Following last night's Money In The Bank Pay-Per-View, there are couple of new questions. Who will be the next challengers to the WWE & World Heavyweight Championships, respectively? When will the winners of the MITB Ladder matches cash in their prize? (Honestly, I know the major results already, but do not want to spoil it for those who have not seen/want to be surprised in this report).
Regarding tonight, the only question I have is who the next Legend from Raw's past that will decimate Heath Slater?
Read on to find out!
Monday Night Raw for July 16th, 2012 - "To Take Or Not To Take?"
Introduction Segment: Welcoming
The regular Raw video plays and the pyro explodes in the Mandalay Bay Casino of Las Vegas, Nevada. Michael Cole & Jerry "The King" Lawler greet us, and give the main event tonight - WWE Champion C.M. Punk facing The Big Show.
Segment #1: Arena Promo
Out first is the WWE Champion, to many a cheer. C.M. Punk has his "pipe bomb" in hand and gives his love for Las Vegas. He strolls down memory lane, saying that his initial "pipe bomb" promo began in Las Vegas. Punk claims that he has proved that he is the best in the world and beaten everyone.
The "Straight-Edge Superstar" cites next week's 1000th Raw, then recalls the very first episode of Monday Night Raw. Punk accuses that a guy like him would never have been on that show in that time (1993). However, times have changed and Punk plans to hold the WWE Championship high above next week on 1000 Raw.
His opponent for tonight interrupts and puts down Punk's accomplishment. Show says if he had the MITB briefcase, he would cash it in right now. C.M. cuts him off and informs him that "almost" doesn't cut it. Punk compares himself and Show with respect from the fans, which Show disputes and doesn't care about. Punk calls him a "shell of a man who happens to be a giant."
Show says he will knock Punk out tonight, and then John Cena, the winner of the Raw MITB briefcase, just may cash it in for the win. Show drops the microphone ala Punk and walks away.
Lawler & Cole put over the 1000 Raw and the live appearance of The Rock for that same night. Up next, Kofi & Truth defend their Tag Titles.
Match #1: Tag-Team for the WWE Tag-Team Championship - R-Truth & Kofi Kingston (Champions) VS. "The Prime Time Players" (Darren Young & Titus O'Neil) (w/ A.W.) (Challengers)
Kofi & Titus begin the bout with a collar/elbow tie-up. Big uppercut from O'Neil and a tag to Darren Young. Kingston fights out of the corner with punches and a high dropkick, then tags in R-Truth, who both deliver a hip-toss. Truth hits a ground legdrop and slaps hands again with Kofi, who flies with a crossbody. Double-dropkick to the P.T.P., and then a somersault plancha over the ropes from Kingston.
Back live, Young has Kofi in a waistlock and prevents Kingston from tagging. He gets one himself and Titus is in now. A bearhug is locked on now, wearing down Kofi. O'Neil tags back Young, who beats on Kingston while getting his 'fro combed from A.W! (That was unique!). Young switches again with O'Neil, but Kofi kicks away and does the same.
Truth enters and is on fire, driving Titus with a DDT. 1 - 2 - Young breaks it up. Truth chucks Young out, and even though A.W. tries the distraction, it backfires as Kofi hits the Trouble In Paradise spin-kick and Truth nails his "Little Jimmy" Flatliner for the victory!
Winners via Pinfall & STILL WWE Tag-Team Champions: Kofi Kingston & R-Truth
Post-match, A.W. flips out and blames the referee.
Segment #2: Backstage Promo
Daniel Bryan comes up and apologizes to A.J. for the way he's been treating her, blaming it on his quest for the championship. Eve interjects and informs them that they will be teaming up against her and a partner of her choice. Bryan will finish the conversation with A.J. after they win their match. He kisses her and walks off.
Cole & Lawler promote the new Social Media program "Tout" and air John Cena's first one, which he gives his favorite Raw moment, the night he was drafted to Raw in 2005.
Match #2: Single - "Long Island Iced-Z" Zack Ryder VS. Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez)
Aggressive early, Del Rio beats down Ryder quickly. Zack tries to fight back, but gets taken down with an armbreaker and is choked with Alberto's foot. On the outside, Del Rio slams Ryder's arm into the steel steps and throws him into the barricade. Alberto chucks him into the ring post and locks on the Rolling Cross Armbreaker for the submission!
