Lumberjacks surround the ring as Sheamus battles CM Punk.
Great match with Rhodes Scholars defeating Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara to win the WWE Tag Team Championship tournament. It's been over two months since we've seen a match kick off Raw, so it was certainly a refreshing change of pace. It put further emphasis on the growing tag team division and all four guys worked hard to produce an entertaining contest. Rhodes Scholars going over clean and advancing to Hell in a Cell was logical booking, but was the best choice. Team Hell No appearing on the Titantron following the bout was also a nice touch.
Brief match with Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston defeating Michael McGillicutty. It was strange to see McGillicutty work as a heel here since he worked as babyface at a Raw live event I attended, but it was still nice exposure for him on Raw. The crowd's "Mr. Perfect" chant was easily the highlight of this match. We saw the same match on Main Event last week, and McGillicutty losing so quickly doesn't give me hope he won't he won't be used as a legitimate mid-carder anytime soon. The Miz tried his best on commentary to build his title match with Kingston at Hell in a Cell, but the feud has been so rushed that it's hard to get invested in it. Still, props to WWE for at least trying to hype their title encounter on Sunday.
Strong segment featuring John Cena and WWE Champion CM Punk. Cena is always his best on the mic when he's serious, and there was no exception to that here. He and Punk had a great verbal exchange per usual and even helped build the WWE title match on Sunday despite Ryback not appearing in this segment (which he didn't need to). Cena must get involved at Hell in a Cell somehow in order to increase pay-per-view buys, so I'm intrigued as to what his role might be at the event.
Good match between United States Champion Antonio Cesaro and Justin Gabriel. As I said last week, these two could make for a good feud if given a story-line, and that's exactly what we got here. Cesaro has been built up strongly in recent weeks, so that made Gabriel's shocking upset victory over the U.S. Champ all the more exciting. The crowd popped nicely for Gabriel's win, so this gives me hope they're starting to get behind his character. This was a brilliant move on WWE's part, as this is a rivalry I can certainly get excited about with the great matches between the two that we're bound to see.
Strange segment that featured AJ's resignation as Raw General Manager. We knew it was bound to happen at some point with all the foreshadowing they've done in recent months and the fact that her resignation was vastly overdue, but did it need to happen on the go-home show? Why not next week on the road to Survivor Series? AJ's promo was well done, but announcing Vickie Guerrero as her replacement for the time being is a questionable move in my book. Sure, she still garners tons of heat and this might very well slowly split her from Dolph Ziggler, but we've seen her in charge one too many times before. I was looking for a fresh face to take over, but apparently that wasn't the case. I'd love to think this is all building towards something huge, but the fact Vickie's new title is "Managing Supervisor" isn't reassuring.
Basic squash match with Ryback destroying The Miz. I was surprised at how little offense Miz scored on Ryback, but I guess it makes sense to have Ryback looking strong going into his pending WWE Championship match. However, Miz also has a title match coming up, and this match obviously did him no favors. It never ceases to amaze me why they continue to waste the talents of the Awesome One, but there's always the chance that he reclaims the Intercontinental Championship on Sunday after being booked so terribly as of late.
WWE Tag Team Champ Daniel Bryan takes on Dolph Ziggler.
Excellent match between WWE Tag Team Champion Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. The "This is awesome" chants from the crowd were certainly necessary, as this was one of the most exciting matches we've seen on Raw in recent weeks. Very cool finish with Ziggler hitting the Zig-Zag from the top rope, and Bryan is protected by the loss due to being distracted by Kane. This match of the night was a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Meaningless "Newly Tag Game" segment. Team Hell No was somewhat humorous, but what was the actual point of this? Rhodes Scholars didn't take part in it (which is of course a good thing) and Matt Striker randomly turned heel at the end. Obviously, this was filler intended to kill time between Bryan's match and Kane's subsequent match.
Decent match between Big Show and Kane. We've seen it a handful of times this year, so it didn't at all feel fresh. Show maintained momentum by getting the win, while Team Hell No's feud with Rhodes Scholars was furthered once Rhodes and Sandow ambushed the tag champs. This was effective build for the tag title match on Sunday and easily one of the more intriguing feuds we've seen over the straps in recent years.
Intriguing backstage segment featuring AJ and John Cena. Personally, I think it was too soon to reveal John Cena as the one who was "fraternizing" with AJ, but that doesn't take away from the angle whatsoever. It may seem like a basic story-line, but it has all the potential in the world and still a lot of time to develop. It could always end badly, but as of now, I'm intrigued and I haven't been able to say that about Cena's character in quite some time.
Fine match with Alberto Del Rio defeating Zack Ryder. The action was fine for what it was, but it was mainly used to further get over Alberto Del Rio. His post-match attack on Ryder did just the trick in making him come off as more aggressive and intense. I also got a kick out of his mocking of Orton with the arm pose, but I was surprised to see Orton not make an appearance (more than likely due to the filming of the sequel to 12 Rounds).
Solid Lumberjack match between WWE Champion CM Punk and World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus. The Lumberjack stipulation always ends in a trainwreck and that was also the case here. I found Punk's match with Sheamus from Main Event a few weeks back to be better due to the stipulation taking away from this particular match, but they made the most of it and received great time. I'm glad Punk went over here as well, and the Lumberjacks made sense once Punk tried to escape Ryback and they kept throwing the Straightedge Savior back in. Rybcak was made to look like an absolute beast, and I'm highly anticipating his upcoming clash with Punk at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view.
Overall, a great show that featured some awesome action, solid segments, and successful build for the Hell in a Cell event. Granted, it didn't feel like a go-home show, but this week's edition didn't drag as much as it did last week in my opinion, so that's making progress. It seems as if change was incorporated at the wrong time, as most of the segments and story-lines could've been better saved for next week.