(This was written live on Monday night at TJRWrestling.com.)

Live from Fort Wayne, Indiana this is the Raw Deal…

The opening video package focused on the Punk/Bryan/Kane story with AJ rather than the Cena story, which is a change for once. It’s a swerve right off the bat, my friends. This video package is pretty awesome, which isn’t a surprise. They always are.

Backstage, AJ was shown practicing what she was going to say to each guy. First she talked to Bryan about how she knows he still has feelings for her, how she wants to get freaky with Kane and how Punk is her soulmate. Then she said “I think it’s best if we all go our separate ways.” She was talking into a mirror. The Raw intro song played after that.

Vickie Guerrero appeared at the top of the ramp to tell us she was the interim GM of Raw & Smackdown this week. The crowd was booing her very loudly. She said she believes she’ll be the permanent GM of Raw & Smackdown on the historic 1,000th Raw on July 23. Does that mean that’s the show where they’ll announce a permanent GM? I assume that’s what she meant. She announced a three way elimination match.

The first participant is Daniel Bryan. Loud “yes” chants for him. The second participant is Kane. Kane did his pyro explosion during his entrance so that usually means it’s unlikely he’ll win the match. The third participant is CM Punk.

Analysis: Here’s my immediate thought: Why wouldn’t Guerrero book Ziggler in a WWE Title match? If she’s in charge she should want her wrestler getting a chance to win the title? Instead the WWE Champion is booked in this non-title match. Not complaining about the match. It should be good. I’m just looking at this from a logic point of view. We’ll see if Ziggler gets a World Title match on this show or Smackdown. Could happen. Or they will just book Vickie to be a GM that doesn’t care about the only wrestler she represents. (Note: It ended up making sense. I just wanted to keep this in so you knew my train of thought as I wrote live.)

Three Way Elimination Match: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Kane

The WWE Title is not on the line here. Punk got a pinfall attempt on Bryan early. Kane countered a Punk charge with a hard punch to the throat. Then he caught Bryan in his arms and drove him back first into the security wall at ringside. They went to break with Punk & Bryan in pain while Kane rolled back into the ring. I guess that counts as a floor to commercial break.

(Commercial)

As they returned from break, Punk was battling Kane on the top rope and he missed his clothesline while Bryan got a pinfall attempt on Punk. Kane wanted a clothesline, but that got countered by the other two who worked together to give him a suplex. Bryan destroyed Punk with some forearms, which Punk countered with a kick to the jaw. Kane dropped Bryan with a clothesline and then Kane went flying out to the floor. Punk gave Bryan a back drop over the top onto Kane. Punk hit his dive between the middle and top ropes. All three guys were out on the floor as Cole mentioned that Punk has had a 219 day WWE Title reign. Punk gave Bryan a roundhouse kick, which got him a count of two because Bryan’s foot was on the bottom rope. Kane booted Punk in the face when he was going for the GTS on Bryan. Kane hit his top rope clothesline on Punk. All of a sudden AJ’s music started up. She skipped around the ring. She’s in her regular gear this time. Kane went for a Chokeslam, Punk countered out and Punk gave Kane the GTS to eliminate him.

CM Punk Eliminated Kane

After Kane got eliminated, Bryan kicked Punk in the back of the head. He covered for the victory at the 11 minute mark.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Analysis: **1/2 That was an entertaining elimination match. I don’t like how AJ’s music played in the middle of the match, but that’s something WWE does often and I’ve gotten used to it. Doesn’t mean I have to like it though! The work in the ring was very good. I like their chemistry a lot and the finish was well done. Bryan’s KO kick on Punk looked very convincing. Obviously since it was a non-title match you knew the champ would lose. I’m glad it was booked in a way that didn’t hurt the winner, who was Bryan in this case. I would assume that this means a Punk/Bryan singles match at Money in the Bank, but nothing was made official here.

