The Spotlight On Raw 

Last night’s episode of WWE Monday Night Raw is in the books and I honestly found that there was a lot to like on the show. Due to how packed of a show that it was, I’m not going to waste any time and instead will jump right in.  Highlights:

Shane O Mac is Back- I’m not too sure what’s going on with Shane McMahon but what I can tell you is that he’s been a real breath of fresh air to the show. It’s been roughly five years since we had a babyface authority figure (Teddy Long) and it really changes up the dynamic on the show. The one thing I loved about Shane last night was when he came out to kick off the show and really laid out the whole night of matches. This is something that WWE hasn’t really done in quite some time and I’m glad they’re getting back to it. By Shane coming out and announcing the tag title tournament, the women’s title match and the number one contender match (later he also added the unique tag match of Bray and Roman vs the League of Nations), this to me gave the viewers multiple reasons to tune in and to remain tuned in for the remainder of the night.  
Shots Fired- Last night Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows, former members of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Bullet Club made their long awaited debuts on Monday Night Raw when they attacked the Usos following there tag tournament victory over the Social Outcasts. I thought this was fantastic and really made Gallows and Anderson (who won’t be going by the Bullet Club, NJPW owns that name) look like two big time stars. The crowd went nuts for them and JBL was great here in immediately putting the guys over as legit players. For me this reminded me of the debut of The Outsiders in WCW as Scott Hall and Kevin Nash looked like two badasses and you knew that they were working with someone, who eventually turned out to be Hulk Hogan and the NWO was formed. The question now remains as to who, if anyone, Anderson and Gallows are working with. Regardless, i thought this was a great debut for these guys and I couldn’t be happier for the two of them. Karl Anderson is one helluva wrestler and if you aren’t familiar, I think you’ll be very impressed with what he brings to the table. As for Gallows, who looks like he’ll again be going by Luke Gallows, he actually had a run in WWE back in the late 2000s as Festus (teammates with Jesse who was actually Ray Gordy who made an appearance honoring his father, Terry Gordy, at last week’s WWE Hall of Fame) and then later as a member of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society. Gallows has really reinvented himself since his departure from WWE, establishing one of the best personalities in the business. I’m really excited to see where these guys go from here.  

What’s Going On With The Wyatts?- I actually really enjoyed the main event last night and have been enjoying the continued progression of the Wyatt Family as they seem to potentially be turning face. It was a really interesting dynamic to have Bray team with Roman Reigns, the guy that he once claimed he prefer anyone other than him to be the top guy in the WWE. For years now, I thought there was money to be made with the Wyatt Family embracing the fans as fans have been behind the Wyatts really since Bray’s program with John Cena back in early 20014. I think that perhaps it was the 101,000 fans at AT&T Stadium pulling out there phones in unison in support of Bray Wyatt that convinced WWE management that it may be time for that switch. If nothing else it’s different and I like it. It was such a unique atmosphere to see the LA crowd getting solidly behind Alberto Del Rio (who is always a huge favorite of the people of LA) and Bray Wyatt but solidly booing both Roman Reigns and Rusev. Go back and watch this if you have the time.  

 Closing Thoughts

 I may have hit on the big highlights to come out of Raw but I din’t even get a chance to touch on the matches. AJ Styles and Sami Zayn had a terrific 16+ minute match that was so much fun. The finish made sense as Styles is the guy who they need to build up for his match with Roman Reigns and so it made sense for him to get the win. Charlotte and Natalya had another really strong match in which I didn’t mind the DQ finish because it will now set up a rematch for the Payback pay per view. Lastly, I thought that Kevin Owens and Cesaro had another great match, as they always do, and I loved seeing both men lay it all out there for a shot at The Miz’s Intercontinental Title, as it made that title seem that much more important. Thus, with these three matches coupled with the really unique main event, you had four strong matches on Raw that i feel you should go out of your way to see.  

