WWE: Analyzing the Impact of the Greatest Raw of 2011 One Year Later
This past Monday night, WWE presented its historic 1000th episode, filled with nostalgic moments, shockers, and returning stars. Some may claim that this epic event was the best episode of Raw to occur in 2012, which is certainly arguable given the rave reviews the show received.
However, I do find it a bit ironic that WWE produced one of their strongest shows of the year only eight days removed from the Money in the Bank pay-per-view, which was the same case in 2011 as well.
In my opinion, the July 25 edition of Raw last year was easily one of the better episodes in quite some time, and its impact is still felt today in more ways than one.
With today being the one-year anniversary of this extraordinary event, I'll attempt to analyze the aftermath of this excellent edition of Raw that will be forever remembered as the day WWE entered an all-new era of awesome.
Rey Mysterio Wins His First WWE Championship
Only 24 hours removed from the marvelous Money in the Bank pay-per-view, a tournament was held to determine a new WWE Champion following CM Punk's departure with the original title in hand.
Both Rey Mysterio and The Miz advanced to the finals, and it was announced that the anticipated match would be contested the following week on Raw.
In the opening bout of the show, Mysterio soundly defeated Miz in a great back-and-forth match-up that saw the Master of the 619 capture his first WWE Championship. Sure, it would only last about an hour (more on that later), but the title victory did not go unnoticed.
Various Superstars congratulated Mysterio upon his return to the backstage area, signaling yet another memorable moment in the illustrious career of the Ultimate Underdog. Unfortunately, Mysterio was sidelined from action for nearly a year a few short weeks later, but has since returned to target his attacker: Alberto Del Rio.
What happened to The Miz, you ask? Well, this would be his final opportunity at the WWE title for some time, and would quickly fall down the ladder for the remainder of the year. His "awesome" alliance with R-Truth was short-lived, and would later embark on lengthy losing streak heading into 2012.
Thankfully, The Miz recently returned to action following his two-month hiatus and is now the new Intercontinental Championship following Raw 1,000.
Dolph Ziggler Debuts New Entrance Music by Downstait
While this moment may not have been all that monumental, I still thought it was a notable occurrence that added a lot to Dolph Ziggler's image from this point forward.
On the July 25 edition of Raw, Ziggler debuted his all-new entrance music by Downstait entitled "I Am Perfection," which was just a remix of the song he was using before with a new band covering it.
Downstait is known for singing the themes of The Miz and Alex Riley as well, so it really fit well with Ziggler's developing character.
Moments later, the then-United States Champion defeated Evan Bourne in impressive fashion and subsequently stated, "Follow that!"
The bleached-blonde Superstar would later enter to Downstait's "Here to Show the World" starting in November, which would ultimately see him rise to the occasion as Mr, Money in the Bank nearly a year later.
You may not be able to hear this catchy tune every week on Raw anymore, but you can still catch it as Ziggler's entrance music in WWE '12 nonetheless.
Triple H and R-Truth's Hilarious Segment
One week earlier, Triple H made his shockingly return to television as the newly-named COO of the WWE. His new regime seemed to benefiting just about everyone except for one person, or at least according to R-Truth.
Following his heel turn last April, Truth had since become a madman, as we would babble to himself and sometimes even talk to people that weren't even there. This occurrence was no different, as he brought along a few "friends" to interrupt Triple H that evening.
To confuse Truth even more, Triple H made up a few imaginary friends of his own, which of course made for some hilarious material. The two exchanged insults until Truth claimed that although HHH was the Game, he wasn't playing.
Truth's conspiracy angle against HHH would continue for the remainder of the year, as he and The Miz teamed against Triple H and CM Punk at the Vengeance pay-per-view.
Although they were on the winning side of that exchange, Awesome Truth later amounted to nothing after being single-handedly dismantled by John Cena over the next month.
Subsequently, Truth was suspended due to violating the WWE Wellness Policy and later reverted to a fan favorite upon his return. Sure, he still maintains his insane persona to this day, but it's not as entertaining as it once was.
Triple H, on the other hand, has found a foe in the destructive Brock Lesnar and looks to battle him at the SummerSlam event in a few weeks.
Jim Ross Returns to Commentary
With his new power as WWE COO, Triple H decided to rehire a familiar face to Monday Night Raw. While everyone expected the newest resigning to be CM Punk, the audience was instead treated to the return of Jim Ross to the commentating table.
Of course, Michael Cole made a major fuss over it, but was forced to adapt to the three-man booth. It's safe to say that Ross is easily the greatest commentator in pro wrestling history, so the move to bring him back to the announcing booth was a brilliant one indeed.
However, every good thing must come to an end, as Ross would be removed from television a mere three months later at the hands of then-Interim Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis.
He's made various on-air appearances since that point in time, but I'll never understand why WWE fails to utilize such a legendary talent in good ol' Jim Ross.
