WWE Monday Night Raw took place last night (June 25, 2012) from the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and featured a ton of set up for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for July 15 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Daniel Bryan won a triple threat elimination match against CM Punk and Kane, which seems to have done two things -- gotten Bryan another title shot against Punk and led to Kane breaking things off with AJ in a really weird way.
John Cena also made his "historic" announcement -- that he'll be entering the Money in the Bank (MITB) ladder match for the first time in his career. Chris Jericho returned and also entered the match.
The show, as usual, was the typical Raw episode -- some good, some bad.
Enough with the small talk, though. If you want full results from Raw last night, click here for the running live blog. You can also listen to Sergio and I on the Cageside Live podcast gabbing about the show (among other things) right here. Time to get to reactions, posted after the jump.
- If there was ever any doubt that AJ is awesome and super good at her job of acting badly but bringing passion to her part, it should have been erased last night. However, it seems clear now that WWE is booking this thing on the fly. Kane "breaking up" with her, though he did so in the stupidest way possible, seemed like a blow off, as if they're going to go in a completely different direction with him despite the fact that he was really the focal point of her attentions for weeks now. He was entered into the Raw MITB match and Punk and Bryan will be having a match for the WWE championship at the same show. Last night seemed to reveal that AJ would be continuing on between Punk and Bryan and that will be settled however they decide. There's still so much potential here that I'm not giving up on it but it's mildly disappointing that they spent so much time doing this goofy ordeal with AJ costing Kane multiple matches and his only getting wise to it like the fifth time after it happened. Then again, a beautiful lady can make any man dumb.
- That said, Punk vs. Bryan should be another awesome match but the story is what's important here. I still firmly believe that the best way to get the most mileage out of AJ is for her to cost Punk the title and reveal she was working with Bryan all along. That way she can explain getting rid of Kane, who had inadvertently been inserted into the pictures a month before, and finally got inside Punk's head by crushing on him and then making him jealous, even if he didn't realize it. Or maybe they finally acknowledge that Punk's digging her and he didn't like her chasing Kane the way she seemed to be doing. There are a million ways to go with this but only a few that benefit AJ. She's the most delicate here because they can absolutely bury her at any moment, whereas Bryan (to a lesser extent) and Punk are basically untouchables. Again, though, that match should be awesome and hopefully they come up with some awesome booking to go with it.
- Vickie Guerrero alluded to the fact that WWE may be announcing the new permanent Raw and Smackdown General Manager on the 1,000th episode of Raw on July 23. I certainly can't speak for anyone else but that sounds like a fantastic idea, especially with all the former stars that will be coming out of the woodwork.
- Question: What's the point of spending an entire segment on Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler campaigning to Guerrero to make them the number one contender to the world heavyweight championship only to put together a goofy match between the two that ultimately didn't matter because Sheamus, the champion, came out and said they both get to be number one contender even though neither of them earned it and this is the longest question ever?
- Answer: There is no point and sometimes WWE is really stupid.
- Seriously, a contract on a pole match? Who's booking this shit? Did Vince Russo finagle his way back to a writing position with the company?
- Remember when we (read: me) were worried that after Big Show lost to John Cena (because we just knew he would) he would lose most of his heat as a major heel monster because WWE would just forget to continue booking him like one? Yeah, that hasn't happened. That's partially because they haven't given up on the Cena-Show angle, which kind of sucks, but storyline continuity is always nice when you're dealing with a story that never really ends.
- Brodus Clay is really good at getting hit with the WMD. And I love the idea of Show just popping in out of nowhere to hit people said WMD, like he did with Clay and R-Truth a few weeks ago. In fact, I think they should use the old Saturday Night Live bit of people getting punched just before eating. Andy Samberg would pop into a screen just as someone was about to take a bite of food and pop them in the face before dancing over them. You could drop the dance part and have Show drill a guy, pan the camera to show him smiling, then he abruptly drops the smile, huffs, and walks away with a pissed off look on his face. Tell me that wouldn't go over.
- How little does WWE care about its mid-card championships? They give Jack Swagger a U.S. title shot while absolutely destroying him on commentary. Michael Cole buried him by saying he's "floundering" and in need of a big win to stop his recent skid. This is a guy they were giving a title shot. It was no big surprise, then, when he was pinned in a matter of minutes after getting pocked with a sock drawn as a snake.
- Chris Jericho's return was done very well. Any time he can come out to the ring and oppose John Cena is good with me but having him acknowledge that Cena talks like an idiot was icing on the cake. Cena responding by saying most of WWE's fans are nine-year-old kids was disappointing in that it made me realize exactly what the company thinks of its audience. And if they actually think that and book shows based on that, it's even worse. It makes me sad because it's probably true. Cena's fans may be nine but the important demographics are the older crowd that hates his guts. So I guess he could just be acknowledging his own fanbase, I don't know. Either way, the comment was stupid.
- I actually think it's a good idea to have Cena enter the MITB match. Adding Jericho, Show and Kane with the gimmick that only former champions can enter the WWE championship ladder match only serves to make it more important. And don't give me this crap about young guys getting stifled because the mid-card in WWE right now is embarrassing and that's being nice about it. Sergio and I couldn't even come up with six solid names to put in the world heavyweight championship ladder match because there aren't that many, not without dipping into the tag team division they've slowly but surely been cultivating. That said, that's the other reason the WWE championship MITB match is good ... it frees up the world heavyweight championship MITB match as a showcase for mid-card guys close to making the next step. You all surely know who I think should win that one.
- I also realized that they weren't calling them the Raw and Smackdown MITB ladder matches but rather the WWE and World heavyweight championship MITB ladder matches. I guess the brand split really is dead.
- Sycho Sid returning to Raw was nice and all, as I think the idea of bringing back former main eventers every week until the 1,000th episode is an awesome idea, but I was terribly uncomfortable watching him work. His leg is fine now, I know that. But I can't get the image out of my head of his horrific leg injury in 2001. He looked slow but pretty good for a guy his age. And hey, it's fun to have Heath Slater get killed by these returning old timers.
Although this was a fairly eventful Raw, it didn't feel overly special to me. In fact, I feel like I've settled into a groove, like they have to do something mind numbingly stupid to make the show bad but they also have to do something extremely special to make it good.
So this show gets a C grade from me.
But how about you? Let's get all your thoughts on last night's episode of Raw in the comments section below.