Raw 1000 - This is the beginning of a new journey for WWE. More time for young wrestlers to be showcased; more time to tell better thought out stories; more time for long, engaging matches. Or, more time to Tout, Tweet and tell us what to like. Fingers crossed!
A great recap of Raw through the years, from episode 1; if there's anything WWE gets right, it's video packages. Highlights, lowlights, happy times and solemn times - Truly running the gamut. Raw's new logo is presented with a surprisingly small amount of fan fare. The stage, Titantron and minitrons are all new and improved as well.
Mr. McMahon enters, although we were promised DX to open the show "right at 8PM". Vince toots his own horn for 1000 episodes; fair enough. Vince thanks the WWE Universe, and they return the favor in kind. Vince gives us the good old "Welcome to Monday Night Raw" and welcomes Degeneration X. The old overlay video and music play, much to the enjoyment of the crowd and outcome HHH and HBK. HBK plays up not remembering the old bit and being out of breath, calling for a mic. Michaels is feeling this, but is missing something and HHH agrees. It's definitely not the merch. HHH asks if there used to be more of us? The DX music hits again, bringing out The New Age Outlaws and X-Pac in a truck to the side of the stage. With the team complete, we get the old DX salute in the ring. Road Dogg grabs the mic and escorts us down memory lane, self-censoring "Bad Ass" Billy Gunn. HHH, of course, wants to know if we're ready? Gunn and Michaels both grab a mic, and HHH says Shawn could lose his smile if he doesn't get to do this part! HHH delegates like a good corporate man and says they should do it together. Damien Sandow's music hits to interrupt, and that can mean nothing good for this man in the next 3-4 minutes.
Sandow reminds us that he is our intellectual savior. HBK wants to hear Sandow out. DX is a disintegration of society. This crass conduct should not be revered. HBK promised to head home and ask for forgiveness. Sandow says he understands that 5-1, he would obviously be beaten. He says he would be a martyr here for the sophisticated. HHH says Sandow makes a good point, but DX needs to have a team huddle. Sandow is upset with the rudeness of the group. DX makes a decision: Sweet Chin Music and a Pedigree. Gunn says his line, and Sandow is stripped of his robe and disposed of out of the ring. Good rub for him - Sandow comes out face to face with five legends of the WWE Attitude Era and holds his own on the mic. He absolutely is his character and plays it to the fullest. Sandow is great to hate; all he needs is proper length matches moving forward and he should be a star.
We're treated to the new graphics for upcoming matches; very modern, very sleek. Tonight, John Cena takes on WWE Champion CM Punk, cashing in his MITB briefcase.
Back from the first commercial break, we get Jim Ross, who has been on NXT duty with William Regal. He will join the commentary team for the night.
Match 1: Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion) vs Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto del Rio
Winners: Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and Sheamus via pinfall
Even on Raw 1000, the World Heavyweight Champion opens the show when it comes to wrestling action. A recap of Jericho giving Ziggler the Codebreaker last week for being a wise ass shows; why would these guys be put on a team together just a week later? Back from a commercial, Ziggler is in charge on Sin Cara, who Michael Cole calls Rey Mysterio multiple times, uncorrected. Jericho tags in and cinches in a chin lock on Cara. The luchador fights up and lands a roll up for two. Cara wants a tag, but takes a low dropkick from Jericho. Chris Jericho scoop slams Cara and does the old cocky pin, then tags in ADR, who rushes Cara with a kick in the corner. Repeated knee drops to the back of Sin Cara, then a chin lock. Cara gets up to his feet again, then fights out of a corner and lands a jumping tornado DDT off the second turnbuckle. Sheamus and Jericho tag in, leading to axe handles and a knee lift out of the corner. Sheamus wants a powerslam, but Jericho escapes and ends up taking the Irish Curse (on the second try). Mysterio monkey flips ADR over the top rope then hits a senton to the floor. Cara kicks Ziggler, but ends up on the floor thanks to Jericho. Jericho wants the Walls of Jericho, then the Codebreaker, but Sheamus powers out of both, but whiffs with the Brough Kick. Jericho wants a springboard dropkick, but Ziggler hops on the apron and clocks him one, turning on his tag partner. Sheamus calls for the Brough Kick and connects, then pins Jericho.
