michael dworkis looks at a historic night in pro wrestling…
Raw opened with a fantastic montage highlighting numerous events throughout the years. Comedy gold such as Mark Henry sleeping with Mae Young to serious events such as Shawn Michaels “losing his smile” and Vince McMahon addressing the infamous Montreal Screwjob. Other highlights included the classic Austin beer bath, Shane purchasing WCW, a tribute to Eddie Guerrero, and Mick “Mankind” Foley winning the WWF Title for the first time.
We open the show with Vince McMahon thanking the WWE Universe, and the crowd responds in turn with a “Thank you Vince” chant. The chairman immediately introduces HHH and HBK, Degeneration X! Before Triple H and Michaels can finish their routine, they realize there is something missing… X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg & Billy Gunn)!! Together they bantered about the ring, even poking fun at Michaels for losing his smile and Triple H being the only one with a full head of hair. Damien Sandow interrupts the fun, and boy do I love this guy. He uses the vocabulary which people hate, and his pompous attitude results in eating some Sweet Chin Music, followed by a Pedigree. DX celebrates as only they know how, and we kick off episode number 1000 with a blast!
We come back from the first break, and joining us on commentary is Good Ol’ J.R., Jim Ross! Our first match of the night features Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, and Sheamus up against the trio of Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler, and Alberto del Rio. A fast match which saw Ziggler turn on Jericho as part of their ongoing feud, causing Jericho to eat a Brough Kick from the World Champion, allowing Sheamus to get the pinfall for his team.
Following the match we get a recap of the wedding proposal between Daniel Bryan and AJ. Afterwards, AJ is getting ready in the locker room, with Layla standing behind her. AJ wonders why everyone things she is crazy when there are crazy people everywhere, opening the door to see Hacksaw Jim Duggan blathering down the hallway, then comes R-Truth and Rowdy Roddy Piper apparently playing jump rope with Little Jimmy, and lastly we get The Hand, all grown up. For those of you who do not know, Mark Henry and Mae Young had a little fling in the mid-90’s. That fling resulted in Young giving birth to a hand. No one was ever sure why or how that was the gimmick, but there it was. Now, we see the hand, with mother Mae Young in tow. Wow. Wow.
Backstage Triple H finds himself in a compromising position with Trish while his DX brethren make fun of him. Back to the show, Slick makes his way to the ring to preside over the marriage of Daniel Bryan and A.J. Lee. Bryan, decked out in an all-white tux welcomes his bride to be into the ring. Sadly, I cannot understand a word Slick is saying. He did not age well. Daniel Bryan says yes, and AJ quickly says “Yes! Yes! Yes!” As Slick is about to close the ceremony, AJ reveals that she is not going to marry Bryan, but she agreed to someone else who proposed to her earlier that night. The music hits, music of… Vince McMahon!? HE explains it was not a wedding proposal, but a business one. He announces that the new General Manager of Raw is… AJ! Daniel Bryan snaps as AJ skips away from the ring. Coming back from commercial, the American Dragon is breathing fire as his rage is out-of-control. The theme of CM Punk hits, and the WWE Champion makes his way to the ring, mic in hand. Punk makes fun of Bryan, telling him that while he throws a temper tantrum, Punk will continue to be the Best in the World. Bryan snaps, calling himself the greatest of all-time… over and over, until he is interrupted by THE ROCK! THE ROCK in the ring with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan?! WOW. I never thought I would see that day!!
The Rock announces that he will face the WWE Champion, whoever it is, at the 2013 Royal Rumble. Punk and Rock have words, until Bryan interrupts, furious that his night is ruined. He promised that somehow, he will be the champion, and he will beat The Rock, and become the new face of WWE. The Rock says he is looking at the face of the offspring if a homeless lumberjack shacked up with an Oompa Loopa. Good lord is The Rock funny. A few more insults led to The Rock planting Bryan with a Rock Bottom, and a short stare down between him and CM Punk.
Before our next match, we get the guest ring announcer, Bret “The Hitman” Hart! He introduces the Intercontinental Champion… Christian! He then introduces the challenger for the IC title… with great disdain… The Miz. In a really solid match, The Miz captured the Intercontinental Championship, scoring the pinfall following a number of reversals, but the leg of Christian gave out, allowing Miz to hit him with the Skull Crushing Finale. The best part, The Miz won clean. Clean.
Up next another segment with Charlie Sheen, and like Slick, I just cannot understand a word he is saying. Anyway, back by ringside, The Cerebral Assassin, Triple H returns to the ring to take care of business, by business he means Brock Lesnar. He renews the challenge, to have a match at Summerslam. Answering for Brock, is his legal representative, Paul Heyman. The ECW promoter tells Triple H, and the WWE Universe that the answer is no. Heyman then tears into Helmsely, and rips on his family. Triple H is about to beat down Heyman but instead, we get STEPHANIE MCMAHON-HELMSLEY! Stephanie verbally destroys Heyman, retaliating for talking about her children. Heyman then caves in, and Brock will face Triple H at Summerslam. He takes one more verbal jab at Steph, but this proves to be a wrong move as the daughter of the chairman spears Heyman. Brock comes down to the ring and he brawls around with The Game. The segment closes with Triple H standing tall in the ring, and Brock backing away from ringside with Heyman in tow. Brock threw his shirt at Triple H, and the production crew was forced to bleep out Brock as he let an f-bomb fly. Did no one tell him WWE is now a PG program?
