WWE Raw 1000 Hitlist: C.M. Punk heel turn on The Rock and John Cena, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, DX reunion, The Miz wins the Intercontinental Championship
By Jason Powell
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WWE Raw 1000 Hits
C.M. Punk attacks The Rock: A big surprise. I was concerned until this moment that WWE wasn't going to give viewers a real incentive to watch next week's show. I'm still surprised they didn't give them a hook for the earlier start time going forward, but they made a ballsy move by having Punk attack The Rock. It was refreshing to see WWE break from the comfort zone of having Punk and John Cena as their top full-time babyfaces by having Punk attack Rock. It was great booking in that it appears to set up their eventual match at Royal Rumble, and because Punk would have been cheered if he had attacked any other wrestler on the roster.
The Rock returns: Great use of Rock via that main event angle, and also by putting him in the verbal segment with Punk and Daniel Bryan earlier in the night. The live crowd was red hot for Rock attacking Big Show in the main event and it was fun to watch their cheers come to a screeching halt when Punk clotheslined him. My best guess is that Rock wins the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble and then drops the strap to John Cena at WrestleMania. Regardless, I love the signs that WWE is booking their main event program months in advance rather than just making it up as they go along.
Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon: Lesnar lost a lot of momentum between his staggered WWE appearances, so it was important to feature him in a memorable segment that didn't get lost on a loaded show. They accomplished that in this segment. Heyman and Stephanie's verbal battle was fun (though younger viewers probably had no clue what the hell they were talking about), and I enjoyed the early physicality of the Lesnar and Hunter brawl. I'm not a big fan of Hunter clearing Lesnar from the ring. I'd rather see this set up with Brock looking dominant while the announcers question whether Hunter can actually overtake the monster. Ultimately, though, the key to this program is whether Brock gets the win at SummerSlam. The loss to Cena was damaging, but back-to-back big match losses would kill Lesnar's WWE mystique.
The Rock and John Cena backstage: A good exchange that reminded viewers of their rivalry without raising their expectations for anything in the near future.
DX Reunion: A feel good opening segment with the unadvertised appearances of The New Age Outlaws and X-Pac. The live crowd had fun with the segment, and it looked like the guys in the ring were also cracking each other up and having a good time. I like the way Damien Sandow got some rub from the DX crew. Sure, he took some finishers, but the fact is he appeared in a high profile segment and delivered some good mic work to set things up.
Undertaker and Kane: Taker's return was well received. It was a nice piece of nostalgia to see Taker and Kane destroying a group of wrestlers and hitting their big moves simultaneously.
Lita vs. Heath Slater: Slater did a nice job throughout his run with the legends and last night was no exception. Lita was a big surprise to those of us who expected Steve Austin to hit Slater with multiple Stunners. Honestly, I'd be shocked if anyone out there actually predicted that Lita would be the final opponent. She looked great and it was cool to see her performing her signature moves again. Throw in the surprise appearances of The APA and this was a good, light hearted segment.
The Miz vs. Christian: A title change on a big show. It's cool to see them getting Miz back on track, and they did a nice job of protecting Christian via the knee injury that was established early on.
Overall show: A big thumbs up in terms of delivering a good nostalgic show while setting the table for SummerSlam, the Royal Rumble, and even WrestleMania. They definitely could have done more to promote that Raw is a three-hour show going forward, and perhaps teased the return of Randy Orton for next week to give the presumably big television audience a reason to watch next week. Overall, though, WWE hyped this as a major event an it felt like one with all of the returning stars and the newsworthy announcements.
WWE Raw 1000 Misses
C.M. Punk vs. John Cena: This isn't a knock on the match quality or the expected cheap finish. Rather, it just didn't capture that big event feel. WWE promoted it consistently throughout the show by flashing graphics and having the announcers plug it, but the vibe just wasn't there once the match actually started. The live crowd was into the match, but it didn't have that electric feel that it should have. Part of the problem is that the live crowd seemed drained from a loaded three-hour show, but I also blame the way the match came together quickly last week and, more importantly, they didn't have Punk and Cena make a big fuss over the match during Raw. Forget the graphic reminders, show them backstage, interview them specifically about the match, and do the little things it takes to make a match feel important.
Daniel Bryan and A.J. wedding: This just didn't need to be on a loaded Raw show. They really should have saved this for a future episode when they could have used the ratings boost. I have no idea why A.J. being named general manager meant she couldn't go through with the wedding. I also have no idea why Bryan was shown talking with a group of men who were dressed in white scrubs backstage. I assumed he was going to have her committed if she married him, so perhaps they'll play up on that at some point. The idea of A.J. as general manager is absurd when you consider that Vince McMahon and the Board of Directors just handed over control of their flagship show to a crazy woman.
Charlie Sheen via Skype: I was surprised to see Sheen pop up given the way WWE didn't make him a big part of their advertising ever since he announced that he was pulling the plug on his Twitter account. The Skype video feed was awful and the whole thing looked really low budget. I am curious to see where they go with Sheen and Bryan.
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