THE RAGER! – The Thanksgiving Special (The Shield, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan)

Normally here on THE RAGER, the week after a pay per view, I devote the entire column to that particular show and give all my thoughts on what occurred. However, seeing the time of year it is and combined with the fact that every time I think about this year’s Survivor Series, I get a little depressed when I get to the ending. And yes, there were some very good parts that I very much enjoyed like the elimination tag match (not the Divas), Punk and Bryan facing the Wyatts (because it’s Punk and Bryan), and I’m a sucker for anything involving Big E these days. The rest either triggered a depression that would render me speechless or I just didn’t care about one way or the other.

So with that out of the way, I compiled a list of things that I’m currently thankful for in WWE. Of course, we should always be mindful of the negatives that are also associated with this holiday and with WWE. Just as the horrible atrocity that was the treatment of Native Americans by the early settlers, we must also be reminded of the horrific rejuvenation of the Cena/Orton that will loom over us all this year. However, under those dire circumstances, I offer my humble choice of positives for us all to focus upon.

1. Tag Teams. We’re easily in a much improved tag division and the vast majority of the credit has to lay on shoulders of the members of The Shield. As Cole drove into the ground this past Sunday, The Shield made the debut a year ago and have constantly been in the upper mid-card and kept our attention and interest even with lesser opponents that I didn’t necessarily care for (main one that comes to mind would be Big Show, Randy Orton and Sheamus at WM29). And it’s because of them, we have a reinvestment in the tag team division and a rejuvenation of already existing tag teams. How many good matches can you think of that involved the Usos in the 2 years they’ve been with WWE before Shield debut? I honestly can’t think of any and I actually liked them somewhat back then as well. However, since their debut Shield’s match against Usos at the Money in the Bank preshow was a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed just about every match they’ve had since then. And think about CoDust. Yes, they would’ve had a big reaction when both men returned at Battleground but would that match have been THAT special if Shield wasn’t involved? I don’t know the answer for sure but the status of the Shield that they have built has to be taken into account of how much of an accomplishment it felt like it was for CoDust to beat them. There’s so many good tag teams that either wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t get as much exposure because of Shield. Of course, the antithesis of everything I just said would be 3MB and the gimmick of Los Matadores (although I still stand firm on liking them in the ring and that El Tortio should be the new Sin Cara) and I guess we can still count Tons of Awful, right? But that’s 3 not-so-good teams compared to the 7 really good teams that we all enjoy right now (Shield, Wyatts, Usos, Real Americans, Bryan and Punk, CoDust, Primetime Players).

Fun note: Epico and Primo are STILL listed on the roster on WWE.com.

2. We’ve still got CM Punk. What else do you really need to say, right? Sure 6 months of his 2013 has been spent on a Paul Heyman feud that probably should’ve lasted maybe 3 or 4 but it’s still Punk and he still finds ways to get us all invested. Out of the 5 matches I most enjoyed in 2013 thus far, CM Punk was in 3 of them. That’s (no particular order) Punk vs Taker at WM29, Punk vs Cena (to determine who would face Rock at WM29), Daniel Bryan vs Antonio Cesaro on Raw (the 2nd match of a gauntlet), Punk vs Lesnar, and Daniel Bryan vs John Cena. It astounds me that after having such a long title reign and all the other matches he’s been through in his entire career, he’s still producing some of his best work and easily some of the best work on WWE television.

3.We’ll always have Summerslam 2013. Of course the entire pay per view wasn’t astounding by any stretch but the two main events were great enough to make this probably the best one of the year (not like that’s saying much this year). If I’m speaking to anyone that’s remotely familiar with professional wrestling, I could easily gush for hours and hours about those two matches. I’m already having the hardest time picking between the two for match of the year. As of right now, I think Punk/Lesnar is barely beating Cena/Bryan in my mind. If you would like to try to convince me one way or the other, I’ll gladly listen to your reasons.

4. We got a break from Sheamus. Before anyone jumps on my back, of course I would never wish injury on another person, I’m not THAT much of a monster. However, it did feel like a lot of us were burnt out on Sheamus, especially when he’s lesser Cena with an accent. And yes, we all probably would’ve preferred a longer break from Cena but I’ll take what I can get. My one hope is that WWE tries something different for whenever Sheamus comes back (probably Rumble).

5. Reasons Why Big Show Cries. Yeah, it’s not really anything to do with WWE itself but I’ve never laughed harder at a string of comments like you guys did on that 10 Thoughts. Cheers, friends.

6. The Investment into Good Young Talent. I’m finding it hard to come up with a debut of an NXT person that fell completely flat lately. Curtis Axel was a bust but for reasons I can’t justify, I don’t put him in that category. The Wyatts, Xavier Woods (so far), Big E Langston, and The Shield have struck gold so far with a lot of other promising talent very close to moving up from NXT. FCW was fine but for some reason, HHH’s version of NXT seems to be more (sorry) cerebral and much more successful when it comes to developing young talent. Sure, a lot of the guys like Seth and Dean were established long before NXT, that can’t be denied nor can the luck of WWE just finding a good batch of wrestlers around the same time. This is an interesting time in the history of WWE and even if there’s still segments and feuds that I can’t stand, I’m encouraged by what I see whenever I read about or catch a match or two on NXT.

7. The astounding rise of Daniel Bryan. I mean, what can you sing the praises of something that’s been deservedly praised to no end? Of course, none of us are exactly happy with him taken away from the title picture and replaced by Big Show and now Cena. However, the live audience simply refuses to allow WWE to ever forget about Daniel Bryan and probably won’t change anytime soon plus, watching he and Punk together is a ton of fun and that’s kinda the purpose of this whole wrestling thing. I still hold onto the firm belief and hope that Bryan will find his way back to the title picture (winner of the Rumble, most likely) soon but, if by some demonic chance that he doesn’t, remember that we’ll always have Summerslam 2013.

I really wanted to include Dolph somewhere in this list but every time I try to come up with something, I’m reminded of how quickly he was taken out of the WHC scene and how quickly he was put into the dumbest matches against Sandow. And now I’m thinking about how bummed I am about Sandow now too. I should end this quickly…

Have a great Thanksgiving with those closest to you. I know it will be a special one for the Sanders house and I hope yours will be as well.

Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do twice,
Chris.

The Answer: “So Big E Langston fights like he’s going on a month long vacation and trying to make all of the luggage his carry on.” – Joelson F. Leonard

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