Backstage, Alberto Del Rio was sucking up to Vickie Guerrero. He was telling her that he was the Number One Contender for the World Title. Dolph Ziggler walked in to say he was. She booked them in a #1 Contender’s Match where a contract would be on a pole and whoever got it would get the World Title match against Sheamus. Ricardo Rodriguez showed up with flowers for Vickie. Ziggler threw them against the wall. Could that mean a babyface turn coming for Ziggler? It’s possible.

Analysis: “On a pole” booking reminds me of Vince Russo. That’s never a good thing. At least Vickie explained that she didn’t give it to Dolph because she wanted to be impartial. I’m okay with that explanation.

Big Show vs. Brodus Clay coming up next.

(Commercial)

To explain the “Brodus is banned from Raw” thing, Michael Cole pointed out that the stipulation was only something that John Laurinaitis did and that Vickie got that changed for this week.

Big Show vs. Brodus Clay

Clay knocked Show down early with a headbutt. That didn’t last long because Big Show targeted the injured left knee of Brodus, which led to the Funkasauras screaming in pain early as Show went after the knee. Show claims a giant can’t be beat. Let’s forget about all the time he’s been beat for 15 years. Show ran the ropes, Clay picked him up and he collapsed to the mat with Show on top of him, so that was enough to get the victory. The match went about two minutes.

Winner: Big Show

Analysis: 1/2* Show looked dominant from the beginning while Clay was yelling in pain from the start of the match. It was an odd way to give Clay his first loss, but at least it got over the idea that Show is more of a badass these days.

After the match, Clay was getting looked at by doctors. I give Clay credit for doing a good job of selling the injury.

As the announcers talked about Cena’s big announcement to come, a video package aired showing John Cena granting his 300th wish for the Make A Wish foundation. Like him or hate him, you have to respect the guy for the time he dedicates to his fans. Good for him.

(Commercial)

The Raw 1,000th Moment video is about the time Bob Barker was the host of Raw. I didn’t like most of the guest hosts, but Barker was pretty good. Price is Right with Chris Jericho was pretty hilarious.

They aired a “during the break” clip from the previous segment where Big Show hit Brodus Clay, who was KNOCKED THE F OUT~! Brodus was getting helped by trainers when Show punched him. That’s just mean.

Clips were shown from No Way Out when Triple H called out Brock Lesnar and then last Monday on Raw when Triple H had a verbal duel with Paul Heyman. Hey look at that “The John Report” sign in the background. That’s always nice to see.

The big news is that Brock Lesnar will answer Triple H’s Summerslam challenge next week. They didn’t say if he would be in the building or if it would be via satellite. For all we know Heyman could be the one that answers the challenge.

Backstage, Kane was talking to AJ. He said she makes him feel things he never thought possible. Kane: “I don’t do relationships. I’m a monster.” He said his source of pleasure is eviscerating people and that even he thinks she’s crazy. He said he thinks it would be best if they just stayed away from eachother. Kane walked away. AJ looked like she was crying at first, but then she was laughing.

Analysis: Crying and then laughing? I’ve dated one of those before. Look out, Kane.

(Commercial)

United States Title: Santino vs. Jack Swagger

Swagger doesn’t even get a televised entrance. Cole mentioned that Santino hasn’t defended the US Title on Raw since mid April. That’s their way of admitting how poorly the US Title has been booked. Swagger used his power early to gain control with a side slam for a count of two. Santino came back with a back suplex too. Santino hit an arm drag and then a fist drop to the face. He took out the Cobra sock out of his tights. Swagger went to pick him up, but Santino countered with a DDT. Santino hit Swagger with the Cobra for the win after two minutes.

Winner: Santino

Analysis: 1/2* Another clean loss for Swagger. At least they remembered to put the US Title on the line in a TV match. Swagger deserves so much better. Hopefully this “losing streak” angle leads to something new for him, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.

