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The PG Era Rant: Raw, 12/16/13

When last we left our heroes, the face of the WWE had been changed again. The World Championship had been retired, folded into the WWE Title and held aloft by Randy Orton, who used cunning and force to outmaneuver John Cena and stand above them all. But if last week's Raw is any indication, there's one man the fans want to be waiting for him... only he's stuck being chased by a cult. With 6 shows before the Rumble, what is next for the WWE?

The live look-in says we'll announce who won the main event last night... or, you know, you can read my intro.

The PG Era Rant for Raw, December 16, 2013.

Live from Dallas, TX.

Your hosts are who they've always been.

We open with a look at last night, with HHH and Stephanie talking up the main event. From there, stills of the match, concluding with Randy Orton as the one and only cha,pion.

And hey, everyone's on the stage... again. Stephanie and HHH are in the ring (at least this time, the Shield isn't in the aisleway as bodyguards), and Stephanie welcomes us to a historic Raw and asks everyone to respect Orton. Naturally, the crowd begins a YES chant, and no amount of softening that mic will make me miss it. HHH talks about what happened last night some more, and says tonight we are honoring that man... Randy Orton. He is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and here he is. And the roster parts to let him get to the ring, which always struck me as a very strange thing – after all, if no one or very few people like him, they'd have numbers right there. And to make it more noticeable, Orton poses with both belts between the two people front and center (Daniel Bryan and John Cena) that he beat to get those belts. Commentary focuses on how heartbroken Cena must be. Orton says it's great to have faith rewarded, even if the fans didn't believe in Orton. The fans believed that Orton was just handed everything, and last night proved he has the talent that proves he should be champion. The crowd is unhappy and, since we're in Austinland, we're doing WHAT chants. No champion has done what he's accomplished, and as he looks and see the jealousy of the locker room, it's appropriate because Orton is better than everyone else. Orton is the most powerful person in the ring (and yes, HHH and Stephanie are in the ring) because he's the champ. Finally, Cena cuts Orton off. Orton orders the mic off, but no luck. Cena says he's going to summarize Orton's speech: viper viper viper viper viper viper. “I saved these people 20 minutes.” And he didn't even sign them up for GEICO! Cena acknolwedges that Orton earned the win. Cena says that every night Orton must put up or shut up. So which will it be, Orton? But Orton says no rematch, because he knows where Cena's going... except Cena had someone else in mind. Sure Cena wants the gold, but if he won, he had already named a #1 contender. Because he listens to the fans, which the Authority doesn't. I love shoot comments that aren't meant to be shoot comments. Bottom line: Cena wants Orton/Bryan TONIGHT. Orton shoots that idea down and demands that security get “him” out. But Cena says Orton cares about being the greatest and says he can prove his legacy tonight by accepting the match. Crowd REALLY wants this match. Orton says he doesn't have to listen to ANYONE, not Cena, Bryan, the fans NOBODY. Except Stephanie. Wait, what? Orton says that Stephanie of all people shouldn't want to give Bryan a title shot. But Stephanie is talking to HHH, which gets Orton very nervous. HHH then says that, yeah, it would be a bad move. Bryan doesn't deserve it. However, Daniel Bryan IS Superstar of the Year as voted by the fans (seems legit) and the McMahons listen to the fans (since when). So if they want to see the match... but Orton says he's not 100%. However, HHH steamrolls Orton's talking by making the match. Wait, whose side is HHH on? He plays up that Orton needs to win this match to seal his legacy. And it WILL be Orton against Bryan in our main event. It should be noted he never said it was a title match. The entire locker room and crowd chants YES.

Earlier tonight, we voted on a tag team title match, but we don't know which challenger from last night it will be.

Okay, while we're in commercial, let me get this out: HHH is supposed to be the new Vince McMahon, but he never once breaks a sweat in these segments. He acts like he was going to agree with the WWE Universe even though it puts Orton in the crosshairs of his sworn enemy, the man he bent the rules and continuity to keep from ever being champion. Why would HHH suddenly be gung-ho about putting Mr. B+ in a title match just because the fans say so? Because the last thing he wants is to look like he's being overrun. In the time I've been recapping, it's never been HHH concerned; it's been Orton. Every time there's trouble, Orton takes the hit. And every time Orton shows a heel streak, he goes back to being overruled by the McMahons and turning into a cowardly heel. But it's never HHH. Ever. And that's where he fails.

