Monday was the final edition of Raw for the year 2013 and it was quite an eventful three hours.
Among the events were a big announcement, a big return and a big addition to the Wyatt Family.
Here are 10 observations of what took place at the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Va.
Daniel Bryan joins the Wyatt Family
That is not a misprint, folks. That is exactly what happened.
Early in the show, Bryan demanded a one-on-one match with Bray Wyatt, but Raw general manager Brad Maddox (more on him later) decided that Bryan should earn the opportunity.
Maddox then told Bryan that he’d have to go through Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in separate matches before he got to Wyatt one-on-one. For some reason Bryan agreed.
Bryan took out Harper first in what was a hard-fought match. He then surprised Rowan with a quick roll up to gain the chance to face Wyatt.
Unfortunately, Bryan was a little worse for wear. Wyatt didn’t even bother to face him as he had Harper and Rowan jump him to officially be disqualified.
After the match, Wyatt took the microphone and talked some trash before Bryan said, “You’re right.” Wyatt made him say it again and eventually handed him the microphone where Bryan asked if he could join the family.
Wyatt accepted by delivering the Sister Abigail and had Bryan walk out of the arena with the rest of the family. Bryan stood at the top of the stage seemingly thinking twice about his decision, but eventually decided to continue walking with the Wyatts.
The execution of the segment was actually well done. The matches were good and the final segment was good as well. I’m just not sure if this was the right thing to do. I’m not sure if it is truly good for business.
I personally feel indifferent about the whole thing and I’m not sure that’s the reaction WWE is looking for. Understanding the history of wrestling like I do, indifferent feelings toward an angle never helped it make money.
Maybe I’m alone in that feeling, but I am willing to give it time to see where this goes. I usually do that with almost anything, but I definitely have to do with this.
I just don’t if having Bryan join the family is going to help his character at all. I’m not sure if it’s going to add any depth, especially, if he’s going to turn back into face anyway.
I’m also not sure the fans are willing to boo him yet. Bryan is the true underdog of the main event scene right now, meaning it is a lot easier to gain sympathy for him than it is to boo him.
I know that Bryan was a heel in 2011 and 2012, but his latest run made him into the ultimate sympathetic figure. I don’t think people want to boo him quite yet.
Brock Lesnar returns and destroys Mark Henry
With no John Cena and no Randy Orton, WWE decided to inject some different star power in the way of Lesnar.
Triple H, who endured a couple of losses at the hands of Lesnar in 2013, brought out the former WWE Champion, who came out with Paul Heyman in tow.
Heyman took the microphone and told the fans that Lesnar is back and has proclaimed himself as the next No. 1 contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against whomever wins the title at the Royal Rumble. (More on that later as well)
Lesnar took the microphone and said that he doesn’t need to enter the Royal Rumble because he can do whatever he wants and that the line for the next title shot begins behind him. He then dared anyone to come to the ring and do something about it.
Mark Henry answered the challenge and got the best of Lesnar early by throwing into the crowd. When Henry went after him, Lesnar speared through the barricade. Lesnar then picked up the 400-pounder and F5’d him outside of the ring.
Heyman was great as usual on the microphone and the brief exchange between Lesnar and Henry was entertaining and impressive.
Randy Orton to defend WWE World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena at the Royal Rumble
As mentioned earlier, Lesnar said he will face whomever wins the title at the Royal Rumble. Well, that will either be Orton or Cena as they will have their rematch from Tables, Ladders and Chairs.
Unlike their match at TLC, this will be simple singles match or as Stephanie McMahon said, “One fall to a finish.” It’s kind of backwards booking being as though you’re going from a big gimmick match to a normal match instead of the other way around, but that’s the risk you run when you have the themed pay-per-views.
The winner will face Lesnar, presumably at Elimination Chamber.
CM Punk attempts to drive a wedge in The Shield
CM Punk opened the show by recapping his year before The Shield interrupted him.
Upon their arrival, CM Punk said that he wanted to face the best member of The Shield in a one-on-one match. Dean Ambrose quickly took the microphone and said that he’d have no problem facing CM Punk again.
CM Punk said that since he had already beaten Ambrose numerous times he wanted to face someone else, namely Roman Reins. Reins stepped up to the plate before Seth Rollins jumped in and said that he wanted the opportunity.
CM Punk obliged and the two had a match. Despite two television breaks, the match was still entertaining to watch.
There was a good story told where Reins and Rollins continuously preventing Ambrose from helping his partner during the match.
CM Punk eventually won and it was soon announced that CM Punk would be granted his wish — he will face Reins next week on Old School Raw.
Big E Langston retains the Intercontinental Championship
To the surprise of no one, Big E Langston defeated Fandango to retain his Intercontinental title.
Although the outcome wasn’t surprising, the quality of the match kind of was. Both men put on a good effort and came out looking better for it.
The part of the match I liked the most was Fandango hitting his big leg drop finisher, but not getting the chance to cover Langston because he rolled out of the ring.
That is a textbook way to protect someone’s finisher and still make it look like the person who received it was actually hurt by it. It’s much better than Fandango hitting the move, covering Langston only for him to kick out. It keeps his move looking strong moving forward.
There was a Brad Maddox sighting
No, really. He was actually on the show this week. And he actually showed some authority for once instead of Triple H and McMahon cutting him at the knees.
I don’t know why he wasn’t on television the past coupe weeks, but it doesn’t help his credibility as a general manager if he doesn’t have some say on the show. Not to say the general manager is a very credible role to begin with, but it’s supposed to be in storyline.
Dolph Ziggler actually won a match
That is not a misprint either. Dolph Ziggler closed out a once promising turned dreadful 2013 with a clean victory over Curtis Axel.
Hopefully, WWE can turn the burial machine off on Ziggler and allow him to make his way back to the main event because that’s where he belongs. He’s shown that he can eat crap long enough.
Damien Sandow threatened to quit if he didn’t defeat The Great Khali
Speaking of people that WWE has missed the boat on, Damien Sandow’s boat nearly crashed when he threatened to quit if he didn’t win his match Monday.
The WWE Universe determined his opponent and it chose The Great Khali — shame on you, fans.
Sandow won the match by rolling up the seven-foot Khali despite his shoulders not being on the mat and saved his job.
Sandow is another guy that can cement his place in the main event in 2014. WWE has seemingly taken away everything that made him unique: the robe, the pink trunks, among other things. It’s very reminiscent to what it did to Alberto Del Rio.
WWE needs to make him unique again and not another t-shirt-wearing superstar who doesn’t get any time on the microphone. He’s capable of so much more.
Broadus Clay loses — again
Broadus Clay faced R-Truth for the first since turning on Tons of Funk and he lost. What a way to reboot the man’s character, right?
Is Clay the main event player he says he is? Not even close right now. But if you’re going to take the time to remove him from the best thing he’s done in his career thus far, you need something ready for him that’s better than losing to R-Truth on free television.
LeSean McCoy mentioned on Raw
WWE took time to mention Eagles running back LeSean McCoy for wearing the World Heavyweight Championship after the Eagles defeated the Dallas Cowboys and clinched the NFC East. WWE also mentioned LeBron James searching for a WWE title, but who cares about that here in Philly?