WWE Raw recap: Undertaker returns, adding yet another player to the CM Punk vs. John Laurinaitis feud

January 31, 2012|By Adam Testa

Conflict and tension between authority figures and superstars are by no means new concepts in the world of professional wrestling.

The most obvious example comes in the form of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's crusade against WWE CEO Vince McMahon. That duo battled on the microphone, in the boardroom and in the ring.

Many have debated whether the ongoing CM Punk vs. John Laurinaitis issues can reach the fever pitch of McMahon-Austin. But really, these overly analytical fans need to let the past be the past and let this feud blossom into its own.

Not helping matters any is the clustered nature of the feud to begin with. Rather than allowing Punk and Laurinaitis to develop the angle on their own, other superstars and authority figures have become intertwined, muddling the scenario.

From Triple H to Kevin Nash and Dolph Ziggler to McMahon himself, too many secondary players have joined the cast of the Punk-Laurinaitis tale for it to reach its full potential.

The roots of the story - and its illogical complexity - stem from how Laurinaitis came to power to begin with. McMahon, as CEO, attempted to screw Punk out of the title at Money in the Bank. Triple H informed McMahon the Board of Directors was removing him from power and installing "The King of Kings" in his place.

When the roster showed a vote of no confidence for Triple H, McMahon returned to relieve "The Game" of his duties and install Laurinaitis as interim Raw general manager.

As if it wasn't confusing enough as to why McMahon - who had been removed from his position of power - was now representing the Board again, on Monday night's Raw the fired Triple H returned to do Laurinaitis' job evaluation.

Confused? Don't worry; so is everyone else who remembers what happened more than two weeks ago in the wrestling world.

On Monday's episode of Raw, Laurinaitis played his role perfectly, representing that mid-management boss who knows he may be in trouble. He tried sucking up to everyone around him and ran down his accomplishments since becoming interim Raw general manager.

Triple H came to the ring and engaged in a mildly entertaining war of words with a pleading Laurinaitis, but it seemed like it wouldn't be enough. "The Game" seemed intent on wishing the boss the best in his future endeavors, but then a familiar sound hit the arena.

The strike of the Undertaker's gong marked the return of "the Phenom," his first sighting since being carried out on a stretcher from last year's WrestleMania. Yet another player has been introduced into the story, which had once again strayed away from its core.

The angle, which ended with a stare in the middle of the ring, wasn't poorly executed, but it once again took the focus away from primary players.

If Triple H-Undertaker III continues to receive this level of priority, the WWE champion will be lucky to be featured in the third-from-the-top match at WrestleMania, and that would be a little saddening on many levels.

Veterans like Triple H and the Undertaker, as well as special attractions like the Rock, deserve attention and priority, but WWE would be better served for the long term by focusing on the stars of today and tomorrow, not yesterday.

Quick Hits

*In a rare WWE television moment, WWE Champion wrestled World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan. No, it's not unusual for these unannounced champion vs. champion matches to be added to Raw. What was unusual was seeing two performers the caliber of Punk and Bryan being allowed to actually wrestle and shine. People immediately began complaining about the match's placement on the card, but it gave the show a strong start to the second hour and allowed for a dirty finish without threats of riot.

After Punk and Bryan put on an outstanding display of their abilities, Chris Jericho ran to ringside, shoving Bryan out of his way, entering the ring and hitting a Code Breaker on Punk. Jericho's actions gave Bryan a disqualification victory befitting his character and planted the seeds for a dream Punk vs. Jericho matchup at WrestleMania. I kept expecting Sheamus to emerge, evening the odds and laying out Bryan, his likely opponent for the biggest show of the year. No matter what happens in the immediate future, Punk and Bryan eventually have to cross paths again, preferably on pay-per-view, where they'll be given time and the opportunity to go all out.

* Randy Orton pinned Dolph Ziggler cleanly in a competitive match that was really good for being on free television. Ziggler had just been announced as one of the challengers for Punk's title at Elimination Chamber, so it was odd to see him take a clean loss immediately afteward. Orton, meanwhile, will collide with rival Wade Barrett on Smackdown this Friday. That's a feud that will likely continue through WrestleMania, so it will be interesting to see if WWE can keep the momentum going.

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