There weren’t many matches or segments advertised prior to RAW this evening. The one segment advertised was Mark Henry returning with a potential retirement announcement. Some may have thought this was a a retirement tease but I highly doubt anyone could have predicted just how the segment would unfold.
RAW kicks off with the NEW World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio who begins to describe he grievances with the fans and their decision to get behind the likes of Dolph Ziggler during his cash-in. Del Rio says he was injured in that match and yet no one appeared to care. Del Rio essentially makes the point of what is the difference between what Ziggler did that night and what Del Rio did last night by zoning in on Ziggler’s concussion symptoms. It’s great to see Del Rio return to a more aggressive heel persona and in turn Ziggler transitions to more of face role chasing the champion. I enjoyed that Del Rio stated facts and didn’t whine, which does add some depth to this feud and I can say I have a change in heart and don’t mind seeing one more Ziggler/Del Rio match
CM Punk later comes out and interrupts Del Rio. Punk takes offense to Del Rio referring to himself as the best, as there is only one who is the Best in the World. Punk challenges Del Rio to RAW match. Heyman attempts to interject himself and seeks to book a match that isn’t “free”. Punk looks at Heyman and asks what Paul is doing. Here we have the first televised tease of dissension between Punk and Heyman. We return to backstage segment where Punk says he doesn’t need Heyman in the same capacity as Lesnar or Axel need Heyman. Punk tells Heyman “I’m your friend, not your client.”
Next up, it is announced that Wade Barrett would be squaring off against the NEW Intercontinental champion, Curtis Axel. Vickie Guerrero comes out and changes the match and announces Barrett will battle her surprise. The surprise would be the RETURNING Christian to a decent pop. Christian and Barrett have a quick match and Christian wins with the Killswitch. I hope Christian isn’t just returning for mid-card matches. I think Christian versus Dean Ambrose or reforming a team with Jericho to take on the Wyatt Family in a meaningful story could be great TV and also some awesome matches.
Following this match we would have a 2-on-1 Handicap match featuring the Rhodes Scholars versus Sheamus. Rhodes Scholars had dominated the early part of this match as both members of the Rhodes Scholars were in the ring at the same time. Sheamus would make a come back and prep for Brogue kick on Cody Rhodes, however Damien Sandow would sneak up behind Sheamus and roll him up for the victory. I loved this outcome as Sheamus has been decimating his opponents for weeks. Sheamus would eventually Brogue kick Cody and his music would play as if to erase Sandow’s win. I don’t think their feud is over just yet.
A Rob Van Dam Returning promo aired of his return at Money in the Bank. This is indeed a selling point for the pay-per-view and credit should be given to WWE for advertising RVD’s return as they did.
Backstage segment with Vickie, Maddox and Triple H discussing Vickie’s performance on RAW. Triple H making some “real” points of what would happen if Punk didn’t challenge Del Rio what the main event match would have been. Also that Christian has been ready for months and yet is coming back today and that she had nothing to do with RVD’s signings. Lastly Triple H tells Vickie to stand up to the Shield if they interfere in any match. Triple H also “commends” the decision to put 3MB on the card.
Another backstage segment between Bryan and Kane where they tease if Team Hell No is disbanding. Also both Kane and Bryan agree to prove themselves, they should challenge for the WWE Title.
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan is next. We had the opportunity to vote for the match type. I would have much rather seen these two men tear it up in 2-out-of-3 Falls Match but a NO DQ was selected. The match was precisely what could be expected of both men, with hard hitting and well-paced action. I’m uncertain if it was the dive but Bryan would appear to be legitimately hurt and the refs and ringside doctor stop the match. At one point, I believe Orton asked “What the F is going on” and I did hear a bleep or two. Orton did walk up to Bryan and they exchanged some words, perhaps regarding Bryan’s condition. If this is legit, I hope Bryan heals quickly and if it’s a work, then shame on me, because I’ve been fooled twice in one night.
Next out, we AJ Lee, accompanied by Big E. Langston. AJ recapped what happened at WWE Payback. AJ states that she was always a champion and now with the the title in hand, there is no dispute. AJ put the Divas locker room on notice that she is a role model for women all around the world and that none of these women compare to her. AJ is then interrupted by Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie takes offense to how AJ has conducted herself as a champion and as a woman. Stephanie and AJ exchange words and AJ tries to take a shot at Stephanie who simply reminds AJ that she has the power to take all of this away from AJ including her job. Kaitlyn later interrupts Stephanie and AJ. Stephanie, playing no favourites, tells Kaitlyn to never interrupt her again. Kaitlyn commends AJ on her victory and later charges the ring and attacks AJ to which Big E separates the two, with AJ screaming at Kaitlyn and all the Divas. Good stuff.
