Last night’s edition of “Monday Night Raw” was not your typical “go home” show before a pay-per-view.
Sure, a few more matches were (finally) booked for Sunday’s “Fatal 4 Way” PPV, and The Miz recaptured the United States Championship from R-Truth. But what every WWE fan wanted to know, and what was the subject of proverbial “water cooler” talk all week was how the NXT-invasion angle of one week ago would be addressed.
Except for showing the video in its entirety on last Tuesday’s “NXT” and “Friday Night SmackDown,” there had been no follow up.
Actually, to quote the guy who had been running against Linda McMahon in the Connecticut Senate race, that last sentence was a “misstatement.” The video was shown in its entirety, EXCEPT for the footage of Daniel Bryan choking Ring Announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie, and Bryan spitting in the face of WWE Champion John Cena.
It seems that Bryan had been fired by the WWE over the weekend –his bio was removed from the WWE website, and none other than Cena himself took to Twitter to say it was not fair – and as of yesterday, thousands of fans signed a digital petition to have Bryan rehired.
No reason was offered by the WWE for Bryan’s release, but speculation was rampant. One website reported that Vince McMahon felt pressure from someone outside the company (with close ties) because Bryan’s actions crossed the line for what was acceptable on a PG-rated broadcast.
What at first seemed like a work (and a brilliant one at that), started to become more realistic as the day wore on.
When the NXT rookies were confronted by General Manager Bret “The Hitman” Hart to begin “Raw,” group leader Wade Barrett said that because Bryan had shown remorse for his actions, he was no longer a part of the faction. Nice way to put that whole “work” theory to bed.
So, Bryan was legitimately fired for being the member of the group who took the violence too far, but his absence was explained by saying that he felt bad…see you in TNA, Daniel.
For the most part, there wasn’t much that was special about how they handled the invasion on last night’s “Raw.” Perhaps they had bigger plans that were scuttled by having to tone things down.
During the opening segment, as Barrett and the rookies addressed the crowd from the ring, they received massive heat (maybe Drew McIntyre can take Daniel Bryan’s place? Just askin’).
They told Bret Hart that they were upset with how they were treated – having to use a closet-sized dressing room, and they were mad that Wade Barrett was the only one with a guaranteed contract.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t they made aware during “NXT” that only the winner of the competition received a contract?
The funniest (unintentional) part of the open was when Hart demanded that they leave the building immediately or they would all be arrested (he had fired them all moments earlier).
Soooooo…wait. The rookies assault a bunch of people and cause thousands (presumably) of dollars worth of property damage, but now they should be afraid of getting arrested. How about locking the doors and beating them down “Bronx Tale”style? (“now you’ze can’t leave”).
The next time the angle was addressed was at the start of Hour Two when John Cena, who had been given the night off, came out to address the crowd. He made no mention of Daniel Bryan during his speech. The NXT-ers returned during Cena’s promo, entering the ring area through the crowd.
This time though, Cena had help as faces and heels alike rushed to the ring to counterattack and beat up the NXT crew. Edge, Randy Orton, and Mark Henry among others took part, but easily the best moment was when Sheamus cleaned house with his lead pipe. The WWE veterans were able to chase the rookies out of the arena.
WWE Security is either really incompetent or seriously understaffed, by the way (and did Bret forget to call the police after the rookies returned the first time?). Fast forward to the main event… During the action in the ring, there was an abrupt cut backstage where the NXT-ers were once again wreaking havoc and destroying everything in sight.
They grabbed Bret Hart and threw him into a limo after roughing him up (and ripping off his shirt and jacket). By the way, who fights like that? “Hey! You slept with my wife!! I’m going to undress you and then beat you to a pulp!” Really?!!?
Now, here is where WWE doesn’t learn. Limousines are synonymous with bad storylines. Here’s a quick refresher…
Vince McMahon was blown up in a limo a few years ago…the storyline had to be scrapped in the wake of the Chris Benoit story coming to light, days later.
Just a few short months ago, Bret Hart himself was involved in one of the worst storylines in years when his leg was crushed as he was getting into a limo, when a car driven by one of Mr. McMahon’s goons backed into him. Turns out Bret knew it was coming and hired a stunt driver, and …oh, never mind.
Back to last night’s show…the limo with Bret inside screeches around the bowels of the arena, smashing up other cars before the rookies take off. The show fades to black as a visibly-injured Hart tumbles out of the wreckage in a heap.
I’m sure there will be some answers at Sunday’s PPV, if not sooner. I’m not going to throw in the towel just yet, but the WWE couldn’t have dropped the ball on this angle already, could they? They had to be aware of the buzz and anticipation from wrestling fans. This was one of the most talked-about angles in years.
Maybe they were truly caught off guard by having to fire Daniel Bryan for the alleged complaints. But they had all weekend to figure that out. And putting someone in a car and intentionally smashing it up is PG-rated?? Also, once again, they succeed in making Bret Hart look like a fool…this time at the hands of a bunch of rookies.
Aside from not being able to generate more interest in the “Fatal 4 Way” PPV for this viewer, one of the most eagerly-anticipated editions of “Raw” in recent memory amounted to not much more than a buzz kill.
Perhaps we can get some answers from the champ, himself. John Cena will be on the “Busted Open” radio show tomorrow. Catch us every Monday and Wednesday from 2-4 PM, Eastern on Sirius 126/XM 243.
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Written by Pete Copeland