January is by far the greatest month in the calendar for me. My work schedule gets lighter, my birthday is right around the corner, and I get to enjoy the Royal Rumble! Well, at least I tried to. At the time, I didn't think it was so bad, but looking back at it now, boy did it stink. What that pay-per-view did accomplish was shifting the landscape in a way that not even WWE had planned.
WWE brought back Batista and had him win the Royal Rumble with the intention of main-eventing WrestleMania 30. In addition to that, they continued the CM Punk versus The Authority angle by having him screwed out of the match by Kane.
The end result was that the fans turned on Batista, as their chosen hero Daniel Bryan didn't even enter the match, let alone win it. This event would be the last time we saw CM Punk in a WWE ring, as he left the company the following evening.
At the time, I was truly worried about the future of WrestleMania, but little did I know CM Punk leaving and the fans shitting all over Batista would truly be best for business...
The launch of the WWE Network had been buzzing for a while, and February 24th would mark the launch date. However, the night before this, the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view took place. Companies like DirecTV almost considered not airing it due to their stance on the network.
The PPV had a fantastic match with The Wyatt Family versus The Shield, which is a candidate for match of the year. Plus, Randy Orton successfully defended his WWE World Heavyweight Championship due to interference from The Wyatt Family, leaving everyone in the Target Center with a look of "oh god, Randy Orton versus Batista is the main event..."
The WWE Network launched, but not without its few hicups, such as the system overloading due to high amount of sign-ups. Some people were being overcharged (or charged multiple times), the app was failing on several different platforms including PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360, and things were rocky at first. In the end, all was forgiven, and the service proved to be a great starting point toward the future, as WWE debuted their first ever live NXT event, NXT ArRival".
As much as the landscape was changing in the main event scene, I think February truly represented NXT's coming out party. The main event between Adrian Neville and Bo Dallas wasn't perfect, but it sure as hell was a lot of fun. We also had another match of the year candidate between Sami Zayn and Cesaro.
It's amazing how so much can happen, yet mean very little, and that's pretty much the summary of March. This shouldn't be the case, considering it was supposed to build up to the biggest event in WWE history.
Due to the backlash against Batista, we saw Daniel Bryan slotted into CM Punk's role of battling The Authority and a potential spot in the main event. This included very long and dull beat downs at the end of Monday Night Raw on a regular basis, in addition to mind-numbing "B+" promos...
The Undertaker started his feud with Brock Lesnar, which had probably the poorest build to any feud on the entire roster. The coolest part was The Undertaker stabbing Brock Lesnar in the hand
with a pen.
The Shield turned face and ended up in a program against the New Age Outlaws and Kane. Apparently, this was due to a request from the New Age Outlaws wanting to working with them before they went back in to retirement. This would make a lot of sense due to how haphazardly thrown together this was.
John Cena and Bray Wyatt continued feuding and built towards their match, consisting of a few good promos, but nothing much more than that.
As happy as I was for Daniel Bryan finally getting the opportunity that he deserved, myself and several others had this feeling of "it doesn't feel like WrestleMania season." They really missed their mark.
The Hall of Fame proved to be a lot of fun. However, I could take a pass on Lita's God awful induction. Mr. T may have been the man of the entire night, ranting and raving about his mother, only to be cut off by Kane. The Big Red Monster would make a second appearance as he and The Undertaker would pay tribute to Paul Bearer, who'd died the previous year. The headliner of the event was The Ultimate Warrior. It was awesome to hear him have such closure with everyone and truly was a fantastic moment.
WrestleMania 30 was almost the perfect show—and maybe it was to some—but by no means do I hold it above WrestleMania 17. It was as if WWE finally listened, and our guys won. The Shield, Cesaro and Daniel Bryan all came out on top. However, it wouldn't be WrestleMania without a bit of shock and awe, and we got an overload of that as WWE said "fuck you." They ended The Undertaker's Streak. As I look back on it now, I still don't agree with it, but it's better they did it with Brock Lesnar than some flash in the pan who may not have made it to the main event.
