Maybe it should be a regular thing? (image: wwe.com)
Raw opened with Jerry Lawler on the mic demanding an apology from CM Punk. Punk came out with a new haircut, which I didn't like. But what he said, I did like.
Jack Swagger's first Raw appearance for quite a while came as he faced Ryback. You see when he's with Swagger that Ryback's not actually that tall. Maybe the legions of jobbers he's been facing are all five feet tall. Even now, about five months since he debuted (by my count), he still gets Goldberg chants. But at least they're easily drowned out by the "feed me more" chants.
After going over Swagger easily, maybe we really will get proper matches for Ryback now. Anyone else think they should go straight to Ryback vs. Randy Orton?
The following Divas match between Layla and Natalya actually displayed some decent chemistry between the two. Of course, it was over in about three minutes, cut short so we can see Vicki Guerrero have a quick brawl with AJ. Who on earth wants to see that?
Throughout the show, we were treated to clips of Daniel Bryan and later Kane in an anger management group. The hilarity never starts.
John Cena coming out to the ring surprised me. Not because this is a rare occurrence, but because he didn't come out for a promo—just for a match, and a singles match at that. I can't remember the last time Cena's first appearance on Raw was just coming out for a match.
Cena's match against The Miz may have had the inevitable result, but before the particularly egregious and textbook five moves of doom, The Miz did some great work. I've never been a Miz fan, but his match against Rey Mysterio at SummerSlam was brilliant and combined with his work here, I'm certainly coming around to him. We've seen Cena vs. Miz quite a few times, and this might have been the best.
Tonight, Twitterers are allowed to vote for what kind of match they want between Punk and Lawler. The wide shot of the arena then shows the suspended steel cage, should it be selected. I'd have thought it's a fairly big effort to have the cage in place if there's a chance of it not being used, but it's by far the most appealing option available, so maybe there's not too much worry there.
Sin Cara and Brodus Clay vs. Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes finished very quickly (though it was broken up by commercials). Cody Rhodes taking the pin from Brodus Clay feels like a push in the wrong direction for the lad, especially since he had a very credible showing on SmackDown against Sheamus some weeks back.
Throughout the night are various highlight packages for Triple H. I say "highlight" because that's something for which individual mileage will vary wildly. When he finally appears, he teases a quick answer to whether he's retiring only to waffle on for ages. For over 10 minutes, in fact, but at least it will be the last 10 minutes of him we'll ever have to sit through. Well, OK, obviously it won't be. Triple H's ego should be getting "feed me more" chants.
During the entrances for Sheamus and Randy Orton vs. Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler, Michael Cole mentions that Del Rio is "next in line for an opportunity at Sheamus' world title." Del Rio is the line. As for the tag match, it was so predictably uninteresting that it didn't need to happen at all.
Kane came out for commentary, with results. He didn't actually say anything, but Cole's response to his presence was far more entertaining than a David Otunga match. When I saw Zack Ryder come out, I hoped we'd see another tombstone. Sadly, we just got a chokeslam, and even then to Otunga, but never mind.
CM Punk vs. Lawler was pretty much as expected. What stood out like a sore thumb was not Punk's blading (I was late noticing the blood, what with the more obscured view due to the cage), but the referee putting gloves on. What followed the match was just a bit dull, really.
Raw this week may not have been as good as last week's (it seldom is), but it was OK. Despite its flaws, there seems to be an effort to do things a little differently here and there that had been distinctly lacking for some time. Vicki's interruption made the Divas match a little more attention-worthy (even if for a stupid outcome), and John Cena coming to the ring just to have a match and Dolph Ziggler coming out both without Vicki and to Chris Jericho's music were all seemingly minor things that made the show a little different and interesting.