashed masses ate it, and will now be willing to eat it again. Just outstanding, all around.
Backstage: for some reason, Alex Riley (remember him?) is hanging out with Brad Maddox. Perhaps they are forming some kind of Wonderdouche Connection? Anyway, they're watching Bryan celebrate, and Riley's impressed. But Maddox says, "Yeah, well, let's see how he does against this next guy...."
We come back, and Ryback is revealed as Maddox's stopper. And not entirely unexpectedly, he sucks the air out of the building. I think most people were expecting Big Show, or something interesting/surprising. Ryback was not just a let down in terms of his in-ring work (remember, this was a wanker-y/hipster crowd in a lot of ways), but also just from a storyline/sizzle perspective.
[I admit, I was kinda getting stoked for Big Show coming out, since he'd been hyped all week, and hadn't yet appeared. I even thought it'd be cool if RAW then ended with the Wyatts attacking Show to set up a Kane/Show vs. Harper/Rowan match at SummerSlam... but clearly, I was letting my imagination get ahead of reality.]
Back here, in the real world, Ryback basically decimated Bryan, not only because he is bigger and stronger, but because Bryan had already wrestled nearly 30 minutes before this match even started. The audience treats him to a combination of silence, "Goldberg" taunts, and "You Can't Wrestle" chants. Whoops.
But then, about 4-5 minutes in, things pick up when Bryan stages a comeback when Ryback takes too long setting up a table. Bryan hits the Flying Goat Dive, sending Ryback hard into the announce table. Bryan takes it back into the ring, completely ignoring the table, and lays in with YES! kicks and other strikes as the crowd goes nuts.
Missile dropkick and a YES! Lock later, and it seems like Bryan might even win... but Ryback fights and finally gets to the ropes for a break. But you can tell he's frustrated. He ducks out of the ring. Bryan tries to hit a flying knee off the apron, but Ryback catches him and slams him to the black mats.
Then, Ryback decides "to hell with this." He hasn't been able to beat Bryan, so he'll just break him, instead. Ryback adjusts the table slightly, then he powerbombs Bryan through it. That's not legal!
Your Winner: Daniel Bryan, via Disqualification, in 10 minutes. First half bad, second half good. But honestly, Bryan probably deserved those first 4-5 minutes of letting Ryback carry things (even if Ryback isnot very good at this), so how loudly can we complain? Things really heated up, though, and that's a perfect finish for pushing Ryback's bully character while giving Bryan the hat trick.
After the Match: Ryback had designs on continuing the assualt, but John Cena ran out. Ryback immediately retreated. Cena grabbed a mic and said, "So this is what you like? You like tables? How about next week, you and me, in a a Tables Match?" Ryback agrees this sounds like a good idea... so play John Cena's music, cuz he's the one who didn't just wrestle 45 minutes straight!
Backstage: Maddox is watching, now alone. Vince struts in, and Maddox immediately forgets Bryan's matches, and emphasizes the positive: we've already got a main event for next week! Vince is happy about that, but he does want to know what the hell is up with Bryan, and how come Maddox put him out there to win three matches. Vicne thinks Maddox needs to think outside the box, and come up with somebody even bigger, even meanre than Ryback. [Again, I'm thinking "Big Show." Again, I am wrong.] Maddox sheepishly offers up "Kane?" And Vince likes that idea. So next week, in addition to Cena/Ryback, we also get Bryan/Kane!
After After the Match: And now we cut back to the arena, to rectify the mistake of playing Cena's music... Cena's music cuts off as he helps Bryan to his feet. Then Bryan gets in the ring, and they play HIS music -- while the crowd unanimously chants "YES!" -- because he IS the one who just wrestled 45 minutes straight.
And so ends the show. The final 45-50 minutes are obviously the story of the night, with Daniel Bryan doing something that has rarely been done int he modern era of TV wrestling. The Cesaro match is the highlight of it all, but the finish -- seamlessly segueing to next week's show with two big matches coming out of the final segment -- is remarkable, too.
Then again, I should have seen that coming: due to WWE's overseas tour, they're taping next Monday's RAW tonight (Tuesday), which means they wrote both weeks of TV in one fell swoop, and could create the seamles link very easily.
First two hours of the show were not nearly as strong, so this wasn't the same top to bottom awesome show as the week before. Alberto/Sheamus was really, really good. The two big promos (Cena/Bryan and Punk/Heyman) were OK, but not earth-shattering. Everything else was basically just there. Except MizTV, which was too stupid for words.
Also, it seemed like there was a LOT of Fast Forward Filler. Maybe 15 minutes more of it in the first 2 hours than a standard week. That's a bad thing. I can only hope it was a one week thing, and a combination of no more E! Network Hype and better time management will be all it takes.
My Inner Pyro insists I do the "split grade" thing this week. The show gets an A (final 45 mintues), and a C (rest of the show).

SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28



Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.



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