This week’s Monday Night Raw aired live from the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington.
WWE Fastlane is two weeks away and the card is about halfway set. Several feuds are brewing and alliances are shifting, but tonight is all about Daniel Bryan. Early on Monday Bryan tweeted out “Due to medical reasons, effective immediately, I am announcing my retirement. Tonight on Raw I’ll have a chance to elaborate.” We will get to the retirement at the end of the night, but throughout the night many of the important moments in Daniel Bryan’s WWE career were highlighted.
To begin Raw Stephanie McMahon is already in the ring standing beside a table familiar any fan of WWE programming. We must be preparing for a contract ceremony. The restless crowd is already cheering for Daniel Bryan and it is no surprise. This is his home state. Stephanie quickly stifles the audience and redirects to the signing. Dean Ambrose comes out and tells her to “cut to the chase”. Dean wants the Beast out to the ring and he wants him now. We hear Roman Reigns’ music and he joins them in the ring. Stephanie is still trying to plant seeds of dissent between Reigns and Ambrose. She asks Dean why Roman always feels the need to steal his spotlight. She then introduces Brock Lesnar, the third man in Fastlane’s main event triple threat. He calmly signs the contact along with the others, then proceeds to smash the table over Roman’s back and dish out an F5 to Dean. As the Beast is leaving Triple H appears on the ramp. Paul Heyman holds his client at bay and the opening segment ends with no further conflict.
Kevin Owens vs Dolph Ziggler
Kevin Owens enters the match looking perhaps angrier than we’ve ever seen him in the WWE. Having lost to Dolph Ziggler on last week’s Raw, Owens looks to take Dolph out in the first minute of tonight match. KO is absolutely relentless all the way up until DZ finds then slightest of openings and is able to hit his trademark jumping DDT. This send Owens hanging head out of the ring giving Dolph the right angle to catch him with an outside famouser. Both narrowly beat the 10 count and Kevin sets up for a second cannonball of the match. Dolph slips out of the way are the last second and with his feet on the ropes, gets the pin. His second in a row. The loss sends Owens into yet a deeper rage. He destroys the announce table is Ziggler slips out through the crowd. Kevin Owens is incensed and there’s no telling what he’ll do to get one up on Dolph.
We see the Dudleys meeting with the Usos in their locker room. They propose teaming up to take one the New Day in a tables match.
Alicia Fox vs Charlotte
I had been waiting for this match for some time now. Alicia Fox and Charlotte faced one another on Smackdown a couple of times but this is their first meeting on Raw. For the longest time before Charlotte showed up in the main roster Alicia Fox had been the leggiest diva. Seeing Charlotte in the ring with Fox looks like a palette swapped version scaled up from 9 to 10. Alicia is not wrestling like someone with very few wins over the last year going up against the current Divas champion. She tries to hold her on trapping the champ in the best looking fisherman’s suplex in wrestling and hitting a pair if one-legged dropkicks. It is not enough for Charlotte however. In under two minutes she spears Fox and makes her tap out to the figure eight.
Y2J Chris Jericho is the guest on this week’s Miz TV. Jericho almost immediately changes it to his own segment The Highlight Reel and starts interviewing Miz instead. He references AJ Styles beating Miz on Smackdown and knocking out some of his teeth in the process. Styles beat Jericho as well in his first match on WWE. They discuss their upcoming rematch and AJ himself decides to join the conversation. As the Phenomenal One making his way to the ring Miz jumps Jericho and soon AJ makes the save. After they do away with Miz they stare each other down. They brawl briefly before the Miz grabbed Y2J out of the ring. He is again dispatched and Styles eyeballs Jericho as he exits.
Bray Wyatt vs Ryback
The Big Guy, Ryback has ditched the singlet in favor of black trunks so maybe it is no coincidence that tonight we get the return of the “GOLD-BERG!” chants. Ryback is up for this match with Bray and intends to be focused, but the threatening presence of the remaining Wyatts serves as too big a distraction. Big Guy hangs in for a while until running straight into Bray’s Sister Abigail finisher. Afterwards the buzzards flock. The Family surround Ryback. Full Nelson bomb. Discus clothesline. A second sister Abigail on the outside of the ring. “Now your colossus has do fallen!” shouts Bray and Ryback is the latest victim of the Wyatt family’s rampage.
Titus O’Neill vs Adam Rose
Writing a review for Raw each week brings with it false sense of knowing the future or at least following a pattern. When I saw it was Titus O’Neill wrestling I just knew his opponent would be Tyler Breeze. I was wrong. When I saw he was facing a Social Outcast member I knew they were losing and Titus was winning because that had been the pattern. Once again, I was wrong. The difference in this match was that Adam Rose had backup in the form of the #socialoutcasts. O’Neill is his usual house of fire until the Outcasts grab Rose out of the ring. Titus comes out and wrecks them before throwing the Party Pooper back in. Heath Slater jumps the apron another time grabbing Titus’ attention. Rose slips under for the roll up and Titus O’Neill takes his first Raw loss of the year.
