After the shocker at the end of Survivor Series: WarGames, the November 27, 2023 WWE RAW became a must-watch for wrestling fans. Sure, they would be setting up the angles and storylines that would lead us to the next Premium Live Event, January’s Royal Rumble, and also hinting at what might be coming for the Road to WrestleMania, but that’s not all.

We were going to hear what CM Punk has to say, in a WWE ring, for the first time in close to a decade. As this week’s show from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, I wonder if they would (hoped that they would) start with Punk.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Okay, we’re starting off with Randy Orton. That does make sense, as he was the expected major return. So did his bringing up The Bloodline, and emphasizing “ALL of The Bloodline”, aka his recent WarGames partner Jey Uso, too. That could be interesting.
Randy Orton kicks off WWE RAW November 27 2023
  • Rhea’s interruption counter-promo was perfectly catty, especially the line about Orton being upstaged. I didn’t think the returning Viper would be pitted against Judgement Day first, but this will be good…at least when he gets beyond the JD McDonagh and Dominik Mysterio stage.
  • Tag Team Turmoil is the perfect fit for a commercial-free hour. Finding break spots in such a series of short matches really wrecks the flow.
  • I think the new Alpha Academy tag team of Otis and Akira Tozawa works, or at least it should. Turning the Academy into a faction with Chad Gable as the singles star is a good idea, but Tozawa needs to step up his game a bit for them to last any length of time in a match, which they didn’t here.
  • DIY did well in the Turmoil match, but somehow I knew they wouldn’t win once the Creed Brothers showed up.
  • I don’t get what they’re doing with Indus Sher. This is their first actual match in months, and they lost in two minutes.
  • New Day put on a good show, but they seem to be more about putting over the younger talent these days, as they did here for the Creeds.
  • Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci winning would have been interesting, but then we would have had another heel team, and a faction team, against Finn Bálor and Damian Priest, or Imperium versus Judgement Day, next week, which is something I don’t think they want to do.
The Creed Brothers hit the Brutus Ball on Imperium’s Giovanni Vinci during Tag Team Turmoil on WWE RAW November 27 2023
  • The Creed Brothers winning Tag Team Turmoil is great, and not just because they deserve it, which they do. Julius and Brutus proved that much multiple times throughout this series of matches. I’m happy because now we have a strong babyface, checks notes, actual tag team (not two singles stars or two guys from a larger faction) going for the gold. I still think Judgement Day will win, but it should be a great match.
  • Cody Rhodes delivered the Special Announcement that we were expecting: He’s entering the 2024 Royal Rumble, to complete his story. He also thanked his WarGames partners, and welcomed CM Punk back to the WWE. All that I was expecting. I wasn’t expecting Shinsuke Nakamura’s promo and subsequent misting of Cody.
Shinsuke Nakamura mists Cody Rhodes on WWE RAW November 27 2023
  • While I didn’t think Cody was who Nakamura was targeting, it does make sense: Brock was his physical test, Judgement Day was his fighting a faction test, and Shinsuke is his psychological test. Beating all three is needed in beating Roman and completing his story.
  • R-Truth interacting with Jelly Roll before Tag Team Turmoil was silly, but funny. His bit eating actual jelly rolls in the Judgement Day Clubhouse, and offering to be their partner at the now finished WarGames was peak WWE goofyness. Since his big comeback was in a Ruffles ad, I’m glad he’s got a match with JD McDonagh next week.
  • Bronson Reed versus Ivar was a good match when it was in the ring, but after the double count out, it turned it became really interesting. Two big men lifting and diving into each other in the crowd, and using some of the assorted security guards Adam Pearce brought to break them up as projectiles was a sight to be seen. It also turned what was a decent mid-card series of matches into a full-blown feud. I’m hoping the rematch will be a falls-count-anywhere street fight, like those wild Attitude Era hardcore matches, except where both competitors are truly larger than life, and then some. Also, throwing Valhalla, who was ejected from ringside this night, into that particular mix, would add a whole other dimension to the encounter.
Ivar and Bronson Reed fight in the crowd following their match on WWE RAW November 27 2023
  • Wow, they’re really milking the Punk return. Not at the top of the show, or at 9pm. I thought with Seth “Freakin” Rollins out there at 10 it might lead into it, but no dice. Yes, Seth mentioned Punk, because the audience forced him to, but still.
  • I’m glad they weren’t trying to reverse the Drew McIntyre heel turn, but rather reinforcing, and tweaking it. He’s becoming a different kind of heel, one that is correct in what he says, but is losing the plot with how he reacts. Not the first time they’ve done this, but WWE hasn’t done it in a while, and Drew is making it interesting.
