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.
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.
The Spotlight On Daniel Bryan’s Retirement
Well the above tweet really says it all, Daniel Bryan has officially announced that he is retiring from in ring action. Bryan (34) has been out of action since a smackdown taping last April 14th in which he suffered a concussion, shortly after winning the intercontinental title at Wrestlemania. Bryan had been hoping to gain medical clearance from the official WWE doctor, Dr. Joseph Maroon but had been unable to do so, despite gaining medical clearance from the doctor who worked at last year’s Superbowl.
While it is no doubt heartbreaking to long time fans of Bryan’s work (and I’m at the top of that list), WWE has to be commended here for taking concussions so seriously. Bryan has been a part of WWE since 2009 and went on to win the World Heavyweight Title in 2011 and winning the WWE world heavyweight championship on 3 separate occasions, the last of which was in grand fashion at Wrestlemania 30. As big of a fan as I am of Bryan the in ring performer, i’m a bigger fan of Bryan the person and his health and well being have to come first.
This tweet was released a little over an hour ago and I’ve already received a number of text messages from friends asking if this is storyline. I suppose it’s possible being as Bryan teased a retirement announcement prior to announcing his return to the Royal Rumble back in 2015. That said, I’d be pretty surprised to see that this is a storyline and I beleive it’s pretty legitimate. Raw emanates from Seattle, Washington tonight, just a short distance from Bryan’s hometown in Aberdeen.
We’ll have a definitive update as more information is released and full coverage of Raw as well.
The Spotlight On WWE Tough Enough Episode 8
Last night the final five of WWE Tough Enough were revealed when Giorgia Priscina (GiGi) was sent home by receiving the lowest amount of votes from the WWE Universe. From the beginning, I would say that Gigi had to be considered one of the favorites to win the show. Gigi won many of the different physical competitions and also showed a good amount of personality and character development. That said, she also began showing signs, over the past few weeks, of being overly arrogant. As seen in past weeks with Patrick and Gabi, it’s obvious that the WWE Universe is turned off by arrogance. In the end, the Universe gets the final say here and they chose to save Sara and Tanner over Gigi. I believe that Gigi was someone who really wanted this and if she works hard can make it to WWE someday as it was obvious that the judges and trainers liked her. With that out of the way, let’s get into some of the highlights from the show.
1) Y2J Baybay!!!!!- Chris Jericho is one of the biggest stars in the history of WWE and so when I heard he was going to be the host of this season’s Tough Enough, I felt he was a natural fit. Honestly, I feel he’s done well in his role but I felt that he could offer so much more to the show. Well, that really happened this episode as Chris Jericho was awesome last night. Right from the start of the show when Jericho greeted the contestants with pizza and alcohol as a reward for making it this far Jericho was just on fire. I loved when Jericho challenged the contestants to a drinking contest and drank the 20 something year old contestants under the table only to then show up looking chipper to wake up the hungover Tanner the next morning. From here, Jericho was great in actually getting in the ring with the contestants to show them how to put together a match. Chris has one of the best minds in the business and I feel that if he wasn’t so busy with his in ring career, his podcast, Fozzy and all of his other endeavors, he’d make one helluva trainer. I was glad to see Jericho prominently featured and I hope it continues the rest of the series, he’s such a valuable asset.
2) Big Match John Is Back- From a WWE perspective, the biggest news to come out of Tough Enough is that John Cena returned to WWE television for the first time since his injury. Cena , honestly looked pretty good as he delivered a passionate speech to the Tough Enough contestants. He actually made a great point in saying how we’re able to see each contestant from the beginning of their careers all the way through. Then the big news was revealed when John Cena confirmed that he will be back for Summerslam. The title vs. title match between Seth Rollins and John Cena is a go! I was surprised how many people across the internet were actually questioning whether or not Cena would be able to return. Let’s not forget that this is the guy who made it back from a broken collar bone in a few months back in 2008 so that he’d make it back for the road to Wrestlemania. John Cena is truly as tough as they come.
3) And Then There Were Two-With GiGi being voted off of the show tonight, this now means that the finals of Tough Enough for the females is down to Sara Lee and Amanda. One of those two women are going to win the $250,000 contract to be the next WWE diva. I expect that this means that one of the 3 male contestants, ZZ, Joshua or Tanner will be going home next week to set up the finale. While it hasn’t been 100% confirmed that the final vote will be determined by the fans, I would assume it would be since every other vote has been. If that is the case, I think that Sara Lee will win that fan vote in a landslide. Sara has been the one female contestant to realize that in order to do well in this competition you really need to be likable to the fans, Amanda hasn’t done that at all.
In closing, I again enjoyed this week’s Tough Enough. I’ve felt that the show has really picked up steam over the past few weeks (It may honestly have to do with the addition of the Miz as a judge). Next week will be really interesting as it will likely be one of the male contestants going home and I feel each one of the remaining three contestants have their strengths. The wildcard in everything is that Daniel Bryan still has a save, he looked so tempted to use it tonight but he has been able to keep it until the end. It’ll be interesting to see if that save will dictate the result next week.
