WWE Week in Review, March 22: Triple H Brutalizes Daniel Bryan, Naomi Returns
It was another wild week in the WWE, with the road to WrestleMania 30 heating up and more matches being confirmed for the event. From the stellar segment that closed Raw to the shocking face turn of The Shield, it's an exciting time to be a wrestling fan right now.
Triple H announced on Monday night that the winner of his match against Daniel Bryan will be entered into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania. Now that the complexion of the contest has completely changed, how will Bryan overcome the odds to win back the prestigious prize?
On Tuesday night's WWE Main Event broadcast, Undertaker made a rare appearance to warn Paul Heyman of his return to Raw this coming Monday night. How will Brock Lesnar react, and what does he have in store for The Deadman?
Kane and The New Age Outlaws laid a brutal beating on The Shield on SmackDown to avenge his attack from this week's Raw. How will the rogue trio exact revenge on Kane and company?
I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing all of WWE's weekly programs and occasional pay-per-views, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, I will give an award to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton (Raw, March 17)
Regardless of how many times they face off, I will never get bored of seeing Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton in the same ring together. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the third or fourth time they have earned the award for Match of the Week in last nine months or so.
One would think their matches would have grown tiresome by now, but these two continue to find new and innovative ways to make their matches entertaining. Much like their brawl from the June 24 edition of Raw in 2013, Orton and Bryan fought under no-disqualification rules on Monday night.
Once again, they didn't disappoint by making great use of the extreme environment that surrounded them. It was obvious based off the stipulation that Batista would be interfering to avenge the RKO he ate at the hands of Orton earlier on, so his Batista Bomb on Orton allowed Bryan to pick up yet another victory over the WWE World Heavyweight champion.
What's next for these three going into WrestleMania?
Superstar of the Week: Naomi
It's rare for a Diva to win the award for Superstar of the Week (the only other woman to do so has been Natalya thus far), so I thought it'd be appropriate to give the nod to Naomi this week since no one else seemed to rise to the occasion in the last seven days. Coming off an eye injury she sustained last month, Naomi returned to the ring this past Monday night on Raw looking better than ever.
She and Cameron, collectively known as The Funkadactlys, reunited to defeat AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka in tag team action. They had similar success on WWE Main Event, knocking off the duo of Alicia Fox and Layla.
With a win over the Divas champion on the flagship show, one can only assume that a Divas Championship match is in Naomi's immediate future.
Show of the Week: Monday Night Raw, March 17
Monday Night Raw has been running away with the Show of the Week award for the last month now, and it's hard to argue against it. The WrestleMania 30 card has really started to shape up in recent weeks, and a lot of that can be contributed to the happenings from Raw.
The program has been enjoyable to sit through from start to finish in recent weeks, and this past week's episode was no exception. It was once again built around the drama surrounding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at WrestleMania and the potential involvement of Daniel Bryan and Triple H.
The show kicked off with an Evolution reunion of sorts, featured an excellent match between Bryan and Randy Orton and closed out with HHH brutally beating Bryan to no end. It made for riveting television and one of the best conclusions to Raw in recent months.
As The Show of Shows continues to draw near, I look forward to what else WWE might have in store in the weeks to come.
This Week's Highlights
Triple H and Daniel Bryan segment
I'll admit it: I, like many others, have grown tired of seeing Bryan beaten down week in and week out, but this was so excellently executed that there's no way not to love it. For the first time in as long as I can remember, HHH wasn't a shades-of-gray character on Monday night. He was a dastardly heel, and both he and Stephanie McMahon played their roles to perfection. This is the kind of fire I want to see from The Authority on a weekly basis and none of that pandering to the crowd garbage. Bryan was also great in coming off as sympathetic as well.
The Real Americans vs. The Usos
The Real Americans have too much chemistry as a team to break up at this point, and this match was proof of that. They showed no signs of dissension and were business as usual by having a fun match with The Usos and ultimately picking up the victory. Cesaro will be a breakout babyface before long, but it's matches like these that show that there is a lot of untapped potential in The Real Americans.
