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 for 8/10/2015

Monday Night Raw emanated live from Everett, Washington last night and I found the show to be quite enjoyable.  WWE is steadfast on the road to Summerslam and we found out a few more of the matches for the “Biggest Event Of The Summer”.  Let’s get right into some of the highlights on the show.

Highlights:

The MVP Of The Night: Goes to Randy Orton!  Orton not only competed in two different matches for over 30 minutes of the night but he was on absolute fire having the top two matches of the night.  The guy is just so fluid in the ring and I don’t think it’s possible for him to have a bad match.  Orton first competed in a number one contender triple threat match against both Cesaro and Kevin Owens.  The three men pulled out all the stops until Orton pulled out the win laying out both men with an RKO in about 18 minutes.  This led to Orton getting a title match later in the evening against Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship and those two had another great match.  Orton and Rollins have undeniable in ring chemistry and go so fast in the ring, they may very well be the two best in ring performers in WWE today.  There were so many near falls that I started to think that Orton was going to win the championship, especially after the impressive RKO out of nowhere.  Sheamus costing Orton the championship win did a good job of presenting Sheamus as a despicable heel.  That said, I then actually thought Sheamus was going to cash in and win the championship in his own right.  A great non finish there and this continues the program between Orton and Sheamus heading into Summerslam.  That said, with Orton and Sheamus both having the champion beat, you could theoretically have a believable three way in the works if John Cena can’t go at Summerslam.  I expect Cena to be there, after all he is Big Match John, but it’s good to know there’s a believable back up match if he can’t go.  Of course, if Cena can go, then there’s a great match in place for Orton and Sheamus with a ton of momentum behind them after last night.  All around good stuff overall.

Miz TV- I absolutely loved the Miz TV segment last night in so many ways.  Between his work on tough enough and his work in the ring, really since the Mizdow stuff, the miz has been on quite a roll.  To me, he is getting closer to the level he was at in 2011, when he was in the main event of WrestleMania, then he’s been in quite some time.  As for this particular segment, it was, first off, great to see Daniel Bryan get a chance to shine in front of his hometown crowd and good to see Bryan back on Raw in general.   It’s amazing that, this day in age with books being so much less popular, that Bryan’s book is a New York Times bestseller and it’s good to see him getting the attention he deserves for this feat.  I also felt Bryan did a good job in not backing down from the Miz but using what the Miz was doing, in putting him down, to focus that onto Miz’s current opponents for Summerslam.  Lastly, Ryback’s return came off very well as he looked about ready to kill the Miz.  After this segment, i not only wanted to see Daniel Bryan return to get revenge on the Miz for his remarks but also can’t wait to see the triple threat match at Summerslam for the intercontinental championship between the Miz, Ryback and The Big Show.

Celebrities Done Right- The third highlight this week, and it was tough as there was a lot I liked about this show, goes out to Stephen Amell.  It’s a strange comparison but to me this reminded me of the way Lawrence Taylor was used prior to Wrestlemania 11 in that Amell was referenced a few times throughout the night as being a guest until being baited by a Stardust pie shove.  In the end, I like that Amell knows getting into a WWE ring is going to be very tough but feels like he has no choice because he has to defend himself.  Triple H was great in also looking at Amell like he had a death wish and demanding lawyers give him signed documents before agreeing to let Amell compete at Summerslam.  There was also added intrigue by Triple H announcing Amell as Arrow, getting you to think Amell may appear at Summerslam in character.  In the end, my favorite part of this is that WWE is using Amell’s appearance to help give a bit of spotlight (pun intended) to King Barrett, Stardust and Neville.

Closing Thoughts

It’s not easy to have three hours go by so fast that you’re left wanting more but, for me, Raw did that this week.  Aside from the highlights mentioned, I also really enjoyed the New Day segments, those guys continue to get the most of their new roles and they’ve been a joy to watch.  The same thing can be said for the Divas who looked great again this week and had the crowd hooked their entire time out there.  Lastly, I also liked that Undertaker and Brock Lesnar were both not on the show this week.  Thier brawl was so good coming out of Battleground that it makes sense to hold both of them away from one another until their big showdown for the final Raw before Summerslam next week.

