WWE wasted no time in allowing John Cena and Brock Lesnar to get physical -- and the result was magic.
For the past year, Cena and The Rock were kept apart, competing on the microphone rather than in the ring. WWE appears set to go a completely different direction with Cena's newest foe.
After General Manager John Laurinaitis introduced Lesnar with a glowing welcome, the former UFC champion took to the mic. But before long, Cena would emerge.
And in uncharacteristic fashion, Cena let his actions speak louder than his words, slapping Lesnar. A brawl erupted, and it appeared Lesnar may have forgotten he's left UFC behind, as he got a little stiff with Cena.
The locker room, front office and seemingly even the creative team (with the exception of media rep Joe Villa, who said on Twitter he didn't dare enter the scuffle with Cena and Lesnar involved) emptied the backstage area and tried to pull the two men apart, showing off Cena's bloody mouth - a strong visual in today's PG WWE environment.
The two superstars would break through and brawl several more times before ultimately being separated. The ending of last week's Raw, featuring Lesnar's return, was hailed as one of the best show-closing moments in recent history, and this has to go down as one of the best opening segments in the same time frame.
When Laurinaitis announced that Cena would face Lesnar at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view later this month, my initial reaction was to say the match was happening too soon, but WWE has made this so intense already that it almost seems necessary.
The contrasts already between this match and Cena's clash with The Rock are great. From the time Lesnar made his return, people began talking about another yearlong build to WrestleMania 29, and WWE has gone a completely different direction.
I, for one, love it.
* And, believe it or not, that wasn't even the end for the two. Cena stormed Laurinaitis' office, demanding to be in action tonight, looking to prove to the boss and the fans that he could be "legit." Lesnar responded with a promo expressing his pride at being back and claiming he was the source of UFC's success. Both men came across strong in these segments. Extreme Rules will likely be the third consecutive pay-per-view to be headlined by a non-title match featuring Cena, but I don't mind. This contest already has a big-match feel and might be just what WWE needs to pull out Cena's best attributes.
In the main event, Cena competed against David Otunga, who scored an almost unbelievable amount of offense in the match’s early stages. Cena made the comeback and put Otunga away clean, sending a message to Laurinaitis in the process. Cena’s taunts of the general manager were a highlight of the match. Afterward, Lesnar emerged and low-blowed Cena before delivering the F5.
* CM Punk and Chris Jericho exchanged words again this week. Punk presented a more serious side to his personality while Jericho fell into the trap I thought The Rock suffered from the past few months: His promos are becoming repetitive, and he's not really saying anything we haven't heard for weeks now.
Punk's WWE Championship match with Mark Henry was very short and ended with Henry winning by disqualification when Punk assaulted Henry with a television monitor. This was really more of angle than a match, a shame after they darn near stole the show last week. Henry still has a legitimate claim to a title rematch, and it will be interesting to see where this storyline leads. After the match, Jericho came out, distracting Punk and allowing Henry to manhandle him. Jericho proceeded to pour beer all over the downed champ.
Henry will receive a third shot at Punk's WWE Championship - not the World Heavyweight Championship, as he said in his promo - in a no-disqualification match on Raw. Honestly, at this point, I'm more interested in the Punk-Henry part of this feud than the Punk-Jericho portion.
* The ongoing gag between Intercontinental Champion Big Show and Cody Rhodes is beginning to get old. Show emerged during Rhodes' match with R-Truth and replayed the video of him interrupting Rhodes' match with Kofi Kingston last week, which included the footage of the Knockout Punch at WrestleMania. Yes, it was a replay of a replay. Rhodes' embarrassing Big Show moments were funny, but the shtick has run it's course. I'm really hoping this feud ends at Extreme Rules.