Randy Orton is still the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He retained against Daniel Bryan due to interference from Kane.
John Cena was eliminated due to interference from The Wyatt Family.
All of this was painfully predictable. There was no deviation from the rumored plans that would establish the WrestleMania card. Orton's numerous losses leading into this pay-per-view guaranteed that he would retain, and Bryan's continued feud with Kane would certainly result in a loss.
An AJ Lee for your troubles:
Absolutely nothing was surprising in the match, save perhaps the fact that Christian scored a pin over Sheamus after a frog splash. When that's the most surprising, interesting thing to happen, you know it was bad.
The match itself was almost entertaining. Cesaro had a few good spots, as did Bryan. But seeing as how we all knew how it would end, it would have been nice to have at least one meaningful little turn of events, such as Cesaro pinning Cena cleanly.
Instead it is a truly forgettable pay-per-view, and on the eve of the WWE Network's release, that's not very promising.
A Paul Heyman for your troubles.
I could easily read into the fact that the first week of the Network (after this tragic PPV) is free and that the March 3rd RAW is in Chicago, and that Michael Cole and commentary were really twisting the knife as the show went off the air, highlighting the stunned faces of dejected fans, and believe that this is all a clever marketing ploy - a set up to push us down as far as possible only to turn it around and give us a big pay off, winning back our faith and thus our cash.
But it seems likelier at this point that the WWE is convinced they'll make money no matter what creative decisions they make. And they will. And even if it is all a ploy and we get the main event we want and Bryan wins...what happens then?
Will it then just be a series of months with Bryan coming out and smiling and thanking the audience for believing in him? Will it just be happy all the time?
No matter what the truth of this wrestling situation is, the fact is that people are unhappy. Many fans are disappointed, sad, discouraged, and without any shred of hope that all of this will pay off. There are no guarantees, no indications, no foreshadowing to suggest that there is reason to believe WWE creative is ingenious enough to make this turn of events enjoyable.
And, if it is all part of a plan to turn Bryan into the Champ and satisfy the fans, will it be worth it? Is the satisfaction of Bryan winning the title and then being Champ for however long he's champ, actually worth the arduous process (and the spent cash) to get there?
There's no situation wherein the WWE fans haven't been flogged by Vince for attempting to decide who their champion is.
Even 'Good ole JR' took to Twitter and chastised the fans:
Boy, does that sting. But it's also a bit of cryptic, frustrating hope. What are the chances that JR is privy to this all being a work, though? Wasn't he fired?
Are we really supposed to just have blind faith that this has all been a "slow burn" with Bryan, that we just need to remain "patient" and believe there will be a payoff?
You just can't do that to people.
It's what Lost did. And we all know how that turned out.
Certainly, I and many fans could end up happy, pleasantly surprised even by future events. But that does not negate this current complete dissatisfaction. There is an imbalance in the kind of emotions being experienced. If something good happens in the future we know then, at that time, that it's planned goodness. There is no way to know that we're currently experiencing planned badness. And who wants to experience planned badness? We're not hipsters for Godssake! We're wrestling fans.
In lieu of telling clear, good, and intelligent stories, bad writers try to mask their lack of foresight as purposeful creative decisions that will culminate in something satisfying. But they have no idea what they're doing, and if they do then they are being needlessly piecemeal with quality, writing like businessmen eager for higher ratings week after week.
Well there is no satisfaction for this wrestling fan should CM Punk not return, literally burn the WWE World Heavyweight Title belts, and then reveal that he has kept the old championship belt this whole time and proclaim himself the true WWE Champion. This entire experience is very akin to the final season of Lost, actually, and it's shaping up that all our favorite characters are going to be happy and going to heaven in the end, that those shots of the island underwater and every single episode where anyone ever learned anything turn out to be utterly meaningless.
The metaphor may have gotten away from me.
At this point, seeing as how it won't be Bryan vs Punk in the main event, I would almost rather the WWE just blindly pushes forward with their terrible WrestleMania card, if for no other reason than to give us something to laugh about. I want to watch them be as pigheaded as possible, to marvel at their gall and shake my head at the fans who continue to offer up their 'hard-earned-cash' for a product they claim to be dissatisfied with.
That's better than giving the slightest bit of hope to us that we'll ever get what we want.
Daniel Bryan kicked out of an RKO tonight. That one moment represents every horrible thing that has gone on with his character these past several months. After that kickout, I started to believe it was possible he could win. I got excited. I truly cared. And then Kane interfered and he lost.
Writers, filmmakers, producers cannot assume that people will find some aspect of their art fascinating enough, and worthwhile enough, to endure actual pain along the way toward satisfaction.
That is arrogant and presumptuous when the WWE is requiring a blind investment of time, money, and deep emotional history from their fan base. It's asking too much of the WWE Universe.
And the WWE Universe has absolutely no reason to believe creative is capable enough to make this work - or even willing to make it work. And with the massive financial stakes at play, it's hard to believe the WWE would be willing to risk purposefully misleading and disappointing customers.
I wouldn't be surprised if things managed to get interesting in the weeks heading into 'Mania, if and only if all of this is directly addressed and it becomes clear that it's all part of a plan to finally put Bryan over. But I could easily see the next several weeks devolving into nonsense.
I want to be proven wrong. I want to feel like I should apologize to Vince McMahon. I want to call him a genius. So, with my last ounce of hope, I will hope that they will prove the angry fans wrong.
This is a frustrating time, wrestling fans. A frustrating time. At least we are not alone.
Stay tuned as this story develops, and come back Tuesday or Wednesday for an all new RAW REVIEW!