  • Jey Uso as World Heavyweight Champion is an interesting prospect, and the match next week should be great, but if he and Seth really work each other to the bone in it, there will be one fewer person to prevent a Damian Priest cash-in.
  • Regardless, it’s nice to see Seth and Jey working together. And that double Superkick was cool.
World Heavyweight Champion Seth “Freakin” Rollins and Jey Uso double Superkick Drew McIntyre on WWE RAW November 27 2023
  • So there are still problems within Imperium, and Gunther is more interested in the DIY problem than the Creeds. Interesting. Also, looks like no rematch for The Miz. Gunther gave the same line from the press conference, but it felt colder face to face. I’m hoping The Ring General’s next opponent is Brock Lesnar. I still want Chad Gable to dethrone him, but I want to see him fight Brock first.
  • We’re getting Sami Zayn versus Drew McIntyre Round 2. It should be a great match, but if it takes everything out of Sami, that’s one less person who can run in to prevent a Money in the Bank cash-in. If I hear Cody’s out next week, and Randy is moving to Smackdown, I’ll be almost certain the cash-in will happen. And maybe Punk will save Seth, only to challenge him? But I digress.
  • I love how Sami makes sense, too, but deals with things the exact opposite way than Drew. Just as believable, even more so.
  • When I saw that Zoey Stark had a match against Nia Jax, I thought that we would see Zoey getting a win, to get some momentum going for her following her solid performance against, but ultimately predictable loss to, Rhea Ripley at Survivor Series. That would not be the case. don’t get me wrong, Stark did look strong for a good chunk of this match, and even dodged an Annihilator, only for Jax to block a rollup attempt and successfully hit another one for the win. Maybe they’re trying to make Jax look strong for a feud with, I’m going to say Becky Lynch, but she already does, last week’s match against Raquel Rodriguez got her there. Still a decent match, but Zoey deserves better.
Nia Jax attempts to submit Zoey Stark on WWE RAW November 27 2023
  • I’m glad that Chelsea Green and Piper Niven retained the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships clean. This probably means that they will move on to a new feud, maybe against Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn. And hopefully Tegan Nox will move onto singles competition. I’m just not that into Natalya, and, most likely due to its placement on the show, just wasn’t that into this match.
  • So Orton is cool with Jey. This could be because he intends to move over to Smackdown and challenge the current Bloodline members (maybe Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble). That said, should Jey really trust someone known as The Viper?
  • Tonight’s Main Event, at least wrestling-wise, did not have a surprise outcome in the slightest, but it was real fun to watch. Plus it was nice to see Randy Orton back, and beating on the everyone loves to boo, Dirty Dominik Mysterio. With only neck brace-clad JD McDonagh at ringside in the Judgement Day corner, you really noticed the size difference between Randy and Dom. While Mysterio did get some offense in, including a 619 that connected, it was all about the returning Viper throwing him into the announce table twice, and hitting the RKO. I suspect this is the start of a feud between Orton and the other members of Judgement Day, but for tonight, it was just a fun, one-sided return singles match.
Randy Orton gives Dominik Mysterio an RKO on WWE RAW November 27 2023
  • I’ll admit I had never heard of Jelly Roll before tonight, but his gut bump with Otis earlier, and his shoving JD and Dom from the audience during the Main Event gave the impression that he was a fan having a great time. That’s always nice to see.
  • I think CM Punk’s return promo was his most controversial one yet. Everyone was expecting scorched earth. No one was expecting Mr. Nice Guy, but that’s who we got. Well, pretty much. He did have that line just to the handheld camera that he was here to make money, not friends, which was probably the only jab at his recent former employer AEW, though a subtle one. And he did say that not everyone welcomed him with open arms, but that was a very kayfabe line, maybe setting up for a Corporate Punk heel run? The rest felt real, because I think it was. Why wouldn’t he be happy? He’s back at the top of the card in the largest pro wrestling company in the world. To go scorched earth on WWE would be disingenuous. To go scorched earth on AEW would involve admitting they exist on WWE programming, which is probably a no-go. This promo, as PG as some say it was, was probably the biggest subversion of expectations he could have done. Let’s see where it goes from here.
CM Punk gives his first promo in a WWE ring in close to 10 years on WWE RAW November 27 2023

Was that promo worth waiting for? Well, we waited almost a decade, so what’s another three hours? And the rest of RAW set up some angles for the next few weeks, right up to the Royal Rumble. Things continue to get interesting.

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