There’s a Divas Summertime Beach Battle Royal later. I don’t know what that is exactly, but they showed a graphic with most of the women on the roster, so that’s coming up later.

John Cena was shown walking backstage. He actually bumped into Zack Ryder, so that’s good for Zack I guess. Cena’s coming up after the break as we head into hour two.

(Commercial)

John Cena entered to a huge ovation. It was mostly cheers. Cena talked about his tweet hyping up a big announcement. He said recently there’s been a crazy Star Wars like story. Then he went into a Star Wars like story talking about everything that happened with Laurinaitis being ousted as the GM. It was quite the elaborate story with voices involved and did a Yoda McMahon voice: “No chance in hell have you. Fired you are.” He laughed after. The crowd cheered the effort. It was well done by Cena. Cena was about to make his big announcement. Instead, the lights went out and “Break the Walls Down” started up. Chris Jericho walked out to a huge pop. Cole mentioned Jericho performing with Fozzy. They showed clips. No mention of the 30 day suspension due to the Brazilian flag incident.

There was a “Y2J” chant for Jericho. He told Cena to make his announcement and get out of his ring because tonight is Jericho’s night. Cena’s historic announcement is that he’s going to be a part of a Money in the Bank match. Cena said it’s been about a year since he’s been WWE Champion. Cena said he’s going to win the “whole fudging thing” and Jericho made fun of him for saying “fudging” as John explained that it’s a PG show. That was good.

Jericho said he invented the Money in the Bank ladder match in 2005. This is actually true. Read his second book. He told Cena that he’s not going to win just because he’s Cena. Jericho said he’s MITB is serious and nobody’s been in more ladder matches than him. He called it a career ending match. He said instead of worrying about stopping Big Show, he had to worry about stopping Jericho. Jericho entered himself into the Money in the Bank Ladder match.

Vickie Guerrero entered at the top of the ramp. Big heat for her. She said there will be two Money in the Bank matches. One of them will be for the WWE Title contract and one of them will be for the World Title contract. Jericho cut her off. She was mad. Jericho: “What are you gonna do? Suspend me?” Ha that was good. She announced that the WWE Title Money in the Bank match would only have people that are former WWE Champions. The people in the MITB match for the WWE Title match are Kane, Big Show, Chris Jericho and John Cena.

Cena said she could be good as a GM if she takes orders from the Board of the Directors and not make any decisions on her own. She said she’ll make the main event for tonight. It’s John Cena vs. Chris Jericho. They hyped it up as happening for the first time in two years. Vickie actually said first time ever, so oops to her. The first time in two years thing is probably right. I don’t mind that.

Analysis: The Cena announcement was a bit of a letdown because they hyped it up as a big deal, but really it was just an announcement of Cena being in a match on a PPV. It’s nice that they think it’s a big deal. Is it really? Not that much. I don’t mind the “former WWE Champs only” idea for the WWE Title match at Money in the Bank. I assume Cena wins and then uses it to challenge Punk in a straight up match at Summerslam. That’s just my hunch at this point. Jericho’s line about being suspended is the line of the night so far.

Coming up next a former WWE superstar in honor of the 1,000th episode of Raw next month.

(Commercial)

It looked like Lilian Garcia was going to introduce a Raw legend. Before she could, Heath Slater came out for the interruption. His role as the comedy jobber is continuing I guess. “I am Heath Slater and I rule the world.” That’s the cue for Sycho Sid. Yes that’s how they used to spell “psycho” for him without the “p” in front.

Sycho Sid vs. Heath Slater

Sid got a good pop from the crowd. His last time on Raw was 1997 and he’s a former two-time World Champion. He was never very good in the ring, but he did have star power because he’s nearly seven feet tall. He also has some of the worst promos ever. As for this match, he got some offense in on Slater from the beginning. He hit a big clothesline followed by a leg drop. Then he yelled out “powerbomb” to a nice ovation. Sid hit Slater with a vintage Powerbomb for the win after about two minutes.

