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WWE Raw Report
CALDWELL'S WWE RAW RESULTS 12/30: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live 2013 finale - Bryan gives up and gives in, Brock Lesnar returns, Shield shows cracks, more

Dec 30, 2013 - 10:07:58 PM
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WWE Raw TV Results
December 30, 2013 - Episode #1,074
Live in Richmond, Va.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell (@JCTorch), PWTorch assistant editor


The final Raw of 2013 opened with a live shot of the arena and Michael Cole introducing the show. Cult of Personality then played to bring out C.M. Punk as the first wrestler on the broadcast. Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL greeted the audience from ringside as Punk entered the ring with some things on his mind.

Punk surveyed the crowd and said he's fired up to be here tonight. He said this is the last Raw of 2013 and he is excited. Punk said a lot of good and bad stuff happened to him this year. Punk admitted to sometimes not going to work with a smile on his face, but the real issue is that he was the longest-reigning WWE champion of the last 25 years this year. Punk said he went One on One with the Great One and toe-to-toe with The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Punk added that he beat a former friend, Paul Heyman, to within an inch of his life.

But, Punk said he doesn't think 2013 was his year. He surveys the landscape and sees The Shield dominating 2013. Punk said he wants to end 2013 on a good note because he's sure their paths will cross tonight. Suddenly, Shield's music played, interrupting Punk mid-sentence.

Shield's Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins marched down to the ring over the barricade and cornered Punk once in the ring. Ambrose spoke first that Punk better give them a good reason not to end Punk right now. A loud "C-M-Punk" chant responded. Punk waited it out, then said he wants to beat the Best of the Best. He said one of them is the best, so he wants to know who it is. Ambrose spoke up that he will take out Punk right now. In the background, Reigns had a curious look. Punk laughed off Ambrose, then said he was talking about Reigns or Rollins, popping the crowd. Ambrose didn't find that funny. "You think I'm a joke?!" Ambrose shouted.

Punk called him the weak link, adding that he wants to find out who the best is. Reigns tried to calm down Ambrose, then Punk asked Reigns if he's the best. Rollins spoke up that he is the best and he'll fight Punk tonight. Reigns had a question for Rollins following that proclamation. Punk continued to stir things up as Ambrose paced in the background and Rollins had a conversation with Reigns. Rollins said he wants to prove himself tonight. Reigns backed down and told Rollins to step up, then.

Suddenly, Raw GM Brad Maddox appeared on-stage to interrupt the proceedings. Maddox wished everyone a Happy New Year, then booked Punk against Seth Rollins tonight. He asked for a referee right now because that match happens right now. A ref emerged and the match was on.

1 -- C.M. PUNK vs. SETH ROLLINS (w/Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns)

Punk forced Rollins to the outside ten seconds into the match. Rollins slammed the ring apron, then regrouped with the heels and said he has this.

[Commercial Break at 8:11]

[Q2] Back from break, Rollins landed a right hand to Punk's face, then drove him to the corner. Rollins continued to work on Punk as the announcers argued amongst themselves. Rollins and the announcers calmed down as Punk continued to sell. Raw cut to break with Rollins still in control.

[Commercial Break at 8:18]

Back from break, Rollins remained in control. Cole plugged The Authority on Raw tonight to make some announcements, then Rollins missed a second-rope splash, giving Punk an opening. Punk with a leg whip to the face, then sledgehammer smashes. Punk wanted a GTS, but Rollins blocked and avoided a quick three count attempt from Punk. Punk, wobbly, talked down to the other Shield members before taking a Buckle Bomb from Rollins for a close two count. Cole called it a distraction from The Shield when Punk simply distracted himself.

Rollins reset by telling Punk to stay down. Rollins went for a running foot stomp, but Punk avoided. Rollins came right back with an enziguiri, though, for another two count. Rollins received some advice from his partners, then mockingly called for the GTS. Punk slipped out, though, and high-kneed Rollins into a clothesline. Punk then ran to the corner turnbuckle and teased a Macho Man elbow, but Rollins rolled out of the way, suckered in Punk, and head-smashed him into the corner turnbuckle.

