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Daniel Bryan, the New Superman?
August 27, 2013

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com


I will not waste a whole lot of time here at the top today. But I do want to make one thing perfectly clear:
You know how I have a reputation for hating Randy Orton? Well, he's not even the worst thing to come out of St. Louis.
I hate the St. Louis Cardinals. I hate them so very, very much.


That is all. And now, to our regularly scheduled programming...
No opening theme/pyro/etc., and instead we cold open with the Shield already standing guard at ringside. Then Alternate Motorhead kicks in, and the King of King appears and heads toward the ring...
Triple H not-so-quickly reminds us of what he's done to Daniel Bryan over the past 8 days (tossing to clunky and mostly-superfluous video packages of both SummerSlam and RAW). The short version: SummerSlam was just business, but RAW was personal because Bryan teased Stephanie.
But now all that is in the past, and he hopes Bryan learned his lesson about being a grade-B talent (valuable to the organization, but just not, you know?, championship material) and about screwing with the boss' wife. HHH is willing to let bygones be bygones and go back to just doing business with Bryan, as if nothing happened. He hopes Bryan will feel the same way.
But hey, enough about that guy, let's talk about Mr. A+, Randy Orton! HHH says business is already booming since Orton was anointed as The Face of WWE. [True story: RAW's rating last week was, indeed, the highest since the night after WrestleMania.] HHH is so happy with his decision, and he knows we (the fans) will all eventually come around, too. So why not just give in, now, and provide a warm welcome for the WWE Champion, Randy Orton?
Orton saunters on down to heavy boos, and promptly does what he does best: hold a mic, while HHH does all the actual talking. Hunter puts Orton over some more, with Orton nodding agreement, and then says he's so grateful to Randall that he got him a gift.
A new SUV is rolled out off to the side of the stage. Not just any SUV. It's a Cadillac Escalade. Remember this. It will be very important later. Escalade.
Orton is overcome with gratitude. Or maybe he's just hamming it up, because that's what smarmy heels do. He does speak a few lines, thanking HHH not only for the kind gift, but also for the opportunity to be the Face of WWE.
But before the mutual admiration society can get out of hand, Daniel Bryan's music hits, and he comes out onto the stage. After letting some mighty YES! chants subside, he declares that all this gratitude reminds him that he has some "thank yous" to deliver.
First, a thank you to all the fans. Because he knows he's not the biggest or the strongest -- and he's "certainly not the prettiest, like Twinkletoes Orton up there" -- but he is a pretty darned good wrestler, he's championship material, and he's grateful the fans see that even if certain others don't.
Second, a thank you to John Cena for the opportunity at SummerSlam. Bryan keeps this one short, since the mere mention of Cena's name draws boos.
And last, a thank you to Triple H. Bryan thanks HHH for finally dropping the facade, and showing his true nature at SummerSlam. He's no longer the trailblazing rebel of the DX Days. He's just a corproate sell-out with a fancy haircut, a fancy suit, and the same narrow-minded, self-serving tendancies as Vince McMahon, resulting in HHH doing whatever he wants while thumbing his (rather sizeable) nose at the fans. ZING~!
Randall tried to chime in by warning Bryan about talking back to the boss, but Bryan pretty much cut him off by promising to take care of him at Night of Champions. The punchline was that Bryan intends to rearrange the Face of WWE, if you catch his drift.
HHH takes it from here, condescendingly calling Bryan's vision for NoC "sweet" and "adorable," and even singing a few bars from "When You Wish Upon a Star." But then he gets serious, and says that if Bryan is so keen to prove he's something more than a B+, he doesn't have to wait till the PPV... HHH will give him the chance, right here, tonight.
Bryan (and the fans) seem keen on this idea, probably thinking it means a Bryan/Orton preview match. But that's not what Hunter meant at all. Instead, HHH reprises last week's punishment for insubordination, and says that Bryan has to face the Shield later tonight, in a gauntlet match.
Cole and the Gang lose it (well, JBL doesn't), saying this is the exact same happy horseshit HHH pulled on Ziggler and Big Show last week, but Bryan, himself, doesn't seem too fazed. He's nodding confidently as the segment comes to an end.
Delayed Welcome: and there are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL on commentary. They promise a great show. But don't they always? And specifically, they talk about the CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel match coming up... we get to vote on the stipulation. Well, SOME of you get to. I'm watching with a DVR time shift, so I'm excluded from the fun... one of the options is "Paul Heyman has to get in the ring with Punk, if Punk wins." So I didn't even bother memorizing the other two options. Duh.
