Kester's WWE Raw Rundown: The Undertaker Returns, John Cena gets closer to the dark side, CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler, and John Laurinaitis
By Ryan Kester
The Undertaker returns
Admittedly, I was one of the people that didn't want to see a repeat of Triple H vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania. I thought they told the story they had to tell and I couldn't think of satisfying way for them to follow up on last year's performance. That all changed last night, and I am now completely sold on a rematch.
I like the image of Hunter patting Undertaker on the shoulder and walking away with his back to the man. It shows that Triple H does not view Undertaker as a threat and has nothing left to prove to him. This is the first time that Undertaker is going to have to chase someone to defend his streak, and that strikes me as one of the most interesting stories left for Undertaker to tell.
Ultimately, the WrestleMania streak pretty much sells itself and WWE has not obligation to tell a story going into the match. However, the past three years have done an excellent job of adding a believable story heading into the PPV, and I am happy to see that tradition continue.
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan
This match was exactly what I expected to see from two guys with so much history together. They wrestled a great pace and told a great story in the build-up throughout the night. The cheap interference ending is the perfect example of when that finish is most appropriate; there is no reason for Bryan or Punk to take a clean loss as we head towards WrestleMania.
It's nice to see the next step in Jericho's story. He lost a lot of luster for this viewer when there was no satisfying follow up to his promise to "change the world as we know it" at the Royal Rumble.
Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler
Orton has done a lot of good business as of late, so it's good to see him get a win every once and a while. I wish it didn't come at the expense of Dolph Ziggler, but Ziggler managed to shine during the match. It will be interesting to see where WWE goes with Ziggler heading into WrestleMania as he seems to be one strong and compelling feud away from breaking into the main event scene.
Speaking of budding stars, the idea of having Wade Barrett giving an interview in a skybox during a match was intriguing. I would like to see something like this from WWE on a more routine basis as the usual formula of having wrestlers on commentary has gotten old.
While I personally enjoy Barrett's work, I don't think he will be getting any significant push until after WrestleMania. This year's show is already shaking up to be stacked, and between Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, and Dolph Ziggler, Barrett has the most ground to cover before he can be taken seriously as a threat. If they attempt to give him another strong repush now, he will only remain lost in the shuffle.
Kane and John Cena
I am still down on this storyline. I enter every segment involving the pair with an open mind, but I am consistently left disappointed with what I am presented. Kane and Jon Cena are simply too cartoonish in their delivery for the two be compelling together. They are desperately in need of a serious character to act as an anchor in their feud.
Don't get me wrong, seeing John Cena undergo some form of change is good, but he is still not taking his opponent seriously. There was no need for the silly mic spot during his beatdown of Kane, and it let the air out of the attack. As far as Kane goes, his silliness last night was highlighted by the return of the Undertaker, who has managed to make his supernatural character last well without resorting to camp.
Laurinaitis was in rare form last night. His unshakable grin and constant glad-handing made for hilariously entertaining television. He looked a bit too sympathetic during Hunter's "evaluation," but
I'm glad that the state of Laurinaitis' employment was left up in the air. Laurinaitis has produced some very entertaining moments in his tenure as on air figure, and I hope that won't come to an end in the near future. I am shocked as anyone that I have come to form that opinion, but Laurinaitis has really won me over with his work over the past couple of months.
This was an excellent Raw, and exactly what WWE needed to do to set the tone for WrestleMania. While there were segments I didn't particularly care for, overall the show managed to get me exciting about WrestleMania and the buildup along the way.
If you have any questions or comments or just wish to chat with a fellow wrestling fan about whatever, then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Twitter at @TheRyanKester.
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