Well here we are, WWE Raw 1000 is nothing now but a midsummer, nostalgia-filled memory. 1000 episodes is pretty darn impressive, and the 1000th episode certainly had its moments, but what now? What happens from episode 1001 on?
We can't know for sure we can certainly speculate. Here are 10 ways that Raw can improve past its milestone episode.
As we've seen over the last few years, WWE is not afraid of social media. WWE has made Facebook pages and has Twitter accounts for almost all of the WWE roster. The WWE has even taken to "Touting it Out" allowing fans to become "part" of the show each week.
While all of this is fine and good, too much social media integration can get a little obnoxious. Kayfabe tweets and touts can be entertaining, but taking over Zack Ryder's Internet show? Kind of weak.
Following WWE Superstars and Divas on Twitter can offer an interesting insight into behind-the-scenes things that you may not see any where else, like CM Punk hinting at his monster heel turn last night on a number of occasions, but when WWE forces social media down the throats of the WWE Universe with Touts and their numerous new YouTube series, they have to find a good balance to keep the fans interested and wanting to get involved.
Take Alex Guerrero Jr. up there. Dude got tickets to Raw 1000 for being WWE's 100 Millionth social media fan. He got free tickets for being the 100 Millionth person to "like" WWE? Shouldn't the first person to tweet or "+1" WWE have gotten the ticket?
Either way, if the WWE can keep a good balance of social media integration and keep it tasteful, the three-hour era may be a revolutionary product for 1000 more episodes.
Remember when tag teams were real? The tag team division of old offered some of the most exciting WWE matches in history, with great teams putting on great matches (Exhibit A). Recently the tag team division hasn't been much of anything.
For the past year or two we've really only had one or two main tag teams at a time. Even right now we have Truth and Kofi, the Primetime Players, Epico and Primo, and The Usos and Hunico and Camacho, who hardly ever get air time.
The WWE keeps losing wrestlers or putting them on the shelf because creative simply "has nothing for them" (Kharma and Mason Ryan as of late). Why not use some of these unused Superstars to make a young, exciting division?
The WWE could use young guys like Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Drew McIntyre and even Reks and Hawkins, who have that tag team experience and could fill in some spots in the new three-hour format for years to come.
You know something is wrong with the Divas division when you can't find a picture of a current WWE Diva in action on Raw 1000. How did the WWE use Divas last night?
One (who hardly ever wrestles) was named the GM, the current champion was part of a joke skit with legends, and...that was it. We saw appearances from former Divas in Mae Young with her "son", Trish yoga-ing herself into an awkward situation with HHH, and Lita being awesome.
More Diva alumni appeared than current Divas. The Divas division is in a bad way, with minuscule TV time and story lines only for Divas named AJ.
With all of the rumors floating around about whether or not we'll see Kharma again and the reports that the WWE has reportedly signed Sara Del Rey, among others, the WWE Divas division could really be something fans WANT to watch instead of an opportunity for a mid-show bathroom break.
An influx of new talent would help make the Divas division exciting again, which would help the WWE fill more time in their new three-hour show.
The WWE's biggest matches and story lines lately have focused a lot on guys who aren't full-time WWE Superstars. For example, HHH, Lesnar, and The Rock, while awesome, are taking up some of the top spots on the biggest cards of the year, and to me that's not right.
Don't get me wrong, I've been a fan of all three since I first saw them in the ring, but they've had their runs. If they can't commit to being in the ring year-round, then lets see some younger guys get a shot.
The WWE has talent to use, they just can't seem to find their way into the main feuds. Superstars who could make some noise if given the chance, like Ryback, Ziggler, Rhodes, Cesaro, Kidd, Sandow, Brodus, Swagger, Gabriel, the list goes on, could really help bring WWE into the new era.
Just to be clear, I'm not against the use of legends every once in a while, and if you put Lesnar, Rock, or HHH on my TV screen I will watch and love every second of it, but in the long run, the WWE isn't setting themselves up well.
Once they run out of former Superstars to sign for one-year contracts, they'll be stuck with a lot of guys who have little experience.
Another factor that can help the WWE improve into episodes 1001 and beyond is making the titles mean something.
Lately the only title that really means anything is the WWE Championship, which until Cena won Money in the Bank, was starting to lose its importance, too.