CODY RHODES vs. FANDANGO (w/ Summer Rae)
Damien Sandow is sitting in on guest commentary, but doesn't have hardly any chance to bestow wisdom upon us. Because about 45 seconds into the match, Fandango's music starts up again, and Miz prances out onto the stage, with Rosa Mendez as his Summer Rae.
With all due respect to Pyro, who no doubt took joy in the gyrations, the two experience what appears to be a group seizure of some kind. This distracts Fandango. So Cody tries to roll him up for the cheap pin. Sandow is not gonna let that slide, though, so he jumps into the ring to break it up. The ref has completely lost control and calls for the bell.
Your Winner: None announced. It was going to be Cody by DQ, presumably, but before it became official, GM Brad Maddox came out and made a tag match. He even prefaced it by saying, "You've probably all figured it out already, but just in case, I'm talking about Damien Sandow and Fandango vs. Cody Rhodes and Miz." Way to acknowledge the anvil, Brad! Anyway, that new match starts RIGHT NOW, by which we, of course, mean after these...
CODY RHODES and MIZ (w/ Rosa) vs. DAMIEN SANDOW and FANDANGO (w/ Summer Rae)
Back from break, and it's Rhodes vs. Sandow, in a continuation of their feud. Sandow's in control, and the announcers spend pretty much this entire Face in Peril segment talking about the MTV Video Awards. Well, not so much talking about them, as randomly mentioning people who appeared on them, hoping that they do so in the right context, and don't seem like creepy old men who are obsessed with an event that is now mostly relevent only to teenage girls.
But I digress.
About 90 seconds into us joining the match in progress, Rhodes makes a hot tag to Miz, and Fandango decides he's seen enough, and walks out on his partner. The ref is distracted by this, allowing Cody to pearl harbor Sandow. The cheapshot leaves Damien wide open for the Skull Crushing Finale from Miz.
Your Winners: Miz and Cody Rhodes, via pinfall, in 3 minutes. Nothing of consequence here, udnerscored by the off topic commentary. Just an excuse to keep the Miz/Fandango candle burning.
Coming Soon: Los Matadores. A/k/a Epico and Primo wearing masks.
Backstage: Josh Mathews interviews Christian, and we learn that Christian is facing Randy Orton tonight. Christian is upbeat, saying he's taken the World Heavyweight Champ to the limit recently, so he knows he can do the same against the WWE Champ. Then Orton shows up and belittles Christian as another guy, like Bryan, who may be popular with the fans, but who is just not in his league.
At this point, Christian busts out my favorite one liner in quite some time: "I know Triple H likes to use a sledgehammer, but it looks like he's found himself another tool." KAPOWZA~!
Elsewhere Backstage: CM Punk lets all the fans know that he'd really like to get his hands on Paul Heyman, so if you're voting for the stipulation, hey, help a brother out.
Elsewhere Elsewhere Backstage: Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel are watching on a monitor, and are disgusted that Punk's allowed to campaign for votes like that. Well, Paul is disgusted. But Axel is confident: for that stipulation to come into play, Punk has to win the match. And Axel swears that will never happen. So c'mon Paul, don't you have confidence in Curtis? Heyman says, sure, he's got confidence. But he's less than convincing, if you ask me.
CM PUNK vs. CURTIS AXEL (w/ Paul Heyman)
Before the match starts, Jerry Lawler announces the winning stipulation. It's the "If Punk wins, Heyman has to step into the ring" one, with 85% of the vote. STUNNING~!
Punk doesn't want to wait, however, and tries chasing Heyman down as soon as the bell rings. Heyman retreats to the top of the stage, and Axel uses the distraction to take control from the outset.
Crowd's strongly behind Punk, though, and he fights back after just a minute or two. He's so firmly in command that he decides it's already time for the Macho Man Elbow... but Axel's not that worn down yet. He rolls out of the way, and decides to regroup outside the ring. The lull in the action means we get to watch some...
Back, and Axel's in control again. Notably, Heyman's also standing much closer to ringside. Whenever Punk would hit a hope spot, he would retreat back up the ramp. Then return when Axel regaining command. Like a human yo-yo. Sometimes, it's the little touches that really tell the story.
Punk did get a full-fledged comeback at about the 10 minute mark of the match, but after hitting the Macho Man Elbow, he did let his gaze linger a bit too long on Heyman (again), and Axel dropped him with a neckbreaker. A couple more moves in a row, and Axel was ready to finish Punk: he reached down and was in position to hit the PerfectPlex... but Punk just suddenly got a burst of energy, hoisted Axel up, and hit the GTS completely out of nowhere.
