Kester's WWE Raw Rundown: Brock Lesnar returns to flatten CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio shines as a heel, and Mark Henry feigns retirement to attack John Cena
By Ryan Kester
Brock Lesnar and CM Punk
Ah, finally we've come to this. People have been calling for a Lesnar/Punk feud since Lesnar made his return to WWE, and it couldn't come at a better time for Punk. He's slowly transitioning into a babyface role again, and Punk needs a credible heel opponent to help shake up his character. The interactions between Punk and Paul Heyman in the coming weeks should be very entertaining.
My only real concern about this feud is the fact that Lesnar needs more wins. If they can delay gratification on Punk going over Lesnar for a spell, then we're golden, but I worry that WWE is going to consider Lesnar Teflon enough to absorb an early loss. That is the last thing either man needs. A sympathetic Punk, perhaps coming off of Heyman turning on him at MitB or SummerSlam, whenever they decide to hold this match, is the best possible outcome for this feud.
Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler
Alberto Del Rio slipped right back into his comfort zone last night. He never really clicked with his babyface character, but he managed to return to the qualities of his act that had people so high on his entry into the WWE without the excess baggage that came with his "destiny" mantra. A viscous Del Rio hell-bent on having respect and retaining his title is so much better than the cookie-cutter babyface act with the fake smile.
Heading into the evening, I thought it would be prudent for Dolph Ziggler to remain entirely off of the show, but his brief appearance and brawl with Del Rio worked for me. It firmly established that Del Rio is feuding with Ziggler rather than Punk, and it allowed Ziggler to get a brief babyface pop. The night was certainly more about allowing Del Rio to display his heel persona, but Ziggler's appearance was a nice supplement to that story.
Mark Henry and John Cena
Wow, this segment was amazing. Mark Henry is to be commended for his work here and the range he displayed in setting up the World's Strongest Slam on John Cena. It was thoroughly impressive and despite the little bits of foreshadowing from Twitter, Henry's promo, and the announce teams comments, I was able to suspend my disbelief and get drawn into the segment due to Henry's delivery. There's always something powerful about seeing a grown man cry.
In a similar vein, John Cena deserves credit for taking the segment seriously and selling it the way he did. Cena seemed to show a great deal of respect by letting Henry have the ring, and when Henry referenced him throughout his "retirement" speech, Cena kept his usual smirks and such to a minimum.
All around, this simple segment left me excited to see a feud between these two men, especially if they can keep up the sort of energy they created last night. I'm hesitant about the prospect of the two men actually wrestling as we've seen that match plenty of times in recent history, but there seems to be a lot of fun to be had with the build.
Last night's show was by no means perfect, the McMahon drama and the 1-800-Fella silliness was eye-roll-inducing bad, but WWE kept their momentum from Payback going and several of the feuds they set up are intriguing. Better yet, they managed to make several acts that were either losing their luster or were completely stale feel fresh again.
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