RAW Ramblings – February 8th 2016
Key Arena: Seattle, WA.
“We’re leaving together
But still it’s farewell
And maybe we’ll come back
To earth, who can tell?
I guess there is no one to blame
We’re leaving ground (leaving ground)
Will things ever be the same again?”
– Europe, “The Final Countdown.”
One of the greatest professional wrestlers that I, and millions of others, have had the privilege of watching over the last 15 years, Bryan Danielson, announced his retirement on RAW this week. When the discussion of the “greatest of all time” comes up, sure people will disagree on certain names and of course such a debate is subjective depending on what an individual is looking for in a pro wrestler. Even so, there are a handful of elite performers who in spite of personal preference or subjectivity are simply indisputable when it comes to the subject of the “greatest of all time.” Kenta Kobashi, Mitusharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Jushin Liger, Satoru Sayama, are all legendary for becoming world-class practitioners of their art and, to me at least, Bryan Danielson deserves not just to be on the same list as these greats, but he rightfully should be near the very top.
Danielson gave one of the most honest and heartfelt speeches in the 23 year history of Monday Night RAW and closed out the show in the main event segment with a bitter-sweet farewell promo that went 22 minutes on television and a further 10 or-so on the Network afterwards. Bryan closed his eyes and soaked in the love from his adopted home-town fans in Seattle then explained that he literally “felt” the crowd’s reaction, which is something he never was allowed to do because as a performer he always had to keep his eyes open. He talked about cutting his hair and beard for a charity called, “Wigs for Kids,” so even during his big moment, Bryan was able to demonstrate that there are in fact more important things in life than not being able to wrestle. Danielson said he started wrestling at the age of 18 and within the first three months of his career he already had suffered three concussions. He continued and noted that he had picked up more concussions over the course of his 16 year career and it had reached the point where they told him that he can’t wrestle anymore. Bryan talked about fighting the decision for a long time because he wanted to come back and wrestle, however a week and a half ago he took a test which revealed, “maybe my brain isn’t as okay as I thought it was.” He mentioned wanting to start a family and have kids soon and the fans chanted, “Yes!” Bryan joked, “That’s what Brie says all the time” and the fans popped big time then began a “Holy Sh*t” chant. “It’s with a heavy heart and the utmost sadness that I officially announce my retirement,” he stated.
Danielson listed all the things he loved and started with the Seahawks then talked about how the fans react to his music and feeling like Superman when the fans popped for his big tope. Bryan said he loved that he had wrestled in parking lots of gas stations and in front of 70,000 people in New Orleans then added that he loved meeting the most interesting people on the planet while working for WWE. He put over Kane & William Regal and said he met children who were stronger than he ever could be like Connor Michalek.
The theme of Danielson’s speech was “gratitude” and he talked about all the things he was grateful for, including the Seattle fans hijacking RAW two years ago. He said the fans ruined the big John Cena/Randy Orton WWE Championship ceremony by refusing to stop chanting, “Daniel Bryan.” However, Bryan explained that wasn’t why he was grateful and got choked up when he mentioned that his dad was in the crowd and that was the last time he ever got to see his son wrestle live. He said because of wresting he met “the most wonderful woman in the world” and was grateful to come out in front of his home-town fans and share this special moment with his family, friends and everyone in the back. Bryan closed by stating, “Tomorrow morning I start a new life. A life where I am no longer a wrestler. But that is tomorrow and that is not tonight, and by damn, I have one more night to feel this energy and to feel this crowd. So, if I could just get one last Yes chant I would really appreciate it.” The building erupted with “Yes” chants and Brie hit the ring to give Bryan a big kiss, which is how RAW went off the air. On the Network, Vince, Stephanie & HHH led out the entire roster and they all did the “Yes” chant on the stage. Bryan shook hands and hugged fans at ringside then hugged the announcers too and Michael Cole said, “I love you, kid.” He continued his lap of honour at ringside then shared another kiss with Brie on the ramp and led one final “Yes” chant. Bryan hugged Vince McMahon and the wrestlers parted for him to head backstage. He shook hands with the Dudley Boyz, who just happened to be standing near the entrance, and walked backstage with Brie and all the other wrestlers following him.
If you didn’t see Bryan’s swansong then you owe it to yourself to seek it out and watch it. We’ve seen huge, grand send-offs for Ric Flair & Shawn Michaels, and an emotional goodbye from Edge, but there has never been anything like Bryan Danielson’s heart-rendering and touching goodbye.