Until MITB, CM Punk was finding himself in the first segment of Raw while Cena was main-eventing with whatever he had going on (including "fighting" Michael Cole).
Now that Punk has turned heel and, as of now, will be facing the Great One at Royal Rumble (assuming he holds the strap until then), the title seems a little more important. The other belts do not.
I've already mentioned the rough shape of the Divas and Tag divisions. Another rough spot is the US Championship.
While Santino is a necessary character in the PG era, there's no reason for him to have a belt. He can come and hand out action figures or stuffed animals without wearing WWE gold.
If the WWE gives some young guys a chance and use the mid-card belts to help push those guys and prepare them for the future.
Legends are awesome. Seeing DX and all of the other legends last night were pretty awesome, but what did we really get out of the current state of Raw? We got a GM, a possible feud for Dolph and Y2J, and a heel turn for Punk.
While those are some exciting potential stories and feuds to look forward to, we also saw a major segment with HHH and Lesnar and the Rock getting involved with Cena and Punk.
The WWE had a former Superstar in the main event of WrestleMania and also booked a major HHH vs. Undertaker match that stood out above any of the other matches.
Legends and Superstars who are coming back for a few months or a year at a time have their place in the WWE, but filling the top of the card with them? I'm not so sure.
I would rather see current WWE Superstars be pushed and have an opportunity to main-event some of the biggest matches of the year.
Allowing Superstars and Divas that viewers see every week to participate in those big matches make them more popular to the audience, which makes everyone more excited for the weekly product as opposed to once every month or two.
WWE has always found ways to keep their product interesting and fresh. Vince has always found ways to make his company No. 1 in the world of entertainment.
To improve and keep the audience interested for the next 1000 episodes, the WWE needs to keep finding ways to improve their product.
While it may not be as exciting to me, WWE's new social-media push is a great move. WWE is asking its viewers to get involved and really interact with the show every week by touting, tweeting and liking.
Taking steps like this to create a new experience for the viewer is exactly the kind of thing WWE needs to do to keep the audience interested. As long as they do it tastefully.
The WWE has 12 pay-per-views listed on their website. Having so many PPVs over the course of the year makes it difficult to develop stories with only a few weeks in between big events.
It seems that storylines and feuds are ended at almost every PPV instead of being carried on through a few. So many PPVs throughout the year also causes the titles to seem less important because they are handed off so frequently.
If the WWE brought down their PPV schedule to four or five a year, they would seem a lot more exciting and would allow for longer, more interesting story lines that could develop on the weekly shows instead of only at PPVs.
The WWE could keep WrestleMania, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and the Royal Rumble, four of the most interesting PPVs, and it would make them more exciting and more important, while improving the weekly show as well.
Finding a good balance in the product is something that the WWE has done better in recent weeks. The WWE has found ways to make the show exciting for both fans of old and the younger crowd.
This was a bit easier to do during the Raw 1000 build-up because of all the legends that the WWE had an excuse to bring in for nostalgic awesomeness.
The WWE has done a good job of keeping some parts of the show aimed at the young crowd, like Santino's spots and random Khali dancing, while keeping some edgier spots for the rest of the WWE Universe, like Lesnar and HHH and CM Punk vs. Bryan.
If the WWE continues to make their product accessible for both groups, they'll continue to be successful in the post-1000 era.
Compelling and well-managed story lines are one of the biggest improvements the WWE needs to make.
The WWE has been happier to put together random matches for a one-night big pop, instead of building a story that can keep viewers watching for weeks and weeks and adding another level to the matches and interactions between Superstars and Divas.
The hints at a CM Punk heel turn last night were a great way to set-up a new storyline that could take the WWE well into 2013 if they handle it correctly. CM Punk as a heel can open up great matches and promo fights down the road, but just one compelling story isn't enough.
If the WWE can get the creative department working on some other interesting stories, the WWE will head into this new era stronger and better than ever.
While the WWE has major things they can improve on, it's still all about fun and entertainment, and for a lot of the WWE Universe, they succeed week in and week out.
But what do you think? These are just the thoughts of one man. Are my thoughts warranted? Do you think there are other things that the WWE needs to improve on, or am I just plain wrong? Let me know!
Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading!