WWE Raw Review (12/16/13): Daniel Bryan Takes on Randy Orton

Mike Shannon@@DLman91Featured ColumnistDecember 17, 2013

-So I took a couple of weeks off of Raw and hopefully that will provide a little perspective on the whole thing…that, or it will just annoy me more.

-I managed to catch the TLC pay-per-view last night as well and it struck me as a relatively average show. The main event was decent but “undisputed WWE champion Randy Orton” is something that doesn’t interest me in any way, shape or form. I’m also going to ignore how badly WWE mangled the title history last night as well because it will just irritate me all over again.

-LIVE from somewhere not important enough to mention.

-We start with the Authority in the ring and the whole locker room standing on the entrance ramp as Stephanie introduces Randy Orton. The crowd immediately voices how excited they are for this angle by chanting “YES” while Triple H tries to talk over them. So Orton cuts his standard “I’m better than you” promo until Cena interrupts from the stage (how did he get a mic?) and asks for a title match for Daniel Bryan. Why couldn’t Bryan ask for himself? After some begging from Orton and some posturing from Hunter, a Bryan vs. Orton match is booked for later tonight. I still don’t get why Bryan had to stand there like a goon while Cena verbally fought his battle for him.

Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. Rey Mysterio & Big Show
Cody and Rey do some basic stuff until a Mysterio flying headscissors puts Rhodes on the floor and Rey slides out with a splash from the ring. Mysterio gets caught heading up top and gets nailed with the Disaster Kick for two. Delayed front suplex gets two for Cody and Goldust checks in as Rey plays face-in-peril. After a switch by the brothers, Mysterio makes a comeback on Cody and makes the hot (?) tag to Big Show as we head to a commercial. That’s really annoying.

We return with Big Show dropping an elbow on Cody for two and the announcers are so thrilled with the match that Jerry Lawler takes a selfie with the other two guys…ugh. Cody fires off some chops but runs into a big boot and Show grabs a chinlock. Vince must have screamed into the announcer’s headsets because Cole instantly snaps out of Selfie Mode and goes back into “guys, this is really serious.” The crowd chants “We want Goldust!” as Cody continues getting beat on in the corner. Show flattens Cody with an elbow but makes the mistake of heading up to the second rope and missing a flying a elbow.

Cody makes the tag to Goldust as the crowd voices their approval and Dustin cleans house on the Big Show. He walks into the chokeslam though, so Cody has to save him at two. Show dumps Cody to the floor, allowing Goldust to attack from behind. He whiffs on a cross body block attempt though, and Show knocks him out. Rey comes in with a splash from the Big Show’s shoulders and gets the win.
Winners: Rey Mysterio & Big Show

-So the Rhodes brothers go over last night, and they immediately book them to lose the very next night. That, my friends, is what is known as 50-50 booking and the reason why people start not caring about matches or angles. Anyways, the match was pretty good TV tag fare, and that’s all you can really ask for **3/4.

-Bad News Barrett (a gimmick destined for the garbage pile) lets everyone know they won’t be winning the lottery this weekend. What is the point of this? Seriously, can anyone tell me? Am I supposed to pay money to watch Barrett get beat up because he says I’m not going to win the lottery?

-Backstage, Randy Orton rages against the Authority until Stephanie calms him down. Did she just call him the “first ever WWE World Heavyweight champion”? There are so many things wrong with that statement that I don’t even know where to begin. Did the title unification from 2001-2002 just not happen?

Fandango vs. Dolph Ziggler
Hey, remember when Dolph Ziggler was world champion? The announcers are now openly talking about Dolph’s losing streak while Ziggler hits a dropkick to send Fandango to the outside. Fandango turns the tide and sends Dolph back inside for some curtain-jerking offense. Fandango hits a leg lariat for two then goes to a chinlock while we get some gratuitous shots of Summer Rae. Suddenly, Dolph gets a roll-up out of nowhere to get the win.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler

-Cole calls this a “big win” for Ziggler, showing just how far his career has fallen. The match was a total waste since Fandango was on offense the whole time *.

The Real Americans vs. Big E Langston & Mark Henry
Langston starts with Swagger and floors him with a shoulderblock, causing Cesaro to tag in and also take a shoulderblock. Henry tags in to take on Swagger and puts him down with a headbutt. The babyfaces double-team Swagger in the corner and Langston hits a 10-punch. Langston randomly goes to an armbar but Swagger slugs out of it and brings in Cesaro to take some abuse. Cesaro gets the tag and Swagger briefly takes over before a Henry clothesline puts him down.

Langston gets rid of Cesaro and the heels take a timeout, but Big E brings Antonio back inside the hard way as the heels continue to get zero offense. Langston looks for his big splash but Swagger drags him out and introduces Langston to the announce table. We take yet another mid-match commercial break, which really makes no sense.

We return with Big E stuck in the heel corner and, very impressively, Cesaro actually powers Langston from the mat into a gutwrench suplex…my God. Belly to belly gets two for Swagger but Langston powers out of a front facelock. Cesaro cuts off the tag at the last second and brings back Jack Swagger for a powerslam and a near-fall. Langston finally thwarts a double-team and delivers a belly to belly on Cesaro before tagging Mark Henry. Henry actually uses the Junkyard Dog’s THUMP headbutt in a cool spot but a standing dropkick by Cesaro puts Henry down. Langston tags himself in behind Antonio’s back and hits the Big Ending for the win.
Winners: Big E Langston & Mark Henry

-The crowd was a lot more into this one than I was. I found the heat segment boring and really didn’t get into Langston’s comebacks, so maybe I’d like it more on a repeated viewing **.

-Meanwhile, Damien Sandow dresses up like Santa and freaks out a little girl. This somehow sets up a match between Bad Santa (Sandow) and Good Santa (Mark Henry)…whatever.

Ryback & Curtis Axel vs. Tons of Funk
Tensai beats on Axel and floors him with a shoulderbock but gets hit with a dropkick. Ryback checks in and gets a slam on Tensai. Tensai catches him with an elbow but Brodus won’t make the tag and Ryback hits Shell Shocked to get the quick win.
Winners: Ryback & Curtis Axel

-Brodus splashes Tensai after the match to complete the heel turn, forcing R-Truth and Xavier Woods to make the save. Woods and Truth steal the Funkadactyls to really leave Tensai out in the cold. The match was more of an angle than anything, so that gets a DUD.

-CM Punk hits the ring to talk about beating the Shield but quickly moves on to Triple H and calls him out to discuss a few things. Instead, Shawn Michaels answers Punk and actually manages to draw some heel heat from the crowd. Punk promises next time Shawn kicks him, he’s going to kick back. They tease a bit more until Shawn introduces the Shield as Punk’s opponents.

The Shield vs. CM Punk & The Usos
Ambrose starts with Jimmy and takes a back body drop for two before getting double-teamed in the corner. Punk comes in and misses a blind charge, allowing Rollins to tag in and get caught in the babyface corner. Jey works an armbar and hits a hiptoss, but Rollins turns things around with a knee lift. Both guys head out to the floor as we take a commercial break to break up the boredom a little bit.

We return with Rollins beating on Jey but he whiffs on a splash attempt in the corner and Jimmy gets the hot tag to clean up on Seth. A Samoan drop puts Rollins down for two but Jimmy gets distracted by Reigns and Rollins floors him. Ambrose tags in and goes to work on Jimmy with a chinlock and a stomp from the second rope. Reigns comes in with an elbow drop for two and doesn’t do much else of note. Seth Rollins checks back in and tries for a superplex but gets shoved off and Jimmy hits a high cross body for a double KO. Reigns cuts off the tag with a slam for two and applies a chinlock while Punk tries to wake the crowd up.

Jimmy catches Reigns with an enzuigiri and makes the hot tag to CM Punk, who clears the ring and delivers a neckbreaker to both Ambrose and Rollins at the same time. Brainbuster puts Ambrose down for two, saved by Reigns, so the Usos have to team up to get rid of him. Punk takes out Rollins with a suicide dive but Ambrose gets caught with a right hand when he tries the same thing. Punk hits the Macho Man Elbow for two and looks to finish but Rollins runs interference. He hits the GTS on Ambrose but Reigns had made a blind tag and spears Punk for the win.
Winners: The Shield

-I think there are just way too many tag matches tonight because I’m officially sick of the “tag team formula” match and there’s still an hour left in the show. The match was technically fine and the crowd liked the finish but, seriously, let’s see something different **3/4.

-The Wyatts interrupt a video game promo to talk about recruiting Daniel Bryan.

Natalya & The Bellas vs. AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka & Alicia Fox
Chances of a Michelle Beadle vs. AJ Lee match at WrestleMania? Natalya rolls up Fox for two and falls on top during a slam attempt for another near-fall. Brie tags in but gets yanked off the top rope by Alicia for two. She gets trapped in the heel corner where Tamina (wearing her best hardware store outfit) beats on her. Hey, did you know Tamina is the daughter of Jimmy Snuka? I never heard that one before, Michael Cole…tell me again.

