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The Smark Henry RAW Report (2/8/16): #ThankYouDanielBryan


It finally happened.

We got the news straight from the man himself. Daniel Bryan has retired from professional wrestling.

While we all try to grapple with our own feelings about Bryan’s retirement and how it’s dashed any of our hopes for his in-ring future, this is also a reminder of how the show must go on. More importantly, we are reminded that since Bryan went out with a shoulder injury last May, the show has actually gone on without him.

Since he vacated the Intercontinental Championship, three guys have held it including the current champion, Dean Ambrose. His wife, Brie Bella, has flip-flopped between alignments about as much as the Big Show has since 2016 began. And Roman Reigns went from being maligned by the IWC to endearing himself to the IWC to losing whatever goodwill he’d built up in that time.

All of this is to say that a lot has happened since we last saw Daniel Bryan in a WWE ring. And more things will happen after today, just as more stories will be told following Bryan’s retirement.

The reason that we grieve the end of Bryan’s career is more of a selfish reason, than it is for Bryan Danielson himself. It is because we all know that his story as a wrestler is over, and that no amount of fantasy-booking can get his body to a point where he can ever get in the ring again. More than ever, we’ve come to realize just how special Daniel Bryan was to this industry, and how big of a void he’s left since he went down, and how that void will most likely never be filled.

But that’s what happens when you’ve got someone so magnetic because he’s so damn down-to-earth. Someone who’s inspiring because he’s just so relatable. Someone who was extraordinary despite being ordinary. Make no mistake about it: Daniel Bryan is a once-in-a-generation talent, and there may never be anyone like him again. But because of who he is, what he went through, and what he became, he ended up opening doors for those who otherwise might not even get to sniff the WWE.

That, in the end, is Daniel Bryan’s legacy, and why he ultimately deserves to be in the WWE Hall of Fame. Championships and tenure aside, at 34 years of age, Daniel Bryan has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career simply because of the impact he had on the wrestling industry. Someone like him and CM Punk changed the way WWE looked at talent and realized that this was something the WWE Universe wanted. Daniel Bryan is the living embodiment of someone who just resonated with the audience and turned their admiration, support, and love into something greater than themselves.

And at the end of it all, you realize how amazing an impact one man and one word can make on the universe. Thank you, Daniel Bryan, for everything. Go start a beautiful family with Brie. You deserve it, Dragon.


Thou Shall Not Provoke the Beast




I have an issue with Dean Ambrose working with Roman Reigns to distract Brock Lesnar and eventually lowblow him. Prior to that, I was totally fine with how they wrote Ambrose, Reigns, and Lesnar because that was consistent with how their characters had been booked. Lesnar was the legitimate badass, Ambrose was the legitimate loony, and Reigns was the legitimate bore.

Listen, I get that the segment was supposed to show Dean and Roman tapping into that edge or that inner demon so they can conquer the Beast. But when you’re trying to build both guys up as your next-generation top-tier babyfaces, having them use underhanded tactics to make a statement—via lowblow, no less—doesn’t get them brownie points.

If you want Dean to keep earning the love of the audience, then just have him go apeshit all the time, whether that’s against Lesnar, Reigns, or even Paul Fucking Heyman. And as for Roman Reigns, there’s something about him being sneaky or devious that just doesn’t sit well as the top babyface character. I’d rather see him as the righteous angry motherfucker who laid Triple H out. That was somebody I could get behind. The Roman Reigns we saw this week was too evil, and instead of rooting for him and Dean, I wanted to see Brock Lesnar just get up and take both of them out.


Quick Hitters



  • I am really enjoying AJ-Jericho-Miz because all three guys are just playing their roles very well. Miz’s star has not shone this bright since the Mizdow storyline, and it’s great that someone in the back finally remembered that the A-Lister gimmick suits Mizanin very well. Jericho’s also become bearable now that he has a real feud with someone, even though he’s likely to put Styles over anyway. And as for AJ, you have to hand it to Creative for actually treating his character well and giving us doubters a chance to breathe easily… for now.



  • Leave it to Sasha Banks to acknowledge her history with Becky Lynch as a tag team while she was a guest commentator. I’m excited to see Becky and Sasha interact even more now that they’re officially teaming up at Fastlane against Naomi and Tamina. The uneasy alliance between the bad bitch and the altruistic goodie is a tried and tested trope that should be entertaining given the personalities involved.



  • While I’m glad that the Dudley Boyz finally turned heel and freshened up their characters, I wish they’d done so while taking a loss so they could have a more concrete reason to beat the Usos up. I get that they felt offended that the Usos would dare have a Tables Match with the New Day when that’s the Dudleyz’ signature match. But the Usos let the Dudleyz in on the fun, plus they won the damn match. So why did they have their panties up in a bunch?

  • Just what is the point of Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler Part 52? The commentary keeps on saying that these two are “renewing their rivalry”, but if we keep getting a match between these two with no advancement to their story. Whoever’s playing GM Mode with these two a la SmackDown! Vs. RAW 2006 needs to stop.

  • I don’t get why the Wyatt Family isn’t fucking with Brock Lesnar right now. They made a big deal out of attacking Lesnar prior to the Rumble and during the Rumble itself, and now, they’ve settled for putting the beatdown on Ryback? Why don’t they take advantage of Brock being preoccupied with Dean and Roman, leaving him vulnerable to a sneak attack?



  • Welcome back, Sin Cara! We’re glad to know you don’t have to retire.
*****

All in all, this episode of RAW wasn’t exactly must-see, save for Daniel Bryan’s retirement speech—which rightfully deserved to go on last. There are some brewing stories here with a lot of potential, and that’s a good thing considering Fastlane isn’t going to have a lot of championship defenses. But as always, there were some booking decisions that come across as lazy, which make it harder for me as a viewer to invest in them. All that being said, this week’s RAW gets a very solid B+.

Photos from WWE.


*****


Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. Every now and then, he dresses up in fancy suits to book matches as PWR's longest-tenured General Manager to date.

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