WWE Monday Night Raw took place last night (July 23, 2012) from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, and featured the big 1,000th episode of the company's flagship program.
And it was as big as they advertised it to be.
John Cena became the first man to fail to cash in the Money in the Bank contract thanks to Big Show, The Rock announced his next return for Royal Rumble next year to challenge for the WWE championship, and Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H is officially on for Summerslam.
This was a damn good show, perfect for what they wanted to do with it.
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.
- What a stinker of a main event match, right? It's not even just that the match itself was so disjointed and oddly paced but the two guys involved are the two top stars in pro wrestling today. It's supposed to be special when CM Punk and John Cena get inside the ring to have a match together. Last night didn't get special until Punk turned heel in the closing angle. I'm not shouting about the sky falling or anything but it was disappointing to see such a bad match in such a big spot.
- That said, we finally got what we wanted. Punk is a heel again. I'm not sure I liked how they went about doing it, concentrating on situational issues instead of personal relationships. When Show came out to attack Cena to assist Punk in winning the match, he acted as though he was unsure of wanting the help and whether or not to retain his title through less than honest means. That's not really the Punk character we've known over the past year. Plus, he hated Cena for the majority of that time. Why does he suddenly care so much about a situation like this? Because he was turning into a Cena type babyface who always does the right thing? I don't know that I buy that. His later attacking The Rock after he came in to save Cena and "do the right thing," which also made absolutely zero sense for the personal relationships of those involved but could be passed off as a situational issue, also seemed odd. Punk stared at his hands like he couldn't believe what he had done but what was so bad about it? He went after a guy who had already promised to take his title away from him. This looks like it's going in the direction of Punk deciding his title reign is important to him enough that he'll do anything to keep it going. I suppose that's fine but I'm hoping for a better explanation. This was a disappointing heel turn for me because it didn't feel like one. Maybe that's because Punk just isn't the guy who can convincingly play the squeaky clean babyface role.
- I'm still surprised John Cena will forever be known as the first man to attempt to cash in the Money in the Bank contract and fail. I'm also worried it will pave the way for that to happen a lot more often. Dolph Ziggler, we're still hoping for the best.
- Wasn't it nice to see D-Generation X? All of them? Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Billy Gunn, Road Dogg and X-Pac together again, if only for a 25 minute opening segment, was fun. That's really all it was meant to be. Sure, they told bad jokes about their underwear and made fun of HBK losing his smile and posing for PlayGirl but it was disappointing to see how quick some were to shit all over this. Did they look their best? Of course not. They're all much older and have been through hell working in the pro wrestling business. Are they supposed to look like they did when they were 20? Bitching and moaning about DX returning and doing what they do, when the guys seemed like they were genuinely having fun and the crowd was into it, makes you the snarky old man on the porch all alone who yells at kids playing in the neighborhood and is generally despised by everyone who meets you. Don't be that guy. It's a bad look.
- We can't let X-Pac off the hook for his creepily hitting on Trish Stratus, though. What the hell was that? Did he think because the cameras were rolling, he could get away with putting his arm around her? What a goon.
- It was disappointing, to say the least, that Jim Ross was only given one match to call. Of course, there were only like five matches on the entire three hour show, but why not let him call the main event between Punk and Cena? That's what they wanted and that's where Ross would have been best served. Can you imagine how much better Punk's heel turn would have been if Ross was enhancing the segment with his biting commentary? It was a shame wasting him on a meaningless tag team match that didn't do much of anything but further the feud between Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho.
- That match is going to be awesome, though.
- Charlie Sheen chatting via Skype was terrible and if they actually go through with the proposed idea for a feud with him and Daniel Bryan for Summerslam, I'm not entirely sure I'm willing to jump on board with it. Sheen is tired and played out. Bryan is on the way up. I don't want the two mixing together.
