RAW Top Stars
Tag Team Champions Kane and Daniel Bryan, RAW General Manager AJ Lee, WWE Champion CM PUnk and Money in the Bank winner Dolph Ziggler arguing in the ring.  WWE.com

WWE “RAW” was broadcast live from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on Monday night. The show saw WWE Champion CM Punk pinned once again, Kane and Daniel Bryan were pushed further into the spotlight, and Ryback couldn’t perform his finishing move on Tensai.

After a night, as well as the several weeks of demanding respect for being the best in the world and the WWE Champion, CM Punk lost via pinfall in a tag team match against Kane and Daniel Bryan with RAW General Manager AJ Lee as the special guest referee. The Tag Team Champions faced Punk and Dolph Ziggler, but Mr. Money in the Bank left Punk in a two-on-one fight.

  1. This follows the last several weeks where the Second City Saint was hit with a pipe by John Cena, pinned by Cena, and knocked out of the ring by Bret “The Hitman” Hart, among other defeats. The reigning champion, who noted last night that he has held the prestigious title for 316 days, has been pitted as a week champion: he is often loses and when he wins it isn’t a strong victory.

Punk is the ultimate heel of the WWE right now, so this undeserving style has come in handy when he commands audiences to call him the best in the world; viewers would rightfully disagree with that based on his recent record. It also plays against the super face of the WWE John Cena, who seems to be able to overcome any obstacle and only fails to defeat Punk because of foul play or technicalities.

The newest version of the Straight Edge Superstar has been criticized for his lack of power, with sources like Bleach Report calling him a weak champion, but the storyline is perfect, and he has become enough of a draw to have Monday Night “RAW” without Cena. "Very diffrent monday for me, this will not become a habit #nevergiveup," tweeted Cena about his absnse.

Ratings aren’t in, but Cena wasn’t on “RAW” last night and the show was on above par, and it made room for the Tag Team Champions to perform in the main event.

Kane and Daniel Bryan were placed in a feud earlier this year after the two men were removed from the WWE Championship storyline, and the duo eventually became Tag Team Champions. As the title holders, Team Hell No has brought the tag division to an importance that nearly equals that of the WWE Title and exceeds the World Heavyweight Championship.

After Team Hell No successfully took out top man in WWE, the duplicate bronze belts seem much more important than they have in years. Kane and Bryan are an asset to the company as a pair that can perform on their own, but come together well despite their vastly different styles; they’re also hilarious.

The comedy segments between Kane and Daniel Bryan have been very popular with fans, even more cynical older viewers. The WWE writers have struck comedy gold for the first time in recent memory, and they are even pacing themselves by not including a vignette skit in last night’s show like they have over the last few weeks.

The dysfunctional couple did come down to the ring and brought the humor with them to cut a promo at the opening of the show, along with Ziggler and Punk, but Dr. Shelby didn’t make an appearance. Officials must know that too much of a good thing will wear out the appeal of the joke, and holding off every once so often could make Team Hell No a long lasting entity.

The tag team tournament that will determine who will face Kane and Bryan for their Tag Titles at Hell in a Cell continued last night with Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara beating Epico and Primo in a lucha-esque matchup. Sin Cara’s style was illustrated well in the bout because all of the men involved were versed in the lucha libre style of wrestling.

Cara and Mysterio join Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhode sand Damien Sandow) in the semi-finals of the tournament. The Rhodes Scholars defeated the second-generation tag team of The Usos (Jimmy and Jay Uso), who are the sons of WWE Legend Rikishi.

After the ending of last week’s “RAW” left fans guessing what Ryback had in store for CM Punk – some guessing a possible entry into the WWE Title picture at Hell in a Cell later this month – the powerhouse interrupted the WWE Champion, with Punk leaving the ring. The crowd erupted with applause and even cheered Ryback earlier when he failed to lift Tensai up for his finishing move.

Ryback won his match against Tensai, but with a powerful clothesline as opposed to his usual Shellshock maneuver. The move sees Ryback lift an opponent onto his shoulders before he marches around the ring and falls backward (video below), but the 6 foot 7 inch, 360 pound Tensai was too much for Ryback to lift, despite the fact that he performed the move on Tensai successfully on last week’s SmackDown.

Since his debut, Ryback has been billed as an unstoppable and impossibly strong competitor; he would fight in two-on-one matches and win after lifting two men to his shoulders at once. It was hard to watch the big man botch the lift on Tensai, but after a few attempts he reverted back to clothesline and won the match, with the crowd still behind him.

The World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus appeared twice on “RAW” in both a match against Damien Sandow and a debate with his Hell in a Cell opponent Big Show. The Celtic Warrior defeated Sandow after a strong match from the Intellectual Savior of the Masses; it is clear that WWE wants Sandow to be a big star in the near future.

His debate with the Giant went as well as any debate in WWE could go. The two men didn’t brawl, but it saw Big Show get frustrated over Sheamus not taking things seriously, and eventually leaving the ring.

There are almost four weeks before the two men will meet for the World Heavyweight Championship inside an enclosed steel cage, so there’s no rush to get them to fight. This could be the start of a feud with a slow and methodical pace, with the two opponents never having a feud before.

The Miz defeated Zack Ryder in a non-title match, which should be the first of many wins for the most must-see Intercontinental Champion in the history of the WWE. The cocky IC champ hasn’t had the best run as champion, with most of his non-title matches being losses.

Facing Ryder is a good start to a winning streak, being that he has a familiar face but still resides in the lower-mid card. Miz as a winning IC title holder would be good for the title and for SmackDown, since the blue show doesn’t have a strong heel roster, relying on Alberto Del Rio and Big Show as their biggest bad guys.

Del Rio faced Kofi Kingston and won with his cross armbar submission hold. Kingston’s matches on “RAW” have been exceptional over the past two weeks, with last week’s match with Ziggler being main event of a pay-per-view quality.

With the Mexican Aristocrat on the decline from the main event and Kingston re-entering the singles division, a feud between the two could spell a push for Kingston in the near future. This might not be the case as Kingston will team up with R-Truth once again in the tag tournament, but it given the lackluster response to Truth and Kingston at the end of their run, it is unlikely they’ll be successful at regaining their titles.

The United States Champion Antonio Cesaro had a stunning victory over Brodus Clay, hitting a Neutralizer on the Funkasaurus. Cesaro’s run has been successful since his debut in April of this year, and has the potential to rise quickly.

Heath Slater lost a match to Santino Marella as a result of a disqualification due to interference by Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre. Slater, Mahal and McIntyre are a strange group, but the trio now referred to as The Encore was cohesive as they continued to attack Marella after the match.

WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres defeated Beth Phoenix in a singles match after Eve attacked Phoenix last week. The vicious women’s match came to an end after a neckbreaker from Eve.

RAW General Manager AJ Lee was also given a managing coach at the beginning of the night, following her assaulting Paul Heyman last week. The coach appeared with AJ in backstage segments, but was dismissed by the GM before the end of the night.