It was overall a really good episode of Raw and I’m liking the direction they’re heading in with Shane being the guy to run the show. They seem to be really making an effort to put together fresh matches and introduce new talent and the idea of having a babyface authority figure allows for cleaner finishes and less nonsense. For example, I loved Shane having Kevin Owens escorted from the building to make sure that Sami Zayn would finally be able to get his shot. There is definitely a place in WWE for the heel authority figure but we’ve been seeing that now for nearly 3 years and so this is a welcome change.  

That’s going to do it for me here but we are in the midst of our live perspective Wrestlemania week featuring a different event from Wrestlemania broken down with photos each day. I currently have a fun photo gallery up of our time spent at the Wrestlemania store and tonight will have some photos and a breakdown of NXT Takeover:Dallas. Keep your eyes open for that! A reminder that we are also now on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thedailyspotlight so give us a like and tell all of your friends! Thanks for all of the support!  

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 Raw- 11/16/2015

Last Night WWE Raw emanated live from Greenville, SC and it was quite the newsworthy show to say the least.  Most people will probably remember this Raw for the final segment involving Paige and Charlotte as it was probably the most controversial segment in WWE, I’d say, since CM Punk faked the heart attack to mock Jerry Lawler back in 2013.  We’re going to get into that and a whole lot more in the highlights section below so let’s get right into it.

Highlights:

Divas Get The Spotlight: So I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I was a fan of Reid Flair’s death being brought into the storylines because I’m never a fan of that stuff, it’s pretty tasteless.  What happened to Reid was a real tragedy and I don’t think any one needs to be reminded of something like that while watching an episode of Raw.  That said, I’m sure that WWE got the blessing from both Charlotte and Ric to go ahead with the storyline and I’d think that Ric is old school in the belief that nothing is off limits in wrestling (much like comedy).  The main part of this that I do want to focus on, because we try to bring you the positive, is that WWE made a concerted effort to focus on the Divas last night.  They showed highlights of the Paige and Charlotte feud throughout the night and really made their contract signing at the end of the night feel like a big deal.  As for the contract signing itself, it was great to see the Divas get the final segment on Raw for the first time in over a year (I believe Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella got that segment in August of 2014).  I also liked the fire and intensity of the brawl that the two had around the ring.  If nothing else, you really believed that Charlotte wanted to kill Paige at the end of the show and I’m more excited for their match now then I was prior to Raw.

Tournament Matches Deliver:  Usually I give you that one match to go out of your way to watch but this week I had a hard time doing that because I really enjoyed each one of the tournament matches.  Each one of the matches went over 10 minutes and were split up into two segments.  I liked that it seemed like each superstar in the matches was giving it their all as it made the World Title really feel like “the richest prize in the sport”.  Roman Reigns and Cesaro had an unbelievable match that saw so many reversals and nearfalls and while you figured Roman was probably going to win, they had to have made you feel that at least for a second that Cesaro had him.   Right behind that I thought that Kevin Owens and Neville tore the house down and I’ll tell you this, say what you will about Kevin Owens’ weight but he hung in their with Neville move for move and never looked even a step behind.  I also really enjoyed the Ambrose-Ziggler match and thought it was great to see Ambrose get to cut a promo after the match about what he would do if he won the title (he remains my choice to take the whole thing).  Lastly, while it was never in doubt that Del Rio was going to win, I liked that they gave Kalisto a couple of near falls.  Every tournament needs a fun cinderella underdog to get behind (Crash Holly in 2000!) and Kalisto played that role real well. It was interesting to see that Sin Cara was nowhere to be found tonight and left me wondering if perhaps, they’re going to give Kalisto a shot as single.

The Druids Rise:  I don’t have too much to say about the actual angle between the Wyatts and Brothers of Destruction but I loved the way that Raw kicked off with that classic Undertaker entrance with the druids and both Kane and Undertaker coming to the ring to kick off Raw. It was cool to see Undertaker giving a classic promo and I’m not too sure how many more times we’re going to get to see that entrance, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Class:  I usually limit this piece to three highlights but I have to give WWE a bit of a kudos for paying respect to the horrible tragedy that happened in Paris this past week.  WWE always handles these things with the utmost class and it was nice to see all of the superstars and divas on entrance ramp to start Raw and paying their respects to the victims of these heinous attacks.