Next we had a rematch between Ambrose and Kane. The match had a brief start but the remainder of the Shield would interfere and cost Kane the title. The Shield’s actions were to be met by ramifications to be laid down by Vickie Guerrero, however this would not be the case. Mr. McMahon would congratulate the Shield on their ruthless aggression and that the Shield reminds McMahon of himself.
Another Bray Wyatt vignette would air. What can I say? Just one of the best promos for debuting stars in some time. They are coming!
Zeb Colter would make his way out and introduce his newest acquisition,: Antonio Cesaro. Cesaro would have a quick brawl with William Regal. Anytime Regal is on TV, I am a happy fan. Cesaro displayed a couple magnificent feats of strength and would pick up the victory with the neutralizer. Cesaro would cover Regal’s body with the “Don’t Tread Me” flag as he and Colter recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I do look forward to a potential teaming of Swagger and Cesaro, a team of two strong amateur wrestlers.
We saw John Cena approaching the ring prior to a commercial break. Cena came out and put the WWE locker room on notice that he intends on being a strong champion and anticipates his next challenger. Cena put any future Money in the Bank winner that he will not be easily defeated and that anyone who defeats him will have earned it (Daniel Bryan?) Mark Henry’s music hits and Henry enters holding his wrestling boots. Henry places the boots on the ramp, thus signalling “the hanging up of the boots”. Mark Henry begins to recap his career and his accomplishments. Mark Henry puts over John Cena and what he does for the company, even calling him the best champion of all time. Henry continues to wipe tears from his eyes and announces he is retiring from the active roster. Henry announces he is coming home to his family, his wife and kids. Some fan yells Mae Young and Henry responds, “Not Mae Young, dummy!” Henry says he is coming home and Cena comes in and lifts up Henry’s hand and goes for a hug and Mark Heny hoists Cena up and drops him with the World’s Strongest Slam! Henry mouths off to Cena and says he has a lot left in him. This was by far one of the best segments in RAW history and the greatest Mark Henry moment in his career. Mark Henry was so convincing and so believable. His delivery of a retirement speech, his tears and him interacting spontaneously with fans was just fantastic. Throughout the segment, I was continuously going back and forth if this was an angle or a legit retirement and when he slammed Cena, I was so entertained because Henry totally got me. This segment totally sold the WWE Championship match for me but I have no idea how they can follow this. I’ll continue to tune in!
Chris Jericho would go on to defeat Heath Slater and Curtis Axel would defeat Sin Cara, once again. Two matches that were essentially filler material.
Backstage we had Vince, Stephanie and Triple H confronting Vickie Guerrero on some of her decisions of the night. The McMahons and Triple H all trying to be the one that Vickie ought to follow orders from. I don’t mind the McMahons and Triple H in some minor backstage segments as they talk about different talent. It was good to see Vince and the Shield, Steph and the Divas and later in a WWE.com exclusive with Triple H and Daniel Bryan. If they start disputing on decisions regarding other superstars this could be a beneficial use of the McMahon & Triple H rub for future stars.
Our Main Event was a quick match that ended in count-out. Usually a count-out is disappointing but it set up the extracurricular that took place after the match. Del Rio got counted out and as he walked to the back, he was attacked by Dolph Ziggler thus putting in place their rematch, most likely at the Money in the Bank PPV. CM Punk remained in the ring and had his hand raised in victory. Suddenly, Lesnar’s music hit. It was definitely shocking and unexpected. It did feel surreal as it was totally unexpected. Lesnar and Punk had a stare down and Lesnar viciously F-5ed Punk. A simple segment that built intrigued to see when this dream match may take place.
Overall, this was a fun RAW to watch and appears as though things are going strong for the WWE roster. There are some strong fan favourites in the WWE, Del Rio returned to a heel which is better role for him, Mark Henry solidified himself as a reprehensible heel and WWE showed their dedication to putting on a dream match for fans between CM Punk and Brock Lesnar. I look forward to the next couple of weeks of WWE TV.