The world of professional wrestling is, as we all know, scripted. (I know, that's a bombshell right?) However, sometimes real life comes in and interferes with those plans. Right now, we are seeing that with Daniel Bryan.
It was always going to be interesting to see what Daniel Bryan did after his big win at Wrestlemania. It's so much easier to book a build to the top than it is to keep that momentum going once he's at the top. It's even harder to do that when, due to real-life issues, Bryan isn't able to appear for half the shows before Extreme Rules.
On RAW in New Orleans, the day after Wrestlemania, Bryan made an emotional victory speech. He was supposed to have a match against Triple H that night, which ended up being a no-contest after several wrestlers ran in. The next week, it was planned that he would get a week off, in order to go on his honeymoon after getting married to Brie Bella. This was planned, and written around well. He would still have two weeks to build a match with Kane, starting with this week in Baltimore.
But what wasn't expected was that Daniel Bryan's father passed away suddenly. To Bryan's immense credit, he decided he needed to at least make an appearance at RAW on Monday, instead of immediately returning home to his family. In the very first segment of the night, he came out, visibly emotional, as his wife was waiting for him in the ring. Stephanie McMahon came out and told him that he'd have a match with Kane at Extreme Rules. Then Kane (with his mask again) came out and proceeded to wreak havoc on Daniel Bryan. He threw him all around the ringside area and gave him three tombstone piledrivers, including one on the ring steps, and one on the announce table. Bryan was stretchered out.
We can presume that this was done to allow Bryan to quickly leave Baltimore and go home, as well as to likely write him off for next week, which will be the go-home show before Extreme Rules. And that's what should happen. There are times when real life should take priority over wrestling, and this is one of them.
However, it does put Bryan in a bit of a precarious position. He was white-hot at Wrestlemania, and as it turns out, he won't have wrestled a match for four weeks after his big win. Meanwhile, Evolution has officially reunited, The Shield has taken a big step, and the Wyatts and Cena have been captivating the audience for the past few weeks.
Clearly Daniel Bryan will remain popular, but he's already looking at not being the main event at Extreme Rules, and possibly not even the second-biggest match. While things for him should settle down soon, it definitely is a slower start than he or the WWE would have liked to his title reign, and sometimes a slow start is difficult to overcome.
The Rest of RAW
** One aspect of wrestling that sometimes goes unnoticed and unappreciated is facial expressions. A good facial expression can say so much more than a full promo. I've always said that Vince McMahon is the king of facial expressions, but recently John Cena has made a push for that throne. On Monday night, he continued his feud with the Wyatts, and the WWE Universe was given a chance to vote for who he would face: Luke Harper, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, or all three members. They voted for him to face all three of them.
As he saw the results, and looked the crowd, his face just showed pure betrayal. He was confused and upset that the Universe would put him in a situation where he was likely to get destroyed. He could have grabbed the mic and said something to that extent, but he didn't need to, the look said everything. He ended up winning the match by DQ, but was beat down after the match, and the show went off the air with Bray cradling his head and singing “He's Got The Whole World In His Hands.” The whole legacy storyline didn't really resonate leading up to Wrestlemania, and never quite made sense. However, the way they're going now, with Bray rallying the crowd to his side instead of Cena, and Cena worrying about Bray turning the audience, now THAT makes sense, and both wrestlers have been playing it up perfectly.
** Evolution and The Shield continued their build in a segment. It's interesting that they're building the feud as The Shield with the physical advantage, but Evolution with the cerebral advantage. The Shield mentioned “war” several times in the promo, and as it always will in a situation like this, it made me think of War Games, but I'm not holding my breath on that one after it seemed like The Wyatts and The Shield would be a War Games match.
** The tournament for the No. 1 contender to the intercontinental title continued. The first match was Bad News Barrett vs. Sheamus, and it was probably the match of the night. Barrett has looked great in his three matches since returning to the ring, and it just brings up more questions as to why they kept him out of the ring for so long. Sheamus looked good too, using a few moves, like a flying cross body and a running dropkick, that I can't remember him using before. I wonder if some of the boos have caused him to pull out some of these tricks. Barrett ended up winning with a Bullhammer, and his push continues, which is great in my mind.
** In the other tournament match, Rob Van Dam beat Cesaro after some interference by Jack Swagger. The Cesaro dynamic is interesting. Fans leading up to Wrestlemania were starting to heavily cheer Cesaro. However, his new affiliation with Heyman, especially with Heyman ranting about how Brock beat The Undertaker, is somewhat confusing the crowd, and he's not getting cheers nearly as loud. Also, the run-in from Swagger was interesting, because the crowd didn't know whether to cheer or boo him either. I wrote a while ago that they were truly blurring the lines between faces and heels, and this feud is illustrating that. When they face off, both on Smackdown, and I assume at Extreme Rules, it will be interesting to see how the crowd divides.
** The Usos beat The Rhodes Brothers. After the match, Cody pushed Goldust away before going up the ramp. It seems like this will start the breakup of the two, though I have to question the timing of it. Right now, there are so few tag teams on the main roster. It's these two, Rybaxel (who were on commentary and attacked the Usos after the match), Los Matadores and 3MB. 3MB are hardly credible, and Los Matadores are barely more credible than them. So it's basically a three team division at the moment. Though this does lead me to believe that we're going to see The Ascension (the NXT tag champs) on the main roster sooner rather than later.
** Speaking of Los Matadores and 3MB, they tangled in a six-man tag, with El Torito and Hornswaggle involved. Los Matadores won when Torito pinned Drew McIntyre (yes, you read that right). It looks like a feud between Torito and Hornswaggle will continue.
** Emma won against Layla. They continue to keep Emma firmly as a comedy character, which is a mistake in my mind. In this match, she even took out her own version of the Cobra and used it to beat Layla. One thing that made Emma intriguing in NXT was that she was able to take her light personality out of the ring, and still be aggressive and credible in the ring, even when mixing in some of the quirkiness. So far on the main roster, she's focused on the comedy part, which isn't helping her get over.
** Paige beat Aksana with the Scorpion Crosslock.
** Alexander Rusev defeated Sin Cara in a surprisingly competitive match.
** One small note that I found funny: When they showed the typical city shot that they do on every RAW, the shot they used was clearly at least four years old. The Inner Harbor shot included both the ESPN Zone and Barnes and Noble. Of course they use stock footage -- most events like wrestling, or sporting events, do. Usually though, it's not so obvious exactly how old it is.
** The WWE announced that RAW will return to Baltimore on Sept. 8.
** Also, it was announced that Hugh Jackman will be on RAW next week to help promote the new X-Men movie. His 2011 appearance was referenced, and it appears that this time he'll be in Dolph Ziggler's corner, likely against Damien Sandow.