By Anthony Zevoteck
Though it was over a week ago, the events of Feb. 8, 2016 will be one that WWE fans will always remember – Daniel Bryan being forced to retire from in-ring competition.
How can we possibly forget social media whirling in a tailspin of emotional headlines that spawned sadness, confusion and skepticism all over?
Bryan first gained notoriety in Ring Of Honor as a “founding father” who wrestled in the promotion’s first-ever main event and had classics aplenty with guys like Austin Aries and Homicide. What got him over then was his pure technical style and relentless in-ring nature.
His WWE run started in 2010 on the inaugural NXT. Though it took him a while to tap into his charisma and mic work, we now look at him as one of the business’ best, all because of the word “Yes.”
Without a doubt, his career moment will always be winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX, defeating three men in two matches to do so.
The sad part about it all is that after that glorious moment was when it started going downhill, the latter part of his WWE career more synonymous with the sidelines than the top of the card and was soon stripped of the Title. Fans sat patiently, hoping for good news that Bryan could get back to the ring and we could return to the ultimate underdog story that struck WWE television between mid-2013 and mid-2014.
There was a taste of that last year when Bryan won the WWE Intercontinental Championship in a grueling ladder match at WrestleMania 31, but an injury again forced him to relinquish the belt.
Here we are in 2016 and the unfortunate news has still not settled in our stomachs yet, even after all the “Daniel Bryan” and “Yes!” chants throughout Bryan’s ever-classy retirement speech. He never looked more at ease in his home state, sporting a trimmed beard and haircut, reminiscing in great fondness a 16-year career that brought him happiness, joy and fulfilling a life dream.
Knowing that someone could retire from the job they love with acceptance and happiness makes it easier for us fans to accept, as we saw nothing but love on social media the next day. Everybody seemed to know about Bryan even if they never watched a WWE show in their life.
Needless to say, Bryan will always have a lasting impact in the WWE. His short height and average weight (by WWE’s standards) opened doors for other “indy darlings” like Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe to prove that they too could headline shows. WWE’s future has never looked so bright or diverse.
Bryan’s underdog rise to the top shows us that anything is possible if you keep going, stand up to authority when they’re wrong and do things the right way. A key part to it all was that Bryan was so over with fans, they actually helped him get to the WrestleMania XXX main event (something not even initially planned) by “hi-jacking” shows and social media, pleading for Bryan to get a chance. Fans influenced the product. How crazy is that?
When it comes down to it, Bryan was just a simple man from Aberdeen, Washington. However, his resiliency taught us to always fight back. His ferocity showed us that when a man was pushed too many times, no matter how calm, he’d do anything to achieve his goal.
There’s no doubt that Bryan’s name will soon grace the WWE Hall Of Fame, rightfully along with other names known for paving the future.
However, let’s not make that happen too soon. WWE has a tendency to quickly induct retirees and not allow fans to organically react to the news of an unexpected HOF induction.
Bryan will go down in history as one of the most charismatic and passionate superstars of all-time. He ate, drank and breathed this industry and ruthlessly put his body on the line to entertain millions, that very risk that cut things short, but the least we could do is pay Bryan back with the same thing he gave us – gratitude.
“Notes In Observance” features random thoughts and analysis on recent television shows.
Moving Forward, Looking Back
– If you’ve been following Pro Wrestling Syndicate, then you’ll know the intertwined history of PWS Champion Mario Bokara, Fallah Bahh and Dan Maff quite well. These three squared off sometime ago in a hardcore rules match for the Championship that stole the show and should be considered a Match Of The Year contender. The match embraced the hardcore in many ways – featuring staple guns, thumbtacks and chairs. Even without the action, the three characters all mesh well together in terms of who they are. You have Bokara, who is tough and technically proficient in the ring. You have Bahh, an utter beast in every sense of the word who could just smash you into pieces with his own body if he felt like it. Then, last but not least, you’ve got Maff, who has more than voiced his passion to become PWS Champion, coming so close many times, but falling short. When these three collide, magic happens. With it set to happen again, you could probably view it as a “throwaway clip show” to feature all three men in their “breakthrough” matches, but it also did an excellent job to hype this big encore.