Cody Rhodes and Goldust v. Rey Mysterio and Big Show. Oh, don't look so shocked. Okay, I thought this was a title match, but apparently not. As a reminder, these two teams were the last two in the tag title match last night. Cody and Rey will start with a handshake. Cody with a headlock takedown, Rey reverses to a headscissors, and Cody breaks. Cody with an armlock, but Rey gets a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and gets a baseball slide. He then turns his skid bump into a splash on the outside. Rey goes up, but Cody catches him, only for Rey to slide down and get caught with the Disaster Kick for two. Cody with a stalling front suplex as JBL namedrops WCCW. It gets two. Goldust in, and they get the drop toehold and elbow combo from the video games for two. Goldust works the arm of Rey, and Cody's in to drop an elbow on the arm. Lawler agrees with JBL, wow. Cody continues working the arm on Rey, but puts his head down and Rey kicks away and tumbles over Cody to tag in Big Show. Show levels Cody as we go to break. We return with both men down and crawling to each other's corners, but Show cuts off Cody and slams him down. Show drops an elbow for two. We cut to the announcers taking a selfie in a Mandela funeral joke, so we miss Show beating Cody up. CHOP OF DOOM, thankfully, gets caught on screen. Cody fights back and tries to chop down Show, but runs straight into a “martial arts kick”. Hey, another selfie! Big Show with a cobra clutch on Cody as we focus on the announcers being jackasses because Vince thinks it would be funny. Cody is almost out as the announcers decide to DO THEIR JOB, but he recovers after an arm drop check. Jawbreaker breaks the hold, but Show throws him down for two as the crowd is chanting for Goldust. Really. Show with a gut punch on Cody and a few corner squashes. I like this – there's no way Rey could play heel at his size, so Cody being face-in-peril exclusively against Show makes sense. Another big slap against the ropes follows. Cody tries to fight his way back up but gets nowhere as Big Show does the spinning elbow slam for two. Show climbs the ropes (!?), but the second rope elbow misses. This is actually a well-booked match. Hot tag Goldust, and he runs Show over and gets a dropkick. Show reverses a whip but puts his head down and gets the kneeling uppercut and flying lariat for two. Show with a chokeslam out of nowhere, Cody saves. Show throws Cody out of the ring, but a charge hits boot on Goldust only to dodge a twisting bodypress. KO Punch connects, and Rey is tagged in for the old Michaels/Diesel tower splash to end it at 12:38. This match showed why Show is a much better heel than face. **3/4 Post-match, Cody check in on his brother, and Rey and Show look on to see if he's okay. Everyone helps Goldust to his feet.

Meanwhile, WWE App. Will CM Punk team with the Usos, Matadores, or Prime Time Players to face the Shield tonight?

(Random thought: the booking so far has been Daniel Bryan getting a match with the champ and CM Punk needing partners to take on the Shield. Wouldn't this have made more sense if Bryan had won his handicap match and Punk didn't?)

Next week, it's Damien Sandow against Mark Henry for a Very Raw Christmas. Or something.

Meanwhile, Bad News Barrett wants to talk to us. And he has a gavel. Our bad news: we're not winning the lottery. Happy Holidays!

Hey, did you know there's a Slammy Award for auction? And it's signed by the winners!

Backstage, the Authority is holding a huddle, and Orton is FURIOUS about the match with Bryan. “Is that my REWARD for winning last night?” Stephanie tries to calm down Orton by pointing out that, hey, Bryan's nowhere near 100% either, right? And the Authority does value him as a champion and as a friend. Orton's the first ever WWE World Champion, and with Great Power comes Great Responsibility™. HHH says that Orton is at the top, and he needs to prove it and show why he's champ. The Authority does have his back, though.

Fandango v. Dolph Ziggler. Lawler: “Hey, there's Summer Rae! Where are my other two wishes?” It's a rematch from last night. Fandango attacks off the bat, but Dolph flips over a suplex and gets a dropkick. Dolph misses a baseball slide, and Fandango clotheslines him. Back in, it gets two. Fandango with knees to the back before slowly picking Dolph up and punching him down. Suplex by Fandango gets two. Fandango to the chinlock, but Dolph elbows out and dominates with a slugfest only to run into a leg lariat for two. Fandango stomps away and slaps Dolph around before taunting him and putting on a rear chinlock. Dolph punches out and gets a cradle out of nowhere for two. Fandango knocks Dolph over for two. Fandango with a series of elbows and poses. He picks Dolph up, but a knee to the gut attempt turns into a cradle for Dolph for the pin at 3:25. I'm with Scott: this fifty-fifty booking is doing no one any favors unless it leads to a feud, and frankly, I'm not looking forward to this as a feud. Largely because Fandango is the first person I'd fire if I could. 1/4*

Later tonight, it's Randy Orton against Daniel Bryan. And it appears to be non-title.

Up next, the team of Mark Henry and Big E Langston!

