In the aftermath of WWE RAW's entertaining 1,000th episode, there has been much speculation about the company's ability to maintain the momentum.
Considering that the show has now expanded to a three-hour format, there was also concern over how WWE would be able to manage the time effectively.
One of the major ongoing concerns has been over the amount of time WWE devotes to promotions and recaps.
I personally think it is a waste of time to complain about this issue. From a business standpoint, it is common practice to use media platforms to push your own products. Pick up a newspaper or magazine. Look closely at existing websites. Listen closely to the news. How many times do they remind the audience of the quality of their product? I'd argue pretty often.
Additionally, hardcore fans forget about the casual fans who tune in once in a while or at varying times throughout the show. Recaps and promotions serve to reel in new viewers. While hardcore fans may not care about casual viewers, the WWE does. The company is growing its platform and therefore needs to grow its audience.
Granted, certain recaps could be played a little less often. But considering Brock Lesnar's contract limitations and Triple H's semi-retired wrestling role, it is almost necessary to build the momentum for this SummerSlam match in this fashion.
I was actually surprised to see that RAW highlighted some SmackDown! moments. I applaud this effort.
SmackDown! is a good show that deserves more attention. This helps build the legitimacy of SmackDown's role in storyline development and also helps highlight the World Heavyweight title and other feuds.
Let's now turn to the highlights of the night:
CM Punk: Despite your opinions on a Punk "heel turn", the focus is finally on the WWE Champion. I thought Punk's opening segment was fantastic. Sitting on the announcer's table and addressing Jerry Lawler directly created an atmosphere of menace. It was very calculating. Punk has to be careful that he doesn't come off as whining, but he did a great job last night.
Additionally, I applaud that CM Punk, the WWE Champion, was the focus at the main event. While I'm not terribly excited about a triple threat match at SummerSlam, CM Punk works well with larger athletes. And for all the criticism that Big Show receives, his promos are passionate and believable.
Daniel Bryan: Some have suggested that the WWE should use the three hours to build a mini-storyline throughout the night—similar to how WWE built Santino Marella's search for the anonymous General Manager. The WWE managed to duplicate this strategy with Daniel Bryan. After a great street fight with Sheamus that reminded me of "ruthless aggression," Bryan threw a tantrum that resulted in a variety of humorous spots—Little Jimmy was kicked out of the ring, Bryan went through a psychiatric evaluation, goat face, and Kane wants to manage Bryan's anger issues.
Tag Teams: When I first found out that Chris Jericho was teaming up with Christian against Dolph Ziggler and The Miz, I was impressed. It provides an opportunity for great wrestling and multiple storyline development. And the match totally delivered.
Kofi facing off against Titus was good for storyline progress. There seems to be quite a bit of controversy over AW's statements. Regardless of anyone's opinion, this certainly challenges the PG Era.
New Talent: Tyson Kidd is getting face time on RAW. It's not much but it's something. And Damien Sandow wailed on Brodus Clay.
Randy Orton: While I'm glad to see Orton return, I'm disappointed in his embrace of the "five moves of doom"—clothesline, clothesline, power-slam, ddt, and RKO. But I'll let it slide because he just returned after two months and doesn't want to risk injury in a relatively unimportant match.
AJ: Her role as General Manager of RAW has enormous potential. However, AJ seems to be shying away from the crazy gimmick that made her popular. I'd like to see her exhibit a little more unpredictability.
In conclusion, it was a solid show. The matches, for the most part, were impressive. Storylines progressed. And there was controversy.
I will admit though, that this expanded RAW takes a lot out of me. But my outlook is positive.
Please share your thoughts below!