Guys and Divas #10: The Conspiracy Concoction Shenanigan (Daniel Bryan, Summer Rae, Sin Cara, Big E Langston)

Hello and hi, everyone!

(Some said it couldn’t be done, but here we are with me saying…) Welcome to WEEK TEN(!) of “Guys and Divas”; the only column on Inside Pulse Wrestling that did a thing the others didn’t. (Yeah. Week ten…or more like WEAK ten!–Am I right, guys?)

The WWE seems to have cemented its new A-list ladies in this week’s “Divas”; plus, something else happens in “The Bonus Ball”.

BUT FIRST(!), a lot of narrative balls [hold for laughter] got rolling this past Monday and it’s all open for discussion and rampant speculation in this week’s…

GUYS

After two weeks of pretty thorough garbage, this week’s Raw was a breath of fresh air. No gimmicks, no guest hosts, just the show we love (for the most part).

At the risk of recapping (a job that multiple people now hold here at IPW) and the certainty of this week’s first bullet-pointed list(!), here’s where we stood as the screen faded to black Monday night:

  • Daniel Bryan and CM Punk will both be in 3-on-1 Handicap Matches at TLC, against The Wyatt Family and The Shield respectively.
  • John Cena vs. Randy Orton is now officially a title unification match, where The Authority assures us there can be only ONE winner when all is said and done.
  • Big E Langston will defend his recently won Intercontinental Championship against Damien Sandow at TLC.

It must be said: having what could be argued as the top stories in the company all set to ignite with two weeks to go until our final pay-per-view of the year is pretty fantastic, especially considering the dreadful rush job that was last month’s Survivor Series booking.

At the top, we have our Title Unification bout between Cena and Orton, which–no matter how you feel about either man–has some really intriguing implications. Whether or not those implications will be made manifest is still a matter of debate; particularly with the repeated insistence of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon that at the conclusion of the TLC pay-per-view, there can be only one top champion.

Not to go on too much of a tangent (apologies for last week’s “Alias” ramble), but I finally got around to watching Sarah Silverman’s new HBO stand-up special “We Are Miracles” last night. It was a delight (as if there was any doubt), but one of the concepts discussed in the special was the idea of creating doubt where none would naturally occur. Per her example, it’s as if one is getting into the shower and their roommate calls out that the showerer (if you will) needn’t worry that the roommate will read their diary. Why would the showerer have even thought that?–Quite simply, they wouldn’t.

So, by that line of logic, why would WWE insist on repeating the idea that THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE WINNER?

I draw your attention to a very thought-provoking comment on last week’s column from a reader known as Starcade:

“[It] really makes me wonder if I can call the finish at TLC…

Both men on the ladder, opposite sides. Tussle at the top, both fall off…

… each holding the other’s belt.

Meaning, I would assume, Cena is WWE Champ, Orton is WHC — which is probably what they had in mind in the first damn place.”

Has all of our intrigue been for naught? Is all of this pomp and ceremony just a long-winded setup to a simple case of the old switcheroo?–I can’t decide if, were this to truly be the result, I would feel duped and betrayed or if I would have to hand it to WWE Creative and give them a respectful golf applause?

Meanwhile as seeds of doubt are sown in our main event, we have our hard-bitten heroes CM Punk and Daniel Bryan going down separate but VERY similar paths, taking on the two most dominant trios in the company today.

In the former case, I’m as giddy as anyone to watch arguably the best worker in WWE today (Punk) take on three of the most promising faces of the next generation (The Shield); particularly the ever-impressive Roman Reigns, whose star has risen considerably on the merits of his deliciously destructive performances at Survivor Series and the following night’s Raw. Whether or not the looming presence of The Authority’s possible involvement in this plot comes to fruition, we can be safely assured that we’re getting a potential classic a week from this Sunday.

