It may not have come with a victory, but Daniel Bryan's induction into The Wyatt Family was sealed with a kiss all the same on Monday Night Raw. Despite continued support from the WWE Universe who chanted his name, Bryan proved himself a card-carrying member of Wyatt's clan when he attacked The Usos with the same aggression The Eater of Worlds has preached since his arrival in WWE.
Bryan and Wyatt worked seamlessly together, pounding The Usos into the defensive early on; The Samoan wunderkinds kept pace with the bizarre father-son tandem, though, and had their foes on the brink of defeat before Luke Harper & Erick Rowan ran interference. The intrusion brought The Wyatts a disqualification loss – and The Usos’ quick thinking saved them from further annihilation afterwards – yet Bryan's performance seemed to satisfy Bray all the same. The Eater of Worlds offered his latest disciple an embrace of approval, followed up by a Sister Abigail to cement his adoption into The Wyatt Family.
It's no news by now that battling John Cena tends to bring out the best in Damien Sandow. Alas for the Unwashed Masses, however, their would-be Intellectual Savior got schooled again by the former World Heavyweight Champion, despite an A-plus effort that had the WWE Universe guessing till the very end. After being forced to watch the highlights of his failed Money in the Bank cash-in last October, Sandow fought with renewed urgency and forced the Cenation leader onto his heels almost instantly.
A burst of offense from Cena briefly sent Sandow back to the drawing board, though The Enlightened One's newly minted “Royal Arch” submission hold promptly turned Cena into a human pretzel. The match continued to see-saw between the two competitors; each time Cena brought the hammer down, Sandow would find a way to kick out. Appropriately enough for a learned man, hubris led to Sandow's defeat when he attempted a front-face, STF-esque submission on Cena, who slowly muscled his way up and transitioned into a match-ending Attitude Adjustment, to the delight of his father at ringside.
Jack Swagger may not necessarily be The Beast Incarnate. That said, the record-setting collegiate All-American is certainly nothing to scoff at, and one would have to imagine Big Show was sending a message to Brock Lesnar when he manhandled the Real American into a decisive defeat two weeks before he faces The Anomaly. Swagger attempted to use that collegiate experience to his advantage by going for the giant's legs; the plan, to put it lightly, failed miserably. Swagger barely even got into gear before Show steamrolled him with a shoulder block. One chokeslam later and Swagger was history, though the evening only got worse for Zeb Colter when The Founding Father received a plus-sized KO Punch after the bell.
Many in the WWE Universe assumed the anti-authority (and anti-Authority) CM Punk was tempting fate when he teamed with Triple H's former stablemates The New Age Outlaws to take on The Shield last week. Now, after Raw, he knows why. Despite a strong – if unsuccessful – show of solidarity among the unlikely allies on SmackDown last week, the DX veterans showed their true colors and left Punk to the mercy of The Hounds of Justice.
Initially, before the betrayal, it looked as though the three rebels’ campaign would amount to a win when the Outlaws – yep, they still got it – set the table for a fired-up Punk to seal the deal. Roman Reigns lived up to his heavy-artillery reputation by knocking Punk down a peg or two with an astonishing dropkick outside the ring, though the former WWE Champion battled through the numbers game to set up The Shield for defeat. When the war-torn Punk went for the tag, though, The Outlaws saddled up and abandoned The Straight Edge Superstar to a spear from Reigns that all but cut him in two.
With Kaitlyn gone, the door is wide open for a challenge to AJ's Divas Championship. Despite the wide-open field, though, The Funkadactyls couldn't capitalize on the chance to knock the “Black Widow” off when they faced AJ and her muscle, Tamina Snuka, in tag-team action. Cameron was the first Funkadactyl to enter the fray, though her trademark spunk didn't save her when the two Divas smothered her with alternating attacks; AJ finished Cameron off with a Shining Wizard before she could even reach her partner. It was Naomi, though, who got the last word when she bid AJ a hearty “girl bye” by knocking both Tamina and the champion out of the ring after the final bell had been counted.
He got you, Randy. Kofi Kingston – mired in recent weeks in grudge matches with The Miz – blasted back onto the scene like a tropical storm, shocking Randy Orton in one of the biggest upsets in Raw history.
