You take the good, you take the bad, you take the rest and there you have last night's installment of Monday Night Raw.
With the Authority finally usurped, fans got some much-needed relief from HHH and Stephanie's omnipresence (at least after the opening segment) and were rewarded for their patience with the return of one-night GM Daniel Bryan. And after a rather lengthy series of monologues and mandates, grown men and women tussled and toiled, belts were defended and retained and Kane ended his night covered in a hellacious combination of condiments.
And for you, my friends, I've broken the action down into five essential takeaways and, as a bonus, a bunch of stuff that may have taught us nothing, but gave everyone something to tweet about.
Here's what I learned from the November 24 edition of Monday Night Raw.
5. If One Thing's Worse Than Larry the Cable Guy's Stand-Up…
It's hearing him lamely reference the late "Macho Man" Randy Savage while sauntering around the entrance ramp topless in a lucha libre mask. Wasn't there a time when guest stars like Larry were at least required to take a soft bump on the mat to earn their self-promotion? Now they just get pats on the back from Kane, a spot alongside Michael Cole and three insufferable minutes of incoherent shtick that even Jingle All The Way 2 co-star Santino Marella could hardly abide. Wouldn't a paid 30-second spot and strategic Twitter campaign have sufficed just as well? Where's Social Media Ambassador Charlie Sheen when you need him?
4. The Song Remains the Same
As evidenced in WWE Network's countdown of favorite theme songs, the company's longtime composer, Jim Johnston, is a true Svengali. Which makes one wonder why some recent entrance themes have sounded so flat and dated.
Both Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were saddled with generic faux-metal instrumentals that neither reflected nor emboldened their personas. And Johnston's New Age twist on the swamp-land dirge that Erick Rowan once shared with fellow Wyatt Family alum Luke Harper doesn't exactly help Rowan scan as more than Creole bogeyman. Perhaps due to rumored budget cuts, Johnston no longer has the luxury of handing off his babies to established bands to flesh out his skeletal ideas. Or maybe some characters don't arrive at his studio fully realized, making it difficult to summon their muse. But with some exceptions (Stardust, whose gimmick was most definitely thoroughly considered prior to its debut, comes to mind), the sum total of 2014's entrance soundtrack hasn't really tuned me up.
3. Dean and Bray Might Yet Be Money
No one's been more vocally disappointed than I with the development of this feud. But last night's extracurricular collision between Misters Ambrose and Wyatt, instigated when Bray attacked Dean after the latter's DQ loss to Luke Harper, at last toned down their rivalry's headier volleys and showed flashes of kinetic potential.
While their con of a Survivor Series contest was intended as little more than table setting for TLC, their encounter in three weeks is exactly the kind of match – and interim buildup – that can finally allow Ambrose to shine. And if it inspires Bray to get off his lofty rocking chair and into the fray with his adversary, then that's worth plunking down PPV cash or WWE Network subscriber dough for on December 14. Unless, of course, you're already limited by the demands of holiday gift shopping, in which case you can probably make do with our TLC recap and be fine.
2. There's Something About Rowan
Underwhelming entrance-music aside, and overlooking the overall arbitrariness of Erick Rowan's sudden face turn, this might be a subtle move that turns out to be best for business.
As Big Show talked down to his Survivor Series teammate, one couldn't help but recall the way Daniel Bryan's doubters would reject and underestimate him out of hand just a couple years back. Not that there's any reason to impose those expectations on Rowan, nor suggest he possesses a comparable skillset or charisma. But as the Indianapolis crowd rallied behind him, something clicked as a viewer, that little twitch that tells you, "We may have an unlikely, underdog anti-hero on our hands here." Having him ostensibly squash Cesaro and Mark Henry over the past week certainly indicates some support behind the scenes, so only time will tell if Rowan can conjure that perfect balance of eccentricity and relatable fight that transformed Bryan from loose-cannon goat man to face of the WWE.
1. Daniel Bryan = Teen Wolf
It's finally happened. After months on the shelf, Daniel Bryan's metamorphosis into Michael J. Fox's infamous teen-comedy alter ego is complete.
With his hair twice its familiar length and symbiotic with his signature beard, DB at last bore an unshakeable resemblance to the man Stiles once chauffeured around in his super-sweet Wolfmobile. Also, it was great to have Bryan back, even in the ornamental role of temporary master of ceremonies. And even if, inexplicably, he and Kane never reunited for a comedy segment on a night when Kane was reduced to selling concessions to Larry the Cable Guy. No one knows when we may witness the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion electrify a ring again, nor will he ever be the most dynamic man on the mic, but seeing WWE's most popular "Yes!" man march down that ramp in his eco shoes and natty flannel was feel-good sports entertainment for the soul.
Below the Belt:
- Was I the only one amped to see Noble and Mercury in action again?
- Next time the Authority gets the boot, can they not indulge in a 15-minute opening sendoff?
- This Bella's situation really does need some explaining.
- No Sting, OK. But no Bad News Barrett?
- Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a made up arena name, right?
- Loved Miz signing off their promo with Sandow's "You're Welcome."
- I don't know if Fandango deserved those CM Punk chants.
- Anonymous GM, ugh ugh ugh.
- Whoopsies of the Night: Lilian announcing Mizdow as Sandow, and Cole referencing Ryback as Rusev.
- Line of the night: AJ to the Bellas: "Talent is not sexually transmitted."
- Move of the Night: I quite enjoy Stardust's Falling Star.
- In case you fast-forwarded through commercials: WWE fans must buy a lot of Jimmy Dean, and ladies apparently love Ram 1500 trucks.