WWE Week in Review, April 12: Daniel Bryan Wins Gold, the Streak Is Broken
This past week in wrestling saw new champions crowned, an illustrious undefeated streak broken at the hands of a beast, an iconic legend pass away and a dawning of a new era. When taking everything into account, it was a historic seven days to say the very least.
In the main event of WrestleMania 30, Daniel Bryan achieved the impossible when he emerged victorious in a Triple Threat match to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Now that Bryan has finally overcome The Authority, who be will be first to challenge him for the title?
On that same night, The Undertaker saw his lengthy unbeaten streak at the event come to an end thanks to Brock Lesnar. What's next for The Beast Incarnate, and more importantly, has 'Taker wrestled his final match?
Monday's Raw saw several talents make their respective debuts, including Paige, who shockingly beat AJ Lee for the Divas Championship. When will their inevitable rematch take place, and does Paige's arrival signal the start of something new in the Divas division?
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: Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania 30)
Following his victory over Triple H in the opening match at WrestleMania 30 to earn his entry into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match, Daniel Bryan was brutally attacked by The Game, going into the main event at a severe disadvantage. However, that didn't stop him from giving it his all anyway, as he pushed Batista and Randy Orton to their respective limits in their Triple Threat match.
Every time Bryan came close to winning the gold, his pinfall or submission attempt would be broken up by Batista, Orton of the interfering Authority. A common goal among them all was to take out Bryan, but they were unsuccessful.
After taking a nasty bump through a commentating table at ringside, Bryan was nearly taken out on a stretcher, but he refused. Despite being against all odds, Bryan forced The Animal to tap out to win back the prestigious prize.
It took us a long time to get here, but Bryan is finally world champion again. Yes! Yes! Yes!
Superstar of the Week: Daniel Bryan
There were several Superstars who shined brightly over the last week, but seriously, does anyone deserve this award more than Daniel Bryan? At WrestleMania 30, Bryan achieved the impossible when he defeated Triple H to earn entry into the Triple Threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship later in the night.
There, Bryan overcame the odds and took back the prestigious prize after forcing Batista to submit to his signature "Yes!" Lock. On the next night's Raw, Bryan kicked off the show to a loud reaction from the New Orleans crowd and ended it standing alongside The Shield as they rid the ring of The Authority.
They accomplished the same feat on SmackDown days later. To top it all off, he tied the knot with Brie Bella on Friday!
Show of the Week: WWE WrestleMania 30
After CM Punk departed WWE in late January, many fans speculated that WrestleMania 30 would be one of the worst of all time. Even up until a few weeks ago, members of the WWE Universe were skeptical whether it would succeed or fail in living up to the hype.
When all was said and done on Sunday, I most certainly say it did. Unlike the 25th anniversary of WrestleMania, WrestleMania 30 felt special and delivered more than enough 'Mania moments that will be remembered for years to come.
From the amazing opening segment featuring Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin to Daniel Bryan winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship to The Undertaker's illustrious undefeated streak coming to an end, it was an unforgettable night. One can also argue that it was the end of one era and the start of another.
Whatever the case, after months and months of mediocrity, I am excited for the future of WWE and the youth movement that now appears to be in full effect.
This Week's Highlights
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H
I was as surprised as anyone when HHH put himself in the opening match of a WrestleMania, so kudos to him for that and for doing the honors for Bryan. The match was slow paced early on, but they eventually found their groove and delivered an excellent match. Both competitors pulled moves out of their respective arsenals that we don't see too often, and HHH sold very well for Bryan. Say what you will about HHH the wrestler, but HHH the businessman truly knows what is best for business.
Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock segment
I was excited to hear last weekend that Austin and Rock would be a part of WrestleMania 30, but I didn't know in what capacity. Having three of the biggest icons in the business in the last 30 years come face to face to face was perfect for the premiere pay-per-view and made for one heck of a segment. Even Hogan's "Silverdome" botch turned out to be the highlight of it all. What a way to set the tone for the rest of the show.
This man was involved in so much greatness this past week that I figured I'd clump it all into one. First, his face turn on the WrestleMania 30 pre-show after a strong performance in the WWE Tag Team Championship match was great. That wasn't all, however, as he resurfaced later in the night in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and won it after throwing Big Show over the top rope!
The next night on Raw, he proclaimed himself the newest "Paul Heyman Guy," severed ties with The Real Americans and beat Jack Swagger by count-out. Finally, on SmackDown, Cesaro picked up a victory over Big Show by disqualification before slamming him down to the mat with a massive Neutralizer. World championship gold is in Cesaro's future, there is no doubt about that.
Paige vs. AJ Lee
A lot of people have differing opinions on this, but I personally loved it. There was no better place to debut Paige on the main roster than on the post-WrestleMania Raw in front of a pro-smarky crowd that popped big when she showed up.
Yes, the match was only a minute long and she won the Divas Championship on her first night, but it saves the rematch for Extreme Rules, and her impromptu title win felt like a major moment that made her a star her first night in. The video package highlighting Paige that aired on SmackDown indicates that business is about to pick up in the Divas division.