Well that is going to do it for me right now but I will be back a whole lot more wrestling content throughout the week as we continue to countdown to the Survivor Series on Sunday.  I’ll be taking a look at each one of the different Undertaker Specials that are currently on the WWE Network as a part of Undertaker week as well as also continuing to go through my Survivor Series Retrospective, looking at each one of the different Survivor Series events of the past year.  Stay tuned for all of that and be sure to give us a follow over on our twitter @daily_spotlight.

The Spotlight on Raw 11/09/2015

WWE Monday Night Raw just went off the air emanating live from Machester, Great Britain and I honestly thought it was a pretty strong show.  We found out 2 quarterfinal matches for the WWE World Title Tournament as Roman Reigns will take on Cesaro and Dean Ambrose will take on Dolph Ziggler in two unique, fresh matches.  Aside from that I also really enjoyed some of the other build for the Survivor Series as WWE is really making it feel like one of the big four shows, at least in my opinion.  Let’s get right into some of the highlights on the show.

Highlights:

1) The Brothers Of Destruction Are Back–  This one I’ll probably get a little flack for but I really enjoyed the ending of Raw with the returns of both the Undertaker and Kane.  I also appreciated that, for the second week in a row, they continued to show old school clips of both the Undertaker and Kane to really point out how big of a deal what Bray Wyatt had done was.  Say what you will about the hokeyness of the last segment with the lightning and the special effects but that’s part of what I love about wrestling.  Whoever said wrestling had to be so serious?  Furthermore, the crowd absolutely lost their minds when the Undertaker and Kane came out and they ate up the staredown with the Wyatt Family showering the ring with “This Is Awesome” Chants.  Some of the folks on twitter seem a bit upset that Undertaker and Kane left the Wyatts laying but the Wyatts had done the same over the past few weeks.  Now there is still one last Raw before Survivor Series to see how the Wyatts regroup. I’m hooked into this one, can’t wait to see where they go next.

2) The Tournament–  I really enjoyed the way that they did the first round of the tournament throughout the night while leaving three more of the first round matches for Smackdown.  By spacing out the matches throughout the night, this gave the viewers reason to remain engaged in the show all night and I felt the tournament matches made the show go by pretty fast for a 3 hour show.  As for the tournament matches,  I felt that Dolph Ziggler and The Miz had a good match and especially felt that Dean Ambrose and Tyler Breeze had a good long match. I didn’t feel like Breeze lost anything by losing because he hung in there with Ambrose for so long and simply got caught by a rollup.  The shock of the tournament so far, for me, was seeing Cesaro pick of a win over Sheamus (with a nice little assist from Rooney!).  I assumed that Sheamus would get the win to set up a face-heel match with Roman.  Instead we’re going to get Roman vs. Cesaro in a really intriguing match between two fan favorites.

3) The New Day-  The New Day was in rare form tonight and hysterical by dropping in disses on Harry Potter and talking about how they really outdid themselves.  They remain a highlight on every show they’re apart of and I was glad that they mentioned not being a part of the tournament because that;s the first thing I thought when I saw the bracket as well.  As for the six man featuring the New Day against The Usos and Neville, it was the match of the night as all six of them busted their hides with high flying moves at every turn and Neville even getting a “Holy Shit” chant due to his Red Arrow off the top to the outside.  Go out of your way to watch that match, it was great.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, the crowd deserves some credit here because they were great throughout the night and gave Raw a really unique feel to it.  One of the first things I thought from watching the crowd was “Wow NXT: Takeover is going to be the best!”  I can’t wait for that show.

In closing, we also found out that next week on the WWE Network it will be Undertaker week leading into the Survivor Series and his 25th Anniversary.  Ironically, it will also be Undertake week here on the daily spotlight as I’ll be counting down my top 25 favorite Undertaker moments of all time.  Hopefully, my piece will act as a good companion piece to Undertaker week on the Network.  The WWE Network alwasy does a good job with their themed weeks and I’m sure next week will be no different.