Cole mixed up Cara and Mysterio throughout the entire match, but Ziggler/Jericho looks to be a program moving forward, and that's all that matters. Jericho has put over more young talent than damn near anyone else, and this could be the launch pad for Ziggler to come into his own the way that fans have wanted him to. As for the match itself, it was a short six man tag, focused on the Ziggler turn. Ok-to-good match.
Apparently Ross was only out for that match, as Cole and Lawler are discussing Touts and he's nowhere to be found. Users Tout their feelings on AJ and Bryan's impending wedding. Tout is going to get annoying real fast.
Via Skype, Charlie Sheen checks in and says the show so far (one promo, one match) is epic. Sheen has an absolute air of not giving a damn about what he's talking about, which is kind of the standard for him. Definitely not adding anything at all to the show.
AJ is in the back, prepping and primping for the wedding, with Layla. Layla questions AJ wanting to do this, which she takes exception to. AJ says the whole place is unstable, not her, then she opens the door, showing Hacksaw Jim Duggan go HOOOOING through the halls. Next, Rowdy Roddy Piper and R-Truth play jump rope with Little Jimmy. Then a man in a hand suit shows up with his Mom, Mae Young. Good lord. Duggan walking around saying "HOOO"? I believe that. Piper and Truth playing with an invisible friend? I bet they do that when there's no cameras around. But a man in a hand suit? No thanks. Definitely a bit that didn't need to make its return on Raw 1000.
A Sonic carhop skates in with slushes for Lawler and Cole - Swagger's music plays in the background. So instead of the talent making their entrance, we get drinks delivered to the announcers. Damn it.
Match 2: Brodus Clay vs Jack Swagger
Winner: Brodus Clay via pinfall
Shazam is now being advertised to get wrestlers' themes. Brodus introduces Dude Love (here's hoping for a face of Foley for each hour tonight...). Swagger misses attacking Brodus, who delivers a t-bone suplex and the "shee-wah" splash. Dude Love hits the ring to dance and celebrate with Clay and he breaks out a tyedye Mr. Socko, which Swagger takes in the gullet. Cole finally gets something right tonight: Swagger has hit rock bottom.
HHH is in the back with Trish Stratus, who is advertising her yoga program. Big breath in, extend to the floor. DX comes in to catch Hunter in the act. X-Pac hangs behind and creeps on Trish. Fun little throw back to a simple scene from years ago that nobody ever forgot.
Daniel Bryan is in the back in a white tux, with some gents in what appear to be white scrubs - My guess as I watch and write? Bryan will have AJ committed tonight, as a husband has the right to do. Long shot secondary guess: AJ's crazy estranged brother Dean Ambrose somehow debuts tonight.
The Wedding of Daniel Bryan and AJ
Jerry Lawler introduces the reverend for the ceremony - Slick. A big call back, back to the Iron Sheik days. Daniel Bryan enters to his music, YESing down to the ring in his all white tux. AJ, on the other hand, comes down to the traditional Wedding March. Slick starts the wedding spiel, to bring together "two unique and beautiful people", using AJ's last name, Lee. The crowd "WHAT"s the good reverend as he goes along. AJ requests that Slick move it along. Slick asks if anyone is present that cares to speak now, or hold their peace - The crowd boos vehemently, then chants "NO". Bryan delivers his vows, saying that despite their up and downs, he loves AJ, and always will. He promises that once he slips the ring on, a new chapter will begin for both of them, and he'll have what he's always wanted. Slick asks if Daniel does - YES. Does AJ? "Yes Yes Yes".
Slick readies to finish and AJ says to wait. AJ wasn't saying yes to Bryan - She was saying yes to someone else. Slick is flabbergasted. AJ says it's another man, who made a proposal earlier tonight. Vince McMahon's music hits, bringing the Chairman to the stage. Vince explains; it's a business proposal. To make Raw 1001 and beyond great, he introduces the new GM of Raw - AJ! AJ holds her dress up and skips laps around Bryan, then leaves.
Well that was different. Great that AJ will be kept as a regular presence on Raw, but this didn't require the wedding bit at all. Also, it means AJ won't be wrestling much, if at all, which is a shame given the state of the Divas division right now. Kind of glad that I was wrong on this one. Interesting to see if this leads to a soft babyface turn for Bryan, who came out behind on this one. If anything, this shows a faith in AJ.
