The lovely AJ loves palindromes! (via screengrab which falls under fair use which means I can't get sued so SUCK IT WWE!)
Punk! Cena! Rock! Show! Failed Cash In! Heel Turn! WWE Championship!
There's a lot going on here, so let's try to straighten this out. Last week (July 23) John Cena cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship. During an incredibly bad match, The Big Show interfered not once, but twice, in order to keep Cena from winning the title. This was then followed by The Rock (who had previously announced his intentions to challenge the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble) running in to save Cena from Show's beat down. However, Punk took it upon himself to layeth the smackdown on "The Great One."
Long story short (too late), Cena < Show < Rocky < Punk
Got it? Good.
A few things to note going forward. First, I'm not sure I enjoy The Big Show injecting himself into this. I understand that he still has beef with Cena, and there is certainly something to be said with the WWE continuing logical storylines. But Punk is a big enough star to carry the feud on his own. If Show is being used as a catalyst for change, then that works. If he's going to play a larger part, though, I start getting hesitant. But heel Show has proven to be a great show (see what I did there?), so perhaps a "wait and see" approach is best.
Secondly, and most importantly, this is what we all wanted, right? For Punk to turn his back on the fans, on the bland face persona, on his slow and steady march to being a Cena clone. A heel turn was exactly what we asked for. We should be ecstatic, stoked, marked out of our minds. A chance for the Revolution to begin anew, for the Summer of Punk III to start, for pro wrestling to be fun again.
So why, oh why, am I absolutely terrified of this ending up worse than last year?
Cena will get his rematch against Punk at SummerSlam. If I had to guess, The new Raw General Manager AJ will reinstate the Money in the Bank briefcase to John Cena, thus setting a new precedent for contract matches ending in a DQ. Cena will emerge victorious, because that is just what he does. He'll get his win back against the Rock at the Royal Rumble, and will march on with the title, never looking back.
And CM Punk will be staring at his empty hands once again.
The rest of the show after the jump.
Trips! Lesnar! Stephanie! Heyman! CON! FRON! TATION!
I am almost hesitant to even put this here. Triple H's modus operandi of last has been to appear for an episode, then take a week or two off. It was like that when he faced off against The Undertaker, and it's been even worse against Brock Lesnar. Show up, pop off at the mouth, wait a week for a response from Paul Heyman, take a week off, rinse wash repeat. With Lesnar actually showing up last week, it could be entirely possible that this entire feud is ignored tonight.
I understand that Lesnar has a limited schedule and they want to save as many dates as they can for the run up to WrestleMania 29. But at some level this stops being CON! FRONT! TATION! and becomes Con. Fron. Ta. Eh. When you have an angle completely removed from the rest of the WWE Universe, there has to be something supporting the feud. Sheamus can afford to show up for 5 minutes on SmackDown, and its fine because there are a number of other stories that circle around him and the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar has no connection to anything else going on. If they don't show up, the angle doesn't get advanced.
Although, I guess, "Shut up and let's fight" doesn't need much in terms of advancement.
AJ! Bryan! New! Raw! GM!
Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one who actually enjoys an authority figure storyline in pro wrestling. On top of that, I am genuinely excited about the lovely AJ taking control as Raw's new General Manager. She has proven time and time again she is one of the best characters on the show. There was some fear that she would simply be mocked and disrespected. Now, though? She has power, control, and dominance over the roster. I'd like to see Cena call her a hoeski when she can determine whether or not he gets another title shot.
It will be interesting to see exactly were Daniel Bryan fits in to this new power structure. I've said it before, but it's amazing that it's AJ who is wearing the tights in this relationship (so to speak). AJ is the star of the show, while it is Bryan who is being lifted by her association. He has gotten more over being her boyfriend (and then ex-boyfriend, and then fiancé) than he did holding the World Heavyweight Championship. It seems the "Being AJ's Boyfriend" has become one of the more prestigious titles in the WWE.
Better than the United States Championship, at least.
Ziggler! Jericho! Old Guard! New School! Showoffs!
On one hand, this is an absolutely amazing match up. Dolph Ziggler, "Mr. Money in the Bank" himself, will be facing off against the legendary Chris Jericho. On one hand, this will be an amazing feud. Ziggler is being a chance to prove his own, both on the mic and in the ring, while Jericho has reverted back to his silent troll self. One cannot help but be excited by this.
On the other hand, there should be some hesitation. As Ziggler pointed out last week, Jericho hasn't won a significant match coming back. I think he has one victory over Kofi Kingston. It's good that Jericho is putting guys over, but when does it end? If Ziggler manages to beat him at SummerSlam, "Y2J" will be seen as completely washed up. And if Jericho does pick up the victory, how bad does that make "The Showoff" look?
But back to the first hand, it's Dolph Bleepin Ziggler against Chris Bleepin Jericho! After getting a few rounds of CM Punk against Daniel Bryan, I am convinced that somehow a smark has found his way into the writers room.
I, for one, want to give that man a giant hug.
Smackdown! On Raw!
So...Sheamus against Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship again, eh? I've actually been a fan of the feud so far. It's a little one dimensional, but I think it has worked. I have no idea why they are continue to force this, though. Del Rio has consistently squandered his title shots for the past few months. What does giving him another do? Unless he's going to be used as a transitional champion (win the belt, receive a Brogue kick, get cashed in on) I really don't get it. Such is the way of the WWE, I guess.
Hopefully this has helped get you prepared for the nights activities. Leave a comment about what you are looking forward to, make sure to follow the action @CagesideSeats, please join Geno, myself, and the whole Monday Night gang during the live blog here, and join us after the show for the Cageside Live podcast here.