Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts, where we look back at last night's show in a bit more detail.  Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts, questions, and comments.

Making Him Legitimate…

For once in his life, John Cena provided a moment where he truly gave legitimacy to a challenger.

Cena actually gave an effective endorsement of Daniel Bryan in the opening segment.  I cringe every time he heads into a new feud because I worry he will do as he did to Ryback and others and belittle them and steal their heat.  Instead, Cena stood up for Bryan, calling him the best choice to contend for the title.  His promo toward Brad Maddox reinforced this by citing several of the smaller men who had captured the title before.

Maddox and Vince continue to jab at Bryan, but hopefully this segment did its job with the casual fans.  They needed a means to make Bryan seem like a legitimate contender to everyone other than the Internet Fan, and I feel this segment was a good step in that direction.

It’s also worth noting that Daniel Bryan got a real chance to shine in the main event segment.  He worked approximately 40 minutes of that final hour, and he shined.  The match between Bryan and Cesaro was especially good and hopefully will also provide some momentum to Antonio going forward as well.

The Best vs. The Beast:

What else is there to say about the Punk/Heyman exchange last night other than it was intense?  SummerSlam is several weeks out, and yet this story feels just white hot to me.

Punk is perfect in this moment.  He’s hurt, he’s in pain, and he got beaten down last week – but his promo work expressed it perfectly that he’s not afraid.  His rage and wanting to get to Heyman fit in and his questioning of the “via satellite” appearance of Heyman tied back into Heyman’s reputation of being a liar.

There were some great lines in there from both men too.  I really liked Heyman’s question regarding heroes and cowards.  Punk threw out an awesome line about monsters being put in his path to be slaughtered (no lie, it became my Facebook status for a while!).  That really set him up as the relentless babyface that won’t quit.

This wasn’t a long segment, and didn’t have to be.  It was effective and definitely pointed to a match for all fans to invest in emotionally.  This was excellent business. 

Quick Hits:

The simple drum-roll entrance for Brad Maddox works right now.

The more aggressive and vicious side of Alberto Del Rio is good.  I like how he goes after the known injuries – that isn’t cheating, but it’s also not honorable.

I don’t get what we’re supposed to care about between Booker T and Teddy Long.

I think the “Christian Winning Streak” is a good mid-card story to get him back in front of viewers again.  Captain Charisma hasn’t felt like main event material for a while now (in part due to injuries), but he certainly could help younger talents.

I was fine with Dolph Ziggler having a challenging match with Darren Young, but I would like to see Ziggler squash some folks along the way as he establishes his face persona.  I think that would do more for him right away.

Ryback is still a character in flux and WWE just hasn’t found their way with him yet.  I think he can be a solid roster contributor in that upper-mid card/occasional main event category but Creative needs to decide what they’re doing with him.

Miz TV generally disintegrates into bad television.  Last night was no exception.  And speaking of bad television, Total Divas feels way over-scripted and the ladies don’t have the acting chops to pull it off.  I won’t be doing a review for the site.

I saw there was a nipple slip last night by Brie Bella.  There was some buzz through the internet from some fans about this, as well as picture links.  We as wrestling fans can do better than flip out over a less than a second glimpse of a woman’s nipple, I hope.

The Wyatts only appeared last night by means of a video recap of their first two weeks.  This is actually good booking, as the next appearance (and possible attack) will feel more important when it happens.

Randy Orton suffered a stinger at the Smackdown taping last week.  Keeping him off of this show made sense from a physical standpoint, but if he doesn’t appear much until SummerSlam, it could raise the intrigue of what he will do in terms of cashing in Money in the Bank.  And that’s not a bad thing.

Even though he was teased, Big Show did not appear.  I think it could have added to how over Bryan was at the end had he been Bryan’s final opponent, but it wasn’t a must.

Mark Henry teaming up with the Usos to battle the Shield makes sense.  It also keeps the Usos momentum going as tag challengers.  Just give me a “badass face” Henry, and not the Kool-Aid man, and we’re good.

Rob Van Dam potatoed Wade Barrett last night, as evidenced by Barrett’s bloody lip at one point.  RVD is still way over though, and seems motivated.  Just a little too much taunting last night though.

That's all for this week.  Join us next week for more Raw coverage, and be sure to follow us on both Facebook and Twitter as well!