That’s going to do it for me this week but coming up later today I’ll have coverage of the Undertaker, Brock Lesnar special that aired on the WWE Network right after Raw last night.  Until then, what were your thoughts on Raw?  Did you are agree with my highlights of the show?  Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to hit the subscribe button so you can get continued coverage of all of the reviews right here at thedailyspotlight.com

The Spotlight on Raw for 7/27/2015

Monday Night Raw just went off the air and emanated live from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma tonight.  I think Raw did a good job in continuing down the road to Summerslam but before we get into some of the highlights on the show, there were some news bits that came out of Raw that set us up for the weeks to come in WWE that I’ll briefly touch on.  At the top of the show the Authority announced that WWE Summerslam will now be four hours long.  I know this was announced earlier in the day but I think it’s a great idea as it makes Summerslam a big deal and almost like the Wrestlemania of the summer.  I really think WWE can move Summerslam to a stadium show soon enough and wouldn’t be surprised to see Summerslam held at the Red Bull arena next year, or hell, maybe even Metlife Stadium.  Also on Raw it was announced that Stone Cold Steve Austin’s WWE Network Podcast will be returning after a one month hiatus.  His guest will be none other than Paige! I saw some stuff on Twitter surprised it wasn’t Sting or Undertaker (would have been a good time for Taker with Summerslam a few weeks away) but I think Paige is a really unique guest and I’m interested to see the chemistry between her and Austin.  If Austin is going to do these podcasts more frequently, it can’t be a top guy every time and with the give divas a chance initiative, I’m glad to see Paige as the choice here.  Truth be told, I believe that f4wonline reported that Hulk Hogan was supposed to be the guest this time around, and obviously that isn’t going to happen.  Let’s get into Raw!

Highlights

John Cena is Beyond Tough- First things first, I thought that Seth Rollins and John Cena had one helluva match and if this is the direction that they’re headed for Summerslam, then I for one can’t wait.  I wasn’t crazy about Seth Rollins tapping out but if the story is that Cena beat Seth when defending his title so he deserves a shot at Seth’s World Title, well then it made sense.  With that out of the way, kudos to John Cena for wrestling the last ten minutes of the match with a brutal looking broken nose.  His nose looked contorted with blood gushing everywhere from his nose after an errant knee to the face from Rollins.  Say what you will about Cena but he’s as tough as they come and showed that old school “the match must go on” mentality last night.  Even if Cena requires surgery, and I assume he’s going to, I don’t expect that anything is going to keep John Cena off of the Summerslam card.

The Opening Segment–  I loved the way that they did the opening segment last night as it reminded me of segments from back in the attitude era.  Having Triple H and Stephanie come out to set up the entire night full of matches (I believe they listed the four matches for the night) was a great idea as it gave the viewer a reason to remain tuned in and a lot to look forward to over the course of the show.  Say what you will about the Authority but when they’re on the screen, it does bring an extra added level of importance.

The Divas Revolution Is In Full Effect- Other than the main event between John Cena and Seth Rollins, the match of the night belonged to the Divas as Paige took on Sasha Banks.  I thought the match was very good and they ladies got about 14 minutes to really let their match unfold and the story develop.  It made sense for Sasha to get the win as it continues to establish her and doesn’t hurt the more established Paige to take the loss.  I also thought the tag match was very good in that Becky Lynch was profiled, I believe for the first time on Raw since being called up.  It was also cool to see Lynch (again no relation, sadly) get the win and then moments later WWE put up a graphic for a one on one match between Nikki Bella and Becky Lynch for this week’s Smackdown.  This made the whole room of people I was watching the show with go “oh wow set the DVR for Smackdown”, which has to be what WWE was going for.  All in all, the divas got about a half an hour of Raw and two matches again this week.  The divas division continues to have a renewed focus and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, i really enjoyed Raw this week as they continue to focus a good portion of Raw on more of the in ring product which is nice to see.  We also saw many of the stories going into Summerslam progress with Bray Wyatt cutting a promo reestablishing the Wyatt Family, the continued tease that perhaps Arrow will get involved in the Stardust and Neville feud, the buildup of the tag team division, the Kevin Owens-Cesaro feud and the Randy Orton and Sheamus feud.  I like the focus that WWE is putting on every match heading into Summerslam, it makes the show feel like the Wrestlemania of the summer.  I honestly had no problem with the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar not being on the show this week as the brawl from last week was so good that I feel it was OK to have a week reliving the brawl.  At the end of the day, Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker were both taken out of the building in handcuffs last week, so having them return this week would have been too much.  Besides, WWE already did a good job in promoting that Brock will be back next week, then you have Taker return the week after that and have both of them return the week before Summerslam.

That’s going to do it for me today but what did you think of Raw?  Are you excited for Summerslam?  I’ll be back later today with the Tough Enough Power Rankings.  Tough Enough airs tonight on the USA Network and it’s being promoted that Sasha Banks, Tamina Snuka and Naomi will all be on hand.