Vince McMahon hit the ring to kick things off. It was nice to see him. Unusually he didn’t take up much time. He thanked the audience for their support, dusted off his trademark RAW intro and then brought out D-Generation X.
The DX reunion was a perfect example of how to book a nostalgia act well. The gang ran through all their old catchphrases, made people laugh and then interacted with a current star. That star was Damien Sandow. ‘The Self Proclaimed Intellectual Saviour of the Masses’ appeared to attempt to save DX from themselves (or something). He took Sweet Chin Music and a Pedigree for his trouble.
Triple H doesn't look happy being at the back does he?
As a big fan of the New Age Outlaws it was great to see both ‘Bad Ass’ Billy Gunn and Road Dogg again. Road Dogg is still great with a microphone and Gunn looked to be in great shape. A gimmick match between them and a heel combo sometime in the not too distant future would be very welcome.
X Pac was also present.
The reunion was followed by a six man tag team match, for which Jim Ross joined Michael Cole and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler at the commentary desk. Sheamus, Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio beat Chris Jericho, Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler when ‘The Show Off’ lamped ‘Y2J’, allowing ‘Great White’ to hit a Brogue Kick for the victory.
As six man tags go it was a decent affair. More importantly it advanced the Ziggler v Jericho rivalry that was started on show 999. A match between the two is expected at SummerSlam. It has the potential to be a highlight of the event.
Next up was a backstage segment that existed to get some faces in front of the cameras. Divas champion Layla (who didn’t have her belt and wasn’t acknowledged as the champ) was hanging out with bride to be AJ and discussing the upcoming wedding. As they did this Jim Duggan, R-Truth, Roddy Piper, Little Jimmy, Mae Young and a man in a hand suit (a gag for long-time fans) appeared in a corridor.
Young’s son aside it was not a good vignette.
JR had vanished from commentary for the next match, a squash battle pitting ‘The Funkasaurus’ against Jack Swagger. Dude Love was introduced to stand in Clay’s corner, and danced in the ring after ‘The All American American’ had been defeated. Foley looked appalling and his dancing was embarrassing. That he was given more air time than Swagger is not a good sign for the former World Heavyweight champion’s future prospects (or should that be future endeavours…?).
A brief shot of Daniel Bryan backstage was shown, talking to several men in white coats. This was a swerve designed to make viewers think that Bryan was going to have AJ committed during the ceremony. Instead we got a fairly standard exchange of vows (presided over by Slick) that ended with AJ yelling “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
She interrupted Slick just before he could proclaim the two man and wife, telling him that she hadn’t been saying yes to Bryan but to another man who’d made her an offer earlier in the day. Vinnie Mac then put in his second appearance of the evening and revealed that he had hired AJ as the new General Manager.
This should ensure AJ’s push continues, which is a good thing for her and viewers. It will be interesting to see how she’s booked in the role. I’m also keen to find out why accepting the role of GM meant she was unable to marry Bryan. Surely the two aren’t mutually exclusive? I bet we never find out.
AJ skipped backstage and left Bryan to destroy the wedding set. This he did with surprising speed and efficiency. If ever he gets bored of wrestling he’d make a great stagehand.
After a break CM Punk came out to taunt Bryan. ‘The Voice of the Voiceless’ basically said Bryan had gotten everything he deserved for treating AJ so poorly over the last several months. Bryan responded by screaming that he was the greatest WWE superstar of all time, which brought The Rock out to the ring.
Rock disagreed with Bryan’s lofty opinion of himself. He told Bryan that the people get to decide who the greatest ever is, then told him he looks like the offspring of an oompa loompa and a homeless lumberjack. ‘The Great One’ then revealed that he will challenge for the WWE championship on January 27th at the Royal Rumble, no matter who holds the gold. The scene ended with Bryan taking a Rock Bottom.
The announcement that ‘The People’s Champion’ will face the WWE champion at the Royal Rumble is big news. It will become more relevant as the event draws near but it’s clear from this that WWE will be making use of The Rock throughout WrestleMania season next year. He was present on several shows this year but I’d expect his presence to be greater for the build to ‘Mania XXIX. The Rock appearing at the Rumble should ensure a high buy rate and will allow his match for the extravaganza in New Jersey to be setup with a large audience watching.
The third match of the night finally rolled around after another break. Introduced by Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart it saw Christian defend his Intercontinental strap against The Miz. I’d predicted a title change based on the fact that WWE would want to switch a belt on the landmark episode. I wasn’t wrong. ‘The Awesome One’ dropped ‘Captain Charisma’ clean with a Skull Crushing Finale.
An awesome new Intercontinental champion
I could go off on a tangent and talk about how disappointing it is that yet another former world champion has been given a mid-card belt. But I won’t. At this point I’m just happy Miz has been given something to do and has the chance to reinvigorate the IC gold (something which nobody on the roster seems capable of doing).
Triple H opted not to change into his usual business attire for his showdown with Brock Lesnar. Instead he went to the ring in his DX camouflage gear. He could not have looked less like a COO.