Winner via Pinfall: Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez)
Del Rio continues the assault after the match, but the man he injured almost a year ago returns and exacts revenge. Rey Mysterio jumps in the ring, hits a headscissors and the 619 to take out Del Rio! (This was truly a surprise, was not expecting him back tonight).
Segment #3: 1000 Raws
Heath Slater remembers his own moments, a highlight package of his recent losses against wrestling legends. (The video shows him getting beat down, but Slater putting his own "positive" spin on it).
Up next, another legend is sure to knock of the "One-Man-Band!"
Match #3: Single - Heath Slater VS. Raw Legend
Another squash match on deck, as it's former Intercontinental Champion and father of The Usos, Rikishi! Sidekick and a Stinkface begin and end the contest, complete with a corner-sit-down splash for the 1-2-3!
Winner via Pinfall: Rikishi
Post-match, Rikishi dances with his sons, Jimmy & Jey to intertwine generations with nostalgia. (Sweet moment!)
Up next, it's the mixed tag-team match with A.J. & Daniel Bryan taking on Eve and her mystery partner.
Match #4: Mixed-Tag-Team - Eve Torres & ??? VS. A.J. & Daniel Bryan
AWESOME! Eve's unnamed partner is the freshly-returned former WWE Champion, The Miz. Bryan & Miz lock up and Miz pushes Daniel into the corner. Daniel reverses and kicks away in the corner. Countered Irish Whip by Miz and a high knee-to-the-gut and knee-to-the-head. A.J. now tags herself in, which means Eve joins in under the rules.
Eve also aggressive, kicking A.J. in the corner and in the chest. 1 - 2 - A.J. kicks out. She now fights back and takes Eve down with a spin kick and Shining Wizard knee, but Miz distracts the ref before the cover. A.J. dropkicks Miz off the apron and he gives chase, but the referee blocks. Meanwhile, Eve small packages A.J., but Bryan comes in and turns A.J. around on top. 1 - 2 - 3!
Winners via Pinfall: A.J. & Daniel Bryan
Post-match, Bryan takes the microphone and professes his love for A.J. He receives something from ringside and then gets in front of her again. Bryan gets down on bended knee and proposes to her. Daniel puts the ring on her finger and sticks the microphone in her face, as she looks worried and upset. That look quickly turns to happiness as she says "yes," then plants a big kiss on him. They both lead the crowd in "yes" chants.
Segment #4: 1000 Raws
April 12, 1999, when The Rock chucked "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and his Smoking-Skull WWE Championship off a bridge into the river!
Cole & Lawler announce (via Daniel Bryan's twitter account) that at the 1000 Raw next week, Bryan & A.J. will have their wedding.
Match #5: Single - The "All-American-American" Jack Swagger VS. Ryback
Swagger tries to get the early advantage, pounding him down and nailing the Gutwrench powerbomb. Ryback fights back with a clothesline and a spinebuster. He drives Swagger down with three consecutive powerbombs and rolls him out of the ring. Ryback then chants "feed me more."
Winner: No Contest via No Official Start
Segment #5: Arena Promo
Vickie Guerrero introduces "The Show-Off" Dolph Ziggler, who brings out his briefcase that he won last night at Money In The Bank. Ziggler touts the stats of the MITB winners always cashing in and winning, which is exactly he will be doing. He lists a bunch of legends that he is better than, until Chris Jericho interrupts.
Ziggler promptly cuts off Jericho before he can say a word, saying that this is HIS moment. Dolph then throws all of Jericho's "best in the world" catchphrases in his face, telling him all he does is lose. Dolph calls him "all hype" and wonders when the last time Chris one an important match. He accuses Jericho of "losing his touch," until that touch finds Ziggler's face with a Codebreaker. Jericho stares at a downed Ziggler and then walks away.
Brodus Clay makes his usual entrance, then we go to a break.
Match #6: Single - "The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay (with "The Funkettes" Naomi & Cameron) VS. JTG
Collar/elbow tie-up with Brodus controlling, and most of the match until JTG cuts him off at the knees with chops. He hammers away on Clay and clamps on a grounding front-facelock. Dropkick from JTG, but he is caught off a crossbody into a t-bone suplex, headbutt, and big splash to give Brodus the win!
