By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Daniel Bryan Interrupted The Authority
I have my doubts that putting Bryan in the title picture despite not being involved in the Royal Rumble was WWE's master plan all along, but at least they are righting their wrong from last night. The Authority actually came off as heelish for once while Bryan cut an intense promo, one of his best to date. I am glad to see the Bryan chants acknowledged in storyline and hope to see Bryan contend for the championship at Elimination Chamber. The run-ins from Sheamus and John Cena helped set up the main event match for later in the night.
The Real Americans def. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara
I like the team of Mysterio and Cara, but I have pretty much lost all hope for a potential match between the two. It doesn't even matter this point considering Cara is now played by Hunico. Speaking of which, Hunico is noticeably taller than Mistico, and it really showed when it stood alongside Mysterio. Does anyone not know Cara is Hunico by this point? Anyway, it was a nice match while it lasted, but nothing special. Swagger showed signs of a babyface turn after Colter slapped him at ringside during the bout, but they showed no tension following their win. I would rather see Cesaro turn face if anything, but we will see what it leads to.
R-Truth def. Fandango
Same match, different week. Seriously, what is WWE's obsession with putting Truth up against Damien Sandow one week and Fandango the next? The midcard is beyond dead right now and both of these comedy acts are floundering at the moment. Needless to say, the crowd couldn't have cared less about that match or who won. If nothing else, Woods finally shaved off his goofy mustache.
Batista and Brock Lesnar Interrupted WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton
Orton's promo was on par with his his mic skills as of late, meaning it was decent at best. Thankfully it wasn't long before Batista interrupted and once again made his claim for wanting to be undisputed champion, not telling us anything we didn't already know. It is worth noting, though, that Batista acknowledge the hate for him in the crowd by mentioning Daniel Bryan and pointing out a "Bootista" sign. Once Lesnar's music hit, things got intriguing. Lesnar's "options" of facing Orton or Batista provided a good hook for the rest of show and it was cool to see the class of 2002 (or at least part of it) in the same ring together.
Dolph Ziggler def. The Miz in a Battle of Cleveland Match
To my knowledge, this was the first time WWE has acknowledged Ziggler being from the Cleveland area, which was cool. It was even cooler to see him and fellow Ohio native The Miz go one-on-one despite it being a face vs. face match. The crowd reacted favorably to both men during the bout (when they weren't chanting for/bashing themselves) and enjoyed the action as much as I did. It seemed rather random since neither guy is in a program at the moment, but I hope to see them form a tag team at some point.
The Usos def. Curtis Axel and Ryback
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the team of Axel and Ryback still makes no sense to me. They won't be involved in anything substantial regardless of whether together or not, so WWE might as well split them up. The match was fine for what it was, but it was more of a showcase for The Usos than anything else. No complaints coming from me, as The Usos are hot as hell right now and I hope to see them win the WWE Tag Team Championships from The New Age Outlaws soon, preferably at WrestleMania 30.
Alberto Del Rio def. Kofi Kingston
You know the fans are bored by a match once they start chanting for the commentators. In all seriousness, it gets hard to care about a match after a while when it gets done to death. They work well, don't get me wrong, but both characters are way too stagnant at the moment. The crowd warmed up to them down the stretch as the contest got increasingly more competitive. Allowing Kingston to get offense over Del Rio made him look good in defeat, but it looks like it's back to the drawing board for him despite beating the world champ two weeks ago.
Cody Rhodes and Goldust def. WWE Tag Team Champions The New Age Outlaws by Disqualification
Similar to at the Royal Rumble, these two teams had a quality matchup and made the most of the matchup while it lasted. I didn't see the interference from Brock Lesnar coming, but it was probably for the best, as it saves the tag team title rematch (and the clean finish) for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. Although Lesnar vs. Batista or Orton would be awesome, I am glad they didn't deliver tonight without hyping it at least one week out. That is what is best for business.
The Bella Twins and The Funkadactyls def. Divas Champion AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, Aksana and Alicia Fox
All multi-Diva tag team matches are essentially the same, and this one was no different. There wasn't anything necessarily wrong with it, but it went the expected two minutes before it was over. At least the triple suplex was a cool spot. Naomi getting the pinfall over AJ doesn't surprise, as they are obviously pushing her as a Divas Championship contender. Now the question is when she will end up receiving her well deserved title match.
Daniel Bryan, Sheamus and John Cena def. The Shield by Disqualification in an Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
Sheamus showed no ring rust despite being out of action for close to six months, and all the other competitors held up their own as well. It was a slow start, but the match was given great time and really intensified in the final few minutes. The crowd was very much into the action and strongly behind Bryan. I probably should have seen The Wyatt Family interference coming, but it allowed the faces (mainly Bryan) to advance to Elimination Chamber without having The Shield get pinned. I also assume we will finally get The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield at the event as well to set up a Shield breakup for 'Mania.
Coming off the heels of a controversial Royal Rumble pay-per-view, I thought this was a good show. Bryan was the obvious star of the night who shined in the opening and closing segments. Lesnar's ongoing angle is intriguing as well and I am anticipating what role he will have in his hometown at Elimination Chamber. The announcement that Jake "The Snake" Roberts is going into the WWE Hall of Fame this year was excellent, as he is very deserving of the honor and it was only a matter of time. Nothing else really stood out from this show, but the other matches were solid enough that the there hours didn't drag completely. I am now a little more optimistic about the direction WWE is taking with the road to WrestleMania than I was after watching the Rumble, but it will take time before fans can be certain that WWE is giving them what they want with the Daniel Bryan saga come Elimination Chamber.