THE RAGER! – Shuffling Towards Wrestlemania (Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Batista)

I’m not gonna delve too far into my thoughts on this previous Raw, especially since you can simply catch my 10 Thoughts column for yesterday. I will say that I feel more optimistic after watching Raw than I did after the Rumble. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Kick-Off: Codust vs New Age Outlaws
Pretty decent match with an unexpected finish that got the crowd pumped before the real show started. It’s gonna be difficult for for NAOs to receive a heel reaction from the crowd but that’s easily taken care of if they do something against Daniel Bryan, it worked at getting HBK boo’d at the Slammys. As for CoDust, one can only assume this might be the beginning of the break that leads to a WM match (or kickoff match, considering all the part-timers and top card). As much as I’ve enjoyed CoDust, I will say that Cody’s individual momentum has kinda faded which is ironic because I’m certain the “getting fired” story was suppose to elevate him as a singles wrestler. Instead, he found himself in yet another tag team. Maybe that’s simply what he’s meant to do, there’s no shame in it.

Daniel Bryan vs Bray Wyatt
Easily the match of the night, which is difficult to do when it’s on the same card as a Rumble match. It played up the injury and had some of the elements that we all loved about Del Rio vs Ziggler at Payback. It was one of those brief moments where I kinda forgot that this was pro wrestling and found myself actually getting caught up and concerned about Bryan. Maybe that’s what WWE wanted all of us to do: get Bryan all beaten up after an injury and see that he’s clearly not in any shape to put himself up against 29 other men. That would be a valid angle to go with but it simply didn’t quite feel like that, all smarkness aside, it felt more like a fluke win and Bryan would’ve been fine to enter the Rumble. Still a really good match but I still stand by with the assertion that this match should’ve happened at TLC.

Brock Lesnar vs Big Show
It wasn’t as painful or long as I was expecting but all it did was re-establish what didn’t need to be re-established; Brock is a dangerous mountain of a man. All WWE had to do was show clips of his SummerSlam victory over Punk instead of throwing Show around. Also, is breaking chairs like a new parlor trick Lesnar learned recently? Because he’s been doing that way too much lately. The match was fine and all but we didn’t need that extended chair beatdown on Show afterwards while the crowd sat in silence, not out of shock but out of boredom.

John Cena vs Randy Orton
As documented on @CRAttire’s twitter, here are a list of things I’d rather experience than watch this rematch:
1. Be the middle person of a human centipede.
2. Rewatch Birth of a Nation AND Bicycle Thief back-to-back.
3. Invest in Grown-Ups 3
4. Reread that dumb fictional narrative novel about shapes that was so bad that I refuse to even google to find out what the title is. High school English class sucked.

I felt as if Bray Wyatt temporarily turned face just because he mercifully ended this travesty.

The Rumble Match
Obviously the big story here really should be Roman’s performance but that sort of got lost in the shuffle of fans being outraged by Bryan’s absence and so many of HHH’s friends getting the upper-hand. Am I stoked about Batista winning the Rumble? Of course not, I don’t think I’ve been happy with the Rumble winner since Edge won so that aspect really has no affect on me in determining if it’s a good rumble. This was a really good Rumble, I thought. We got two really impressive spots out of Kofi, Dolph made his return, Roman broke Kane’s record, we got a decent amount of surprises (I think I marked out for JBL’s brief entry more than I did for Nash’s) and we the showdown we all wanted to see…Punk vs El Torito.

And in case you haven’t seen me post it a billion times, I did predict that Roman would break Kane’s elimination record. I’ll wait patiently as you all convert to Chrislam.

But ultimately the spotlight of the show is fixated on Bryan’s absence to the point where Rey Mysterio got the biggest heel reaction just because he was the final participant and wasn’t Bryan. I’ll admit that I was disappointed too but, again, there’s another pay per view before we get to Mania and even then I’m not going to get my hopes up about Bryan getting the championship. Yes, it would be completely dumb of WWE to try to kill a potential Bryan championship run so I HAVE to believe that this is all part of some sort of plan that will have a payoff at some point. However, WWE isn’t exactly known for have long-term plans for specific wrestlers (just a few exceptions here and there) and so we must prepare ourselves if WWE does let this slip through their fingers. It would be a heart-breaking missed opportunity but it’s a mistake I can see WWE making. But there is hope because one has to think WWE has some idea of what they have if they continue to close out Raw after Raw with Daniel Bryan in the main event either by himself or alongside higher guys like Cena but with Bryan’s music playing as they fade to black. So I approach this Wrestlemania with a cautious and suspicious optimism that there’s a reason for WWE to keep their top wrestler away from the championship scene and for keeping CM Punk roaming between non-feuds for the last couple months.

I’ve stated many times in the past that I don’t claim to know what WWE is thinking in their week-to-week booking and so on and I don’t put much stock into a lot of the dirtsheet rumors one might hear online because if they were right, we’d have seen Sting debut in WWE about 25 times by now and Cena would’ve turned heel years ago. All I can go off of is what I feel when I watch every week and I still feel like there’s a reason for all of this. Perhaps it’s just me.

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

The Answer: I created this video to celebrate my 2nd straight fantasy football championship.

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