Welcome to Canton's Corner. Last week in this spot I previewed the 1000th episode of WWE Monday Night Raw. Then on Monday I wrote a live review of Raw that you can read here. While I did cover the entire show, there are some things that I wanted to expand on, so that's what this column will be about. I'll also talk about some things I liked and disliked from Smackdown this week as well. The busy week for me also involved an appearance on TalkSPORT Radio in England with Joe Amphlett. It's a ten minute chat talking Raw 1000 so be sure to give that a listen as well. Also be sure to follow me on Twitter @johnreport, click "Like" and Share it on Facebook and I promise to be here when you're done doing that. Let's get to it.
More Thoughts on the 1000th Episode of WWE Monday Night Raw
I gave Monday's edition of Raw a rating of 6.5 out of 10. The feedback I received to that was mixed with some people thinking I was too harsh on the show and others thinking I was too nice. I've watched the majority of the key segments again. I feel like my grade of Monday's show was fair. It was three hours long. They could have done more with the midcard talent and they could have had more in-ring action. Instead, they chose to feature a lot of talent from the past. You know what? The show worked in terms of satisfying viewers. There's no denying that.
The ratings for Raw were through the roof. The show did a 3.86 rating over the three hours, and averaged 6.04 million viewers. The show averaged a 4.03 rating and 6.31 million viewers over the final two hours. Not only was it up from the average, but it was one of the most watched episodes of Raw in ten years. The real test will be to see what the ratings are for episodes 1001 and 1002 going up against the Olympics, but you can be sure that WWE officials are absolutely thrilled about the rating from Monday's show. Let's take a closer look at some of the key happenings from the show.
CM Punk turns heel
I will be the first to admit that I did not think CM Punk would turn heel on this show. However, that's what happened at the end of Raw. I know there are some people (including my buddy Steve who writes about it below) that think it wasn't a full heel turn. I would disagree with that assessment. There were three things that Punk did that showed him performing heel acts.
1) Punk didn't help John Cena from a beatdown at the hands of Big Show. A heroic figure would help a fallen man. Punk is not a friend of Cena, but he respects him and by not helping him he showed cowardice. The announcers also made a point to mention this, which is again a clear sign of heel behavior.
2) Punk attacked The Rock in a cheap manner. I know some have said that it's not necessarily a heel act because Rock dropped Daniel Bryan earlier, but that was after an annoying heel (Bryan) was running his mouth. Punk's attack was out of nowhere. Rock sold that clothesline like it was the deadliest move in the history of wrestling. Then Punk dropped him with the Go To Sleep. He took Rock out.
3) After the attack on Rock, Punk's face was expressionless. He grabbed his title, he walked out of the ring and he showed no remorse for what he did. While he was walking out, the announcers were also questioning his actions. If he was a babyface he would have been excited, had an expression on his face and looked at the crowd for a reaction. He didn't do any of those things. Why? He's a heel now.
Since his actions on Monday night, CM Punk hasn't posted a tweet. I like that a lot. Let's wait until Monday night at 8pmET (or later in the show) to hear what the WWE Champion has to say. Why did Punk do what he did?
He could say a number of things like how even when he was WWE Champion, a guy like John Cena got to wrestle last on PPVs regularly. He could say that a guy like The Rock doesn't deserve a WWE Title shot at the Royal Rumble because he's not around all the time, unlike him. He'll have to rail on the fans for a bit too because I think it might be a challenge to get people to boo him based on his performance in the last year.
My theory for the heel turn? All he wanted were WWE ice cream bars to come back. And they didn't. Where oh where are his WWE ice cream bars? I'm being sarcastic. Just a little bit.
If you look at this angle long term, though, I think it's for the best. When CM Punk turned heel in the summer of 2009 it was masterfully done and he went on to be one of the best performers in the company at that time. It can be argued that he's better as a heel performer too, so this may be the best thing for him. Sure, a lot of people wanted Cena to turn heel and that could have led to a big spike in business. For whatever reason (monetary being the big one), Cena's still a babyface. Punk's the heel. The stage is set for a likely showdown at Summerslam. I'm intrigued. Bring it on.
Brock Lesnar finally accepts Triple H's Summerslam challenge
I thought this segment was okay, but not great. I think it should have been about Brock Lesnar more than it was. Paul Heyman walked out, said no to Triple H's challenge and then he insulted Triple H's family. That led to Stephanie McMahon walking out. It was nice to see her again. She looked fantastic. However, I thought that was the right time when Lesnar's music should have hit and then he should have been the one to accept the challenge instead of Heyman saying it. I'm fine with Heyman talking because he's an elite talker while Lesnar's below average, but in this instance it would have been better to hear Lesnar say that the match was on.
What has me excited about the road to Summerslam is that the build for this match should be very good. Lesnar's expected to be on Raw every week leading up to the event on August 19th, so that will help the interest in the match. It will also be nice to see Paul Heyman on the show every week. Will they book Lesnar in a match on Raw? I think they should. To have him destroy a couple of opponents on the road to Summerslam would be good in terms of building him up as a monster.
