I loved Paul Bearer, but after the heartfelt video package and The Undertaker's usual Ben Hur-length entrance, CM Punk's interruption made me laugh out loud. This is the brilliant heel Punk that we were robbed of for far too much of his WWE Championship reign.
Opening Raw's action was the first singles match for a member of The Shield. That fact ought to be surprising, but considering how few matches they've competed in anyway, it's not. Unsurprisingly, it didn't last as a match, but the triple powerbomb to The Big Show was very impressive.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan was an exceptional match. Once Ziggler cashes in, I really hope we'll see it for the World Heavyweight Championship, because it was magic. Even Michael Cole calling a Famouser a Zig-Zag didn't ruin it. I mentioned recently that Cole's been making a lot more mistakes than usual, and this continues that irritating trend.
Fandango continued not to wrestle but instead expanded his character to being a seedy weirdo. I like Albert's new costume, though.
The Rhodes Scholars' imitation of The New Age Outlaws was quite brilliant. I still love Billy Gunn and Road Dogg that little bit more, though. I'm glad they're back for more than just last week. I'd love them to become the Tag Team Champions, though perhaps that's a bit optimistic. Brock Lesnar's interruption was completely unexpected, but all the better for it.
Mark Henry defeated Kofi Kingston after a brilliant mid-air catch. I'm a mark for Mark, and I love the idea of him facing Ryback. Their segment competitively beating up poor Drew McIntyre was great.
While Alberto Del Rio wrestled Antonio Cesaro, Michael Cole told us one of Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger's mad ideas: that immigrants should have to learn to speak English within a year. Those dangerous nutters. The match was good, anyway. Del Rio always wins these TV matches of course, but he does make them look close.
What should have been awful—a segment promoting some terrible-looking films starring The Miz and Wade Barrett in which they shoot guns—was made brilliant by Barrett's hammy, jolly acting the card. Brad Maddox entering the fray and Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler breaking down only added to the hilarity. It was all great fun, and Barrett continued to exhibit his hilarious character on commentary as The Miz took on Chris Jericho.
And then we got to Kane. If you want Kane to be taken seriously, what should you not do? Maybe airing a comedy sketch with him phoning Halle Berry right before his angry revenge match on CM Punk is one to avoid.
The match itself was pretty good fare and acted to character in a way that helped us quickly forget the preceding sketch. Using the real life death of someone in a kayfabe angle could be tricky, but the WWE have dived right into it.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of it though, seeing The Undertaker and Kane together with the urn gave me a nostalgic feeling that's made me a million times more invested in this than I was just seeing The Undertaker and Triple H staring at the WrestleMania sign.
This was the best episode of Raw of the year so far. It didn't really make any significant misstep, and each segment flowed nicely into the next. An excellent show.