Tonight’s Raw will feature CM Punk v. John Cena in a matchup with Cena’s title match at WrestleMania on the line. We’ll also get a fight between Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon. One would assume that Brock Lesnar and probably Triple H get involved somehow in that. With The Undertaker wrestling at a house show in Waco this weekend, it seems likely that we’ll get a visit from the Dead Man as well.
To me, there are a few scenarios that can play out this evening. Either we get some sort of schmozz which leads us to a triple threat match at WrestleMania between CM Punk, John Cena and The Rock, or The Undertaker shows up to somehow screw CM Punk and set up a match between them at Mania.
It has been widely speculated that CM Punk will be Undertaker’s next WrestleMania opponent and while – as with most dirtsheet rumors – we should take that with a grain of salt, there aren’t a plethora of wrestlers on the WWE roster worthy of challenging The Undertaker.
Of course, there is Brock Lesnar.
Could The Undertaker instead get involved in the Paul Heyman – Vince McMahon fight, in place of the assumed Triple H participation? A Brock v. Taker ‘Mania match is much more appealing, at least to the internet audience, than another Triple H – Lesnar showdown. The seeds of this feud were also planted a few years ago when Undertaker and Lesnar exchanged words following one of Lesnar’s UFC losses.
If I were a betting man (and I am) I would put my money on us getting the predictable Triple H and Lesnar involvement in the McMahon – Heyman business, though, leading to their rematch. But we can dream, can’t we?
The Rock unveiled WWE’s new championship belt at the end of Raw last night and it, of course, was met with a mixed reaction. The new belt features Brahma bull side plates but the belt currently available through WWEShop.com (in the photo below) shows WWE logo plates, meaning that each champion will likely have their own custom side plates.
As I tweeted last night, I think what I don’t like about the new belt design is that there is no center plate behind the WWE logo, it’s just on the leather. The Rock’s custom side plates also make it look less like a championship and more like a fan made belt.
As time goes on, though, we’ll see if it grows on us. I personally didn’t hate the spinner belt but was hoping for more of a Winged Eagle-inspired strap, especially after The Rock said he thought the belt should be an homage to Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and Steve Austin.
The entertaining Elimination Chamber pay-per-view ended with The Rock victorious, setting up “Twice in a Lifetime” as he will defend the WWE Championship against John Cena at WrestleMania. Jack Swagger won the Number One Contender Elimination Chamber match, while The Shield defeated WWE’s “All Star Team,” and Antonio Cesario and Alberto Del Rio retained their respective championships.
A few quick thoughts on last night’s event:
– Swagger winning the Elimination Chamber wasn’t a total shock considering how strongly he’s been put over since his return, but it was surprising that WWE actually pulled the trigger and went that route. The buildup to an Alberto Del Rio v. Jack Swagger WrestleMania match will likely be full of that trademark WWE racism.
– It was absolutely the right move to have The Shield beat John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus. I was afraid, though, that we would see The Shield go the route of Nexus and be crushed by the hand of SuperCena. The three faces aren’t hurt at all by the loss and really wouldn’t have gained a ton by a win, especially since John Cena is heading into the main event of WrestleMania to challenge for the WWE Championship.
Had The Shield lost, they would pretty much be a worthless group. But with the win, they stay relevant. The Shield’s cohesiveness was a storyline – even though the broadcast team didn’t really mention it – as the group consistently utilized tags to do triple team moves and kept their opponents in their own corner. It makes sense from a booking standpoint that Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns were able to win thanks to their smarts and familiarity with each other as teammates.
– The Rock – CM Punk match was decent, but nothing spectacular. I thought the inclusion of the stipulation that The Rock would lose the title if he were disqualified or counted out would lead to some shenanigans and a CM Punk win, therefore giving us a triple threat match for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. It didn’t happen, though, and The Rock won after a few ref bumps.
– The Antonio Cesaro – Miz match, and its finish, basically was just to keep this thing afloat so they can wrestle again at WrestleMania. I wouldn’t be shocked if Cesaro drops the title to The Miz and then moves on to a main event feud with one of the world champions.
Wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino told ESPN’s Jon Robinson earlier today that he will finally enter WWE’s Hall of Fame during this year’s ceremonies at Madison Square Garden. The feud between Sammartino and Vince McMahon has been well documented and long lasting. According to Sammartino, it was Triple H who was able to – after many attempts – convince him to join the Hall of Fame.
From Robinson’s interview:
“In talking to Paul Levesque, I made it clear, I’ve had issues with WWE and wrestling in general, because there were other organizations,” Sammartino said. “I didn’t like the direction they had taken. It was bothersome to me. I’m an old-school guy. I spent 25 years in this business. But after talking to Paul, and him explaining to me the changes they’ve made in their program, and how they’ve hired a doctor like Dr. Maroon, who is a world renowned neurosurgeon, who also operated on me, and now that he has been put in charge of the company’s wellness program and their drug testing, that impressed me. I know what kind of a man he is, and he is a giant in that field, so I take my hat off to WWE because they took such huge steps to make things better for the wrestlers themselves and making sure they are healthy to perform. That was very, very important.
“But as Paul explained to me, WWE made a lot of other changes. There’s no more profanity, there’s no vulgarity in the current product, and that stuff had bothered me as well. When Paul first spoke to me and told me all the changes, I started watching it again and I was very convinced that they are doing amazing things. I see the wrestlers and all the changes they made. There’s no profanity, there’s no vulgarity, and it’s a family-friendly program. That’s what it used to be, and that’s a huge role in the whole factor.”
Dixie Carter announced on TNA’s YouTube page Thursday that Impact Wrestling will be leaving the Impact Zone and go on the road beginning with the live Impact on March 14th, which will emanate from the Sears Centre Arena in Chicago.
While there definitely will be a financial risk involved with traveling around the country – and a risk of burning out some of the talent that enjoy the light travel that TNA offers – it will undoubtedly create a fresh television experience and expose a new audience to the Impact Wrestling product.
On its best day the Impact Zone couldn’t replicate the energy of the old ECW Arena and on most days it seemed like a crowd full of people who were either bored with seeing the same thing every week or got tickets for free while they were wandering through Universal Studios.