5 Things We Learned From WWE Raw (2/3/14)

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This past week has been one of the most tumultuous periods for the WWE in recent memory. With CM Punk abruptly leaving the company with little warning following last week’s Royal Rumble PPV, some plans for Wrestlemania are now most certainly up in the air. He was set to possibly face Triple H, and word now comes that those plans may have been altered, leaving Punk again not headlining the year’s most prestigious PPV, in favor of a returning and obviously out-of-shape veteran in Batista.

But Punk’s sudden departure wasn’t the only issue this week. With the fans continuing to push for Daniel Bryan to go to the top of the card, the WWE now has a real dilemma on its hands. Fan sentiment should not alone dictate the product they receive when it comes to the world of professional wrestling, but at some point, being a promoter such as the WWE, you must give the fans what they want. But you have to do so in such a fashion that it’s a reward or a payoff to a story line, not a result of forcing Creative’s hand.

And also to add injury to insult, it appears as though John Cena has recently suffered some type of injury to his eye, and as a result, he was pulled from all weekend live events. The extent of his injury is unclear, but one thing is now very, very certain: the Road to Wrestlemania just got a bit more difficult to navigate.

With these things and more now in play, let’s take a look at 5 things we learned following RAW this week:

CM Punk: The WWE Adjusted Accordingly
As if not to even skip a beat, the show went on as planned on RAW last night, with no mention of CM Punk and the fiasco he has caused by abruptly walking out on the organization last week. Even the crowd was seldom given the chance to speak their minds in unison via “CM Punk” chants as they were drowned out most of the evening by whatever talent was on the mic, in the ring, or the announcers at ringside.

It is obvious that this was the plan from the time Orton hit the ring in the opening segment – talk over the crowd at all costs, don’t acknowledge the CM Punk cries from the audience, and bury those CM Punk chants. And they threw everything at the fans to open the show: Orton rambling again, Triple H leading a YES! chant, Daniel Bryan announced for the nights main event, and then The Shield in the show’s opening match. This was a smart way to keep the Punk issue at bay, and an exciting start to RAW.

Daniel Bryan Pins The WWE World Heavyweight Champion
In a “shades of things to come” moment, Daniel Bryan got the pinfall victory over WWE World Heavyweight Champion last night in a non-title, main event match. The match was slow to start but super hot down the stretch, with a nice finish to close out the show.

You can go ahead and book it now, Daniel Bryan will be your next WWE World Heavyweight Champion. WWE has heard their fans, and they can no longer ignore that Bryan is by far the most OVER superstar on the roster. With CM Punk suddenly gone from the organization, this is Bryan’s time to step up. Watch for a 3 way main event for Wrestlemania for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship involving Bryan, Orton, and Batista.

Dissention Within The Shield
It look like there is more trouble brewing for The Shield, with Dean Ambrose making the blind tag this week following Roman Reigns hitting his signature spot on the WWE Intercontinental Champion, and Ambrose taking the pinfall for himself. This led to a post-match scuffle between the two men, and Seth Rollins was forced to get in between them in an attempt to quell the chaos.

This is still the right move for this group, and of course Roman Reigns is poised for a huge push, and should come out of this dissolve as the babyface. Whats also worth mentioning, and fun for the storyline, is the way in which Ambrose is going about screwing Reigns: like an old-school, classic heel. The blind tag and subsequent theft of your partners spotlight to pin the opposition is great, old-school fun. And Dean Ambrose will be a fun bad guy on his own.

Cody Rhodes: Having His Moment
Look, it can no longer be debated: The Rhodes Brothers team is phenomenal. It will be difficult to see them separated in the coming week, but hopefully it will make for a great match at Wrestlemania, something GoldDust denies is actually in the works. But his brother Cody is coming into his own now, and at a costly price at times.

This week on RAW, Cody climbed to the top of the steel cage, and performed a moonsault to the mat in an attempt to take out the Road Dogg Jesse James. The result was nearly catastrophic, with James all but missing Rhodes when he was supposed to break the fall. It will be a miracle if Rhodes isn’t injured, landing on his hip from a 20 foot fall. Rhodes is a great performer, but we nearly had a serious injury on live television this week.

The Big Names Were Missing This Week
With CM Punk gone, the push towards Wrestlemania XXX appears to be falling by the wayside. While we do have one more PPV, The Elimination Chamber, to get through before the final ‘Mania push, we should still be building towards the year’s biggest event. Instead this week we got a broadcast that was missing all but one of the big names from WWE.

John Cena is possibly injured, and Brock Lesnar was not on the show this week. This is very troublesome, as Daniel Bryan can only do so much. Certainly everyone is behind him, but the other big stars need to be involved every week on RAW as we head towards The Grandaddy Of Them All. And no we aren’t including Batista, because right now his return to WWE is more than flat, it’s borderline embarrassing.

So what say you, WWE fans? Sound off in our COMMENTS section, and with me on Twitter: @davyshrader