Reset at 16:00 with both men moving to the top turnbuckle. Rollins face-planted Punk, then tried a cross-body, but Punk rolled through into the Vice. Ambrose teased getting involved, which was enough for Punk to release the hold. Chaos with Shield involved, which prevented the ref from catching a three count for Rollins. Ringside, Reigns tried to calm down a hot-headed Ambrose, but showed some anger in the process. Punk then dumped Rollins over the top rope onto his Shield mates.

Back in the ring, Rollins tried to come back with a slingshot smash, but he landed on Punk's shoulders, flowing right into a GTS from Punk. Punk made the three count for the win. Post-match, Shield regrouped in the ring as Punk celebrated on-stage. Well, Ambrose remained on the floor squatting in anger while Reigns stood tall in the ring next to his fallen compadre, Rollins.

WINNERS: Punk at 17:42. Hot start to the show with a strong singles match after the weird middle of the match. Meanwhile, Shield continues to show cracks in their, well, shield.

GM Office: Brad Maddox told a referee to make sure the Intercontinental Title match tonight goes well. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon then walked in and Brad noted that Kane is not here tonight. Brad said he thinks he should take a step forward, but was interrupted by Daniel Bryan. Bryan demanded a match with Bray Wyatt tonight. Brad responded that Bryan earn it by taking on Luke Harper one-on-one. And if he wins that, he faces Erick Rowan. And, if he beats Erick, then he gets Bray. Bryan accepted the gauntlet terms, then walked off. Stephanie said she's impressed. She then told Brad to watch as she announces the Royal Rumble main event. Off she went as Triple H stood by impressed.

[ JC's Reax: So, with a split crew tonight, WWE is depending on long-form matches with Punk going three segments and Bryan set for a three-man gauntlet. ]

[Q3] [Commercial Break at 8:30]

Announcements

Back live, Stephanie McMahon's music played to bring out Stephanie on-stage. Stephanie said that on behalf of her husband and the entire McMahon Family, she would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Stephanie said it's time to reflect back on 2013. She said they wouldn't change anything, though. Stephanie asked that they celebrate the career of the Champion of Champions, the WWE World Hvt. champion Randy Orton. This led to a video package on Orton's career, going back through the past ten years. The video paused on Orton capturing the World Title on August 15, 2004. The only Chris Benoit reference was a "Benoit" sign in the background. Then, a look through Orton's yearly highlights from 2005 to 2013.

Back live, Stephanie marveled at the video footage. Stephanie said Orton is a fighting champion, so at the Royal Rumble, Orton will defend the WWE World Title in a traditional championship match with no stips, interference, or excuses. Pinfall or Submission only. Against the challenger... John Cena. Stephanie left, then Cole called it one of the "biggest re-matches in WWE history."

Cole and Lawler then transitioned to the odd man out, Daniel Bryan, recapping his feud with the Wyatts. Still to come, it's Bryan vs. Luke Harper in Step One of a gauntlet match. Also still to come, it's Big E. Langston vs. Fandango for the IC Title.

[Commercial Break at 8:42]

Back from break, WWE ran the hype video for Batista's return on the January 20 Raw.

Backstage: Stephanie was shown walking up to Triple H to ask how she did. Hunter said they're finally going to know who the real man is at the Royal Rumble. Hunter said that was a pretty big announcement, but he has something to announce, too.

[Q4] In-ring: Curtis Axel was standing by in the ring. WWE cut to an inset promo of Axel attempting to heelishly talk up his 2013 campaign. Axel said 2014 will be even more perfect for him. Dolph Ziggler's music then brought out Ziggler as Axel's opponent. Cole noted 2013 was pretty up-and-down for Ziggler, too, which led to an inset video from Ziggler talking up his plans for 2014.

2 -- DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. CURTIS AXEL

Axel quickly knocked Ziggler to the outside, sending Ziggler crashing down to the floor. Back in the ring, Axel attempted a pin for a two count. Cole then relayed an announcement from Maddox during the break that fans will vote on Damien Sandow's opponent tonight.

Back in the ring, Ziggler responded to Axel with right hand strikes, then cross-body splashed him. The two men blocked each other's moves, then Axel stumbled into a neckbreaker for a two count. Axel couldn't follow up, though, and Ziggler nailed a Zig-Zag for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Ziggler at 4:15.

Announcers: Cole transitioned ot plugging Damien Sandow's opponent being decided by a vote of Kofi Kingston, Great Khali, or The Miz.

Backstage: Big E. Langston and Fandango & Summer Rae were shown walking down the hallway on a split screen. The IC Title match is next.

[Commercial Break at 8:54]

Back from break, Ric Flair's voice was heard. It was a plug for Raw going "Old School" next Monday with Flair, Bob Backlund, DDP, Booker T, Mean Gene, New Age Outlaws, I.R.S., and "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.

In-ring: IC champ Big E. Langston was introduced to the ring for his final title defense of 2013. Fandango and Summer Rae came out next, then Justin Roberts handled formal ring introductions to push the show to the top of the hour.

[Q5 -- second hour]

3 -- IC champion BIG E. LANGSTON vs. FANDANGO (w/Summer Rae) -- Intercontinental Title match

JBL gave Fandango props for defeating Chris Jericho at WrestleMania to establish Fandango as a credible challenger in this match. Slow pace to start before Langston ran over Fandango with a left-arm lariat. The slow pace allowed the announcers to super-hype Langston, then Fandango ducked to the outside for a breather. Langston followed him to the outside to inflict more punishment.

Back in the ring, Fandango cut off Big E. at the knees to find an opening to inflict punishment to the champ. Fandango slowed down the pace with a knee-based submission, applying pressure to Langston's lower body. With Langston in jeopardy, Cole kept trying to feed to a commercial, but WWE stayed with the hold. Big E. eventually broke free, but hobbled into the corner, only to eat the ringpost. Fandango on the advantage heading to break.

[Commercial Break at 9:05]

Back from break, Fandango remained in control of the action. Cole hyped WWE's social media push for this match by calling it a "classic match-up." Meanwhile, Fandango continued to slow down the pace and work on Langston's leg. Suddenly, Jerry Lawler introduced a parallel to Anderson Silva's leg snapping at the "big UFC fight on Saturday." Interesting.

Moments later, Fandango went for the top-rope leg drop for the win, but Big E. rolled out of the ring to avoid getting pinned. Fandango, frustrated, slowly followed up on the outside and rolled Langston back into the ring. Fandango tried to follow up, big Big E. smashed him with a belly-to-belly suplex. Langston tried to catch his breath for a big splash, then gasped for air as he dropped the straps and went for the Big Ending. It connected for the pin and the win, drawing more praise from the announcers for surviving the match.

WINNER: Langston at 13:05 to retain the IC Title. Slow-moving match. Langston hasn't shown it yet at a high level, and this long-form match didn't help the perception of his progress. But, they continue to build up Langston by describing him "dig down deep" to win and survive this match.

Announcers: Cole and Co. transitioned to focus on Daniel Bryan vs. Wyatts feud. Bryan runs the gauntlet tonight.

[Q6] [Commercial Break at 9:15]

On-stage: Booker T's music played to bring out Booker and some mid-level stars on-stage. Notably, Tyson Kidd stood next to the Bellas with no sign of Natalya. Booker said that 2014 is a new beginning for WWE, but he thinks they should finish 2013 with a New Year's Spinarooni.

But, suddenly, generic rock music played and Wade Barrett was raised from the side of the stage standing at a platform. Barrett asked for some decorum after pounding his gavel. Barrett spoke down to Booker and Co. that he has some bad news for them. Because 2014 isn't going to suddenly bring them the end of government corruption or natural disasters. It will bring them one step closer to the Apocalypse, though, he said.

