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Lesnar’s Return Caps Epic Raw

Coming off of WrestleMania 28, nothing too ridiculous is generally expecting on the next day’s Monday Night Raw.

Boy was I wrong.

The rumor mill proved to be just one day off, as Brock Lesnar finally made his return to the WWE, and his target is John Cena. Lesnar wasted little time delivering an F-5 to last night’s loser, and I can only guess that this feud will go on for a few months. If they can promote Rock/Cena for a year, I don’t see why they can’t sell this until Summerslam. It’s been reported all over he place that Lesnar has a one year deal with the WWE, and I think a Cena feud makes all the sense in the world for the bulk of that contract. Cena has spent a lot of time going against guys that are just better wrestlers than him, so that even when he wins he is still getting somewhat outperformed. Lesnar however is every bit the physical freak Cena is. The two of them could spend 20 minutes heaving each other across the ring and it would make a hell of a show. I also find it really interesting that they are keeping Cena as far away from a title as possible. The WWE seems to have found a sweet spot for booking, where they satisfy the hardcore fans by having Punk as the champion and making him defend against more polished wrestlers like Jericho and Ziggler, while still having Cena main event the shows by putting him against whatever legend or big name they choose. It’s almost brilliant.

There was so much more to this Raw Supershow though. First off the crowd was absolutely electric. Perhaps even more than they were on Sunday for ‘Mania. The best part was that they were all chanting for Daniel Bryan. The Punk/Henry match reached a fever pitch, chanting “YES!” for every Punk strike. Bryan’s name was chanted literally the whole night, and they went berserk when he briefly appeared backstage. He didn’t even say a word and had the place buzzing. Pretty good for a heel who lost his title in 18 seconds. Somehow Bryan got a huge push by getting knocked out at WrestleMania. The chants started before ‘Mania even went live, got stronger after he lost, and Monday night it was out of control. It’s as if the fans feel it’s their responsibility to keep in the spotlight, and if Zack Ryder and Santino taught us anything, it’s that that tactic works.

The show opened with the Rock thanking the fans and blah blah blah. Then he not only promised that he was not done in the ring, but that he would become WWE Champion! Next WrestleMania perhaps? It would make for an interesting Royal Rumble if he were to win it to get his title shot. I’m more curious at who will be champion if/when he gets a title shot. CM Punk would be interesting but it doesn’t exactly wow me. Cena rematch? Jericho? Triple H? Undertaker? All seem kind of unlikely. I can be talked into a Randy Orton match but what do I know?

A-Train traded body hair for tattoos. Not sure which is less gross

Did anyone else notice that Brodus Clay hit someone significant? Yes it was one move against Ziggler who could sell ice to an eskimo but still. If he ends up in a tag match with Santino against Swagger and Ziggler, it could actually give the Funkasaurus some direction and get him in some real matches. I’d really just love to see him take one bump. I feel like you can’t judge a guy until he takes a real hit. We even got the debut of Lord Tensai (formerly A-Train) and my immediate reaction is that he’s the anti-Clay. All show and size, but not too much to go on after seeing him pummel a jobber. Suddenly the WWE has gained a lot of size.

In the short term picture it looks like Mark Henry will get a push after man handling CM Punk. Henry winning via count out has all signs pointing to Henry/Punk for the belt at Extreme Rules. The one thing I can’t figure out is where Jericho fits in all this. They are still beating us over the head (literally and figuratively) with the drinking angle but where do the go now that Jericho has tapped out.

He's finally back!

We also finally got the return of a much needed Alberto Del Rio. He’ll head to Smackdown where he’ll get the first crack at taking the World Heavyweight Championship of Sheamus’ hands. He’ll replace the injured Wade Barrett and Christian(?) as lead heel on Friday nights, and should do fine in that role. I really want to know where Bryan fits in all this though. After the reaction he’s gotten the last two days I doubt they’ll leave him out of the picture. If Del Rio is next in line though Bryan might have to wait his turn.

Seven-hundred words later I still have no idea what is up WWE creative’s sleeve. I do know however that they have me completely interested after the best Monday Night Raw in months.

WrestleMania 28: The End of an Era?

WrestleMania 28 is over and it paid off in almost every aspect but one. However that one was bigger than Andre the Giant and the Big Show combined.

In the opening match of wrestling’s biggest event, Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds to win the World Heavyweight Championship.  Think about that for a minutes before continuing.

Blink and you missed it

First off, could this title be held in any lower regard by the WWE? It has opened 2 of the last 3 PPV’s and now the title has changed hands in 18 seconds? It might be better to be the US Champ right now. Then there is the rumor that this match was not supposed to lead off until the last-minute. If so then what was the opener, and was this the original plan for the match? If you want to look at it optimistically for Bryan, losing the way he did keeps him in the title picture and gives an angle to fully become a heel. Possibly even getting his rematch at Extreme Rules in April. However, while I’ve never been a big fan of his, Bryan is supposed to be one of the best in-ring performers in the business and he never got to show it on the biggest stage possible. Yes it was shocking and memorable, but couldn’t Big Show have done that to Cody Rhodes instead?

