Live from Seattle, Washington came what could be the biggest Raw of the year so far. Earlier in the day Daniel Bryan announced his immediate retirement, sending wrestling fans around the world into meltdown.
While others began to accept the news we’d all been expecting but none of us wanted to hear, some fans started theorising that it was actually all a work. Similar to his return before the 2015 Royal Rumble in which he teased his retirement only to confirm his in ring come back. It’s been a weird few months for news on Bryan, multiple doctors have cleared him to begin competing again. Yet WWE’s own medical staff had adamantly refused to do the same. There was only one way to find out the truth though. Tune in.
So Daniel Bryan closed the show by announcing his retirement. There it is. There was no swerve, no story lines just cold hard reality and it really sucked. It sucks for Bryan, it sucks for the fans and you know it sucks for WWE as well.
Revealing that the effects of concussions throughout his career had taken their toll and how he was told he couldn’t wrestle again Daniel Bryan gave a most beautiful, honest, heartfelt, humble and sincere retirement speech. It was emotional, it was real and it hurt. Badly. I’m not going to lie, I’m a 25 year old man who hasn’t cried in years but this had me tearing up. No, tearing up is an understatement. I cried. It all so raw and emotional and I know most people will have been the same as me.
While the rest of the show is undoubtedly overshadowed by this announcement, let’s try take a look at The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from Monday Night Raw.
The show opens with a contract signing. It’s still a promo and it’s still The Authority but it’s different enough to get past my criticisms this week. Dean Ambrose interrupts Stephanie McMahon followed by Roman Reigns, unusual I know. Stephanie then introduces Brock Lesnar officially but creates some decent heel heat by not allowing Paul Heyman to do his own introduction. The fans weren’t pleased about missing out on shouting ‘BROCK. LESNAR’.
After signing the contract relatively quickly Dean gets in the face of Lesnar. Who promptly throws him over the table into Roman Reigns. Throws the table itself at Reigns and the F5’s Ambrose for good measure. Good Lord Brock Lesnar is a monster. He is too good at what he does. He just brings this credibility, intensity and brutality to everything he does. It’s really fun to watch.
Miz TV is a Highlight Reel
I’ll say this right now. I like The Miz. I’ve liked him for a while actually, yes including his WWE Title run. He’s been lost in the shuffle a lot since then, but his mic work is still top notch.
Chris Jericho is meant to be the guest on Miz TV, but he quickly transforms the set into The Highlight reel, much to Miz’s annoyance. Jericho almost made a return to his uncool uncle shtick that he’s avoided the past few weeks, but thankfully it wasn’t as bad as normal. Now that he has AJ Styles he seems to have a little more focus.
Speaking of AJ Styles, both men put him over hard again here. It’s no coincidence that WWE have booked this three together for AJ’s first feud. They clearly don’t trust him to talk all the much yet, so why not have Jericho and Miz do it all for him. Styles is reaping the benefits of having two of the best talkers in the WWE sing his praises all the while he only has to show up and fight. It’s brilliant.
Dean Ambrose calls out Brock Lesnar again, which Brock finds highly amusing. Dean attacks but quickly finds himself getting F5’d for the second time that night. Lesnar makes to leave but Ambrose calls him back again!
Roman Reigns comes out to ‘steal the spotlight’ as Stephanie McMahon put it earlier in the night. I’m glad WWE are at least trying to tease some tension between the two former Shield members. Even if it doesn’t lead to an immediate heel turn by either man, it’s just good for story telling in general. Ambrose then hits Lesnar with a low blow. He’s clearly been studying Lesnar’s matches with The Undertaker and figured out his one true weakness!
While I’m not a big fan of people in general not selling for the F5 these days. Which is actually a problem within the WWE overall, protect your finishers guys! It does get the point across at how tough Ambrose is…and also how nuts he is. We could have reached the same conclusion however if Dean had been German suplexed several times however. Again, protecting a finishing manoeuvre.
8 Man Tables Match
In what was the main event for Raw we had an 8 man tables match between The New Day and Mark Henry Verses The Usos and The Dudley boys. Everything about this reeked of negativity. It seemed like a pointless gimmick match, just to fill time between three teams not really doing anything. Granted The New Day are fantastic, but they’ve got no one on their level to feud with.
The match itself had a slow work rate and nothing of note really happened. Mark Henry left halfway through after getting sick of being told what to do. Making him a bigger heel than New Day? Or is he a bigger face? Ah who cares. All of what I’ve just said who surely justify this match being placed in ‘The Bad’ section of this Raw review. Yet it’s what happens next that saves it from that.
After a 3D from the Dudley Boys for the victory you’re left thinking ‘Where does this leave the tag team division? What are they doing next?’. The New Day have been champions a long time and they’ve beaten everyone, several times over. There’s no fresh competition to face. And then, as The Usos and The Dudley Boys celebrate, Devon and Bubba Ray turn heel! Finally, a new twist for the tag team division! Hell yeah! This is exactly what we needed to see a quick shake up and newly focused Dudley Boys. Who I think we can all agree have been wasted since their return to the WWE.
Ryback debuted his new ‘Goldberg’ look last week on Smackdown while he defeated Erick Rowan but now it seems like this ‘rebooted’ isn’t really a reboot at all. Fan theorised that this would be the start of a new push for the ‘Big Guy’. However after a loss to Bray Wyatt (in which there in no shame) it doesn’t look like it was ever going to anyway. Personally I’m not a huge fan of Ryback, he’s very much a midcard competitor. Unworthy of the Goldberg comparisons he’s received simply for his look.
I still don’t really understand why Titus O’Neil is now a singles competitor. Did I just miss the segment in which the Prime Time Players went their separate ways a few weeks ago? WWE need more tag teams, not fewer. The other issue of course is that non of his matches mean anything. It doesn’t matter if he wins or if he loses. Titus will still have the same standard of competition he did the prior week.
This is a continuation of the problem that wins and loses don’t matter any more in the WWE. What’s he aiming for? What are his career goals? Does he want to be World Champion? Tag Champion? Anything? Or is the character of Titus O’Neil happy to show up, throw some people around and maybe win or maybe lose. It just feels like something is missing.
Darren Young might not be that missing piece of course, but at least as a tag team they can try and win the tag team titles. Which they held quite recently.
Lucha Dragons Vs League of Nations
With the return of Sin Cara the Lucha Dragons take on the League of Nations. This is a continuation of a really boring feud between Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio. Everyone involved just seems to be spinning their wheels. Which must be really frustrating for Kalisto considering this is his first big push in the WWE.
It’s not a happy return for Sin Cara though as the League of Nations pick up the victory. They’re first win in what feels like an age. Kalisto is to blame for the loss as he stupidly held himself in position to receive the convoluted double foot stomped by Del Rio instead of getting out of the way. Fool!
Kevin Owens Vs Dolph Ziggler
Oh boy, Dolph Ziggler Vs Kevin Owens yet again. I said this last week, but I’ll say it again. I like both of these guys, I just don’t want to see the same match over and over and over and over and over and over and over again!
Last week I ranked the repetitive booking as ‘Bad’ but after seeing it another week, it’s got to be ranked as ‘Ugly’ now. Watching these two trading victories is ridiculous! I get that you have a lot of time to fill and these guys can consistently put on a good match but seriously, enough is enough WWE! Watching the same thing over and over, no matter how good it can be. Isn’t fun.
The twist this week is that Ziggler uses the ropes to gain leverage on a pin. The dirty cheating fecker! But how did the referee not see that?! It’s impossible, he’s been paid off I say! Somebody get that man to Specsavers or another non specific brand of opticians.
Can’t wait to see the rematch next week!