Barrett said all of the wrestlers and Divas will stab each other in the back in pursuit of money. And, the people will poison the environment, then ask for a hand-out when they screw it up. And, everyone will follow trends rather than acknowledge poverty, death, and destruction that surrounds them. Barrett said he will be here in 2014 to remind everyone of their screw-ups.

Backstage: Renee Young was standing by. She brought in Damien Sandow for an interview about Sandow's opponent tonight being decided by App vote. Sandow cut off Renee and said he's been disrespected all year. Tonight, he doesn't care who his opponent is because if he cannot beat his opponent tonight, then he quits. Renee sold being stunned by this announcement as Sandow walked off.

[Commercial Break at 9:24]

Back from break, WWE plugged Philadelphia Eagles's LeSean McCoy holding a replica World Title belt to celebrate his NFL Rushing Title last night. And, LeBron James wants a title, too. Cole and Lawler then read tweets from John Cena and The Rock offering their services. JBL, a Dallas Cowboys fan, summed up his feelings that he hates football.

In-ring: Damien Sandow was introduced to the ring for his Career-Threatening match. Cue up the drumroll and Lawler revealed that Great Khali won the vote with 39 percent. Sandow sighed and tried to hold himself together, frustrated by the latest disrespect against him.

[Q7]

4 -- DAMIEN SANDOW vs. GREAT KHALI

Khali open-hand chopped Sandow early on, prompting the announcers to hype this as possibly the end of Sandow's career. Sandow rolled to the outside for a breather, then tried to chop down Khali back in the ring. Sandow continued to work on Khali's leg, slowing the down pace a la Fandango on Big E. Langston. The crowd became restless as the match continued.

Sandow delivered the Elbow of Disdain for a two count, but Khali suddenly slapped Sandow in the chest and actually showed fire on his comeback. Khali delivered some chops, but Sandow cut him off and scored with a roll-up for a three count. Khali's shoulder was up during the pin, but the ref missed it, which the announcers drew attention to after the match.

WINNER: Sandow at 4:56 via ref incompetence to not be fired.

Video Review: Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatts feud. Still to come: Bryan vs. Luke Harper. If he wins, he keeps going through the Wyatts.

Backstage: R-Truth, Xavier Woods, Naomi, and Cameron were shown walking down the hallway. Truth faces Brodus Clay next.

[Commercial Break at 9:38]

In-ring: Back from break, R-Truth's music was playing. Xavier Woods was ringside on commentary to discuss the proceedings.

5 -- R-TRUTH vs. BRODUS CLAY

Clay dominated early on, drawing concerned looks from Xavier. Clay then tried a shoulder breaker or something, but kind of dropped Truth to the mat. The crowd groaned, then Clay tried a cover for a two count. Xavier had enough of the match, so he stood on the announce table to distract Clay. The funky music then played, distracting Clay, who took Truth's finisher for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Truth at 4:05. That was brutal. Clay is so damaged as a character that he looks lost in the ring.

[Q8] Still to come tonight: Total Divas vs. non-Total Divas in a 10-Divas tag match.

Backstage: Triple H was shown walking down the hallway. Hunter has a major announcement next.

[Commercial Break at 9:48]

Announcement #2

On-stage: Triple H came out back from break. Hunter kept on walking to the ring, though, apparently needing more of a stage than Stephanie McMahon for her announcement. Once in the ring, Hunter said 2014 will be unlike anything seen before. So, with that in mind, Hunter welcomed this man back to WWE ... pause ... sinister look from Hunter ... Brock Lesnar's music played.

Brock Lesnar came out on-stage, complete with Paul Heyman. Cole said it has been rumored for a few days that Lesnar would return to WWE with Heyman. Cole brought up the history between Hunter and Lesnar, who "broke Hunter's arm" in 2012. Lawler said this could get uncomfortable.

Once everyone entered the ring, Hunter shook hands with Heyman, then handed him the mic. Hunter remained in the ring to greet Lesnar, including extending his hand. Lesnar shook and Hunter patted him on the chest before leaving the ring. Lesnar watched Hunter leave before Heyman spoke.

