Taking a page from the Chicago crowd trying to “Hijack Raw” last week, Daniel Bryan came out with a demand for Triple H. He wanted a match at WrestleMania. He said he would refuse to leave the ring until his demand was met, but unlike others who have made that threat, he had backup. In a visually striking scene, dozens of “fans” wearing Bryan shirts came out of the crowd, filling the ring and ringside area.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon tried to respond with threats, security and with sending out Damien Sandow to have a match, but they wouldn't do anything about the congregated fans. Finally, Triple H agreed to have a match with Bryan at WrestleMania.
But that wasn't all.
Before the crowd dispersed, Bryan had one more demand. Bryan said that if he won the match with Triple H at WrestleMania, he wanted to be inserted into the main event for the title. Triple H again agreed, while both him and McMahon completely lost their composure on the ramp.
As this scene started, I was really unsure about it. The WWE was taking a 2 1/2-year-old reference and trying to make something of it, and it had the potential to be a complete trainwreck. However, as it played out, I found myself captivated, not only by the spectacle of it, but the way that everyone involved played their parts perfectly -- from Daniel Bryan to Triple H to McMahon, and even to Sandow and the “security personnel.” That scene will go down in history as one of the all-time memorable moments, just by the the visual element alone.
It seemed like the WWE was backing themselves into a tough corner, as it seemed tough to put this result together without really twisting logic, even within the illogical wrestling world. However, this worked out as logically as you could get, without making The Authority look completely weak or hypocritical.
So now the fans have the result they want, and it seems like Bryan is finally reaching that crescendo he's been building towards since SummerSlam. And if, in New Orleans, he runs through Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton in the same night and WrestleMania ends with him holding the belt high, it will go down as one of the all-time greatest nights for a wrestler in history.
The rest of Raw:
-- Hulk Hogan opened the night by announcing a match for WrestleMania. In honor of the late great Andre the Giant, there's going to be an Andre the Giant 30-man battle royal, with the winner getting a trophy that looks like him. In years past, the WWE has done multiman matches, or big segments, to make sure everyone gets on the show. This seems like it could be a way to do that, as well as allow all the feuds that can't fit on the card in singles matches to have some time. Some of those could include The Real Americans, Sheamus-Christian, potentially even The Shield, and some of the tag teams. If nothing else, it should be a good spectacle to get the crowd involved.
-- The night ended with the team of Bryan and The Big Show beating Orton and Batista after Bryan pinned Orton. It will be interesting to see how Orton and Batista react to Triple H in the upcoming weeks after he potentially added Bryan to their match.
-- The Undertaker came out. Before he could say anything, Paul Heyman came out, and tried to talk The Undertaker out of having the match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. He put over the streak, talking about how impressive it is, and how he doesn't want to see it come to an end against Lesnar. The Undertaker said that Lesnar will rest in peace, as Heyman looked concerned at the top of the ramp. Heyman is being used perfectly in this feud. Lesnar isn't the best talker, and The Undertaker, while he can talk in promos, is always more effective when he keeps his promos short. So to have someone like Heyman able to narrate both sides shows just how important he is in this company, and shows the continuing importance of managers in professional wrestling.
-- John Cena and The Wyatt Family had another confrontation, as Bray Wyatt ran down Cena's (and Hulk Hogan's) pride as his sin. Cena then beat Erick Rowan in a match. Rowan got most of the offense in the match, but Cena was able to catch Rowan in a rollup as Rowan took his eyes off of Cena to watch Wyatt. With Cena's injured knee, I think these type of segments are what we can expect until WrestleMania. Later in the night, Wyatt officially accepted Cena's challenge for a match at WresleMania.
-- Christian and Sheamus had another strong match, this time in a street fight. I thought they would save the street fight for WrestleMania, but with how much these two have fought in the past few weeks, I could see them just being tossed into the battle royal match. Again, this match wasn't too warmly received, and part of that was because if followed the Occupy Raw segment. However, the various weapons spots were enough to give this a better reaction than the past few encounters.
-- The Shield showed unity for the first time in weeks as Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins beat The Rhodes Brothers in a tag team match. While both the announcers and Kane (before the match) mentioned the problems The Shield had been having with each other, there were no signs of dissension. While they will still likely break up, the WWE might hold off slightly longer, especially if they don't plan on having a big blowup match at WrestleMania.
-- Speaking of dissension, there were more problems between The Real Americans. Big E beat Jack Swagger in a match after Cesaro refused to get involved with the match. Swagger started yelling at Cesaro, and Big E rolled him up for the pin. After the match, the two nearly came to blows before Zeb Colter started yelling at both of them, and demanded that they shake hands. They did, and Cesaro refused to let go, squeezing Swagger's hand hard before finally letting go.
-- The Usos beat Ryback and Curtis Axel, with The New Age Outlaws on commentary. The Outlaws haven't had their rematch yet, so that's still coming, possibly at WrestleMania.
-- Alexander Rusev had another segment during which he just stood on stage while Lana talked for him. At some point, he needs to start squashing people. I don't mind not rushing his push, but he has to do something before much longer.
-- The Bellas beat AJ Lee and Tamina when Nikki pinned Lee. Natalya, who was on commentary, hopped up on the apron and stared down both Lee and the Bellas.
Any questions or comments on Raw? Leave them in the comments section below, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster