Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Raw 1000

Since basically everything on Raw 1000 was a talking point, I decided to go ahead and give it its own post this week.  I tend to pick three or four things to focus on in each show during the week usually, but after the show, I realized there was no way I could narrow it down like that this time.  There's too much to talk about, and I feel like if I only picked a few things, I'd be doing a great disservice to the wrestling community.  Let's dive on in, then, shall we?

1. DX Reunion, and the rub of the year so far.  The show started appropriately enough with the announcement of Vince McMahon, who was clearly too excited to contain his pride.  Vince, in turn, made his appearance short and sweet by announcing DX.  But when HHH and Shawn Michaels got to the ring, they realized something was missing... there were too few of them.  Cue the mini-tank carrying X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws.  It's understandable why Chyna wasn't invited, although it's worth noting that she tweeted her congratulations to WWE, and offered her thanks to the fans for making pro wrestling what it is today.  Billy Gunn in particular looked really excited to be back, and the old DX magic was certainly there.  But just as Gunn & Michaels were about to do the "if you've got a problem with that" part of the routine, the group was interrupted by... Damien Sandow???  He may have been superkicked & pedigreed for his troubles, but his presence in itself is a great show of faith in the guy, and I'm excited for his future.

2. JR calls the first match of the night.  Okay, maybe the 6-man tag in itself wasn't anything truly special, but it did help to fuel the fire between Jericho and Dolph Ziggler, who were supposed to be on the same team.  What made the match feel a lot more awesome was the inclusion of Good Ol' JR at the announce table.  It's always good to hear his voice (a great reason to watch NXT, by the way), and just for the occasion he dusted off a few of his old catchphrases, including working the word "slobberknocker" into a sentence.  Wrestling is missing the play-by-play guy these days.  Most non-finishers are grouped together into move-type categories, which is unfortunate, because when someone mentions a move by name, then you're not really sure which move in that last set they were talking about anymore.  It was a great reminder of one of the many things that made me fall in love with wrestling.

3. The Wedding.  Here's the part I was actually most looking forward to.  I was hoping that Kane would bring the cake, that Show would come out and be told he couldn't have any, and then he would angrily dump a bucket of water over the happy couple, ruining their special day.  What actually happened was much better than that.  Just as it looked like the ceremony was going off without a hitch (and by the way, if anyone remembers Slick, that was their minister), AJ revealed that someone else had proposed to her.  Mr. McMahon came out and explained that the proposal was a business proposal, and that AJ is now the general manager of Raw.  AJ skipped (which takes talent to do in a wedding dress), and Bryan destroyed the set.  The great part about this is that the community appears to be totally split on how they feel about this, and it has sparked a lot of debate.  Here's how I feel.  AJ as general manager should be a great angle, if they keep her mischevious.  Think about it:  Nobody knows what her agenda is.  Nobody knows just what is going to set her off.  I want to see the superstars tip-toeing around her to get what they want, for fear they'll have to face the music.  It's also General Manager tradition to have a one-man wrecking crew that dispatches the guys they don't like for them.  Teddy Long had Khali.  Laurinaitis had Tensai.  AJ has Kane.  They've been building a history for seemingly no reason.  But I think this is the payoff, and AJ knows she has all the tools she needs to continue her agenda, whatever the hell that may be.

4. Awesomely Intercontinental.  The WWE Universe voted in a poll on to decide who Christian should face in a championship match on Monday.  The winner of the poll was the Miz, and wouldn't you know it, he won!!  It's a big deal for him, not just because he's back on his game again, but also because this win earned him the honor of being listed as a Triple Crown champion.  It should be a big deal for the Intercontinental Title, too, because after the losing streak he's been on over the last year, Miz is not the kind of guy to take the belt for granted.  I don't know if he'll continue to feud with Christian, or if Cody Rhodes will take another crack at it, or if there is someone else on the horizon to challenge for the title, but I know whoever picks up the challenge will be in for a fight.