– The Hardys/Davey Richards-Abyss/Khoya/Manik Tag Team Hardcore match was a decent opener for the weapons-friendly two-hour Hardcore Justice show, but if you’ve seen one of these matches, then you’ve seen them all. Despite the entertainment, there was nothing innovative here, as the Hardys got their 67,900th revenge on The Revolution. Read the rest of this entry
Hunting For Hidden Gold
– The opening video put over how the Tag Team Championship tournament came to be with the relinquishing of the belts by The Wolves – with eight teams taking off, going to four in Ultimate X. The concept itself is actually pretty nifty to fill time for a two-hour show and was the perfect opportunity to make the Tag division somewhat relevant again. Read the rest of this entry
The One With The Live Tweets
– The opening video put over the Beat Down Clan and introduced Drew Galloway and The Rising, hyping a confrontation; the latest installment of lame TNA overbooked fashion warfare.
– Providing live tweets all night long was a cool little incentive to get viewers invested in the product, but none of the tweets really “stole” the show and were just like: “@GenericWrestlingFanName: OMG TNA WOW! #BoringHashtag” over and over. It was all kind of slightly distracting actually. Either way, the first segment with TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley and Eric Young did a good job of setting up the main event, while addressing last week’s controversial ending, which Lashley was quick to point out, while using Angle’s character to convince him for another rematch. This seemed like another repeat until Young thankfully came in and made this a truly fresh matchup.
– The video package that hyped Awesome Kong was good, with voiceovers by Gail Kim “selling” her brutality, hyping their upcoming match well, a dream come true since January 7 when Kong made her return. This is always the best Knockouts match you could book, as we got a healthy sample of what intensity these two ladies bring in the ring, evidenced by their past work, but Kong going over was good here, especially putting Kim down after she tried several times to win. They made the message clear that Kong was going straight for the Knockouts Title.
– The interaction between Mickie James and James Storm was interesting, as Storm almost went back to his old, natural self and returned back to the cult leader once he saw Manik, shoving a muffin in his mouth, bossing him around.
– The Revolution in-ring segment had Storm basically berate Manik, Khoya and Abyss, telling them they’d fight each other to see who would team with him, which had some decent action. Manik emerged as the fan favorite, but with Storm “coaching” Khoya to be ruthless, he took on the other competitors and won the match. Okay turnout, but nothing special.
– The segment with Drew Galloway and The Rising was mainly nonsensical crowd-pandering as Galloway cuts the same damn promo every time. At the least, we got to meet Mika – Haku’s son, who cut a decent promo on BDC and Eli Drake – who probably has the best promo skills of the group. The BDC coming out had a good response promo from MVP and the physicality was only a matter of time, leading to a six-man tag, which was standard as The Rising won by DQ. The obvious newsworthy event to come of this was Homicide as the BDC’s newest member. This was good as he fits the group’s image.
– Angle’s promo put over his competitors just as Young viciously attacked him and stole his belt. Angle vowing to compete was good. This was all good basically. More EY viciousness = win.
– The DJZ-Davey Richards match set the scene for a Davey Richards singles push for the X-Division Championship, while DJZ – looking past the horrid gimmick, has had success in the past as the Champion. This was your basic, high-spots match where Richards came out victorious.
– The BDC backstage segment had them acknowledge the “snooping” camera with Homicide getting “the call” to join in. Good promo. Oh, look they even have a cute little catchphrase.
– The Jade/Maribell Doll House production hype video was interesting. Are they sisters or lesbians? Ether way, they don’t like dolls apparently or have some kind of heel fetish. That’s something to build off of.
– The Hardys segment with the sad “Hardy’s Revenge” chant brought back bad memories, but rebounded for their clear goal of wanting to be Tag Champions. The interruption by Ethan Carter III/Tyrus was good, but why wouldn’t EC3 pick Tyrus as his partner? Bram fits EC3 we guess, but it’s all still glaring. Mr. Anderson/Rockstar Spud entering the mix was expected, but damn, Spud looks like a little boy now. Austin Aries coming out followed by Bobby Roode saw the reunion of The Dirty Heels.
