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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: Last Night Felt Like WrestleMania Season Started
By The Doc
Jan 14, 2014 - 11:05:59 PM

The Snowman is a genius

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Are a believer now that Daniel Bryan is meant to be a major player at WrestleMania this year or do you need more proof?

As I was watching Raw last night, I could not help but feel a difference in the atmosphere. Perhaps it was something that I had convinced myself of prior to starting my viewing at about 9:30EST (I DVR so I can zip through the fluff). After last week's nostalgia show, I had thought that this would be a week in which the WWE would refocus on the Royal Rumble PPV, particularly as it pertained to the advancement of the Daniel Bryan storyline. Given my stance that "Bryan joins the Wyatts" was merely a winding section along the Road to WrestleMania XXX and that Batista was coming back on January 20th, I figured that Bryan would be the focal point this week. However, I did not expect that he would be locked inside of a steel cage with Bray Wyatt. If you support my train of thought for Bryan's future, tell me you did not immediately see the series of events that led to "Bryan, Bray Wyatt, steel cage locked by Kane who holds the only key" and think, "we're potentially going to get a memorable moment out of this." That was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G television.

I had to resist the urge to fast forward to the end of the Steel Cage match to see what happened. I'm glad that I waited patiently. The entire presentation was memorable. The Usos got a nice boost from even being involved in that match, but winning it sure does seem to guarantee a future Tag Team title opportunity. Jimmy and Jey were a by-product, last night, of taking the time to build a mid-card division full of interesting, diverse acts. After they had completed their celebration and attention returned to Bryan and Bray in the ring, the door locked, and Harper and Rowan down and out at ringside, I admittedly got my hopes up. I was emotionally engulfed in that moment. When Bray put Bryan in position to receive Sister Abigail, I mentally started a "NO! NO! NO!" chant. Just as quickly, my mental state was brought 180 degrees to a cerebral "YES! YES! YES!" chant when Bryan shrugged off Bray before the finisher could be delivered. As I sit here a day later, I struggle to recollect the entire arrangement in my head because, from the time that Bryan retaliated until the point where he delivered the running knee, I was so engaged with everything happening on my TV screen that I simply forgot some of the details. I do vividly recall one thing, though - I hit pause. I had caught up to the live show by that point, but I halted it right in the middle of everything to bring my wife into the room and tell her to take a look at the moment frozen in time on our Vizio. Ten thousand Providence, Rhode Islanders in unison with Bryan, their hands hoisted high into the sky. Do you have that picture in your head, doubters? Keep it there, please. That gives you every reason you need to know as to why the WWE knows full well what they're doing with Daniel Bryan and why you should not expect to be disappointed with his WrestleMania 30 position. Once I hit play, my wife - in hearing the audio accompanying the body language - could only muster the same thought that surely was running through the minds of millions of others..."WOW!"

Only a handful of occasions in wrestling history have sent me into more of a purely joyful state than I was in seeing the final moments of Raw.

The timing was perfect. Batista is going to dominate next week's show, making it clear that he is a favorite to win the 2014 Royal Rumble match. Bryan deserved the full spotlight last night, building a tidal wave of momentum and definitively stating his own case to win the 30-man Battle Royal. It was the kind of feel good moment that Bryan fans needed. I have felt secure in his long-term position since he cleanly pinned John Cena at Summerslam. My column about the Summerslam buyrate back in September was merely a snack for thought by comparison to the whole meal's worth of confidence that I had built by watching the WWE build him up and protect him in 2012 and 2013. But I think that Bryan fans really needed last night…and, as a fan, I absolutely loved it. I wondered aloud through many columns at the end of last summer, "Does the WWE fanbase in 2013 have the patience to sit back and let this thing play out until WrestleMania?" The answer has been a resounding, "NO!" from a significant portion of our LOP columnists and readers. The WWE hopefully gave the doubters some hope. His story is so pure. If you cannot get wrapped up in his ascension, then it might be time for you to seek other entertainments avenues.

It had a WrestleMania feel to it, Raw did. Not only did Bryan take a massive leap forward with his “Show of Shows” related momentum, but the seeds were planted for a CM Punk vs. Triple H feud, which presumably would make Bryan a heavier favorite to win the Rumble. Punk vs. HHH revisited has been something that I have been hesitant to start getting hyped up about until I saw a tease. The New Age Outlaws backing out of their six man tag team match with Punk as their partner gave us exactly that tease. Game on. I think Triple H vs. CM Punk could be an incredible match if the stars align. We have not seen heel Trips wrestle in eight years. He is at his best in that role. Punk has made such a fan out of me in these last three years that I have little doubt that, on a stage like WrestleMania, he would be able to stimulate Trips to bring his game up a few notches. It may not have happened in their overbooked, rushed, mess of a match back in 2011, but their presumed 2014 storyline would much better fit Triple H’s character and Punk is more adaptable (on the microphone, particularly, but generally with an anti-Authority arc).

I’m also really enjoying, as a preview to next week’s column, the presence of so many relevant names in this year’s Royal Rumble match that are actually on the current roster.

Of course, on any other night, my childhood favorite, The Ultimate Warrior, having his name called for the Hall of Fame would have been the top moment on Raw for me. He was one of the glaring omissions, in my opinion, along with Macho Man. There is still hope for Savage getting inducted. The Warrior’s music was used to play my wedding party to our reception. I am one of the world’s biggest Warrior marks. I sincerely hope that one of the features on the WWE Network will be a live streaming telecast of the Hall of Fame ceremony so that I do not have to wait 8 more weeks to see the Warrior’s speech when the DVD/Blu-Ray comes out. 15-minutes or so of Warrior with a live microphone talking about himself? Where do I sign up?

I also saw that the WWE might consider inducting, for the first time, a match into the WWE Hall of Fame. When we started the LOP Hall of Fame last year, we borrowed off my pals from TheVortexEffect.net, who used to run a Hall of Fame that included matches. I thought that was a cool idea, hence bringing it to LOP. The WWE apparently has in mind to induct the first WrestleMania main-event – Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. I think it would be a great thing to do. Unique and odd as it may be given how the other Halls of Fame work in sports, I would be fascinated to watch a match-centric HOF speech by the men who lived it.

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