I haven’t written anything about the recent momentous Raw until now because I was deliberately holding off until I saw this week’s Raw to put it into perspective and see how certain story lines progressed. I do have some thoughts on the event, as seen below…
Raw1000 was good. It was exactly what they had set it up to be – very nostalgic – and I for one really enjoyed it. Seeing DX back together as a 5-piece was a brilliant way to start the show, it got everyone excited for the rest of the night, and seeing a DX reunion that wasn’t just HHH and HBK told the crowd that the 1000 episode of Raw wouldn’t just be the same old legends coming out, saying the same old things and doing the same old shtick.
And I think they succeeded. You had Bret Hart put over the importance of the intercontinental championship. You had the Brothers of Destruction together again. You had Lita (with the APA) defeating Heath Slater. You had The Rock. You had Dude Love dance with Brodus Clay. You had Slick (one of my favourites from the night) overseeing the “wedding” of Daniel Bryan and AJ. Most of these appearances barely ever happen. Every time Bret steps into a WWE ring it feels fresh because he was gone for so long. Mick Foley generally appears as himself nowadays, so for him to break out the Dude Love persona was a nice change. And I will happily admit that I had no clue who Slick was, but the commentary team were nice enough to explain that he was WWE’s first African-American manager, in a time where managers were given much more prominence.
But what did Raw1000 mean for those currently active superstars going forward? Let’s start at the start of the show, with Damien Sandow. He came out to interrupt DX, only to be on the receiving end of sweet chin music before suffering a pedigree. It’s what he said before that happened though that’s important for him going forward. The intellectual saviour of the masses became a martyr. It’s only a slight tweak to his character, but it means he has something different to shove down our throats so that we boo him. It also means that he won’t lose any momentum if he is on the receiving end of a beatdown, since that’s exactly what his character is. There are a lot of possibilities for feuds because of faces like Zack Ryder, Santino Marella and as we saw on Raw1001, Brodus Clay. Sandow is the perfect foil for some of the more comedic faces, so I think we can look forward to his encounters in the future.
Moving on to the Dolph Ziggler-Chris Jericho feud. I would expect a match between the two at SummerSlam, with some sort of stipulation added that – if unsuccessful – will force Jericho to leave, since Jericho has said that he will be leaving WWE this month (take that for what it’s worth considering his past). But there may be some credibility to those comments, since Fozzy is scheduled to promote their new album and tour starting immediately after the biggest party of the summer. This will be a big rivalry for Ziggler. After losing repeatedly to Sheamus, and CM Punk before that this year for World Titles, this is where a big victory over a future hall of famer will cement Ziggler as a top guy in the WWE. He needs this credibility before he becomes World Champion, so this can only be a good thing for Dolph.
AJ and Daniel Bryan. AJ. And Daniel Bryan. I don’t believe that ANYONE actually thought that AJ would be named the General Manager of Raw. I’ve seen a lot of people question why she couldn’t get married and become the general manager, but if she did there would be a major conflict of interest there. Maybe the Board of Directors didn’t want a repeat of the Vickie Guerrero sagas, and forced her to choose between them? There are plenty of explanations, most of which are actually plausible. This week on Raw, we saw AJ put Bryan in a match with the World Heavyweight Champion, and then have him mentally examined. Will these antics continue for the next few weeks? Probably. I would expect AJ to side with Kane during the apparent Kane-Bryan feud. AJ could also target Punk, after all, he did quite blatantly reject her in front of millions of people. We saw the beginning of a possible bias this week when she announced the triple threat match for SummerSlam, but realistically she made the right call. Neither man beat the other, so there is no reason for one to get a title shot and not the other. I think Punk’s reaction was more due to the fact that he’s a heel now, and he is now less likely to retain, than because AJ made a bad call.
Speaking of CM Punk, he underwent what could potentially be a drastic character change. First he just watched as someone attacked the man trying to take his title away from him. Then, he attacked the man who apparently just gets a title match for the championship Punk currently holds at the Royal Rumble. He complained about the most prestigious championship in the business not getting the attention it deserves, before forcing a no-contest in a match between two big threats to his reign to decide who would face him. Oh the horror! It looks like the WWE want to book him as a heel, and that’s not something I would expect the fans to complain about too much. This way he is allowed more room to be who he was just over a year ago – someone who speaks his mind. And if it happens to be that his issues correlate with quarrels the fans have too, then he will be more revered than ever before. If he is given the microphone, which the WWE can’t not do, it will be the best work he has done since Money In The Bank 2011. He certainly has the quality. He just needs to be given time and free lease to say whatever he wants to.
This seems to be a relatively common theme with heels now, they often think and act more logically than the faces do, which should present the problem that the heels are cheered because their actions make more sense. But this doesn’t happen, essentially because WWE decided that it is so.
After feeling like there were infinitely more heels than faces on the roster not too long ago, the returns of Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton along with the turns of Chris Jericho and Kane has done so much it has allowed for Punk to turn. Sure, some are still lost in the shuffle (Cody Rhodes comes to mind), but with 5 hours of weekly televised programming in the US (here in the UK we get 7 with NXT and Superstars) it is only a matter of time before they are featured more prominently, and I have confidence that Rhodes in particular will soon see his push restarted.
Someone who should be returning from injury in the near future is Wade Barrett. Expect him to rise to the top of Smackdown, especially if Alberto Del Rio loses to Sheamus at SummerSlam. He was apparently pencilled in to win the Money In The Bank Briefcase before his untimely injury, so I would expect him to be pushed to the very top of the roster on his return. And by the top, I mean I think he will be Sheamus’ next challenger for the title. Will he win the belt? I definitely think it’s possible. My only doubt is if Ziggler will cash in before he gets the chance.
SummerSlam looks like it is shaping up to be a good show. Already confirmed is HHH vs Brock Lesnar, John Cena vs Big Show vs CM Punk for the WWE Championship and the aforementioned Alberto Del Rio vs Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship. I would also expect Chris Jericho vs Dolph Ziggler to be added, as well as Daniel Bryan vs Kane, Christian vs The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship, Brodus Clay vs Damien Sandow (possibly as a pre-show), The Prime-Time Players vs Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (again possibly as a pre-show) and perhaps even Santino Marella vs Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship. That is a packed show, and if the majority of those matches do happen I will be predicting several title changes.
That’s all for now. I have an idea for a big article, that may hopefully be a collaboration with that new writer I hinted at a couple of months ago. But as always, I want to know your thoughts as well. Let me know your thoughts on the WWE right now either by commenting or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to share us with your friends – the more people discussing wrestling the better!