RAW Thoughts: #ThankYouDanielBryan

Man…this is shaping up to be a very emotional night. Unless, of course, it’s a swerve. Either way…we’re in Seattle, Washington and I, for one, can’t wait to see tonight’s show.ThankYouDanielBryan

The original video piece on Daniel Bryan’s retirement was oddly placed, only because he wasn’t the one to kick off the show. I guess they just wanted to push the ratings up for later in the show. Still…I was hoping to see Bryan kick off the show.

Contract signingI really enjoyed the opening segment because there was no wasted time. Everybody wanted to get to the signing quickly so they could to the physicality quickly. Stephanie didn’t go on and on. The crowd popped huge for Dean Ambrose, popped big for Roman Reigns, and popped huge for Brock Lesnar. And what’s funny is that they set up Ambrose to be the “new Stone Cold”, yet it was Lesnar to killed both guys on his own and smiled as he left both men laying. Really…it was a quick and fantastic segment.

Reigns & Ambrose backstageIt was funny to me because backstage Ambrose was grumbling to Reigns about getting Lesnar before the end of the night. I mean, HE was the one who got in Lesnar’s face and tried to imtimidate him. What the hell did he expect? I have zero sympathy for Ambrose at all…and that’s not the way I should be feeling with one of the company’s top babyfaces. Why make him look silly? And then have Reigns just nod in agreement? I dunno…it was funny to me.

Ziggler vs OwensFor some strange reason, we’re getting yet another match between Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler. Based upon last week’s loss (another of many recently for Owens), my guess was that he was going to get so frustrated with his losing streak that he would end up challenging the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Once the match was over and Ziggler cheated to win the pinfall, Owens went nuts again. This only reconfirmed my thoughts on his potential Mania match. There’s a slow-burn storyline here…I can only hope it doesn’t result in yet another Ziggler/Owens match.

The only thing worth mentioning from the Charlotte vs Alicia Fox match was the horrific job that WWE’s Instagram photographer did on Fox. And then I scrolled through the account and saw just how badly this person has done over the past few weeks. The account used to be awesome, but now it’s just amateurish. Man…poor Fox. Just look at this! Is it supposed to be artistic or something?

Alicia FoxAJ vs JerichoI’m liking what WWE is doing with Chris Jericho, The Miz, and AJ Styles. There are three separate storylines going on and Jericho is helping elevate Styles while also helping Miz get back into something meaningful. I could do without all of the talk show segments, but at least they are moving forward with storylines that potentially set-up PPV matches. The segment ended with Styles standing tall, and I’m hoping that this all leads to a Triple Threat match at FastLane. Sign me up for that one!

Ry-bergWho told Ryback that it was a good idea to go to just wearing generic dark trunks? I mean, when all of the Goldberg comparisons had gone away…they all come rushing back when you see him now. All of the top rope moves in the world won’t change the fact that fans just don’t connect with the guy. At least as a heel he had people booing him instead of the tepid polite applause and forced “Feed Me More” chants he’s getting now.

And Bray Wyatt‘s post-match promo was great. It was fast and didn’t ramble. It was poignant but still came across as insane and rambling. It was exactly the kind of promo that Wyatt does best and makes me wonder just what he’s up to next.

#SocialOutcastsI was going to write a paragraph about just how sad it was to see the #SocialOutcasts get jobbed out match after match. But then a distraction led to Adam Rose rolling up Titus O’Neil for the pinfall victory. Of course, O’Neil immediately looked like a sore loser by clotheslining the guy over the top rope…but as an Adam Rose fan from NXT it was great to see him get a pinfall victory. THIS is how you build new stars, even if they cheat to win. It’s what a heel faction is SUPPOSED to do.

You gotta appreciate the faith that WWE currently has with Dean Ambrose. They let him have a microphone at the top of the third hour and call out Brock Lesnar with multiple PG-13 (borderline PG, anyway) insults. That tells me that they’re really trying to build up Ambrose as a potential WWE champion. They’re testing the waters of Ambrose being their top guy…the babyface who is simply too stupid to stay down. He’s a tough bastard.