We the People v. Mark Henry and Big E Langston. I don't like my boys' chances. JBL chants We The People with the heels, which is the first time his taking part in audience participation makes sense. Buy a Big E singlet; all proceeds go to Toys for Tots. Swagger pounds away on Langston to start, but Langston with a LEAPFROG and a shoulder tackle. Cesaro enters and fires off uppercuts, but a criss-cross ends with Langston bowling over Cesaro too. Swagger to try again, but he wants to calm it down a bit. Henry tags in as the crowd shows their disdain for OU at Swagger. Nice. Henry pries off a waistlock of Swagger's and pounds away in the corner. Hammer Throw by Henry and he puts up the Horns. If you're not American, you wouldn't understand. Henry with a headbutt and avalanche and in comes Langston with a Henry-assisted spear in the corner. He gets another corner spear and brings Henry back in. Henry drops his weight on Swagger cuz that's what he do. Langston back in to punch away on Swagger and get ten in the corner. Meanwhile, Luke Harper tweets. Langston with a short lariat for two. Langston holds an armbar on Swagger, but Swagger punches out and brings Cesaro in. Langston just hiptosses Cesaro and brings in Henry, who headbutts Cesaro down. Henry works the arm, but Cesaro kicks out of it and brings Swagger in. Swagger boxes at Henry, but he runs into a clothesline. Langston punches away on Swagger, and the strongmen get a double shoulder tackle. Cesaro tags in only to get military pressed and thrown out of the ring. We the People take a powder on the outside and try to figure out what the heck they're going to do, with Langston breaking up the count before hiptossing Cesaro back in. Big back body drop by Langston, but Cesaro with a headbutt to the gut and he tags in Swagger, but Langston punches both men down. Swagger trips Langston on the outside and sends him into the announce table, finally showing some fire as we go to break. We return with Cesaro working a standing armbar thing on Langston. Langston fights out but gets thrown into the heel corner. He elbows out but can't make the tag as a war of wills between Langston and Cesaro breaks out. Cesaro wins with a Greco-Roman takedown and Karelin suplex for two. Swagger in with a belly-to-belly slam for two. Swagger with a front chancery as I think they called a spot but can't prove it. There it is – Langston throws Swagger off with a flapjack, just as Swagger said he should. Langston kicks Swagger into the corner, and Cesaro tags in with a Sullivan back stomp for two. Swagger back in, and We the People get a catapult belly-to-belly throw for two. Swagger goes to the arm, and when Langston fights out, he gets a corner knee. Cesaro in, but Langston avoids a double backdrop and tosses Swagger. Belly-to-belly to Cesaro by Langston and FINALLY it's hot tag Henry. Cesaro goes flying off of clotheslines and a Junkyard Headbutt. Running powerslam follows, Swagger saves. He runs into Henry and gets the worst of it, though. Cesaro with a dropkick to Henry out of nowhere, and Langston tags himself in. Cesaro threatens to swing Henry, but Langston bowls over Cesaro and gets the Big Ending for the pin at 15:33. Wow – I never thought I'd enjoy a 15-minute match with Mark Henry in it. ***

Get thee an App! Vote for CM Punk's partners! JBL: “Hey, Punk's in trouble no matter who his partners are!” You mean like last night, John Boy?

Backstage, Damien Sandow is an evil Santa with AJ and Tamina as his “helpers”. He cuts a heel promo on a little girl. Seriously, this just happened. Watch a Very Raw Christmas next week.

Ryback and Curtis Axel v. Tons of Funk. R-Truth and Xavier Woods are on commentary. It appears Tensai and Brodus have talked it out and are willing to give it another chance. Axel and Tensai start, and Tensai gets headbutts in the corner and a Hammer Throw. An avalanche misses, but Tensai knocks Axel over. Axel with a dropkick and elbows as Clay is impatiently waiting for a tag. Ryback in, and he stomps away and slaps Tensai around only to pay for it. Ryback with a powerslam (!!) for two. Ryback runs into an elbow on a blind charge, then the post. Hot tag Bro... wait, never mind, Brodus walked away. Meathook from Ryback, and Shell Shock follows for the pin at 2:24 as Brodus just watches. The Funkadactyls are not happy. Post-match, Brodus splashes Tensai to make a point and cement the heel turn. When you're doing a tag team breakup match, keep it short. DUD Truth and Woods are so mad they step in to stop Brodus and run him off. Truth and Woods invite the girls in for a dance, which Brodus hates, putting them in the middle. They come in to dance with Truth and Woods anyway as Brodus has been DUMPED, WWE style.

Last night, CM Punk upset the Shield. So tonight, he'll do it again with two partners. But first, he will speak to the Authority.

CM Punk is out, but it's not clobbering time YET. First, we will look back at last week as Punk loses his temper on Orton, which led to HHH pulling Punk aside and Punk taking it out on HHH before Shawn Michaels came to his friend's rescue. Punk says that he thought he was getting put down at TLC, and he was wondering how many of them he would take with him. Punk doesn't believe in miracles, but hey, the Best in the World won. The Shield can make excuses because THIS IS NOT OVER! Punk pauses so the crowd can chant his name. But now, this isn't about the Shield, nor was it ever. It's about the Authority sending the Shield after him. Someone is trying to make him disappear. See, Punk doesn't like authority, which you all saw last week. Before we get the 16-on-1 handicap match, though, Punk wants to ask HHH to come on down and address him personally so they can work out their issues like men. Unless he's scared of a Pipebomb. JBL calls conspiracy. Lawler: “Yeah, and Humpty Dumpty was pushed.” Anyway, no sign of Authority yet, so Punk agrees to wait. But no Authority arrives... on the other hand, Shawn DOES. We must be in Texas. But Punk wasn't finished... he asks Hunter – no, wait, Stephanie – to come out when she's ready. Now, Shawn can talk. Shawn knows that Punk is upset at Authority and the crowd says he sold out. Shawn, not Punk. Shawn: “Ha ha! Couldn't keep it up, could ya?” Anyway, Shawn has also had authority issues, but Punk needs to get over it. Punk's issues should be with Shawn, anyway, seeing as how Shawn knocked him out, right? So Punk wants to talk about that... and the crowd is torn between You Sold Out and One More Match. Punk: “I'm sure I'll have more than One More Match.” Punk respects Shawn, so he's going to give him a pass for last week. Heck, Punk is thrilled he got to get knocked out by Shawn. But if it happens again, Punk will fight back. Shawn likes Punk, and he says that what happened last week didn't sit well with Shawn either. And what he's about to do will hurt too. But it's not a superkick – it's bringing out the Shield. Lawler points out that match isn't now. Someone offers the Shield a soda as they head to the ring. That cracks me up for some reason. Fortunately, the match IS next, so Punk has time to back down.

