I really don’t want to write this. I don’t want to hit play on the DVR and begin watching RAW. If I just never hit play, then nothing can ever change. Once the future arrives and becomes the present all the possibilities but one disappear. And I am not ready to deal with that possibility.

This may make me sound crazy, but in 30 years of watching WWE, the only person I’ve seen connect more organically, and on a more emotional level with the crowd than Daniel Bryan is Steve Austin. This opening video drives that home, and it makes me miserable.

Contract Signing for WWE Fastlane

If they just let the crowd chant for three hours, then the show could end and everything would still be possible.

I know that in the end it doesn’t matter, but I do love Dean Ambrose calling out Brock Lesnar. If there’s anyone right now who could come close to that Bryan-like connection to the crowd it is Ambrose.

Stephanie is back to her old brash self. It makes sense given that they can lord the WWE title over everybody, but I could do without her explicitly telling Ambrose that he does what she tells him to do.

The efficiency of a Brock Lesnar beatdown is a wonderful thing. No wasted motion, no milling about. Just destruction in the least possible amount of time.

HHH is champ in 2016. That’s all there really is to say.

They’re going to make my heart hurt all night aren’t they?

Am I wrong, or is Dean the first fully alive wrestler to claim to hunt Lesnar? After all, zombies and undead don’t count.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens

Well this sure is a fresh matchup. But since wins and losses don’t matter at all, what does it matter if they trade wins and losses for months?

Owens is so insecure that he just can’t help himself from wasting time and losing focus because he has to tell everyone how great he is. Imagine if Owens had the same laser focus as Lesnar when he’s on the attack. At the commercial break the story has been clearly that a pissed off Owens was able to roll over Ziggler, but he just can’t stop from spending time yelling at Michael Cole and thinking up witty taunts to yell at Dolph. He knows better. He started the match not letting up for a second. Dolph is all about the counterattack. But when you have to make sure everyone sees how you’re beating up the pretty looking guy, you can’t think clearly.

I hope they give Kevin Owens a chance to tear up Dave Penzer’s suit jacket. Might as well go all the way with the Jericho ’97 push. Winner: Road Dogg. Wins and losses just don’t matter

When the hell did anyone have to get a match approved in WWE? Doesn’t everyone have the ability to make matches whenever they feel like it?

If you’re going to try to convince people that it is all about characters, and not results, they should probably do a lot more to build characters. Maybe spend more than 15 seconds showing Ryback giving people the Meathook? Road Dogg can be right. I’ve loved enough Tomoaki Honma matches to know that people who don’t win can be beloved. But that is because the story is told over a long period and with character development. Not just where one week he wins, and then he loses next week, then next week he sneak attacks someone in a match, and wash, rinse, repeat.

Charlotte vs. Alicia Fox

Alicia Fox has a nice Northern Lights, but it’s no Nicole Matthews.

Charlotte’s spear is a disaster.

The frightening thing about this match was that Alicia Fox was the far better looking worker of the two. The main roster run is really exposing Charlotte’s weaknesses. This is of course not news, but to see it against someone so universally maligned as Alicia Fox just makes it impossible to ignore. Winner: Charlotte


They’re going to push this “pitbull” thing until we all hate AJ Styles because of it, aren’t they?

Poor Miz. He had the last thing that matters to him taken away. Look at the face of this man. He hurts. He is broken. Heart and mind shattered. Who is the Miz if he is not the host of Miz TV? If Miz TV itself does not exist, and can be erased from memory with a single command, what is left of him.

Thankfully the production guys recognize that Miz deserves some respect. If he wouldn’t have been able to call up a clip on demand it might have driven him to a total breakdown.

The “Redneck Rookie” is just an incredibly stupid thing to call AJ. If he’s going to get over, it won’t stop him. But much like the endless comparisons between Daniel Bryan and a goat, it certainly doesn’t help things.

I was at the Money in the Bank where Bryan won the briefcase (Money in the Bank 2011). That may have been the best night of wrestling I’ve ever seen. And Bryan winning was a huge part of that.

Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt

Wait…what the hell is with the Big Guy’s ring gear? Where’s the brightly colored singlet? Where’s the airbrushing? One of the best things about Ryback’s gear was how unique it was. In a sea of people dressed in black and being cynical Ryback had optimism and belief in himself. His gear and his outlook were bright, cheery, and hopeful. I can’t love this. I can’t like this. I certainly can’t approve of this.

