WWE Raw 12/2/2013: 5 Things We Learned

We are less than two weeks away from the final WWE pay per view of the year, TLC. In recent weeks WWE Creative has done very little to promote and build for this and prior PPV events, but all of that changed this week on the RAW broadcast. Finally WWE has taken the right steps towards creating some anticipation and excitement for this PPV, delivering a great contract signing segment between John Cena and Randy Orton in the final portion of the show.

Now all eyes look towards TLC with some growing interest, at least when as it pertains to the unification of the two active championship belts. And that’s how it should be. The unification of both the storied World Heavyweight Championship from WCW / NWA and the coveted WWE Championship should feel like a momentous occasion, and WWE is finally on the right path towards that end. But they aren’t quite there yet. With just under two weeks until the unification of these title belts, the WWE still has some ground to cover, but they are making some significant progress towards making this the event that it should be. And so here are 5 things we learned following this week’s RAW program:

John Cena and Randy Orton Have A Great Segment
As discussed in the opening lines of this column, John Cena and Randy Orton closed this week’s RAW broadcast with the title unification contract signing in the final moments of the show. Both men delivered great promos citing why they want to be the unified title holder, and they ended the confrontation with a huge brawl and some broken tables. This was a great way to build the hype for this title unification event.

And this type of direction is something WWE creative has been lacking in recent months going into their pay per view broadcasts, but it seems they have finally learned a lesson. Recent PPV buy rates have come in over the past week indicating not much interest was to be had by the WWE Universe in those previous, poorly devised, PPV events. It seems as though this ship may have righted itself this week on RAW.

CM Punk and The Shield Aren’t Done Yet
CM Punk opened the RAW program this week with a nice promo that confronted The Authority and their control of The Shield and how they are both out to get him. It was a good exchange with Stephanie, Punk, Kane, and The Shield to open the show and set the stage for the ongoing program between The Shield and Punk.

It’s nice to see 4 guys who have come up through the indy and developmental ranks getting such a nice push this far into their WWE tenures. The Shield have remained relevant far longer than most thought they would have, and CM Punk is still flat out the top babyface in the company next to Daniel Bryan. Look for their program to roll through the TLC PPV, and for the return of Paul Heyman very soon to spice things up.

Natalya Gets Another Nice Win
The Divas Division gets a bad rap, at least in this columnist’s eyes. They are trying, both WWE Creative and the performers themselves, to really build upon the interest and success generated by the Total Divas program currently airing on the E! channel. And to that end, the Divas are doing the best they can.

But let’s be clear: there are only a few solid performers in the Divas division. The Bella Twins, Natalya, Kaitlyn, Arianne and Trinity, and AJ Lee are just about all WWE currently has at their disposal for viable and safe performances on a regular basis. Most of the other Divas performing are just too green to perform effectively, but they will get there in time, as long as they keep pushing forward.

That said, this week in another tag team match, Natalya pinned the WWE Divas Champion AJ Lee. This isn’t the first time she’s done this, but you can bet it’s the right time this time. Natalya is poised to become the Divas Champion at the TLC PPV, and rightfully so. AJ will be much more intriguing when she’s chasing Natalya, and Nattie herself is more than deserving to hold the gold. Their feud could ignite into something special, and Natalya could really bring some more interest back to the championship, given that she is more than a solid performer, and a star on a successful weekly reality show on cable television.

Daniel Bryan and The Wyatts: What’s Really Going On Here
In a strange twist to an already strange situation, this week Daniel Bryan faced a member of the Wyatt Family, and following the match, Bray Wyatt confronted him via satellite or from backstage or from parts unknown. And Bray Wyatt, after kidnapping Daniel Bryan in recent days, just up and released him, saying he was meant for bigger things. It’s unclear how this will play out, but it is intriguing nonetheless.

The bigger issue is just who is pulling the strings behind Bray Wyatt and his minions, and how that will ultimately affect Daniel Bryan. I smell a heel turn here, with Bryan possibly joining the Family at some point. And what a mistake that would be for the Bryan character and the WWE Universe.

But maybe they pull a double move, and have Bryan turn and then swerve on The Wyatt’s in the end, creating even greater interest in the Bryan character as a face player. Time will tell where this goes, but for certain this program is nowhere near its end yet.

And The Mid-Card Drags On
Where do we start? For all the praise we can heap on Creative for getting the main players headed in the right direction after weeks of misses, their mid-card is just as much in disarray. From the continued burying of Dolph Ziggler, the ongoing misappropriation of Damien Sandow, and now the return of some new type of Sin Cara, the direction of the middle players is just flat out missing.

On top of that, you had the return of Wade Barrett this week on RAW, in some type of role I can’t really explain, or even stomach. I used to not care for this guy at all, not since the Nexus, and now I just feel bad for him. He can perform and he is the ultimate team player it appears, now saddled with another crap gimmick that he is forced to suffer through. He deserves better, and so does the WWE Universe.

And let’s not even get started on the ongoing vomit story with the Primetime Players. So how do they fix it? Someone needs to take charge backstage. And someone needs to take the reigns away from Vince or Steph as it relates to these midcarders. They are all capable of so much more, but their time is starting to run short for most of them.

So what say you fellow wrestling fans? Sound off below in the COMMENTS section, and with me on Twitter: @davyshrader.