Speaking of that match, it’s good for the Big Show that he finally got his WrestleMania moment, but what is he going to do with the Intercontinental Title? I always imagined that and the US Title to be for younger wrestlers on the way up. Big Show is about as established as you could possibly be. The match was fine, and I’m fine with the result. I just don’t think this is a championship Big Show needs to hold. One guy that jumps out at me for it is Brodus Clay. If they are really serious about him in the WWE, beating Big Show clean and giving him the Intercontinental Title is a quick way to do that. Unfortunately after seeing him do nothing more than dance with his mamma tonight, I’m afraid the WWE doesn’t feel the same way. If they are going to push him, give him a win that matters. Otherwise, send him back to Ohio Valley Wrestling to give him a new gimmick.

Kane vs Orton was a better match than I thought it would be. I’m really just glad so much of it was in the ring. Perhaps Kane is finally shaking the rust off during those dopey Cena matches because he stepped it up a notched. It was also a win he sorely needed since he can’t lose every real match and still pick up heat. I have no idea what’s in store for Orton as he could probably use some time off after all the injuries he rushed back from. I can also see him get back into a title picture to start the new round of PPV’s.

The Divas match and the 12 man tag both went pretty much as expected. Team Johnny had to win and having the Miz make the cover gives him a good push coming out of ‘Mania. Also, things are just so much more fun when there is a heel GM. Johnny Ace is already causing hell for CM Punk and now that he is in full control we can expect a lot more of that on both brands. Hell, Daniel Bryan might even get his rematch this Friday. A lot of people are complaining about Maria Menounos pinning Beth Phoenix again, but losing in a gimmicky way like that is better for her than losing clean to Kelly Kelly right? I don’t even know why I’m bothering with them anyway. They can’t even come of the ropes right. Both matches had their moments and were about as enjoyable as they could be.

Oldie and a goodie

Now on to the main events. The Hell in a Cell match was solid for me, but it did show me just how little the Undertaker and Triple H have left. They both went all out for the full match and had plenty of big spots with big bumps that they both took well. The pace of the match just seemed off to me. I recently watched all of the previous Undertaker ‘Mania matches with Michaels and Triple H, and the one thing I’m noticing is how each one is more and more about drama and less about the match. Asking the opponent to stay down, wanting to go out the right way, it has all gotten laid out thicker and thicker each time, with tonight being the worst culprit. I know I’m nitpicking but I expected a little more out of two of the best performers in WWE history. I did really like how they used Shawn Michaels as the guest referee, but he overplayed it so badly that it was distracting. He looked like he was getting attacked by bees every time someone kicked out of a finisher. The rest of the time he was wincing on every chair shot or acting like a psycho in the corner. Almost took me out of the match. On the other hand I can’t discount the fact that this match completely delivered in taking us back to the “attitude” era matches. The chair shots they took were vicious. Look at the Undertaker’s back at the end and you can see how hard they were. Also, planned or not, we saw some legit blood in a match that we all knew needed. The way it all ended with the three-way man hug was a touching, I admit, even if it was a little too much. Overall it was a nice way to end this four-year old story.

CM Punk and Chris Jericho put on exactly the kind of show I was hoping they would. It was one of the best technical matches I have seen in a long time. The only thing they had to do was get the whole talking about your family/Punk can lose on a DQ angle out of the way and from that point it was great. It just makes me wonder why they did it in the first place if it was all out of the equation five minutes in, but I guess whatever they need to draw attention they will do. Anyway, what a well executed match! Reversals and springboards and submission moves. Reversals of finishers and long chain grapples. Jericho proved he can definitely still run with the big dogs and for Punk to win via submission the way he did was just perfect. It also means that one man has held the WWE Championship for four months (to be five by the next PPV), which is something I’ve been hoping for for a while now. Whenever Punk does lose that belt, it will be a really big deal.

Now what?

Finally the main main event. After all this hype the match that was a year in the making was…good. The Rock showed a little more rust that I thought he would show, and he was definitely helped by the direction of the match. Two spots that contained lengthy submission holds to go along with the usual amount of time a wrestler just lies on the ground, and that the Rock still seemed winded at times says something about his conditioning. He made all the moves he had to though and Cena held up his end as well. There were a numbers of moments where either man could have won which is one of the main things you look for in a good match. I’m extremely surprised that the Rock won. Cena hasn’t really had a big win in a while and now he just lost to a guy who has barely wrestled for years. It’ll look even worse if Cena talks about how lucky he was to even be part of that main event, as I’m predicting.

One thing the match put in my head is the hope for a Cena heel turn. It’s been long overdue and Cena looked to take to it during the match, specifically at the finish when he attempted to finish the Rock with a failed People’s Elbow. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m hoping that losing how he did could push him over that line. The other thing I took from it were the similarities to the Hogan/Rock match at WrestleMania 18. Right from the beginning where they both panned the crowd, to the test of strength, to pretty much everything but the finish reminded me of that match, and that’s a good thing.

One glaring thing that did come out of tonight was that the old guard needs to pass the torch now. Two of the three main events were won by guys that wrestle once a year, and one of your best talents lost one of the main titles in 18 seconds. The WWE is relying way too heavily on the same people, and it just can’t go on forever.

Starting Monday we get brand new storylines and rivalries. We’ll also probably get the first match to be confirmed for WrestleMania 29 in New Jersey. (It was cold and pouring rain all night in New York by the way. Hoping for greener pastures a year from now). There were no guest run-ins at WrestleMania (sorry Batista, Lesnar fans) but there is always hope for the next show!

What did you think of ‘Mania? Think it was crap? Think Bryan got screwed? Sound off in the comments below!