John Morrison Returns
Jim Ross wasn't the only former talent to return on this epic edition of Raw, as John Morrison also made his highly anticipated comeback to Monday nights.
In storyline, he was "re-signed" to Raw at the hands of newly-appointed WWE COO Triple H, but in reality was returning from neck surgery they he underwent earlier in the year.
Morrison was reintroduced to the WWE Universe as R-Truth was retreating to the backstage area, with Morrison unleashing his pent-up vengeance on his former tag team partner.
It was Truth months prior that put the Shaman of Sexy on the shelf, so it was only logical that he'd ambush the former United States Championship upon his return.
Sadly, WWE completely dropped the ball on this ruthless rivalry in subsequent weeks, as Morrison would win very few matches for the remainder of the year. Once his contract with the organization expired, he departed following a loss to The Miz on Raw and hasn't been seen since.
Hopefully, Morrison makes yet another return to Raw in the very near future, as his untapped potential is still waiting to reached.
Zack Ryder Scores His First Singles Victory on Raw
Upon his move to Raw to early 2010, Zack Ryder was hardly featured on the program. He competed in a number of matches that year, but was on the winning end of only one tag team match that June.
As 2011 approached, Ryder was finally getting noticed with the help of social networking show, as his ever-so-popular Z! True Long Island Story web show was gradually growing momentum.
He had recently turned face on an edition of WWE Superstars, so "We Want Ryder" chants were being heard more and more at numerous televised WWE events.
Apart of this monumental show, Michael Cole was placed in a match by Triple H that evening against a mystery opponent of the Game's choosing. Surprisingly enough, Ryder was named Cole's opponent in the impromptu bout, in which he emerged successful in a mere 30 seconds.
The victory would solidify Long Island Iced Z as a mainstay on Raw for the remainder of the year, before eventually winning the United States Championship in December.
His career took a turn for the worse at the start of 2012, but he is slowly starting to get back on track after taking charge of SmackDown two weeks ago.
John Cena Wins Back the WWE Championship
Following Rey Mysterio's huge WWE Championship victory earlier in the victory, WWE COO Triple H also announced that he'd be forced to defend it in that night's main event against John Cena, who still had his rematch clause from Money in the Bank.
I can't imagine Mysterio was thrilled with the idea, but he still did what he was told nonetheless.
For the first time in nearly eight years, Cena and Mysterio battled each other in what many would see as a dream match. After an extremely entertaining contest, it was Cena who prevailed and abruptly ended Mysterio's reign as champ, thus becoming a nine-time WWE Champion in the process.
Sadly, only eight days after change erupted in the WWE at Money in the Bank, things had suddenly reverted back to the status quo with Cena as champion once again. However, it wouldn't be for long, but I'll get to that in just a moment.
Cena would go on to lose the title a few weeks later at ]SummerSlam, but later reclaimed the gold at Night of Champions in September. That reign was extremely brief as well, as he lost it only 14 days later at Hell in a Cell.
Now, with Cena's sights set back on the prestigious prize a year later, one can only imagine that he'll have the title back in his possession sooner rather than later.
CM Punk Returns to WWE
Moments following John Cena's predictable WWE Championship victory, a strange song hit the arena, which was later identified as "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour.
No one was exactly sure what was going on, as Cena exclaimed, "That's not Alberto!" to a nearby cameraman, meaning that Alberto Del Rio wasn't cashing in his opportunistic Money in the Bank briefcase.
After about 30 seconds of silence, CM Punk emerged from the back with the original WWE Championship belt around his waist. An all-new entrance video began to play, with the mini-tron flashing "Best in the World" across the stage.
The live crowd erupted as Punk made his way down to the ring, where he confronted Cena and held his WWE title belt high. The Cenation leader did the same, thus solidifying a title unification match at SummerSlam.
Many see this moment as the night CM Punk officially turned face, but continued to drop "pipebombs" for the remainder of the summer during his respective feuds with Cena and Triple H. He'd drop the title thereafter, but later reclaimed it at Survivor Series in November, where he's been the reigning champion since.
Interestingly enough, the Straightedge Savior would also solidify his heel turn that he's been teasing for awhile now on the 1000th edition of Raw this past week, which occurred almost exactly a year following this incident.
Could this have been planned from the start, or was it pure coincidence that CM Punk has come full circle since that point in time?
Regardless, there's no doubt in my mind that this July 25 edition of Monday Night Raw that I've analyzed made a major impact and created change that can still be felt today.
Time will only tell if Raw 1,000 will have that same effect, but if that show is any indication, then we'll be in for a very chaotic and controversial summer going forward.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on my analysis of this edition of Monday Night Raw one year later. As always, your criticism and overall feedback is welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Visit my website at Next Era Wrestling, as well as listen to my SAVE US GSM radio show that returns Thursday, July 26th at 10/9c for more of my thoughts and writings, along with WWE/TNA news, reviews, recaps and more.