WWE Week in Review, Jan. 18: Daniel Bryan Returns to Form, the Usos Shine
With the Royal Rumble pay-per-view next weekend, a number of Superstars announced their intentions to compete in the annual Battle Royal this past week. The last seven days of WWE programming have been full of fun and have given fans a good glimpse of what the road to WrestleMania 30 is sure to entail.
Daniel Bryan finally broke away from The Wyatt Family at the conclusion of this week’s Raw, leading the entire arena in a massive “YES!” chant. However, will his recent concussion have any effect on his plans to participate in the Royal Rumble match?
Although The Authority was once again absent from WWE TV this past week, its presence was certainly felt when CM Punk called the group out on SmackDown. How will HHH respond to Punk’s proposed conspiracies upon his return to Raw?
Speaking of returns, we are only mere days away until Batista makes his long-awaited comeback to the WWE. Whom will he set his sights on first, and is Alberto Del Rio in any potential danger after promising to tame The Animal?
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.
Match of the Week: Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan vs. The Usos (Raw, Jan. 13)
When Daniel Bryan first joined The Wyatt Family on the final Raw of 2013, I was intrigued as ever. However, WWE dropped the ball on the program big time by having The Wyatt Family lose the very next week.
Although they lost another two matches on this week's edition of Raw, it was for good reason. The opening match between The Usos and Bryan with Bray Wyatt was good, but the non-finish was disappointing.
However, it was rectified later in the night when a rematch was announced for the main event, this time taking place inside the confines of a steel cage. It was a highly entertaining match where both teams shined, although the fans were still very much behind Bryan despite the fact he was supposed to be a heel.
Following The Usos' monumental victory, Bray once again looked to unleash his anger on Bryan. However, WWE's resident "YES!" man would have nothing off it, knocking Bray out cold with a running knee and returning to his true form in the process.
Superstar of the Week: The Usos
More often than not, the Superstar of the Week is only one individual, but I thought it would be fitting to make an exception for The Usos, who are coming off one of the best weeks of their careers.
In the opening contest on Raw, they scored a disqualification win over the twisted team of Daniel Bryan and Bray Wyatt. If that wasn't enough, they went on to have a great matchup later on in the night against the same duo inside a steel cage and emerged victorious above all odds.
Their victory over The Real Americans four days later on SmackDown was only icing on the cake. With a win in the main event of the flagship show, how long will it be before The Usos finally get what they deserve and capture the WWE Tag Team Championships?
Show of the Week: Monday Night Raw, Jan. 13
Going into this week's episode of Monday Night Raw, I will admit that I didn't have high expectations. With Old School Raw last week and the return of Batista next week (and then the Royal Rumble shortly thereafter), I didn't expect this week's Raw to be anything special.
Never before have I been happier to have been wrong.
It was a night full of surprises that kept the strong momentum going from the last few entertaining episodes. From Ultimate Warrior being announced as the latest inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame to the New Age Outlaws turning on CM Punk, quite a bit transpired that helped set the stage for what is to come.
WWE Main Event was forgettable and Friday Night SmackDown was decent at best, so this one is a no-brainer. Sure, the hype for the Royal Rumble match could have been better, but that is my only complaint coming out of this show.
Here's hoping WWE can deliver a strong go-home show as the Royal Rumble pay-per-view quickly approaches.
This Week's Highlights
Ultimate Warrior to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame: As a fan of the Ultimate Warrior, I am ecstatic to see him back in the good graces of WWE and that he will be finally entering the Hall of Fame this year. Say what you will, but he is definitely deserving of a spot in the hall of immortals for leaving a lasting impact on the business and being the icon that he was. Now if we can only get Randy Savage in...
New Age Outlaws: I feel stupid for not thinking earlier of the possibility of the New Age Outlaws joining The Authority given their history with Triple H. Their betrayal of CM Punk on Raw was very well done and came as a pleasant surprise. I look forward to their rumored tag team title match against Cody Rhodes and Goldust at the Royal Rumble event.
John Cena vs. Damien Sandow: Needless to say, I found their match for the World Heavyweight Championship back in October more enjoyable, if only because we had reason to believe that Sandow might actually win, but this was still a very good Raw match. Sandow got in plenty of offense over Cena, even though it was painfully predictable that Cena was coming out with the victory.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio: These two have always worked well together dating back to their 2010 rivalry, and their latest two encounters were no exceptions. I found their SmackDown match to be the more exciting of the two (particularly the final few minutes), but Mysterio's win did no damage to Del Rio's momentum given that Del Rio attacked him afterward anyway.
Kofi Kingston: Kingston was the last person I ever expected to be the one to score an upset victory over WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton. OK, maybe not the last person (JTG takes that title), but his clean win still shocked me. He followed it up with an nice win over Curtis Axel on Main Event to boot. If past pushes of Kingston's are any indication, though, I don't expect his winning ways to continue much longer.
This Week's Low Points
Big Show vs. Jack Swagger: This was your basic squash match, which wasn't surprising since it was meant to highlight Show's dominance going into his upcoming match against Brock Lesnar. I have been enjoying his serious side in recent weeks, but was there any real reason for him to knock out Zeb Colter after the bout concluded? Seriously, what did Colter ever do to him? Way to "be a star," Show.
Big E Langston vs. Fandango: It was a fine match for what it was, but it was nothing compared to their title match from a few weeks ago. Fandango has fallen far since his win over Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29 (that goes without saying), while Langston needs fresh faces to defend his Intercontinental Championship against.
Ryback: I have found Ryback's recent rants on Twitter to be absolutely hysterical, and I like the fact that he is bringing his crazy persona to television, but his constant "trolling" on this week's Main Event was just plain overkill. Interfering in one match was enough, interfering in four was extremely obnoxious. And this is coming from a Ryback fan. I want to see The Big Guy succeed, but is it really that hard for WWE Creative to give him a consistent character that he can stick with?
3MB: What was the point of 3MB losing a 2-on-3 Handicap match to the Prime Time Players in a matter of minutes only to place them in a six-man tag team match against Los Matadores immediately after? Both matches were a waste of time, and seeing 3MB face Los Matadores for the millionth time was nothing new. The Prime Time Players should be involved in the tag team title hunt, not this garbage.
Royal Rumble match hype: We are only a little over a week away until the Royal Rumble, and the hype for the Rumble match has left a lot to be desired thus far. Sure, we have a handful of names confirmed for the match, but that isn't enough to get viewers excited for it. Thankfully, there is still time to right this wrong and make the match feel meaningful.
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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.