CM Punk reveals the new WWE '13 cover.
Logical promo from Big Show to kick off the show. The content and delivery was much better than last week and made sense as well. This was a successful way in establishing Show as a dominant heel, rather than turning heel just for the sake of getting his job back.
Brief match with Alberto Del Rio quickly defeating United States Champion Santino Marella. If Marella is losing in under a minute as United States Champ, it just goes to show that the strap isn't doing anything for him or the title itself for that matter. Del Rio, however, regains momentum with the squash victory.
Fine tag team title match with WWE Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston and R-Truth successfully retaining against Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. We've seen the two teams battle so many times over the last few months that the action wasn't anything out of the ordinary. I never felt the titles were in jeopardy since Ziggler and Swagger have lost so much recently. Thankfully, the highlight here was Ziggler walking out on Swagger and Vickie Guerrero, foreshadowing a long overdue singles run and breaking out on his own.
Great match between WWE Champion CM Punk and Daniel Bryan that successfully furthered their feud with smart booking. The promo featuring John Laurinaitis prior to the bout didn't do much for me since they're still building Punk's feud with Laurinaitis despite it ending months ago, but it was a nice plug for the WWE '13 release coming later this year. As for the Punk-Bryan match, it wasn't an epic encounter as some of their previous contests, but I see that as a good thing since them holding back means they can save it for the pay-per-view. It's about time AJ finally got involved in the story by standing at ringside, and she played her role to perfection. I'm glad they're portraying Kane as a tweener and not a full-fledged face, but he still shouldn't be apart of this feud regardless.
Alberto Del Rio connects with a well-timed kick on Randy Orton.
Effective opening segment featuring Randy Orton, Alberto Del Rio, Kane, and Eve that set up the main event match nicely. All three competitors made their claim as to why they deserve a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, so it was common booking. Eve continues to excel in her role as an authority figure.
Good match with Intercontinental Champion Christian defeating Hunico. These two had an innovative clash of styles that meshed together nicely to make for a fun bout. The finish was pretty cool, and I'm liking adding more moves into his arsenal such as the Frog Splash to finish off his opponents. Cody Rhodes constructed a great promo following the contest, claiming that his quest on regaining the Intercontinental title has only begun.
Fine tag team match with Titus O'Neil and Darren Young defeating The Usos. There wasn't much action, but the victory helped Young and O'Neil regain the momentum they lost last week. Here's hoping this string of recent wins gets these two in the WWE Tag Team title picture very soon.
Impressive outing from Ryback. While it would have been more beneficial to Ryback had he been facing two contracted Superstars rather than local athletes, his domination over his two adversaries was done in such an intimidating fashion that will certainly get him noticed. I'm not entirely sure whether the reaction he received was piped in for not, but the live crowd seemed to enjoy his power moves he used throughout the contest.
Throwaway match between United States Champion Santino Marella and Ricardo Rodriguez. Obviously, most of it was for comedic purposes, but thankfully, it didn't last long. It's funny that both Marella and Rodriguez are very good wrestlers, but their characters aren't allowed to truly exhibit that. This mini-feud between the two is meaningless, so it's time to move Marella into an actual title program.
CM Punk applies the Anaconda Vise to Daniel Bryan.
The segment that kicked off the show featuring John Cena, John Laurinaitis, and Big Show felt extremely forced. I usually enjoy Cena when he's at his most intense, but his promo didn't show that despite Cena venting his frustrations. Show, whether he's heel or face, is a tired act and I honestly couldn't tell if he was a sympathetic character last night or a full-blown heel.
Meaningless match between John Cena and David Otunga. Why did this even happen? It was a quick squash by Cena that didn't accomplish anything. We've seen these former WWE Tag Team Champions clash numerous times over the years, and it's always the same thing. The only interesting aspect about this segment was when Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks and company started beating down Cena, which would be the first time those lower mid-card guys have been exposed on Raw in a long while. Of course, Sheamus quickly ran down to steal their thunder, but that was a cool moment for sure.
