Well last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw was, at least for me, all about the retirement of Daniel Bryan. I felt that WWE did such a classy tribute to Bryan throughout the night and I couldn’t have been happier that I was able to watch this as it unfolded. In many ways, I hate to say this, but it was reminiscent to the tribute episodes of Raw that WWE has done in the past when someone has passed away, it’s just that the subject was living and got to make a speech at the end. You really got a feel throughout the day and up until the wee hours of the evening just how much Daniel Bryan meant to so many people in the wrestling community, whether it be fellow wrestlers, promoters or fans. In many ways twitter last night was very therapeutic in that it felt like the whole wrestling community was going through the loss of Daniel Bryan’s wrestling career together. Bryan meant a lot to me as a fan and I’m going to get into all of that later in the week but for right now I want to focus on last night’s show, some of the highlights of the show as a whole and what I thought about Daniel Bryan’s speech. Let’s get right into it.
WWE recognizes their A+ Player- Triple H said it best on twitter yesterday when he said that Bryan was always an A+ player and WWE treated Bryan as so with the way they put together Raw last night. Whether it was Stephanie McMahon allowing the fans to get all of their Daniel Bryan chants in during her promo or the very nice videos throughout the show, WWE did a very classy job handling all of this. I also loved that they gave Bryan the end of the show to go out and talk for as long as he liked and kudos to USA for letting WWE have all of that extended overrun time as the show didn’t go off the air until close to 11:30.
Gratitude- If you would have told me that when I saw Daniel Bryan win the world title live at Wrestlemania 30 that less than 2 years later I would be watching his retirement speech, I would have never believe it. It’s a real shame that this poor guy has gotten such bad luck right after he reached the pinnacle of his profession, after working so hard to do so. That said, last night’s retirement speech one of the most emotional and my favorite segments in the history of Monday Night Raw. Bryan spoke from the heart for over 30 minutes and took you with him on this emotional journey one last time, like he has throughout his entire career. He made you laugh when he mentioned the elephant in the room being that he shaved his beard, he made you cry (that tipping point for me being the part about his father), and at the end of the day he made you feel that same sense of gratitude that he spoke about. It was really a tremendous speech that I cannot recommend enough. I couldn’t help but think, as I watched Bryan talk that for a guy who gets so much praise for what he’s done inside the ring (and rightfully so), Daniel Bryan is also an unbelievable promo who can evoke emotion and make you believe more than few others. At the end of the day, while it’s heartbreaking to see Bryan have to give up what he loves to do, you have to take solace in the fact that this guy truly made it. Other than Daniel Bryan, there are only three other legends that I can remember getting to do this type of speech, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Edge, that’s pretty good company for a guy that so many believed would never make it. When you think about many of the greats who retired and didn’t get this chance, guys like Christain or even Steve Austin, it’s pretty great that Bryan got his just due. In the end, it’s also important to realize how important it is that Bryan got out of the ring before he had more damage. He seems genuinely happy and at peace with the fact that now he can focus on starting a family. As I said yesterday, as big a fan of I am of Daniel Bryn the performer, I’m a bigger fan of the person.
The Sendoff- WWE was very smart to send everyone to the network for even more Daniel Bryan celebration. We had our roku disconnected and scrambled to get everything plugged in so that we could see more. While, I was hoping for the traditional parade of people from Bryan’s past coming out to pay respect, it was very classy for the entire roster to come out on the top of the stage and do a YES chant, lead by Vince McMahon of all people. It was great to see just how much respect Bryan had by his peers, especially Vince McMahon who seemed genuinely proud of Bryan and embraced him with a warm hug. It was also very cool of Daniel Bryan to walk around all of ringside being sure to slap fives with all of the fans, hugging many of them. He was really soaking it all in, as were many of the fans who were seen crying (including one youngster who was inconsolable).
At the end of the day there were a few more things I really liked on Raw. I thought Dolph Ziggler and Kevin Owens had another strong match, I thought the Dudleys got a much needed spark when they turned on the Usos and I really enjoyed the advancement of the tension between Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns heading into Fast Lane. That said, this night was really all about the retirement of Daniel Bryan and if you’re a wrestling fan, to any extent, I urge you to take 30 minutes of your time to watch his speech.
That’s going to do it for now but I’ll be back real soon with coverage of Daniel Bryan’s appearance on Sportscenter as we say goodbye to one of the all time greats.