Welcome to Canton’s Corner. This week I’m going to be taking a look at what to expect from this Monday’s edition of Raw, which is the historic 1000th episode in case you haven’t heard. I was going to write about Smackdown, but in many ways it felt like a preview of Raw 1000 anyway so I’ll just stick to the preview of Monday’s show.
Before I get to that preview I need to share something with you, my fair reader. My favorite thing about Raw and Smackdown this week was there was no GM wasting time on either show. It meant more screen time for talent. Good. Who booked the tag match main event on Smackdown? Nobody. It just happened. We don’t need somebody to “run the show” every week. More on that shortly. Let’s get to it.
There are a lot of big things planned for Monday’s show, so let’s take a closer look at what has been advertised and what may happen when everybody arrives in St. Louis (go Rams) on Monday night.
Degeneration X will open the show
When it comes to getting a crowd riled up and ready for a historic wrestling show, there’s not a better group in WWE history to do it than DX. I think it’s very smart for WWE to advertise their appearance because obviously Triple H and Shawn Michaels are two of the biggest names in WWE history. WWE has made it a point to repeatedly mention that they’re opening the broadcast. While I think it’s silly to call them “controversial” anymore since one guy is an executive while the other is a stay at home family man, it’s still smart to advertise them in a major way.
The question in will other members of DX like X-Pac, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn be there? Dogg is a certainty since he works backstage in WWE as an agent. X-Pac has been known to visit the FCW training facility to scout talent, so I would expect him to be there too. As for Gunn I’m really not sure. I can remember him saying some negative things about WWE in interviews in the past. For something like this, though, I think they would welcome him back. It’s not like he would get to talk anyway. Dogg is the talker of that team of course.
What about Chyna you ask? Um…no. Definitely not.
The returns of several former superstars
I think there’s a very good chance that any “big name” player from WWE history is likely going to be there. We know guys like Mick Foley, Roddy Piper, Road Warrior Animal, Dusty Rhodes and Bret Hart will be there. I would expect the likes of Trish Stratus, Lita and Edge to be there too. I’m sure that if I sat here writing out names of former stars over the last twenty years that the majority of them will be there unless they have a scheduling conflict or work for another company of course.
The biggest two names that are up in the air are Steve Austin and The Undertaker. I think in Undertaker’s case he’ll likely be there. While he hasn’t wrestled on Raw much since the brand extension (remember that?) in 2002, he’s still one of the biggest names in the history of the company. My guess is he’ll show up, do a chokeslam to somebody and then we won’t see him again until possibly Survivor Series or even WrestleMania season. He’s a part-timer that works one match a year at this point. I don’t know if he’ll wrestle more than one. My guess is he won’t wrestle more than the WrestleMania match, so I’d expect this to be a special appearance and leave it at that.
As far as Austin goes, according to the Wrestling Observer he’s filming the Adam Sander movie Grown Ups 2. However, he’s not a major star of the movie and Sandler is a WWE fan, so I’m guessing that it would be allowed for Austin to be in St. Louis on Monday night. I’m not sure what he would do at the show, but the strong rumor is that he would be the legend to come out and get a piece of Heath Slater. It wouldn’t be a match. Instead, a well placed Stone Cold Stunner and then a beer bash. I think that would work very well, don’t you?
The announcement of a new Raw General Manager
Like I said in the beginning, I enjoy Raw and Smackdown without a General Manager. We don’t need an authority figure calling the shots. However, we’ve been told repeatedly that on Monday’s Raw we’ll find out who the new GM of Raw will be. The rumors have been running rampant with names like Mick Foley, Vickie Guerrero, Teddy Long, William Regal, Bret Hart, Edge and others being thrown out there as possible GM’s. They could also bring back John Laurinaitis to give him another shot at the job. I know it sounds crazy, but this is the same company that couldn’t come up with an actual name for the Anonymous Raw GM so they said it was the midget. My point is never put anything past the “creative” team.
