Bryan has continually let frustration overwhelm him. During the last few weeks he's been desperate to prove that he wasn't Team Hell No's weak link. He used Orton to make his case in a tremendous Street Fight.
The episode began with Bryan telling the audience that he was tired of hearing people say he had a little man complex.
Orton soon came down, snatched the microphone from his hand and told him to "shut up and fight." Bryan responded with his fists and their battle began with a hectic energy that would not slow down. Throwing wild punches, the two didn't even notice that the referee disqualified them both.
As Wrestling Memes pointed out, the violence got going rather quickly.
The fans then got to vote on what kind of match Orton and Bryan would have in their main event. Folks eventually voted for the Street Fight, but a Falls Count Anywhere and a Lumberjack match were also available options.
The Falls Count Anywhere would have been very similar to what ended up happening. Lumberjack matches are rarely great so kudos to the voters for avoiding that one.
The History of WWE tweeted a funny response to WWE presenting that option.
The Street Fight was the perfect stipulation as it allowed Orton to look strong despite the loss and for both men to use the weapons around them as extensions of their hatred.
Orton cracked Bryan over the head with a chair and later hurled one into his face. The two men then traded power moves that had their foe land on a table.
The Viper teetered on the apron for a long time, refusing to fall onto a waiting table even as Bryan flew into him with kick after kick. Bryan eventually slipped under him and delivered a powerbomb through the wood.
Orton would pay him back with a T-bone suplex that had Bryan land awkwardly at the end of a table.
WrestleZone noted how well the stars sold their suffering.
Orton now puts Bryan through a table in the corner. Bryan selling his arm now & fighting back w/alot of fire & heart. Really good stuff.— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) June 25, 2013
This added to the realism of the match. Every bit of violence worked to tell the story of how intense this match was, and it served as a rite of passage of sorts for Bryan. He proved himself in a major way by outlasting Orton in a brutal setting.
The journey to that point was a fun one to watch.
Bryan and Orton received a flood of praise. Former WWE ref Jimmy Korderas tweeted his appreciation of the fight.
Randy Orton has been there a bunch but great to see Daniel Bryan get to shine in the Main Event spot on RAW tonight! Great match!— Jimmy Korderas (@jimmykorderas) June 25, 2013
Pro Wrestling Report gave a virtual hat tip to Orton and Bryan, and the finish in particular.
Bryan yanking back on Orton's head with a kendo stick pressing into Orton's face was a vivid, memorable image. Even with as hot as Bryan has been, it was surprising to see a star of Orton's caliber tap out here.
The Pro Wrestling Illustrated Twitter account summed up the match in a single tweet.
Going forward, it looks like Bryan is charging toward the WWE title picture. Both he and Orton were named as participants in the WWE Championship Money in the Bank ladder match so perhaps one of them will end the night with the coveted briefcase in hand.
Alternatively, we may just see them descend into enthralling violence once again.