WWE Monday Night Raw took place last night (July 30, 2012) from the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, and featured all the fallout from last week's 1,000th episode.
And it was clear not long in that three hours is simply too long for a pro wrestling show each week.
Still, CM Punk addressed his actions from last week, John Cena took on Big Show in the main event to determine who would get the title shot against Punk at Summerslam, Daniel Bryan went a little more crazy, and Randy Orton returned after 60 days away.
This was a good show but again, it simply ran too long and created a sense of dread for what's to come.
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.
- I've said it twice in this post already but this three hour arrangement is going to be downright painful once we get deeper and deeper into its run. There are myriad problems with this that will make themselves obvious within just a few weeks but the absolute last feeling you should have while watching a wrestling show is fatigue. When the live audience visibly burns out, it's a problem. Frankly, WWE doesn't have enough interesting characters to make for three consecutive hours of compelling television every week. And the recaps, my god, the recaps.
- I spoke on the podcast with Sergio about CM Punk and why we all feel the need to put boundaries on him by labeling him a heel or a babyface, or even why we do that as pro wrestling fans to each and every wrestler on the roster. It's a very narrow view of the artform and comes from years and years and years of promotions drilling it into our head. Looking at stories that way makes you lose focus on what's really important, though, and that's the defining characteristics of these larger than life personalities shining through in increasingly complicated scenarios. Simply passing off any of these men as a good guy or a bad guy isn't doing them justice and it's doing us no favors. It's time to change how we watch our favorite wrestling program.
- That's not to say it's not important to remember such things because it is still so ingrained in the business. There is still a place for the terminology and it's important to find a way to separate the two groups in such a manner that the artform as a whole is easier to digest.
- I enjoyed Punk's central point in this whole mess, which seems to have been lost in the zest to label him a heel or not. He's sick and tired of playing second fiddle to guys like The Rock, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Triple H, and so on and so forth. He's the WWE champion and he should be treated with the proper amount of respect he feels comes with holding such a prestigious title. I like this angle because it actually bothers to showcase the belt as the single most important part of the show, and that's exactly what it should be. After all, it's the ultimate prize that every wrestler dreams of calling their own. It should be held to a higher standard than it has been of late. They don't have to reflect that in business decisions -- like having John Cena close major pay-per-views -- but at least Punk is using it for storyline fodder. Reality seeping into fiction can work just fine when it's not overblown. That's what this is and I like it.
- John Cena vs. Big Show, by the way, was a damn fine match. Near falls, high spots, solid work from both men. The outside interference from Punk was well placed and the build to the Summerslam match between the three made sense. All told, this was a good main event and if they can end each show in a similar manner, it should be considered a win.
- Props to Alberto Del Rio and whoever made the decision to ditch that goofy diaper he was wearing around in favor of the black trunks he had on last night. You wouldn't think such a minor issue would affect a guy so much but it's the small things that can bury a guy or put him on top of the mountain. Watching him kill Santino Marella is nothing new but WWE continued its seemingly renewed focus on propping up its major titles by having Del Rio say everyone else is beneath him and he won't compete until Summerslam unless it's a title shot. What an awesomely smarmy thing to do.
- Daniel Bryan is slowly descending into madness and he deserves every bit of what he's getting. Remember, this is the guy who treated AJ like a piece of tag along trash while they were dating and even plotted to have her put in a mental institution while he was chasing the WWE championship. Why she was named Raw General Manager remains a mystery but she's now officially on her Payback Tour and we can't really complain much about how WWE spent so much time unnecessarily labeling her crazy now that she's shown that not to be the case and painted Bryan in that manner. This storyline works in so many ways and Bryan is amazing as the psychotic screaming YES at everyone while he continues to lose in humiliating fashion.
- I love AJ just as much as the next guy but can we acknowledge how god awful her delivery is on the microphone? I'm not the only one who thinks that, am I?
- There will be a separate post for A.W. and his decision to make a rape joke during Titus O'Neil's match against Kofi Kingston but suffice to say, he's got a ton of heat for it. I won't lie, it made me laugh, but there's no doubt that it wasn't appropriate and he could have gotten his point across just fine without saying it.
- Was there a better way to bring back Randy Orton? Heath Slater seems to get wise to the fact that he can't beat a legend not named Doink the Clown so he calls out a current member of the roster and ends up with "The Viper" walking down the ramp. I loved his shocked reaction, too, like he expected some silly jobber to come rushing out so he could deliver a quick beat down and save some face. Instead he was met with a multiple time world champion and the fourth or fifth biggest name on the entire roster.
- That said, Orton looked smaller to me. Did he look smaller to you? Also, what the hell was up with that mohawk?
- I wish I could comment on the tag match with Miz and Dolph Ziggler teaming against Christian and Chris Jericho but I only got to see the abridged version with the finish. From what I saw, each guy looked good and Miz is much, much better as a more serious character with a mean streak.
- It speaks to the talent Tyson Kidd and Tensai possess that they could entertain me with a big man vs. little man style match in the few short minutes they were given to work with. Well done, boys.
- Three hour show and not a Diva to be found. Interesting.
The good was really good, like the Bryan vs. Sheamus match that I didn't mention above, but there are too many recaps and minor time killing segments that drag the show out.
By the time the show was over, I found myself forgetting things that happened during the night and that's the worst possible scenario to running a show that drives PPV buys.
Still, this was a good show, a B level show, for sure.
But that's just my opinion. How it's time for you Cagesiders to sound off with all your thoughts in the comments section below. How did you feel about show number 1,001.