I have no idea who is going over at Summerslam. I understood Cena over Lesnar because Cena's full time while Lesnar went away for a few months. The thing is, Hunter is part-time just like Lesnar is, so who needs the win more? I would have Lesnar win at Summerslam. I hope that's what happens.
The Rock sets up a WWE Title match at the Royal Rumble
I'm mixed about this one. I've always been a huge fan of The Rock. I always will be. However, I find it surprising that they would announce him in a WWE Title match at the Royal Rumble six months from now. Who booked the match? AJ the GM? The Board of Directors? They just had him announce it as if he was the one that did. Title matches are supposed to be earned usually by winning something of significance.
I understand Rock is the biggest star the company can put in a ring, so it's smart to announce him for events in advance, but he's in a major title match just like that? Perhaps this is something CM Punk can bring up when he does his heel promo on Monday. He can use that as a way to explain why he did what he did to The Rock.
The other thing is we don't know when we'll see Rock again on WWE TV. He starts filming Fast and the Furious 6 soon. Will he be a part of Summerslam? Doubt it. They haven't announced anything with him involving Summerslam and as far as I know it's unlikely that he will be a part of Summerslam. It's unlikely because if he was going to be there I'm sure we would have heard something about it by now.
The big question is who will Rock face at the Royal Rumble? I think it should be CM Punk. I don't know if he will hold the WWE Title for another six months, though. He can certainly drop it to somebody else and win it back before the Rumble. Then Rock would walk into WrestleMania as the WWE Champion where he drops the title to…John Cena? That's what I think. The rematch at WrestleMania 29. I don't know it as fact. It's just what I think. We'll see what happens.
The new General Manager of Raw is AJ
I would guess that less than 5% of the WWE audience would have thought that the new GM of Raw would be the diminutive AJ Lee. The assumption by most people, including myself, was that the new GM would be a former wrestler (like Mick Foley), a non-wrestler (like Vickie Guerrero) or an older wrestler (like William Regal) who fans would know from years of service in WWE. Instead, we got the crazy chick known as AJ who said no to Daniel Bryan during their wedding because she was offered the job as GM of Raw. Why couldn't she get married and still be the GM? We may never know that one.
Now with AJ in the GM role the possibilities for weird storylines are endless. They can use her "crazy chick" persona to make ridiculous stipulations to matches and create funny segments where much larger men are sucking up to her because they want to get ahead at their job.
Since there's a woman in charge now, perhaps this will mean the women will actually be on the show, have longer matches and be given interesting storyline? That's probably a crazy thought on my part. My bad.
My assumption is she'll be booked as a babyface GM. The fans will like her decisions. It will hopefully be entertaining. I'm going into the "AJ as GM" era with an open mind. It certainly can't be worse than when they revealed that Hornswoggle was the Anonymous Raw GM. Can it?
Daniel Bryan's new feud is with…Charlie Sheen?
I'm not a big fan of Charlie Sheen. I think a man in his mid-40s that acts like an idiot to get attention is exactly that…an idiot that wants attention. I've certainly seen some of his movies over the years with Major League being my favorite of them all. I don't watch that Two and a Half Men show he was on, nor did I care when he got fired from it because he went on a drunken rampage. I haven't seen his new show Anger Management either. What I do know, though, is that he's a mainstream star. Some people like him out there. Or maybe they loathe him and they watch to see him fail. I'm not sure what it is, but he's a "heat magnet" as we like to say in wrestling.
This past Monday on Raw, they started up an angle where Charlie Sheen (via Skype) was making fun of Daniel Bryan. Bryan responded to it in an interview. The announcers talked about how WWE would be in Los Angeles for Summerslam. Can you connect the dots? I don't think a match is likely. However, they could certainly do a scenario where Bryan is in a match against a babyface opponent (Kane perhaps?) and Sheen is sitting in the front row at Summerslam. Sheen could get involved by slapping Bryan or throwing him into a ring post or something to that effect.
It could be similar to Mickey Rourke at WrestleMania 25 when he was sitting at ringside and then after the match he knocked Chris Jericho out. I think it's smart to involve a celebrity of Sheen's status in an event like Summerslam. It will get them some mainstream press. Nothing wrong with that. I don't like Sheen that much personally, but it would be foolish to deny the reach he has.
The 1,001st episode Raw airs live on Monday night at 8pmET for three hours once again. I don't expect interest to be as high as last week, nor do I expect the same number of viewers, but it will be interesting to see how things shape in this "new era" of WWE. CM Punk is a heel, AJ is the GM, Lesnar will likely be there once again and do you remember that Randy Orton guy? He'll be there too.
The road to Summerslam could be very interesting. For the sake of the company and for us, the viewers, let's hope it is.
