The WWE laid some more asphalt on the Road to WrestleMania last night with a newsworthy Raw that featured some major returns, hyped some key matches for the big show, and also announced the latest Hall of Fame inductee.
The biggest news of course was the long-awaited pay off to the “2-21-11” teaser video. Alas, The Undertaker arose from the dead once again and returned to WWE. But he was not alone. No sooner did ‘Taker step into the ring that he was joined by another returning WWE legend, Triple-H.
In one of the more original angles I can remember, The Undertaker and Triple-H effectively announced and hyped that they would battle one another at WrestleMania—without saying a single word.
Certainly, this match has the gravitas to deliver as WrestleMania’s big special attraction match. The Undertaker and Triple-H have largely steered clear of one another since they last battled ten years ago at WrestleMania. They did have a solid, if forgettable, match against each other on Smackdown in October, 2008.
Although both men’s starpower may be enough to sell this match, there are also plenty of storyline possibilities WWE can take. The most obvious would be that Triple-H would seek to avenge the defeat of his best friend and D-Generation X partner Shawn Michaels, who lost to The Undertaker at the last two WrestleManias. On the night after Michaels’ Hall of Fame induction, Triple-H could attempt to give Michaels the best gift he could imagine—ending “the streak.”
There’s even some speculation that Michaels could be the special guest referee for this match.
WWE also moved forward in building its top world title match program at WrestleMania between The Miz and John Cena. The two men reluctantly teamed together to win—and lose—the WWE tag team championship in the main event. WWE still has a ways to go in making this feud seem WrestleMania main-event worthy, but I trust they’ll get there. It seems the Rock’s involvement will be a big part of that formula.
A couple other likely WrestleMania matches were hinted at last night. They include Randy Orton vs. CM Punk. For the second year in a row, Orton—after headlining most pay per views over the year—would find himself in a midcard match.
We’ll also likely be treated to Jerry Lawler’s first WrestleMania bout, as he takes on Michael Cole. The looming question about this match: Who is going to call it? What’s more, assuming that at least one of the two men does not return to the announce booth after this match (likely Cole), who will call the rest of the night’s action? The most obvious candidate is Jim Ross. But unless WWE is committed to bringing back Ross full-time, I’m not sure I agree with the logic of bringing him only to call the biggest show of the year. If he’s good enough for WrestleMania, he should be good enough for everything else.
Some hints were also dropped at a Daniel Bryan – Sheamus match, perhaps for the U.S. title. That would be a dream come true for Bryan, but a clear demotion for Sheamus, who last year was in a featured match against Triple-H. Many people thought he’d be headlining this year’s Mania, but it’s apparent that his stock has dropped considerably in recent months.
And WWE also announced last night that “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan will be inducted into the Hall of Fame by former Mid-South territory tag team partner Ted Dibiase. He’s a fine choice to join the Hall, and one of the few prominent names from the 80’s-era WWE not to have been inducted yet.