Las Vegas may really be lucky - at least in the
Last year in Sin City, WWE Champion CM Punk dropped his "pipe bomb" speech that sent shockwaves throughout the wrestling industry and sparked one of the most memorable angles of recent years.
That speech would fuel the Punk-
This year, Money in the Bank has already passed, but it was tonight's Raw - not Sunday's pay-per-view - that seems to be setting the course for the next several months in WWE.
Major developments seem to be on the way throughout the main event and the upper midcard scenes, and WWE managed to successfully rebound from an abysmal showing last Monday night.
We'll cover many of the developments below, but the one that came at the end of the show was one that many people expected.
After CM Punk defeated Big Show in a good match with a bad ending, John Cena emerged and chased off Show. Rather than cash in his Money in the Bank contract immediately on a downed Punk, he laid out the challenge for next week's 1,000th Raw.
That particular move, while expected, makes sense and helps build some immediate excitement. The other developments from the show could have more long-term ramifications.
But for the next seven days, the focus will be squarely on the milestone anniversary show. I'm excited to be live in St. Louis for the show, as it has potential to be one of the most memorable nights of my tenure as a wrestling fan.
Money in the Bank seems as if it could be a turning point for the second year in a row. The WWE landscape is about to change, and most of it seems to be for the better.
- Could Daniel Bryan be turning babyface again? He and AJ played the face role in their tag team match against The Miz and Eve, and after the match, Bryan seemed to be pure of heart as he proposed to AJ. She said yes; the crowd cheered and chanted "Yes, yes, yes." First things first, this match was fairly basic but entertaining, and it actually had history behind it to help it make more sense. No complaints for a Raw match. Next, if Bryan is turning, it's an interesting thought. On the one hand, it will be a shame to see him leave behind a character he's done such a good job of developing, but on the other, it will freshen things up. Fans have been cheering Bryan for months anyway, so it makes sense. He and AJ will be married on next week's 1,000th Raw, so that will surely be a turning point in this story.
- In another odd occurrence, Money in the Bank briefcase holder Dolph Ziggler and
Chris Jerichohad an in-ring confrontation. Ziggler struggled to sound like he wasn't just reciting a script early on in his promo, but he improved as it went on. Near the end, things started sounding a bit repetitive, but without opportunities to actually talk, Ziggler won't get any better at it, so I'm all for giving him the chance. In the end, it seemed Jericho had heard enough and he hit Ziggler with a Code Breaker without saying a word. Jericho has said he came back to help build new stars, and he did just that with Punk. Now a feud with Ziggler could do wonders for the young star, and if the end of the road for this run is ahead, this could allow Jericho to ride into the sunset - possibly for the last time - as a fan favorite.
- Kofi Kingston and R-Truth not only appeared on Raw for once, but they actually had a successful title defense. Prime Time Players had been built up as a threat to the champs, but after losing to Primo and Epico at Money in the Bank, they came up short here. The match wasn't bad at all, and Titus O'Neil, Darren Young and Abraham Washington actually have a fun act going, so hopefully this feud isn't over. It would be nice to see this become a three-way feud with the Colons. That kind of attention has been missing from the tag team division for years.
- Alberto Del Rio completely destroyed Zack Ryder. After the match, when Del Rio refused to release the cross-armbreaker, Rey Mysterio returned to the WWE from his injury and suspension to rescue Ryder. Del Rio and Mysterio seem to be perennial rivals, but they have worked well together in the past, so if this feud is going to resume, at least it should provide some quality in-ring work. It also moves Del Rio out of the World Heavyweight Championship picture, which many were hoping for. Personally, I thought he and Sheamus should have had at least one more pay-per-view match to show what they're really capable of.
- Jack Swagger and Ryback had a segment that made little to no sense. They were scheduled to have a match, but Swagger jumped Ryback before the match and actually landed a decent amount of offense. But then Ryback recovered and put Swagger away. The thing is: the ref never called for the bell to start the match, and therefore there was no official ending. Swagger just rolled out of the ring, and that was it. The commentators sold it as the ref not starting the match because Swagger jumped him early, but the heel jumps the babyface before the bell at least once a week, and that never causes the match to be thrown out. The early stages of Swagger's offense actually made this interesting, but then it just went a non-sensical direction.
- Heath Slater's "Favorite Raw Moment" video was hilarious. Slater has boundless charisma, and if he continues to improve in the ring, he may have a serious opportunity to be a mid-card staple in the future. He's young and can overcome the treatment he's currently dealing with. As for his weekly "legends" match, Slater lost to Rikishi, who then danced in the ring with his sons, The Usos. The family moment was cool to see, and there didn't seem to be any "You've still got it" chants, which is an improvement.
- Brodus Clay squashed JTG, who hasn't been seen on television in months. Has Ryback surpassed Clay on the squash match food chain? Wow.
R-Truth and Kofi Kingston d. Titus O'Neil and Darren Young
Alberto Del Rio d. Zack Ryder
Rikishi d. Heath Slater
Daniel Bryan and AJ d. The Miz and Eve
Brodus Clay d. JTG
CM Punk d. Big Show by disqualification
Tonight's Raw was a heck of a rebound from last week. The episode brilliantly mixed quality in-ring action with solid story advancement. I was worried WWE may have been too focused on next week's show to put a good amount of effort into tonight's show, but luckily, I was proven wrong. With WWE building next week's show as a pay-per-view-caliber event, hopefully the momentum can continue past that show, through the summer and into the fall. The stage is set; let's just hope WWE pulls the trigger on executing some of these potential plans.