This past Monday night, WWE did what no other television show in the history of television could do. Monday Night Raw hit its 1000th episode. It’s hard to believe that Raw has been going since January 11th, 1993. That’s almost 20 years, 19 seasons, 1000th episodes and thousands of memorable moments.
Like all members of the WWE Universe, I was waiting in anticipation for weeks leading up to the 1000th edition of Raw. The segments that were advertised before the show all had my attention. I was ready for history to be made.
As a wrestling fan this show meant so much more to me than if television show like The Simpsons or CSIhad made 1000 episodes. Being a fan of both mentioned shows, it’s not me being mean to them. Rather it’s a personal victory. Professional Wrestling has always been in the spot light, constantly being attacked and judged. One of the best known reasons is wrestlers dying young. Wrestling fans have always been looked down upon also. “Why do you watch this circus?” One of the famous lines I remember hearing growing up. Now wrestling holds the records for the longest and 2nd longest running television shows in history. So it felt good inside for me to see this business that I love so much make history yet again.
The night started off with a well put together video package with several highlights of the past 999 episodes of Raw. It set the tone for the show. I thought it was well put together and got me excited for the show. Mr. McMahon kicked off the historic event with a thank you message to the WWE Universe, followed by introducing D-Generation X.
Shawn Michaels and Triple H made their way to the ring, and it was clear that the fans inSt. Louiswere a lively one. Both Mr. McMahon and DX walked out to an amazing pop (great ovation). Shawn Michaels and Triple H were their always amusing selves. When Triple H asked if there hadn’t been more members of DX in the past, I felt so excited. X-Pac, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn made their way out and I was cheering as loudly as the fans inSt. Louis. I was so glad to see X-Pac, a man whose struggles are well documented. To see him come back to WWE, a company whose heritage is filled with many moments he created was something special to me.
The reunion was cut somewhat short by the arrival of the intellectual savior of the masses, Mr. Damien Sandow. Personally I like Sandow, a good gimmick, a throw back with his entrance theme and good with a microphone. Not sure I am crazy about his in ring work since returning to WWE. Yes, Damien had a short run in WWE before, as Idol Stevens. I felt that Sandow was a good fit into the scene with DX, as DX’s on screen intelligence was not made out as very high to WWE fans. The angle came to a close with both a Sweet Chin Music kick from Shawn Michaels and a Pedigree from Triple H. I thought this was, as Cole would say, Vintage DX. But more importantly it helped put Damien get over as a heel to the fans.
WWE Hall of Famer, Jim Ross joined Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler at the announce table to call the 1st match of the evening. It saw Sheamus, Sin Cara & Rey Mysterio defeat Dolph Ziggler, Alberto DelRio & Chris Jericho. No surprise to me there. It was a match to get more guys on the card. I would have rather seen Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio go one on one in a no holds barred match or something. One thing that was immanent from the match was a pending match withJericho and Ziggler at Summer Slam. A match I think would be good for Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler is on the verge of becoming a main event star and holding the world’s title. A win over Chris Jericho at a big event such as Summer Slam, would put Ziggler over and that’s what needs to be done for fans to believe Ziggler is the “real deal”. In my estimation, Dolph is the future of the WWE.
The All American American Jack Swagger took on Brodus Clay in the next match. Jack’s losing streak would continue. Brodus would squash Swagger in seconds. This would make sense when Brodus would introduce another Raw legend to the ring, none other than Dude Love, who would join Brodus and the girls for some funky dancing. This was more about getting another legend in, and not to use Foley as himself. With that being said, I had no issues with Dude Love coming back to dance the night away.
The much anticipated wedding of AJ and Daniel Bryan was next on Raw 1000. Jerry Lawler (who was on episode 1 of Raw) called out the man who would wed the couple, the legendary manager Slick. Slick was his usual charismatic self. The groom and then bride made their way to the ring. The fans all cheered in when Slick asked if anybody had just cause why AJ and Bryan could not be wed, which was something unusual to say the least. AJ would say yes to the proposal, but not to the one of Daniel Bryan, rather to the one of Mr. McMahon. At this point I was a little grossed out, but Mr. McMahon would quickly explain that it was not that kind of proposal. Rather AJ would now be the new General Manager. Leaving Daniel at the altar, WWE Weddings, do they ever work?