Winner: Sycho Sid

Analysis: 1/4* Admittedly I’m not a big Sid fan, but this was fine for nostalgia sake.

We got another graphic for the Summertime Beach Battle Royal featuring what looks like nine of WWE’s divas.

Also Cena vs. Jericho for the first time in two years is our main event.

(Commercial)

The first ever Raw celebrity social media ambassador was announced. It’s on WWE.com. I went to the site and it’s Charlie Sheen. Well that’s a year after he was at his peak, but good try WWE. His act is tiresome. You’re pushing 50, dude. Grow the hell up. They must be desperate for hits if they’re not willing to say the guy’s name and want people to go to the website to see who it is. Lame.

World Title Contact on a Pole Match: Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio

The crowd is behind Ziggler more than Del Rio. There’s a pole attached to one of the ring posts and there’s a clipboard with the World Title match contract on it. The winner gets the title shot on Smackdown. They climbed up the turnbuckle at the same time. Del Rio put Ziggler on his shoulder and dropped back with a Samoan Drop off the top rope. They were climbing up again. Ziggler pulled it off the pole. He didn’t gain control. They each grabbed it for about a second, but not long enough to get control. Apparently you have to have control to see who earns the contract. Ricardo Rodriguez went for it and Ziggler booted it out of his hands so it ended up outside the ring. They tried fighting for it. They ended up falling out of the ring. All of a sudden Sheamus’ music hit. He said that Vickie booked a Triple Threat match for the World Title on Smackdown. The match got about four minutes.

Winner – Nobody?

Sheamus said the match on Friday is about him kicking both of their arses on Smackdown.

Analysis: * No finish to the match. Sheamus seemed pretty happy about the match even though he could lose the title without being pinned in the match. At least they are doing the smart thing in having Ziggler get a title shot while Vickie is in charge for the week.

The results of who AJ should be with based on Twitter vote is CM Punk with 51% of the vote. How can you count that? It’s not like it’s a poll. And there’s no way somebody counted all the votes.

There was a replay of Bryan winning the three way match earlier when he pinned Punk. They made it official. At Money in the Bank it is CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title. Great. It’s another match of the year contender right there.

Backstage, AJ showed up in a robe and talked to CM Punk. She said she was going to win the battle royal and dedicate it to Punk. He wanted to talk to her, but she took off before he could. Divas battle royal is next.

(Commercial)

The Raw 1,000th moment that Mick Foley talked about was the famous “This is Your Life” segment featuring him and The Rock. I believe it’s one of the highest rated segments in the history of Raw. Classic stuff here. It was a huge moment for sure.

The divas were in the ring for the beach battle royal. Vickie made her way down and revealed a leopard skin one piece outfit. She inserted herself into the match.

Divas Summertime Beach Battle Royal

There were some quick eliminations with Maxine, Rosa and Kaitlyn being knocked out early. Beth & Natalya (remember when they were booked as a dominant team?) threw a lot of them out. Beth & Natalya went after Layla, but Layla outsmarted the and that led to Beth & Natalya being eliminated. That left us with a Layla, AJ and Vickie. Layla got eliminated after Beth interfered. Vickie thought she dumped out AJ, but AJ held on. AJ faced off with Vickie and AJ kicked Vickie out of the ring. The “match” went about two minutes.

Winner: AJ

Post match, AJ was yelling “yes” after the win. Cole pointed out that she dedicated the match to Punk and then she celebrated like Bryan.

Analysis: It was nice to see some of the girls that are rarely on the show like Maxine and my favorite Natalya, but this wasn’t a very good segment. It did a good job of focusing on AJ, though, so the end result is fine with me. It was not a #1 contenders match for the Divas title in case you were wondering.

The Cena/Jericho main event is next.

(Commercial)

Friday night on Smackdown: Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler for the World Heavyweight Title. We already knew that. It’s nice of them to announce a major title match on the “B” show, though.