Could we hear the “WOO!” in WWE again with Ric Flair returning to the company as the GM of Raw? He filled the role of an authoritative figure about ten years, but he was still an active competitor back then. Now that he’s free from TNA and he’s no longer wrestling (we think), a Flair return to WWE as the on screen GM could be a lot of fun. I don’t think he would be as interesting as a manager of a wrestler. Putting him in the GM role would be better for him if he’s going to be brought back into the company.
I assume we’ll also learn of a new GM for Smackdown this week. Remember that show? Yes it still exists.
It will be interesting to see if they go with GMs that we’ve seen before or if they go with somebody new in the role.
Daniel Bryan will marry AJ Lee
We all know by now that weddings in WWE don’t go off without a hitch. This couple was firmly together in the first part of the year although at that point Bryan was never able to say that he loved her. She said it many times and he never said it back to her. This past week on Raw, he told her that he loved her and AJ also accepted his marriage proposal with a “yes” of course.
On Smackdown they did an interview together, which led to a match where Bryan faced Kane. The match ended when AJ tried to save her man by jumping on Kane’s back. Post match, Kane had AJ in his arms again and this time instead of a kiss she just walked away from the Big Red Monster. There was a look, though. Hmmm I wonder what that meant? They ended the segment by having a Daniel/AJ makeout session at the top of the ramp, but the Kane interaction could lead to the marriage not happening.
I really have no idea where they are going with this. There’s a possibility that they will actually get married, which could lead to a Bryan face turn because AJ gets cheered so much. I like Bryan so much as a heel, but with the “yes” chants being such a popular thing it’s only a matter of time until they turn him face. If Kane interrupts, AJ could go to him and they could be a pairing going forward. I like the Bryan/AJ pairing as a couple though. I thought they ended it too soon after WrestleMania and glad they went back to it now. It could spark a lot of interest, so my hope is the wedding actually happens. That doesn’t mean it will. I’m just saying if it was me I would have Bryan’s marriage to AJ go off without a hitch.
Just a tip, Daniel. If Flair is there be sure to not get marriage advice from him. Woo!
Brock Lesnar will answer Triple H’s Challenge
Will Brock Lesnar accept Triple H’s challenge for Summerslam? He’s already on the Summerslam poster that WWE has put out, so obviously that answers the question. The bigger question, to me, is will Michaels be taking a bump on behalf of his friend Triple H as a way to sell this matchup? That could happen. Michaels hasn’t taken a bump since he retired two years ago. I think a Lesnar sneak attack on Michaels where he gave him a F5 would be an awesome moment.
How they use Lesnar will be important. Unlike all of the other guests on the show, he’s somebody that will likely be on every Raw from now until Summerslam. They might put him in some matches in the weeks building up to the Summerslam match. It will help in terms of making him look like the monster he’s supposed to be. While guys like Austin and Rock should be considered the biggest draws in Raw history, the truth is that Lesnar might be the biggest draw on the roster now. That includes Cena too because Lesnar can bring in some UFC fans who are intrigued to see what he’ll do in WWE.
We know Lesnar will accept Triple H’s challenge for Summerslam. The question is what happens after that?
The Rock returns to WWE for first time since April 2
April 2nd was the last time we saw The Rock in a WWE ring. That was the night after WrestleMania when he said his next goal was to become WWE Champion once again. Since then he’s been off filming movies. Now that he’s back on Monday what can they do with him?
Personally, I think they should book him as the special guest referee for the Punk/Cena match. The only problem with that is if somebody cashes in the briefcase like Cena is doing they shouldn’t have to deal with a guest referee. They could do it where Rock cuts a promo saying he wants to get a close look at the WWE Title match, so he is throwing out the idea of him being the referee if Punk and Cena agree. Then you have Punk and Cena come out, say they have no problem with it and then it’s set with Rock as the referee of the main event of the biggest Raw ever.
My idea above is just one thing they could do with him. The fact is that Rock is going to be the biggest star on Raw on Monday due to his mainstream appeal, so it’s in their best interests to involve him in the main event somehow. It’s the smart thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. He’s not going to be there every week, so it’s important to take advantage of when he is there.
