The volume of questions I received prior to RAW’s 1,000th episode was apparently an accurate indication of interest in the show. RAW posted a terrific 3.9 rating, meaning lots of people tuned in to see WWE celebrates this amazing milestone.
The RAW 1,000 celebration in St. Louis was a lot of fun. There were numerous interesting twists and developments. Achilles Heel would have preferred an excellent match or two thrown into the mix, but trying to cram all the former stars into the show makes it difficult to have a 20-minute mat classic.
Among the highlights for me were:
- Degeneration X. Those guys had a lot of fun in their entertaining opening segment. (Sharp-eyed readers may have picked up on my hint last week that the DX reunion would include the New Age Outlaws and X-Pac. I only hinted at the reunion because you know my disdain for spoilers.)
- Paul Heyman. Nobody portrays a sniveling evil genius better than Heyman. He’s one of the greatest talkers in the business.
- Trish Stratus. She looks tremendous! (As always.)
- The Rock. A wonderful entertainer. (As always.)
- Bret Hart. It’s always great to see “The Hitman,” even if he’s just serving as a ring announcer.
- Jim Ross. Any time there’s an opportunity for the greatest broadcaster in wrestling history to do a match, I’m all for it.
- The Mae Young “hand” reference during the conversation between AJ and Layla. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I can’t begin to explain it. But I believe the laughter you heard in the background was Jerry “The King” Lawler genuinely breaking up at the sight gag.
- The “Legends” vs. Heath Slater. It was great to see Lita deliver a moonsault. The APA got back together again for this match, and Bradshaw delivered a nasty clothesline.
- Kane and the Undertaker, the Brothers of Destruction, teaming up to clean house.
- The well-executed C.M. Punk heel turn.
Besides Punk’s heel turn, important developments included Chris Jericho’s apparent face turn and brimming feud with Dolph Ziggler, The Miz winning the Intercontinental Championship from Christian, Mr. McMahon making AJ the general manager of RAW and Brock Lesnar accepting Triple H’s challenge for SummerSlam.
RAW 1,000 was a fun mix of nostalgia and current storylines. I don’t know if WWE can produce three entertaining hours every Monday night (RAW starts at 8 p.m. every week now). But I know there should be plenty of time for at least one or two extended matches every week.
DEAD MAN TALKING: The Undertaker’s haircut, which he unveiled at WrestleMania, is horrible. But who has the courage to tell him?
M.I.A.: Having to sit out RAW 1,000 in his hometown of St. Louis was difficult for Randy Orton, who is suspended for violating WWE’s drug policy. Then again, maybe “MIA” isn’t the best title to use for an item on Orton, who had to relinquish the leading role in the latest installment of “The Marine” series to Miz because he went AWOL from the Marines in real life. Sorry for the low blow, Randy.
STREAKING: I know this isn’t the Phillies Notebook, but before fans get too excited about the Phillies’ four-game winning streak, remember that three of those wins were comeback wins against the Milwaukee Brewers, which is sort of like having three of your four wins coming in close contests against The Brooklyn Brawler, Kim-Chee and Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz (or whichever character Steve Lombardi is portraying this week).
CHIKARA WEEKEND: CHIKARA returns to action this weekend in Maine and Massachusetts. The main event Saturday in Portland, Maine, features Grand Champion Eddie Kingston defending his title in a historic match against Sara Del Rey, who is leaving for WWE. Another featured bout is an eight-man tag team match pitting the team of Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw, UltraMantis Black and Hallowicked against The Young Bucks and the reformed Heart Throbs, who used to appear in WWE.
The main event Sunday in Everett, Mass., features the Young Bucks defending their tag team titles against the Throwbacks in a best-2-out-of-3-falls match. Del Rey – will she be Grand Champion? – will face Icarus. Former WWE tag team and Intercontinental champion Marty Janetty will team with Green Ant to face Los Ice Creams. There will also be four-man Young Lions Cup matches on both cards.
ENTER THE DRAGON: Dragon Gate USA has Internet pay-per-views on Saturday and Sunday from Taylor, Mich., and Chicago, respectively. Johnny Gargano is in a featured match each night, battling Akira Tozawa for the Open the Freedom Gate title in Michigan then taking on former partner Chuck Taylor in an I Quit match in Chicago. The Chicago card also features Cima and AR Fox facing Ricochet and Rich Swann for the vacant Open the United Gate tag team titles.
CHAMPION VS. CHAMPION: Speaking of Internet pay-per-views, Ring of Honor has announced that its Aug. 11 debut in Providence, R.I., will be an Internet pay-per-view: Boiling Point 2012. The main event will be a champion vs. champion match between Ring of Honor World Champion Kevin Steen and CHIKARA Grand Champion Eddie Kingston. Sara Del Rey, who is certainly keeping busy on the independent scene before joining WWE, will team with Eddie Edwards to face Mike Bennett and former WWE Diva Maria Kanellis.
Ring of Honor’s television show this weekend features a World Television title match between Adam Cole and Roderick Strong.
AND JUSTICE FOR ALL: We have a nice break between television pay-per-views, but are the big promotions taking advantage of the extra time? TNA’s “Hardcore Justice” takes place on Aug. 12, yet just one match, a rematch for the heavyweight championship between Austin Aries and former champ Bobby Roode, is listed for the card on TNA’s Web site. TNA, coming off two straight critically acclaimed pay-per-views, should have already announced several matches for Hardcore Justice.
ADDING TO THE LIST: WWE.com has an interesting list of top-level wrestlers who never became world champion. Headlining this interesting list are Ted DiBiase, Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts and Paul Orndorff.
One omission is the Magnificent One, Don Muraco – unless the compilers of the list are counting Muraco’s two reigns as heavyweight champion in Eastern Championship Wrestling, which later became Extreme Championship Wrestling. For those wondering why Curt Hennig is not on the list, he was the AWA World Champion. In my opinion, Hennig should have also had a run as WWE champion.