If Raw 1,000 will be the benchmark of the three-hour era of WWE Raw, I look forward to the next 1,000 episodes.
After all the hype and importance placed on the 1,000th episode of Raw, the show delivered and then some. Between excellent legend returns, well-hyped matches and comedy segments, Raw was entertaining and easy to watch.
A scene you wouldn’t expect ended the show: CM Punk standing tall over a fallen John Cena and The Rock, the two men who headlined WrestleMania 28. This was especially special given it is a rare moment of weakness for The Rock, who has looked invincible since his WWE return in 2011. The use of part-timers and legends on Raw was on point -- Daniel Bryan and CM Punk interacting with The Rock, Jinder Mahal leading a cast of lower-level WWE superstars against Kane and The Undertaker, Dude Love dancing with Brodus Clay, Lita as Heath Slater’s final legends opponent, Damien Sandow with DX -- and each scenario was a perfect way for a current WWE superstar to get elevated by the legend(s) they were in the ring with. It still felt -- despite the amount of familiar faces there -- that the show was more about the current WWE roster than it was about the legends, which was refreshing.
Another key theme throughout Raw were the opportunities WWE took to poke fun at itself, from “revealing” Mean Gene Okerlund as the mastermind behind GTV (“G” for Gene and Okerlund with the great line, “I wasn’t even working here at the time!”), to Mae Young’s hand making an appearance “all grown up,” to DX (all of DX, including the New Age Outlaws and X-Pac) throwing jabs at each other throughout their comedic opening segment, to Triple H and Trish Stratus re-enacting their backstage innuendo. The delivery was seamless and well received.
The show saw many changes from what we are used to from Raw, including a new signature and a look back at the first 999 episodes of Raw. Kudos to the WWE video production team members, who often don't get as much credit as they deserve and are faceless, nameless soldiers in the WWE empire.
Many news items were revealed during the episode. Daniel Bryan and AJ’s wedding went awry (shocking!) as Vince McMahon announced AJ would become the new permanent general manager of Raw. This is a great move considering how much emphasis has been placed on AJ’s unpredictability, and that will suit a position of power very well. She has been for many weeks the most compelling character on Raw and this creates a good excuse to distance herself from Daniel Bryan and CM Punk into a new prominent role she definitely deserves. Back to the wedding for one moment -- it was a letdown for me that the St Louis fans didn’t give the officiant for the proceedings, a returning "Dcotor of Style" Slick, a bigger ovation. He was one of the more surprising returns to Raw 1,000. The most surprising to me? Believe it or not, former WWE broadcaster Sean Mooney, who did one backstage interview.
Triple H and Brock Lesnar has been confirmed for Summerslam, with excellent mic work from Paul Heyman, Triple H and a returning Stephanie McMahon. It was very simple, effective storytelling with a physical altercation between Triple H and Brock Lesnar to get the WWE Universe thoroughly invested in a match that's just a few weeks away in Los Angeles.
The Rock returned and confirmed an upcoming match, likely his next – facing the WWE champion at the 2013 Royal Rumble. Much like the buildup to WrestleMania 28, which lasted an entire year, it’s great to have something to look forward to, especially in the distant future in WWE. The Rock seems to be the perfect vehicle for this, which also further cements his “I will never, ever leave” prophecy.
Charlie Sheen was interviewed via Skype throughout the show and I didn’t mind his presence – particularly his digs at Daniel Bryan. Could a match be brewing between the two? Doubtful, but it seemed that way at one point.
Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus defeated Chris Jericho, Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio. It was announced that a new No. 1 contender would be determined on Smackdown. I hope that Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler continue a rivalry, not only because you could certainly expect a great match from the two, but also because this would distract us from weekly Dolph Ziggler Money in the Bank briefcase cash-in teases.
Bret Hart was one of two guest ring announcers on Raw 1,000, as he announced the Intercontinental title match between Christian and The Miz, who upset the champ and claimed the gold. Much like with Christian, I look forward to The Miz as champ, but feel the big key to success for the title is consistent title defenses.