The Shield v. CM Punk and the Usos (57%). No surprise, given that Usos/Shield have had good matches. Wow, Reigns' eye looks bad. Ambrose and Jimmy start. Jimmy gets a headlock, but Ambrose reverses to one of his own and knocks down Jimmy. Jimmy returns the favor and uppercuts Ambrose, adding a back body drop for one. Jey in, and he and Jimmy double-team Ambrose down. Jey gets one off of it. Punk in now, and he drops a fist on Ambrose, but misses a blind charge and in comes Rollins. Punk drop toeholds Rollins and brings in Jimmy, who kneedrops Rollins. Jimmy takes Rollins down and works the arm. Rollins backs Jimmy into the corner and pounds away, adding a huge chop. Jimmy stops a corner whip and clotheslines Rollins, and Jey in as the Usos get a double elbowdrop for one. Jey with the armbar. He drops his weight on the arm and throws Rollins down for another one-count. Back to the armbar, but Rollins punches out of it and adds an elbowsmash. Jey with a hiptoss on Rollins, and he corners Rollins and tags in Jimmy, who uppercuts Rollins. Rollins with a knee to the gut of a running Jimmy, and he punches away only to lose a slugfest. Jimmy with a Cactus Clothesline, and everyone stands off on the outside as we go to break. We return with Rollins punching Jey off the top rope (Rollins on the top, not Jey) and knocking him around. Jey fights out of the conundrum, only to get nailed with a running back elbow. Rollins stomps Jey in the corner as we find out even Bobby Heenan loved the Shawn/Punk faceoff. Blind leap by Rollins misses, and Jimmy's in to bowl Rollins over. Catapult Samoan drop gets two. Jimmy sets up the hip check, but Reigns distracts him and Rollins gets an enzuigiri. Ambrose gets two off of it. He stomps away on Jimmy and gets a Power Drive Elbow for two. JBL brings up a big point: if the Authority wanted someone out of the WWE, wouldn't they just fire them? Ambrose has an armbar, but Jey gets a jawbreaker only to get bowled over by Ambrose again. Ambrose with a stomp off the second rope to keep control. Reigns in, and he headbutts Jimmy in the gut and clobbers him down. Leaping elbow gets two. Reigns stomps Jimmy's hand, and Rollins is in to cut off a rally. Rollins argues with the referee (“We run the show now”) before rushing Jimmy into the corner and putting him on the top rope. He follows up top, and an ultraplex seems imminent, but Jimmy headbutts Rollins down and comes off with a bodypress. Reigns stops the hot tag with a hairpull and gets Nodowa Otoshi for two. Reigns mocks Punk's encouragement and pounds away before hooking a chinlock. He turns it into a cover for two. Jimmy punches Reigns' eye and gets a dragon whip to that side to get the advantage, and it's HOT tag to Punk, who takes out Ambrose and Rollins at the same time. Running knees to both men in opposite corners, then a Rude Awakening/DDT combo. Punk with a brainbuster to Ambrose, Reigns saves. Superman punch from Reigns to Jimmy, but Jey tosses him and gets a HUGE pescado. Punk and Ambrose, the legal men, are left in the ring as Rollins throws Jimmy into the barricade, so Punk dives onto Rollins. Ambrose tries to dive, but Punk intercepts him and blasts him in the head, allowing Punk to get the Heartbreak Elbow for two. It's naptime, says Punk, but Rollins stops the GTS and Reigns tags in. Punk intercepts Reigns and GTS's Ambrose, but Reigns with a spear for the pin at 16:20. So what does this say about the Usos? Or is this just fifty-fifty booking again? I shouldn't complain about a great match, I know. Meanwhile, Ambrose is busted open from the collision with Punk somewhere. ***1/2

Let's look back at how our main event of Orton/Bryan was set up. Oh, and that match is later tonight.

By the way, Stephanie McMahon should get coal in her stocking, per the WWE2K14 vote. Of course, it's not like it was a big win. Meanwhile, Cole talks about WWE Universe mode as we see clips of 30 Years of WrestleMania. Did I miss something?

