On a night where Hulk Hogan returned to the WWE, a bigger return upstaged him: the return of The Undertaker.
At the end of Raw, Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman came out, saying they had demanded a title match at Wrestlemania. According to the two, the Authority had denied them that title match, but instead had allowed him to pick his opponent for Wrestlemania. They said there was nothing else they wanted but the title, and repeated over and over that Lesnar wanted to make history. Which of course, brought out the Deadman.
Lesnar, to his credit, didn’t portray the cowardly heel here, and instead immediately had an intrigued look on his face. As the two stared each other down, Lesnar started nodding his head, and reached for the contract, filling out the Undertaker’s name and signing his name. And as with most contract signings, after Undertaker signed he chokeslammed Lesnar through a table that was set up in the ring, closing the show by staring at the Wrestlemania sign.
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While this wasn’t the most unexpected thing, it also adds another high-profile match to Wrestlemania. This isn’t the first time these two have clashed. Arguably the best matches of Lesnar’s original run came against the Undertaker, particularly a Hell in a Cell match between the two. Granted, that was back in 2002, and Undertaker can’t move as much, but both men know how to tell a story in the ring, and together, and despite Undertaker’s limitations at this point, they still should be able put on a good match.
An interesting side-note to this is that this will be the second straight year that Paul Heyman is involved with the Undertaker for Wrestlemania, after Undertaker beat CM Punk last year. If Undertaker does go on to wrestle at several more Wrestlemanias after this, it would be interesting if we see Heyman keep trying to beat Taker, similar to how Bobby “The Brain” Heenan found various opponents for Hulk Hogan.
There are some complaining that this result is obvious, and that there’s no way that the Undertaker ends the streak against Lesnar. That may be true, but the fact remains that there are very few people on the roster that the Undertaker could conceivably lose against at Wrestlemania. I actually believe that Undertaker will never end the streak. So I’d rather see memorable matches than throw someone in there because they have a slight chance of beating the Undertaker.
The Rest of Raw:
** Hulk Hogan kicked off the show. It was a standard speech from him, talking about his Hulkamaniacs, and how he’s home. I would’ve liked to see a little more from this, but it was good to hear Real American play again.
** Cena called out the Wyatts after the Wyatts attacked him at Elimination Chamber. The Wyatts came out and,after a speech by Bray, they attacked Cena. Cena put up a fight but succumbed to the group. Cena’s knee buckled during the attack, and while at first I thought it was a worked injury, reports came out after the show that the knee injury was legitimate. We’ll have to see how serious this is, and if it changes the Wrestlemania plans at all.
** If Cena is injured, there is an easy fix for the Wyatts. The Shield and Wyatts continued their feud from Elimination Chamber. oman Reigns challenged Bray Wyatt to a one-on-one match, without any of their partners. The match went back and forth, but when Reigns started to get the advantage, the Rowan and Harper came out. Rollins came out to even the odds, and then Ambrose also joined in, despite walking away from the other two members of the Shield earlier. Whether Cena’s injury is legit or not, it looks like the Shield/Wyatts feud will continue for at least a few more weeks.
** Daniel Bryan beat Kane in a grudge match. Before the match, it showed a backstage segment where he yelled at Triple H and challenged him to a match. Triple H continued to act condescending towards him, saying he’d try to find a place on the card for Bryan. After winning, Bryan again challenged H to the match. I’m a little torn on this. While at some point it seems like Daniel Bryan should face H, Bryan fits so much better in the title picture, and at least to me, that would be much more satisfying. It also seems like the title match really needs someone like Daniel Bryan. So if they’re not going that way, the Wrestlemania crowd could get interesting.
** Batista had a rematch with Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio ended up winning after Randy Orton came out to distract Batista. Throughout the match, the crowd jeered Batista, even having an alternating chant of “You can’t wrestle” and “Bootista.” It looks like they’re going to officially turn Batista heel, as he really trolled the crowd throughout. But if they do that, what are they going to do with the title match and how does Randy Orton respond? Orton was even getting slight cheers as he was running down Batista, which I think is a disastrous result. I think it’s painfully obvious that the crowd hates the idea of an Orton/Batista title match, which is why Daniel Bryan makes sense to add to the match -- but if he’s going after Triple H I don’t exactly know what they’re going to do. Either way, something should change before Wrestlemania.
** Big E and Cesaro had a really fun match against each other. It featured good back-and-forth action with both men showing off their power. Jack Swagger ended up getting involved after Big E clotheslined Swagger on the outside, which caused a disqualification. Cesaro vs. Big E would be an interesting Wrestlemania match if they go that way, but it seems like they might be going with Cesaro vs. Swagger, as both Cesaro and Colter were upset with Swagger after the match.
** Sheamus beat Christian in a solid match. The finish featured Sheamus hitting a Brogue Kick as Christian came off the top rope. Christian’s new aggressive heel persona is working for him.
** The Usos beat the Outlaws in a non-title match as they jumped the Outlaws while they were doing their standard speech.
** Emma won her debut match against Summer Rae with the Emma Lock.
** There was lots of WWE Network talk during the show. While there were some issues early in the morning, not with the product, but with the billing process, that seemed to be resolved by the afternoon. I’ve heard that some of the ways to watch it are giving the viewers trouble, but I’ve had very little trouble watching on my iPad. And yes, for a wrestling fan, it’s absolutely worth the $9.99 a month.
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