It's June. The "Wrestlemania hangover" is now far in the rear-view mirror. Some fans may have moved away from WWE for the time being. SummerSlam is in 2 months. It's in this sweet spot where something spectacular seems to happen on WWE Raw -- something that gets people talking.
Last year, Vince McMahon returned to Raw for the first time in over a year. In 2011, CM Punk dropped a "pipe bomb" on television. In 2010, the Nexus formed. In 2009, Donald Trump bought Raw. In 2008, Vince McMahon vowed to give away $1 million. In 2007, Vince McMahon's limo exploded with him allegedly inside. In 2006, Degeneration X reunited. In 2005, John Cena got drafted to Raw (and Batista to Smackdown).
And in 2013, Mark Henry pulled off one of the greatest swerves in recent memory.
In an emotional, heartfelt moment, Mark Henry retired from WWE. With tears in his eyes, he talked about going home to his family and recalling his wonderful 16-plus year career. John Cena gave him the WWE title to hold in the air. As Cena went in for an embrace, Henry delivered a World's Strongest Slam.
It was magic.
Magic because these are the types of moments that the WWE audience craves. The intrigue, the surprise, the twists and turns, the ranges of emotion that keep us on the edge of our seat. Sure, some might have seen it coming -- it's the nature of the industry -- everything is taken with a grain of salt, absolutely everything.
But that didn't take away from the importance of the moment.
With that one segment, Mark Henry is once again a credible, welcome challenger for a championship, and built a lot of drawing power in a match against John Cena at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. The key, much like CM Punk against John Cena two years earlier, will be to keep the interest at the same level and not lose it in the next few weeks.
It wasn't just this scenario that contributed to the excellent edition of Raw:
* Christian returned and defeated Wade Barrett. He was a wonderful, unannounced surprise.
* So was Brock Lesnar, who attacked CM Punk after Punk told Paul Heyman he no longer wanted him ringside for his matches. CM Punk against Brock Lesnar is a money match, and I would guess we'll see it at SummerSlam. Prior to this, Dolph Ziggler attacked Alberto Del Rio, who lost to Punk via countout. It's interesting to see Ziggler get cheered and Del Rio get booed. Looks like the newest version of the "double turn" is going off without a hitch.
* Randy Orton "defeated" Daniel Bryan. I put it in quotation marks because the referee waived off the match due to doctor stoppage. Both embraced and shook hands after the match, and it looks like Daniel Bryan will compete on Smackdown against Dean Ambrose.
* Antonio Cesaro and Zeb Colter are now aligned. Cesaro defeated William Regal, who is still one of the best, period.
* The Divas division is suddenly interesting again, with AJ confronting Stephanie McMahon and Kaitlyn attacking the champion.
Elsewhere on Raw:
* Team Rhodes Scholars defeated Sheamus in a handicap match.
* The Shield beat up Kane.
* Chris Jericho pinned Heath Slater.
All in all, this was an episode of Raw worth going out of your way to watching in full.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun