RAW Recap/Analysis – February 8, 2016

Today, the world of wrestling was rocked to its core when Daniel Bryan announced his retirement from in-ring competition via Twitter.

Oh, and there was an episode of RAW too. But let’s be real: all we really cared about was the sendoff of one of the best wrestlers to ever grace the WWE.

Contract Signing

Stephanie McMahon opened the night, quickly being drowned out by the sounds of Daniel Bryan chants. She announced that the show would open with a contract signing, and was very quickly interrupted by a furious Dean Ambrose, who immediately demanded that Lesnar “get his ass out here.”

Reigns entered soon after, and Stephanie hinted at him always stealing Dean’s spotlight. But not much else could happen, as Lesnar made his way down the ramp, looking completely unafraid. The contract was signed, and Stephanie rushed away. Heyman taunted Ambrose, who instantly went after Lesnar, only to get a whopping F-5.

Triple H emerged, reminding everyone what this was all about, and stared Lesnar down to end the segment. Backstage, a rabid Ambrose vowed to get his hands on Lesnar before the end of the night.

Everyone seems to be very intent on driving a wedge between the two former Shield brothers. I couldn’t be more for this. Reigns and Ambrose’s friendship and alliance is holding both back from rising to their true potential, especially Ambrose.

Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler

Owens spent the first part of his millionth match against Ziggler yelling at Michael Cole more than beating down on Ziggler, who locked ina  sleeper hold that was only broken by tumbling out of the ring.

Owens maintained his momentum through the commercials, but Ziggler began an offense of evasion, attacking Owens with a series of clotheslines. Owens fought back for a near-fall, but Ziggler kicked out, hitting a Famouser off the apron onto Owens, and both just barely managed to avoid DQ by countout.

Ziggler picked up the pinfall by using the ropes, and at ringside, a peeved Owens trashed everything in sight.

This rivalry is like this year’s Big Show vs. Roman Reigns. Slightly meaningless, just less annoying since both men involved are such good workers.

Backstage, the Usos were approached by the Dudleys, who pointed out that tables matches have always been their thing (a tables match between the twins and the New Day had been set), and asked to be added into the mix.

Charlotte vs. Alicia Fox

So it’s official. Charlotte will be facing Brie Bella at Fastlane. So, uh . . . yeah.

Charlotte was a dominant force of nature throughout the match, though Alicia Fox put up a fairly impressive fight. After taking two near-falls in a row, Charlotte locked in the Figure-8 for the victory.

I’d like to note that Alicia Fox is a vastly underrated wrestler. Better than Brie by far. She deserves an actual storyline. But will we get that? Probably not. As I’ve said before, the Divas Division is too loaded with talent for only one title chase at a time.

Miz TV with Chris Jericho

The Miz emerged, frustratedly acknowledging the beatdown he received at the hands of AJ Styles, and was, of course, interrupted by Chris Jericho himself, who was received to quite an ovation. Jericho promptly proceeded to hijack Miz TV, turning it into the Highlight Reel.

Jericho proceeded to rub Miz’s loss of his teeth and his match in the A-Lister’s face. The Miz retaliated by  shoving jericho’s own loss to Styles in Jericho’s face.

“It’s eating you alive,” Miz taunted.

Jericho owned up to it, and Styles entered. Miz took advantage of the distraction, attacking Jericho, but Styles intervened and the two fought him off in short order. Things got tense in the ring, and  soon enough, blows were being traded, but Jericho would leave soon enough as a fearless Styles stared him down from the center of the ring.

I’m really enjoying the buildup in this rivalry between Jericho and Styles. Both men are playing their parts perfectly. My only beef is that I wish we could see Styles in action more, but I understand how this whole process works.

We’ll get our payoff.

Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback

Sporting his new look, Ryback emerged with a fiercer attitude, but it did little to help him against the entire Wyatt clan. Ryback fought back midmatch with a series of clotheslines and a spinebuster, but it wasn’t enough to escape Sister Abigail, and Wyatt picked up yet another win.

But the beating didn’t end there as Wyatt ordered the rest of his clan to lay down some punishment on the Big Guy, with each individual taking a stab at him.

It’s hard to get excited about a Wyatt win over a glorified jobber when the WWE doesn’t seem willing to give them a real, legitimate push. I mean, I love the Wyatts, especially Bray and Harper, but this stop-start nonsense is severely hindering any chance of the Wyatt Family being taken seriously.

Backstage, the New Day polished some tables, and assured Renee Young that they would easily find themselves a partner for their tables match. Roman Reigns approached Dean Ambrose, saying he wanted a piece of Lesnar as well, but Ambrose refused.

“Tonight,” he said, “Brock is mine.”

