I cannot get over how many people were really pissed about the WWE Championship Match going before the WWE Championship Contract MITBLM. I understand and truly believe that Punk deserves to end a PPV; carry a PPV as the main event headliner. There's no question about that, but we're just the fans, not the ones who are booking the shows. Not the ones putting our money on the line for each and every show. Because of this, we really don't have much say in the order of any of the PPVs. It sucks, and is hard to deal with when we see someone so deserving get screwed out of top billing month after month due to being the #2 man in the company. But think about that, Punk is the #2 man on the WWE roster. It was less than four years ago that Punk had to forfeit his Title, without even getting to defend it, due to being 'attacked' backstage by Legacy (Orton, Rhodes, DiBiase & Manu) during Unforgiven. Interesting to note that it was Jericho that replaced Punk and won the Title.
Punk's career in the WWE has really exploded since the contract negotiations about a year ago. Heck, the fact that Punk has carried the WWE Championship since Survivor Series is huge in this day of short Title reigns! But it goes back to him not main eventing a PPV, even though he's the WWE Champ. Cena has main evented the past six PPVs, even though he isn't Champ, at all, or even in the running to be Champ. It would be one thing if Punk was just another Champ who managed to get lucky, but he's been Champ for over 239 days! That's wrong on so many levels that I can't even count them all.
On the other hand... If Punk and Bryan had main evented MITB, things might not have gone as well for Punk. Yes, Punk, AJ and Bryan have been the top storyline for weeks, and many feel they should have ended the show, but if they had, I don't think Punk would still be Champ. After Cena won the MITBLM, it would have been a natural for him to wait for the winner of the WWE Championship Match, then attack. So while I complained along with everyone else in the WNW Live Blog, I'm also very happy that Cena didn't have means, motive and opportunity to go after Punk's WWE Title after he retained it. Punk absolutely does deserve to main event a PPV, especially when Cena's main eventing against the likes of Laurinaitis, but we don't run the company, and we don't have a say in the matter. I think right now we should just be glad that Punk retained and keep our fingers crossed that he will continue to retain, even through Cena's first MITBLM win.
While there was a lot of complaints about Punk not main eventing, there were also a lot of people cheering for Ziggler. Many fans have been screaming for Ziggler to get pushed into the main event scene, and even Ziggler stepped up and said he was ready, but breaking through that barrier is still a big thing. At MITB Ziggler took his first huge step in that direction. Not only did he look great in the match, he looks like a Champ in the making. I will admit that I was a bit surprised to see him win (almost thought it might be Cody), just because of all the questions hanging over his head, but now that he has, I see him going into a massive push. I think Ziggler will be great with that briefcase! It's a weapon that will work well for Vickie, as well as himself. I'm chomping at the bit to see what they have planned for Ziggler, and I'm happy that Ziggler came out of that MITBLM in one piece after some of the bumps he took.
I have to admit that I loved Cena's reaction to the briefcase coming off in his hands. It was very obviously not the way the ending of the match was supposed to go down, so his reaction was wonderfully real. I'm glad it was close to when the match was supposed to end, and that Cena was the person slated to win – though I doubt anyone would have admitted it after the fact if Cena hadn't been the slated winner. As much as we complain about Cena being corny and somewhat wooden, I loved that moment when the handle broke off the case. His reaction was real, so it was believable and enjoyable. If only Cena could pull of believable and enjoyable without something going wrong, then he'd be more fun to watch and people would actually be rooting for him more.
Sadly much of the MITB PPV was not worth the time, or the money, but there were some lovely shining moments. For those who didn't watch the show, please try to catch the WWE Championship Match because it was just wonderful. I will admit that I was worried that AJ involvement might make the match too silly, one sided, or a farce, but she didn't. She actually added an extra layer of interest to the match without taking anything away from the amazing work between Bryan and Punk in the ring.
With the WWE taking the big step of going to three hours, I'm stepping up my grading process. They think that going to three hours is a good thing because of how strong they are, well, I'm going to get harder in my grading. I've been called on being a bit soft lately, well, you might be right. WWE thinks they're stepping up their game? Well it's time for me to step up mine! Let me know what you think. Am I being too hard, or too soft?