Five Random Thoughts on Smackdown
This isn’t a long recap from Smackdown by any means. Instead, it's my take on five things that happened on Smackdown this week.
- The four way match between Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio and Kane was fantastic. By winning the match, Alberto Del Rio became the number one contender to Sheamus' World Heavyweight Title one more time. I'm not sure why they chose him to win it considering he lost clean to Sheamus at Money in the Bank. It's not like anybody was clamoring for a rematch.
- In addition to the match above, there were two other awesome matches. The first one saw Sheamus defeat Cody Rhodes clean with a Brogue Kick. It was a competitive match that saw the champion look dominant in victory while Dolph Ziggler looked on at ringside while clutching his Money in the Bank briefcase tightly. For the second show in a row, Christian put over The Miz clean. It was clean in a way. Miz won after an eye poke behind the ref's back and then a rollup with the tights. If you watch Smackdown with any regularity you know they love to book that blatant eye poke into the finish of matches. They used to do it back in the day when Drew McIntyre actually won matches too.
- If you missed the show you missed a moment that appeared to be the official babyface turn of Chris Jericho. After Dolph Ziggler tried to sneak attack Sheamus and never got the chance to do it, Jericho showed up (in a Ziggler "show off" shirt) in the aisle and he threw Ziggler back into the ring. When Ziggler was thrown back into the ring, Sheamus decked him with a Brogue Kick.
- There was no GM on the show. There was no mention of a GM being on the show next week or any sort of announcement regarding a GM. I have absolutely no problem with this because the lack of a GM gives more time to the performers on Smackdown. I don't care who made the matches. It's not important. What's important is that the action is good and the stories make sense. The last few shows with no mention of a GM have led to better shows. Keep it going.
- The Raw recaps were too much. The start of the show had a Raw recap. Then there was a recap of CM Punk attacking The Rock and then a recap of the Triple/Lesnar showdown. We get it. Raw was important. Most of the people that were watching Smackdown probably watched Raw too. All of the recaps probably took 12-15 minutes of airtime that could have went towards building up some current talent on the roster.
For more on Smackdown, be sure to check out Andrew Johnson's Smacking of Smackdown column on TJRWrestling.com. It's always a great read!
RAW 1000 is in the history books (unlike Chris Benoit) and so much went down during those three hours as you very well know by now. What I liked was the fact that I got to see DX, the APA, Lita, Dude Love and various other wrestlers that I loved when I first got into wrestling during the beloved Attitude Era. It was nostalgia at its finest for me as I am sure it was for many others. I will admit that in my opinion, I think they could have been used better. That was my general feeling in regards to the whole show. While it was great to see them all, I feel the segments they were in could have been better, minus the ending.
Like many, I too was very much looking forward to seeing Stone Cold, but as we all know by now, he did not show. Long story short, we would find out after the fact that he had knee surgery. So I get him not wanting to be there, but at the very least a satellite promo would have been great. Take a page out of Rock's book. Why not? Oh well, it was his choice and we have to respect that.
Is CM Punk really a heel now? I don't think so. Will he be booked that way going forward? Perhaps. Only time will tell at this point. I don't know about you, but if I was the current reigning WWE Champion for almost a full year and my amazing matches still weren't the final match on the PPV shows and it was still all about Cena and Rock, I would do the exact same think Punk did this past Monday night on Raw 1000. I'd be pissed as all hell if I were Punk, although I guess it serves him right for coming back so soon after "leaving" the company last year.
Who does the Rock think he is? I know he has earned the right to come and go as he pleases and that he draws and always brings in the ratings. I'm not knocking him for that at all. I am just putting myself in Punk's boots and looking at it from his perspective. Damn right I would take advantage of the Big Show's interference. And you better believe I'd take out a guy who threatens to come back and face me at the Royal Rumble, regardless of who it was.
If Punk is asked to explain his actions (and you know very well they will have that happen) I can very well see him saying that it is still all about Cena and no matter what he does, no matter how many great matches he has, it still won't make him the company's guy and put him in main event matches. Heck, I hope he flat out says that Cena is now more important to the company than the WWE Championship. And I hope he rips on Rock too and addresses the fact that he doesn't care that Rock has earned the right to come and leave as he wishes because it is his time. That's how I would book it and that's where I see it going. I'll be shocked if it doesn't go that direction quite frankly. That's all the time I got this week. Until next time, sit back, relax and melo out, because that is what wrestling is all about.
Steve “The Melo Man” Melo
Please check out our new sports site TJRSports.com where we've already hired some writers and will be looking to hire some more in the near future. I've only had the chance to write one column there, but I can assure you that this week I'll have more content up as well. Also follow @TJRSports for my sports related tweets. Another site I'm involved with is The-Oratory.com which has a variety of different types of columns including beer reviews, which I find to be very helpful and informative.
I'll be back on Tuesday afternoon with the Raw Deal. It won't be live this week.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - email@example.com
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