Heyman introduced himself to boos, then declared that The Beast is Back. Heyman said Lesnar is not here to settle old scores because he has a new agenda. Heyman added that Lesnar is not here to settle his old scores, either. Heyman said Lesnar is back in WWE because ... pause for dramatic effect ... he's what's best for business. Heyman said that Lesnar is declaring his desire to be WWE World Hvt. champion. And what that means for John Cena and Randy Orton is that whoever emerges from the Royal Rumble is ultimately the loser because that man will have to face the challenge of the self-declared #1 contender Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar spoke that he doesn't care whether it's Cena or Orton. As far as he's concerned, no one in this building or in this company can stop him. Lesnar said he doesn't have to win a Rumble match to be deserving-enough for a title match or stand in a mysterious line for a title shot. As far as he's concerned, that line starts behind him.

[Q9 -- third hour] Lesnar dared anyone to come down here and do something about it. Heyman said they might as well say good-night right now because no one is man-enough for the challenge. Heyman said Lesnar wants the WWE World Title and he will take it. Heyman tried to sign off, but Mark Henry's music expectedly interrupted.

On-stage, Henry mocked Lesnar's bounce-up=and-down dance before removing his t-shirt. Henry made a beeline for the ring, but Lesnar met him on the floor. They brawled ringside before spilling over the barricade into the front row. There, Lesnar speared Henry right through the barricade, then popped to his feet and shouted toward the sky. Lesnar then scooped up Henry and smashed him with an F5 into the ground. Lesnar again popped up and screamed as Heyman calmed him down. "He understands," Heyman told Lesnar, pleading with him to back down. The ringside doctor then checked on Henry as Lesnar slowly walked away. Cole said Lesnar has his sights set on the World Title. "The Beast is back and is as dangerous as ever," Cole declared.

[ JC's Reax: The suggestion is Lesnar challenges the World champ at the Elimination Chamber, which should boost PPV buys for the PPV in-between the Rumble and Mania. We'll see.]

[Commercial Break at 10:05]

Moments Ago: Brock Lesnar returned, then destroyed Mark Henry. Cole stressed the impact of Lesnar's return and injuries to Henry.

Ringside: Cole and Co. surveyed the ringside damage following Lesnar's attack on Henry. The Bellas's music then played to bring out the Total Divas for a 10-man tag match. Already in the ring were the non-Total Divas, minus A.J. Lee.

6 -- BELLA TWINS & EVA MARIE & NAOMI & CAMERON vs. KAITLYN & SUMMER RAE & ALICIA FOX & ROSA MENDES & AKSANA -- 10-Divas tag match

Back-and-forth early on as the match seemed to struggle without the presences of A.J. and Natalya, as both were in Toronto for the simultaneous house show. The heel non-Total Divas isolated Cameron, then she broke free and tagged in Nikki Bella. The action broke down into chaos, then Divas started flying to the outside. It came down to Nikki and Aksana, who surprisingly secured a three count for the non-Total Divas after re-aggravating Nikki's mouth injury.

WINNERS: Non-Total Divas at 5:11.

[Q10] Smackdown Flashback: Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatts. Still to come: Bryan runs the Wyatt Gauntlet.

Video Package: Batista is coming back. WWE ran a hype video on Batista as a babyface, greeting fans outside the ring and hyping up crowds in the ring. Interesting presentation.

[Commercial Break at 10:18]

Video Package: Tribute to the Troops.

Announcers: Jerry Lawler relayed news that Mark Henry is in a lot of pain after being taken out by Brock Lesnar and will need to be transported to a local health facility.

Royal Rumble plug: Cena vs. Orton one fall to the finish, pinfall or submission only at the Royal Rumble.

GM Office: Brad Maddox said he has handled the referee situation earlier with Great Khali's shoulders clearly not down against Damien Sandow. Brad then announced the all-time favorites coming for Old School Raw next week. Brad confirmed that Ric Flair will be here, then Hunter told him never to Whoo! again.