Well that’s going to do it for me tonight but if you haven’t done so I’ve posted the first part of my Survivor Series Retrospective looking at the first 9 years of the Survivor Series from 1987-1995, so be sure to check that out.  Until then, what was some of your favorite moments from Raw?  What did you think of the Brothers of Destruction returning to Raw?

The Spotlight On The WWE Network- SummerSlam: Phenom vs. Beast

With just 13 days until their epic rematch at WWE Summerslam, the WWE Network ran a special last night focusing on the history between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker.  The special, which aired right after Monday Night Raw, featured comments from different WWE superstars and legends about their opinions regarding both the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar and their rematch at Summerslam. Let’s get right into some of the highlights from the piece.

Highlights

1) It Was The Day The Music Died–  The 23 minute long, documentary style piece did a good job of starting with a brief overview of the Undertaker’s undefeated streak from Wrestlemania and how much it meant to the show.  Everyone from Edge to the Big Show to Shawn Michaels (all former opponents of the Undertaker at Wrestlemania) were interviewed on the piece and did a great job in explaining that while you would see titles change hands at Wrestlemania, you would never see the streak broken.  I always enjoy the packages focusing on the Undertaker’s past opponents from the different Wrestlemanias if for no other reason, then to see the difference in the Undertaker and how that character has continued to evolve over the years.  This then transitioned nicely into a piece about what happened when Brock Lesnar broke the Undertaker’s streak.  Being their live for Wrestlemania 30, I can tell you that this moment was undoubtedly the most insane crowd reaction I’ve ever seen.  Dean Ambrose says it best here by saying that in one moment an entire stadium full of people’s jaws dropped in unison. They then show the Undertaker walking off at Wrestlemania 30 as they played an eery rendition of his theme song played on the piano, as everyone wondered if it was the last time we would be seeing the Undertaker.  The crowd shots are really what will make that moment live in infamy (here’s to you incredibly shocked bulging eyes guy)

2) Suplex, Repeat-  From here, the piece did a really nice job of going over Brock Lesnar’s reign of dominance in WWE over the last 18 months following Wrestlemania 30.  Everything from Brock’s win over John Cena at Sumerslam last year to the birth of Suplex City at this past year’s Wrestlemania is covered in depth.  I think the Big Show said it best here when he said “At first you didn’t want to see the streak end but as time went on you thought, well if there was ever going to be anyone to do it, Brock Lesnar would be the guy to do it”.  I also really liked that they had interviews with Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, guys who’ve face Lesnar over this span and who gave first hand accounts of what it was like to compete against Brock Lesnar.

3) The Rematch- In the end, the piece leads up to the big return for the Undertaker at Battleground and the brawl between the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar the next night on Raw.  They then turn to a few different superstars to get their thoughts on what this rematch at Summerslam means to both Brock and The Undertaker.  Triple H points out how much this match means to the Undertaker because he has to protect his  legacy, while Paul Heyman explains that this will be the final match for the Undertaker and that Brock Lesnar will finish him for good at Summerslam.  This was a really good idea because it gave the rematch between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker that big match feel that it so truly deserves.  After all if all of these superstars and legends are returning to discuss a match of this magnitude, you should believe it’s a match worth going out of your way to see.

Closing Thoughts

In the end, I thought this piece did a great job in building up the main event of Summerslam.  There isn’t any reason with the WWE Network that they couldn’t put together a special like this for each of their big show main events.  It reminded me, to a certain extent, of the UFC packages they put together to promote a big fight.  I liked that rather than having the two men in the match talk about it, you had their peers discussing the match instead.  Tome part of the appeal of both the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar is their mystique and that you don’t see them as much.  Overall, this was a really strong network specialthat everyone should take the mere 20 minutes to go out of your way to check out.

That’s going to do it for me but I also have a review up of last night’s big Raw from Washington, as well as a piece I did on Slipknot’s Summer’s Last Stand Tour from last week, here in New York.  Check out both of those pieces and let me know what you think. Thanks, as always, for all of your support.

All photos courtesy of the WWE Network