Your Winner: CM Punk, via pinfall, in about 12 minutes. Pretty good stuff. Simple, but effective, and the result was a super hot crowd buying into the story of the match (the chance to see Punk get his hands on Heyman), which always makes things a lot more fun.
After the Match: Punk began licking his lips, ready to destroy Heyman. Heyman retreated to backstage once, only to be herded back towards the ring by 2 referees.
Then he deked everybody and got backstage again. This time, a half dozen security guys hauled him back to the ring. Punk grabbed him by his tie, and pulled Heyman into the ring. As the crowd went apeshit, Punk landed exactly one punch.
And then Curtis Axel clobbered him from behind. BOO!
Axel adds in a couple stomps, just to make sure Punk's incapacitated. Then Heyman produces a pair of handcuffs, and tells Axel to put them on Punk. Axel complies.
Heyman gets in Punk's face, and unleashes a combination of taunting and bitchslapping, which has the effect of making Punk very angry. Punk manages to get up to his feet, but Heyman and Axel just keep taunting him, figuring they're safe from the no-armed man.
Wrong. Punk manages an impressively flexible kick to Axel's face, then starts backing Heyman into a corner. Another kick? A series of headbutts, maybe? The crowd is once again apeshit in anticipation of seeing Heyman get his ass kicked.
And they are disappointed again, as Axel attacks from behind, this time with a steel chair. Punk is chopped back down to the mat with a series of chairshots. Then Axel goes outside the ring and finds a kendo stick. He's about to use it, but then has a better idea: he hands the stick to Paul E. The transfer is done with a certain amount of pomp and circumstance, adding to the nuclear heat.
Heyman takes his time, savors the moment, and finally lands a crackling shot across Punk's back. Then he stops savoring, and just starts unloading with shots to the ribs and arms, and plenty more to the back. All the while, he's also talking, telling Punk "You broke my heart" and "I loved you, now look what you're making me do" and stuff like that. Way over the top and melodramatic for my tastes, but only because he kept saying the same basic thing 18 different times. If you frame it so he says it once, and you know the cameras catch it, that's fine... but the over and over again deal is pretty cheesy, rather than intensely dramatic.
But that's my problem. Your mileage may vary.
Anyway, Heyman eventually destroys Punk to the point where Punk is bleeding from a dozen different spots on his back. Axel actually leads Paul away, figuring they've done enough damage. As the segment comes to an end, the cameras actually get lots of great shots and close-ups of Punk's welted and bloodied back.
NATALYA (w/ the Funkadactyls) vs. BRIE BELLA (w/ Nicki and Whatshername)
The other Whatshername is the guest ring announcer, ensuring that all 7 cast members from That Of Which We Don't Speak are present.
All of 60 seconds of "action" then the heels cheat to win.
Your Winner: Brie, via pinfall, in 90 seconds. Nothing to see here... wait, strike that. Here comes AJ. Let's see what she's got to say...
After the Match: AJ came out on the stage and cut the best promo out of the women's division in years. She started out by sarcastically talking about how great "Total Divas" is (mentioning "storylines" with the Bellas/Funkadactyls/Nattie, but then casually saying "Oh, and the other two were definitely there, too"), and her clearcut dislike for it essentially turned her babyface on the spot. Awesome.
Then, AJ decided to share her feelings about the 7 women in the ring: they are useless, interchangeable, disposable women who lack the skill to ever be a champion, and who lack the talent to be actresses, so they're doing reality TV. ZING~!
AJ says she worked hard and got where she is honestly, not by sucking (pregnant pause) up to the right people. And this is all she ever wants to be, she's not just here as a means to further her modelling career. In short, "You all can walk all the red carpets you want in your ridiculous $4000 heels. But none of  you can lace my Chuck Taylors." And she closes with a Pipebomb Flourish.
Just top shelf, both in the sense that it resonates with me (and presumably, with many of you) in terms of content, and in the sense that AJ nailed the delivery with a perfect blend of snark and conviction. I don't think WWE necessarily thought this would go over so completely like a face turn, but I imagine the goal here is to run an AJ vs. Nattie vs. Brie 3-way match at the PPV, with Nattie vs. Brie in the traditional face/heel roles as far as the fans of entertainment go, and AJ in the middle/above it all as the wrestler.