CM Punk vs. John Cena for the WWE Title
I’m a fan of this match. Why wouldn’t I be? Last July they had the match of the year at Money in the Bank and then they followed it up with another very good match at Summerslam. The Cena haters have been out in full force complaining about how he’s going to win the WWE Title again. So what if he does? Punk has had an amazing WWE Title reign that has passed the 250+ days mark. If Punk beat anybody other than Cena for the title in the first place it wouldn’t have meant as much. Cena put him over huge. It meant a lot for Punk. If the decision is made for Punk to “return the job” then so be it.
There’s a rumor floating around that Cena may be the first man to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase and actually lose the title match. That would be an interesting twist. Right now fans think that when somebody cashes in the briefcase they are going to be WWE or World Champion. It’s about time they did something where the winner lost the title match. Unpredictability is a good thing.
The other bit of “news” going around is that there’s a very good chance the new WWE Championship could debut here. I’d be a fan of that. Like Big Show pointed out on Raw, the “spinner title” is like John Cena’s personal belt. The main reason it lasted this long is because so many buy replicas of it. It’s a money maker. The new one could be a money maker too. Don’t be surprised if we see a new WWE Championship title on Monday.
I have no idea what the “big summer angle” is going to be. However, the best time for something big to happen would be at the end of this week’s edition of Raw because the audience for Monday’s show will likely be the most fans WWE gets for any show this year. Ideally, you would want to do your biggest angle in front of your largest audience. I think WWE knows that. Let’s just hope that whatever the “big summer angle” happens to be is something that really leads to some great things going forward.
Nothing would get people talking more than a John Cena heel turn. Personally, I don’t believe it will happen on Monday. However, could you imagine how fans would react if Punk retained the title through questionable means and then Cena is so mad about it that he destroys Punk post match? Then Big Show comes out. Instead of assaulting Cena, he actually helps him. Then whoever the GM is would align themselves with this dominant duo to gain more heel heat. I bet fans would throw stuff into the ring. It would get people talking more than anything else.
My pick for Monday’s match is John Cena to win the WWE Title. CM Punk will get his rematch at Summerslam, which will make Punk/Cena the co-main event along with Lesnar/Triple H.
By the way, I strongly support CM Punk’s tweet idea from last Monday when he suggested that Jim Ross should be on the call for his WWE Title match versus John Cena. I would love for that to happen. I doubt I’m the only one.
Some other points worth talking about
Some quick bullet points on other things that aren’t as major as the things discussed above.
– A new set. Word is that there will be a new set so Raw will have a fresh feel to it. I’m all for it. There’s nothing wrong with the current set. It’s just that a change would be good and make fans think that this new three hour era of Raw will be a bit different than what we’ve been used to.
– I’m really hoping there’s a new Raw theme song this week. I’m so sick of Nickelback. I don’t care what song it is. Just give us something different other than “all in balls out” and whatever the hell else they are saying. It hurts my brain.
– If Steve Austin is there, I would love to see him interact with CM Punk. I don’t think they will wrestle at WrestleMania 29, but I love their chemistry and it would be cool to have Austin go up to him to say he’s been doing a great job as WWE Champion.
– The return of Wade Barrett. Don’t be surprised if we see him return here. It would be wise to have him show up on one of the biggest Raw events of the year. He’s been out for five months. Fans may have forgotten about him.
– The debut of Dean Ambrose. His debut could happen any time. They are keeping him off the NXT show where other young superstars are for a reason. It’s because when he debuts he’ll make a big splash. Could it be here? Perhaps.
– I would love to see a third man added to the announce team. I’m so tired of the Cole/Lawler team. I think William Regal should be the one to do it. Have him be the heel announcer. He’d be better at it than Cole and we know Lawler is the generic mark babyface announcer already. If it’s Jim Ross for one night only that’s great too. If it’s Booker T I’m fine with that as well because “that boy” makes me laugh. I just don’t want Cole vs. Lawler for three hours every week. I can only tolerate so much.