Back to the announcers, where Cole excitedly talked about which Legends might show up next week. Cole then transitioned to a final plug for the Daniel Bryan vs. Wyatt Family business ahead of the gauntlet match.

In-ring: Daniel Bryan was introduced to the ring for the main event match situation. Bryan faces Luke Harper first.

[Commercial Break at 10:27]

[Q11] Smackdown plug: Rhodes Bros. vs. the Wyatts for the Tag Titles on Friday's Smackdown.

Back live, Bryan continued to warm up in the ring before the Wyatts's video interruption played. Bray Wyatt then led his henchmen down to the ring to start the gauntlet match.

7a -- DANIEL BRYAN vs. LUKE HARPER -- Gauntlet match #1

The bell sounded and Bryan went right after Harper, showing no fear against Wyatt Family Member #1. Bryan nearly scored a submission early on, but Harper responded with clubbing blows before doing his weird noises to celebrate controlling Bryan. Harper gator-rolled Bryan, then slowed down the pace with a side headlock. Suddenly, the ref's audio was turned way up to hear some instructions to Bryan as he recovered in the corner.

Bryan started to make a comeback moments later, but Harper cut him off with a big powerslam for a two count. Bryan sold as Raw cut to break.

[Commercial Break at 10:39]

Back from break, Harper had control of the match, taking the crowd out of the action. Bryan then showed life, knocked Harper to the outside, and delivered two suicide dives on the outside. Back in the ring, Bryan came off the top with a missile dropkick that rocked Harper. As Bray Wyatt sold concern ringside, Bryan rocked Harper with kicks to the chest, then one to the head for a nearfall.

[Q12] Reset at 12:00 with Bryan Yes!-kicking Harper in the chest. Bryan then attempted a huracanrana, but Harper blocked and destroyed Bryan with a top-rope powerbomb, but Bryan kicked out just before three. Harper then looked toward Bray for instructions on what to do next. Bryan tried to fight back, but Harper overhead suplexed Bryan for a two count. Impressive offense from Harper in this sequence.

At 14:00, the crowd tried to rally with a "Daniel Bryan" chant. It was enough to give Bryan inspiration to flow into the Yes! Lock center-ring. But, Harper broke free, using his strength and power. Harper then big-booted Bryan before punching him around. But, Bryan landed on his feet on a suplex attempt, then charged Harper for a big running knee to the face. His finisher was good for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Bryan at 15:01. Solid TV match. Harper continues to impress, while Bryan was strong, as usual.

Post-match: Bryan's music played in victory, but Erick Rowan cut it off by blasting Bryan from behind. The ref took control of the situation by driving Harper to the corner to make sure Bryan gets to his feet, then called for the bell.

7b -- DANIEL BRYAN vs. ERICK ROWAN -- Gauntlet match #2

Rowan quickly bashed Bryan to the outside, then smashed him into the announce table, clearing the announcers from their spot. Lawler said they'll be back as Bryan sold on the floor.

[Commercial Break at 10:50]

Back from break, Rowan was driving a fist into each side of Bryan's head back in the ring, trying to squeeze out Bryan's brains. Bryan tried to fight back, but Rowan cut him off. Rowan delivered a Scott Hall-style overhead slam from the second rope, then Bryan sold a knee injury as he sold on the mat. Rowan took his sweet time following up, though, allowing Bryan to roll up Rowan for a three count.

WINNER: Bryan at 6:26.

Post-match: Rowan angrily tried to attack Bryan, but Luke Harper entered the ring and called off Rowan, setting the stage for Bray Wyatt to enter the ring and get a piece of Bryan himself. Bray entered the ring, but Bryan continued to sell the effects of two matches and two post-match attacks. Bray did his upside-down pose in the corner as Bryan recovered, then Bryan finally made it to his feet. The ref called for the bell.

7c -- DANIEL BRYAN vs. BRAY WYATT -- Gauntlet match #3

After the bell sounded, Bray turned his back on Bryan, then Harper and Rowan charged the ring to attack Bryan, causing a DQ.

WINNER: Bryan via DQ at 0:11.