In conclusion: I [heart] AJ. I mean, I did already. But now even more so. I mean, if I'm forced to acknowledge the existence of "Total Divas" due to WWE crossing the streams, I have no choice. But still, serious credit to AJ for taking a standard "worked shoot" promo (which are dodgy propositions, usually) and breathing enough life into it so that I can buy into something that's related to an E! Network "reality" show.
Big fancy ring intros for each guy, including Ricardo doing RVD's announcement (and ditching the tux, once and for all, in favor of an RVD t-shirt).
Then, about 45 seconds of action, and a sudden break for...
Back, and RVD was on a roll. Literally, as he hit Rolling Thunder right as we got back. But then, as per the rules of pro wrestling, the bad guy took over for a while. Alberto, as is his wont, did his best to focus on RVD's left arm and shoulder, in preparation for the cross armbreaker.
We also learn that just before the match, GM Brad Maddox added a stipulation that if RVD wins, he'll get a title match against ADR at NoC. So there's even more on the line here than we thought.
Eventually, RVD started firing up, and ran through a couple of his signature moves. But when he decided it was time to try for the Five Star, Alberto knocked his leg off the rope, crotching RVD. He followed with the Run-Up Enzuigiri. Alberto sensed it was time to go for the Cross Armbreaker, but just as he was setting up, Ricardo
 got up on the announce table and led the arena in an "RVD" chant.
The cheerleader routine was just enough to get under Alberto's skin, and he turned to berate Ricardo. Meantime, RVD recovered, and snagged del Rio with his leg scissors roll-up for the sudden 1-2-3.
Your Winner: Rob Van Dam, via pinfall, in about 10 minutes. Going back a few weeks, I've been a fan of the idea of RVD vs. ADR for the title... but here, they just didn't seem to click. I'm not saying I'm suddenly worried about the NoC match, but I am saying I expected more out of this set-up match. And it just never quite got in gear.
Backstage: Josh Mathews is set to interview Ryback. Josh Mathews is threatened with physical harm. Josh Mathews metaphorically pees his pants. Ryback, literally, chuckles and leaves. THRILLING~!
Elsewhere Backstage: Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel are getting set to depart, when Renee Young catches up with them and, in essence, asks "The hell?" Heyman says Punk's starting to remind him of a petulant child, who needs to keep being punished before he finally learns his lesson. But that's OK with Paul, because "I gotta be honest Renee, right now, I feel good. I feel like a man." Paul ENJOYED beating on Punk, and so, if it's repeated punishment that Punk needs, Paul is happy to keep on delivering. Punk will eventually learn that you do not cross Paul Heyman. Good stuff from Paul, here. Really intense, with just a taint of creepy.
CHRISTIAN vs. RANDY ORTON (non-title match)
Old school feeling out to start. Lock-ups, headlocks, etc... then Christian started to get going, and went to the second rope for a move. But Orton caught him, and knocked him backwards over the ropes and to the apron for a scary-looking bump.
Orton preened, Christian's down and out, we check out some...
Back, and guess what? Orton's working a chinlock. Oh, how I've missed thee, Orton's heel moveset! As part of our midmatch heel beatdown, Randall also busts out a Garvin Stomp, a couple of breaks for The Pose of Ultimate Douchebaggery, and two more chinlocks.
In other words, not the most compelling stuff. But Christian finally breaks out of the third or fourth chinlock, and begins a big rally, including the 10-pack of mount-and-punches and a Steamboat style high cross body for the match's first convincing near fall.
From there, it was a superlative End Game sequence of back and forth 2 counts and reversals and all kinds of neat stuff. Orton went for the superplex, but Christian turned it into a Tornado DDT. Christian went for the bail-out Bossman Uppercut spot, and Orton turned it into the Hangman DDT. Orton "coiled." Christian countered. Christian set up for a spear. Orton leap-frogged. Christian hit him immediately with a secondary turn-around spear. Christian went for the Killswitch, and sure enough, Orton triple-reversed it into an RKO. Fin.
Your Winner: Randy Orton, via pinfall, in about 15 minutes. Yeah, the first half or two-thirds was a bit slow-ish, and did nothing to assuage my fears about the caliber of matches Orton will have now that he's back to being a heel... but goddamn the final 5-6 minutes were just outstanding. As good as, or better than, anything they included in their long series of matches two summers ago. Granted, this time around, the outcome was even less in doubt than it was back then, but still... just track it down on the youtube and tell me that wasn't some outstanding, well-crafted End Game, there.
