Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of Jan. 13
The best of WWE from the week of Jan. 13 gave fans reason to chant "Yes!"; the week's worst offerings induced yawns and sighs.
Daniel Bryan tore off his Wyatt Family gear a la Superman stripping down to his costume. Two NXT prospects, an ascending tag team and Ryback's lunacy also grabbed fans' attention with standout performances.
All that excitement and the fact that WWE announced the Ultimate Warrior as the first member of the 2014 Hall of Fame class is enough to mostly drown out the worst decisions and setbacks of the week. An injury, a lackluster match and a champion's poor booking inserted a sour taste into the week's highlights.
From Main Event to NXT, Bryan to The Usos, here is a look at what entertained the most and disappointed the most.
Best: Daniel Bryan Breaks Away
The moment came sooner than most expected, but it was still an unforgettable one.
The crowd thundered on Monday's Raw as Daniel Bryan ended his alliance with The Wyatt Family. Just two weeks after joining Bray Wyatt and company, Bryan refused to take the abuse from his new leader and refused to stray from his true self any longer.
He and Wyatt lost a cage match to The Usos. Afterward, Wyatt looked to control and bully Bryan, but "The Flying Goat" broke away.
He knocked Wyatt down to the mat with a flying knee and climbed atop the cage to celebrate with the fans.
Bryan emerges from the truncated story with The Wyatt Family looking stronger, the warrior who could not be tamed. He heads into Royal Rumble armed with momentum and re-establishes himself as the hottest commodity in WWE right now.
Worst: Concussion Tempers Celebration
Before the glow of Daniel Bryan's big night on Monday's Raw could fade, rumors of him suffering a concussion during his cage match surfaced.
Suddenly memories of Dolph Ziggler's long road back to the ring flashed in fans' minds. One hopes that Bryan recovers quickly and that his journey back to the WWE Championship isn't derailed because of this injury.
As we await word, it's hard to savor Bryan's triumphant moment, not knowing if he's going to bounce right back up or struggle to shake off the concussion symptoms.
Best: Adrian Neville vs. Tyler Breeze
The Jan. 15 episode of NXT opened with a match that is proof of the power of simple, effective booking.
The excellence of Tyler Breeze vs. Adrian Neville began weeks ago, when their story first began. Breeze interfered in Neville's match against Bo Dallas, costing him a chance at the NXT Championship. A week later, the two had a showdown backstage where Breeze insulted a seething Neville.
When they finally met on Wednesday's NXT, their match had elevated meaning thanks to that previous animosity.
Breeze and Neville capitalized on that by producing a compelling battle. The selfie-taking Superstar dropkicked Neville midair and rolled out of the way of Red Arrow, nearly capturing the victory afterward.
The action was well-paced and engaged the crowd throughout.
Breeze had his best match to date. Neville continued his recent roll.
"The Man Gravity Forgot" ended up earning his long-awaited payback by scoring a pinfall win. Both men made the case that they deserve more attention from WWE and gave us a preview of the kind of show they could have on the main roster.
Worst: No Title Defense for AJ Lee
With one last Raw before AJ Lee would surpass Maryse as the longest-reigning Divas champ, WWE put her in a tag match rather than have her defend the title.
Giving an opponent a shot to halt AJ's run at history would have been great entertainment. It would have given AJ a chance to pass that record in impressive fashion as she fended off another foe.
Instead, she took part in an everyday tag match with little mention of her nearing the record. The wasted opportunity is an indicator of just how low a priority the Divas division is.
A ready-made story gets passed on, a move that hurts AJ and the prestige of the title itself. If Big E Langston was closing in the Honky Tonk Man's record for holding the Intercontinental Championship, rest assured the powerhouse would be getting far more spotlight.
Best: Ryback Loses It
The only thing certain about Ryback right now is that people are talking about him.
His behavior on Twitter has been bizarre lately, as were his actions on Wednesday's Main Event. Both during and after other Superstars' matches, "The Big Guy" stomped down to ringside and shouted at fans. Yelling, growling, looking ready to explode, Ryback looped around the ring and left.
He did that several times throughout the night.
His instability and his contempt make for a compelling tweak of his character. Eyes are pointed at him; buzz encircles him.
He left fans wanting to know what he'll do next, something than many Superstars can't say.
Worst: Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton
The aftermath of Randy Orton's battle with Kofi Kingston was so entertaining that it's easy to forget how uninteresting the actual bout was.
Kingston scored an upset win over the world champ that ranks as one of the most surprising results in recent memory. Orton then erupted in anger, eventually assaulting John Cena's father to the point that he had to be carried off on a stretcher.
All that was plenty dramatic, but the match that preceded it was slow, uninspired and lacked electricity. Will Pruett of ProWrestling.net tweeted about the match's soporific power.
Orton was not as compelling in his attacks as he has been of late. Kingston has been far better.
Fortunately for WWE, the excitement of the result and post-match happenings will overshadow the week's most disappointing matchup.
Best: The Usos Emerge
The Usos' successes this week suggest that 2014 is going to be a big year for the tag team.
On Friday's SmackDown, they had a standout match against Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. On Monday's Raw, they topped that with a great effort in a cage match against Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt.
Their speed and athletic ability seemed an odd fit for the brutality of the cage, but The Usos looked at home, both in the steel confines and under the bright lights of the main event.
WWE even offered the brothers some promo time before that bout and delivered. Not known as great talkers, The Usos gave off a compelling energy.
The team looked far more than an exciting pair of high flyers; they looked like future champions.