Back from a commercial break, Bryan is going ballistic in the ring, screaming NO at a trio of refs. CM Punk's music hits to interrupt the tantrum. Punk says he didn't come out to rub this in Bryan's face...then does. Punk says that AJ as the GM doesn't bode well for Bryan. He can continue his tantrum; Punk is going to continue being WWE Champion and best in the world. Bryan says Punk isn't even the best in the ring tonight. Not only is Bryan better, he claims to be the best WWE Superstar of all time. IF YA SMELLL...
The Rock seems to take exception to this declaration and comes out. This might as well be called "doing a Slater" at this point. Rock ascends the turnbuckle to soak in the millions (and millions). Rock takes a mic and waits for a "Rocky" chant to subside. Rock says Bryan doesn't get to say who the greatest of all time is - That's for the fans to decide. Bryan interrupts The Rock, and The Rock interrupts that. You don't cut The Rock off, drawing a "boots to asses" chant. What Bryan doesn't understand is that Rock won his first WWE Title here in St. Louis. The Rock isn't here to talk to "Frodo"; he's here to talk about the WWE Championship. At the Royal Rumble, whoever is WWE Champion, they will defend against The Rock. Punk says that's good news for Rock; Punk plans to be champion come the Rumble. Tonight, Punk will beat John Cena. Then at the Rumble, he'll beat The Rock. The Rock says he'll be the next WWE Champion. Bryan says "no no no". This is supposed to be about Bryan; this was to be his night. Bryan says that some way, some how, Rock will face Bryan. Bryan will be the face of the WWE. Rock says what we're looking at is the product of an Oompa Loompa and a homeless lumberjack. The Rock says that he got a wedding gift for Bryan - Rock Bottom.
I know he's The Rock. I know he's the biggest star ever. But months ago, he comes back and says he's never leaving again and will seek the WWE Title. Then he disappears for months, nary a peep to be made. Then he comes back and he just gets a title shot? No. You earn title shots. This is why titles don't matter anymore.
Match 3: Christian (c) vs The Miz, Intercontinental Championship
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Bret "Hitman" Hart
Winner: The Miz via pinfall (new Intercontinental Champion)
Bret says it was an honor to beat Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Title. So now he introduces the IC title match. And not an especially warm welcome for Miz. Miz's new look continues to make him look way more credible. Amazing what a bit of scruff can do. Christian goes behind to open, but Miz gets a headlock. Christian shoulder blocks Miz, then lands a second rope missile dropkick. Miz boots Christian in the face, but gets tossed to the floor. Christian climbs up top and hits a cross body to the floor. Christian sells a hurt leg as Raw 1000 goes to commercial.
Back to action, Miz has a standing leg lock on Christian, who boots his way out, then lands a diving reverse DDT. Christian follows with a forearm. Selling the leg, Christian slides to the outside (instead of jumping over the top) for his middle rope slap. Christian follows with a top rope cross body for two, then a middle rope diving back elbow. Christian wants the Killswitch, but Miz avoids. Christian lands a jumping sunset flip out of the corner for two. Christian goes up and over Miz for another sunset flip, but Miz lands a boot to the face for a two count. Miz goes back to work on the leg, wrapping it around the ropes in the corner. Christian slaps Miz and lands a tornado DDT for a close two count. Now Christian wants a spear and heads to the corner. He runs into a boot to the gut and a spike DDT for a very near fall. Miz goes to an opposite corner but comes up empty on his running clothesline. Miz avoids the Killswitch again, then Christian avoids the Skull Crushing Finale, Miz blocks another Killswitch and finagles the Skull Crushing Finale to win the Intercontinental Title after Christian backflips over Miz, landing on his bad leg.
|Miz says he's the Intercontinental Champion and he's...awesome. Welcome back, Miz.|
Sheen is back on Skype and plugs Anger Management, then parrots The Rock's jokes. Again, not adding anything at all to the show, or any original material for that matter.
