WWE RAW's heavily promoted 1,000th episode is now behind us, and as expected, there has been a flurry of opinions, predictions, criticisms and praise.
Overall, however, this special episode of Monday Night RAW was a huge success. It was a great way to launch RAW's expansion to a three-hour format while simultaneously celebrating its rich history.
Many writers on this website provided reactions and analysis immediately following the show, as well as the following day—as they should. But I wanted to take a couple of days to absorb everything I saw, because when you really think about it, a lot happened in those three hours:
D-Generation-X reunited in full force with Billy Gunn, X-Pac and Road Dogg in attendance. Most viewers were only expecting the comedic duo of Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio teamed up with Sheamus in a three-on-three tag match, which seemed like a nice WWE tease for those who have called for a Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio feud.
Dolph Ziggler furthered his feud with Chris Jericho by costing him the match.
The Miz won the Intercontinental Championship title against Christian.
The Undertaker returned, teaming up with Kane in an ode to the Brothers of Destruction.
AJ became the new General Manager of Monday Night RAW, ditching Daniel Bryan at the alter.
Brock Lesnar will face Triple H at SummerSlam.
The Rock returned, announcing his right to a WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble. He also Rock-bottomed Daniel Bryan.
CM Punk retained his WWE Championship title against John Cena through interference by Big Show. He then proceeded to knock out The Rock with the GTS, causing many to believe a CM Punk heel turn.
And in addition to all of this, there was an abundance of flashbacks, funny spots and guest appearances by WWE alums and legends Lita, Trish Stratus, Bret Hart, Roddy Piper, Mae Young, Dude Love and so many more. In a huge surprise to many, Stone Cold Steve Austin did not make an appearance (unless you count flashback footage).
I'll probably re-watch the entire episode just because so much happened.
In one of my previous articles (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1266514-wwe-raw-1000-vince-mcmahon-and-the-companys-biggest-crossroad), I wrote that RAW's 1,000th episode needed to project confidence in the future of WWE leadership and to answer two questions:
1) What is the current state of the WWE?
While there were a thousand different ideas on how to make this RAW great, WWE still managed to surprise many viewers. In addition, they were able to do this while still moving storylines forward. It wasn't just random surprises.
There will always be criticisms and room for improvement, but I'd say that the WWE is as strong as ever. Triple H made a strong statement in the beginning of the show when he said he was looking forward to the 2,000th episode of RAW. Triple H is fully committed to the continued success of WWE.
2) Where is it all going?
The WWE made a huge statement by putting all the focus on The Rock vs. CM Punk. Although John Cena was involved in the main event, this is the first time in recent memory that John Cena didn't take the spotlight. Heel turn or not, CM Punk will not be overlooked.
The beginning segment with D-Generation-X and Damien Sandow was also important. It represented two sides of the WWE—PG and Controversial. And when Triple H pedigreed Sandow, it was pretty clear that although the WWE is much more aware of its influence on a younger audience, they still want to push the envelope.
Still, one has to consider other factors.
This was RAW's 1,000th episode. A lot more effort was put into this show—more than usual. The agenda was packed. Tons of former superstars returned.
How will the WWE make up for these things moving forward? How can they keep the momentum going?
While the CM Punk and Rock angle is very interesting, we all know that The Rock will not be there every Monday. Viewers would be lucky to see The Rock even once a month. AJ's new role as general manager, has a lot of potential. Her unpredictability will add so much flavor to the show, but that's only if the WWE gives her the freedom to run wild.
There are also other loopholes.
Many people are assuming that John Cena is the first to unsuccessfully cash in his MITB contract. I'd argue, that due to interference, perhaps John Cena hasn't lost his opportunity just yet.
The point is that this past Monday night, WWE entertained us. And while they gave us some answers, they also left us with even more questions. And that is the goal.
When there are no more questions, that is when the WWE product has truly gone stale.
But for now, they've managed to reel us in again. And guess what: This time, they didn't need Stone Cold Steve Austin to do it.