WWE Champ CM Punk and World Champ Sheamus face off.
Solid segment to kick off the show featuring World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and WWE Champion CM Punk. Their exchange was both entertaining and extremely well done, which makes this the first Sheamus promo I was actually interested in. I liked how Punk didn't ignore the cheers he received from his hometown crowd, but instead embraced them. This segment made both World Championships feel important and set up a blockbuster matchup for later in the night.
Great match with Dolph Ziggler defeating Randy Orton. These two never cease to have a bad match, and this was no exception. It was an awesome opening match that once again has me eagerly anticipating a rematch. Ziggler going over was very smart booking, even if it was via dirty tactics. It keeps the feud alive and proves to the Raw audience that Ziggler is a legitimate threat as Mr. Money in the Bank.
Good tag team match with Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara defeating Cody Rhodes and Tensai. Hyping the teaming of Mysterio and Cara as a first-time-ever thing before the break was a nice hook, and they made for a fun team. They've been pairing up quite a bit lately, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them eventually form an official tandem. Tensai's place in this match felt random, despite Cole mentioning that Cara faced Tensai a few weeks back, as Damien Sandow would've been a much better choice. Given Tensai's involvement, he should've been the one to be pinned and not Rhodes, since Rhodes needs momentum in this feud with Cara in order for it to matter.
Excellent booking by having CM Punk walk out on Sheamus, preventing their Champion vs. Champion match from happening. Given the fact that's a first-time-ever match, I'm glad to see it saved for a later date with even more anticipation following the build towards it earlier in the night. Sure, Punk still got cheered by Chicago while leaving, but he did receive a share of boos as well, so what he did was certainly effective. As for Sheamus' match with Jack Swagger, it was fine for what it was, but we've seen it so many times that it was merely pointless. If nothing else, the Celtic Warrior's innovate Texas Cloverleaf maneuver was innovative and I hope to see him use it more often going forward.
Typical Divas match between Eve and Kaitlyn. It contained a handful of botches, but thankfully, it was painless and over quickly. I'm not down on the idea of giving the number one contender Kaitlyn a loss here, as it seems they're trying to incorporate Eve into the title picture as well. Layla played her role well on commentary, but her bickering with Miz took away from the match for a short while.
Fine match between Ryback and Jinder Mahal. We saw the culmination of this feud a few weeks ago on SmackDown, so this match was nothing new. What was new, however, was Ryback's new shirt, which actually looks pretty cool. Any chance I can get it in my size?
Kane and Daniel Bryan hug out their differences.
Fun segments throughout the night featuring Kane and Daniel Bryan. The anger management clips were good fun and are nice in small doses. Granted, I was hoping to see them team up, but the "hugging it out" option was equally entertaining. It was dragged out a bit too long for my liking, but the live crowd seemed to have enjoyed. Fingers crossed this doesn't lead to another match between the two, as I was surely hope this would instead lead to a tag team that would see them put their differences aside.
Throwaway match with Antonio Cesaro defeating Santino Marella to successfully retain his United States Championship. The live crowd didn't seem to care for Santino's foolish Cobra antics, so I think it's about time they end that angle and move on. Cesaro winning clean was nice, and it was great to finally see him make his Raw debut. Of course, he didn't get much of a reaction, but if continues to be exposed to the Raw audience, he will garner one in time. I'm hoping this match was just to get Santino's obligated title rematch out of the way so Cesaro can move onto bigger and better challengers.
Brief match with Zack Ryder defeating Heath Slater. This stems from their recent feud over social networking, which Cole reminded the viewers of prior to the match. I still find it shocking they couldn't find time to show their entrances on a show that is three hours long, but that's nitpicking things. It was over quickly and gave Ryder yet another victory, which is nice to see. However, Vickie Guerrero's abrupt arrivals overshadowed his win.
Meaningless segment featuring Raw General Manager AJ Lee and Vickie Guerrero. It was effective last week because it only lasted a minute or two, but this week's lasted way too long for no apparent reason. I have no intentions of seeing these feud or even in the ring together, so I'm not exactly sure of what the point of it was. AJ's been in power for only a month, so it'd seem strange to see her removed from her position so soon.
Strong Falls Count Anywhere Match between John Cena and Alberto Del Rio. It's been about a year since we've last seen these two clash inside the ring, so this felt fresh and exciting for this year. They obviously took full advantage of the stipulation and were able to incorporate a load of cool spots using the environment surrounding them. It was brutally physical and ending on a high note with Del Rio going over with Punk's help. While they once again didn't focus on the Cena-Punk feud for a majority of this episode, they at least were able to build upon it at the end. The conclusion of the show with Punk driving off with Paul Heyman was extraordinarily epic and a very intriguing hook going into next week's show.
Overall, a great show that featured some awesome action, fantastic booking, and plenty of to look forward to in coming weeks. The hype for Night of Champions was a bit lackluster, but they still did enough to keep me excited for the event. On a side note, The Miz was excellent on commentary and I hope to see him back at the announcing table more often, as anything beats to hearing the tiresome pairing of Cole and Lawler each week. This week's Raw also had a handful of dragging moments and matches, but they weren't enough to make this show any less worthy of an enjoyable edition.