Has Daniel Bryan bitten off more than he can chew with The Wyatt Family?
In the week leading up to WWE TLC, all of WWE's programming did a swell job of hyping the advertised card for the final pay-per-view of 2013. In the midst of it all, the annual Slammy Awards returned on Raw and recognized the greatest matches and Superstars of the year.
At the end of the championship ascension ceremony on this week's Raw, chaos ensued, and the closing image of the show was of John Cena standing alongside The Authority. What will this mean for the unification title match at TLC?
Although he will be against all odds in a handicap match at TLC, CM Punk got the better of The Shield this past week with a win over Dean Ambrose on Raw. Is the rogue trio close to splitting, or will they put their differences aside for one night to decimate their arch rival in Punk?
Undoubtedly, Daniel Bryan was the one to watch this week, with wins on Raw and SmackDown while also cleaning house at the Slammy Awards. Will Bryan be able to use this momentum to his advantage come his handicap match with The Wyatt Family?
Here, I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing the Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and WWE Main Event broadcasts, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, an award will be given to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Since the night after Survivor Series, the members of The Shield have had a score to settle with CM Punk, apparently due to the fact that Punk spoke negatively of Triple H that night. Punk has had to deal with The Shield at every turn in recent weeks, but he was finally given the opportunity to go one-on-one with Dean Ambrose this past week on Raw.
In a rematch from the preceding week's SmackDown, Punk and Ambrose battled in what was easily his best singles match in WWE to date. Ambrose refused help from his Shield brethren, ushering them away from ringside in an attempt to prove that he is indeed superior to Punk.
Regardless, The Voice of the Voiceless ultimately put Ambrose to sleep with his finishing maneuver to pick up the impressive victory. Moments later, Punk was laid out by Roman Reigns' vicious spear.
If this match was any indication, the three-on-one handicap match at TLC should be an instant classic.
Daniel Bryan is presented with the Superstar of the Year Slammy Award.
Although Daniel Bryan won't be in the main event of the upcoming TLC event, many members of the WWE Universe sure seem to think he should be. Bryan's hometown fans were vocal for him all night long on this past week's Raw, even going as far as to chant his name during the main event segment that had very little to do with him!
Not only that, but Bryan also scored a victory over Fandango earlier on in the evening before taking home four different Slammy awards, one of which was for Superstar of the Year. Throw in a disqualification victory over Erik Rowan on SmackDown, and there is no questioning that Bryan had the perfect week.
With his Handicap match against The Wyatt Family looming large, can Bryan carry that momentum to TLC?
I may be in the minority on this one, but I have always found the Slammy Awards to be an entertaining event. It is the one night of the year that we are virtually guaranteed to see stars from the past return and make some sort of appearance, and this year's installment was no exception.
From Bret Hart to Shawn Michaels to Eve to Christian, a number of familiar faces came back this past Monday night and made an impact. While the Slammy Awards themselves have never been as "prestigious" as WWE has made them out to be, they were taken a bit more seriously by WWE this year than they have in past years.
The build for TLC was excellently executed, especially with the show's epic ending that gave fans hope that the product is on the verge of improving. Friday Night SmackDown also did a superb job of hyping the card for the pay-per-view.
If all goes well Sunday, one can only hope that the conclusion of the latest Raw is a sign of things to come going forward.
Championship Ascension Ceremony: I wasn't at all excited for the unification title match at TLC prior to this week, but the championship ascension ceremony on Raw helped right that wrong. Both John Cena and Randy Orton cut excellent promos that furthered their feud nicely, while the chaotic brawl involving Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Triple H and Shawn Michaels made for one of the best endings to Raw in quite some time.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Real Americans: The strong streak of awesome matches involving the Rhodes brothers continues. Their match with The Real Americans on SmackDown was given great time and help set up the Fatal 4-Way Tag title match for TLC, so having The Real Americans pick up the win here was smart booking.
The Shield vs. The Usos: I think it is an established fact that these two teams are simply incapable of having bad matches together. They had another gem of a contest on SmackDown that was filled with fun and enjoyable action. The Shield was able to score major momentum going into their upcoming Handicap match against CM Punk.
Brodus Clay: I wasn't in favor of Xavier Woods getting squashed by Clay in a matter of 30 seconds on Raw, but it was reassuring to see Clay show more signs of a pending heel turn by attacking Woods relentlessly after the match concluded. Here's hoping the former Funkasaurus goes full-fledged heel sooner rather than later.
Curtis Axel vs. Dolph Ziggler: Say what you will about his mic skills, but there is no denying that Axel can flat out go in the ring. He worked a very good match with Ziggler on this week's edition of WWE Main Event and ended up on the winning end. The only depressing part is that Ziggler lost cleanly to Axel of all people, which means WWE doesn't appear to have any major plans for him any time soon.
Slammy Awards: Honestly, there is no reason to get upset over fixed awards in a scripted sport, but it is still asinine to think that The Bella Twins were voted Diva of the Year and John Cena vs. The Rock was voted Match of the Year. I have a hard time believing that the voting was indeed legitimate, but if it was, then I have officially lost all faith in wrestling fans.
The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston: Is it just me or are the matches between these two gradually getting worse? They get less and less time with each passing match, and their rivalry never feels any more meaningful. It is now official that Miz is the heel in this feud, but I think it has grown to the point where nobody cares, which is unfortunate.
Natalya vs. Tamina Snuka: Natalya and Tamina are two of the best wrestlers in the Divas division today, yet they are relegated to only mere minutes of in-ring time. Having Tamina lose so decisively and quickly ruins her credibility as a monster heel, and Natalya gains very little from the victories. At least it served its purpose in hyping the upcoming Divas Championship matchup.
Ryback vs. Big Show: Their initial encounter last month was a pleasant surprise, but this match was a complete disappointment. It was over before it even started, and it halted any momentum Ryback might have gained from the two wins he scored last week. Why are Show and Rey Mysterio deserving of a shot at the Tag titles anyway?
Damien Sandow vs. Mark Henry: I was fine with Sandow squashing Santino Marella on Raw, as it gave him one final boost before his Intercontinental title match. However, throwing him into a random match with Henry on SmackDown accomplished absolutely nothing. I am pretty sure Langston will win come Sunday, so what was the point in making Sandow look weak days before the pay-per-view?
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Graham Mirmina, a.k.a. Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.