I don’t know if it is possible to freshen up Bray Wyatt’s character at this point, but the only thing I can think of that could do it would be, and I swear I’m not taking more crazy pills than usual, turning the family face. The few times where there’s been a tease of the Wyatts vs. the Authority or the all currently injured League of Nations the crowd was actually receptive. I don’t know if it would mean much in the long run, but you could probably get a good few months of them being relevant out of it.

This is what Ryback gets for changing up his gear and turning his back on his ideals. He deserves this beatdown. Winner: Bray Wyatt

When watching Project Runway with Mrs. Spiffie we always argue about asymmetrical outfits. Thankfully she’s not in the room right now, or we probably would have gotten into it over Renee Young’s shorts.

Titus O’Neil vs. Adam Rose

I wish the crowd liked Titus O’Neil as much as he likes being out in front of them.

“Radical Mongoose” is a freaking awesome name. Curtis Axel is just wrong on this. Totally wrong. It hurts me to say it.

If we’re going to accept JBL’s premise about the Social Outcasts, I’m going to need to know which one is the Jamie Vardy of the group. And then he follows it up with a rugby sevens reference. Back to back shots! Winner: #Mongoosed

Dean Ambrose Makes Bad Choices

Think about how much more effective this entire premise of Dean trying to drive Brock insane by just not dying would be if it wasn’t all designed to get Roman Reigns more over in the end.

Is there a more tired insult than balls jokes to get someone riled up? I was waiting for it three lines before Dean finally got around to it, because it was just inevitable. It’s like the modern version of “take my wife. Please.” Dean Ambrose shouldn’t be a Catskills comic.

Roman Reigns, after promising his “brother” that he wouldn’t get involved, comes out anyhow. Great pal there Roman. This is why Seth said to hell with you.

Lucha Dragons vs. Alberto Del Rusev

Wade Barrett gets an amazing amount of tv time for a guy who is healthy no more than 12-14 days per year.

I’m just assuming Sin Cara will get injured at some point in this match, so I’m going to hope he’s okay and gets well soon now. No reason to wait until it actually happens.

The reuniting of the Lucha Dragons feels like a step backwards, but WWE likely also plans for the teaming to be brief before Sin Cara’s pancreas falls out.

Every time Del Rio hits his finisher the opponent should be forced to lay a Welcome mat across their chest to emphasize how much work the other guy has to do to get in position for that move. Winners: Alexander Del Rio

The Goldust/R-Truth vignettes are not working. They’ve minimized the gay panic, but sadly not replaced it with funny.

Becky Lynch vs. Tamina

Sasha Banks is extremely self-aware. She doesn’t want to face people two-on-one, and she knows she doesn’t have many friends.

It’s 2016. Can someone have a home more specific than “The Pacific Islands” for crying out loud? Hopefully no one will be from “Deepest Darkest Africa” again any time soon.

The commentary is more dreadful than usual tonight. The Saxton bashing is out of control, and it has turned him into the most useless person possible at the same time. At this point it’s not so much that Cole and JBL are wrong about him, it just doesn’t help anything to keep mentioning it all the damn time.

Love the way Lynch just comes out and tossed Naomi on the floor. This should happen a lot more. Winner: Tamina

The New Day/Mark Henry vs. The Dudley Boyz/The Usos

Mark Henry playing the trombone should also happen a lot more. Mark Henry as Papa New Day is something that makes so much sense that I don’t know why I didn’t always want this. The original Sexual Chocolate is the spiritual father of Big E.

If there’s not a World’s Strongest Unicorn shirt on sale by tomorrow morning I will not forgive WWE.

Of all the legacies of ECW, none is more lasting and evergreen than the desire to watch people be put through flimsy tables. Sabu should be in Meltzer’s Hall of Fame for that level of influence on the business.

I’m sad that Henry’s breakup with New Day didn’t involve more violence.

The guys who came of age in the 90’s and early 2000’s understand that people like to be part of the show, and take as many opportunities as possible to engage them accordingly. That’s why even though the Dudleyz are as stale as month old bread, and Chris Jericho is such a middle-aged dad, they’ll still get reactions from the crowds.

I can live with the idea of the Dudleyz as the grumpy old men of the tag division, just hating everybody no matter who they are. They can pull that off quite well. Winners: Dudleyz/Usos

Well, that was an okay show. A bit slow moving, but a couple solid segments. See you next week for the next stop on…

Damn it. I don’t want to. Seriously. There’s a voice in my head telling me to turn it off and just go away for good. Call it a good 30 years, pop back in for SHIMMER shows, and move on.

Daniel Bryan Is Home to Say Goodbye

I need more time and space — I’ve been trying to come to grips with this for 24 hours now, and I keep finding more questions than answers, and learning things about myself. Consider this report to be continued…