One shotI like the gimmick, but I don’t know if Lesnar destroying Ambrose does anything to help him. Yes, he’s tough…but how is he on Lesnar’s level now? Why are we supposed to believe that the possibility of Ambrose winning would be anything more than a complete fluke? I liked having Roman Reigns come out to distract Lesnar as it helped move along the storyline. It adds to the Lesnar feud with Reigns and it also adds to the potential Reigns feud with Ambrose. But again…how does a low blow by Ambrose on a distracted Lesnar help Ambrose in any way? He got in a cheap shot after being decimated one-on-one…and I’m supposed to believe that he’s main event material?

Lucha DragonsSin Cara 2.0 returned tonight with his Lucha Dragons partner (and current United States champion) Kalisto. My guess is that Kalisto loses to Alberto Del Rio at FastLane and then regains momentum as part of the Dragons to be a legitimate contender against the New Day at WrestleMania. After tonight, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a multiple tag team gimmick match of some sort that also includes the Usos and the Dudley Boyz. But out of every non-New Day team in WWE, the Lucha Dragons are the only one that is over enough to justify a title switch.

GOLDUST!!The segment with R-Truth and Goldust was fantastically entertaining. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a bad segment with these two guys yet. The problem, though, will be how to carry that momentum into tag matches. My worry is that the segments will end up being more entertaining than the end product. But if WWE lets them continue to have fun and do their thing, then Golden Truth could end up being the surprise tag team hit of 2016.

Becky vs NaomiI quite enjoyed the segment with Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Naomi, and Tamina. Banks was good on commentary, Lynch carried Tamina to a passable match, and Naomi did a great job attacking Banks and getting killed by Lynch. All around, it told a great story and set-up the tag match set for FastLane. Good stuff.

The 8-man “main event” tables match was alright. It was your standard tables match that was highlighted by Mark Henry being “The World’s Strongest Unicorn” in teaming with New Day.

Eating woodHonestly…is there anything the New Day CAN’T do?? Well…they can’t win a 4-on-3 match-up. After pushing around Henry and trying to tell him what to do, he walked out on the tag champions and left them to do battle one man down. In the end, Big E ate wood thanks to the Dudley Boyz to keep fans happy before the sad retirement speech by Daniel Bryan.

BUT IT WAS ALL A SWERVE!!!

The Dudleyz turned on the Usos and put both brothers through a table. It was old-school heel Dudleyz and if it ends up with a gimmicky “swan song” tag match at WrestleMania, then I’m all for it.

It was then time for one of the most emotional segments I’ve ever seen on RAW…

The show went really long, but I don’t care and I don’t think WWE did, either. I think ratings should hopefully reflect a positive response to the retirement speech. Daniel Bryan spoke from the heart and legit had me teary-eyed near the end when he talked about his father.

At the end of the day, I can’t even describe how sad I am to see one of my favourite in-ring performers have to retire. But let me just say that this is the best possible decision that he could have made and I’m 100% for it. I said months ago that Bryan Danielson needed to look out for his health first over a love for wrestling, and I’ve been saying for the last couple of weeks that there was NO WAY that WWE could bring him back with the scrutiny of concussions going on the way they are right now. It just wouldn’t be smart if he wrestled one more time and got yet another concussion that left some permanent damage.

So as it stands, as sad as it may be to see Danielson have to prematurely end his career…he got to experience the highest of highs and become one of the biggest stars in the entire business. That’s something that 99% of wrestlers never get to experience. There’s GOT to be some peace in that knowledge.

Thank you, Bryan Danielson. The wrestling world simply won’t be the same without you.

ThankYouDanielBryan

*****

All in all, this was a solid edition of RAW. The pacing was good, the matches were good, and the storylines progressed. Everything seemed to have a purpose, which is the first time in awhile that I can say RAW accomplished that task throughout the night.

But this is just what I’m thinking…what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or hit me up on social media and let me know!

 

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