The returns of both John Cena and Vince McMahon, a guest appearance from Larry King and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger as Social Media Ambassador.
Safe to say this was a blockbuster episode of Raw, and in my mind it certainly delivered.
Say what you want about the chairman of the board, but he needed to create some excitement on Raw after last week’s dismal ratings, and once again he got the job done.
Though Schwarzenegger’s involvement may have been less noticeable, and King’s performance didn’t make for the most fluid of viewing, the overall show was shocking, impactful and most importantly entertaining.
Due to the impressive and controversial showing, I’ve added an extra talking point to my usual list; this time there will be six issues up for discussion rather than the typical five.
Teasing a “State of the WWE” address hadn’t really got me too excited for Monday Night Raw.
But in the end that topic was largely a charade, paving the way for much a much more appealing development: Vince McMahon challenged CM Punk to a match.
This was wholly unexpected in my eyes, and judging by the pop from the Sacramento crowd, my sentiments were widely shared.
Furthermore, the match itself was infinitely better than some of the usual “main-eventer vs. part-timer” matches that we’ve seen in recent history.
Obviously at 67 years of age McMahon was never going to be the most agile of movers in the ring, but his display was better than I expected, and the utilization of kendo sticks was a welcome contribution to what was a very good main event.
But it wasn’t just the match that made for good viewing. The pre-match hype and anticipation also really added to the occasion, such as J.R.’s “interview” with McMahon, and Paul Heyman’s scheming and planning involving Punk and the WWE Chairman.
He’s never really lost it on the mic, and on Raw, Vincent Kennedy McMahon proved that when push comes to shove, he can still entertain us in the ring through whatever means necessary.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been hoping for this match ever since Barrett’s return last month.
But in a non-title match without any build on Raw? That’s not quite what I expected.
After weeks of squash matches and encounters with lower-card performers, thrusting Barrett into a match with the World Heavyweight Champion felt rather odd and possibly should have been saved for a pay-per-view involving more of a drawn out feud.
And the end of the match didn’t really seem to open up the possibility of Barrett engaging in a rivalry with Sheamus, as it appears there will simply be a SmackDown grudge match, or possibly a tag match, enabling Sheamus to settle the score with Tensai.
Though the match was a decent one featuring some interesting reversals, I can’t help but feel that this clash had a lot more potential and should have been saved for a bigger stage.
And I’m also finding it hard to imagine Sheamus vs. Big Show at Hell in a Cell being of greater quality than seeing the Irishman taking on the Barrett Barrage.
Cesaro continues to improve in the WWE, and despite its length, this was still a great match.
But it wasn’t just the US Champion who impressed.
I personally thought that Tyson Kidd was brilliant, demonstrating some particularly innovative offense that we are rarely treated to in the WWE.
Creative have been teasing a push for the Canadian, what with his involvement in this year’s Money in the Bank contest and various other displays on Raw, but for whatever reason they are yet to persevere with the final graduate of the Hart Family Dungeon.
A Cesaro victory makes it difficult to continue this feud, but I definitely hope the company try to find a way to have these two put together a more extended programme.
The Champ needs a feud, and Kidd needs a push; it’s an arrangement that would suit both men very well indeed.
Though he continues to be underused, Miz continues to show his talent.
And once again this week he did just that, saving Larry King’s awkward talk-show segment with another brilliant performance on the mic that was controversial, hard-hitting, but moreover very true.
Seeing the Miz slate Kofi Kingston’s “Sacramento-cheap-pop” was great, and his tirade directed at King may have been somewhat disrespectful but it was a good demonstration of the Intercontinental Champion’s trash-talking proficiency.
It would appear that the WWE are pursuing a Miz vs. Kingston rivalry, which in all honesty I can have no complaints about, providing the WWE’s most must-see superstar is given enough TV time to prove that he is still one of the most entertaining talent’s on the roster.
Let’s just hope this isn’t just another one-off Intercontinental title feud with the sole purpose of filling up the upcoming pay-per-view’s card.
The WWE has been teasing it for weeks, but on Raw Ryback finally got his hands on the WWE Champion.
Though he couldn’t deliver his Shell Shocked finisher, his stiff clothesline on Punk was met with a monstrous pop and made the atmosphere even more exciting.
It also proved that, whether we like it or not, Ryback is now well and truly over with WWE audiences. There were of course, the customary “Goldberg” chants during his earlier match, though they were soon drowned out by a raucous chorus of “Feed Me More.”
I’m by no means Ryback’s biggest fan, but if the behemoth is going to reproduce such crowd reactions on a regular basis, then maybe a match with Punk would not be a bad idea.
With a clash between the two scheduled for a Raw house show in Arkansas this Friday night, that contest could be make or break regarding a possible Hell in a Cell face-off.
The biggest talking point of Raw came courtesy of CM Punk’s right hand.
The incident was caught on camera by YouTube user DaJoel, and can be viewed in its entirety here.
While I’m no expert on the legal ramifications of an incident like this, it seems to me that CM Punk was provoked. Though unfortunately, he struck the wrong person in retaliation.
Upon arriving at the top of the steps, Punk brushes off a Dolph Ziggler fan and shrugs off a black-haired fan, wearing what appears to be a Brock Lesnar T-shirt.
The clip then clearly shows the same black-haired fan to the right of CM Punk shove the WWE Champion much harder in response. Punk does his best to ignore the situation but the fan visibly berates Punk, prompting the wrestler to turn to him and say something.
Moments later, a fan in a white shirt can just about be seen giving Punk the middle finger before pushing him in back of the head. Punk then unfortunately loses his cool. He turns and strikes a fan but it is the wrong man, an innocent bystander who was simply putting his glasses back on.
As stated earlier, I have little idea of what is legally permitted and what is not at a wrestling show, and there are a number of questions surrounding this issue.
Did Punk act out of order? Did the fans deserve to be pushed back? Where was security during this exchange? And should the fans have remained in their seats?
I don’t think this was a work, but I don’t think CM Punk should be fired for the incident. It is a difficult situation for the company to be in, as it is hard to determine exactly where the fault lies.
Personally, I think that you’re asking for trouble if you lay hands on a WWE superstar at a wrestling show, but nonetheless CM Punk should perhaps have shown a greater degree of restraint.
A controversial topic and one I’m sure you will have plenty to say about.
Though it was tainted by the CM Punk incident, I really enjoyed Raw this week.
The main event surpassed my expectations, and there were a few other moments of note to savour throughout the show.
Though unfortunately, Raw will undoubtedly be remembered for the fact that the fan is apparently pressing charges against the WWE Champion CM Punk.
I hope Punk does not lose the title or his job over this, but more importantly I hope that in the future, greater security and protectionist measures are undertaken to ensure that such incidents are avoided.
It was an ugly event and one that all parties should strive to avoid in future.
Needless to say, opinions are fairly diverse on this topic, but make sure you comment below with your own thoughts on the incident, the show itself and also any other instances throughout the Monday Night Raw.