By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Damien Sandow Interrupted World Heavyweight Champion John Cena
After two solid months of Cena not being on Raw, I didn't mind his lame jokes as much in this promo. Then again, he didn't joke around too much here, kept it serious for the most part and delivered some strong mic work. Sandow interrupting as well as his subsequent attack on Cena was a pleasant surprise. Cena sold Sandow's offense greatly and Sandow announcing that he would cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase made for a very suspenseful hook going into the commercial break.
World Heavyweight Champion John Cena def. Damien Sandow
Without a doubt, this had to be the best match in Sandow's WWE career to date. Sandow targeting the arm of Cena was the central focus of this match and they played up Cena's injury to perfection. Sandow, despite ultimately coming up short, scored an impressive amount of offense over Cena and looked strong in defeat. The live crowd was hot for the exciting action and it was a great way to open Raw. I am mildly disappointed that WWE didn't do more with Sandow prior to his cash-in, and one can only hope that they push him in some form or fashion after this excellent match. In retrospect, Sandow winning the Money in the Bank match was a complete waste, but this match with Cena did more to benefit Sandow more than anything else he did with the blue briefcase beforehand.
Big E Langston def. United States Champion Dean Ambrose by Disqualification
The match ran a mere minute long before The Shield caused it to end in a disqualification. This was rather disappointing seeing how their match at Hell in a Cell also had a weak finish. Langston and Ambrose are capable of having a good match together, they just need a real feud and a decent amount of time, that's all. The Usos making the save and the subsequent announcement of the six-man tag team match was predictable, and it was apparent the live crowd felt the same way, so why not make it a six-man tag from the get-go?
The Shield def. Big E Langston and The Usos
As entertaining as Shield six-man tag team matches can be, I found it hard to get invested in the action of this one. It wasn't a bad bout at all, it was actually enjoyable down the stretch. However, this formula of having a Shield member lose via disqualification and then win the subsequent six-man tag has grown tiresome. It was nice to see The Shield win for the first time in a while, but how does this put Langston back in contention for the star-spangled prize?
Daniel Bryan Confronted Shawn Michaels
I never expected to see Michaels go full-fledged heel, and while it is a strange move considering Michaels isn't an active in-ring competitor, I thought it was a nice change of pace. I was hoping to hear more from Bryan (who didn't say anything at all), but seeing him acting serious was enough for this viewer. This was furthered when Bryan locked Michaels in the Yes! Lock, getting a measure of revenge over HBK in the process. I don't predict an HBK return to the ring, but I look forward to more solid segments involving these two in coming weeks.
Los Matadores def. 3MB in a Two-on-Three Handicap Match
Please, WWE, spare me of any more matches between these two teams. Seriously, this is absolutely ridiculous. I have honestly lost track of how many matches these two tandems have had in the last month and a half, but what I do know is that WWE has to find something more meaningful for Los Matadores to do or to scrap the act all together. This was nothing more than a filler bout with some unfunny "comedic" antics thrown in. The least they could have done was further the feud between Los Matadores and The Real American if it is going to continue.
Divas Champion AJ Lee and Tamina Snuka def. The Bella Twins
This was another fine matchup by Divas standards that seemingly served its purpose in ending the Brie vs. AJ feud once and for all, or at least I hope so. Brie had an out for losing due to be distracted by Bryan's injury from earlier on, and no tension was teased between The Bella Twins. The real question now is who will be next to challenge for the Divas Championship.
Kane def. The Miz
Being the massive Miz-fit that I am, all I have to say is poor Miz. This guy was brutalized by Randy Orton last month, was kidnapped by The Wyatt Family on SmackDown, and was beaten by Kane in under a minute on this show. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Kane's apparent "heel turn" is intriguing, as is his latest unmasking. I like him better with the mask, but if he is going to be joining The Authority, removing the mask is only logical.
CM Punk def. Ryback in a Street Fight
Oddly enough, this match took place exactly one year after their initial encounter at 2012's Hell in a Cell event. Unfortunately, this match wasn't any better, as they were relegated to only four minutes. They had a fun match while it lasted, but the brevity of the bout was shocking to say the least. There is no resurrecting the Ryback act at this point. As for The Wyatt Family attacking Punk after the contest, I loved it. It finally gives The Wyatt Family something of note to do and it might be leading to a blockbuster tag team match at Survivor Series also involving Daniel Bryan and others.
The Real Americans def. WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust (Non-title)
Who said tag team wrestling was dead? This was a very good match that received a substantial amount of time and featured plenty of back-and-forth action. I didn't expect The Real Americans to pick up the win here, but it grants them a future shot at the tag team titles, hopefully at Survivor Series or possibly sooner. If The Real Americans were planned to be inserted in the title picture all along, why in the hell did they lose to Los Matadores at Hell in a Cell?
Alberto Del Rio Addressed John Cena
This was an improvement over the promo Del Rio cut on SmackDown a few days ago, but it was still standard for the most part. It was a logical follow-up to his title loss at Hell in a Cell and the stage has been set for a rematch for some point down the line, presumably at Survivor Series. It is a shame Del Rio has no heat at the moment, as he one of the better heels WWE has at the moment, but he just isn't getting over with the live crowds.
Natalya def. Summer Rae
Similar to at Hell in a Cell, Summer had another impressive showing against Natalya. Officials are obviously high on her, so it isn't surprising that their match went longer than most people thought it would have. Of course, there are other NXT Divas that are better in the ring than Summer, but she is still a nice addition to a growing Divas division. However, I can't see her chasing the Divas title anytime soon with heel AJ Lee as the current champion.
Big Show Interrupted Randy Orton's WWE Championship Celebration
I enjoyed Orton's heel mic work here, but it is a shame it came to an abrupt halt thanks to Big Show. Show is coming off more and more like a Stone Cold rip-off as each week passes. I will excuse the playing of Show's entrance them despite him being "fired" because it will be ultimately be revealed as Mr. McMahon pulling the strings, but why couldn't that have been revealed on this show? There was no better time for it, and I would have rather seen that happen than Show knocking Orton right into irrelevancy. I don't want to see Show feud with Orton or Triple H, but WWE will probably have Show face one of them at Survivor Series based off the lively reaction Show received at the conclusion at the program. Why Big Show is the focal point of Raw in 2013 is beyond me.
The show started off hot with the World Heavyweight Championship match, but everything else that followed was either hit or miss. I enjoyed the confrontation between Bryan and Michaels, CM Punk's appearance, Kane's heel turn and the elevation of The Wyatt Family, but that was about it. All the other segments and matches were either forgettable or did nothing to spark my interest. WWE put forth a better effort with this show than they did with Hell in a Cell, but it is going to take a while for WWE to restore my faith in the product, and hopefully that starts with Survivor Series.