Raw this week came from Montreal. Some obscure event happened there 15 years ago, but no one ever talks about it.
Bret Hart came out to largely get cheered for five minutes and say nothing of note, until CM Punk interrupted. Considering the reaction to the supposedly heel CM Punk in the United States, it's no surprise Bizarro World didn't seem sure how to react, but the boos seemed to have it. They certainly had it after the segment. They even chanted a naughty word.
This week's Raw active poll gave the option of Punk facing either Brodus Clay, Jerry Lawler or Randy Orton. I'm surprised they even bothered flying Clay in.
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth defeated The Miz and Antonio Cesaro in a match where Cesaro got no offense in whatsoever. Giving the U.S. Championship to a proper wrestler is a good start, but letting him wrestle would help its prestige still further.
An intolerably poor comedy segment featuring Sheamus and Otunga seemed to go on forever. It made the Daniel Bryan and Kane anger management skits look like an episode of Frasier in comparative sophistication.
A Divas tag team match made me question who in the division is a face or heel, but that was the only interesting thing about it—and the crowd seemed even more unappreciative of it than yours truly.
The WWE Universe voted for Randy Orton to face Punk. Orton is one of the few people who could mount a legitimate challenge to Punk's title that he's not faced already (should Punk go over John Cena), so this may explain why there was no clean finish.
That after a long dose of singles action a tag team match resulted from the interference was something a little different and kept things interesting. Presumably, Orton's winning the vote was considered the only likely outcome considering how planned this must have been. The match as a backdrop to Punk and Heyman talking was an interesting shot, and again something new and different.
Ryback went over Heath Slater, sadly. If this rate of progress continues unabated, I predict Ryback will be WWE Champion by the year 2025.
After a funny segment backstage, AJ told the Prime Time Players they'll be facing Kane and Daniel Bryan to re-decide whether they'll be the No. 1 contenders. They will not be. This was a great idea. I'd love to see Kane and Bryan as dysfunctional tag champions.
Alberto Del Rio defeated Tyson Kidd in very quick time. He got a sharpshooter in, though.
Michael Cole delivered the news then that Jerry Lawler had collapsed at ringside and that it wasn't a work, showing visible distress, too.
The next match was, unfortunately, Sheamus vs. David Otunga, and because of Cole's upset remarks, we didn't get any commentary to soften the experience. It was over within two minutes, but that's still too long, frankly.
The rest of the show felt subdued, as Cole returned only to update us on the situation, and we were otherwise without commentary. So Cody Rhodes defeated Rey Mysterio in a fairly good match which saw Cody attack The Miz, but it was all quite hard to get into.
Bret Hart's interview of John Cena suffered from the atmosphere, too, though the "You can't wrestle" chant was comically well-timed. The following exchanges once Punk entered were terrific, and—judged separately from the cloud cast by Lawler's heart attack—were top-drawer, a real callback to their 2011 feud.
There's not much I can add about the obvious situation that affected the show that hasn't been said already, but judging Raw in the normal way, it was fantastic. The whole run since SummerSlam has been a real step up from what came before, which is a great cause for optimism for WWE fans.