What you need to know
He didn't Miz TV to heel it up, and Mr. Money in the Bank set right to it as soon as he was handed a microphone. Seth Rollins not only gloated about being placed in the title match with Brock Lesnar and John Cena at Royal Rumble without having to cash in his briefcase, he also ran down Cena for getting duped into bring The Authority back. And he mocked Ryback, Erick Rowan and Dolph Ziggler for getting fired by Stephanie McMahon and Triple H for their role in having his backers removed from power.
Infringing on Tyson Kidd's gimmick by impersonating Sylvester Putty Tat, Roman Reigns interrupted to call his former faction-mate a poop head and then clear the ring of Seth and his security team. D-Ops Kane rolled out to do his best Teddy Long, and made a tag team main event for the final Friday night Smackdown - Rollins and Big Show vs. Reigns and the dreaded partner of his choosing.
The Ascension continued to put down weird tag teams of the past who are still more over than them, and beat up jobbers. Kidd and Cesaro are still inexplicably hanging out with Adam Rose and his entourage, but just stood by while Big E defeated the party animal on Friday. Alicia Fox cheated her way to a win over Naomi in a feud that seems Total Divas-driven even though Mrs. Uso is no longer a regular on that show.
Miz kissed up to Kane, trying to get his match to reclaim the tag titles back to a two-on-two affair instead of a triple threat with Gold & Stardust. His stunt double screwed up and spilled something on the Corporate Demon to spoil that plan, and then the Dusts couldn't get on the same page and spoiled both teams attempts to get the belts off of Jimmy & Jey Uso.
Two men used some microphone time to declare themselves in for the Royal Rumble match, and their intent to win it and move on to main event WrestleMania for the WWE title. Bray Wyatt also gloated about his recent victory over Dean Ambrose in an ambulance match. Intercontinental champ Bad News Barrett didn't have too much to gloat over after he lost a match to Sin Cara.
To the delight of Shield fans everywhere, Reigns partner was none other than Ambrose. The Lunatic Fringe's manic energy took care of not only Rollins' partner but also all of the other backers from The Authority, clearing the ring for the Big Dog to spear Seth and stand tall as WWE said "so long" to Fridays.
What to look out for
Daniel Bryan returns to the city where he main evented WrestleMania and won the WWE title, as he and the company hit Bourbon Street when Raw returns to New Orleans.
Even as we wait for the trio who were fired last week to somehow be reinstated in time for the next pay-per-view (PPV), The Authority will continue to mess with babyfaces tonight. Reigns was almost faced with a handicap match on Smackdown, so escaping a beatdown there will probably still leave him in Hunter & Steph's crosshairs. And now Ambrose is probably right back in the line of fire with him.
John Cena has to be a little distracted by all of the machinations of the evil duo who are back in control of the main roster because of him. And he really can't afford to lose focus, facing a Beast that he hasn't been able to beat in years - and with a wild card named Rollins in the mix. Lesnar and his attorney Paul Heyman can't be happy about that news, especially after they helped Rollins in his last match with Cena and celebrated The Authority's return with the group. The champ is advertised for tonight, and sparks could fly.
There's still 25 open spots in the Rumble field, and we haven't even started to juggle things like entry position yet. With only two more live shows between now and Philadelphia, we need some more name for the list.
We're still looking for some undercard matches to fill out the Royal Rumble card, too. Both Natalya and Paige seem to be coming for Nikki Bella's Divas championship, but the tag belts are without a clear cut challenger. Maybe a non-title tag feud like the Masters of the WWE Universe vs. The New Day can sneak onto the show?
What they should do
The return of Daniel Bryan, and the way Randy Orton was written off back in November, has stacked the good guy deck pretty high. Throw Cena, Reigns, Ambrose and the three men "fired" a week ago into the mix, and there's a surplus of técnicos.
It's an issue when the heroes who are being oppressed outnumber their oppressors. But what's really weighing down the program those men are having against The Authority is that, outside of Rollins, all of the villains are OLD. A win over Kane is meaningless at this point. A win over Show would mean something, but since he gets protected with DQs nine times out of ten, I'm not going to hold my breath for that. But matches with the World's Largest Athlete aren't helping anybody, because they're not very good. The Game is a special attraction, and Jaime Noble and Joey Mercury are entertaining fodder.
Wyatt's character is all wrong for an alignment with The Authority, Barrett is too much of a cool heel and they missed the boat on Cesaro since he's now in the tag team of limitless potential with Kidd. But why not turn Ryback or (and I know this is going to get me virtually murdered by his many, many fans, but here goes...) Ziggler?
They're understandably protecting Rollins status as the star of the team, but a mid-card version of same would go along way toward making them a more believable threat while also providing better matches for whoever isn't feuding with The Architect.
I was among those that wasn't terribly sorry to see Steph and Haitch go, at least in this form. But if they're going to be around, maybe some fresh blood could reinvigorate them. It certainly would be better than watching Reigns vs. Show, round nine.
What we're afraid they will do
Lesnar and Heyman show up pissed about Seth's inclusion in the Rumble main, but Brock's dance partner from the same PPV last year steps in between them, setting up another Lesnar - Show match for Mania to burn off the Beast's last match before he goes back to UFC.
Cena is, of course, WWE Champion in this scenario.
Will WWE pull out all the stops to reverse their ratings stagnation, or figure everyone's watching college football anyway and mail it in?
Either way, our live blog will make it more palatable for you...so join your fellow Cagesiders there at 8PM Eastern!