Back to the show, HHH is making his entrance, still in DX regalia. His entrance is interrupted by the "Slam of the Week" - Brock Lesnar breaking his arm three months ago. How is that the Slam of the Week? HHH asks if the crowd is having a good time. He's had his fun, so it's time for intense HHH time. Hunter calls Lesnar out, to answer the challenge for Summerslam. Lesnar's music hits and Paul Heyman heads toward the ring. HHH calls Heyman an ass (Road Dogg didn't get to say that!); Heyman says Lesnar is in the arena. Heyman has power of attorney to answer HHH's challenge. Heyman reports that Lesnar's answer is "no." HHH says he'll go to the back and get Lesnar himself if he has to. Heyman reminds Hunter that he has two pending lawsuits, does he want to aim for a trifecta? HHH doesn't care anymore. Hunter says Lesnar is a coward, despite all the hype, all the hoopla? Heyman says the name calling won't draw Lesnar out, that's childish. Heyman says he feels bad for Hunter's kids if that's what he teaches them, which draws out mommy dearest.
Stephanie McMahon heads for the ring and tells Heyman to never speak of her children again. Steph says that Heyman masks his failures with these lawsuits, calling in to play WCW and ECW, as well as his work at WWE. Steph says her kids can be proud of dad and grandpa, but Heyman's kids will be ashamed because he's a parasite. Then Steph lays in the old McMahon slap, staggering Heyman. Heyman steps to the apron, then back in. Heyman is livid and says that Lesnar/Helmsley is on for Summerslam. Heyman trash talks the kids again and Steph pounces on Heyman, drawing Lesnar's music and presence. Lesnar hits the ring and lifts HHH into the corner, who fights back. Lesnar lays a knee to the mid section and HHH answers with one of his own. HHH mounts a comeback and clotheslines Brock over the top rope to the floor. Lesnar drops an F bomb which gets dumped out, then heads to the back.
Interesting to see that Heyman decides to punish HHH for Stephanie's actions with a match with Lesnar. That's quite a bit of finagling. We all knew the match was coming, but not necessarily how we were getting there. Steph is still solid on the mic; quite the confident one. HHH/Lesnar will be an out and out brawl. Lesnar can't possibly come back this way and lose a second match in a row.
More touts with fan reactions to the goings on thus far: A few videos here and there can be ok, but we don't need more than one session of these in any show.
Raw 1000 Moments: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's rivalry with Vince McMahon. Absolutely a business-maker. The source of some of the best moments in Raw history.
Santino and Hornswoggle come out to hand out some WWE toys, followed by Howard Finkel to announce the next match.
Match 4: Heath Slater vs Lita
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Howard Finkel
Winner: Lita via pinfall
Slater says that everything that's been happening on Raw is in the past. The only thing to remember will be his victory tonight, which will be epic. Slater places an open challenge to any "legend" for a no dq match. Lita's music hits and she enters. Hair is a little less red, but the folks that remember her definitely missed her. Slater asks if Lita really thinks she can beat him. Lita says she has something to say; tonight, Lita hired herself some protection, in the form of the Acolyte Protection Agency. The APA hit the ring and Slater says no, heading to the back. Animal, Sid, Doink, DDP, Vader, Piper, Rikishi and Baklund force Slater back into the ring. Lita hits a Twist of Fate and Bradshaw follows with a Clothesline from Hell. Lita hits a Moonsault and wins.
Faarooq takes the mic, surveys the situation and drops a DAMN on Slater. Not sure how people will feel about this one, as some people were expecting something along the lines of The Undertaker (which was a silly expectation, to be fair). Slater got off easy; I was expecting a flurry of finishers from the legends crew.
Daniel Bryan is interviewed in the back, saying the night has been tainted. Bryan has been assaulted and insulted tonight. Bryan says that if Charlie Sheen were here, he'd slap the Yeslock on him. I really, truly, sincerely hope this doesn't lead to some kind of program with Bryan and Sheen. What an utter waste of effort and time.
Fozzie Bear is here to introduce us to catchphrases through the years - far too many to recount.
Zack Ryder is in the back with John Cena and Gene Okerlund, saying that Gene was behind GTV. In comes the Rock, which means out goes Okerlund and Ryder. Cena says he'll be the WWE Champion come the Royal Rumble. Rock says he's looking forward to that.