– The TNA World Heavyweight Championship match between Angle, Lashley and Young was entertaining. Lashley looked very tough and Young brought the crazed aggression. Angle took both guys out and finished it off with a win. Young got some good heat by attacking Lashley with the chair afterwards and locking in the Figure Four.
– Awesome Kong def. Gail Kim via pinfall
– Winner Becomes James Storm’s Tag Partner – Khoya def. Manik and Abyss via pinfall
– Six-Man Tag – The Rising def. The Beat Down Clan via DQ
– Davey Richards def. DJZ via pinfall
– TNA World Heavyweight Championship – Kurt Angle (Champion) def. Bobby Lashley and Eric Young via pinfall to retain
Can’t Beat The Boricua Beast
– David Adams led off the show again as he hyped up the matches for the show and how to bring PWS to your hometown.
– The bathroom segment with Adams, Fallah Bahh and “Shining” Edward Jackson seemed unorthodox with obvious bathroom humor, but Jackson put over Homicide and set up the match well. That aside though, it’s still a little hard to take a top heel like Bahh seriously when it almost looked like he might miss his match because of being stuck on the toilet bowl.
– The Bahh-Homicide match almost had a “Hogan-Andre” aspect to it, but a little less polished. It had just enough time, but the finish was still rather anticlimactic, as Bahh sat on Homicide. The celebration with The Heavenly Bodies was also fitting to show the whole faction was in fact, in power,
– The vignette with PWS World Champion Mario “The Croatian Sensation” Bokara was straightforward in showing his style of training, rather dominant. Being the company’s champion, this was necessary, though since he was the Champion, maybe a buffer match would have sufficed.
– The flying four corners match between Matt Macintosh, Shynron, Anthony Nese and Amazing Red was energetic, as all four competitors brought something different to the match. Anybody could have actually won this, but Macintosh appeared to be the one on the verge of a push, as he pinned Shynron to win after Shynron delivered a crazy Van Terminator diagonally across the ring.
– A vignette played with cowboys in it shooting people dead. Oh, it was those scary guys from last week. The child said, “It’s only a dream!” again and the guys were introduced as Monster’s Island.
– Damian “The Prince Of Aesthetics” Gibbs cut a generic heel promo on Balls Mahoney.
– Mahoney and Gibbs came out brawling, and then Beefcake Charlie came out to assist Gibbs. Jay “Top Dollar” Enterprise – publicist of The Aesthetic Enterprise, came out to help them too. Gibbs had scissors and cut off Mahoney’s ponytail and shaved him with clippers. Monster’s Island made their first in-ring appearance and dominated everybody. Good way to introduce them, though they still came off as The Wyatt Family: Circus Edition.
– The Dan Maff-Eddie Kingston match was a back and forth match, the announcers put over Maff as a tough guy and a beast and Kingston as well. Evenly matched as it gets, it could have gone either way. Both did their finishers and it took several times for Maff to eventually came out the win. Strong match here.
– The Kevin Matthews/Lance Hoyt-Brian Myers/Gabe Tuft match was all about revenge for Matthews, who cut a promo at the top of the ramp and said he talked to the company owner and made the match No DQ and introduced Hoyt in a Mike Myers mask, who was behind Tuft/Myers in the ring and attacked before revealing himself. The action went up to the ramp as well. Matthews gave Myers a pile driver on a standing chair at one point. Myers/Tuft stole the pin and came out with the win. Decent match.
– Next week, Adams hyped the appearance of Zach Gowen/Gregory Iron – “The Handicapped Heroes,” a “Gold Rush” Number One Contender Ladder match between Starman and Bonesaw and a Suicidal Six Way with Habib From The Car Wash, The Amazing Red, Matt Macintosh, Brian XL, Lifeguard and Shynron. The PWS belt would also be defended as Bokara takes on Colt Cabana.
– Fallah Bahh (w/”Shining’ Edward Jackson) def. Homicide via pinfall
– Flying Four Corners Match – “Bad Apple” Matt Macintosh def. Shynron, Anthony Nese, Amazing Red via pinfall
– Dan Maff def. Eddie Kingston via pinfall
– Brian Myers/Gabe Tuft def. Kevin Matthews/Lance Hoyt via pinfall