We get a nice retrospective on the Austin-Vince war which was one of the major events throughout the history of Monday Night Raw.
Up next, Santino and Hornswoggle run around ringside handing out Battling Brawlers, the modern-day Wrestling Buddies. The Fink is in the ring to introduce our next match. First out is Heath Slater. This means he will be facing someone from the past… and we get… LITA!? LITA!! The fiery red-head jogs to the ring, and damn does she look good! Before the match can get underway, Slater laughs at his opponent. However, Lita informs Slater that she hired some “protection” for tonight… and out comes the APA, Simmons and Bradshaw (JBL)! The One-Man-Band hightails it to the back but is stopped by Animal of the Legion of Doom, Psycho Sid, Roddy Piper, Vader, Sgt. Slaughter, Doink, DDP, and Rikishi. Lita scores the pin after Bradshaw hits the clothesline from Hell, followed by the Lita-Sault off the top rope. The segment ends in classics fashion, with Simmons on the mic… DAMN!
Sean Mooney, announcer for WWF during the early nineties interviews Daniel Bryan backstage, who tirades saying he will slap the Yes-Lock on Charlie Sheen.
Kane comes out to the ring, and is confronted by Jinder Mahal, Tyler Reks, Curt Hawkins, Hunico, Camacho, and Drew McIntyre. However, before they can strike, the lights go out… and a familiar bell tolls… and The Undertaker is here! Together, the Brothers of Destruction take out all six men, finishing with dual Tombstone Piledrivers. That, was quite awesome.
Up next, CM Punk defends the WWE Championship against the man who is cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase… John Cena. So far we have seen a solid program full of entertainment… but only four matches, if the last one counts as a match? That is pretty lame. Look, I enjoy seeing so many flashbacks and retrospectives, but only FOUR matches up until now? I understand tonight is a special night, but what will future shows hold? Going forward, Raw is three hours, will they be able to fill the show with enough wrestling, or is tonight setting the standard going forward?
Before the main event, Charlie Sheen responds via Skype that he heard what Daniel Bryan said, and he says he would be more than happy to step into the ring. Charlie Sheen challenges Daniel Bryan to a match. Oh boy…
Cena comes to the ring first, and the crowd goes crazy for the WWE Champion, CM Punk. They lock up and Punk slaps on the abdominal stretch early, but Cena powers out, attempts the STF, but Punk escapes. It is a very slow match, and Punk goes for the Go To Sleep, but Cena escapes and pushes Punk into the ref, knocking him out of the ring! Big Show runs into the ring and clobbers Cena in the face with the WMD Punch. Punk, sits in the corner, not sure what to do. He goes outside, and brings the ref in… and then covers Cena! The ref counts slow and Cena kicks out at two. Punk tries the GTS again, but Cena counters and locks Punk in the STF. The hold does not last as Big Show returns to the ring, and waffles Cena, ending the match by a DQ! Show pounds on Cena, and then… THE ROCK! The Rock runs to the ring and fights off Big Show, hitting him with the spinebuster! The Rock goes for the People’s Elbow, but PUNK CLOTHESLINES THE ROCK! CM Punk stops The Rock cold!! Punk scoops up The Rock on his shoulders, and hits the Go To Sleep! PUNK HITS THE GTS ON THE ROCK! The crowd does not know what to think, but this writer is standing up and applauding! WWE knocked this one out of the park! Rock vs. Punk at Royal Rumble 2013!
YES! YES! YES!
There you have it folks, the shows closes with Punk carrying his WWE title belt in hand. Cena won the match, but did not win the title. John Cena is the first man not to win the title when cashing in. Punk destroying The Rock though. Wow. What a way to end the show.
A lot of great moments. AJ is the Raw GM. Did not see that coming. AJ has improved since her start, and her instability could make for some very interesting television. The Rock in the ring with Punk and Bryan was a great moment, a moment I thought would never happen. The Miz won the Intercontinental Title clean in a good match. The involvement by Sheen clearly was to start something with Daniel Bryan, and I worry that this will be an epic failure. However, it is Daniel Bryan we are talking about, and he could wrestle a match with a fire hydrant and make it look good. Hopefully Sheen is better than a fire hydrant. The guest appearances were fantastic, the retrospectives were well thought-out and I truly enjoyed watching this very special show.
For the first time in a long time, I am excited for next week. Punk is still champion, and I was terrified he was going to lose to Cena. Hopefully next week we get a bit more wrestling, and I am sure we will.
Thank you Vince.