On the following night, The Ultimate Warrior made one last appearance on WWE Raw, leaving with an earie message about breathing his final breath, but living forever. Less than a day later, Warrior passed away. Whiel he may be gone, he is right about one thing: The Ultimate Warrior will indeed live forever through all his fans.
With WrestleMania in the books, The Shield began feuding with The Authority, which led to Evolution reuniting once more. John Cena and Bray Wyatt elevated their feud with fantastic promos and skits. Daniel Bryan also started a program in which he was fed Kane for his first title defense. Bad News Barrett would make a return and win a tournament to become the number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship, and lastly Paige captured the Divas Championship from AJ Lee.
At the time, I remember becoming invested in Wyatt vs. Cena and The Authority vs. Evolution. Bad News Barrett was winning me over going in to Extreme Rules. With the WWE Network available and knowing I got to watch this for 10 bucks, I was a very content wrestling fan.
May represented dark times for WWE, but their Extreme Rules PPV proved to be nothing short of awesome! Bad News Barrett did what I think almost everyone wanted and defeated Big E for the IC strap in a competitive match. The Shield had yet another match of the year candidate against Evolution. Whilst the Bray Wyatt versus John Cena match proved to be a letdown, Daniel Bryan surprised many with a fantastic outing against Kane. The PPV wasn't very extreme, but it was definitely fun.
The end result was that Vince McMahon lost $357 million! To make matters worse, after finally caving into the WWE Universe and making Daniel Bryan champion, Daniel would announce to the world that he would need neck surgery.
With Daniel Bryan out, WWE had tried to set up an angle with him assaulted by Kane. John Cena continued feuding with Bray Wyatt, adding The Usos into the mix, and Evolution vs. The Shield became the top program and main event for Payback.
Payback was definitely short of being the quality of the last two pay-per-views and for me, a huge let down. John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt happened to be one of the better matches of the night. It was overbooked chaos, and that probably helped hide its flaws. As for the main event, it absolutely stunk in comparison. It seemed like a beat down for the majority of the match, only for The Shield to eliminate all three members of Evolution in the space of 5 minutes; a real disappointment.
Daniel Bryan's condition would only get worst in post-surgery and he was stripped of the championship, leaving what remained of his career now left in the unknown. With the title up for grabs, it was put on the line in a Money in the Bank match. The build to it was a actually quite a lot of fun, as they teased and pushed Roman Reigns as being an absolute bad ass.
Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose began their feud over the breakup, with the latter's character developing even more so into this loose cannon psychopath. A second ladder match was announced and both men would end up competing in it for the Money in the Bank briefcase and future title shot.
The very end of June would result in the Money in the Bank Ladder match, a solid event in which Rollins became Mr. Money in the Bank (with some interference from Kane). It was a spotfest and exactly what it needed to be. Rollins truly worked for his money that night.
John Cena captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a decent, but nothing special main event. Overall, the PPV was just filler matches.
The next night on Raw proved to be something a little more special. If enough hadn't have changed already, The Miz returned to WWE only to be interrupted by a returning Chris Jericho. Soon after, Bray Wyatt interrupted with an attack, giving us a brand new feud. Later that night, we would have another return as AJ Lee interrupted Paige and took her championship back.
What a difference a day, week or month can make in the WWE. Going back and looking at our first six months has been really interesting for me. A lot happened that had been forgotten about. Despite some ugly situations, I think we've had an awesome 2014 so far.
WWE gave us an amazing moment with Daniel Bryan winning the title. They've given us the rise of The Shield, who now all look to have promising singles careers. We've had multiple match of the year contenders to keep in mind for the 2014 Smarkies Awards in December.
Most importantly, whether they have reached a million subscribers or not, the WWE Network is nothing short of brilliant. NXT is probably the most fun show to watch on a weekly basis, the pay-per-view stream quality has been almost perfect (at least for me), and the on-demand content is great for nostalgic fans.
Between wrestling quality and trying to create new stars, I'm looking forward to these next six months. How about you? Let me know in the comments below.