AJ has been red hot in her angle with Bryan, and many, such as myself, had heard the rumors that they wanted her to be the next Miss Elizabeth (younger fans, she was the 1st lady of WWE back in the day). I am slightly unsure about this venture. As a GM mainly comes out and announces matches. How will WWE use AJ as the GM? Will she lose the momentum she gathered over the past few months? Will be interesting to see what unfolds with AJ.
CM Punk’s history with Daniel Bryan would continue, as Punk would come down to rub it in the face of a disgruntled Daniel Bryan. As Bryan was running his mouth about being the greatest wrestler of all time, the infamous music of the people’s champion would hit andSt. Louiswould come unglued again. The Rock would inform the WWE Universe that in January 2013, The Rock would be back to face the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble inPhoenixfor the championship. Rock also gave Daniel Bryan a wedding gift. A custom fit, Rock bottom.
I liked having the great one on the 1000th Raw, as Rock made many memorable moments throughout the history of the show. However, another Rock distant future match? Is that really what we want? Yes, it worked for Wrestlemania, but I’m kind of “been there, seen that”. It does nothing for me really. Now I understand Rock is filming a movie but I would have rather had the Rock return at Survivor Series in November to make this announcement. That way we still wait, but we don’t forget about the Rock so to speak. So as the match is concerned, I would love to see Rock vs. Punk at the Rumble, but it just seems forced to me.
Why anybody would want WWE Hall of Famer, Brett Hart to be an announcer is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, Hart is one of the greatest of all time, but his voice is not exactly ring announcer quality. Be that as it may, Brett would introduce the participants in the Intercontinental Championship match. First the champion Christian, followed by the challenger, The Miz. When Miz made his appearance, I just said to myself, Christian is dropping the belt tonight. Christian’s performances had not been up to standard and he had gathered very little attention in my mind. Miz’s return also meant WWE would want to rebuild him and put him over with the fans again. Miz would capture the title and reclaim his dominance over WWE.
Last time I told you all about the man who had taken WWE by force about a decade ago. Brock Lesnar was at hand to make the decision on the main event of SummerSlam on August 19th. Triple H made his way to the ring, and we were reminded of Brock’s attack on Triple H three months prior. Triple H said the fun was over and that it was time to get to business. Brock’s music played and the fans waited in anticipation for the next big thing. It was not Brock however, rather Paul Heyman made his way down to the ring. Heyman had been acting as the legal representative for Brock.
I find this a perfect match. Heyman was Brock’s manager when Lesnar first broke into WWE in 2002, I mentioned this in my last column. It is Heyman’s promos and microphone skills however that makes him perfect to add something special to the mix. The thing with Brock Lesnar is the fact that his voice is not the best to add intensity to a rivalry, and his promos are not strong for me either. With Heyman as his mouthpiece, not only does this help Lesnar and add to the storyline of the SummerSlam match, but it also makes Brock seem more important. Makes us look at Lesnar as such a big star that he needs somebody to manage his career and from a wrestling perspective, it really helps put Brock over as a strong heel.
Heyman would cut a good promo, and on mentioning the children of Triple H, Triple H would become angry. With two “lawsuits” pending however, The Game decided to let Paul off with a warning. But when Heyman continued to trash Triple H’s family, Stephanie McMahon made her return to Raw. Now I’m not sure what it is, but I think a McMahon is born with a microphone in hand. Stephanie cut a good promo about Paul’s failures throughout the wrestling world. She also told him that this was more about Paul than it was about Brock Lesnar. A slap followed from Stephanie to Heyman, a slap that encouraged Paul Heyman to change his vote of no into a vote of yes. It is official, Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H at the 25th Anniversary of the biggest event of the summer, SummerSlam. When Heyman continued his mouth running, Stephanie would take him down and continue beating him up. This would finally draw out Brock Lesnar who would attack The Game. Triple H would fight back and send the game out of the ring. This all helped set the stage for their SummerSlam match, it also makes for good video package footage. All together a good segment, I enjoyed it.