The Real Americans vs. Cody Rhodes and Goldust
Similar to their match with The Usos, The Real Americans had a highly enjoyable match with the Rhodes brothers on WWE Main Event. They were given great time and worked in innovative spots that separated this match from their past encounters. The fact the Rhodes brothers picked up the win gives me hope we'll see them in the Tag title match at WrestleMania after all, but I guess only time will tell.
The Undertaker and Paul Heyman segment
It was cool for Undertaker to make an appearance on Main Event for the first time this past week. It felt like a special moment and made the show must-see TV for once. Heyman was good in his usual role, and while I wish 'Taker would have spoken more on his upcoming match with Brock Lesnar, it was nice of him to even show up. I look forward to seeing him coming face-to-face with Lesnar on next week's Raw.
John Cena vs. Luke Harper
Although the match was only eight minutes long, Cena and Harper made the most of it and developed very good chemistry together. Harper looked very impressive in defeat and wasn't damaged by the loss at all. My only complaint is that the match didn't go longer, but I have a feeling we'll see them face off in a rematch on an upcoming episode of Raw anyway.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Damien Sandow
Both characters are in desperate need of wins at the moment, but they work well together in the ring and had a good match. The victory didn't do a lot to boost the momentum of Ziggler, but it was enough to keep his recent winning streak alive and keep on the right track going into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania.
Sheamus vs. Aiden English
I was very glad to not see Sheamus completely destroy English in their match on NXT. Instead, WWE allowed English to get in some offense on the Celtic Warrior. They were given plenty of time to shine, and English looked credible in defeat. Bonus points to Sheamus' entertaining singing that took place before the bout.
This Week's Low Points
Sheamus vs. Titus O'Neil
Didn't O'Neil break away from Darren Young a few months ago so he could be pushed as a singles star? That hasn't been the case as of late and certainly not on Raw when he was pummeled by Sheamus. I expected some holiday silliness on St. Patrick's Day, and I didn't even mind Hornswoggle's appearance, but this was a throwaway match and a complete waste of Titus' talents.
Goldust vs. Fandango
Remember when Cody Rhodes and Goldust were the best thing going only a few short months ago? Those were the days. It's mind-boggling to me why WWE continues to waste them for no apparent reason when they could be chasing the Tag Team titles. This match was clunky, and I'm not even sure what purpose it was supposed to serve aside from killing time.
Big Show vs. Titus O'Neil
This was even more of squash than O'Neil's match against Sheamus was. The only thing worth noting about this match was that O'Neil was able to hit his finisher on Show. As impressive as that was, Show continued to dominate O'Neil, regardless. Show garnered nothing from the victory, and I could name at least a dozen other people that could have taken the loss here instead of O'Neil.
Fernando vs. Fandango
What incentive did viewers have to care about this match? Both of them are jokes at the moment, and the match was a total afterthought. I'm sure some kids in the crowd found El Torito chasing the red dress-wearing Summer Rae funny, but it didn't prevent this match from being a total waste of time on this week's SmackDown.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Big E
I don't understand WWE's logic in jobbing out midcard champions. The company did it with United States champion Dean Ambrose for the longest time, and now it's doing it with Big E. The match was nothing out of the ordinary, but it would have been nice for Big E to pick up the victory here instead. Big E should be defending his Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, not participating in a Battle Royal where he'll probably be among the first ones eliminated anyway.
Natalya vs. Alicia Fox
On an hour-long show that is filled with Raw recaps, one would think that WWE could cut one or two out to allow a match to go a bit longer. That certainly wasn't the case with this match. It lasted only a few minutes, and the finish seemed to come out of nowhere. It was a nice win for Natalya, but what does it really mean in the grand scheme of things? To top it all off, Natalya's post-match promo with Jerry Lawler at the top of the stage was awkward and a bad attempt at plugging Total Divas.
Mojo Rawley vs. Bull Dempsey
While I enjoy Rawley's enthusiasm, his in-ring skills still leave a lot to be desired. He has improved in the ring in recent months, but this mediocre match didn't do him many favors. His current feud with CJ Parker gives him something to do, but it sure seems like an odd clash of styles.
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Graham Mirmina, aka 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.