5. Brock Lesnar says "no"... at first.  Triple H made his second appearance of the night to remind Lesnar that he'd promised him an answer to his SummerSlam challenge.  Paul Heyman showed up instead, and re-iterated that the answer was no, Brock was not going to fight him.  After bringing up his children, Mama Bear Stephanie McMahon showed up to slap the shit out of Heyman, which apparently was all the provocation he needed.  After accepting, he realized he'd been goaded, and here's where the greatest part of this segment happened.  He noted to Stephanie that she always gets what she wants, to which she just smirked and shrugged.  Eventually Brock Lesnar did show up to brawl with Trips for a bit in order to give us the one preview of their match that we will see.  It actually did a good job of making me want to see the show.

6. Heath Slater's Opus.  It was time for the big one.  Heath Slater challenged any Legend in the back to come out and face him in a no DQ match and was answered by Lita, who looked amazing!  After the bell had rung, but before the match had actually begun, Lita announced that she had hired protection, and sure enough, out came Bradshaw and Ron Simmons.  After that, it was just an orgy of Legends.  Slater tried to escape, but was chased back into the ring by every single legend he's faced so far, where he was promptly destroyed by Bradshaw's Clothesline From Hell.  Lita hit a Twist of Fate, then a Moonsault, and after the match was over, the Stars of Raw's Past all celebrated together, complete with Simmons summing up the whole experience with, "DAMN!"

7. The Brothers of Destruction.  That is all.  Looked like Kane was supposed to have a match, but a new Job Squad comprising of Jinder Majal, Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks, Drew McIntyre, Hunico, and Camacho showed up and surrounded the ring.  Their plans were promptly destroyed by the arrival of the Undertaker.  This was by far my biggest mark-out moment of the night.  My toes curled, I was so excited to see Taker.  And the side-by-side Choke Slams followed by the side-by-side Tombstones was almost more than I could handle.

8. Time for a Change, Take Two.  You may have noticed above that I did not mention that CM Punk came out to talk to Daniel Bryan after the non-wedding, and that the Rock showed up to announce that he would be facing whoever was WWE champion at the Royal Rumble, and I did that on purpose.  That whole segment really fit in with the main event of the show.  The main event, of course, was Punk v. Cena for the title, as Cena cashed in his briefcase like a man of honor.  The match went pretty back and forth, but the turning point came when the ref was knocked out, and Big Show took that opportunity to rush in and decimate Cena.  Punk took a long time deciding to pull the ref back in and go for the cover, but when Cena kicked out, Big Show decided that he gave no fucks and came back to force the DQ.  Punk hung his head in shame... at first.  But then when he was about to leave, the Rock showed up, and Punk snapped back to reality and laid out The Great One.

Yet again, the community is totally split on this.  Is it a heel turn?  Is it a good move for the story?  Is it a good move for CM Punk?  For my part, the answers are, in order, Sort of, Yes, and YES.  Punk is in that very unique "tweener" place that Austin was in during the Attitude Era.  He can play the same character and get totally different reactions, simply decided on who he's facing and how the commentary team acts.  As far as the commentary is concerned, YES, this was a heel turn.  If you're not sure how to feel about this, remember last summer when Punk went after the company in general, and Cena in particular, in order to demand the attention he deserves.  He was a heel when all that started, and rather solidly so.  I remember reminding people vehemently that he actually wasn't a face, because we were all so passionate about what he was doing.  And then what did he do?  He campaigned for change, and that got us Laurinaitis.  And after that?  Well, nothing changed, really.  John Cena is still treated like he is the best, and CM Punk has to bust his ass just to hope he's in the first hour main event.  John Cena, Big Show, and The Rock, are all the guys that have still been overshadowing him, despite the fact that he is the WWE Champion.  It's been a year, folks, and he still gets no respect.  So the "heel turn" on Monday night is the beginning of a second attempt to do what he's failed to do so far, and that's get himself into the spotlight.  The last time the title match was the last match of a pay-per-view was when he faced Cena for the title at TLC in December (However, the title match was the last thing before the titular Royal Rumble match this past January, which depending on your view may also count)..  Since then, the main event has been hogged by the gauntlet laid out for Cena, which we've gotten so used to, we're actually playing devil's advocate and noting supposedly logical reasons why Cena's matches always trump the belt.  I think it's just hit Punk that he's done nothing with that title, and it's time to stand up and take some action.

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