The one man Southern Rock Band, Heath Slater had been doing jobs for legends for weeks leading up to the 1000th edition of Raw. Heath would come out to the ring and say that this time any Raw Legend could come out and face him. We were all shocked when former WWE Woman’s champion Lita came out to accept Slater’s no DQ, no count out match. Lita however wasn’t alone. Lita would enlist the services of theAPA (Acolytes Protection Agency), for some backup. I didn’t mind having Lita take on a male superstar, as she is a tough woman who I remember having matches with the likes of Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho and Christian in WWE before. Heath realized that he was in over his head and decided to hit the road. He would not get to far though. We would hear the legendary voice of Road Warrior Hawk of the Legion of Doom, and out came all the legends Heath had faced weeks prior. They ran Slater back to the ring where he took a Twist of Fate from Lita and a “Clothesline from Hell” from the Big Bradshaw. Lita would finish him off with her Moonsault off the top rope. The legends entered the ring and celebrated together with Lita and theAPA. This was the kind of angle we have seen several times before in WWE, a “feel good” kind of thing. There was nothing new or real exciting for me there.
It wouldn’t be Raw 1000 without the Big Red Monster, Kane. Kane made his way to ring, and as he was about to set off his ring pyrotechnics, he was interrupted by guys who felt they were overlooked in the past 999 episodes of Raw. Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre, Hunico, Camacho, Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins all had grievances with the way they had been past by on Raw. They intended to do something about it. Kane was surrounded and things didn’t look good for him. He needed help, and it would come in the form of his legendary brother, The Undertaker. The two would empty the ring and decimate the young ingrates, before posing for the delighted fans inSt. Louis. As a big fan of The Undertaker, it was good for me to see the legend on Raw again. But the angle kind of felt similar to the prior one, it was more to get The Deadman on the show. However it went over well with the fans, so the angle was good as a whole.
The main event was the advertised WWE Championship match between CM Punk and the winner of the WWE Championship Contract Money in the Bank match, John Cena. Last week Cena gave Punk a week to prepare for their match. The two would go out and have a great match. It went back and forth. The match would end when Big Show attacked John Cena. CM Punk would do nothing to help Cena from the attack. The Rock would though. He came out and attacked Show. As The Rock went to deliver the People’s Elbow, CM Punk would strike with a kick to the jaw. Punk would also deliver aGTSto The Rock. The fans turned on Punk and Punk left the ring with the booing of theSt. Louis crowd.
So Punk is now a heel, I actually got into a conversation with somebody about this. The general consensus was that CM Punk has something that we saw in guys like the late Eddie Guerrero. He could change from a babyface to a heel in a few seconds and vice versa. CM Punk has shown us in the past that he does a fantastic job of portraying both ends of the stick. So I don’t mind seeing him as a bad guy. What I do mind is the fact that he had been so over with the fans and was doing a good job as a babyface. For me it was just too soon. I kind of feel the reason they flipped Punk is in preparation for his title match with John Cena at SummerSlam. WWE would never turn their poster child into a bad guy, which I think is the stupidest thing. I think turning Cena heel would spark attention on him again. People would want to watch him again, as apposed to not caring about him at the moment. It was evadible in a poll where fans chose Punk over Cena to face The Rock at the Royal Rumble next year. I don’t know if I am going to be excited to watch CM Punk and John Cena do battle again at SummerSlam, and with CM Punk being the heel in the storyline again, they going to have to do a lot to keep me interested in seeing that match.
Other segments that were interesting on Raw included seeing Mae Young and Mark Henry’s son (the Hand) all grown up. Fans may remember Mark Henry’s love affair with Mae and the fact that Mae was the world’s oldest pregnant woman. In a comedic angle Mae would give birth to a hand.
Charlie Sheen was on Skype watching Raw 1000, and following the wedding had some remarks towards Daniel Bryan,Bryanin an interview with Shawn Mooney, who had been on the first Raw in 1993, had some comments back to Mr. Sheen. Charlie would then say that the next timeBryanwas inLos Angeleshe would fightBryananywhere, even in the ring. Could this be a sign of things to come at the SummerSlam pay-per-view in a few weeks? Well with Aj as the new General Manager anything is possible. I was a little put off by the amount of Social media WWE used during Raw 1000. To me it just seemed too much. One or so polls, etc would have done the job but not make it feel as if it’s just too much.
As a whole Raw 1000 was a great show, had some good angles and some emotional returns. I would have loved Jim Ross to call the entire show, but that’s just me I guess. I would have also loved to have seen Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Mr. McMahon announce the main event. I thought that would have had a good old school feel to it. But that’s just me again. I look forward to seeing what is next for Triple H and Brock Lesnar, for Aj as the new GM, for CM Punk and John Cena and what else will develop heading to the summer’s biggest event. I will be back with more as we head toLos Angelesfor SummerSlam.
— Kyle Davidson is a guest columnist for OWW