Tamina hits a Samoan drop while the announcers completely ignore the match and AJ tags in. She prances around but gets caught with a dropkick and Brie tags in her surgically enhanced sister Nikki. Nikki tries to finish off AJ but Tamina catches her with a superkick and AJ hits a shining wizard for the win.
Winners: AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka & Alicia Fox

-OK, that’s it. I’ve had enough…no more tag matches. Once you get women involved, it becomes personal. This was pretty standard Divas stuff, which means boring and heatless *.

-Meanwhile, Randy Orton invites all the fans to bend over and kiss his ass…lovely.

Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
What do the announcers do before Daniel Bryan takes on the new undisputed champion? Why, they put over John Cena of course! I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of our favorite overexposed babyface.

Orton and Bryan exchange holds on the mat (in a wrestling match? What are you thinking?) which Bryan dominates, so Randy takes a powder. It seems to work, as Orton takes over and hits a vertical suplex but Bryan quickly recovers and starts working Orton’s leg. A dropkick to the leg puts Orton down and Bryan wraps the injured limb around the ring post for some additional damage. Orton turns the tide and they have a slugfest, which Bryan stops with a running knee lift.

Bryan continues to get a ton of offense and applies an Indian Deathlock, forcing Orton to get desperate and bite Bryan’s knee to force a break. Orton hammers away on Daniel in the corner and tries for a Thesz Press but Bryan rolls though and applies a half-crab. See kids, always go back to the body part you targeted earlier and the crowd will respond.

Orton fights to the ropes to break and floors Bryan with a stiff clothesline to take control. Orton stomps on Bryan’s arm, drawing out a painful scream from Bryan in a nice sell job. Orton gets two with an elbow off the ropes and Randy wrenches the injured arm, made all the better by Bryan’s selling. The Garvin Stomp injures Bryan further but now it’s Daniel’s turn to get desperate, as he bites Orton on the forehead and clotheslines him to the floor. Bryan follows with a dive between the ropes but Orton dodges and Bryan lands on the injured arm as we take a break.

We return with Orton still working the arm and sending Bryan back out to the floor for some more punishment. Orton drops Bryan on the crowd barrier and gets two back inside before placing Bryan on the top rope and bringing him down with a top rope superplex for two. Bryan makes a comeback with a clothesline but he had to use the injured arm and is down as a result. A pair of running dropkicks stun Orton and a top rope hurricanrana gets two for Bryan.

Orton stops the offense with his backbreaker but Bryan still attempts the Yes Lock, forcing Orton to toss him over the top rope. Bryan gets caught on the apron so Randy brings him in with the draping DDT and Orton looks to finish. The RKO is countered to a backslide for two and Bryan quickly follows with a kick to the face for another near-fall. This is really building to quite the finish.

The crowd starts going nuts for Bryan as he heads up to the top rope but Orton crotches him and tries for another superplex. This time, Bryan sees it coming and blocks it, sending Orton to the mat and following with a flying headbutt for yet another near-fall.

Bryan whiffs on a dropkick in the corner, buying Orton some time, so he tries a roll-up. Bryan rolls through though and applies the Yes Lock, forcing Orton to scramble to the ropes and roll to the floor. Bryan follows with another suicide dive and this time it hits. He sends Orton back into the ring and hits a missile dropkick off the top. Bryan kicks away at Orton’s chest but Randy ducks the last one and hits Bryan with a blatant low blow, earning this disqualification.
Winner by DQ: Daniel Bryan

-Of course, John Cena immediately runs out to save Daniel Bryan but eats an RKO for his troubles. The match was a pay-per-view-quality effort, but the crappy finish obviously takes away from it slightly ***3/4.

Final Word
The tag matches tonight were just out of control and I thought that really hurt the show, because you were basically watching the same match over and over again. One of the rules of booking is you never put tag matches back-to-back because the crowd gets burnt out seeing the “babyface gets beat up, makes the hot tag” formula. WWE was blessed with a hot crowd tonight, so that wasn’t very noticeable but I know it was death on me watching it in my living room.

The main event was excellent, but the finish really let me down. I understand you aren’t going to see a clean Bryan win (you should have to pay for that), but the low blow is almost as bad as the intentional count out. Anyways, Bryan as the “scrappy babyface who almost wins” is so played that they either need to give him the big win or let him kick around with the Wyatts until WrestleMania.

-Make sure to follow me on Twitter @MikeShannon22


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