Paul Heyman promo
The streak being broken is a whole other argument (more on that in the Low Points), but the biggest benefit to it ending was the gem of a promo Heyman delivered on Raw the night after WrestleMania. We all know Heyman is a master on the mic, but this promo took it to a new level. Only Heyman could cut a promo so glorious that he can get himself booed in front of a crowd that desperately wanted to cheer him. Breaking the streak was worth it for this promo alone. If you haven't seen it yet, you're doing yourself a major injustice.
Their match against Kane and The New Age Outlaws at WrestleMania was exactly what it needed to be: quick and painless. Did it really need to be a long, drawn-out match? They deserved better on the grand stage, I agree, but at least they looked dominant on Sunday night. Furthermore, they stood tall on Raw, Main Event and SmackDown in the nights that followed, starting a war with The Authority. As faces, the members of The Shield will be money. Mark my words.
Rob Van Dam returns
RVD's comeback on this week's Raw was somewhat overshadowed by everything else that went down, but I'm glad to see him back in the WWE fold. He had nice matches with Damien Sandow on Raw and SmackDown, but here's hoping Creative finds a feud for him soon so he isn't without direction this time around.
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family
I was fearful that they wouldn't surpass their prior two encounters on this week's Main Event, and while they didn't end up surpassing their past bouts, they certainly came close. The action was rapid and exciting toward the end, and I was happy to see The Shield finally get one over The Wyatt Family. Main Event is finally worth watching again.
Bad News Barrett
I was disappointed not to see him in the Battle Royal at 'Mania (why did David Otunga get a spot over him?) but was super psyched to see him make his in-ring re-debut the next night on Raw. He had a fun match with Rey Mysterio and beat him along with Kofi Kingston on SmackDown. The gimmick is entertaining, but it will unfortunately not get him where he needs to be: the main event scene.
Not everyone will be enthralled by Rusev, but I was impressed by his Raw debut this past week when he squashed Zack Ryder. He has a good look and is very dominant in the squared circle, but let's just hope he isn't the next Vladimir Kozlov. I look forward to what he and the rest of the NXT newcomers bring to the table.
This Week's Low Points
The Ultimate Warrior passes
Mere days after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, appearing at WrestleMania 30 and returning to Raw for the first time in 18 years, Warrior passed away on Tuesday night at the age of 54. It was a shocking and saddening turn of events, and as a huge fan of him, I was very upset upon hearing the news.
On the bright side, he went out on the highest note possible and left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten. I'll always believe.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
I enjoyed the build to this match more than any other on the card (with the exception of Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H) and had high hopes for the in-ring action. While they told a solid story during the bout, it wasn't the one that this feud was built around going into the event. It felt like it came out of nowhere.
I'm not the typical anti-Cena fan who will claim he "buried" Wyatt by beating him, but still, what was the point in Cena going over here? He gained nothing from the victory, whereas Wyatt had everything to gain. They recovered from this nicely on Raw and SmackDown, but the 'Mania bout didn't meet my lofty expectations.
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
First, let me say that while I'm among the majority of fans who believe the streak should have never ended, I'm fine with it. I actually think WrestleMania wouldn't have been as memorable as it was as a whole had Undertaker won here, especially after that match. The shock value was tremendous, but that's not why this in the Low Points column.
It's here because the match was slow, plodding and just downright boring. It wasn't terrible by any means, but it certainly wasn't the Undertaker match we're used to getting on The Grandest Stage of Them All each year. I understand he suffered a concussion early on, but the match just didn't click for this viewer. I surely hope that wasn't his last match, as his final in-ring appearance should come in a much more meaningful way.
Jack Swagger vs. Dolph Ziggler
The match was decent while it lasted, but these two are capable of much more than just a four-minute match. They work so well together, but this contest just felt rushed. It's strange to see Ziggler lose so decisively after being built up going into WrestleMania. As for Swagger, it was a nice win for his character, but after his feud with Cesaro runs its course, I'm fairly certain he'll be back to being an enhancement talent before long.
Los Matadores vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback
I had my filling of these two joke tandems at WrestleMania, so seeing them again on SmackDown made me cringe a bit. Neither team has any meaning at the moment, thus this was a pointless contest. We have seen them clash countless times in the past, and their matches are never any different. What's worse is that Ryback and Axel recently debuted new mashed-up entrance music, which means they probably won't be splitting up any time soon. Spare me, please.
Fandango vs. Santino Marella
Why is this feud still a thing? The battle of the comic relief does nothing for this viewer and only takes up time on the main shows. The only saving grace of this segment was that Layla debuted as Fandango's new dancing partner. I love this move because it gives Layla more television time and allows Summer Rae to break off and do her own thing. Now, why can't the same be done with Emma?
Bo Dallas vs. Justin Gabriel
I was surprised by just how boring this match ended up being. Gabriel is very fun to watch in the ring, and Dallas has had several great matches as of late, but I guess their varying in-ring styles didn't mesh well. The match well overstayed its welcome and didn't feel like a main event at all. Dallas picking up the win was logical, but what's next for his character? I know he's main roster-bound, so I look forward to seeing how his call-up is handed from a storyline standpoint on NXT.
Kofi Kingston vs. Titus O'Neil
This was another example of two good workers who don't have good chemistry together. Kingston hasn't had any substantial credibility in ages, whereas O'Neil is still trying to establish himself as a singles competitor, so a win for O'Neil here was logical. However, the match itself left a lot to be desired.
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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.