- Speaking of Bryan, his wedding with AJ was a disappointment. Really, we should have seen that the whole way. They didn't bother to give it much build in the lead up to it, with the story the past few months focusing on AJ's instability instead of the relationship between her and Bryan, and that hurt the payoff. Bryan was awesome once AJ shot him down, with the perfect mannerisms and pissed off demeanor but what's the point of making AJ the permanent General Manager of Raw? This felt like a desperate move to keep AJ in the spotlight however they could without really having much to do with her. Where this goes from here is anyone's guess but I can't imagine this will last long. And it shouldn't.
- Reverend Slick FTW.
- Jack Swagger's contract is coming up in a month or two, right? And he's promised to go to TNA and bury WWE once he gets there, right? That has to be why he's been on such a stunning run of nothingness over the past few months, right?
- Speaking of burials, we talked about this on the Cageside Live podcast last night, but there were a few folks who felt like Bryan was "buried" last night. Again, to make it clear, Swagger losing every match he's involved with in 10 seconds flat while the commentary team takes about how far he's fallen and how he's a complete piece of shit is a burial. Bryan getting a big wedding where he's left at the alter, and a segment with the WWE champion and The Rock, one of the biggest stars ever, isn't really a burial. It's an advancement of his current down on his luck situation. One might argue that Rock going overboard with the Frodo, Lord of the Rings, Oompa Lumpa talk was close to burying Bryan but it wasn't much worse than Punk's lame goat face taunts. Not only will Bryan be okay, he looked like a bigger star just working with Punk and Rock.
- The St. Louis crowd last night was terrible, at least on television. When The Rock did make his big return, they popped for his entrance music but left everything else out there. When he made his huge announcement that he would be challenging for the WWE title at Royal Rumble next year, you could almost hear the crickets. That was weird and made it feel like the announcement wasn't worth much of anything, which is the furthest thing from the truth.
- A Cagesider brought up the possibility that the poll WWE ran asking who the fans wanted to see The Rock challenge for the belt at the Rumble between Cena, Punk and Show, was to figure out who they put over in the main event. When Punk handily won the vote with 55-percent to 35-percent for Cena, it was a surprise. Perhaps that's the match we'll get at Rumble and Rock will win the belt just to drop it to Cena at WrestleMania 29 to give him his win back from this past April. That would free up Punk to work with Stone Cold Steve Austin, if that's still in the cards.
- Speaking of old Stone Cold, where do we go to riot?
- One of the best parts of the night last night was Bret Hart no selling The Miz when he announced him for the Intercontinental championship match against Christian. It was weird when Miz actually won the title and I'm not entirely sure why they did it but Miz acted like the belt was a huge deal, just like Cody Rhodes had been doing. That's always good to see.
- Another great segment during last night's show was Mae Young's son, the hand, showing up to put a bow tie on one of the goofiest storylines in the history of pro wrestling. It was hilariously awesome if only because it was so bizarre and not a soul on Earth expected them to do it. I'm laughing just thinking about WWE trotting that hand out there.
- Paul Heyman is awesome at what he does and Stephanie McMahon was incredibly foxy last night but the build to this Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar match at Summerslam is terrible. The lawsuits and the shirt offs and the talk of kids and families and all this and that. It's all nonsense. This should be a major match but it doesn't feel like one, not yet. Hopefully that changes soon.
- Also still super foxy is Lita, who got to be the latest returning legend to squash Heath Slater. Video on that later. She looked amazing and was a legitimate surprise. We all wanted Stone Cold to be the final legend to stun Slater into oblivion but Lita was still great. The return of the APA was also great, if only because it led to perhaps the greatest Clothesline from Hell of all time and the return of Ron Simmon's and the greatest catchphrase ever. And after everything Slater has been through, "DAMN!" just fit. Having the entire squad of legends who killed Slater throughout the past few weeks was a nice touch.
- Props to Slater for finding a role he could service well. It's too bad he's not going to have anything to do now that this is over.
- Undertaker and Kane together again? Here, let me try to muster up a few ... nope, sorry. I don't have any fucks to give here.
This was a damn good show, a B or a B+ now that I've gotten the taste of the bad main event match out of my mouth and had some time to digest everything.
That's me, though. Now it's time for you Cagesiders to sound off with all your thoughts in the comments section below. What was your grade for Raw 1,000?