The Spotlight On Raw & Daniel Bryan’s Retirement Speech

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).
Closing Thoughts:
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.

The Spotlight On The Week Ahead For WWE 2/8-2/14

Happy Monday everyone!  With the football season officially behind us and baseball season still a few months away, it’s time to shift our focus entirely on a whole different season, wrestlemania season of course!  With a little under 8 weeks away until the biggest Wrestlemania of all time, things are guaranteed to be kicked into high gear before too long.  With that said, let’s take a look at what lies in the week ahead for WWE.

Raw Comes To Yes Country-  WWE Monday Night Raw will emanate live from Seattle, Washington tonight.  As many of you know by now Daniel Bryan released a tweet earlier today confirming that due to medical issues he is going to be coming to Raw tonight in Seattle to announce his retirement from wrestling.  While it’s to see that Bryan is being forced to stop wrestling, something that he loves to do, it is in a way nice that he is being afforded to opportunity to speak in Seattle, just a short drive away from Bryan’s hometown of Aberdeen.  It was on an episode of Raw back in December of 2013 where the fans in Seattle, during a segment designed to showcase the importance of a title unification match between Randy Orton & John Cena, chanted Bryan’s name relentlessly.  This was something that Bryan credited with the birth of the yes movement on his DVD that was released just last year.  For those of you thinking that this is just storyline, ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman has since confirmed that this is not at all storyline and that Bryan would be appearing on Sportscenter tomorrow night to discuss his retirement further.  It should be an emotional Raw to say the least.
Time For Us To Ride Along Once Again- Following Monday Night Raw, the second episode of Ride Along will take place on the WWE Network.  This week’s episode will follow along both King Barrett & Sheamus as well as the trio of Renee Young, Summer Rae and R Truth.  I was able to check out the first episode featuring the New Day and Miz/Ziggler and thought it was actually a lot of fun.  The show doesn’t last more than 20 and is an easy watch.  It’s gives you that “fly on the wall” atmosphere as you watch the superstars on their traveling adventures.
A Beast Of A Smackdown-  Don’t forget about Smackdown.  WWE’s Thursday night program has really picked up some steam in recent weeks since coming over to the USA Network.  Smackdown has definitely been getting more of a focus recently and new lead play by play man Mauro Ranallo has been a welcome addition to the booth.  This week’s Smackdown should be no different as Brock Lesnar makes his first appearance on Smackdown since, I believe, the end of his first run in WWE back in 2004.  On top of that the rematch between Chris Jericho and AJ Styles, which has really been building over the next few weeks, is advertised for Smackdown.
Fourth Quarter Earnings Call- On top of all of this, there will be a fourth quarter earning call on Thursday morning with Vince McMahon and George Barrios.  I’m not sure that I will be able to sit in on the live call, which i did for quarter three, but I will have coverage on Thursday regardless. This particular call will cover the fourth quarter on 2015, basically from October thru December.  These calls are always interesting because it is usually a forum for McMahon to talk about a variety of upcoming business ventures for WWE, as well as the current state of the business.  This is also the chance for everyone to get updated on the current number of subscribers to the WWE network and plans for the network moving forward.
Closing Thoughts-
Obviously with the news breaking of Daniel Bryan officially announcing his retirement from WWE, this has shook the entire week for WWE and taken a much deserved focus.  I have a number of personal stories from either watching Daniel Bryan as a fan or the number of times I got to meet Bryan over the years that I will share when I feel the time is right.
Aside from all of that, this week WWE will released their annual DVD/ Blu Ray compilation focusing on the Best Matches and Moments from Raw and Smackdown tomorrow.  That blu Ray is always fun but obviously loses a little steam with all episodes of Raw and Smackdown now being up on the network.  Total Divas also continues tomorrow night and this season has actually been a lot of fun.  If you’re a fan of Daniel Bryan, you can follow along a lot of what he’s been going through by watching Total Divas.  If you do check that out let me know what you think.  Also as stated above, Daniel Bryan will be on Sportscenter tomorrow night with the coach.  It promises to be one hell of a week in WWE and we’ve got you covered from start to finish so keep it locked in to thedailyspotligh