Raw opened with CM Punk coming to the ring for a match, which I thought was a great start—straight into the action. Then I saw his opponent was The Big Show and immediately knew there'd be no clean finish. Sure enough, Daniel Bryan interfered—presumably because John Cena's too much of a goody two-shoes to, even though he's the one actually in the feud.
Inevitably AJ comes hopping out to make a tag match, the WWE's usual solution to using up main event talent on TV without risking any of them looking weak by sustaining a clean loss. All that was missing was her saying "It's not gonna go down like that, playa" and she would have been Teddy Long.
I never thought I could say I hate someone as ostensibly inoffensive as AJ, but I find her mannerisms (the triad of skipping, head tilting and affected speech I pinpointed last week) are just irritating. Still, she gives us CM Punk and John Cena vs. Big Show and Daniel Bryan to look forward to, in which Bryan will no doubt take the pin.
I don't consider myself as being of any special insight pro-wrestling wise, so if I was almost psychic in seeing what would happen next during Raw, I can't have been the only one. As soon as JTG was sent to the ring by AJ, I knew he'd be squashed by Ryback. R-Truth facing Heath Slater could only mean The Prime Time Players were going to show. Shawn Michaels could only be there again to receive the beating from Lesnar we expected last week.
A Divas tag team match lasted about four minutes and ended in a quick roll-up pin. Commentary mentioned during that match that Kaitlin could be a future Divas champion, but surely there needs to be a title defence more than every six months for that. It's not until Sin Cara beat Tensai (a man who beat Cena in his first match, let's not forget) that this stream of predictability was broken (Albert chants aside).
A frankly baffling Piper's Pit segment with Chris Jericho culminates in a three way match between Y2J, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. After thinking the night before during Hardcore Justice that I'd not seen a powerbomb superplex before, we get one here too. Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe it was copying, or maybe it happens every week and I've a poor memory. Nevertheless, this was a really great TV match in a show that could use more of them.
CM Punk and John Cena vs. Big Show and Daniel Bryan had more going for it than I expected. Sure enough Bryan took the pin, but there was a lot of fun in the meantime. For a start, I enjoyed seeing the Big Show brickwall a Cena shoulder tackle. Whether he does something like that or not changes with how pushed he is, but it takes advantage of the one good thing about Big Show in the ring: his size.
Punk and Cena mocking each other's schtick was especially funny and memorable. So good stuff, though it showed Cena as possibly the only superstar (at least capable of taking one) who won't be beaten by a surprise roll-up. The match and what briefly followed really did good work for the title match build, and I'm certainly interested to see what happens with the top strap at SummerSlam.
Christian vs. Damien Sandow was notable for me. So far as I recall, removing the turnbuckle pad and using the exposed steel ring is DQ-worthy, but hitting your opponent's head repeatedly into the steel steps isn't? I do like both men, but I'm not sure I like Sandow so much that I want him to defeat Christian so easily. Or maybe that's a sign of how much I like Christian, a man I firmly believe should still be considered at main event level.
The Lesnar vs. HHH contract signing didn't really have anything new. Heyman spent some time on the mic but said nothing that hadn't already been said, and watching Lesnar and HHH stare at each other silently for minutes on end is not interesting.
What's silly about this feud is, despite the logical ways it could have some personal meaning between the two men, they've gone the silly way of making it personal by having Heyman and Lesnar mention that HHH has a wife and children. Not even saying anything bad about them, just mentioning them is enough to be personal.
I don't object to the match, but if we're going to have the buildup recapped twice every TV show for a month, a bit of genuine substance would have been nice. Making it personal by beating up Shawn makes sense, so why didn't they do that earlier during the build for the match? At the very end of the show, Lesnar finally beats up Shawn and so fires Chekhov's gun (as well as breaking his arm).
That's Raw then, as mixed a bag as ever, but containing one of the best WWE TV matches of recent times with the triple threat. I do want to make special note of one commentary gem from the show (regarding Ryback): "I wouldn't want to make this man angry." Gee, really?