Titus O’Neil vs. Adam Rose

Proclaiming himself the #RadicalMongoose, Adam Rose was quickly subjected to a slap-fest courtesy of O’Neil, but was able to get himself some momentum, getting a near-fall before trying to weaken him with a chokehold.

Titus regained some momentum, tossing Rose around the ring before he was pulled out by his buddies. O’Neil barreled through thrm to get Rose back in the ring, but a distraction by Heath Slater allowed Rose to roll up O’Neil for the win.

Looks like the Social Outcasts aren’t TOTAL jobbers, then. I was, frankly, shocked to see O’Neil lose to them. But hey, Adam Rose got a win, and in MY book, that is a win in itself.

Dean Ambrose

Ambrose emerged, taunting Lesnar without fear, saying Lesnar just couldn’t get the job done, daring Lesnar to give him a real beatdown. Ambrose absolutely taunted Lesnar, all but calling him a bitch.

Lesnar did emerge with Paul Heyman at his side, and wasted no time in beating down the Lunatic Fringe. And though Lesnar plowed through him, Ambrose wouldn’t stay down. Even after Lesnar delivered an F-5, Ambrose invited him right back to the ring, only for Roman Reigns to enter, distracting Lesnar enough for Ambrose to hit a low blow on him.

So, um, unless it wasn’t clear to everyone before this, Dean Ambrose is a total badass. Just thought I’d point that out.

Lucha Dragons vs. League of Nations

Sin Cara suffered at the hands of a very vexed Del Rio, who treated the returning Superstar to a mammoth suplex before tagging in Rusev. Kalisto tagged in hot, his quick-tempo offense taking Del Rio to town before Del Rio took advantage of a distraction by Barrett, pinning Kalisto clean.

I’m slightly pissed about this. Kalisto should NOT have taken the pin at the hands of Del Rio. He’s already an underdog, he needs to be built up, not torn down. But whatever, it’s not like short guys can be seen as legit in the eyes of fans, right?

In a prerecorded segment, Goldust once again tried recruiting R-Truth, this time dressed as Jimmy Hendrix, destroying a guitar and getting arrested in the process.

Becky Lynch vs. Tamina

Sasha Banks emerged to join in on commentary to “scout out” her new ally, who started off strong against Sasha’s former Team BAD-mate Tamina. The numbers game started working against Lynch as Naomi made her presence known ringside. Tamina, taking control, began yelling at Banks as Naomi threw her into the steps.  Becky came to Sasha’s aid, suplexing her at ringside, but ran into a Superkick from Tamina upon re-entering the ring.

This segment served its purpose, showing that Lynch and Banks had some work to do if they were going to stand a chance. They’re going to wina t Fastlane as they prepare for a push towards Wrestlemania, so I’m not too concerned. Lynch put on a good showing, and though Tamina was stiff, she performed well too.

The New Day & Mark Henry vs. The Usos and Dudley Boyz (Tables match)

First off, it was an absolute treat to see Mark Henry girating in a unicorn horn.

Secondly, this match was just as much of a lovely hot mess as you would expect an 8-man tag team tables. It was full of crazy spots and a plethora of crowd chanting. Ultimately, the Dudleys hit the 3-D on Big E through a table for the win.

After the match, however, things got interesting, D-Von and Bubba Ray hit a 3-D on both Jimmy and Jey through tables.

Was it just me, or did Jey look legitimately injured? The way he was favoring his leg didn’t look like a work to me. It was cringe-inducing seeing him take that huge bump at the segment’s end. I hope he’s alright, the last thing the WWE needs is yet another injury.

Also, it looks like we’ll be getting a possible no. 1 contender’s match at Fastlane between the Dudleys and the Usos. Eh.

Thank You, Daniel Bryan

Emerging to a thunderous ovation befitting a trailblazer like himself, Daniel Bryan was visibly moved at the reception his hometown crowd gave him. For a long time, he couldn’t even get a word in as the crowd chanted his name and signature “YES!” chant.

It was hard for anyone to not get emotional.

Here’s the lowdown: Daniel Bryan has a family to think about. He has his own health. And at this point, after everything he has gone through, wrestling is not the right choice for him as a human being.

I will not even try to sum up Daniel Bryan’s amazing speech. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I was crying the entire time.

Daniel Bryan was everything a prototype wrestler shouldn’t be. Short, slightly goofy looking. Not completely ripped or gorgeous, not the “total package.” But he was everything that a wrestler SHOULD be. Passionate, daring, skilled, and completely devoted to his craft. He loved what he did, and worked tirelessly in a way that made him connect with crowds more than any wrestler on the roster now.

Daniel Bryan is the ultimate underdog. Wrestling didn’t choose him, HE chose IT, and didn’t take no for an answer. He led a revolution, plain and simple. And it’s not just wrestling, either. His work with pediatric cancer, the way he touched lives, that will define him forever.






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