In Ring Segment > B
Okay, I love Punk, and this segment started out great, but then it got a bit muddled. Punk was good, Big Show worked within his character and did a great job garnering more and more heat. But this segment was screwy beyond that. Rather than pushing these two forward, I was left with a huge question in my mind – Why would Big Show want to be helping Cena defeat Punk and win the WWE Championship? While I will say that I don't think Cena and Big Show are done yet, but that doesn't mean Big Show can't go after Punk for the strap. That big question took all the solid mic work from these two, especially good from Punk, and left me more confused than excited about this segment.
Tag Team Title Match > C-
I adore Kofi, and am really enjoying R-Truth lately, but this match was a mess! I really want to see Darren Young succeed in the WWE, but he sure it struggling. Then there' O'Neil and AW who need to just go away. Okay, if Young can't get his ring work figured out, maybe he should go too. Something about Young, how baby face looking he is, and I feel something from him, something that a lot of the younger guys are missing, but his ring work is struggling. I've seen little to nothing from O'Neil that's impressed me other than his look and his size. Then there's AW. I don't know who's idea it was to mic AW during the Prime Time Players' matches, but it makes me want to hit the mute button. I would rather listen to Cole, Booker, Taz, and even Tenay for a full two hours over ten minutes of AW's blathering. He's the bad penny who won't go away, no matter how much I hope for it to happen.
On the other hand, Kofi and R-Truth looked great out there. I loved that they actually bend the rules to get the win. Them being an edgier pair of faces could really work for them with R-Truth's invisible friend Little Jimmy, and a good way for Kofi to further develop his character. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of Kofi and R-Truth, and less of AW and the PTPs when RAW goes to three hours.
Winners – Kofi & R-Truth (8:57)
Backstage Segment > B
It was strange seeing AJ that covered up. I hadn't realized how tiny AJ's outfits had been until I saw her in that hoodie. It looked like it belonged on her, just not the style we'd been seeing her in lately. She was still as amazing as ever, but in a different way. I also have to say it was interesting to see Bryan acting so different. I don't see it lasting, but it was cool to see. Eve also did fairly well here, but it was still AJ who shone through it all with both her words, her facial expressions and body language. She's such an expressive little thing. When she's unable to wrestle any longer, I hope she goes into acting for she sure has the chops for it.
Announce Segment > D
This is nothing really against Cole and King, it's against Tout! Okay, I can't really complain about Tout too much yet as I don't know enough about it. I did go and sign up, and have had a few issues with it, but I'm still on the fence about it. I understand it's trying to be a video version of Twitter, and I'm not sure how it will work out, but I give the WWE points for going there. What I won't give them points for is how they're pushing it. They pushed Tout down our throat through this whole 999th episode of RAW. I understand why they're pushing it, but it was way too much and ticked me off.
Ryder vs ADR > C
So, last week Ryder was the GM of Smackdown, I mean Zackdown, this week he's having his bum handed to him on RAW? Okay, Ryder did tick ADR off on Smackdown, so I guess this makes sense, but it felt like more of VKM slapping Ryder down because a lot of fans like Ryder and he made his own name for himself. It did look like that until after the match. I do have to say that this was a nice way to bring Rey back. We've been wondering and waiting for so long that it felt like it would never happen. But on top of Rey's return making me happy because it's been so long since we've seen him, it also means that he'll be feuding with ADR. That's crappy for Rey, but great for keeping ADR out of the race for the WHC! Hopefully TPTB will see how much better Rey is and realize that ADR isn't worth the time or money that's put into him. The man needs to get out of the WWE! Please know that this grade is a mixture of the great – Rey's return – and the crappy – ADR being on RAW, and beating Ryder down. Sadly Rey's return can't bring the grade up further, ADR is just that horrid.
Winner – ADR (1:31)
Video > A-
Slater further won me over with this video. Beyond working so well with the legends, Slater sold this video something fierce! He put a positive spin on each legends segment he's been in, and sold it to me. If I didn't know how each of those segments had gone down, I would have believed that Slater was thrilled about each and every one of them. Again, I have to say that I hope Slater isn't bent over the apron after this storyline is over because he's proven how well he can work the mic, sell his character, get over with the fans, and work the ring with a group of very different, and aging, legends. To me that's more impressive than what we've been seeing from a lot of the newer guys on the WWE roster.