Post-match: Harper and Rowan dumped Bryan to the floor, then whipped him into the guardrail. And again. Back in the ring, the Wyatts picked Bryan apart as no one came to make the save. Double chokeslam for Bryan.

[Q13 -- over-run] Bray took the mic and started singing as people started leaving in the background. Bray then addressed Bryan that he has no mercy left to give. He said it could have been better, but this is Bryan's fault. He demanded that Bryan open his eyes and look at his situation. Bray said this is the end. "You're right," Bryan whispered. Bray asked him to say it again, so he did.

Bryan then reached out his hand to receive the mic. From the mat, Bryan sold defeat, saying, "You're right." He added, "You were always right. No matter how many matches I won, no matter how loud these people cheered for me, you were always right. The Machine would never let me win. No matter how loud you people chanted, you've chanted 'Yes!' in every building, but they don't care. I am yours. Let me join The Family." The crowd shouted no in disagreement, then chanted, "No! No! No!"

Bray held out his hand for Bryan to accept, but then pulled away and forced Bryan to crawl toward him. Bryan crawled up Bray's pants toward Bray, then held open his arms to receive Bray. But, Bray snatched Bryan, kissed him on the forehead, and delivered Sister Abigail. Bray held Bryan's hand on his heart and said this is forever.

Rowan and Harper then dragged Bryan out of the ring and followed Bray up the entrance ramp as the announcers sold shock with silence. Rowan and Harper let Bryan go half-way up the ramp, causing Bryan to lose his balance. Bryan then locked eyes with Bray and slowly walked toward him, trying to find his balance.

Bryan stopped at the top of the stage and listened to the crowd shouting, "No!" Bray told him to ignore the crowd because he's all he has left. Bryan turned to look toward the crowd, clutched his stomach, winced, looked to the other side of the arena, looked down to the ground, and started huffing and puffing. Bryan then heard "Daniel Bryan" chants in response to contemplating turning to the dark side, Bryan looked down to the ground with sorrow on his face, then lowered his head and stumbled toward Bray, who led him through the curtain to the back. Raw signed off seven minutes past the top of the hour.

[ JC's Reax: Unless the first quarter of 2014 focuses on Bryan's inner conflict joining the Wyatts before challenging for the WWE Title at WrestleMania, it sure looks like Bryan's journey is not going to end with the ultimate title victory at Mania that his fans have been deprived of since Summerslam. They could still get there, but the clear path is no longer present after this storyline twist. Instead, it looks like Bryan is being completely moved out of the title picture with the attempt to create a compelling replacement program. It will be interesting to see how it plays out to start the New Year. ]

FINAL THOUGHTS: This could be said every week, but this show did not need to be three hours. It's just WWE taking that extra hour of money USA Network is willing to pay without even trying to come up with something compelling to fill the guts of the show. An abundance of videos and replays filling a show the same night WWE booked a house show in Toronto exposed WWE's weakly-developed roster post-brand split. Several years ago, WWE ran Smackdown house shows the same night as Raw TV tapings, but that was when WWE had two full rosters to handle the load. They don't have that now and it was exposed tonight.

This would have been a very tight, compelling two-hour show with the Punk-Shield business at the start, Brock/Heyman business at the top of the second hour, and Bryan business at the end of the show to give Raw some momentum heading into 2014. But, as usual, everything depends on whether the audience retains the important information and filters out the filler.

Alerts: Follow PWTorch staffer's live, real-time tweets during Raw at Twitter.com/PWTorch/torch-staff .

We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for a "Raw Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Raw, email to pwtorch@gmail.com .


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A.J. Lee is "injured"
Del Rio was "injured" and wrestled two matches
C.M. Punk is "injured"
Cena's Photoshop bit was not part of the script
Sami Zayn is on the main roster
Steve O. from "Jackass" is on Creative
The announcers need permission to "breathe"
It took three writers to put together the promo Stephanie McMahon decided not to use
Other (email to pwtorchlivecast@gmail.com)
  

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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.

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He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)


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