By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Stardust def. Zack Ryder (Kickoff Match)
While I enjoyed the match for what it was, it wouldn't have been so forgettable had the commentators not completely ignored the action in the ring. Instead, they talked about other matches and made penis jokes (no, I'm not kidding; they actually went there). It's a shame because these two are capable of having a pretty nice match, and it was sad to see Ryder back to his losing ways after his showcase against John Cena this past week (though I never should have expected anything less). I'm glad Stardust picked up a win for once, but the damage has already been done and it's time for him to go back to being Cody Rhodes.
The Miz Hosted 'Miz TV' with Daniel Bryan (Kickoff Show)
I didn't understand why they were bringing Bryan back so early unless we were going to get an update on his health status or if he was going to plug his upcoming book and DVD, and thankfully he did both. The Miz played his annoying role well and it was good to see him get his comeuppance at the hands of his former stunt double Damien Mizdow... or should I say, Macho Mandow (although it was a sad reminder of what a botched program tha was). It was encouraging to hear Bryan's career isn't over, but no timetable was given for his return or even what the nature of the injury is.
By RJ Marceau
Since NXT transitioned from the reality show style program it has been amazing to watch. Over the years, we have seen Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Roman Regins, Neville and Paige start off in NXT and make it to the WWE main roster. The NXT shows on Wednesdays and the NXT TakeOver Specials have been amazing and have had me at times more intrigued then the main roster shows. That is due to intriguing storylines, character development and amazing in-ring action. My list may be critical to some but this is my personal opinion.
By John Napolitano
Whether you are a staunch supporter of the “YES-man,” Daniel Bryan or not, there is no denying how disappointing his previous run with the WWE has been. After attaining greatness on the grand stage at WrestleMania XXX and representing the company as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for about a month, Bryan was sidelined with a career-threatening injury. No more than seven months later, Daniel miraculously returned to Monday Night Raw to announce his entry into the 2015 Royal Rumble. When Bryan came up short in Philadelphia, in some of the sorriest booking I have ever witnessed, many fans were disappointed to see the WWE’s most over superstar screwed at the Rumble two years in a row.
As a consolation for not returning to the main event of WrestleMania in the San Francisco-Bay area, Daniel Bryan was given the Intercontinental Championship. Don’t get me wrong, the Intercontinental Championship is the perfect accolade for Bryan, as it cements him as the tireless workhorse we all know him to be. But in a case of tragic irony, about one month after his title victory at WrestleMania XXXI, Daniel Bryan was sidelined with yet another career-threatening injury. With no set return date in sight and the glaring possibility that yet another Daniel Bryan homecoming can be botched, I aim to analyze the best way to reintroduce the “G.O.A.T.” to the WWE Universe.
Simply announcing the return of Daniel Bryan a few weeks prior to that fated date would not do the four-time World Champion justice. He is far too popular and has contributed far too much the industry to be welcomed back in a ho-hum manner. Bryan’s career can ill afford another false start.
If and when Daniel Bryan is to come back, he must return in a pivotal moment when a babyface contender is needed to challenge a dastardly heel WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Imagine how lackluster Daniel Bryan’s return would be if he was thrown into yet another feud with Sheamus. If Bryan had never announced that he would be leaving due to injury this May, it would be totally appropriate that he work his way up through the mid-card and back to the main event picture; however, seeing as though he is back on hiatus, there is no time to spare next time around. Daniel Bryan must return to the top of the mountain.
Realistically, the number 30 spot in the Royal Rumble has Daniel Bryan’s name on it. It may not be the 2016 Royal Rumble or even the 2017 Rumble, but the third time has to be the charm for Daniel Bryan. Whenever and wherever Bryan should return, a win at the Royal Rumble could catapult him back to the main event of WrestleMania, where he won the hearts of millions just one year ago.
The “Coup de Raw”
Now let’s venture into the fantasy world. I devised an incredibly insane angle last year when Daniel Bryan first announced that he would be taking time off. This concept, in my opinion, is the perfect way to reintroduce Daniel Bryan to the WWE Universe. My idea starts with a series of abstract vignettes airing on WWE television. As weeks go by, the lights inside of the arena will go dark during the main event matches, and the commentary will be commandeered by a strange group of voices that warn, “We’re coming.” The lights will come back on, and all parties involved, from the superstars in the ring to the ringside announcers, will express extreme confusion. Further down the line, the lights will continue to flicker and go out as they have been all the while, but now a mysterious figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask will appear in the middle of the ring, backstage, and even casually sitting in the crowd.
After the first masked man makes his presence known, so too will two more. Now it is clear that three men dawning Guy Fawkes masks have invaded Monday Night Raw. They aren’t attacking anyone or causing any physical harm, but it’s clear that they have an interest in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship; they continue to cost the champion matches and play serious mind games. At the culmination of the angle, the three men will rip off their masks and reveal themselves to be none other than AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and the leader of the “Coup,” Daniel Bryan. With this absurd amount of momentum, Daniel Bryan will go on to headline WrestleMania and once again win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
That of course is purely fantasy booking, but boy would I love to see it. Whichever way you want to slice it, Daniel Bryan is a once in a lifetime superstar, and he needs to return in once in a lifetime fashion. Whether it’s as the number 30 entrant in the Royal Rumble or the leader of the “Coup,” I cannot wait to see Daniel Bryan return to the squared-circle and captivate our hearts and minds all over again.
By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Heath Slater def. Adam Rose
When I initially saw this match was scheduled to take place, I got my hopes up that it meant Rose was headed for a face turn and possibly ditching the dead Rose character all together. As it turned out, it was actually the other way around. I won't assume Slater is a full-fledged babyface until we see more of them because this has happened before with him, but the altered "one man band" entrance theme was a welcome change. The match was fine for what it was and both guys put forth a good effort, but the crowd didn't have any incentive to cheer for either guy, so the match was awkward more than anything else.
Luke Harper and Erick Rowan def. Curtis Axel and Macho Mandow
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Harper and Rowan are slowly working their way back into the WWE Tag Team Championship picture and Axel will never got beyond a certain level, but I'm more with disappointed with Sandow's involvement in this match than the others. Think about this for a second: he was the hottest act on WWE TV not too long ago. Now, he's an enhancement talent on Superstars. Very depressing indeed. That aside, this match was more than I ever thought it would be. They were given good time, the Axel and Mandow gimmick still has some life, and Harper and Rowan were able to incorporate a handful of nice spots, so this was a solid outing all around.