Slater vs Rikishi > B+
Okay, I'm being a little lax on this grade, but hear me out. First off, Rikishi looked great and the fans were really excited to see him. Rikishi and Slater worked the ring really well together, even though Rikishi only hit a few of his more well known moves. Rikishi paid tribute to Umaga by using his Samoan spike. Hello, stink face, that Rikishi hit it, and that Slater took it, selling it well, automatically brings the grade up a bit for me. Slater took Rikishi's massive bum coming toward him in a number of ways, but didn't flinch and sold it well. Then Rikishi danced. I've always been impressed with how Rikishi dances, but what made it better was that his sons were there to dance with him when the lights came up. This was one of my favorite legend segments they've done leading up to the 1,000th episode of RAW.
Winner – Rikishi (1:16)
Mixed Tag Match > B+
AJ continues to impress me with her ring work. Eve is not a big woman, but compared to AJ, she's an amazon! It's like putting Rey in the ring with someone the size of Kane. But AJ handles herself well, and I loved seeing her hit that drop kick on Miz to knock him from the apron. It's nice to see that she's not afraid to work with the guys, even though she didn't take a bump with this move. Of course Bryan and Miz looked solid in the ring, that goes without saying, I focused on the Divas because most of what we've seen from them recently hasn't been overly impressive.
Winners – AJ & Bryan (3:05)
In Ring Segment > A-
This segment was short, something that helped it get a better grade. If this had been drawn out too much, I would have had to mark it down. Further, much of this good grade was for AJ and her facial expressions and body language. As soon as this segment was over I asked Stacy that we needed to place bets on who would be interrupting this wedding and for what reason? Very few wrestling weddings go off without a hitch, and having this on the 1,000th episode of RAW pretty much guarantees that it's going to be an absolute mess and that something big and shocking will happen. But what? And who?
Video > B
I remember clearly when Rock 'threw' Austin off that bridge and sent Austin's belt into the water after him.
Swagger vs Ryback? > D+
Who's brilliant idea was this? Just last week I read that VKM didn't want Ryback on RAW because he can't edit out the 'Goldberg' chants, but they did it this week. The 'Goldberg' were heard, but were not too terribly bad. While I'm happy to see Ryback moving past the pairs of jobbers he had been fed, but I didn't like seeing Hawkins and Reks being fed to him on Smackdown the past couple weeks on Smackdown, and I'm totally confused about Swagger being fed to him.
Swagger hasn't been able to catch a break in his matches lately. I have no idea what the plan for Swagger is, but until this match he'd been looking like a total idiot. I will say that the shining point in this match was how driven Swagger looked. For once Swagger looked mad, he looked passionate and driven. He was a challenge for Ryback, not just a speed bump. Hopefully this is a turning point for Swagger because I'm so tired of seeing him being the punching bag for anyone who wants a turn. I still think, as I've said so many times, it would be natural to pair Swagger up with Brock, yet I doubt they will go in that direction.
I'm really not overly impressed with Ryback right now. While he's imposing, he's slopppy. Every time he gets in the ring I wonder if he's going to hurt his opponent(s). I thought it was good that he didn't get beaten by Swagger, but also good that he didn't beat Swagger. Wonder what they will do with them from here, but I'm also not sure I really care.
In Ring Segment > A
For mic work, this was the segment of the nigh for me. I loved hearing Ziggler, and it's about time he speaks up for himself. Vickie echoing Ziggler was great in a horrible sort of way. She tried to stay in the mix, but Ziggler really stepped away from her here. He proved that he's not just a strong competitor in the ring, but can work the mic pretty well. I can't get over how far he'd come from being Nicky on the Spirit Squad, and being Kerwin (Chavo) White's caddy Nick Nemeth (even though that's actually his name). I wouldn't have picked him out as a star when he was portraying either of those other character; he wasn't memorable. Even when he showed up introducing himself to everyone backstage, I didn't think much of him, but finally I remembered him as more than just a vague face in the crowd. I'm actually shocked thinking that Ziggler has been on WWE TV for over six years, but has only proven himself as Ziggler. I'm really impressed as I think back to how forgettable he was, now he has that case and gave very solid mic work this week.
It's hard to say that Jericho's mic work this week was great because he never said a word, but it worked. I never would have thought that one of the best talkers in the company could give us such great segments without saying a word. Since his most recent return to the WWE, Jericho's said so much without saying a word. Further, they set up for what should be an amazing feud between these two. Richard spoke about which one would be turning face and how Ziggler had been getting some face reactions from the fans, but Jericho also got a lot of pop and 'Y2J' chants. Honestly, I think they could both stay semi-heel and make this work, but who knows what the actual plans are. Either way, I'm excited!
