Wow, what a difference a week makes.
On the Dec. 2 edition of RAW, the WWE "Universe" was left scratching its head as to what exactly was going on with the direction of The Authority, which had staged a lame-duck contract signing that ended with Randy Orton getting put through a table by John Cena.
Oh, and Daniel Bryan waltzed back into our lives after being kidnapped for no apparent reason.
It has been a frustrating couple of weeks because WWE has, on paper, the right storylines in place -- as well as the right characters to execute them -- but continually left fans twisting in the wind, as there was no clear direction with its booking and quite frankly, too much time to kill heading into the Tables, Ladders & Chairs (TLC) pay-per-view (PPV).
The General summarizes in his recap from last week:
I was shocked they gave away as much as they did. By the end, it wasn't a brawl so match as a mini-match. I get the idea behind giving fans a preview and hoping they pay for the complete version later with the belts actually on the line, but you run the risk of giving away too much and killing any enthusiasm for what's to come later. The bigger problem, too, is this felt like a go home angle and there's still another episode of Raw left before the PPV.
If we only knew!
Part of the problem was that TLC was presented as a show designed to unify the WWE Championship with the World Heavyweight Championship when in fact, next week's PPV from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, is just another piece of the Authority puzzle.
God Vince willing, is WrestleMania 30.
That's what made last night's closing segment of the go-home edition of RAW so important (watch it here). It was more than just a round-robin of finishers. Instead, it was a way to attach elbow joints to the Creative plumbing, so that all the feuds from the past three months or so can continue flowing right on through to the SuperDome next April.
It's exactly what we needed.
Believe it or not, there's just over three months until the "Granddaddy of them all," and it was hard to remain optimistic about the next round of storytelling because it seemed like every time we invested in something, it was left in the same ditch where the Wyatt family disposed of Daniel Bryan.
And just like D-Bry, it came strolling back onto RAW without a scratch on it.
The ensuing finale was a terrific booking decision because it got fans jazzed for WrestleMania -- as well as TLC -- by introducing new angles without abandoning old ones. Circling back goes a long way toward easing our fear of commitment. That includes CM Punk's brawl with Triple H, while Bryan got his revenge (kind of) of former mentor Shawn Michaels.
The Best & The Beard vs. DX at WM 30?
Uh, yes please. Even if we don't get it, the tease is enough to keep me tuning in, which makes it an effective angle. WWE has to be careful, however, that if it does indeed execute a bait and switch, that we get something of equal or greater value in return.
No, Bad News Barrett does not count.
Last night's send-off was an important piece of programming and not simply because it made TLC a must-buy PPV. It also established a clear road map for the next several months while reminding fans that WWE hasn't forgotten about the programs already in place. We may, in fact, get closure to a couple of outstanding items.
I'm grateful, but also find myself wishing WWE would do this a little more often.