Match 5: Kane vs Jinder Mahal
Winner: No contest
Jinder Mahal enters with Hunico, Camacho, Tyler Reks, Curt Hawkins and Drew McIntyre, saying that they are sick of the way they are treated. They surround the ring, drawling a gong and the lights to dim. The Undertaker emerges and slowly makes his way to the ring, bringing the lights back up. Taker and his brother stand tall against the six men that came at Kane earlier. Hawkins and Hunico take stereo Chokeslams. The brothers scoop both men back up and deliver stereo Tombstone Piledrivers as well. Taker and Kane clear the bodies from the ring and stand tall.
Charlie Sheen once more via Skype: Sheen makes a bad shake pun and that he's not hard to find. Sheen "isn't hiding" from Daniel Bryan. No. No, no, no.
Match 6: CM Punk (c) vs John Cena, Money in the Bank cash in for WWE Championship
Winner: John Cena via dq
At the 11:00PM hour, the main event kicks off; even with an extra hour, WWE needs overrun time. Cena runs Punk over with a shoulder. Cena settles on a headlock and runs Punk over again. Cena blocks a hip toss, but ends up in a backslide for two. Punk puts Cena in an abdominal stretch and elbows the ribs. Cena powers out with a hip toss and teases the STF, but Punk kicks him off. Cena muscles Punk into the corner and gets a clean break. Punk opens up with chops on Cena, who fights back with forearms to the back. Cena with a headlock takeover out of the corner. Punk gets to his feet and counters the headlock with a belly to back suplex and a kick to the spine. Punk follows with a backbreaker for a two count. Punk transitions from the legs to a chinlock. Cena gets to his feet and powers out, kicking Punk in the gut. They exchange strikes back and forth, but Cena lands two diving shoulders, then tries the spinout powerbomb, but Punk flips out and lands a leg lariat, then a knee in the corner. Cena counters the follow up bulldog into the powerbomb and calls for the Five Knuckle Shuffle; Punk kicks Cena away before he can do it, then kicks him in the skull. Punk calls for the GTS, but Cena fights out and shoves Punk, who bumps into the ref, sending him tumbling to the floor. Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment and gets the visual pin, but there's no ref to make the count. Big Show storms the ring and spears Cena as he gets back in the ring, then calls for the WMD. Punk watches from the corner and Big Show lands the big right fist to Cena's skull. Big Show heads to the back and leaves Punk with a choice to make.
Punk gets to his feet and looks distraught over what to do. Punk hops outside and tries to help the ref get back into the ring, still not sure on what he should do. Punk hesitantly slides back in and finally covers Cena, who kicks out at two. Punk lifts a limp Cena to his feet, then scoops him up for Go To Sleep, but Cena counters into the STF, center of the ring. Big Show comes back and drops an arm across Cena's back, drawing the ref to call for the bell. Show lays big rights into the midsection of Cena. Punk hobbles around the ring, selling the STF. The Rock storms the ring to take on Big Show and unloads rights and a spinebuster. Rock wants The People's Elbow, but Punk interrupts with a clothesline. Punk scoops The Rock up and lands a GTS. Punk slowly makes his way to the back, not looking especially happy about what he did.
Well, as expected, that was a very packed show. Stuff like Tout and Charlie Sheen are going to have to be weathered; they won't be going anywhere any time soon. Miz is your new IC champs, AJ is your new GM and CM Punk may very well be your new heel. This opens the question of what exactly the big angle will be through the summer. According to Rock and Cena, the endgame is the two of them squaring off for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania. Punk as the budding heel will have to lose it at some point, but at the end of Mania, Cena will have to stand tall with the belt, as The Rock won't be sticking around much beyond then. This could mean that Rock wants his revenge on Punk in the near future and Cena will have to venture toward possibly winning the Royal Rumble to challenge at Wrestlemania. Unless the new GM or the Board of Directors make a change, Cena has lost his Money in the Bank briefcase thanks to Big Show (Which the commentators didn't make a big deal about, at all). Cena is the first person to use the briefcase and not become champion, but not due to his own failure, which puts a spin on it.
It's of course fun to see the old legends, see DX reunite, etc - But that doesn't keep episode 1001 and beyond going. Booking changes will need to be made, other people need to be given chances. With an extra hour of television, there is zero excuse for this to not happen. It likely won't, but there's still no excuse. That was a lot to digest for one night. Let us know what you thought of Raw 1000 in the comments!