Orton Returns, Punk vs Cena & Show Announced on Raw #1001

There was never any doubt that WWE would be able to fill out 3 hours for their 1000th show, and it pretty much worked out. The question I’ve been trying to answer is how in the Ministry of Darkness are they going to pull off a 3 hour show every week for the rest of time. I don’t think I’m going to like the answer but let’s watch Raw anyway.

Episode #1001 got off to a bad start before the show even started, with a pre show fireworks test caused the jumbotron to catch on fire. Great omen for the show. In what is likely a preview of things to come. Raw started by showing all of the highlights of last week’s 1000th episode. They cleverly skipped over the Undertaker botching the removal of his hood.

We finally get the show started with CM Punk, still with crowd pop, to explain what he did last week. He immediately gets in Jerry Lawler’s face about saying he turned his back on the WWE Universe, and I do mean in his face. Punk calls the Rock out as not representing the WWE Universe (true). Called his schtick tired (true). Has a problem with Rock being gifted a WWE Title shot (predictable and valid). Punk has an extra bite to his shoot and the crowd loves it. He’s trying to do the impossible and get the crowd on his side against the Rock. Don’t know if he’s going to do it but it’ll be interesting to watch. CM Punk is a pure wrestler who has little interest in a career outside wrestling, and he’s going against a WWE legend that wants to be as big of a celebrity as possible.

Your Weekly GM Photo

Punk goes on about getting pushed out of the spotlight while being WWE Champion, and is then promptly cut off by the Big Show who says his interference last week with Cena is the only reason Punk still has the title, and that he’ll be the one to take it from Punk instead. Cue John Cena who runs out to take on Big Show while CM Punk watches from the side looked bored as hell. Perfect time to have AJ make her debut as the new Raw GM. She announces that Cena and Big Show will battle for the chance to challenge Punk for the belt at Summerslam. This could go either way but I get the feeling we won’t have a finish and it’ll be a three-man match at Summerslam. No one has anyone else to feud with for the next few weeks. They won’t let Big Show lose to Punk clean because it will kill his push completely and Cena/Punk wouldn’t help Punk remain only a semi heel.

First match of the night is Alberto Del Rio versus Santino. Del Rio’s car, and the fireworks, were removed from his entrance because of the fire. This is awesome. It’s interesting that Del Rio won the right to be number one contender again for the World Heavyweight Championship after just losing to Sheamus at the last PPV. With Ziggler having the MITB briefcase and Daniel Bryan just coming off so many title shots of his own, there isn’t really another heel to take his spot. I’d love to say I have a better idea for who should take his place but unless they want to have Sheamus take on another face I have nothing to offer. Too bad Cody Rhodes isn’t better.

The match is longer than all of the previous Del Rio/Santino matches combined. Santino is usually the guy they have Del Rio rough up so that they can say Del Rio is extra aggressive.  Aside from a couple extra attempts at momentum from Santino this is more of the same. Unfortunately for us (maybe) there was a commercial break in the middle of the match, meaning that 34 minutes into the show we have had about 3 minutes and 30 seconds of wrestling. After the match Del Rio says everyone is beneath him and he will no longer compete in a match if it isn’t for the World Heavyweight Championship, which means he won’t compete until Summerslam. I can deal with that.

Vicki Guerrero interrupts Brodus Clay’s entrance (it does take 20 minutes after all) to show off her dance skills, before she is interrupted by Damien Sandow. He’s still crying martyr for getting got by DX last week. He then bum rushes Clay, strips his pants off (no thanks) and snaps his chain. So no match, but anytime someone can knock Clay down a peg I’m all for it, and I have to say I’m really taking to Sandow. He has some ring and mic skills, and draws good heat from the crowd. He’s also a big of a throwback to the snobby heels of the 80’s, right down to the robe. He’s not quite there yet, but he could be a guy to challenge Sheamus before the year is out.