As for Daniel Bryan’s current entanglement with the Wyatts, while I’m sure the resulting Handicap bout will be a fun watch, this feels more like a story than a rivalry. In fact, I think we may have finally arrived at the true purpose of the mysterious bearded clan’s presence in the WWE Universe. After months and countless cryptic catchphrases, it’s time for everything to come together; and if I may be so bold, I think the comparable conundrums of our favorite Ring of Honor alums are one and the same.

Roll with me on this.

CM Punk trash talks Triple H last week, and shortly thereafter is brutalized by The Shield. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan is carried away by the Wyatts for an undisclosed amount of time, after which he is left in a random supermarket parking lot (admittedly, a weak throwaway explanation; thanks, WWE) with no memory of what has occurred between his match and that moment.

This past Monday, Punk takes to the ring and accuses The Authority of siccing the Hounds of Justice upon him for his derogatory comments about The Game. Stephanie–via Corporate/Citizen/Director of Operations/Whatever Kane–vehemently denies any involvement in the attack, but places Punk in his impending 3-on-1 shenanigan just for sh!ts and giggles.

Later that night, Daniel Bryan faces Erick (can’t believe that’s how I have to spell that) Rowan and afterward is the subject of a (dynamite) promo from family leader Bray Wyatt. Bray tags up on his Smackdown promo, implying that he has somehow already affected Daniel in ways of which he may not even be aware and casually throws in a comment regarding Bryan’s fiancé Brie Bella for good measure. Bray is sure Daniel will soon be joining the family, following buzzards and whatnot.

This is where things get interesting.

Let’s say next Monday, Punk continues to suspect the Authority’s involvement in his current quarrel with The Shield, to which they continue to deny, deny, deny. Meanwhile, Daniel grows more and more concerned about what influences the Wyatts may have already subconsciously had on him. It obsesses him and fuels his desire to take on the family at TLC. Bray sees this and continues to manipulate our Goatfaced hero, perhaps even targeting his beloved fiancé Brie as a means to hit him where it hurts.

At TLC, Punk faces the Shield; but win or lose, he still believes the Authority is playing games with him. Bryan faces the Wyatts, and comes close to finally trouncing these monstrous men…but when it comes time to finish the job…he can’t. Something won’t let him. He simply stops…and walks away, into the proverbial waiting arms of a triumphant Bray Wyatt. He has finally joined the family.

“But Jeff, where does Punk come in?”

Oh, dear reader…it’s only just begun.

Punk’s suspicions of the Authority’s treacheries toward him make him a major thorn in the side of Triple H and Stephanie. While still denying any involvement in The Shield’s attack, they’ve had enough. They enlist the help of any number of heels to dispatch of the Best in the World. Concurrently, Daniel Bryan and his newfound family run rampant over the roster. The underdog has finally become the monster his charismatic new leader Bray once promised.

At the Royal Rumble, Punk possibly faces an Authority-recruited opponent; but as it should be, the real story is the Royal Rumble Match itself, where Daniel Bryan is the last man standing and is on his way to Wrestlemania to face the Undisputed WWE Champion (which is what the belt should be; those poll results were EXTRA-suspect on Monday). For this scenario, either Randy Orton or John Cena will do (although Daniel’s recent history with Randy might make him the more logical choice).

At Elimination Chamber in February, the Authority finally thinks they’ve got the perfect end-all/be-all opponent for Punk: Daniel Bryan. The two square off in what is destined to be a classic and it seems that Punk is finally about to get his revenge, albeit on someone he considers a close friend.

Right on cue…”SIERRA, HOTEL, INDIA…” (you know the rest). The Shield appears and lays Punk out once again, as an emotionless Daniel Bryan walks up the ramp once again to leader Bray who grabs a mic and says something to the effect of “My apologies, Punk. The Devil made them do it.”

“WHAAAA?–Jeff. JEFF. What in the BLUE HELL are you getting at?”

THIS.

Kane’s music hits. (…I know, right?) The Devil’s Favorite Demon takes the stage, laughing a classic evil laugh. He pats a maniacally-grinning Bray Wyatt on the back and takes his former (and as you will, see current) little buddy Daniel Bryan in his arms, as the former members of Team Hell No hug it out once more!

