RAW: The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same

Something has gone awry on Planet WWE. In a twist of bizarre proportions, Daniel Bryan has joined the unsavoury and unwashed Wyatt family. Except nobody really believes it. It’s about as unsettling as when a puppy softly growls at you in an attempt to convince you of its wolfy lineage.

He doesn’t even look like a Wyatt; largely because he clearly owns some salon quality shampoo and conditioner (sulphate-free, of course). But also because you know that tucked under those pristinely pressed sleeveless overalls is a Whole Foods carrier bag containing organic quinoa, a new jar of Stevia and a bumper sized tub of chia seeds. DB does not look like a man who resides in a swamp-drenched shack. And all I can think as his and Bray’s tag match against The Usos plays out is that, with it gathering so elegantly at the waist, not since Jennifer Beals has a boiler suit looked quite so glamorous.
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The bellowing Usos won the match as the result of DQ when the two additional Wyatts gatecrashed the party. It seemed this development had to be used to teach Daniel Bryan a lesson in losing, so was followed by an awkward body-dip, the likes of which is generally only seen during the first week of Strictly Come Dancing training. You get the feeling Daniel Bryan’s not in any way prepared for the Wyatt brand of prison romance.
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The match between Damian Sandow and John Cena is standard second fight fodder and seems only to exist to remind us that Sandow cashed in his MITB contract on Cena and lost. The most remarkable thing about this match is that Cena has clashed his fluorescent green laces with the garish red and yellow boxer short elastic he seems intent on showing us throughout. Because asserting your status through your ability to afford expensive underwear is absolutely what a man of the 21st century would do! But then, I’m picking on a guy who’s worn cut-off jeans as wrestling gear for the entirety of his career. I have no doubt that he gives zero fucks that I feel the need to help him clash his neons more gracefully or tuck his knicker band back in. Check Alex Jones schooling John on how to do clashing neons on Wednesday’s One Show.
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WWE Network is the talk of the town and, to be fair, it looks promising. Being able to watch a year’s worth of PPVs for the suspiciously measly $9.99 is a bargain. And that’s before the thousands of hours of archive footage one can sift through to satiate one’s boredom. You also get to watch a reality show where veterans of the ring seemingly sit around arguing with each other over the semantics of matches nobody remembers. It has the potential to be as fist-gnawingly horrendous as Celebrity Big Brother and yet some seem to be vomiting with excitement to see it. Get back to me when you’re ready to roll out worldwide.

Big Show’s TKO on Zeb Colter following a blink-and-it’s-gone match was all you might expect it to be. Far better to hotfoot it to CM Punk and the New Age Outlaws against The Shield. It’s Rumble season, which means WWE like to drag out the old-timers gathering dust in the basement in preparation. I was left mulling over the stark American juxtaposition of a sports arena being named after a doughnut bakery. I then found myself wishing for a box of American doughnuts while I patiently waited for Gunn and Dogg to spew out their croaky patter and introduce their partner.

Ah CM Punk. I cannot quit you and I have no desire to. We’ve come a long way together, kid, and the first riff of Cult of Personality is akin to hearing the sudden jerk of that special ringtone you save for your boyfriend. I am never not fanning myself.  Enough swoonage, let’s move on to their opponents – The Shield. Oh. The improbable yet perfect trifecta of impressive brawn, dastardly brains and adorability. They’re renegades! Kind of. They still storm the ring through the crowd! While kissing babies on the head. Rollins continues to Jack-Bauer-roll over the barrier to announce his arrival! And then winks at the camera. The real story behind this match was that Punk’s degenerative sidekicks left him to be mauled by The Shield, which malfunctioned my cheer-o-meter beyond repair. Someone tell me how to feel.

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AJ and Tamina’s match against the Funkadactyls was as depressing a reminder as it comes that the women’s division is becoming a single cherry tomato in a massive salad bowl. While the announcement that Ultimate Warrior be an inductee to the Hall of Fame is the best case yet for video games spoiling surprises.’Surprises’ makes the fanfare sound quite pleasant, but I think I’d rather save my trumpet blowing for less abominable human beings. Like that woman who threw a cat in the bin.

Ripple monster Randy Orton, now weighed down by two championship belts and therefore traversing the ramp slower than ever, had a match against sprightly Kofi Kingston. While the match had its charms, it was really just a vehicle to hype Orton’s title match against Cena at the Rumble. Frothing and dribbling phlegm like a teen at Harry Styles’ locked dressing room door, Randy Orton lost control in the eye of defeat.

Where would his spinning rage take him? To the ground? Yes. To the announce table? Naturally. To John Cena’s dad who just happened to be in the front row? Yep! A Cena/Orton feud just isn’t legendary until John’s dad gets his squishy face smashed in. It’s alluring in the same way that I cannot look away from Mary Poppins any time it’s scheduled on TV. I know what’s going to happen, but I enjoy it nonetheless. I particularly enjoyed the lone, blood-curdling scream that called out as Orton launched himself over the barrier and Cena Sr. I’ll expect that girl to be the new recruit on Total Divas next season.

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The tag match barely made a dent and Alberto Del Rio vs Rey Mysterio was mainly used to tease Batista’s return next week. Oh yeah. There’s definitely a Rumble coming. Lest we forget my most favourite Batista screencap. That double denim, man.
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On the orders of Brad Maddox and a now besuited Kane, the main event was a repeat of the first event. This time Daniel Bryan – still looking like a fraudulent banker accidentally sent to a maximum security prison – and his new best mate were locked inside a steel cage with the Usos. The real brothers won the match by scaling the chains and making a quick exit. This left Wyatt furious and determined to dance Bryan into submission once more. His sweaty mouth whispered sweet nothings into Bryan’s ear before yet again dipping him into an imaginary baptism pool. Ah. But this wasn’t just a case of deja vu. Our trusted hero found his sword. So that wasn’t just a bag of quinoa in his pocket after all! He overthrew Wyatt.

Bryan shed his starched overalls, unleashed his suppressed fury on his hirsute mentor and left the crowd in absolute raptures. In a borderline terrifying display of support boasting the precision of a North Korean military pageant, the audience punched the air and Yes! Yes! Yes!’d along with Bryan’s every move, at various speeds, entirely dictated by him. You could say it’s a good job he’s such a nice guy. In the hands of those with a less dignified ego, this kind of universal adoration could go straight to their heads. But the thing is, only a genuinely nice guy could garner this type of widespread approval. Because those deserving always get rewarded in the end. Daniel Bryan is proof positive that the nice guy doesn’t always finish first, but he definitely finishes best.
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