John Cena vs. Chris Jericho

They wrestled for about 30 seconds. Jericho went to the floor and they went to break for the vintage floor to commercial spot.

(Commercial)

Back from break, Jericho was in control of the action. He had Cena grounded in a headlock and nailed a dropkick to keep Cena down. Cena fought back with a suplex. Jericho knocked him down with a back elbow and then missed a Lionsault like he always does. Cena hit the shoulderblocks followed by his spinning side slam. Jericho countered the Five Knuckle Shuffle with the Walls of Jericho. Cena fought out and hit his side slam followed by a successful Five Knuckle Shuffle attempt. Big Show’s music started to play. That allowed Jericho to put Cena into the Walls of Jericho. Big Show walked into the ring and dropped a leg drop onto the back of Cena’s head. It’s a Jerishow reunion! Not really. The ref DQ’d Jericho to give Cena the win. The match got about seven minutes. We only saw about four minutes of it.

Winner via DQ: John Cena

Jericho left. Big Show gave Cena a Chokeslam. Then Big Show gave Cena his Camel Clutch like submission move that they are calling the Colossal Clutch. Show finally let go after about 30 seconds and Raw ended with Big Show staring at the referee.

Analysis: *1/2 They didn’t want to book a finish that made either guy look bad, so the DQ finish was the obvious choice. We’ve seen that ending to Raw before with Big Show looking like a dominant beast and the announcers are left to wonder who can stop him. Never mind that the PPV is a ladder match so he doesn’t have to be pinned to get stopped. He loses if somebody gets the briefcase. I didn’t hate the ending at all. I would have liked to see Jericho get a cheap pin due to Show’s interference, but obviously they like to protect Cena at all times.

————–

Three Stars of the Show

1. Chris Jericho – Welcome back. “What are you going to do? Suspend me?”

2. Daniel Bryan – Yes due to

3. AJ – She was all over the show again. Did a good job.

The Scoreboard

6 out of 10

Last week: 4.5

2012 Average: 5.77

2012 High: 9 (January 30)

2012 Low: 3.5 (May 14)

Last 5 Weeks: 4.5, 6, 4.5, 5.5, 3.5

Final Thoughts

It’s a solid 6 this week. The last time I gave a Raw higher than 6 was April 16 when I gave it a 7 out of 10.

The first half of this week’s Raw was much better than the second half, which was full of shorter segments, matches and video clips.

I liked how they built up some of the key matches for the Money in the Bank PPV. We know the WWE Title match. We know four of the competitors in the WWE Title Contract Ladder match (that’s a mouthful – that’s what she said.) We don’t know the World Title match yet, but at least we know we’re getting a very good triple threat World Title match on Smackdown.

Even though there was no sign of Triple H or Paul Heyman, they progressed the HHH/Lesnar story by saying we would get an answer from Lesnar next week. That’s good because it leaves the viewer at home guessing as to what may happen next.

One of the things that bothered me was that there were three matches on Raw that saw the music of somebody else play before the match ended: AJ, Sheamus & Show. It felt repetitive to me. If it was me I’d have that happen zero times, but to do it three times in one show is very uncreative in my opinion.

Lastly, I was disappointed that they didn’t mention CM Punk’s epic “shoot” promo that happened a year ago this week. It would have been cool to give him a microphone and have him sit at the top of the ramp again while he spoke his mind.

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Please be sure to “Like” TJRWrestling.com on Facebook. I’ll be posting there regularly with plenty of discussions as well as Q&A’s, videos, links to articles and much more. Thank you.

I’ll be back next Tuesday with the Raw Deal. I’ll likely have a TNA related column on Thursday and Canton’s Corner is a maybe on the weekend. I’m working on a bigger project for the end of July as it relates to the 1,000th episode of Raw so a lot of my writing focus is on that.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

John Canton – thejohnreportnet@yahoo.com

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