WWE hardly ever jumps the gun on its angles. Most Wrestlemania matches have yet to be officially announced, with CM Punk vs. Undertaker a fresh addition to the matchcard. Though still in its early stages, with four weeks to go until the big night, the feud took a large step forward on Monday night when Punk openly disrespected the passing of Paul Bearer. The timing wasn’t perfect, but it could have been a lot worse and thankfully led to an irate Kane screaming “WHERE’S PCM PUNK?!” at a handful of locker room jobbers.
Brock Lesnar dropped by the arena this week to lay waste to the New Age Outlaws – which, let’s be honest, isn’t going to generate all that much heel heat in 2013. The mere mention of Lesnar’s name commands a sense of awe, provided it’s gutturally delivered by the mouthpiece that is Paul Heyman. The walrus announced that a stipulation for the bout between Lesnar and Triple H would be revealed following a contract signing. Judging by the fact that Lesnar and Rock are taking it in turns to appear on Monday Night Raw, we’re probably going to have wait two full weeks for the revelation. As long as we’re not enduring another dreadful ‘Rock concert’ next week, we can just about live with that.
Tying with Kane’s outburst for quote of the night was Sonic the Jericho’s bare-faced lie of “THE MARINE 3 LOOKS AWESOME!” Wade Barrett interjected Miz and Y2J’s cringey love-in by way of promoting his own cinematic outing, making us all aware that he can’t accept any more Hollywood roles because he’s “too busy being Wade Barrett”. Sure, ok. “Of course I’m trending at the moment,” he went on to say. “Any time I’m on TV, I’m trending. LOOK AT THIS FACE.”
But what really made this segment a stone-cold classic was the appearance of Brad Maddox, umm-ing and ahh-ing like Hugh Grant on a dinner date with Julia Roberts. Even Michael Cole himself was burying the segment, which reached its nadir when Maddox, benefitting from a panoramic view of the arena, recommended that staff come down to remove a Jeritron that wasn’t even there.
Raw wrapped up with a strong finish that saw Punk get the better of both ‘Taker and Kane with a little assistance from the iconic urn. Wrestling angles always benefit from the extra oomph of a subtext rooted in reality, and while it’s tragic that the death of Paul Bearer has inevitably fed into a scripted feud, it has allowed the entire narrative to shift somewhat and bring extra jeopardy and a human element to the tension between Punk and Taker. With Rock and Brock alternately absent in the weeks leading to Wrestlemania, expect this feud to take centre stage as the marquee attraction.
– Ed Doyle