Winner via Pinfall: "The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay (with "The Funkettes" Naomi & Cameron)
Up next, Big Show faces WWE Champion C.M. Punk
Match #7: Single - WWE Champion C.M. Punk VS. Big Show (Non-Title)
Punk & Show measure each other out, and Punk attempts some kicks, but gets a headbutt instead. Show with a shoulder block and he then stands on the back of C.M. Huge chest-slap on the ring apron and Show brings the match to the outside. Another headbutt and Show goes to run Punk into the ring post, but is shoved into it by Punk. C.M. kicks away, but a third headbutt takes him down again. Show chokes Punk in the corner with his boot, but is kicked in the face by Punk. The "Straight-Edge Superstar" dives off the second rope, but is caught and scoop-slammed down.
Right hands are delivered to Punk's ribs, but Punk fights back again and hops on the back of Big Show with a sleeper hold. Show reverses into a sidewalk slam and ascends the ropes in the corner. Show misses a splash, and the "Second-City-Saint" builds some momentum, trying to knock him off his feet. Punk runs at Show but gets back body dropped. Big is now setting up Punk for the Knockout Punch, but Punk ducks and hits three high-kicks to Show's head and three high-knees.
Show counters the bulldog, but misses in the corner again, hitting the post and falling down. Punk flies through the air with the elbow drop, but only for a two-count! Punk tries another dive but gets caught and chokeslammed! 1 - 2 - Punk with the foot on the ropes!
Show punches C.M. more in the corner and shoves referee Mike Chioda down, igniting a DQ.
Winner via Disqualification: WWE Champion C.M. Punk
Big Show continues the beating until John Cena runs down with his MITB briefcase. Will he or won't he? Cena's staring at Big Show, who leaves the ring, and Punk is slowly pulling himself up. Cena takes the microphone instead and looks at Punk and the crowd.
Cena makes a huge announcement regarding the MITB briefcase, but before he can, Show provokes him to cash it in now. He lays out the easy scenario in front of him, to earn the respect, but Cena denies it.
Instead, Cena tells C.M. Punk to get ready, because at Raw 1000, he will cash in the briefcase. Next week, it will be John Cena VS. WWE Champion C.M. Punk for the WWE Championship! Cena then smashes Show in the head with the briefcase and he and Punk have a stare down with the briefcase and the WWE Championship to close the show.
End Of Raw.
Reporter's Rumblings - By Moe Tapp
Much, much better Raw this week. Even though I was away 7 days ago, I still caught RAW from July 9 via my PVR, and boy am I glad I missed writing about it. That was a bad one! But that was then and this is now.
Major improvements tonight, so let's get to the analysis.
Excellence: Show/Punk promo & main-event match. Both wrestlers have chemistry together, and the match told the great classic story of giant dominating the little man, who is struggling to make a heroic comeback. This was surprisingly a great match with decent amount of time.
Rey Mysterio returning - a genuine surprise since I didn't expect him to be back until the 1000 Raw. And, nice to see continuity with him wanting revenge on A.D.R. for injuring him almost a year ago. Also, for memories of Raw in the year 2000, great to see Rikishi back and then to dance with his sons was a nice "pass-the-torch" type of moment.
Awesome to see The Miz back, and like the new look with his slick-backed hair. However, he needs to be put in a meaningful program now. Speaking of meaningful programs, love the new feud between Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler. That will be excellent for both microphone skills and a beautiful WRESTLING match! (or two, or three!)
Once again, excellent to see the show open AND close with the WWE Champion - building it around the Heavyweight Title and wrestler carrying it - the way it should be done!
Bogus: Prime Time Players - should've won the tag-titles, steam is potentially done. Simple as that. Ryback/Swagger - seen enough of both right now, until they get legit competition. Brodus/JTG was just plain filler and not worth putting on Raw.
In general, another great edition and so looking forward to next weeks 1000th Raw. Should be an AWESOME episode and very, very curious to see how they pull it all off and who comes back. Also, please, please have C.M. Punk retain his WWE Championship. That itself would make the show, for "superman" Cena not to win in a big-match situation!
Until then, as always, Be Excellent Wrestling-Online Readers and Wrestling Fans!