We interrupt this program for the Wyatt Family. Bray Wyatt talks about the long war to take down the Machine. He calls Bryan a coward and a liar, just an ant trying to kill a scorpion. Bray held him in his arms, just as Abigail held Bray, and even though Bray said he could take the pain away, Bryan did nothing. Bray understands what Abigail wants from the Family: if Bryan won't join them, they will destroy him. For the record, Bray was talking to... an empty rocking chair just off camera.

Natalya and the Bella Twins v. AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, and Alicia Fox. Hey, it's Homewrecker! Natalya and Alicia start, with Natalya getting a one-count. She works the arm, and Alicia tries a tilt-a-whirl only to fail as Natalya gets two. Brie in, and a double hiptoss gets two. Brie goes up top, but Alicia yanks her off the turnbuckle, getting two. Alicia goes to the chinlock, and Brie tries to fight out only for Alicia to get a hairpull slam for one. Tamina in off of a corner whip, and she chops away on Brie. She drags Brie by the hair before getting one. JACKET OF DOOM gets tossed, and it's a knee to the gut and boot choke. Brie with a cradle out of nowhere for two, but Tamina keeps in control with kneedrops and a chinlock. This goes for a while, until she throws Brie to the ground. Samoan Drop follows as JBL forgets Will Ferrell's name. AJ enters to a bit of a pop because she's the only Diva booked strongly, but Brie with a dropkick and she brings in Nikki. Running clotheslines for AJ and a dropkick fo Tamina and Alicia for good measure. Nikki with the Torture Rack, but Tamina kicks her head off. AJ is up now, and she gets a Shining Wizard for the pin at 5:12. Cole wonders why Tamina wasn't DQ'd for that. Daniel Bryan would like to remind him SHE HAS TIL FIVE! *

Tribute to the Troops is on December 28 on NBC. Jeff Dunham and Daughtry will guest star. One out of two ain't bad. Don't worry, Doomers, I will rant this.

...and yes, I mean Daughtry as the good one. So no starting rumors.

And now, Mark Henry as the Good Santa, complete with the Bellas and Hornswoggle as helpers. And he will make sure Christmas IS NOT CANCELLED. Cuz that's what Santa do! I almost forgot how corny their Christmas episodes are. Next week's Raw is going to be FUN to recap.

Renee Young is with Randy Orton. But before Renee can congratulate Orton, Orton goes off on Daniel Bryan. “The Authority is listening to the WWE Universe? Since when?” He has a point. But what's Best for Business™ is if everyone kisses his ass. That's the Orton I cheer for!

SmackDown will feature the Rhodes Brothers against the Wyatt Family.

