Ryback lays out WWE Champion CM Punk at the end of Raw.
Fun match between Big Show and Daniel Bryan. The crowd loved Daniel Bryan and his antics, and Bryan told a nice David and Goliath story with Big Show. However, after losing to Alberto Del Rio decisively a few days ago on SmackDown, I'm not high on the move to have Bryan lose yet another match clean, even if it makes Big Show come off as a beast. Also, having Show kick off Raw was strange, as his promo was what we've been hearing from him for weeks now. Not the hottest Raw opener in recent weeks, that's for sure.
Standard promo from WWE Champion CM Punk. He generated good heel heat and continued to tease who he chose to face at Hell in a Cell. Of course, we'll never know now since Vince McMahon interrupted in logical fashion, announcing he'd make the decision himself later that night. We've seen better promos for Punk, but this was at least effective in setting up the contract signing later in the night.
Fine match between Alberto Del Rio and Brodus Clay. The Funkasaurus didn't receive an entrance, so that pretty much guaranteed we'd be seeing him job out to Del Rio here. However, Clay sold the offense well and Jim Ross put over Del Rio's recent ruthless aggression on commentary. Personally, I'm just disappointed they made no mention of Clay being Del Rio's NXT Rookie at one point last year.
Brief match with the Prime Time Players defeating Zack Ryder and Santino Marella. We've seen the match multiple times before, so it was nothing new, but it help Titus O'Neil and Darren Young regain lost momentum. They have great potential and I'm glad to see their push continue despite being eliminated from the WWE Tag Team Championship tournament. I didn't really care for the run-in from Encore following the bout, other than the fact that it felt random and stupid, but hey, at least they're being utilized on television.
Smart booking with Ryback defeating David Otunga and Dolph Ziggler in a Handicap match. Otunga and Ziggler are two (somewhat) credible stars, so Ryback scoring a victory over the two of the them makes him look credible. The best part is that Ziggler wasn't even involved in the finish and didn't have to take the pin, as he abandoned Otunga before that was made possible. A potential Ryback and Ziggler feud is intriguing, but it feels like filler for Ziggler as he awaits his eventual Money in the Bank cash-in.
Good match with United States Champion Antonio Cesaro defeating Justin Gabriel. The finish to these Cesaro squashes on Raw each week are never in doubt, but they still contain good action that makes both him and his opponent look good. Gabriel hitting the 450 Splash but not scoring the victory was a nice tease, and Cesaro continues be dominant with this win. I appreciate the effort in building his gimmick via the pre-match vignettes, but he needs a legitimate feud with someone over the title for anyone to really invest in his character.
Throwaway match with Kane quickly defeating Matt Striker. This basically offered the story-line backlash from last week's SmackDown, but was the match even necessary? I, for one, like Striker and found Kane's post-match "interview" with him to be humorous, but it was merely meaningless. It's also interesting to note that Striker's last singles match on Raw prior to this episode was also against Kane in August 2008, right before he became a full-time broadcaster.
Kofi Kingston engages in a verbal battle with The Miz.
Strong segment featuring Intercontinental Champion The Miz and Kofi Kingston. I love how they've been building this feud on all three shows in the last week and this promo truly helped make the feud personal and not just about Kingston chasing the Intercontinental title. Miz spoke the truth with his verbal jabs at Kingston, and one can only hope that it foreshadows a change in Kingston's character going forward. I don't see that next step coming by having him win the IC strap, but this segment showed that the Miz TV promo segment can be extremely effective if done correctly.
Yet another solid match between World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and Wade Barrett. I didn't agree with the fact that they had this pay-per-view-worthy match on free television for the second consecutive week, but it was still an intense brawl that put over both competitors in a big way. It received great time, and it was nice to see Barrett lose by disqualification and not by pin-fall in order to protect his character, even if we saw the same thing last week. Sheamus getting the better of Show didn't nothing for me and does not at all get me excited for their upcoming title match at Hell in a Cell.
Decent match with Eve successfully retaining her Divas Championship against Layla. This was easily one of the better Divas matches we've seen this year, but that's not saying much. I found the sarcastic "This is awesome" chants to be amusing, but the crowd was barely responsive during most of the match. They should've saved this bout for the Hell in a Cell event, but it's still possible they could have Eve defend against both Layla and Kaitlyn in a Triple Threat at the Hell in a Cell event.
Filler match with Rhodes Scholars defeating Primo and Epico. They hardly made any mention of the WWE Tag Team tournament finals not occurring until the last minute, which made this match feel irrelevant. The action was fine for what it was, but the crowd couldn't care less about it given the fact that Primo and Epico are still seemingly heels. It was a nice win for Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow, but the match shouldn't have gone on as long as it did. I honestly found myself falling asleep at times during the course of this contest.
Entertaining match between Kofi Kingston and The Miz. It took place so late in the show that it was hardly given any time, but it was still fun action while it lasted. Obviously, Miz and Kingston have enjoyable chemistry in the ring, which was evident here, so I'm looking forward to a longer match this week on Main Event. After their awesome encounter earlier in the night, this match didn't need to happen whatsoever, but it was logical in the sense that they want viewers to believe that there's a chance Kingston could win the title on Main Event this week, thus wanting more people to tune in to see it. On a side note, that Trouble in Paradise was so hard-hitting that it might've given Miz something of a concussion, but nothing is confirmed at the moment.
Great contract signing to end the show featuring WWE Champion CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback. It didn't last long, but everyone played their roles well here. Vince McMahon wasn't as good as he was last week, but Punk was still effective on the mic with the small time he was given while Cena was at his best on the mic as well. Ryback came off as intense, and the crowd was undoubtedly hot for him all night long. While I still think it's too early to be having Ryback take on Punk for the title at Hell in a Cell, anything is bound to happen in the next few weeks, so I'm excited to see how they could possibly incorporate Cena into the whole ordeal, too.
Overall, a decent show that had its fair share of build for Hell in a Cell in addition to some highlights that kept this edition of Raw from being completely forgettable. I haven't been one to complain about the three hour concept, but this show felt much longer for this viewer than usual to the point where I almost fell asleep at points, which is uncommon for me. Nonetheless, WWE is doing an excellent job in building new stars and fresh faces on Raw that even some of the most meaningless matches are somewhat enjoyable.