Welcome to the Weekly Top Five (WTF) for the June 25 episode of Monday Night Raw. Before I rank best moments of the show, allow me to remind you that the second edition of WWE Encyclopedia is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Seriously.
5. KICKING OFF WITH WWE TITLE PICTURE
Normally, I don’t like when I paid to see a match that was later given away on free TV, but the Kane vs. CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan Triple Threat Match to kick off the show worked for me, mainly because it helped elevate the importance of the WWE Championship. For months, some have been complaining that CM Punk’s reign has not been receiving the respect it deserves. This was a step in the right direction. More often than not, the top of the show is reserved for main event-caliber storylines … and tonight, the WWE Championship received the first 21 minutes of the show. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when the announcers continually remind us of the length of CM Punk’s reign.
4. SYCHO SID
Sid looked pretty darn good for a 51-year-old. As a longtime fan, there’s nothing better than seeing these old guys come back for quick cameos. And I’m really happy we’re getting Vader, Wendi Richter and Sid, instead of the usual Sgt. Slaughter, Tony Atlas and Ted DiBiase (no offense to them, of course).
If you’re not paying close attention during these segments, you could easily miss the amazing job Heath Slater is doing. I’m convinced that these “Legends segments” will help elevate Slater up the card.
Finally, I’m just happy Sid didn’t pull a no-show. In all seriousness, though, Sid is a little off. If you haven’t read the WWE Championship book, this is news to you: Sid once told me he didn’t want to win the WWE Championship because he didn’t want to have to carry the extra weight of the title around with him from town to town. Go figure.
3. THE PHENOMENAL A.J.
In this business, it’s not uncommon for Superstars/Divas to emulate competitors of the past. You need to look no further than the Alberto Del Rio –> JBL –> Ted DiBiase lineage. But A.J. is unlike any other Diva of the past. Instead, she’s more like a powerful combination of the past’s most successful Divas. She’s diminutive and presumably innocent like Elizabeth. But mysterious like Serena, deceptive like Dawn Marie and cute like Stacy.
Tonight, she continued to display that amazing combination throughout the entire show. It was a lot like how the late 1990s Raws used to feature Stone Cold Steve Austin at the beginning, middle and end of each week’s show. Clearly, WWE creative sees something in A.J. to give her this much TV time, and who can argue?
On top of making a name for herself, A.J. is also bringing out the best in the men around her, particularly Kane. How great was it when the Big Red Monster told her that he wasn’t boyfriend material? Or that even he found her mentally unstable?
Her Battle Royal win was a nice touch, considering the amount of time she had on this episode. I just hope that it doesn’t result in more of A.J. competing. She’s unreal in her role right now … keep her there. No need to get her in the ring, in my opinion.
2. BIG SHOW/BRODUS CLAY
Give WWE credit; they are doing everything they can to help you forget about the fun-loving, goofy, diaper-wearing Big Show. And this match went a long way in accomplishing that goal.
The build was good. You can’t complain about several weeks of interaction — including Clay helping Cena beat Show at the PPV — resulting in a Raw match. At this point, Show vs. Clay wouldn’t work as a PPV match, but it certainly fit well here. Plus, in the end, it helped solidify Show as a monster and it didn’t hurt Clay one bit … he has the built-in excuse of being hampered by a bum knee.
On the flip side, I would’ve liked the announcers to tell us why Brodus Clay is allowed on Raw, only a few weeks after he was banned from the show. I know it was a Johnny decision and Johnny is gone now, but does that mean all of Johnny’s decisions are now forgotten? If so, I guess Jim Ross can return to the broadcast booth.
Update: Several readers sent word that they actually DID explain that Clay is allowed back now that Johnny is gone. I missed that line. My sentiment remains the same, though.
Even though they have obviously battled many times in the past, the Cena-Y2J match felt fresh to me. And despite there being only an hour of build to it, I was very pleased with how it developed.
I spent hours on Twitter Monday night, debating what Cena’s big announcement would be. Then, just when he was about to reveal it, Jericho cut him off… Perfect. With Y2J being away for several weeks, he was almost assured a babyface reaction when he showed. This interruption assured otherwise … a very simple, yet effective heel move by Y2J.
From there, you have to like the subtle jabs Jericho took at Cena. “You think you can win just because you’re Cena,” was my favorite and should excite the Internet crowd.
Jericho also did a great job selling the seriousness of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, while also taking a shot at Cena when he bashed the Jedi promo. And finally, I always have to tip my cap when WWE pays attention to the past; having Y2J mention that he invented the MITB Ladder Match went a long way with me.
The Cena-Jericho match itself was about what you would expect. In the end, I think it did a great job getting Big Show and his Colossal Clutch over as legitimate threats. And boy, John Cena takes a hell of a chokeslam.
As always, thanks for you support and please consider pre-ordering the new WWE Encyclopedia.