The 1000th episode of WWE Raw is just a few days away, and it's an absolutely loaded show. There is already lots of speculation around the featured attractions, which includes the return of multiple WWE Legends, as well as a main event WWE Championship match pitting the company's two biggest stars, CM Punk and John Cena, against each other. With that in mind, here are 10 burning questions about the milestone episode of Raw and my best attempts at answering them.
10. Will Nickelback be replaced as the Raw opening theme?
While I don't despise Nickelback or the current Raw theme "Burn it to the Ground" as much as, well, seemingly anyone else with an opinion about it, I do think it's time for a new theme song. Raw 1000 with usher in a new era of WWE, and thusly needs a new theme song and opening. To the chagrin of much of the IWC, I'm going to bet it's more of a poppy song than something with an edge, which means you'll be longing for Nickelback in a few weeks. If it were up to me, however, I'd pick the song "Spotlight" by Salivia, a band that's done a lot of work for WWE in the past (including themes for the Dudleys and Batista) and the song itself seems to perfectly capture the attitude of WWE.
9. How much time will WWE spend touting Tout?
Again, this is something I didn't think was nearly as bad last week as others did. However, I imagine it could get worse in the coming weeks. WWE has invested heavily in Tout, a 15-second video form of Twitter, and I suspect we'll be seeing it woven into WWE programming pretty regularly from here on out. I do expect Tout will become a regular part of advancing storylines, and seriously, what's wrong with having some fans talk about their favorite moments or giving their thoughts on Raw? While WWE might push it to the point of overkill, I don't think we'll get the 45 minutes of the additional hour of Raw dedicated to Tout, as I saw reported on one wrestling website I frequent.
8. Who will Christian defend the Intercontinental Championship against?
In a poll on last week's Raw, WWE asked fans to vote for which mid-card championship they would like to see defended, with Christian's Intercontinental Championship eking past Layla's Divas title. So who will he defend against? Something tells me WWE might leave that up to the fans too, with another poll. Potential candidates would include Cody Rhodes, the Miz, Zack Ryder, Tyson Kidd and Tensai. Chances are, Christian leaves with the IC gold, however. I'm thinking a blossoming feud with Daniel Bryan over the title is in the cards.
7. Does Randy Orton return early since Raw 1000 is in his hometown of St. Louis and, if so, what is his role?
In a word, no. The Viper has been off TV since May 30 because of a 60-day Wellness Violation and won't be back until next week's Raw at the earliest. Lots of folks have said they should make an exception for Orton one of their top stars, but that absolutely sends the wrong message. Having one of their megastars miss this huge payday -- in his hometown no less -- should let the rest of the roster know that a violation is serious business. When Orton does return, I expect him to begin a program that leads to him challenging Sheamus for the World Championship at SummerSlam, and ultimately turning heel.
6. What will happen to ruin Daniel Bryan and AJ's wedding?
Could it possibly go off without a hitch? I mean, it could. But what fun would that be? On a night that's expected to be filled with lots of returns, who better than the Rated-R Superstar Edge -- and possibly Lita -- to crash the nuptials of this duo? Edge and Lita have a combined three WWE weddings under their belts including one to each other. (Lita also married Kane and Edge attempted to marry Vickie Guerrero.) If I'm booking things, I have Edge "steal" the crazy girl AJ's heart. Of course, with Edge no longer on TV after Raw 1000 (and likely no longer in AJ's life either after their special night... he is the Rated-R Superstar after all) it leads to a final split between Bryan and AJ and sets up a feud with Edge's long-time friend Christian. Complicated? Yeah, probably. Has that stopped WWE before though? Having the wedding actually go through, however, could be a step in the right direction of turning Bryan face.