Well I suppose we better look at the rest of the stuff on the show. There were a couple of good segments, however everything was so vastly overshadowed by Bryan’s retirement speech that I can’t see many people remembering anything else. Opening segment was a contract signing between Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & Brock Lesnar. Stephanie brought out each guy and it ended with Lesnar throwing the table at Reigns and giving Ambrose the F5. HHH came out on the stage and had a stare-down with Brock. It was a pretty decent, as Lesnar throwing furniture and killing men is always great. Later, at the top of the third hour, Ambrose called out Brock Lesnar and said Lesnar, “couldn’t get it up for the big fight.” Brock showed up and tossed Ambrose into the barricade and gave him another F5 in the ring. Lesnar went to leave, but Ambrose called him back like a madman and Brock went in for the kill. For once in his life, Roman Reigns came out to help his buddy and Ambrose gave Lesnar a low-blow from behind while he was distracted by Reigns. It was a good little angle, but it is weird that the three-way is being build more around Lesnar and Ambrose, while Reigns is left looking like the third wheel.
Chris Jericho hijacked Miz TV and turned it into the Highlight Reel; a bunch of stagehands rolled out Jericho’s blue carpet and set up his stool and potted plant. Jericho brought up that AJ Styles had knocked out two of Miz’s teeth last week on SmackDown and Miz pointed out that Styles beat Jericho two weeks ago on RAW. Jericho said he would remind Styles on SmackDown that he is still the best in the world at what he does. AJ came out and Miz attacked Jericho from behind. Styles hit the ring and worked together with Jericho to get rid of Miz. Styles & Jericho ended up trading shots but Miz pulled Jericho outside and Jericho sent him flying over the announce table. Segment ended with Styles & Jericho jawing back and forth. – There were some cringe-worthy moments, like Jericho singing about Miz’s two front teeth, but it is hard to complain too much since they actually tried to build up a big match on SmackDown.
The Rest: Dolph Ziggler pinned Kevin Owens in 11:00. Match was fine but seriously, how many times do these men have to wrestle each other? There was a crazy spot which saw Ziggler give Owens a Fameasser off the apron to the floor. Finish was inexplicable, as Ziggler stacked up Owens and put his feet on the ropes like a big dirty cheater to get the pin. Charlotte beat Alicia Fox with the Figure Eight in a clunky 5 minute non-title match. The main event match was set to be the Usos vs. New Day in a tables match, but the Dudleys met with the Usos in the back and suggested that they team up to face New Day and a partner of their choosing in an eight-man tables match. Bray Wyatt over Ryback in 6:50 with Sister Abigail. Ryback had his Goldberg trunks on and looked like Mark Coleman. Match wasn’t much; afterwards the Wyatt Family beat up Ryback forever and Bray gave him another Sister Abigail on the floor. Adam Rose pinned Titus O’Neil in 3:25 after Titus was distracted like an idiot by the Social Outcasts. – They had to have been trolling us here. Sin Cara returned to team with Kalisto again against Rusev & Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio pinned Kalisto in 5:30 with his Double Foot Stomp because the US title is once again a geek belt. R-Truth bumped into Goldust outside the Jimi Hendrix museum. Goldust was dressed like Hendrix; Truth wasn’t impressed and security dragged Goldie away. Tamina over Becky Lynch in 3:50. Sasha Banks was on commentary and Naomi ended up beating the hell out of her with some super stiff looking shots. Becky fought off Naomi and gave her an Exploder on the floor, but Tamina caught her getting back in the ring with a big boot and got the pin. Mark Henry was revealed as New Day’s tag partner in a backstage skit; he put the unicorn gimmick on his head and danced like a goof. The Dudley Boyz & The Usos beat New Day & Mark Henry in a tables match at 7:35 when the Dudleys gave Big E the 3D through a table. Match was nothing special. Afterwards, the Dudelys turned and attacked the Usos. Jimmy went through a table first then Bubba gave Jey a super Powerbomb on the second rope through another table. Fans were into the turn and even chanted “ECW” at one moment. The heel turn for the Dudleys felt a long time coming, so I guess now they will be losing a program to the Usos, which I have no problem with at all.
Here’s Bryan Danielson hitting a huge springboard dive to Nigel MgGuinness in 2006 and literally landing right at my feet.