Slammy Awards, wins and momentum were all at stake on the Dec. 9 edition of WWE Raw.
The Key Arena in Seattle, Wash. helped make Daniel Bryan one of the night's biggest winners. He took home several trophies and had a number of reasons to grin. Monday's Raw offered victories to celebrate for Hunico and The Wyatt Family, too.
Alberto Del Rio and Xavier Woods didn't fare as well.
They may both recover their momentum in the near future, though, while the prestige of one of the biggest Slammys will be hurting long after that. The writer who once gave P.J. Brown a fifth-place vote for NBA MVP must have had his hands on the WWE App on Monday.
For the most part, the Slammys went to a logical winner. Often times, that was Bryan.
Winner: Daniel Bryan
The night belonged to Bryan.
Before the show even began, he won Slammys for Catchphrase of the Year and Couple of the Year with his fiancee, as well as the Slammy for Best Beard. Those certainly aren't the most prestigious honors WWE has to offer, but they were just appetizers for the triumphs Bryan would consume on Monday's Raw.
He opened the show against Fandango, a match where he rode his trademark manic energy to a win.
It wasn't one-sided, but it was clearly designed as a means to make Bryan look strong going into TLC. A diving headbutt and a flying knee led to the three-count not too long after the opening bell rang.
The bearded one then took home Slammy awards for Fan Participation and Superstar of the Year.
When Randy Orton and John Cena faced off in the night's final segment, the Seattle crowd howled Bryan's name. Orton tried to talk about what he was going to do to Cena, but chants for the hometown hero mostly muffled it.
Cena pulled Bryan into the segment, using him as an example of a hard worker and someone worthy of being champion. Cena said that should he win at TLC, Bryan would get the first crack at the Unified Championship.
As a bonus, Bryan got to knee Shawn Michaels in the face when a brawl broke out.
That brought Bryan's winnings for the night to five Slammys, a pinfall victory, a smidgen of revenge and a potential No. 1 contender's spot. Not bad for the son of a log scaler.
Loser: Xavier Woods
It took a total of two moves to put Woods away.
Brodus Clay hit a powerbomb and a splash from the second rope and victory was his. Clay attacked Woods afterward, showing off a more aggressive side of himself.
There's no shame to losing to a larger opponent, even one who sports fake stegosaurus-like plates on his ring gear. A loss this one-sided, though, is the kind that weakens the audience's perception of a wrestler.
Had Woods been asked to valiantly fight off his foe for longer, the loss wouldn't have been as damaging.
As it stands, Woods is painted as easy prey. The good news, however, is that he's clearly in a feud with Clay and will get his shot at looking better against him in the near future.
Winner: The Wyatt Family
Erick Rowan and Luke Harper defeated The Usos thanks to a discus clothesline that had John "Bradshaw" Layfield yelping in delight.
The victory showcased The Wyatt Family's brutality and dominance. Both Harper and Rowan's offense looked like the kind that requires post-match ice baths.
In addition, the tag team is perfecting the art of creepiness.
Harper slid off Rowan's mask before the bout began, revealing a demented scowl on Rowan's face. They continue to add grunts, groans and whines to their matches as well.
Bray Wyatt visited Bryan via the Jumbotron again. He gave another disturbing performance in which he both threatened to harm and tried to entice Bryan to join their clan.
Bray Wyatt may just be the best promo on TV right now! Unique & believable.— Jimmy Korderas (@jimmykorderas) December 10, 2013
This promo and Harper and Rowan's work in the ring did well to boost momentum for their handicap match. The sense of danger for Bryan has been elevated. He's now forced to walk into a bear cave knowing that three beasts await him inside.
Loser: Match of the Year Award
The moment Koko B. Ware entered the WWE Hall of Fame, that honor's prestige dwindled. The Match of the Year Slammy suffered a similar fate when an undeserving bout took home the statuette.
Cena vs. The Rock at WrestleMania 29 won over CM Punk vs. Undertaker, Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H and Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Shield. That's the equivalent of Grown Ups 2 winning Best Picture.
Reaction to Match of the Year pic.twitter.com/QIhvE3V3yi— Not Regal (@RegalSays) December 10, 2013
Dave Meltzer, via ProFightDB.com, rated Cena vs. The Rock 3.5 stars while he gave Punk vs. Undertaker 4.5 stars. Many fans would agree that Cena vs. Punk on Raw from February or Cena vs. Bryan at SummerSlam were both superior to the match that won the Slammy.
Some blame must go to WWE for choosing the wrong Cena match as a nominee and blame also must go toward the young Cena fans who would blindly vote for Cena in any category.
Match of the Year is one of the Slammys fans can take seriously and Superstars can be proud of winning. After an inferior candidate winning in 2013, that becomes a little less true.
The Diva of the Year Slammy didn't fare much better. Kaitlyn, who was champion for most of the first half of the year, didn't get the award. Neither did AJ Lee, who has provided the best matches and promos in the division this year.
Instead, The Bella Twins ended up with the golden statuette. The fans in Seattle weren't pleased with the results.
The Bella Twins just got booed off the stage while accepting the #Slammy for Diva of the Year.— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) December 10, 2013
It's results like these that have fans believing the polls to be rigged. Did a majority of fans really pick The Bellas over AJ, or was this a case of the company looking to push Total Divas once more?
Not only has WWE chosen Hunico to play Sin Cara for two weeks in a row, the company booked him to beat former world champ Alberto Del Rio both times.
The first victory felt like a fluke. Sin Cara followed that up this week with a match where he was the aggressor, bashing Del Rio with his forearms and forcing him to retreat to the corner.
A ring-rattling powerbomb and a senton was enough to put Del Rio down for a three-count.
Two consecutive wins against a man who rarely loses is a great sign of confidence from WWE. The only thing tempering the enthusiasm born of his victory is the aftereffect of that powerbomb on Del Rio.
Loser: Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio may have had his chance for revenge put on hold.
In his second straight loss to Sin Cara, Del Rio left the match with a concussion. WWE.com released the following statement:
Following some initial testing, Dr. Amann diagnosed Del Rio with a concussion and will be re-evaluating him tomorrow, as well as administering an ImPACT test to determine a timetable for the former World Heavyweight Champion's recovery.
Thanks to the injury, Del Rio could miss out on a TLC match against Sin Cara. Worse yet, he could follow Christian's footsteps and struggle to make it back into the ring if the concussion is severe enough.
Of all the wrestlers who ended their matches flat on their back, Del Rio's loss is the one that stings beyond the storylines.