Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we break down last night's show in more detail than we do in a live show recap.  Got questions, comments, or criticisms of your own?  Feel free to give us feedback in the comments below, or hit us on the Twittah Machine.

Well, I have to admit that was the fastest conclusion to a wrestling storyline ever.

Drew was in the saddle last night for live coverage, and I had the chance to sit back and absorb a bit more than normal once I got home from the office.  I have to admit that my mind is a bit blown by what went down with Daniel Bryan and the Wyatt Family.

My initial reaction to this is that this just doesn’t make any sense at all.  How will WWE book this to make this look anything BUT an audible by Creative?  When Bryan gave himself up to the Wyatts, it was awkward, but it was a shocking hook going into the new year.  His time with the trio, however, left a lot to be desired.  The group lost matches and the booking felt clumsy in the meantime.  WWE just did not follow the shocking turn up well at all.

But that crowd last night though.  WWE took what was a really clumsy angle and turned it into a major crowd pop when Bryan turned on Wyatt last night.  They were white hot for his assault on the leader of the deranged family, and when Bryan shed the coveralls for his standard wrestling gear, they were just over the moon.  It had to be deafening when he sat on the top of the cage and led the “YES!” chants.  Bryan definitely is as popular as ever.

The one problem I see with all of this is how the Wyatts will come out of it.  In all of this, the Wyatts have substantially cooled off from their debut.  The Wyatts came in with a hot gimmick and really had the chance to make an impact but it just feels like WWE has no idea what to do with them.    In the end, Wyatt was left laying by Bryan’s running knee.  One can hope that Creative can make the same effective turn of character with them that they did with Bryan with Mania season fast approaching.

Speaking of that – the Royal Rumble is two weeks away.  Generally, WWE gives us stats videos, major entrant introductions, and a lot of other hype.  We haven’t gotten that yet.  When it comes to big entrants, we know that the returning Batista is in as well as Alberto Del Rio.  CM Punk got told by Kane that he will also be in.  But that’s it.

The build so far to one of the fan favorite gimmick matches of the year is lame.  I will grant you that last night’s show was a bit newsworthy, especially with the Bryan turn.  But the Rumble itself is lost in all of the other hype that has been going on of late.  Hopefully, WWE will hit a home run starting with Smackdown this week, in order to hype the beginning of the road to Wrestlemania.

Other Points of Note:

Rehashing an Angle…

Randy Orton almost relished being boring last night.  Providence had no issue with letting him know that he was, and he played his facial expressions right into it.  Orton vs. Kofi sadly was a fairly dull match unless you watched Orton’s face.  The upset win for Kofi, however, was a good surprise.

The other thing that the upset win did was feed right into Orton’s over the top reaction to the loss.  He flaked out in the ring as if he couldn’t believe what just happened.  He then turned his attention to John Cena’s father, seated in the front row.  This is an angle we have seen in some form before, but it worked here.  The announcers did their job too, selling it hard as a part of the hype to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship showdown at Royal Rumble.

While we’re rehashing things – John Cena took on Damien Sandow in a rematch of their encounter right after Hell in a Cell.  Their return match was not as good as the MITB cash-in was.  In part, I blame the fact that this outcome was never in doubt.  Cena is headed to a title match at the Rumble, and Sandow may, or may not, be in the Rumble match.  Sandow just wasn’t going over.  But Sandow still is a future star of the company and he looked good here.


CM Punk got a bit of a shock last night, and it made sense.

Punk tagged with the New Age Outlaws last night to face the Shield.  The match was serviceable, but it ended up being newsworthy.  As Punk went for a hot tag after selling for the Shield for a bit, the Outlaws ducked off the apron and left.  This isn’t something I saw coming given the “face” status of the Outlaws coming back.

With the Outlaws being connected to Triple H via Degeneration X, this makes total sense.  It is being rumored that Triple H and CM Punk will face off at Wrestlemania.  For his long-term buddies (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) to turn on Punk, this is a perfect forward to that story.

Low-key Hype…

Drew had your live coverage of the WWE Network announcement last Wednesday.  Going into last night’s show, I expected to see constant plugs, replays, and hype for the coming Network.  Rather, they took a very low key approach, with only a couple reminders and replays of the conference.

I would assume that as February 24 draws nearer, the hype will pick up and we’ll see more segments and hype for the Network.  It wouldn’t be logical to go nuts hyping the network when you have the Royal Rumble two weeks away.  So they did well to make things seem important, but not ramming it down our throats.

The Quick Strike…

- Recognize that sign-toting cutie by the one entry to the arena floor?  That was NXT Diva Emma, and she’s “Emmataining”.  Whether this signals her main roster debut or they just want to get her some exposure before they put NXT on the Network, it helps to introduce her to more people.

- I can’t get excited about Del Rio getting a renewed push when all they’re going to do is feed him to Batista.  It makes sense to build him up though.

- I hope the last two in the Rumble are NOT Batista and Del Rio.   That takes all the fun out of things.

- Big Show knocked out Zeb Colter, for reasons known only to Big Show I suppose.  It’d be different if Show had been bothered by Colter for a long time, but that hasn’t been the case.

- A rare flat match for the tag champs last night.  Granted, Cody and Goldust were facing Rybaxel.

- They really blew an opportunity to hype the Rumble with Cody and Goldust to the live crowd.  On the App, they ran an angle with the pair about the Rumble match, threatening to eliminate each other.  That needed to be on live TV to help sell the Rumble.

- Are John Cena’s red and yellow boxers a “bat signal” of sorts to the arrival of Hulk Hogan?

- I was a bit taken aback by the introduction of Ultimate Warrior as the first inductee to the Hall of Fame.  That said, his speech should be rather interesting to watch.

- The Usos got some nice hype last night.  The video leading into the cage match was especially good.  I hope at some point WWE will hitch the tag division to these two and run with them as I think they have the skills to do some good things for tag team wrestling.

That's all for this week.  Be sure to join us next Monday night for the go-home show heading into Royal Rumble right here on Ring-Rap.com.