Daniel Bryan, who has been pacing outside AJ’s office all show, finally goes into her office, walks right past the poorly placed lighting guy, and starts to chew out AJ for leaving him at the altar and going on a power trip. AJ apparently is one of the few people on RAW that actually watches RAW, and calls out Bryan for bringing in the mental hospital workers. AJ, acting less crazy and more sarcastic funny, puts Bryan in a non title match against Sheamus. I guess we can throw the whole Cray-J thing out the window. Bryan is also now left with no one to fight, on the roster anyway. I tried to ignore it last week hoping it would go away but it looks like it could be for real. Charlie Sheen and Daniel Bryan is on the way to turning into a real feud that will culminate at Summerslam. WWE has always wanted Summerslam to be WrestleMania light, and having celebrities compete is a sad step in that direction. It’s only a problem because they are taking one of the best actual wrestlers in Bryan out of a real match against anyone else. Sheen is someone for Santino or Ricardo Rodriguez to fight. Not the Yes! man.

WWE continues to hit us from all angles on the internet. First they want people to comment via Tout on CM Punk’s actions, and now they want the stipulation for the Sheamus/Bryan match to be decided via Twitter. The choices are No Holds Barred, Falls Count Anywhere, and Street Fight. Can you tell me the difference between any of those options? That’s like choosing between an I Quit, Submission, and a Tap Out match. I hope it’s a three-way tie. For the record, Sheamus (sporting a sweet black eye) doesn’t know what type of match he wants to be in. Can’t imagine why. Bryan comes out and tells the crowd to stop chanting YES because only he is allowed to say it. Looks like a power move to take the YES chant to the next level. 73% of the WWE Universe chooses a street fight for the match, so now let’s see if they make it to “the street.” FYI, this match starts the second hour of RAW, meaning the first hour only had the previous total of 3 minutes and 30 seconds of wrestling.

After a few minutes of in ring action we head outside toward the entrance ramp to see Sheamus throw Bryan against a bunch of objects before Bryan mounted some offense of his own. I must reiterate that this would be legal in every possible match type. After a commercial they are back in and around the ring. Sheamus finally puts a kendo stick (again, why are they under the ring) and a chair in the ring but Bryan throws them out. Still no illegal moves. For some reason Sheamus throws Bryan outside the ring right near the chair and kendo stick, and of course Sheamus gets tagged with them. Finally some No Holds Barred  Street Fight action. Chair and kendo stick shots go both ways before the steel steps find their way in the ring. We get teased for white noise on the steps but a pair of reversals turn into Sheamus hitting a brogue kick near the steps instead, securing the win. A good match, but the fan voting what absolutely pointless. That’s 8 more minutes of wrestling on the show now.

Look who’s back is…back

Returning from break after the match, Daniel Bryan is refusing to leave the ring until a doctor comes to look at his neck injury. Kofi comes out instead, with a suited up R-Truth, for his match. After Truth and Kofi try to talk Bryan out of the ring, Bryan (wait for it) punts Little Jimmy clear out of the ring. The camera even followed Jimmy into the air. Loved it. Truth freaks out and Bryan calls out the mental hospital crew to take Truth away, but AJ declared that Bryan needs mental help, and they take him instead. Maybe Bryan and Sheen will have a crazy house brawl at Summerslam. Don’t worry, Jimmy turned out to be okay.

Wondering what the WWE Universe said about CM Punk? Me either. They also want people to sound off on whether they think Daniel Bryan is crazier than AJ. I don’t care what the fans have to say about that either. On the bright side, it looks like we’re going to have two matches in this hour of Raw, as Kofi will go one on one against Titus O’Neil. Forget about the match though, AW just made a Kobe Bryant rape joke (“he’s unstoppable”). He’s singlehandedly trying to bring back the attitude era level of brashness. I’ll give him credit, as annoying as the gimmick is, he pulls off one outrageous comment every time out. Just as Kofi gets ready to delivery a trouble in paradise, AW distracts him by throwing his show at him (and yelling YO MAMMA), giving Titus O’Neil the opportunity to capitalize and take the match. Another 3 minute match, but a match is a match.

Backstage CM Punk is trying to defend himself to John Cena, justifying his actions while still taking subtle jabs at Cena. It’s a very careful line to cross as Punk is trying to maintain a heel attitude while still acting as the noble face. Unlike Rock last week, he doesn’t wish Cena or Big Show luck, because he doesn’t care who wins. It’s a lot easier to pull off the face with an attitude when the man he has beef with isn’t around. Back from the break, Michael Cole rightfully has to apologize for AW’s Kobe remarks. Sorry Attitude Era, your time has passed.