Main event: Daniel Bryan v. Randy Orton. Cole runs down the four Pay-Per-View meetings and why this is Orton's win he needs. They lock up, with neither man getting an edge, and Orton rolls to the outside to stall for time. He returns, and Bryan gets a headlock into a takedown. Orton switches to a headscissors, fighting like heck to avoid a reversal, but Bryan gets an Indian Deathlock out of the struggle. Bryan switches to Pin Up Strong for one, and Orton bails again. Orton returns and kicks Bryan, adding a headbutt and ground-and-pound. Orton with a suplex on Bryan and he measures Bryan. He stalls too long, and Bryan trips him and works the leg with elbows and a kick to the hamstring. More kicks to the leg, and Bryan ties Orton's leg around the ropes, getting a hamstring dropkick. He wraps Orton's leg around the post as I try to listen to JBL pretzel himself in logic. Back in, Bryan gets two. European Uppercut by Bryan, but Orton responds in kind. He adds another to floor Bryan, and a war breaks out (“YES! NO! YES! NO!”), won by Bryan. He adds a knee to a running Orton's gut and adds a kick to the ribs. Bryan with the Celtic Knot on Orton, who tries to use the beard to break but gets stopped. Orton does break with a bite, and both men hold their knees. Orton on the attack now with headbutts in the corner and a European Uppercut. Orton with his Thesz Press try, but Bryan catches him in mid-air and gets a half-crab. WOW. Orton makes the ropes. Bryan slams Orton's leg to the mat, then kicks away again at the hamstring. Hiptoss is blocked, but Bryan flips into a lariat. Orton mounts onto Bryan and works the arm, stomping on the elbow. Orton's stitches are opened – it adds to his look. Orton mocks the crowd before returning to Bryan and headbutting him. He cranks Bryan's arm around the top rope and has to be told to break by the referee. Orton with a back elbow for two. Orton to the armbar as he's neutralizing the Yes Lock attempt. Bryan fights his way out of it, but his arm wrench is reversed as Bryan screams in pain. Orton gets two. Orton with the Garvin Stomp now, taking extra effort to hit the injured arm twice. Orton poses for the crowd, who boos LOUDLY, but it allows Bryan to bite the cut on Orton! Bryan punches away in a rage, then gets a running dropkick to send Orton over the top rope and dives out, only for Orton to dodge as Bryan crashes and we go to break. We return with Orton working a chinlock on Bryan as we replay Bryan's crash and burn. Also, Orton's stitches were fixed during the break. Bryan fights out of the chinlock only to run into a kneesmash. Orton then knocks Bryan from the apron to the barricade. Orton does a chickenwing and throws Bryan into the post. He then drops Bryan back-first onto the barricade. Back in, it gets two. Orton headbutts Bryan and puts him on the top rope, punching him while Bryan's seated up there, then follows up for a superplex. It connects, and after recovering, Orton covers for two. Commentary points out that Bryan's left arm is stiff and immobile. Bryan tries to pull himself up, but Orton's punches... are blocked until Orton attacks the arm. Orton with the corner flip to cue his comeback, but he landed on the bad arm. Bryan gets a cross-corner dropkick, twice, and begins kicking Orton in the gut in the corner. He puts Orton up top and follows, and it's a top-rope Frankensteiner for two. Crowd is WAY into this match, declaring it Awesome. Bryan headbutts Orton, who comes back with his inside-out backbreaker. Orton stalks Bryan, but Bryan goes for the Yes Lock out of nowhere only to get caught and catapulted over the top rope... but Bryan skins the cat right into a low blow. GREAT sequence there. Orton follows with the Draping DDT. Orton goes to That Place He Frequents ™, stalking Bryan and calling for the RKO. Bryan reverses to a backslide for two. An immediate roundhouse kick gets another two. Orton keeps checking his tooth. Bryan is up but favoring his arm as the crowd goes loud, and Bryan goes up top for the Ram Jam only to get crotched. Orton stares out to the crowd before following Bryan up for another superplex, but Bryan blocks this one and punches Orton before headbutting him to the mat. NOW the Ram Jam is launched, connecting for two. Bryan with Yes Kicks to Orton's legs, but he misses the cross-corner dropkick and lands awkwardly. Orton cradles Bryan for two, but Bryan reverses to the Yes Lock! Orton literally CARRIES Bryan to the ropes. Orton bails, and Bryan's dive connects this time. Bryan is PUMPED UP, throwing Orton into the timekeeper area and following with his dropkick. Back in, Bryan with a missile dropkick and kip-up as the crowd goes bonkers. Yes Kicks proper follow, but the exclamation point misses and Orton goes low... for the DQ at 24:58? BOOOOOOOO! ****1/2 You end the match like THAT? But wait, here comes John Cena to the ring at full sprint, tackling Orton and going to town on him, tossing him out. He checks on Bryan, but that allows Orton to return and RKO Cena. Orton cradles his belts as he goes to leave the ring before holding them high. We end with Orton celebrating and both Bryan and Cena down and out.


Okay, I criticize because I love. And the one thing this show had was long, good matches. It culminated in a beautiful main event that had me thinking it could have been the best since the London Marathon of 2007... until the DQ finish. I understand they shouldn't give away the ending for free there, so in that regard it was the right call, but it doesn't change that I was INTO that match and felt cheated by the ending.

I'm going to say it now: WWE needs to go with these two as the main event of WrestleMania 30. I don't know if they realize it yet, but tonight should've been the clue. You'll have a chance for the best main event of Mania since Michaels/Taker II, and even though Cena/Bryan is the match many would love, the momentum is with these two. I'm certain we're headed that way, and if we are, they have my money.

Elsewhere, all the matches were either good, long matches or did what they had to do. Even the Divas match wasn't as bad as we've seen from them in the past, and it continued the idea that AJ needs Tamina to have that title. It seems to be moving to AJ/Tamina at Mania where AJ finally gets unseated, and there's nothing wrong with that either.

Yes, there was 50/50 booking, and Fandango/Ziggler stuck out like a sore thumb amidst the rest. Overall, I'm willing to forgive that match and consider this a very good Raw. The road to WrestleMania is upon us, and it looks like we finally have an endgame in sight.


MATCH TIME: 80:30 over seven matches (average match time: 11:30)
BEST MATCH: Bryan/Orton
WORST MATCH: Brodus' heel turn
NIGHT MVP (kayfabe): Yikes, this is a toughie, but I'll say Big Show.

FINAL SCORE: 9. Very little to hate about this show, especially after an epic main event.

Though I'm sure Scott will find something to be cynical about when he watches Raw Lite. Hopefully, Tommy will have a good SmackDown to set him in a good mood. I'll be back in seven days to recap A Very Raw Christmas. In the meantime, remember what Princess said about passion? The main event HAD IT.


  1. I didn't mind the ending at all to be honest.

    It reinforces the fact that Orton STILL has no proven he can beat Bryan.

    It reinforces that Orton will do whatever it takes to keep the championship.

    The RKO to Cena to end the show was a great touch to keep Orton's credibility - because it very clearly reminds us of the difference between a weak champion (bad) and a strong champion that can't beat ONE PARTICULAR GUY.

    Basically, Bryan = Orton's kryptonite is the take-away from the match. Orton can beat the biggest name in the business clean as a sheet for the titles, but he can't beat Bryan.

