On last night's episode of Monday Night RAW, WWE Champion John Cena wrestled World Heavyweight Championship titleholder Alberto Del Rio in the main event. Those are arguably the two tops dogs in the yard, at least for now, yet producers opted to skip Cena STANDING TALL in favor of a teaser promo touting next week's Bray Wyatt debut.
Yes, a goat face was that thing seen before fading to black.
Speaking of which, that ending was reminiscent of the 2011 RAW that closed out the broadcast with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder perched on separate turnbuckles, holding up their respective belts and drawing cheers from the crowd, both in person and at home.
That was simply throwing a bone to the Indy guys, whereas this is a flat-out pro wrestling mini-revolution.
After all, over the past year we've witnessed not just a rise, but actual long-term programs from The Shield and Daniel Bryan, as well as a championship run from Dolph Ziggler. Mark Henry is back in the title picture, Bray Wyatt is making his debut and CM Punk is working an angle opposite Brock Lesnar.
So why does every Monday Night RAW come in like a lion and go out like a lamb?
This is the kind of booking the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) has been gagging for, but the Monday morning mop up (like this one) hasn't exactly been breaking out the party hats. In coincidental timing, The General flashed back to the WCW "Invasion" and why it was a bust (reasons here).
I think there are similar forces at work here.
WWE is leaving its comfort zone, but I'm not convinced it's because there is a long and detailed road map to the promised land. Instead, it feels like Creative has been forced to recognize the talent in play and how the "Universe" has responded.
In short, Creative knows it has to push certain guys because they're hot, but doesn't quite know how, simply because they don't seem to have a handle on what made them so hot in the first place. When they do, there always appears to be a built-in fail safe to make sure WWE is exonerated in case they fail.
Like Vince McMahon sneaking in a random burial from time to time.
Or trotting out Jack Swagger when the incomparable Antonio Cesaro -- who was being wasted -- got paired off with Zeb Colter. Is Swagger going to be the one who picks up the pieces when WWE falls back into its stop/start method of pushing guys?
The late Roger Ebert used to say that most bad movies had similar faults. Instead of cohesive storytelling, the narrative merely served as a clothesline to hang laundered plot points. I get that feeling on recent episodes of RAW as well, as if the disjointed storytelling is merely an amalgamation of relevant Internet darlings.
But there is a flip side to this coin.
WWE sympathizers could fire back and simply say "Hey, Creative is finally giving you what you want, and you still can't enjoy it." There's actually merit to that argument. Pro wrestling fans are untrusting souls, largely in part because we've been burned so many times in the past.
"Oh, D-Bry is getting his title run? He'll just job to Super-Cena at SummerSlam and go back to mid-card comedy."
You know, let the buyer beware, proof is in the pudding and all that other junk. The good news is, at least for the Wyatt family, is WWE has proved it can handle the faction formula with The Shield. Sure, they've run off to do the deed with The Usos, but the men in black are firmly entrenched in the current roster and won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
Now, the powers-that-be just need to do with Daniel Bryan what they did with CM Punk: Give him a mic, a match and a moment of fucking silence.
In the meantime, WWE Creative and WWE fans have to meet somewhere in the middle. A little more commitment from the former and a little less pessimism from the latter. I'd hate to look back on the second half of 2013 and realize I missed the revolution, simply because I was too busy worrying about whether or not it would end in a way I see fit.
Maybe subconsciously, this is my random Vince McMahon burial so that I can write a post in December saying "I told ya' so."