Retirement celebrations can be a special thing in professional wrestling.
Look back to Ric Flair's final farewell to the WWE after losing to Shawn Michaels. That night at WrestleMania and the night that followed on Raw will forever be remembered as truly emotional and memorable.
But in my estimation, those types of events will be rarities moving forward in wrestling. And Ric Flair is to thank for that.
WWE gave Flair the grandest farewell a television audience has seen in wrestling. And he dishonored all of it in the eyes of many fans by entering in-ring competition once again only months after being treated like a god among men.
Yes, Edge had his special moment and his farewell on Raw, but it was nothing compared to Flair.
But if there's any one man who will almost certainly be given the king's treatment upon his official retirement, it's Triple H. The Undertaker is the other obvious choice, but I'd be willing to bet the man behind that character would rather see himself fade into the darkness without fare.
Tonight on Raw, Triple H delivered an emotional speech, questioning if his road in wrestling has come to an end at the hands of Brock Lesnar.
Triple H had people eating from the palms of his hand, but this wasn't his final farewell to the WWE Universe. This was solid microphone work, but I refuse to believe this is how Triple H - one of the most decorated stars of this era - rides into the sunset of corporate business life.
While I agree with all the fans in the live crowd chanting, "Thank you Hunter," it's not the appropriate time to say it. This simply can't be the end of the road.
Whether or not there's a rematch with Lesnar in the future, there is certainly at least one more match, one more moment with Shawn Michaels by his side, waiting for The Game.
I applaud Triple H for being a tremendous performer in the ring, and especially on the microphone. A story like this could so easily be overplayed or come across completely long, but Triple H knows how to control the crowd.
But, hey, even if he's back next week on Raw, his "retirement" will still have lasted longer than most of Terry Funk's.
- Lawler opening Raw on the microphone and saying it was an unusual start to the show was unintentionally funny. The back-and-forth between Lawler and Punk wasn't bad, but it's almost becoming cliche to see Lawler face "heel" champions. The two would meet in the main event in a cage match, which wasn't bad at all. For a man his age, Lawler can still work and tell a story better than many of the current guys on the roster. After winning the match, Punk locked himself in the cage with Lawler and physically attempted to coerce Lawler into calling him the best in the world. When Lawler refused, Punk viciously assaulted him. I guess this is WWE putting the nail in the coffin of Punk's turn to the dark side.
- Remember when The Miz would call out John Cena for matches when the latter was unavailable and then he declared himself on a winning streak? Those were the days. That was part of what made me a Miz fan years ago, and his continued improvement in the ring has kept me feeling that way. People were blowing up social media complaining about the match between Cena and Intercontinental Champion The Miz on Raw, but I thought it was a really good match. Yes, it's another loss for the Intercontinental Champion, but did Miz look weak in the contest? Absolutely not. Miz dominated the match and seemed to have the better of Cena, and he comes out looking better for it. Cena is higher on the food chain; he should win, but Miz had a strong showing himself and didn't seem out of place.
- It seems logical that when building to a title match, the challenger should be the one being built up, but tonight on Raw, it was the champion in the spotlight as Layla battled Natalya. The match itself wasn't bad; it was a lot more crisp than the one that preceded it, certainly. Hopefully Kaitlyn in featured in a Smackdown bout to show that she can compete with the Divas Champion. After the match, Vickie Guerrero accused Raw General Manager AJ of abusing her power, which led to a cat fight between the two. Could we see a feud over the control of Raw between Guerrero and AJ? I wouldn't be opposed.
- There were several sloppy-looking spots in the Ryback vs. Jack Swagger match, including a particularly nasty one where Swagger was dropped straight on his neck and head. This wasn't pretty all around. The commentators also kept putting over Swagger as Ryback's toughest opponent yet, but this actually wasn't the first time the two men have met, so that seemed a little odd, too. This was misfiring on all cylinders.
- In what seemed to be the theme of the night, the featured Smackdown tag team match of the night seemed short and relatively uneventful. Sheamus and Randy Orton defeated Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler. The match had some good action, but it didn't seem to ever hit full throttle. With all four of these men having issues with each other, it just seems like there could have been so much more to this match.
- Santino Marella's comedy is much more acceptable in a match with an opponent like Heath Slater than it was when he was defending the United States Championship. I didn't see any problems with the match; it wasn't a five-star classic but it was unoffensive. I continue to dislike the gimmick of the Cobra's fascination with Aksana, but that's another story. Not many complaints here.
- The tag team match pitting two sets of rivals against each other wasn't bad, but it was too short to really mean anything. Brodus Clay pinned Cody Rhodes to pick up the win for him and Sin Cara's team. Damien Sandow, who teamed with Rhodes, was taken out on the outside of the ring. Keeping Sandow protected was definitely the right call. This match could have been better with more time.
- The Daniel Bryan in anger management segments were so cheesy they were actually entertaining. And it all proved more than worth it with the final video, in which Kane succinctly summed up his entire WWE career. This may have been one of the brightest moments of Kane's career and certainly deserves a nomination for promo of the year. I'm not even kidding.
- Bryan and R-Truth had a match that really didn't amount to much. The two didn't do much before spilling to the outside, where this segment became an angle playing off R-Truth's past confusion about Wisconsin cities and Bryan's anger issues. It was funny to see WWE acknowledge R-Truth's flub, but there wasn't much more to this.
- Zack Ryder and David Otunga had a serviceable match. After Ryder picked up the win, Kane hit the ring, teased chokeslamming Ryder, let him go and hit the move on Otunga instead. If this leads to Kane vs. Otunga, can we just pretend it never happened?
- This crowd was pretty awful at times. Fans have clamored for more matches on Raw, yet they chanted "boring" during several matches that were just fine - and the Ryback match. Crowds that are more into themselves than the show are annoying.
Ryback d. Jack Swagger
Layla d. Natalya
John Cena d. The Miz
Santino Marella d. Heath Slater
Brodus Clay and Sin Cara d. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow
R-Truth d. Daniel Bryan by countout
Sheamus and Randy Orton d. Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio
Zack Ryder d. David Otunga
CM Punk d. Jerry Lawler in a cage match
Tonight's episode of Raw seemed remarkably average. Nothing on the show really stood out as being great - with the exception of Kane's brief promo - and everything seemed to be in a holding pattern. Matches weren't really given much of a chance to be something special or to fully develop, and the spark just seemed to be missing. Outside of the Ryback match, nothing was bad on the show, so it's not like this was unbearable to watch; it was just kind of there. Hopefully things begin to pick up with the build to Night of Champions.