Paul Heyman came out in place of ‘The Pain’. After teasing that he would be accepting ‘The Game’s’ challenge he announced that the SummerSlam match would not take place. The two men started insulting one another’s kids, which brought out Stephanie McMahon, who coerced Heyman into agreeing to the match in an exchange that didn’t quite work. She didn’t say anything that her husband hadn’t said but for some reason hearing it from her pushed Heyman’s buttons.
Wanting to get in a final shot Heyman once again targeted the McMahon-Helmsley kids, prompting a slap from Steph. As the two rolled around on the mat (prompting memories of Beulah McGillicutty’s battle with Bill Alfonso) Lesnar’s music played and the former UFC champion marched down to the ring. He and Triple H slugged it out before ‘The Game’ clotheslined him to the outside. The heels retreated backstage as Triple H ripped his shirt off and posed in the ring.
The Triple H v Brock Lesnar match is official for SummerSlam. If the company keeps doing a good job with the storyline it should help the show draw a high number.
Heath Slater’s legends storyline did not get the satisfying ending it deserved. Lita answered ‘The One Man Rock Band’s’ challenge for a legend to battle him in a no disqualification, anything goes encounter. She revealed that she’d hired some protection for the evening and brought out the APA. She didn’t say why she’d felt the need to hire them. Perhaps she was expected some trouble from Matt Hardy.
Slater tried to make an escape but was cut off by all the legends that he’s faced over the last month. He was sent back into the ring to eat a Clothesline From Hell from JBL and a moonsault from Lita.
While this may seem an anti-climax at least we know that Slater can shine when allowed to play a comedic loser. As I’ve written before WWE should keep him in a similar role now that the legends angle has played out. It’s how he can be of most value to the promotion.
John Cena, Zack Ryder and Gene Okerlund got some airtime backstage. ‘Long Island Iced Z’ was sharing his theory that ‘Mean’ Gene was behind GTV back in the late 90s. Gene denied it. Thankfully The Rock showed up to put an end to the nonsense. He wished Cena luck in his title match against Punk (as he had done with the champion earlier) and said he’d like the two to have a rematch at the Royal Rumble. I am indifferent to the suggestion.
Kane came to the ring, presumably for a match. I say presumably as his opponent was never officially introduced thanks to Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntyre, Hunico, Camacho and the MidCard Mafia coming to the ring to complain about their lack of opportunities. The Undertaker came out to join his storyline sibling and the two hit their signature moves on the job squad. It was nothing more than an excuse to include the Brothers of Destruction on the show.
Finally it was time for the main event: John Cena cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a shot at the WWE championship held by CM Punk. I was surprised to hear that it was only the 57th defence of the belt on Monday Night RAW. I would have guessed far higher than that.
The match itself was decent, though not a patch on their encounter at last year’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view. At around the halfway mark the ref took a bump and Cena caught Punk with an AA. With the official still unconscious Big Show lumbered out to the ring and hit Cena with a spear. Punk sat watching skittishly from the corner as the challenger pulled himself back to his feet. Cena was then KO’d by a WMD punch.
‘The World’s Largest Athlete’ vacated the ring, leaving Punk to look torn between waking John Cena and the unconscious official. Wake Cena and he would be giving his opponent the fair chance he himself had been extended the week before. Wake the referee and he would be that much likelier to retain the championship.
Punk opted to revive the ref. Having dragged him back into the ring the champ went for a cover only for the challenger to kick out at two. Punk then went for a GTS but Cena countered into the STF. Show then waddled back out and broke the hold, causing a DQ victory for Cena.
Yes, Cena became the first man to ash in the Money in the Bank briefcase and lose.
The giant stomped away at ‘The Leader of the CeNation’ as Punk turned his back and hung his head. Previously he had looked torn. At this point he looked dejected. He exited the ring, title belt in hand, just as The Rock’s music hit and ‘The Great One’ flew to the ring to make the save. Rock gave Show a number of punches then planted him in the centre of the ring with a spinebuster. After the traditional pose ‘The Brahama Bull’ went sailing off the ropes for a People’s Elbow.
That People’s Elbow never connected because CM Punk slid back into the ring and nailed Rocky with a perfectly timed clothesline. As ‘The Great One’ sold on the mat the champion mocked him by emulating the moves he makes before going for a Rock Bottom. When Rock finally made it back to his feet he turned around into a GTS. The show went off the air with Punk slowly heading backstage clutching his precious WWE championship.
Looks like The Rock has a new feud
So… thoughts on the show closing angle? A CM Punk heel turn is not what I‘d expected but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. He works better as a bad guy and has faced most of the top heels on the roster during his seven month title reign. After a year spent as one of the promotion’s top babyfaces Punk will be refreshed by the chance to portray a villainous character again.
It seems a safe bet that CM Punk’s reasoning for attacking The Rock will be jealousy. Rock turns up every few months and gets the biggest cheers of the night, while Punk is at every show with the gold and is seen as second best to the Rocks and Cenas of the world.
RAW 1000 seemed to indicate that The Rock v CM Punk is going to be the match we get at the Royal Rumble. If Punk keeps winning and is allowed to give credible reasons for his actions then I think he could be a massive heel by then. With the right hype that match could attract some monster numbers.