As we're becoming accustomed to, Raw opened with a CM Punk and Paul Heyman promo in the ring. The ring ended up getting pretty crowded, but the center of things was AJ. They've introduced the mechanism for forcing her out; now they just have to hurry up and do it.
Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio defeated Primo and Epico. There's nothing unexpected about that, but some good action was blighted by typical silly falls onto the middle rope for the 619.
Antonio Cesaro went over Brodus Clay easily, which I think illustrates very well their relative directions in the company at present.
The World Championship debate was seemingly the stupidest idea ever, but I guess it's as good an idea as any to build heat between Sheamus and The Big Show in a fairly short space of time. It was still incredibly bad, of course—worse even than I expected—but I understand the reasoning behind it.
Ryback vs. Tensai was much worse than their first encounter. A powerslam was impressive, but Ryback won with a clothesline. I felt shortchanged. It seemed he couldn't get Tensai up for his usual finisher despite having done so on Smackdown. In fact, the only reason I can think of for having the match again on Raw is so more people could see the Shell Shocked on Tensai.
Damien Sandow put in a very impressive—albeit inevitably losing—effort against Sheamus. It's just a shame the Great White has his anti-pacing kick out at one gimmick, or Sandow could have seemed even more over. The stupidity of the ending (Sandow and Rhodes getting up in just such a way that they could both get booted in the head) sadly tarnished it somewhat, but for Sandow, it was his best and biggest match yet.
Often mentioned throughout the show was that it was JR Appreciation Night. Why he needed or deserved one (and especially now), I couldn't fathom. In fact, I say he shouldn't be on TV at all, being as he failed the Michael Cole Challenge. Nothing was actually done for it either until he got into the ring, so it was really more of a JR Appreciation Moment.
It was soon clear what the purpose was when CM Punk almost immediately interrupted proceedings. As we're used to (and we'll miss it if this heel run ends), Punk's mic work was top-notch—but to his credit, JR also held his own.
Punk stomped on JR's hat, which was good. I remember Ziggler stomping on it last year, and now he's Mr Money in the Bank. Ryback coming out was a big surprise and a genuinely exciting one.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston, seemingly again geared towards making a singles performer out of Kofi again, featured Ricardo Rodriguez on commentary. He was quite entertaining. The match was over quickly in Del Rio's favour, which was a bit of a shame. The result I approve of, but I think with more time, we could have had a great match.
The main event of Team Hell No vs. CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler was good while it lasted, though I think there could have been enough unpredictability in there to give us a clean finish—and enough excitement without adding the AJ Lee Show, come to that.
For several weeks in a row now, Raw's ended, and I've thought "that was good," and I've written "Raw was good." It's an immediate reaction. But looking over what I've written, there's often quite a bit of criticism in there.
The big change for the positive in Raw I think is down to CM Punk's heel turn. His promos are consistently engaging, as are his current ongoing storylines. The WWE recognises this too, it seems, which is why he's on so much. Team Hell No's continuing entertainment value helps too. It can't sustain the show indefinitely, but it's still keeping me happy—for the moment, at least.