The Road to Wrestlemania seems to have started a touch early this year following the explosive conclusion to last night’s episode of WWE Raw, an ending which did little to sell TLC but did much to sell the future direction of WWE heading into 2014.
The special Slammy Awards episode, which featured presentations of the fan-voted awards by such WWE legends as Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, and the New Age Outlaws, was almost completely forgettable throughout the evening until the final fifteen minutes or so of the program, when a raucous Seattle crowd hijacked the end sequence, which concluded with a chaotic melee featuring some of WWE’s top names.
Raw concluded with a symbolic “Ascension Ceremony” in which both the WWE Championship and World Heavyweight Championship were relinquished by Randy Orton and John Cena to be raised above the ring for the forthcoming unification bout at this Sunday’s TLC pay-per-view event. The ring was filled with twenty individuals who at one time held either the World Heavyweight Championship or the WWE Championship, including names like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels,and Mick Foley.
While Triple H and Stephanie McMahon did their best to keep the segment on topic regarding the main event bout this Sunday between John Cena and Randy Orton, the Seattle crowd completely overwhelmed Triple H, drowning out his promo with chants for hometown hero Daniel Bryan. The chants for Daniel Bryan lasted almost two full minutes, with Bryan unable to do anything but smile and laugh in acknowledgment of his own overness. The chants only ended when Mark Henry, standing at Bryan’s side, raised Bryan’s hand in a token gesture of victory, which brought a massive pop from the crowd, followed by deafening “Yes!” chants.
While Triple H, in excellent heel fashion, simply discounted the chants, telling Bryan that it was “a lot of family for one building,” yet John Cena openly acknowledged them. Cena brought Bryan to the forefront of the situation, explaining that Daniel Bryan has worked his whole life to be where he is today, and that if Cena should win this Sunday, Bryan would get another WWE Championship opportunity. John Cena noted that the crowd cheers for Bryan because he “works and he earns it.”
The evening concluded in dramatic fashion, as both Randy Orton and John Cena brawled and were torn apart by the Superstars who joined them in the ring. The fight escalated as Orton attacked Punk, who retaliated, but was then in turn thrown to the mat by Triple H. Punk then attacked Triple H, only to be floored with a Sweet Chin Music by Shawn Michaels, who was then attacked by Daniel Bryan with a Running Knee. The chaos concluded when Orton attempted to RKO Daniel Bryan, but was instead shoved into Stephanie McMahon, prompting Triple H to attack Orton with a Pedigree.
Raw closed with The Authority, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, standing side by side with John Cena, staring down at a stunned Randy Orton, planting questions about The Authority’s support of their WWE Champion heading into this Sunday’s TLC event.
This chaotic conclusion hints to a number of possibilities in the coming months. While a John Cena heel turn seems not just unlikely but impossible, one has to recognize that Cena standing with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon was a deliberate attempt to play at the possibility that Cena will, in time, align himself with The Authority. The sequence of finishers exchanged between CM Punk, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Daniel Bryan could easily lead to a battle between The Beard and the Best (Or “The G.O.A.Ts” as CM Punk may prefer) and a reunited DX. Either of these events, the DX reunion or a John Cena heel turn, would easily sell Wrestlemania to a fan, and given ample time to build, could make Wrestemania 30 one of the most memorably and historic events in WWE history.
Wrestlemania, however, is still far away. Plans can change, and, of course, this incident could be all but forgotten by the time April 6th rolls around.
TLC airs this Sunday, live on pay-per-view starting at 7c. The entire card so far can be found on WWE’s TLC website.