5. What Legend will return for the big payoff to the Heath Slater angle?
Lots of Legends are already advertised, including the aforementioned Edge, Shawn Michaels (although he's already booked for the DX reunion at the start of the show) and Bret Hart. But I feel like any of those would be a huge letdown. After all, we've seen Hart wrestle a few times in recent years, Edge is only a year into his retirement (and really, shouldn't even be getting in the ring for a squash match) and for Michaels to wrestle again would seem like a slap in the face, especially for a match against Slater. Even the Undertaker, as many have speculated, wouldn't be as exciting since he's been semi-active. Really, only three guys fit the bill here, and one, I think, is only a pipe dream. That would be the Ultimate Warrior. Better guess are Mick Foley in three consecutive matches as his three personalities: Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack; and of course, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Yeah, we've seen Austin come back a few times, raise hell and leave, but we haven't seen him in an actual match since WrestleMania 19. Maybe he wants it that way, but a quick squash with Austin hitting his signature moves, a Stone Cold Stunner and drinking a ton of beer, then dishing out another Stunner, would be perfect.
4. Will Brock Lesnar accept Triple H's SummerSlam challenge?
Of course he will! You've seen the SummerSlam poster, right? My guess is Lesnar balks initially, not unlike the way Triple H balked at the Undertaker's WrestleMania challenge earlier this year. After certain demands of Lesnar are met, he'll agree to the match. I assume it will be some sort of No Holds Barred match, similar to what we saw at Extreme Rules from Lesnar and Cena. It will be interesting to see how they generate a bit more heat for this one, and I wouldn't be shocked to see Lesnar crash the DX reunion right at the beginning of the show and attack Shawn Michaels. That would further enrage Triple H and give Lesnar more leverage in his negotiations later in the show.
3. Who will be the new General Manager?
Perhaps the most difficult to answer of any of these questions, there has been no clues what direction WWE might take with the vacant general manager position. In fact, it was completely de-emphasized on this past week of WWE program, when no interim general manager was announced. And quite honestly, that was fine. Could WWE possibly drop the whole general manager schtick as we embark on a new era of professional wrestling that is more fan interactive, where the WWE Universe can vote on the types of matches they want to see? Unlikely. The authority figure has been a central focusing point of wrestling TV shows as a way to advance storylines for the past 15 years. But this is the question that perplexes me most. Will WWE try to make a big splash or will it be someone innocuous, or something entirely different like the guest host concept or anonymous GM? I'd still like Vince McMahon tell us that "You, the WWE Universe" are the new GM of Raw and Smackdown, but I think they will assign some sort of "liasons" to the Board of Directors for certain decisions, which could lead to the return of John Laurinaitis and Teddy Long to their pre-WrestleMania roles.
2. What will the Rock have to say about his pursuit of the WWE Championship?
One theory I'm seeing floated quite a bit is that the Rock will challenge the winner of the WWE Championship match between CM Punk and John Cena to a title match at SummerSlam. As much as I would love to see this, I just can't envision it happening. The Rock has too many movies to film. Of course, he won't say that in a promo, because heaven forbid he make the WWE Universe think there isn't a chance he's "never leaving." Instead, I'd rather see him prepared to make an announcement and get interrupted by the WWE's newest movie star, The Miz, only to get a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow. Don't expect to see the Rock again until early 2013, possibly in time to enter the Royal Rumble and earn his shot at the title at WrestleMania.
1. Will John Cena be the first Money in the Bank winner to fail in his cash-in?
As a babyface taking the noble route, the stage certainly seems set for him to do just that. I can't shake the feeling that the Big Show is going to get involved in this championship match, simply because of the role he played last week. Perhaps he interferes and knocks out Cena while the referee is distracted, allowing Punk to beat him, then points out that Punk took advantage of his help when Cena wouldn't. It would certainly be interesting to play that angle up, with Punk as a pseudo heel heading into what seems to be an inevitable SummerSlam rematch between him and Cena. Then again, from the looks of things on Smackdown, Big Show might've moved onto another angle already with the tag team division, so this could be an absolutely clean match. If that's the case, I can't see Cena doing a clean job to Punk. I can definitely see Punk being told to lay down for Cena.