And so this week gave us the final RAW broadcast prior to the TLC pay per view that arrives this coming Sunday. Last night WWE gave us a nice final build for the pay per view event, all the while presenting their annual Slammy Awards for 2013. This 5 Things column will not so much focus on the Slammy Awards that were given out, but more on the RAW program itself and how the final PPV of the year has ultimately taken shape.
WWE had much ground to cover in this final RAW prior to TLC. The stories with CM Punk and The Shield had not quite come together prior to this week, and the mid-card itself was still a bit in disarray. They also had to try and stick the landing with the Unification Title Match hype, and they did just that with a great final segment. By the show’s end, WWE had done a nice job of pulling all the threads together and they managed to deliver some compelling segments that certainly sold some more pay per view buys. So let’s take a look at 5 Things We Learned following the final RAW broadcast before the final pay per view event of the year, TLC:
Daniel Bryan Comes Home
In one of the hottest RAW segments in recent memory, Daniel Bryan opened RAW, which was broadcasting live from Seattle, Washington, which is just down the road from Bryan’s hometown of Aberdeen. The result was electric, with the crowd nearly blowing the roof off the arena as Bryan made his entrance to start the show. Bryan would go on to have a nice match against Fandango, and get the win in a great opening segment. Bryan would also go on to win multiple Slammys throughout the night’s festivities.
But this entire opening salvo was much deserved and very fitting for Daniel Bryan. He carried the company on his back, on screen and off, while John Cena was out with the tricep injury several months ago, and since then his heat with the fans has not let up. Bryan is still the hottest commodity in the WWE Universe, and it shows time and again whenever he hits the stage, and then the ring. While WWE dropped the ball with Bryan’s initial Championship reign, it seems as though they have learned from their mistake, and Bryan could be well on his way to another, more solid run, with the title in the coming months. Time will tell, since Wrestlemania season is approaching, but WWE finally acknowledges the star that is Daniel Bryan, and right now no performer on that roster is more deserving.
The Rock Returns To RAW, Sort Of
In several Slammy-related segments last night, The Rock returned to Monday Night RAW. Rock was the winner in several categories, including LOL Moment Of the Year, and also Match Of The Year for his match against John Cena at Wrestlemania. Both of these mentions, along with discussion that The Rock was live tweeting during RAW and The Slammy’s, made for a nice return of The Great One to the program.
Is there more to this, though? Was this a one-off night of Rock mentions, or are we prepping for more? With Wrestlemania season approaching, the WWE is certainly looking for ways to get The Rock involved. Could last night’s Slammy wins be a foreshadow of Rock’s pending return? It’s highly possible. WWE is always trying to get all the big names involved for their Super Bowl, and there is still no bigger name on the planet than Dwayne Johnson, certainly as it relates to WWE and the global scene. Time will tell if The Rock returns for Wrestlemania, but as of now things do look somewhat promising.
Brodus Clay Turns Heel
In recent weeks you could see this heel turn approaching, and it’s about time. The Tons of Funk gimmick overstayed it’s welcome months ago, and the dancing behemoth Brodus Clay character went stale long ago. It was only natural for Clay to turn heel at some point, and this week on RAW he finally did.
And this works for all involved. The Funkadactyls routine is fine, but with the success of the Total Divas television reality show, Trinity and Ariane have become stars in their own right. They need to separate from Brodus Clay, and Clay needs to go it alone, and become a monster heel, much like Ryback used to be. The WWE Universe can only hope that Creative doesn’t drop the ball on the heel Clay like they did eventually with Ryback, but again only time will tell if Clay becomes something more.
The Shield Implosion Ignites
It’s been forthcoming for several weeks now, but it’s evident that the demise of The Shield is imminent. As Dean Ambrose faced CM Punk last night in a one on one matchup, Ambrose was adamant that his Shield brethren not get involved. And so the splintering begins, with in-fighting and arguing, all leading up to their big Handicap Match against CM Punk at TLC.
It’s unclear how the match at TLC will ultimately play out, but you can expect that by the match’s end, The Shield will be just about over. Look for the final break of the group to come on the RAW following TLC, with all the seeds being planted at the pay per view itself for the group to splinter.
And this is ok, let’s not panic! All three men in this group are more than capable of performing on their own, with Ambrose being the leader and the one member of the group who has all the assets to make a true star. But make no mistake: Rollins and Reigns are also stars in the making, and as fans, we in the WWE Universe are lucky to be witness to this birth of new talent that’s about to take over.
The Unification of Titles Event Is Set
At the TLC pay per view, WWE will finally unify, hopefully once and for all, both the WWE Championship and the former WCW World Heavyweight Title. In match between both the WWE Champion Randy Orton and the World Heavyweight titleholder John Cena, the WWE brass will have both men square off in the show’s main event, with the winner becoming the undisputed champion and unified title holder. And they have “guaranteed” a winner.
This is not something that’s new to the WWE, the unification of these titles. Chris Jericho was the first undisputed, unified heavyweight champion following WWE’s purchase of WCW over decade ago, but since that time the titles have been separated and have even had their own respective shows, for the most part. But it’s something that’s been long overdue for a while now. Both champions really suffer at times from having two champions, but this weekend at TLC this all looks to change.
WWE has done a great job in these past few weeks of making this event feel like it’s the final time these title will be unified. On RAW this week, Triple H asked for both men to hand over their titles, and they will be hung above the ring for the PPV match this weekend. You can expect a new, unified title to debut next week on RAW.
This final segment of RAW had many former champions in the ring for this event, and both Orton and Cena cut great promos to setup their confrontation at TLC. The end of the show had a huge brawl that worked, giving this event an epic feel that now feels like maybe it shouldn’t happen at a PPV like TLC, but perhaps at The Royal Rumble or even Wrestlemania itself. Here’s hoping WWE delivers the homerun payoff this weekend at TLC.
What say you, WWE Universe? Sound off below in the COMMENTS section, and on my Twitter feed: @davyshrader