Three-on-One Handicap Match
Daniel Bryan vs. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)
The only thing more mysterious than the ways of the Wyatts are their goals. Since their arrival following a series of ominous videos, the trio has targeted and kidnapped Kane, then assaulted Miz and some other other mid-carders before setting their sights on Bryan. Why him? Why now?
The only thing Daniel Bryan probably wants to know more than the answers to those questions is, "will I ever get another shot at the top of the card?"
The Road to TLC
Leading up to the last pay-per-view (PPV), Bryan had spent several weeks battling Bray Wyatt's acolytes, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. When CM Punk was also caught in their wave of destruction, he had a partner he could trust to face the duo. But a win by The Best and The Beard only served to inflame the Family's commitment to their secret cause.
The night after Survivor Series, Bryan was jumped and kidnapped by Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Well, turns out he was just dragged to the parking lot and left there, but nobody told us (or his fiancé Brie Bella) that at the time. The scatter shot booking could be forgiven, however, since it gave us more examples of Bray's uniquely chilling promo style. The Eater of Worlds swore that, while he did plan to hurt the fan favorite, he was in fact his friend. And after he breaks the man he, like Brie, calls Daniel, down, he'll build him back up as a monster. Together they will tear down the machine.
Is "the machine" WWE? Many have presumed that the Wyatts were hired by Triple H to keep DB away from face of the company Randy Orton? Could the preacher be playing both sides? Questions lead to more questions with Bray and his followers.
The Beard has been and will continue to be without The Beard, who is fighting his own handicapped battle against forces that might be funded by The Authority. When even the two together couldn't defeat Harper and Rowan for long, what hope does Daniel Bryan have on his own against all three men?
What's at stake?
The most interesting element to this program doesn't have much of anything to do with the above, and was in fact just introduced this past Monday night on Raw. Plus, we'll probably never know whether or not the powers-that-be even intended for it to happen.
The Seattle crowd (and the Portland crowd from Smackdown, who did their level best to follow suit) voiced their displeasure with the fact that Daniel Bryan is feuding with the Wyatts and not holding the WWE championship. Hunter is on kayfabe record as saying that Bryan's popularity has no bearing on his estimation of his role in the promotion. But can they remain that tone deaf? Or will The Beard's popularity with live audiences and Slammy voters force them to re-insert him into the title scene (whatever that looks like come Monday).
All three members of the Wyatts seem safe for now, at least of this level on the card, and Bray and Harper are probably destined for more. Some wins would be helpful, though. Though it's far from an apples-to-apples comparison, the company should have learned from Ryback's losing streak of last winter. New faces - especially returning faces under new names - can't always afford for the audience's first experiences with them on big stages to be losing ones.
Will the finish that we see in Houston look much like what Creative had planned last weekend?
Hopefully, we'll find out the answers to some of these questions at TLC. Talk it through with your fellow Cagesiders, and stick with us all through tonight and tomorrow to find out what the future of WWE will look like.