It was a setup all along. Kane’s surrender to the Authority, the new suit, the new demeanor…it was all a cover. He has enlisted the help of the Wyatts (because of course, they’d get along famously; what with all of them being psychopaths), infiltrated the Authority, sent the Shield on a dead-end wild goose chase after Punk (unbeknownst to Trips and Steph) and pulled all the right strings so that after all the hubbub this past fall over his brother of destruction from another mother…of…destruction…ANYWAY(!) Daniel being allegedly unfit to be the face of the WWE, he is now going to Wrestlemania, where he will finally be the face we all knew he could be.

In a weird, roundabout and somewhat questionable fashion, The Wyatts, Kane and Daniel are all now faces again (or at least, antiheroes)…but what about The Shield and Punk, you ask?–Well, obviously they’re all feeling a bit duped.

WRESTLEMANIA XXX. (Oh, yes. It’s come to this.)

The team of Kane and the Wyatt Family (together at last!) take on the somewhat strange bedfellows concoction that is Punk and The Shield in an Eight Man Tag Team Match…

…and the man at the center of it all, the guy who they said couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t be the face of World Wrestling Entertainment takes on the WWE Champion (Cena or Orton; once again, it doesn’t really matter…but it should probably be Orton–and hey!–it being Mania XXX, that frees John Cena up to be the Undertaker’s opponent on this most historic of nights) and wins, as the city of New Orleans puts the waves of the Gulf of Mexico to shame with their cacophonous crashing cries of “YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!”, etc., etc. etc.

BOOM.

THREE-SPOT.

BANG IT.

UNH.

…Now. Is WWE creative capable of pulling off something that great (if I do say so myself)?–Probably not…but with your permission, dear reader, I’d like to give myself a hearty pat on the back for having concocted that entire scenario by the time Raw came to a close this past Monday. (No kidding. ALL OF THAT.)

As I bring this segment to a close, let me also pat the back of one of Inside Pulse’s newest scribes John Kincaid and his full-time fantasy booking-themed column “Creative Control“. In his first edition, he takes a pragmatic, thoughtful and wildly intriguing look at a potential full WWE overhaul. It’s a hell of a read and I hope you all check it out.

Phew.

That took a lot out of me…but not so much that I can’t talk about the latest happenings with my favorite female protagonists. It’s time for…

DIVAS

Monday night also brought us a cracker of a six-Diva tag team match, in which Natalya and The Bellas took on the team of (my spirit animal) AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka and Summer Rae. While its intended purpose was clearly to help further the idea of the victorious Natalya as a threat to AJ’s Divas Championship reign, I think it also spoke volumes about which of these wonderful women are leading the charge of the division in its current state.

I’m most delighted at the presence of Summer Rae, who after two weeks of airheaded comic relief work finally got to shine from an offensive perspective. As one of NXT’s brightest up-and-coming Divas, she–in many ways–represents what time spent in WWE’s developmental division can really do. She’s a magnetic presence, a real character in a division not currently known for many and as they say, the girl can go.

This is not to say that it wasn’t a showcase for the remainder of its combatants (it was), especially considering that the biggest name in the match (AJ) spent the majority of its duration skipping around the ring and allowing her partners to do the heavy lifting. Call me overly optimistic (and I’m sure some of you have/will), but it’s matches like this that make me think there is, indeed, a concerted effort being made–the horror of Divas Musical Chairs aside–to make this division relevant again.

Because while I love all of the Divas (wait; Eva Marie’s still a thing…so strike one, but still), I’m well aware that the strategy of keeping them all around in a big personalityless (if you will) clusterf*ck isn’t helping anyone. Set the works-in-progress aside, and wow your audience.

Put your best foot forward, they say…and in recent times that foot is wearing knee-high Chuck Taylors, pink and white wrestling boots, black leather biker boots, dancing shoes and…whatever the Bellas are wearing (in that order).