    That said... WTF ever happened to ref bumps? Time was, if you wanted to end match with a level of definiteness but keep the door open to continue the feud, you had the ref get bumped, the heel would cheat with a chair-shot, or low-blow or whatever, then get the 3-count when the ref 'woke up'.

    That way, the heel had credibility and could claim 'I beat you!' and the face could turn around and say 'you needed a chain to get the job done'. It provided enough grey area to where both guys had a claim to be the better man, and another match needed to take place to sort things out. Plus the crowd went home satisfied cause they got a 3-count, however tainted.

  2. I'll co-sign as being fine with the ending. Usually hate the low blow DQ after an epic match, but it made sense in the context here.

  3. I agree with Crisisinthewoods; the ending made total sense. Anyways, this was an easy ****+ match. Slow build, limb psychology and bat-shit crazy down the stretch Its formula and structure reminded of one of Bryan's classical ROH matches.

  4. So, basically, their answer to Bryan's popularity is to have Cena also be a fan of Bryan, while turning Bryan into his latest Zack Ryder, so ideally everyone who likes Bryan will not like Cena because he likes Bryan to? Jesus fucking Christ.

  5. I disagree. The ending only makes sense if it's a title match, and Orton needs to make a strategic retreat. In a non-title match, there's no need to bail out; a DQ loss in this context is the same as a pinfall or submission, so might as well keep trying to actually win.

  6. Orton couldn't beat Bryan, so he low-blowed him. It proves Bryan is still on Orton's level. It extends the feud with neither to take a loss, and makes Orton look more like a chicken-shit heel. I'm fine with it.

  7. I agree with both of you here. I think there was logic to it in "Orton can't beat Bryan clean and he knows it", but you're right would have made wayyyyy more sense if it was a title match.

    I'm fine with it, but I'm not totally clear on why this wasn't a title match, especially when it's what John Cena was pushing for at the beginning of the show. I actually thought it WAS a title match until the main event was starting, because Orton was so upset about having to fight Bryan, I assumed he was upset at having to defend the title, not "wrestle a match".

  8. Another thing that's hurting Orton....

    Vince owns the WWF, and Bishoff is in control of WCW during the nWo era. And they both cower to and kiss the ass of the Rock and Hollywood Hogan. Those are their chosen guys and when they're forced to make a decision they won't like they're begging them to understand why or trust them....

    Where the Authority is clearly the dominant one in the Orton alliance. Orton's the champion but at their mercy.

  9. Wait. So you want WWE to main event WM with Orton-Bryan, a match we got for two Raw main events, and three PPV main events that did horrendous buyrates in the past six months? And you're certain we're heading that way? Do I have that right?

  10. Well considering the odds of that being the Main Event in terms of the match on top is slim, I figure why not.

  11. ...You win this round.

    But did it need the belt?

    I'm just saying odds are the WM ME won't involve the strap unless they're officially shooting the rocket up Bryan's ass, going, Cena v. Bryan, Taker v. Brock, and who knows what else.

  12. Punk should main event this year because he didn't when he should have last year and WWE logic states he deserves to now.

  13. Bryan finally getting his big win over Orton would make perfect sense from a storytelling perspective, but since when has that ever stopped WWE? If they were going that route they wouldn't have wrestled another 25 minutes tonight. The match ended ambiguously to set up the Orton-Bryan-Cena triple threat at Royal Rumble. And Bryan's only there to eat the pin, either from Orton or Cena, so as to keep the other strong for WM. After those buyrates, they're not putting Orton-Bryan anywhere near their biggest show of the year, even if it's fourth from the top. Sorry, man.

  14. Didn't he already clearly show he can defeat Orton?

  15. I'm confused about someone *finally* enjoying a 15-minute Mark Henry match. He's been bringing the goods for two years now.

  16. And how many of those matches were given that much time? Almost none. He doesn't have the stamina to last that long.

  17. Yeah, but he didn't get that signature win on PPV for the title. He beat Orton clean on Raw before SummerSlam, but never since. Then it was Dusty finish after Dusty finish, and Orton coming out on top at the end of their feud. In a more basic sense, Orton still hasn't been brought to justice, and Bryan still hasn't gotten his revenge.

    But just because storytelling demands that happen doesn't mean WWE will observe it. That's their MO when it comes to the second class-main eventers like Bryan and Punk. They leave out act three. Because by their reasoning, simply by getting screwed by Orton and HHH for a few months Bryan is being elevated.

  18. So let's say the WWE keeps the unified title unified at least through WM. And let's say the Rumble main event is an Orton/Cena/Bryan triple threat as it appears to be shaping up to be, with none of them entering the Rumble. Who wins the Rumble? I can't see it being Punk vs whomever the champion is at WM - too ordinary to be the one and only main title match. Reigns? Seems way too quick a push for him, and he's probably facing Ambrose anyway. Brock? The result at WM would be too obvious, with Brock losing. Same with HBK. Taker? No reason for that. HHH? Doesn't make sense for him to chase the title, rather than be the guy jobbing at Mania, if anything. Sheamus? Fuck me. Are we getting babyface Sheamus vs heel Orton at Mania with the crowd almost 100% behind Orton? I suppose the WWE could do the best thing and have Bryan with the Rumble instead of be stuck as the jobber in a triple threat on the show.

  19. Orton/Cena with Cena fighting for Bryan's honor and Bryan declaring himself part of the Cenation or Chain Gang. WM. Book it and charge $164 for it.

  20. Sheamus vs Orton at Mania isn't 100% of the crowd cheering for Orton. It's 100% of the crowd chanting "JBL", "Mike Chioda", and "boring" for 20 minutes. That match would die the deadliest of deaths.

  21. I e-mailed Scott the link, so there'll probably be a post for it shortly. In the meantime, I'll toss the link here. This is the first part of a multi-part article on my attempts to get into the pro-wrestling business. This one is more of a prologue, talking about growing up on wrestling, beating up stuffed animals in my basement, and some (in retrospect, pretty idiotic) backyard wrestling in my college days.

    Do have a look, if you'd like.

  22. Why cant the main event of WM just be a battle royal? Its never been done before and everybody on the roster can say they main evented Wrestlemania, hell, you could even throw Jake Roberts in there too....

  23. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING, is better than a bullshit fed-up-heel-walks-out countout victory.

  24. Because it would suck? Seriously though, the mere existence of the Rumble PPV match negates this concept entirely.

  25. He beat Orton at Night of Champions.

  26. I don't think there's any doubt either Punk or Bryan are winning the Rumble this year. They COULD give it to Brock, it's a way to keep him relevant while at the same time not having him appear very much, but I doubt they'll do it.

  27. Battle Royals are good for opening matches or a TV match to set up something else. That's it.

  28. Sarcasm just never gets through on the net these days.....

  29. It's been done at World War 3. That's good enough forever.

  30. WW3 and WM are two different animals but it was a joke....

    ...although it would leave more time for a One Direction or Miley concert...


    Why the hell does Peter Gabriel have to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice?

    The Ric Flair of Rock, he is not.

  32. You're star ratings skew about a half star too high but otherwise I'm starting to really like your reviews.This was well done.

  33. Oh yeah, sarcasm just never gets through...

  34. The man did great work in Genesis and had a solid solo career too. He also has a bunch of humanitarian stuff on his resume that certainly helps....

    ...and he certainly isnt the Ric Flair of Rock, Im fairly certain he still has money and dignity....

  35. As somebody nearing 4000 comments, kind of odd that a WM main evented by a battle royal comment would be taken seriously....

    ...oh TAG......

  36. ARRRRGH THE BARBARIANDecember 17, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    (Tensai is dead after getting splashed 52 times) "HEY, EVERYBODY, IT'S TIME TO DANCE!"

  37. ARRRRGH THE BARBARIANDecember 17, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    Oh yeah, and all of this HBK foreshadowing has to be leading to a match of some sort. Or they're stupid, either way.

  38. Yeah, its going to be punk/Orton at wrestlemania. They'd be wrestling rumble othereise, as punk/Orton for the title would be an obvious ppv main event at the mo.

  39. He is excellent and he deserves it.

  40. I just can't ignore a potential HHH vs Punk match up.

  41. I'm assuming that they want the Rumble title match to be Bryan/Orton/Cena because WWE likes to always add the hot thing into their bland PPV title pictures, Either way, I'd be excited for it, it could be an excellent match up.

  42. Bro Clays turn was very Tugboat-esque

  43. Genesis, yeah. But since when is "solid" good enough to get into a Hall of Fame not run by WWE?

  44. Tease the Orton-Cena-Bryan triple threat title match for Royal Rumble, but have the Wyatts take out Bryan a couple weeks, leaving Orton-Cena for the title. Orton wins through more chicanery, Bryan is a surprise entrant in the Rumble and wins it (eliminating some or all of the Wyatts to settle that feud), setting up Orton-Bryan for WrestleMania. Cena is confronted by Undertaker the night after the Rumble to begin their WM build, Punk gets HHH or HBK, and Lesnar gets Sheamus (who returns at the Rumble).

  45. I only caught the main event and I loved it, finish and all. Yet, this is the only thing stuck in my head: Truth and Woods invite
    the girls in for a dance, which Brodus hates, putting them in the
    middle. They come in to dance with Truth and Woods anyway as Brodus
    has been DUMPED, WWE style.

    Why do they do this to me?

  46. Triple H gets heat because he refused to let Kurt Angle steal Stephanie. Triple was dead on, you look like a fucking dork when you lose the girl.

  47. That was ridiculous, Albert should have got stretchered out while the announcers acted concerned.

  48. Why Punk/Orton? If the WWE refuses to do Cena-Undertaker (and it seems like they would rather do anything else), then the money match is Cena-Punk. The two of them always bring the goods and a WM main event would be a good way to cement the feud.

  49. Wait is the end of this post actually suggesting Bryan-Orton VIII as the main event of WM?


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