WWE returned to the USA Network for Monday Night Raw last night (Oct. 8, 2012) from Sacramento, California, and featured the return of both Vince McMahon and John Cena.
And it worked. It just worked.
Not Cena, who can hardly do anything with his elbow in the shape it's in. In fact, unless he was just playing it up while on television, he looks like he definitely doesn't belong anywhere near a ring and should be spending his Monday's rehabbing.
But McMahon got right back into the thick of it, actually getting down and dirty in a match -- which wasn't really a match, I guess -- in the main event opposite WWE Champion CM Punk.
Speaking of Punk, he's got his own issues coming out of this show.
Let's just get to the reactions, shall we?
- As far as the CM Punk punching a fan situation we've already covered so thoroughly here at Cageside, my opinion is that Punk was wrong to lash out the way he did but his doing so was understandable considering the circumstances. I'll likely go into it more later but when you're in a crowd like that and you've been pushed multiple times, making it feel hostile, it's understandable if your reaction is to get equally aggressive. It just might prove to be costly for WWE.
- I can't possibly be the only pro wrestling fan who actually likes Vince McMahon on my TV, right? I suppose it's telling that he's a better performer than about 85-percent of the active roster but if that's the case, and he can still go, why not make him a regular performer again? I suppose that bleeds into my next point ...
- ... and that's that it was a bit uncomfortable to watch McMahon wrestle the way he did this soon after Jerry Lawler's heart attack. Vince is actually five years older and every time he stopped to catch his breath, I couldn't help but get anxious. I would love McMahon performing again but not in actual matches, especially ones that get as physical as last night's match.
- Again, though, McMahon was great and his segment with Punk early in the show was awesome. I feel like I should have a better descriptor but that was what was going through my head after they had such a great back-and-forth -- loaded with truths like McMahon admitting he loathes the "Paul Heyman guy" schtick and coming right out and saying he's "not a CM Punk guy" -- capped off by "The Second City Savior" smacking "Vinny Mac" hard across the face.
- We can't acknowledge enough how much Paul Heyman brings to the table. His various facial expressions and background presence has eliminated dead space. If you get bored with Punk talking to McMahon, just look behind him and Heyman is guaranteed to entertain you. He's also great in his backstage segments warning McMahon and plotting and planning with Punk.
- Did anyone else start thinking all this is leading towards a Brock Lesnar and CM Punk vs. Triple H and Vince McMahon tag team match? No?
- What was the point of John Cena shitting on everyone at the top of the show? I don't get it. Maybe I'm not supposed to. Whatever.
- How the hell did Ryback get over? Sacramento was a fun crowd (outside of the idiots pushing Punk around) and they popped HUGE when Ryback's music hit the couple times it did. When Cena threw the champion back inside the ring and Ryback hit him with a monster clothesline, the roof blew off the arena. I don't really get the appeal. My guess is that it was all executed so well that it was just a fun time being had by all and not really indicative of Ryback's potential as a top star but that "FEED ME MORE" gimmick is really working. He might actually end up headlining Hell in a Cell against Punk and that's a scary proposition. Punk's good but good enough to get a solid match out of Ryback? I don't know.
- Sad to see the Prime Time Players exit the tag team tournament but Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio had to go over to preserve the babyface-heel dynamic for the finals, where they'll meet the Rhodes Scholars. Sorry, WWE, I refuse to refer to them as "Team Rhodes Scholars" because that's just dumb. Not as dumb as Team CoBro, though.
- Jinder Mahal, Drew McIntrye and Heath Slater are a rock band now? So Slater's not the "One Man Band" anymore? Meh.
- Knowing how much WWE reportedly has invested in both Sheamus and Wade Barrett, it really sucks how underwhelming their match was. This is a potential WrestleMania main event in a few years, they should be better than this. Maybe another time. At least the non-finish was the right call for both guys and their current standing on the roster.
- Not enough AJ and the AJ THIGHS situation is bleak. One of the few down marks on this show.
- Antonio Cesaro continues to convince me he's got big money potential. Tyson Kidd continues to make me feel bad that there isn't more room for him to operate despite so many hours of WWE programming every week. He's too good a wrestler to be featured so little.
- Team Hell No is still really fun. What more can we say at this point? Daniel Bryan's interaction with Larry King and his old lady was great, especially the sleeping under the bridge only one time bit.
- Miz vs. Kofi Kingston? No, thanks.
- Props to Eve Torres and the women for the use of proper psychology in their short match. When your opponent has a bum ankle, attack the bum ankle to get the (mostly) easy win. Get heat on yourself by taking it too far and build up the babyface (Layla) making the save. Match later at the pay-per-view. Good stuff.
This was a really good show. Solid pacing, plenty of excitement, cool angles with McMahon, Punk, and Ryback, and anticipation left for next week.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off with all your thoughts in the comments section below. What did you think of Monday Night Raw last night?