Raw opened not with a promo, but with a match between Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler. I like it when shows open like this, even though it never lives up to expectation. Inevitably, Alberto Del Rio interfered, only it was Orton who won with the roll-up pin. As Kofi Kingston got involved, Teddy "patron saint of impromptu tag team matches" Long made an immediate impromptu tag team match. Team Heel then defeated old friends Randy Orton and Kofi Kingston.
Next up was the weekly highlight that is the Vicki Guerrero/AJ Lee segment. AJ's seamlessly managed to carry her skill of being intolerably irritating as General Manager right into this story. How gifted.
William Regal was squashed by The Big Show, which is a great shame. Regal's terrific in every way, and ought to be used more regularly in some role—but not as a regular squashee.
Kaitlin defeated Layla easily. There's no subtle decline for ex-Divas Champions. Beth Phoenix, who was dominant and undefeatable as champion, has since been used as a jobber, and now Layla is defeated in a matter of seconds.
What seemed in danger of being a saccharine and boring segment as Jerry Lawler returned was saved by CM Punk. Before Hell in a Cell I'd often point out how CM Punk's promos were one of the biggest things the WWE still has going for it. He's not been as noticeable that way since that PPV, but he was back on form here. Things cooled a little as Mick "face of the WWE" Foley came out and joined in, but it was a good segment.
In an eight man tag team match, Rey Mysterio did a springboard moonsault, which is the most athletic and high risk thing I've seen the alleged high-flier do in a long time. The match itself had a lot of action, but there really is a feeling of having seen it all before. The WWE's gone from having no tag team division to having little else but.
No swerves and nothing creative happened in Ryback vs. Brad Maddox. You could say it wasn't entirely a waste of time as it resolved the silly ending of the Hell in a Cell, and it reminds us how dangerous and unstoppable Ryback is in his last appearance before Survivor Series. I, however, still contend it was a waste of time anyway.
But if that was a waste of time, Sheamus vs. David Otunga was a waste of spacetime. Raw's three hours long, so there surely must be time for Sheamus to have a reasonable match against a reasonable challenger.
Similar to CM Punk's diminished use as one of the best things in the show, Team Hell No hasn't been used all that memorably recently, but they had a great little promo before Kane and The Miz vs. Team Rhodes Scholars. A good time had by all. It was a really fun idea to split Kane and Daniel Bryan like this and to create that jealously; it can't be easy to come up with new things for Hell No, but they did it well here.
CM Punk vs. John Cena was gripping, as you'd expect from the two men who put on the best match of last year and one of the best of this year. CM Punk losing and looking cowardly is something I still don't like, but it's the way things are now. I enjoyed the match anyway. The unsubtle placing of the title belt in position in the ring for the closing stand-off didn't even take me out of it.
Raw was good. I can generally tell how much I enjoyed something by how quickly it seemed to pass, and there was enough going on (even if not all of it great) to keep me engaged throughout.