Well that’s going to do it for me for now but I’ll have a spotlight up later today on this week’s newsworthy Total Divas. Until then, who’s your picks for the final five contestants left on Tough Enough?
All Photos Courtesy of WWE and The USA Network
The Spotlight On Wrestling Podcasts- The Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast with Daniel Bryan
Hello everyone and thank you for checking out this week’s spotlight on wrestling podcasts where today we’ll take a look at a podcast that actually aired this morning and I was able to listen to it on the way to work, Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast with Daniel Bryan. I was going to hold this off until I finished Bryan’s book and release the review during my planned Daniel Bryan weekend (8/7-8/9) but I figured since it was timely and topical, I would release it today. The past week has actually been pretty tough to be a wrestling fan with all of the awful comments made by Hulk Hogan being released, as Hogan was one of the faces of WWE history. Well, over the past week, one of the few bright spots has been that Daniel Bryan has been making the rounds across media outlets around the world to promote the release of his new book, which was released just last Tuesday. Bryan has a likability to him that can’t be taught and I’ve gone out of my way to listen to a number of his appearances from Cheap Heat to Boomer and Carton in the morning to Busted Open Radio on sirius xm radio. Thus, this morning, i was really happy to see Daniel Bryan’s name pop up on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast. I’ve been a fan of Sam’s podcast since it started, subscribing on itunes along the way. I like Sam’s podcast because he seems like a true fan and often has some cool stories during his “state of wrestling” portion of the program including different wrestling road trips he takes. While Sam is a fan, he’s able to get pretty big names on his podcast and manages to have a good rapport with his guests while not shying away from the “hard-hitting” questions. Let’s get into some of the highlights from the show.
Daniel Bryan’s Plans for the Intercontinental Title: For me one of the big things i got out of the podcast was hearing that Bryan actually wanted the intercontinental title for quite some time. His plan for the title was that it would be defended every week but it would only be defended on smackdown and pay per views. His idea was that it would give people a reason to tune into Smackdown and give the intercontinental title the profile that it deserves. He went on to say that he much preferred the brand split, feeling that if it wasn’t for the two separate world titles, he would have never had the chance to be world champion. Bryan also went on to state that he felt that the separate brands really do a good job in allowing guys to be featured that may otherwise get lost in the shuffle despite their talent such a Cesaro and Heath Slater.
The Future For Daniel Bryan: Bryan was very honest during this interview, flat out saying that he had a concussion and while he’s been cleared by his own doctor, he’s waiting on WWE’s doctors to clear him. Sam asked a good question to Bryan in asking if he planned on wrestling until he could no longer do so. Bryan responded that Brie’s plan has always been to have her first child by the age of 32-33 (she’s 31 now) and that he expects that she will likely be ready to have the couple’s first child when her contract with WWE is up. Bryan went on to say that he’s ready to be a father and, while he didn’t say that he was going to stop wrestling once he became a father, he did note that when Ted Dibiase Jr had a child, he continued on the road and Bryan noticed how miserable Ted looked. Sam and Bryan then both agreed that it becomes harder to deal with some of the hardships associated with being a wrestler (the travel, the politics, etc) when you know you can be at home being a father.
The Summerslam Match that never was?– One of the things that I found pretty interesting was when Bryan talked about his Summerslam 2012 match that was set up between he and Charlie Sheen. He explained how at the time Bryan was a heel but he was getting cheered against everyone other than CM Punk, who he had already wrestled a few times. Thus, WWE didn’t really know what else to do with Bryan as a heel. He went on to explain that he wanted the match to happen so bad because he felt that if it happened the idea was for Bryan to be the heel and for Sheen to be the face but Bryan had no doubt that Sheen was going to be booed out of the building had the match happened. Of course, from all of this, we got Team Hell No, so it wasn’t all a waste,
In the end, I really enjoyed this interview. I felt Sam did a good job in really going out of his way not to ask the same questions that everyone else did about Bryan’s book (even citing an article out there listing 10 things learned from Bryan’s book and then asking questions based only off of those 10 things because they really didn’t know too much about Bryan or WWE). Other topics covered in the over 30 minute interview included Bryan’s thoughts on his time in the original NXT, the struggles of avoiding overexposure when you’re featured on 12 segments in one week of television, why he feels that WWE doesn’t view him as marketable even to this day and whether or not he and Sheamus will ever get their WrestleMania match. The main thing I noticed form this discussion, and other appearance from Bryan throughout the week, is just how positive Bryan is despite the tough times he’s gone through over the past couple of years.
If you’re interested in hearing Daniel Bryan’s full appearance on the Sam Robert’s Wrestling Podcast, as well as Sam’s past podcasts, you can do so by clicking here http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/sam-roberts-wrestling-podcast . I’d love to know your thoughts on the show and as always some of your wrestling podcast suggestions for me to review right here. Until next time, take care.