– One of biggest names missing from this show will be Randy Orton. Even though the show is in his hometown of St. Louis he’s still suspended due to 60 day penalty he received for failing his second Wellness Policy test.
– They will plug the hell out of Tout for three hours. Get used to it. WWE is reportedly the biggest investor in Tout so the more they push Tout the better it is for them.
I think that’s all. I don’t think I’ve ever previewed a Raw before in my decade plus of writing. Episode 1000 is worth it though. It feels like a PPV like event. I’m genuinely excited for it. Can you tell?
Hornswoggle was the anonymous RAW GM the whole time. Hornswoggle. Can you believe it? I know this all went down about two weeks ago now and that I should have moved on by now, but seriously? Hornswoggle? The same guy that ruined what could have been a monster storyline by being Vince’s love child? Look, I know that the anonymous RAW GM angle was garbage to begin with. I get that. My problem with this is that it is yet another case of the WWE treating their fans like Forest Gump. But I got news for WWE. Unlike the Gumpmaster we know damn well that vacation isn’t where you go somewhere and you don’t ever come back. We are not idiots. You feed us this storyline for over a year with no payoff until you decide to bring it back now for comedic purposes and you give us this? Seriously? You could have given us anything but this? So riddle me this then. Why in the blue holy hell did Hornwoggle reverse the decision at last year’s Wrestlemania and have Cole win instead of Jerry? Why did he have Nexus take out Bret Hart? Is he not a face? Last time I checked he was. So what is it then? Does he just hate us Canadians and thrives himself as being a coleminer from under the ring? Honestly I think I’m going to take my own advice on this one and just melo out and move on like they obviously did with this storyline. WWE is like a box of chocolates. You can guaran-damn-tee you have no freaking idea what you are going to get half the time. The other half is as predictable as a van with a “free candy” sign parked outside a daycare.
In other news, Daniel Bryan and that girl who wouldn’t have to get down on her knees had she stayed with Kane are getting married this Monday on the 1000th episode of RAW. Speaking of AJ, I really wish she would just interrupt the match and not make it obvious before coming out with her entrance music playing. It is really starting to get annoying due to it being overplayed.
As far as this wedding goes, has there ever been a wedding in the WWE that hasn’t ended with some sort of twist or drama? Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth would have been about the only time had it not been for Jake the Snake and his snake in a box. It’s a snake in a box! A snake in a box baby. Man did that ever sound bad. Anyways, my guess is that Daniel is simply setting up AJ to purposely humiliate her. Why? Well in his eyes, she cost him the World title at Wrestlemania and just recently the WWE title. So it’s payback. I just hope Stone Cold comes out during this segment because it could have gold all over it. What? Yes! What? YES! Make it happen WWE. Or not. Until next time, sit back, relax and melo out, because that is what wrestling is all about.
Steve “The Melo Man” Melo
I will be back on Monday for the live three hour edition of Monday Night Raw, which is episode 1000 as I’ve written many times in this column. It’s like I work for WWE or something huh? Anyway, I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure that as I’m writing about it live on TJRWrestling.com on Monday I’ll be marking out a bit for some things. As a lifelong WWE viewer I love nostalgia as much as anybody. However, it’s important that they build to the future too so let’s see what happens.
Please check out my list of Summerslam’s Top 25 Matches, which is updated from last year to include two matches from the 2011 event. It’s one of my favorite columns that I’ve ever written, so be sure to give it a look.
I would also love it if you checked out TJRSports.com because we just launched the site this past week. I have a column up. Some of the other writers have posted material. It won’t detract from my wrestling writing at all. I’ll be able to balance it. No worries. I have some big WWE related column coming up for the fall that have become annual traditions too. Give a look to TJRSports.com and by the end of next week you might see a post up asking for people to send writing samples too.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton – email@example.com
Facebook TJRWrestling.com on Facebook