After the Match: Orton is celebrating when Daniel Bryan's face suddenly pops up on the TitanTron. Bryan commends Orton on his A+ performance, and wonders aloud what it'll mean if Bryan can beat Mr. A+ at Night of Champions. Would that make him the new Face of WWE? Bryan suggests we ask a nearby SUV... and we pan out to see Orton's new car, with "YES!" spray-painted on the hood. But wait: another five or so YES!'s on the side. More on the back. And on the other side.
THE CAR HAS SPOKEN! Daniel Bryan will be the new face of WWE at NoC!
Oh, and Michael Cole slips in the comment that Orton's new SUV is now a YEScalade. Get it? YEScalade.
Backstage: HHH, Orton, and Brad Maddox are surveying the graffiti on the YEScalade. In an odd turn of phrase, HHH says that the car was his gift to Orton, so Bryan really vandalized HIS (HHH's) property. Uh, that'snot how gift giving works. But then it gets more odd when HHH draws the same comparison with the WWE Title (his gift to Orton, but it's still his property). That... that had to have been on purpose, right? Somehow hinting that Orton is just HHH's puppet in all this, maybe? It couldn't have just been a Freudian slip by Darth Hunter? I dunno...
Anyway, HHH is livid, and wants to make sure Bryan takes his medicine later tonight against the Shield. He tells Maddox to assumble the entire roster on the stage during the Guantlet Match, and force them to watch Bryan get demolished. And if any one of them decides to be Dudley Do-Rite, and helps Bryan, that person will be fired on the spot.
TITUS O'NEIL (w/ Darren Young) vs. JACK SWAGGER (w/ Zeb Colter and Antonio Cesaro)
Another in the matching set of PTP vs. Real Americans matches...
Swagger gets most of the offense, then goes for a cheap pinfall, putting his feet on the ropes for leverage. Young shoves Swagger's feet off, causing Swagger to start jawing with Young. Swagger turns back around and walks right into Titus' chest-lift powerbomb thingie.
Your WInner: TItus O'Neil, via pinfall, in 3 minutes flat. So the PTPs are 3-0 now as babyface. Do we spend the next week switching the singles opponents, and exhaust all iterations of this feud, in the quest for 5-0? The correct answer is: "Who cares?"...
Vignette: the Wyatts are at home, down in deepest, darkest Wherever, and Bray has a story to tell. It seems, way back in the day, there was a lady who would sing to Bray and teach him many lessons about the world. She was kind, and she was wise. Her name was Sister Abigail. Her touch could save the world, but her kiss could burn it to the ground. What this has to do with anything, I have no idea, but it's definitely setting up yet another layer to the Wyatt shtick...
Backstage: CM Punk is refusing medical attention from the trainer, and demands to see GM Maddox... he wants Heyman, and he wants him yesterday. Maddox says he can't do that. But what he can offer is a handicap match at NoC: Punk vs. Heyman and Axel. Close enough for Punk. He accepts
DANIEL BRYAN vs. SETH ROLLINS (Gauntlet, Part 1)
As we return from break, the full roster has finally assembled on stage, with Big Show and Dolph Ziggler (last week's Shield victims) at the front. During ring entrances, Renee Young tries to get comments from some of the guys (including Show and Ziggler), but in deference to the new vindictive HHH, they choose not to speak out about what a joke this is. Renee gets the message, and kicks it back to ringside just as the bell rings...
OPening minutes of the match saw Bryan off to a hot start, then Rollins gained control with some distraction from Ambrose... due to the Gauntlet Stip, I was actually sitting back anticipating 3 time-compressed matches. I figured Rollins' offense was his mid-match heel beatdown, and when Bryan started a comeback at the 4 minute mark, I thought the end of the match was near.
Wrong. Just a decoy. Instead. Bryan's rally included a HUGE suicide dive on the announce table side of the ring. Bryan ended up draped over the table, while Rollins went flying all the way over the top of it, and was crumpled onthe floor. So instead of the end, this is just a break for...
Back, and Rollins has regained control. In addition to putting a beating on Bryan, he's also channeling Ambrose by verbally abusing Bryan the whole time. Always a nice touch. But at the 10 minute mark, Bryan has had enough, and goats up.
Starts with some kicks, as the fans exchange to the trading of blows with a game of YES!/NO!... the back and forth action leads to Rollins going up to the top rope, but Bryan catches him. After a quick jockeying for position, Bryan EXPLODES with a killer overhead superduperplex. Like a German, except Rollins is fully flipped and lands on his face. And front the top rope. One of the biggest "holy shit" spots of 2013 to date, kids.