Dean Ambrose comes out to the ring fuming over what happen earlier in the evening. He calls Brock out to do it again, but “this time put some stank on it!” Brock’s music hits, but Ambrose doesn’t wait for him to reach the ring. He meets the Beast halfway fists flying. Brock slams Dean into the side of the apron and throws him into the ring. Ambrose keeps trying to fight back but Lesnar keeps putting him down. He finally hits a second F5 of the night and we hear the Beast’s music. It’s over
But Dean Ambrose, beat down in the middle of the ring, is still crawling his way, beckoning him back. Brock returns looking to deal a third F5 and Roman Reigns theme coming on. As Lesnar is watching Reigns slowly make his way down the ramp, Ambrose delivers a low blow. The Lunatic Fringe finally gets his one up on the Beast.
The Lucha Dragons vs Rusev and Alberto Del Rio
Sin Cara is back after being sidelined briefly with injury. He returns with his partner as the US champion and they are facing the challenger at Fastlane Alberto del Rio and his League of Nations brethren Rusev. The Lucha Dragons don’t seem to have lost a step. The match goes back and forth for a few minutes until League member Wade Barrett gets in Kalisto’s face long enough for Alberto to put him in the tree of woe. Del Rio hits his double stomp and pins the champion ahead of their rematch.
We get a Goldust and R-Truth segment with the two outside of the Rock and Roll hall of fame. Dust is dressed as Jimi Hendrix still trying to recruit Truth as a test team partner. He then destroys a guitar and is escorted away by security.
Tamina vs Becky Lynch
Sasha Banks is on commentary for this match and still considering aligning with Becky Lynch as they share a common enemy in Tamina Snuka and Naomi, the remaining members of Team B.A.D. Tamina is for the most part dominating with the help of her interfering teammate. Snuka begins barking at Banks bringing her out from behind the announce table into an Ambush from Naomi. Lynch comes out to help then gets back in the ring and runs right into a Mafia kick and Tamina gets the win.
The New Day are backstage recruiting Mark Henry for their ladder match between the Usos and the Dudleys. They give Henry a unicorn horn and everything. He agrees as long as he’s allowed to play the trombone. He lays a few notes before Xavier snatches it back. He plays a tune and the New Day dance with the World’s Strongest Man.
The New Day and Mark Henry vs the Usos and the Dudley Boyz
Mark Henry and the New Day are working well together and have the upper hand until they start demanding that he do his trademark splash. Henry, not one to be bossed around leaves the match. This turned everything around. Jimmy sets up Xavier on the table for Jey to do a splash and Big E saves him at the last second. Jimmy hits E with the Enziguri and Bubba and Devon put him through a table with the 3D for the win. While the winning teams are celebrating the victory the Dudleys attack the Usos. Two more tables are wrecked as they 3D Jimmy and powerbomb Jey. This adds a whole new wrinkle to the tag team scene.
DANIEL BRYAN’S RETIREMENT SPEECH
Finally comes the moment this whole night had been leading up to. Daniel Bryan comes to the ring to deafening cheers and Yes chants. He stands for a minute with his eyes closed to feel the crowd noise in his body. Bryan is clearly fighting back tears, but is able to get into the reasons behind his retirement. He reveals that in his first five months of wrestling he had already gotten three concussions and they would come continuously over his 16 year career. He ignored them though, letting his passion to wrestle win out. A couple of weeks ago a new test revealed something (he was not specific) that convinced him to go ahead and retire.
The theme of his retirement speech was gratitude. Bryan says that he is grateful for getting able to do what he loves for so long, grateful that he was able to meet his wife Brie Bella, grateful to meet so many awesome people such as Connor the Crusher. He ends by asking the audience for one last Yes chant then makes his round hugging his family and some fans. Daniel Bryan finally exits though the stage filled with the emotional roster of WWE superstars.
1. Wait, what? Let me get this straight Titus O’Neill has been looking like a world beater ask year and the #socialoutcasts have been basically a joke. So what does Adam Rose’s win mean? Is Titus going to take on the whole faction now? Is this the start of a run for the Outcasts? Or was this just a random booking decision. Let’s hope it leads to something otherwise it’s just a waste of time in a show that has largely gotten away from that sort of thing.
2. How much longer do we have to wait for the Golden Truth? These weekly segments have been great but what’s finally going to convince R-Truth to join to Bizarre One? The team might not turn out to be title contenders, but there’s no doubt they’ll put on some entertaining matches at least.
3. What is the Miz’s involvement in the Styles/Jericho feud? Is this leading to a triple threat on down the line or is Miz just a catalyst to shake things up between the two? On one hand, all three mixing it up seems like an interesting match. On the other though, with AJ still new to WWE, why have him spilt pay-per-view billing three ways?
4. Are we building towards a Lesnar vs Ambrose 1-on-1? Dean had needled Brock for the last two weeks while Roman is, for the most part, lying in the weeds. It seems that Reigns might benefit from the animosity between the two come Fastlane.
5. Will Daniel Bryan be considered in the list of all time greats? He had a very short run at the top, but he had crowd reactions like had never been seen before. He could control an audience by raising his arms. He was serviceable on the mic, not the best, but his ring work was undeniable. His moves were always crisp and on the money. Wrestling Observer Newsletter awarded Bryan best technical wrestler an amazing nine years in a row. Some say that what Daniel Bryan accomplished, becoming one of the top guys in the WWE, opened the doors to “indie darlings”. Perhaps we wouldn’t have Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens or Kenta or AJ Styles without Daniel Bryan. With that said I’d have to say the answer to the question is YES!