Video > D
While it's cool that the WWE is showing short videos from the fans, this Tout think is going to get very old very quickly.
Funkasaurus vs JTG > C-
I did like that this wasn't a clean cut squash match. I also liked JTG's new look. That they used a scripted makeover to repackage JTG is a very creative way to do things. Hopefully it will bring JTG back to something interesting as he really hasn't done anything on either of the big shows in a long time. Honestly, much of the time I forget he's on the roster. Beyond that, they really need to do something with Funkasaurus as his short squash type matches are getting old. Man needs a storyline, feud, or something!
Winner – Funkasaurus (2:31)
Video > B-
Having Trump talk about one favorite moment on RAW made sense, but more than one feels like he's being over used for this. Yes, VKM without his hair was hysterical, but not hysterical enough to have Trump host a second video.
Punk vs Big Show > B+
Putting Big Show in the ring with anyone is always a challenge in making the match look viable, but I think he and Punk made it work. It wasn't the best, but it was a solid match that made sense. I knew that neither could go over the other cleanly as it would hurt each of them in huge ways. Actually, I like how they handled the end of this match. It is very in Big Show's character to push the ref away and cause a DQ. So while not the best match, they made it believable, if not the best of matches.
Winner – Punk via DQ (9:16)
In Ring Segment > B-
I still don't understand why Big Show wants Cena, who he's been feuding with for a while now, to cash in his MITB contract when Punk is down and out. If it wasn't enough that Cena and Big Show have been feuding, but Cena took the win of the MITBLM directly from Big Show's hands! Still, very confused about Big Show's reactions and wanting Cena to pummel Punk to become Champ. It makes no sense.
And then there's Cena being the eternal good guy and giving Punk a week to ready himself for the WWE Championship Match. It does make sense to have a WWE Championship Match at the 1,000th episode of RAW, but for it to be a cashing in of a MITBLM contract is a little too goody-goody for my taste. I understand why they did it, and it will set up for a solid 1,000th episode of RAW next week.
I have to admit that I'm very excited about the 1,000th episode of RAW, but not thrilled that it's happening on my birthday and I won't be there to see it. I don't care that Orton isn't going to be there, I care that I'm not going to be there. I was at the 900th RAW, but sadly not the all exciting 1,000th! Okay, actually, I'm okay with that. I even came up with a few questions and predictions for the 1,000th episode of RAW.
I got up this morning thinking about Cena cashing in next week and what will happen with Punk and the WWE Championship at the 1,000th episode of RAW. Yes, it is a bit much that I woke up thinking of wrestling, but it's not that unusual for me. But the big question is, will the WWE automatically put Cena over Punk? If it hadn't been for Orton's most recent faux pas, I might have thought it was an easy decision, but Punk is now the #2 man on the WWE roster. Because both of these guys are at the top of the company, I see some sort of screwy ending and Punk retaining because of it. I think it will be Big Show getting involved to cause a DQ and setting up for a big WWE Championship Match at SummerSlam.
RAW is starting at 8pm with DX. Of course Trip and HBK will be there, but will Mr. Ass, Road Dogg, or even X-Pac be there? Road Dogg has been involved with the WWE for a while here, so might it be a bigger DX reunion than we expect? I'm hoping so. I adore Trip and HBK together, but this is a huge night, so the WWE should go as big as possible. I'm expecting a lot next week, and this would be a great way to start it off.
One last prediction before I crank up my sewing machine for the evening. This is a biggie, and coming out of left field, but I still wonder who is going to screw up Bryan and AJ's wedding, and why. I really thought it was going to be Jericho to win the MITBLM, and then it would turn out AJ and Jericho were in cahoots together, but obviously that didn't happen. So who could it be, and why? I'm left with two choices – Punk or Kane. As Punk seems to be moving on to feud with Cena, I'm going to pick Kane. It would be a lot of fun to see AJ torturing Vickie as Jericho and Ziggler feud, but that wouldn't make any sense at this point and would leave Bryan out in the cold. If Kane got in the middle and stopped the wedding, he and AJ could have a very interesting feud with Bryan and Eve.
What are you predicting, or hoping to see on the 1,000th episode of RAW?