TV Recap: Monday Night Raw, December 16, 2013

WWE.com had a strange backstage interview with Natalya following her loss to AJ Lee, and what struck me the most, was the last thing she said before the video cut “Enough is enough, and it’s time for change.” So, she’s going to become the Blue Blazer?

Alright, that isn’t funny… But it’s not funny to quote the late Owen Hart unless there is a damn good reason to. I was almost offended by her comments.

Enough with the serious and onto the circus! The entire locker room is out on the stage as The Authority bring out the one-and-only WWE World Champion, Randy Orton. Notice a trend? Every time Orton is “crowned” the whole locker room has to come out and watch. The in-ring banter does not go for long without an interruption, of course by last night’s loser, John Cena. Interesting move, Cena does not invoke a rematch, but instead challenges Orton to take on someone who should have been granted another opportunity, Daniel Bryan. As the new champion began to protest, Triple H and Stephanie privately discuss, then publically announce it is “best for business” and announce a non-title match between Bryan and Orton for the night’s main event. Crowd begins their YES chants, and the entire roster joins along.

It looks like Big Show and Rey Mysterio are the next contenders for the Tag Team Championships as they hand The Rhodes Bros. a solid loss in the first match of the night. Weird, right? We have all these teams, yet a recent pairing (recent as of last week), plus a face team gets the push over more established ones like The Real Americans or The Usos. Even Ryback and Curtis Axel (no, I will NOT call them Rybaxel) would have made more sense as next contenders. There is a large number of tag teams right now, and it bugs me the established ones like The Prime Time Players are being lost.

Bad News Barrett baby! He gives bad news to the live crowd, but Orton gets bad news from The Authority when he starts his whining shtick again. Triple H and Steph put the child in his place, reminding him what they give can be taken away. We get a fast rematch between Dolph Ziggler and Fandango. If you missed it last night, Fandango earned a win over the former World Champion, and if you blinked, you missed Ziggler picking up the win tonight.

Here is yet another random pairing, Big E. Langston and Mark Henry, picking up a win over The Real Americans. Lot of big-man teams coming along. I wonder why pair Langston, the Intercontinental Champion with anyone? Langston and Henry should be unstoppable, but why have a singles champion suddenly paired up at all? Possible heel-turn by Henry? Cesaro looked really good in the match, slight tease for the Big Swing but didn’t happen. Could you imagine of he did it to Henry? Anyone notice Henry has been paying tribute to the Junkyard Dog with his crawling headbutt? We roll backstage to Damien Sandow playing bad Santa. Love it. Sandow is hysterical. Except he isn’t laughing after finding out he will face Mark Henry one-on-one in a Santa Claus match.

More teams! Ryback and Axel go up against Tons of Funk. Clay and Tensai lose their cool early on, and Clay ditches Tensai, leaving him prone to eating a Shell Shock from Ryback. Post-match, Clay goes bonkers and beats up Tensai. Suddenly, Xavier Woods, R-Truth, and the Funkadactyls rush in to save the former A-Train. One less team. What are we still at, a dozen? While I really like the use of tag teaming in WWE right now, I worry they are starting to go a tad overboard on the concept. I would hate to see this trend jump the shark too soon.

CM Punk comes out to discuss his win over the bumbling Shield. He then targets The Authority to come out and explain themselves, but instead of Triple H, out comes Shawn Michaels. Nice staredown, crowd rolling back and forth on chants. Could we see Punk vs. Michaels at WrestleMania 30? That would be an epic match. Thanks to the WWE App, Punk gets The Usos as tag partners for the night, however the added manpower is not enough, and Reigns, again highlighted as the dominant force of the trio spears Punk for the pin and win. It is likely at some point the breakup will happen and it will be Ambrose and Rollins picking on Reigns. Seems interesting how at one moment, the Shield seems ready to implode, yet the next appearance shows them as a solid unit. I’m still thinking about HBK vs. Punk in the near future.

The Wyatts promise Daniel Bryan their feud is not over.

AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, and Alicia Fox defeat Natalya and The Bellas. The highlight is watching Tamina Snuka punt Nikki’s head off into the upper deck. Very hard hitting match, something I have not seen from Divas in a long time. I’ll admit, bit impressed. Short match, which was good. Perhaps the short-and-sweet formula is working out well for Diva bouts.

In a happy-yet-unsatisfying conclusion, Daniel Bryan gets the win over WWE World Champion Randy Orton, but by disqualification thanks to a blatant nutshot from Orton. Lots of boos from the crowd, but it was a really good match. Amazing how a really good match can be ignored if the finish is a pile of garbage. Just think back to WCW. Back to the present-day, the match showed we could very well see this in a few months at WrestleMania 30. John Cena rushed in to attack Orton, but he wound up looking at the lights following an RKO. We see many things staring us in the face here.

The foundation is down for the 2014 Royal Rumble. We have a lot of time until then, about six weeks. A lot can happen and even better, because there is a lot of time, we can have some seriously good buildup for the Rumble and beyond towards Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania. Could we see Punk vs. HBK? Perhaps some sort of ultimate tag team showdown is in the making? Cena appears to have bowed out of the main event picture, yes, he is still recovering from injury along with Sheamus, Alberto del Rio, and probably a few others I have not thought about. The Royal Rumble has always been one of those events for returns and surprises.

Cena may challenge Orton for the WWE World Championship at the Royal Rumble, which mostly means he will not be in the Royal Rumble. Never forget, sometimes the losers in singles bouts wind up as surprise entries in the Rumble match. But, if not, then this means Cena will have no way of main eventing WrestleMania unless he is the champion. If Cena is in the Rumble, I would love to see him face off with Bryan as the final two standing. Daniel Bryan is in the same position and Chris Benoit was 10 years ago. I said it in yesterday’s column, and I will say it again for emphasis. I won’t be shocked if someone from another website steals my idea, or maybe instead will be kind enough to agree with me. Benoit had a similar gimmick of being held back, having main event title matches teased and taken away, then finally, because he won the Royal Rumble, he got to main event WrestleMania 20. He we are, a decade later and a very similar storyline is playing out. As evidenced by WWE TLC, no one, even the modern-day fans want to see yet another John Cena vs. Randy Orton match. They want Daniel Bryan. They want CM Punk. WrestleMania 30 is the golden opportunity to give the fans exactly what they want… unless we get something completely unseen… like Daniel Bryan vs…

The Undertaker.