The Boom Squad General had been set up as little more than tune-up fodder for the Champion of Champions, whose mood has only soured going into his title rematch against John Cena. It certainly looked as though that was going to be the case, too, when The Apex Predator systematically blasted Kofi with a superplex that seemed more likely to hospitalize Kingston than defeat him.
Kofi's refusal to stay down left The Viper frustrated, and his stubbornness eventually built to a flurry of offense that spurred Orton into action. The Champion of Champions soaked in his own magnificence a bit too long though, and the former U.S. Champion capitalized by escaping the hanging DDT to pin Orton with an S.O.S. It was John Cena's father who paid the price, however, when Orton reached into the crowd and rained punches upon him in frustration.
Cody Rhodes & Goldust may well find themselves enemies (again) within the anything-goes environment of the Royal Rumble Match. But two weeks before WWE's marquee melee, “The Brotherhood” ran stronger than ever, defeating Ryback & Curtis Axel in a barnstorming tag match on Raw. With both teams operating at top speed, there was little room for error and Curtis Axel started things off on an appropriately strong note against Goldust.
Ryback – operating on a new level of goonish dominance – followed up nicely at the expense of The Bizarre One, leaving Goldust teetering on the brink of unconsciousness. Ultimately, though, the wheels came off “Rybaxel” when, in a moment The Human Wrecking Ball probably wishes could be wiped from the history books, Cody Rhodes reversed an immaculately-timed attack from Axel into Cross Rhodes to send the Tag Champs home victorious.
Rey Mysterio's 2006 Royal Rumble performance remains the stuff of legend. The Ultimate Underdog's bid for a second win in the contest, however, got off to a rough start thanks to the 2011 Rumble Match victor, Alberto Del Rio, on Raw. Mysterio teed off on “Mexico’s Greatest Export” and used his speed to his advantage, building to the 619 in a matter of minutes. Del Rio tripped Rey up in a Tree of Woe before he could follow up, though, submitting the former World Champion moments later with the Cross Armbreaker.
Puffed-up by his vicious victory, The Essence of Excellence grabbed hold of the mic to sling some final insults towards Mysterio's old partner Batista, the Superstar he seems to have signaled out as his latest enemy. Only seven days left until The Animal arrives to answer.
Daniel Bryan, as it turns out, is not the wolf Bray Wyatt thought he was. Nor is he a sheep; despite popular opinion he isn't even a goat. He was a possum. Facing The Usos for the second time in one night – this one inside the confines of a steel cage –Bray Wyatt's prodigal son not only failed to bring him victory, but cast The Eater of Worlds aside to the delight of a WWE Universe that had thought they’d lost Bryan forever.
The Usos certainly did their part and rose to the challenge, dropping Bryan with a Russian leg sweep off the top rope and decking Bray with twin superkicks. With escape the only option, as the door had been chained shut by WWE Director of Operations Kane, the fight quickly spilled to the top of the cage. The Usos struck gold when Bryan was knocked off the wall, tripping up Bray in the process and leaving them free and clear to escape.
While The Usos made their getaway, Bray returned to Bryan to administer another initiation via Sister Abigail ... though Bryan wasn't having it this time. The submission master spun free of the maneuver and stripped his Wyatt jumpsuit off to reveal his own gear, downing Bray with the running knee as the WWE Universe chanting “YES!” with each strike. For the first time in what felt like forever, Daniel Bryan joined them.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) defeated The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Daniel Bryan) (w/ Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) by Disqualification (5:30)
- John Cena defeated Damien Sandow (10:27)
- The Big Show defeated Jack Swagger (w/ Antonio Cesaro & Zeb Colter) (1:19)
- The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns) defeated CM Punk & The New Age Outlaws (The Road Dogg & Billy Gunn) (15:39)
- AJ & Tamina defeated The Funkadactyls (Naomi and Cameron) (2:51)
- Kofi Kingston defeated Randy Orton (16:41)
- The Brotherhood (Cody Rhodes & Goldust) defeated RybAxel (Curtis Axel & Ryback) (6:05)
- Alberto Del Rio defeated Rey Mysterio (4:56)
- The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) defeated The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt & Daniel Bryan) (w/ Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) in a Steel Cage Match (10:51)
Other on-screen talent