Good match from Alberto Del Rio and Randy Orton. They have nice chemistry and hope to see them engage in the near future. Thankfully, they saved the clean finish by having Chris Jericho interfere and give Orton the disqualification victory. Jericho's "disturbing" promo following the bout in addition with the three Codebreakers is the most aggressive we've seen him in years, so I'm highly anticipating this apparent feud with Orton that I've been waiting to see since late 2010.
Strange segment featuring WWE Champion CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Kane. Bryan's promo was logical and was exactly what I wanted to see following the controversial finish to their title match at Over the Limit. However, Punk didn't respond the way I anticipated and instead brought out Kane, a heel who decimated Punk only mere days ago. I surely hope this isn't a face turn from Kane, who works much better as a monster heel anyways. The match was over in minutes, and having Punk attack Bryan following the match gave him his vengeance, but felt like something a heel would do. Bryan needs momentum if he looks to be challenging for the title again at No Way Out.
CM Punk prepares to defend his WWE title against Daniel Bryan.
Fine match between Kane and Zack Ryder during the pre-show. Obviously, this match came three months too late, so the crowd wasn't all that in to it. I'm glad we didn't get a total squash here, but the consistent burying of Ryder has me disappointed.
Decent battle royal that featured the right amount of top names to keep viewers intrigued. A number of guys were able to shine here, especially Tyson Kidd. I throughly enjoyed the final moments of the contest between Christian and The Miz and hope to see more from them in the near future. The shocking return of Christian was an awesome surprise, and having him emerge victorious in this battle royal was great booking.
Fun match with WWE Tag Team Champions Kofi Kingston and R-Truth successfully defending their titles against Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. The heels had an impressive showing that established them as threats to the titles, but the formulaic hot tag from the faces could be seen coming from am mile away and was nicely executed. Ziggler and Swagger have run their course as a team and really need to split in hopes of better success in singles competition.
Quality Divas match between Layla and Beth Phoenix. It's no secret that Layla and Phoenix are two of the better workers in the division, and they produced a fairly good match. They told a great story during the course of the bout that saw Layla emerge victorious still the Divas Champion. With the Glamazon seemingly no longer a threat to Layla, fingers crossed the returning Kharma will be next in line for a shot.
Strong Fatal-4 Way with World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus successfully defending against Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, and Alberto Del Rio. All four participants worked extremely well together and pulled out some suspenseful spot all throughout the match. The crowd bought into a lot of the near falls and made for a great atmosphere every time the bout came close to ending. Sheamus going over here makes sense and was the best route to go in making him out to be a credible champion. Since Chris Jericho was the one who got pinned, I'm interested to see how he takes the loss and where he goes from here.
Daniel Bryan attacks Kane with a vicious chair shot.
Effective opening segment featuring John Laurinaitis and WWE Champion CM Punk. It was a pleasant surprise in seeing Punk make an appearance on SmackDown, and he led Laurinatis to a good promo that helped hype a match with Kane later in the night. Once Punk walked off, Laurinaitis garnered major heat by badgering the audience and playing his role extremely well.
Fun match with WWE Tag Team Champions R-Truth and Kofi Kingston defeating Titus O'Neil and Darren Young. I would have liked to see O'Neil and Young continue their recent momentum with a victory here, but the tag team champs needed a win going into their title defense at Over the Limit. Hopefully, we see more from these two teams in the near future.
Intense segment with Damien Sandow refusing to face Yoshi Tatsu, only to viciously attack him moments later after Tatsu called him out on it. Sandow's gimmick has me intrigued, and it certainly seems to accumulating heat fairly quickly. Although I would have loved to see him compete, forcefully beating down Tatsu was an awesome way in foreshadowing his aggressive characteristics in the ring.
Brief match with Daniel Bryan quickly defeating Zack Ryder. Based upon past matches between the two, I would have loved to see this go longer, but keeping it short made Bryan look strong into his WWE Championship on Sunday. Ryder hasn't meant anything in ages, so having him to job out to Bryan in this fashion didn't do much damage that wasn't already done.
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