A crowd can sometimes be overlooked as one of the necessary ingredients of professional wrestling. A crowd reaction can make a good match great, a mediocre match good, and can make a moment truly memorable.
On Monday night's edition of WWE Raw, we got one of those moments.
We knew it was only a matter of time before Daniel Bryan broke away from The Wyatt Family. After Bryan and Bray Wyatt lost by disqualification to The Usos in the first match, Kane decided that they should have a rematch, in a cage with the door locked (side note: it's interesting that it was Kane who decided this, after his feud with The Wyatt Family).
After a physical match, The Usos again prevailed.
When Bray Wyatt asked Bryan to submit himself for punishment for the second time of the night, Bryan worked out of the Sister Abigail this time and moved towards the corner.
What could have been a somewhat underwhelming moment, due to the fact that Bryan was only with The Wyatt Family for two weeks, became something much greater because of the crowd.
They immediately went into the “Yes” chants, which quickly morphed into “Daniel Bryan” chants as he looked toward the crowd. As Bryan dodged a body avalanche, and then unleashed a torrent of kicks to Wyatt, the cheers got louder and louder as the audience worked themselves into a frenzy.
Bryan took off his Wyatt scrubs, revealing his regular outfit, and launched Wyatt into the cage several times, before leading the crowd in a “Yes” chant himself.
The final shot of WWE Raw was of Bryan, on top of the cage, as seemingly the entire crowd was united in the “Yes” cheers.
While questions do remain -- was that the end of the feud between Bryan and The Wyatt Family? And, if so, where does that leave The Wyatt Family? -- the night truly seemed to be a validation of Bryan and his popularity.
Bryan had undoubtedly been over with the WWE fans, but this night might have been the peak of that affection to this point. And as he was sitting on top of the cage, leading the fans in cheers, it was hard not to think a little bit ahead of what could be at WrestleMania.
The rest of Raw:
-- With the WWE Hall of Fame tickets going on sale this week, they announced the first inductee: The Ultimate Warrior. I’ll have a longer discussion about this later in the week, but needless to say, that should be one of the most interesting Hall of Fame speeches ever.
-- The CM Punk against The Authority storyline took another step when, in a six-man tag team match against The Shield, The New Age Outlaws left CM Punk alone in the ring. While they didn't specifically say it was the reason, it makes sense considering The New Age Outlaws' relationship with Triple H.
-- Randy Orton shockingly lost to Kofi Kingston in a nontitle match. It's hard to figure out the reason for Kingston getting the win at this point, but he does always seem to shine around the Royal Rumble. After the match, Orton assaulted John Cena's father, who was sitting at ringside. It didn't go as far as 2007, when Randy Orton punted Cena Sr., but after being punched several times, he was taken away in an ambulance. That's an easy way to up the ante in a title match that's been somewhat overlooked with all the other big storylines and returns happening in the WWE right now.
-- Earlier in the night, Cena beat Damien Sandow in a fairly competitive match. Hopefully this will be the start to re-establishing Sandow's credibility that has taken a hit in the past few months.
-- AJ and Tamina beat the Funkadactyls. Naomi cleared the ring of the two after the match. However, the most interesting thing about this match was that they showed NXT's Emma in the crowd. For those who don't watch NXT, Emma is an Australian wrestler who trained with Lance Storm. She has been portrayed as a quirky, dancing diva who has had some really strong matches over the past few months with the likes of Natalya and Summer Rae.
-- Alberto Del Rio beat Rey Mysterio and called out Batista again.
-- The Rhodes brothers beat Ryback and Curtis Axel. They talked a lot about Ryback's rants on Twitter from this past weekend during the match, and Ryback made some gestures to play that up. If anyone questioned whether his rants were real or not, this would answer that question.
-- The Big Show beat Jack Swagger, then gave the KO punch to Zeb Colter after the match.