Bryan's Not the Weak Link...
In the backstage area, Daniel Bryan continued to question whether or not he was the weak link in Team Hell No. Despite Kane's insistence that he was not, Bryan continued to question himself.
Until Bret Hart appeared.
"The Hitman" told Bryan that dissension among teammates had done more to tear teams apart than anything. Bret then told the former World champion that he was one of the toughest and best wrestlers he has seen, soothing Bryan's ego in the process.
As Hart left, Kane asked why Bryan listened to Bret but not him. Bryan responded, "Because he's Bret Hart. You...you're just Kane."
It was a phenomenal backstage segment that planted the seeds for the story told throughout the Tag Team title match later in the night, teased problems between Bryan and Kane and also delivered a comedic line that was funnier than any over-the-top comedic bit that could have been written.
Tag Team Title Match: Team Hell No vs. The Shield
Perhaps the title of this article should be changed from "The Good, the Great and the Awesome" to "The Good, the Great and The Shield" because each and every week, the young trio finds its way into the "awesome" category, thanks in part to tremendous in-ring showings like Monday's tag team title match.
Throughout the match, the participants told a story involving Daniel Bryan and his obsession with proving he is not the weak link of Team Hell No. Bryan, in one of his best performances in WWE, exploded into the ring and brought an intensity with him that was unmatched by anyone on the show all night. He had clear determination and it only added to the quality of the bout.
Both teams continued to demonstrate tremendous chemistry with each other and the best match of their series occurred as a result.
The frenetic pace and fury that accompanies The Shield's matches, particularly during the closing minutes, is a large part of what has made the trio so successful. On Monday night, Daniel Bryan answered with his own fast-paced, hard-hitting and violent style. Unfortunately, as the closing moments of the match approached, Bryan let his determination to prove himself as anything but the weak link get the best of him.
He ran into a spear by Reigns on the outside, at the same time providing a momentary distraction for Kane, leaving him open to the top rope knee strike from Rollins. Three seconds later and The Shield had retained its titles.
The match felt like the end of the Team Hell No-Shield rivalry and the beginning of the split between Daniel Bryan and Kane. What path each team takes over the next couple of weeks may remain a mystery at this point, but they certainly delivered great tag bouts that rank among some of the best of the year thus far.
Bret Hart Visits Curtis Axel Backstage
WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart became the latest Superstar to advise Curtis Axel to part ways with Paul Heyman. Unfortunately, his words of wisdom fell on deaf ears. Axel recounted how he sat by patiently and waited for someone to believe in him. That someone, the only one, was Heyman. He ended the short segment by telling Hart, "I'm going to go beat the WWE champion."
Confronted by one of the men who battled so ferociously with his father, a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever lace a pair of boots, Axel was unfazed even without Heyman by his side. He handled the situation well and proved that he may not need Paul to do the talking for him, as everyone thinks.
Building a Superstar
Speaking of Axel, Monday featured the continued evolution of the young performer. A week ago, he competed against Triple H in the main event of Raw. A few days later, he defeated Sin Cara on SmackDown while stars the likes of Randy Orton and Chris Jericho trumpeted him as the future of the business in interviews on the WWE App.
This week, Axel called out John Cena, shrugged off advice from Bret Hart and stood toe-to-toe and went blow-for-blow with the WWE champion in the main event. He never looked out of place or over-matched against Cena, and as a result, his star continues to shine bright.
Like The Shield, Axel is benefiting from booking that intends to make him a bona fide star rather than a young performer with potential to be a star. There is a big difference and the company has seemingly figured it out—first with The Shield and now with Curtis Axel.
Bray Wyatt and The Family Are Coming
One of the best parts of Monday's Raw was a 1:17 video that featured Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper warning of their arrival to WWE in the immediate future.
Wyatt, a character heavily inspired by the Max Cady character in the film Cape Fear, has generated a good deal of buzz during his time in NXT, and the inclusion of Rowan and Harper in "The Family" has helped to create a talented, if not truly terrifying, stable capable of making an immediate impact on WWE programming.
The video itself was phenomenally done. The voice over from Wyatt, the disturbing visuals and the final image of Rowan sporting a lamb mask while Wyatt sang "Mary Had A Little Lamb" made for the type of video package that immediately captures the attention of the audience and gives them something unique and different from everything else on the show to sink their teeth into.
A star(s)-making presentation.