IN fact, the crowd goes so bonkers that the director starts cutting away to various shots of the fans. And they completely miss Bryan hitting Rollins with the running knee. Making matters worse: somehow, Cole didn't see the running knee, either, even though it was happening 10 feet in front of him, and he gives a surprised "What the? Daniel Bryan now with the cover" as his take on what just happened. It's only after a replay that we see it was the running knee. Way to be, dum dums.
Your Winner: Daniel Bryan, via pinfall, in about 15 minutes. Really, really good, leading up to the crazy high spot at the end. Youtube it if you like things that are great. In addition to being objectively good, just for the work, they also -- whether on purpose, or just by accident -- benefited a TON from the Gauntlet stip. I was conditioned to think in terms of 3 shorter matches, not 1 long one; allowing myself to be suckered in and fooled by the opening part of the match, and then just flat out loving the second half. Good times.
But the good times don't last. This is, afterall, a Gauntlet Match...
DANIEL BRYAN vs. DEAN AMBROSE (Gauntlet, Part 2)
Ambrose sneak attacks Bryan even before Rollins has been pushed out of the ring. But Bryan is en feugo, and double counters his way into the YES! Lock.
Before Ambrose has to tap, Reigns jumps in and attacks.
Your Winner: Daniel Bryan, via disqualification, in 30 seconds. Yep, that just happened.
DANIEL BRYAN vs. ROMAN REIGNS (Gautnlet, Part 3)
Reigns just continues beating on Bryan, with the announcers forced to admit it was a smart tactical move to sacrifices Ambrose's match to make sure that Bryan is beaten down and useless for Reigns' match.
Except: not so much. Reigns sets up to slam Bryan, and Bryan floats over and cinches in the YES! Lock. This time, it's Ambrose who jumps in and breaks it up, but who also causes the DQ.
Your Winner: Daniel Bryan, via DQ, in 30 seconds. And so the 3-on-1 Gauntlet Match essentially boils down to at big-ass 15 minute Bryan/Rollins match, and two post-match angles. You know what? I can dig that. Unexpectedly fantastic time management there, if you ask me.
After the Match: But of course, any semblance of a happy ending is out the window, as the Shield just maul Bryan. HHH comes out onto the stage and stands in front of the roster, basically daring any one of them to go past him and save Bryan. But none do. Big Show really looks like he wants to, and the fans even start chanting for him to do it.... but nope.
The Shield hit the Triple Powerbomb, and Bryan's essentially dead. So that's when Randy Orton shows up, strolls down to the ring, and hits an RKO for good measure. Orton heads back up to celebrate with HHH, while the Shield stand tall in the ring.
And so ends the show. I'm sure there are nattering Wanker types out there decrying the finish, with HHH throwing his weight around and burying Bryan and whatever... but I disagree. I'm working under the assumption that Bryan does win the WWE Title at some point, and that making him out to be the biggest underdog possible is how you get the most out of the story.
And on top of that: this is also how you get the most out of Orton, too. Don't whine and moan about HHH stealing the spotlight for himself, out of greed and ego. Celebrate the fact that HHH is using his talents to mask Orton's shortcomings. This is two RAWs into the Orton Era, and the guy has said about 5 lines into a live mic; but he's also kicked Bryan's ass twice, and had a good match against Christian. That's maximizing your return on Orton, big time.
If I was gonna complain about the ending, it'd be that we didn't get somebody stepping up to save Bryan... Big Show would have made perfect sense, since he has that "Iron Clad Contract" from last summer. But I'd have prefered seeing Ziggler go out and risk getting fired. He's another guy who has troubles with a live mic, but he was always gold on Ryder's youtube show.... and remember Miz and R-Truth? They did half a build-up for a PPV using youtube, while they were "fired." So it's a story that could be custom made for rebuilding Dolph, by involving him on the periphery of HHH/Orton/Bryan.
That said, there are still a few weeks to the PPV, and you can't just cram everything into one show. Giving Orton another week to get the better of Bryan, and milking the concept of "HHH has the roster by the balls" at the same time, is not an altogether bad idea.
Throw in AJ's promo and Christian's zinger on Orton, and this was a RAW that had a little something for everyone. TOp shelf mic work, some really outstanding wrestling, solid storyline development, and a few nice little twists and turns... probably too heavy on filler/replays (I ran out of time shift, which means WWE gave us 10-15 minutes more non-value-add than most weeks) to seem like a nonstop thrillfest, but my Inner Pyro is still gonna go ahead and give this one a Bryan-esque B+.

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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