WWE Monday Night Raw took place last night (July 2, 2012) from the Laredo Energy Center in Laredo, Texas, and featured continued set up for the Money in the Bank pay-per-view (PPV) scheduled for July 15 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Because Teddy Long was back in power, tag team action ruled the night. I believe I counted three of five matches total being some form of tag team, which was really just a way to jam pack as many folks as possible onto the show.
AJ was also the center of the attention for much of the evening and that's both a good and bad thing ... but mostly good and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
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.
- At some point over the past few weeks, it seems WWE decided that the Diva's division isn't much more than a place to house the women on the roster until the creative team finds a use for them that Vince McMahon is on board with. There was no Diva's match last night and the week before it was a throwaway battle royal designed simply to get AJ over while she's so heavily involved in the program between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. The champion of said division, Layla, is an afterthought to those who are actually important in the grand scheme of things, like AJ, Eve, and Vickie Guerrero. The idea of complaining about this seems silly simply because those who champion women in wrestling should be satiated with the amount of time being given to the women in the spotlight. And they're being portrayed as strong women, albeit ones with problems. But that isn't much more than character depth and that's more than we normally get with men. While AJ's character is slowly starting to become grating simply due to repetition, she's done an outstanding job of staying relevant and keeping interest.
- WWE's decision to have AJ continue to play Punk and Bryan for her own gain is perfect in this scenario because she's the special guest referee for their match at Money in the Bank. Typically, you always have a general idea of which way a special guest ref will call the match but it's about as up in the air as it could possibly be here and that's a testament to how well put together this entire program has been. Hiccups, sure, but the twists and turns have been fascinating to say the least. Even AJ teasing putting herself through a table added a layer of insanity that only served to further drive interest.
- Seriously, though, if you're going to complain about too much AJ, you're the guy who doesn't want women in wrestling and you're probably part of the problem.
- The one complaint that you should have, if any, is that AJ is ruining clean finishes in awesome matches between two of the best wrestlers on the roster. When Chris Jericho and John Cena were going at it in the ring, they were botching spots and killing the crowd. When they bailed and Punk and Bryan were left alone, they turned up the heat and had the crowd in a frenzy. It's just too bad they didn't get to go to a real finish. And, really, it's too bad WWE has worked so hard to kill the concept of a clean finish because one guy was simply better than the other.
- I enjoy a good promo as much as the next guy but can we kill the idea of starting each Raw with a 15-minute diatribe involving multiple people where nothing gets accomplished except killing 15 minutes of time to open the show and get everyone on TV?
- The Prime Time Players are far too good to continue getting booked to look so damn bad. What's with this gimmick of having them just outright bail on matches once things don't start going their way? What good does that do for anyone? I suppose it's fine in meaningless eight-man tag matches that were thrown together for reasons only Teddy Long can tell you, but again match finishes have been devalued so much, it's like WWE simply doesn't care about wins and losses. Maybe I shouldn't either but I can't help it. There's still something to be said about going over clean in pro wrestling.
- Speaking of going over and looking good, it's about time they realize the right thing to do with Alberto Del Rio is to build him up by having him destroy mid-card guys who have nothing better to do with their time than get destroyed by guys who are supposed to be superior. Del Rio shouldn't sell for them, either. Having him bludgeon Sin Cara in short order changes fans perception of him, whether they realize it or not. He's still nowhere near Sheamus' level but it's a start.
- Paul Heyman "live" via satellite was terrible. Not everything that man touches turns to gold, let's face it. But having him tease Brock Lesnar showing up on the 1,000th episode of Raw to officially declare his intentions against Triple H was simply the right thing to do. Nothing more, nothing less.
- Heath Slater is growing on me. The guy is actually getting over by being the tackling dummy for returning legends. I loved it that he actually beat Doink the Clown before Diamond Dallas Page came out to give him a Diamond Cutter. I wonder if DDP turned down doing an actual match with Slater because he didn't have time to plan it out beforehand?
- It's nice to see Eve (and her glasses) back but where will she fit in? Seriously, I'd love to hear some fantasy booking ideas for her. Maybe she sucks up to Bryan or Punk opposite AJ and we get a feud there?
- Tensai was floundering along since his return, saddled with a shit gimmick and getting no reaction from any crowd other than derogatory chants of his old name. And then some genius came up with the idea to have him job to guys who look lesser before taking out his frustrations on his sidekick, Sakamoto. His doing this actually got him legitimate boos last night. It's a good way to get him some heat and it also builds toward Sakamoto turning babyface later when he gets sick of getting beat on. Tried and true.
- Big Show goes over on Kane in a no disqualification match without any shenanigans? What a novel concept. Nothing special as far as the match goes, but certainly not complete crap. It would be nice to see WWE let guys win and lose like this.
This was another episode of Raw that was good for what it was. Nothing to make you remember it in a few months but nothing to make you hate the industry like when Cena was dumping barbecue sauce on Michael Cole.
The show gets a B grade for solid wrestling, good storytelling and building towards the next PPV.
That's it for me, though, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts on last night's episode of Raw in the comment section below. What did you think of the show?