(Kaitlyn’s combat boots were on assignment getting engaged this week.)

I know that seemed awfully short, but what can I say that hasn’t already been said?–I remain optimistic and progress is being made, slowly but surely…although some story might help me fill out that segment a bit more. Just saying.

(Seriously though. This week’s “Guys” segment really winded me. If I can put an idea that grandiose into that many words and have it come out coherently enough, I suppose I can forgive myself for not being able to ramble as plentifully in the last two segments, right?)

(Right?)

Here’s…

THE BONUS BALL

So…yeah.

…How was everyone’s Thanksgiving?

…Yeah?

Good. Good. Good to hear.

Ah, screw it. Here’s a bullet-pointed list(!) of some other errant thoughts I have about WWE of late.

  • I swear to God, if Titus O’Neil ends up with an ongoing vomit gimmick…just…no.
  • It seems Hunico is finally taking over the role of Sin Cara full-time. Long overdue; although if I’m honest, am I the only one who thought he was only slightly less botchy than the real article on Monday?
    • SUB-POINT: Am I crazy or was the real Sin Cara not so bad when he first arrived?–While I’m on board with everyone’s grumbles about his spastic style and the infamous broken finger incident, I remember being pretty suitably dazzled by him and weirdly REALLY invested in the “evil Sin Cara” storyline that brought Hunico into WWE.
      • SUB-SUB-POINT: Alberto Del Rio went from feuding for the World Heavyweight Championship to losing cleanly to a character that hasn’t been seen in months AND is now played by a completely different actor (if you will) over the course of about two weeks. Wow. Just…big wow.
  • I keep quietly hoping that the resurgence of Goldust of late could finally lead to a long-overdue WWE Title run. To be fair, I felt the same way about William Regal during his villainous General Manager role a few years back; the one that ended abruptly due to wellness violations…so I don’t have the best record with these things; but seriously, never have those “YOU STILL GOT IT!” chants been more apropos. The guy’s been in the business over two decades and he honestly seems to be in the prime of his career. It’s just marvelous.
  • CM Punk’s got pipes. (I don’t have a follow-up for that one. It’s just a fact.)
  • THIS.
  • Korn is providing the theme to this year’s TLC pay-per-view…which is how I learned that Korn is somehow still a thing.
  • Xavier Woods rocks a Black Ranger t-shirt on Smackdown and then provides the commentators with a Hip-Hop Kido reference on Raw. He’s seriously rocketing up my list of favorite people.
  • …and speaking of amazing references…Big E Langston is a magical human being. Don’t believe me?–There’s also THIS (with bonus Kaitlyn swoonage).

…and I’m truly spent.

So, I’ll freely admit it. On the whole, this probably wasn’t my best. Let’s put it this way: if THIS was my “Raw Country”, this week is my Michael Strahan episode…so at least that means next week will be my this week’s Raw…so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice…if that made any sense at all. (It didn’t.)

HOMEWORK!

  • I laid out…a pretty elaborate idea of where the main event scene could be heading as we move toward Wrestlemania. What do you see as being the status quo of WWE’s top names after next Sunday’s TLC pay-per-view?–Fantasy book to your heart’s content.
  • Six of WWE’s best (and in some cases, underrated) Divas squared off in a great contest Monday night. Who are some Divas of the past who didn’t get the credit you thought they deserved?–Blab about some of your favorite underrated ladies of the past.
  • The Slammy Awards are this coming Monday night and WWE’s got most of their categories locked (as you can see here). Who would you nominate/vote on for this year’s trophies?–Open the proverbial envelope and tell us who you think will and/or should go home with those statuettes next week.


As always, join me for my weekly Monday Night Raw live-tweet (@biscuitman18; #GuysAndDivas), and seriously check out “Creative Control”. Great stuff from a great new voice here at Inside Pulse.

Until next week, I’m Jeff Heatherly saying…here’s some pure, undistilled joy for you. Take it easy, folks.

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