Raw opened with a John Cena promo. Every Raw used to kick off like that, but it's not happened for a while. He acted as though missing one Raw is equivalent to missing about a decade, and made the oddest joke about how big Antonio Cesaro's nipples are (can't say I'd noticed).
Ryback crossed John Cena on the way in. Ryback defeated both Epico and Primo, which is a shame for them. As he got them up for the Shell Shocked, JR effectively satirised himself by saying that Ryback was "stronger than a government mule."
Brodus Clay vs. R-Truth is a match I'd never have thought we'd see, because they're both faces and the WWE never does that. So we didn't get the match.
Vince McMahon's state of the WWE speech was quickly interrupted by CM Punk, before he could get to "Sheamus is ruining everything." Vince and Punk in the same ring felt like a callback to their exchanges of summer last year, which I still rate as some of the best stuff the WWE's ever done, so the two of them doing a promo gave me chills. The crowd was well behind proceedings, so I doubt I was the only one.
People are always talking about the idea of Punk facing Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania. I've personally no desire to see it, but after the talk here and later backstage discussions between Punk and Heyman, there's a pretty clear way of building to it if Punk feuds with McMahon long term.
Next up was the Tag Team Tournament match of The Prime Time Players vs. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara. This felt like a pretty big match, and that shows exactly how successful the WWE has been in rebuilding the titles' prestige. Both teams are pretty credible and pushed as well, which helped matters—I couldn't predict the winners.
Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett was a big surprise. This is what many predict to be the next big World Heavyweight Championship feud (myself included), so to see the two lock horns here could only mean one thing. Unexpectedly though, it was Tensai who interfered rather than The Big Show. Wade Barrett was very credible throughout, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him as world champion by the end of the year.
Antonio "Crippler with the Nipplers" Cesaro (well, why not) defeated Tyson Kidd. The United States Championship is the title with the least happening. Maybe someone like Kofi Kingston could mount a reasonable challenge, but any challenger at the moment will just seem rushed and thrown together. Great improvement has been made for the tag belts (and to a lesser extent, the Divas title's got more going on), so why not the US title?
Team Hell No defeated Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler in a fantastic match. It's not just that they're four great wrestlers—we have great wrestlers in poor matches every week—but it's that they were given the time (well over 10 minutes) to put on a really good show, and with a clean finish.
Larry King did a pretend kind of show thing with The Miz and Kofi Kingston. Kofi opened with the worst statement ever, and despite my mentioning the US title earlier, it looks like he'll be challenging for the Intercontinental belt. I have noticed he's had quite a lot of singles action recently, even though he keeps losing. I doubt he'll go over The Miz, but it keeps things happening.
The Rhodes Scholars went over Santino Marella and Zack Ryder in quick time, thank goodness. More interesting was Heath Slater's new stable coming out to beat up Santino, which I completely approve of. I'll be even more approving if and when they do something proper, but beating up Santino will always receive a thumbs up from me.
Kaitlin had her shot at Eve Torres' Divas title, with a visibly bandaged foot (because you know how they bandage over your boot when your foot's hurt) giving her an excuse to lose. I like that they're at least trying with the Divas at the moment.
The much-anticipated Mr McMahon vs. CM Punk match saw Punk being dominated for most of it, despite his jumping Vince on the ramp before the start. Things only changed with a low blow. It makes Punk look weak to have being dominated by an old man like that, and not like he could defeat John Cena at Hell in a Cell. Turning his classic triumphant escape through the crowd into cowardice didn't sit right with me either, but it made Raw feel like a bigger event than it usually does.
I'm not happy about CM Punk looking weak and cowardly, but aside from that I enjoyed Raw a lot. Again, 80 percent of it is Punk and Team Hell No, but so long as I still enjoy it, it's doing its job.