Heath Slater out now, and now that the One Man Band is done fighting legends, he holds an open challenge out to any active WWE Superstar, and guess who answers the call? Randy Orton! After all of the rumors about his WWE career being over were proven false weeks ago, Orton is finally back after his wellness suspension and runs through his entire signature move set in about 90 seconds. Very curious what they do with Orton for Summerslam and moving forward. I imagine he’ll get another chance to compete for the World Heavyweight Title, just like he was originally going to before his suspension. Backstage Daniel Bryan started yelling at a psychiatric doctor asking him only yes or no questions. Guess what Bryan’s answer was to them all.

You just got briefcased!

Time for some tag team action as face Jericho and Christian go against Ziggler and Miz. Face Jericho seems a lot like the heel version only he screws heels and smiles more. He’s one of those guys that will get the same reaction no matter what he does so it doesn’t really matter. He looks destined to face Ziggler at Summerslam. I’m not sure if Christian will get another shot at Miz but it sure looks like it by tonight’s booking. A lot of purple in the ring right now. The IC champ Miz avoids Christian (the former champ) at all costs while Ziggler does the same with Jericho until the opportune moment of course. Side note, I don’t know who Papa Steve is, but he got a happy birthday message shown all night on a sign dead center. For the first time Dolph Ziggler had a nasty botch, completely whiffing on a leg drop bulldog (fameasser). Christian eye pokes Miz into a codebreaker and Jericho takes the match (ten minute match, longest of the night). The victory is short lived as Ziggler decks Jericho with the MITB briefcase. They are definitely meeting at Summerslam. Backstage Bryan is taking the Rorschach test and the ink blots combine to look like a goat face, setting him off again. Bryan even brings up Sheen again (ugh). Not good.

Watching the TOUT comments on AJ and Bryan makes me wonder what you have to do on TOUT to not make it to the montage on Raw. It’s unbelievable how bad it is.

The last card before the main event is Tyson Kidd versus Tensai (who lost the Lord part of his name). Kidd is still being sold off the surprise win he had over Tensai a month ago. Tensai grunts Kidd into a pulp and after Tyson puts a couple moves together, Tensai comes back to knock out Kidd and secure the victory in two minutes. Being the bitter heel, Tensai naturally continues the beating after the bell, only for some reason the referee decides to reverse the decision and give Tyson Kidd the victory via DQ. Is there even a precedent for this? Hasn’t this happened a million times before without a reversed decision? What if he waited a bit and attacked him again in the locker room? Why do I care about any of this?

In case you were wondering, Daniel Bryan was deemed sane by the psychiatrist. Before Bryan could leave the room however he was met by Kane, who called himself Bryan’s “Anger Management therapist” (GET IT? CUZ OF SHEEN!) He smacked him up a little and left. Why Kane had to get involved in this is anyones guess. Maybe Kane versus Bryan at Summerslam with Sheen as guess referee? I’d take that over Bryan versus Sheen at least.

CM Punk ringside to provide commentary for Cena vs Show. It’s fun having a more biting and snarky Punk. Everything is deadpan, but still very good. It’s also interesting how much he still talks about how the entire WWE roster needs to be appreciated more. It is as if he is a completely neutral party to everyone except the Rock. I doubt he’ll be able to maintain that for very long, but again it is an interesting way to go about it. I’m talking about Punk more than the match because the match just isn’t very interesting. Show is trying to quiet the crowd but he doesn’t realize they are mostly booing Cena. Punk meanwhile is providing balance analysis while taking shots at Cole and Lawler for their agendas and joking instead of calling the match. Lawler has nothing intelligent to say in response. Good heels have a funny way of telling the truth don’t they?

1-2-3 KICK!

The match is very similar to the No Way Out cage match, right down to Show telling the crowd to “Smile for me!” Outside the ring Show dodges a diving Cena who hits Punk instead. Back in the ring Cena dodges a WMD by Show and goes for an AA, but Punk jumps in and knocks out Show to end the match. He then knocks out Show with a kick to the head. Punk declares both men to be losers but AJ comes out to announce that since the match ended in a draw both Big Show and John Cena will challenge CM Punk at Summerslam (called it!). Punk then went into full heel mode in arguing with AJ and telling her to show him respect. It’ll be better than another Cena/Show match at least.

With the first three-hour Raw in the books, we had seven matches with approximately 31 minutes of wrestling. Honestly more than I thought we’d see. The bottom line however is that if I had the choice to go to Raw or a house show, I think I’d choose the house show every time.

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