Fans who watched tonight's Raw -- and maybe even those who didn't -- will likely complain endlessly about the show's opening.
The first full segment on the show featured a non-title triple-threat match pitting
Since Punk's title reign has started, his feud -- no matter the opponent -- has played second fiddle to whatever storyline
Fans have been outraged. Even my From the Rafters Radio co-hosts and I have railed the decision-making process on the air. And I stand by those statements; the WWE Championship should be viewed as the most important aspect of the company's product.
But it's clear that continued complaining from fans isn't going to make any difference. So it's become almost futile and even actually drains a bit of the enjoyment from watching the show when all you see on Facebook and Twitter are fans whining about match placement. On pay-per-view, it's one thing; TV is another beast.
Punk himself has even defended the situation on social media, saying it doesn't matter where he's at on the show as long as he's stealing it. Pardon the paraphrasing.
The bottom line is that fans should enjoy the matches they're being presented rather than whining and complaining endlessly about placement. A good match is a good match, whether it opens the show or closes it.
Tonight's triple-threat match was a solid effort, but if it would have been presented as a main event, it likely would have been considered a let down. The three men have worked together so much lately that it's beginning to seem like we've seen all there is to offer.
And some combination of them, if not all three, are sure to compete again at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view next month, so it makes sense they're holding back a little on television, but this 10-minute match never seemed to hit high gear.
It did, however, continue to build on the story that has been told for several weeks, as AJ's appearance distracted Kane, allowing Punk to hit the Go to Sleep and eliminate him.
Bryan, capitalizing on the opportunity, delivered a kick to Punk's head to eliminate the champ. Bryan needed the win and the momentum, as he's come up short in most of his matches with Punk this far.
This match accomplished what it was supposed to do. It wasn't meant to be a pay-per-view-quality contest; it was meant to advance the story and give Bryan a sense of momentum.
It seems likely that the WWE Championship match at Money in the Bank will be Bryan vs. Punk, as guest General Manager Vickie Guerrero announced Kane will compete in the actual Money in the Bank match.
As wrestling fans, it's easy to get too wrapped up in things and over analyze it, but there comes a time when it's necessary to step back and realize that an angle can be focused on without it closing the show.
Punk, Bryan and Kane opening Raw doesn't mean WWE has lost faith in any of them. It just means that in today's WWE, there are other priorities, and that doesn't seem likely to change, no matter how much fans whine.
Just enjoy the show, or at least try your best to do so. It's not always easy, but hearing the same complaints week in and week out gets a little tiring.
If Punk doesn't have an issue with it; neither should you.
- The main event match pitting Cena against
Chris Jerichowas decent, but like the opener, it never seemed to hit high gear and it was more focused on story than anything else. Jericho and Cena reversed each other's signature moves several times before Big Show made his presence felt and attacked Cena. It makes sense, but it was strange to see both the opener and main event suffer from the same issues.
- The promo with Cena, Jericho and Guerrero that set up the main event was good. People often complain about happy-go-lucky Cena, but I actually enjoyed his "Star Wars" analogy. Jericho made a good return from suspension, and both men wound up entered in the Money in the Bank match for a WWE Championship contract. The match will also feature Kane and Big Show. With the stipulation that only former WWE Champions can compete, it's shaping up to be a star-studded affair.
- AJ was a featured attraction on tonight's Raw. She opened the show talking to a mirror as if it was Punk, Kane and Bryan, and then had backstage segments with two out of the three. In a divas battle royale, she eliminated Divas Champion Layla and Guerrero to win the match. AJ has been one of the brightest shining stars on WWE television in recent weeks, and she continues to excel at her role. Many are clamoring for a Kharma return, but I'd personally love to see AJ get a run with the belt first.
- The finish to the contract-on-a-pole between Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio was awful. Ziggler retrieved the contract, but lost control of the clipboard, which apparently meant he didn't win the match. As the two men fought over the contract, World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus came out and said both men would get a title shot on Smackdown in a triple threat match. This was the first real issue I've had with this week's show, as the whole match seems pointless.
- The ending of Brodus Clay's undefeated streak was a major disappointment. A few weeks ago, the thought of a Clay vs. Big Show match was tremendous, as there was heat behind it. When it finally happened tonight, it was rather short and uneventful. It didn't help any that two factors were playing against it: 1) the sudden lifting of Clay's ban from performing on Raw and 2) the annoyance of the commentators questioning who can stop Big Show, when Cena just defeated him on pay-per-view two weeks ago.
- This week's returning star of the past was none other than Sycho Sid, who got quite a few cheers from the crowd. That said, his match with Heath Slater was nothing but nostalgia. I don't even think Sid took a bump the entire time. As noted with Vader, though, it's nice to see some legends returning who don't make annual appearances like Sgt. Slaughter, Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes.
- United States Champion Santino Marella defeated Jack Swagger in a decent match. There wasn't much substance here, but at least Marella competed against an actual wrestler. This isn't an ideal end-game, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.
- It seems Zack Ryder has just completely forgotten about Cena "stealing" his girl Eve several months ago, as they exchanged a fist bump backstage and acted like best friends.
Daniel Bryan d. CM Punk and Kane
Big Show d. Brodus Clay
Santino Marella d. Jack Swagger
Sycho Sid d. Heath Slater
Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio had a non-finish
AJ won a divas battle royale
John Cena d. Chris Jericho by disqualification
There will be people who pan this entire show, but I think that's being harsh. There was a lot of positive story advancement and some decent wrestling. The show seemed to suffer as it went on, but it had its highs and its lows. Overall, it was a pretty average episode of Raw. It doesn't seem as if WWE is able to produce a consistent product lately, which may be attributed to them trying different things in preparation for the three-hour shows starting next month.