WWE WrestleMania 28 Results: 10 Reasons to Look Forward to the New Year
A well-booked show and an electric crowd kicked off the new wrestling year, and if last night's episode of Monday Night Raw was a sign of the things to come, then wrestling fans will be in for a treat.
The number of new story lines that have emerged in the last 36 hours is making the year between WrestleManias 28 and 29 look like it has the potential to be the WWE's most creatively exciting in nearly a decade.
Though some WWE fans will remain pessimistic about the future, this slideshow presents 10 reasons why all WWE fans should be excited for what is to come over the next 12 months.
CM Punk and His WWE Championship
As the WWE's top full-time superstar, CM Punk was likely to be the primary focus of this year's storytelling.
Instead of a scenario where Punk was going to drop the WWE Championship title at WrestleMania and be forced to chase it at the start of the new year, he has retained his title now for 135 consecutive days as of April 3.
Punk's championship reign is one of the longest in recent history and will lead to what will become a suspense subplot to all of Punk's work throughout the year.
At some point, Punk has to drop the title, but when? Every match where the title is on the line will only be that much more crucial as Punk continues to shatter records.
Which also begs the question: which of Punk's upcoming challengers be the one who takes the title away from him?
John Laurinaitis' Reign of Terror
When John Laurinaitis was first made the interim Raw General Manager back in October, he quickly faced the ire of wrestling fans and face wrestlers alike.
Though still uncharismatic, Laurinaitis has settled into a groove as a clueless sycophant with a jealous streak which has made him an effective authority figure from a storytelling point of view.
Now that Laurinaitis is the official GM of both WWE's flagship programs, he will be able to flex his power over the entire WWE roster, which will have an immediate effect across the board.
All of the male singles WWE Titles are currently being held by faces and the first order of business will be creating whatever matches he needs to strip those titles away from Punk, Sheamus, Santino Marella and Big Show.
For WWE's creative team, placing a one of the top heat generators in the company in the authority figure role will only pay dividends, with faces constantly overcoming adversity in their respective stories.
In an expected but still somewhat surprising turn, Brock Lesnar interrupted John Cena's end-of-show promo during the April 2 episode of Raw, marched down to the ring, laid Cena out with an F5 and stood tall at the top of the ramp as the episode ended.
There has been so much rumor and discussion about a Lesnar return, that his re-introduction to the WWE Universe could have been disappointing. But Lesnar taking out Cena within his first two minutes back with the company shows that the WWE has big plans for him in the coming months.
Lesnar's intentions regarding his return have yet to be disclosed. A Cena feud is probable and he will also likely be used to take out a number of wrestlers who are due to retire or leave the company soon, such as Mark Henry.
Over eight years have passed since Lesnar's last WWE appearance, but it would appear that Lesnar will easily make up for lost time.
The Fallout of John Cena's WrestleMania Defeat
Despite a popular following by kids and families, John Cena grew to be one of the most despised figures in the WWE last year without turning heel.
"Super Cena" was thought to be largely indestructible and would often be handed the WWE Championship belt when the company thought it was better for business.
Well, kids, "Super Cena" is no more.
In a swift one-two punch, Cena fell at the hands of The Rock in their highly-anticipated match WrestleMania 28 and was laid to waste by the returning Brock Lesnar the following night.
This sudden change of momentum for Cena could be designed to try to get him back over with massive sections of the WWE audience or it could be the beginning of something much darker for Cena.
Whichever twists and turns Cena makes this year, he will be forced to change his attitude and approach to matches, and that change will only be good for the character who's been in desperate need for a makeover for several years.
Eve Torres and the Likely Return of Kharma Revitalizing the Divas
If one area of the WWE's program could use improvement, it would definitely be the Divas division.
For the Divas Championship to become relevant again, Beth Phoenix must have a high-profile feud and luckily, the elements are beginning to come together for such a storyline.
Eve Torres has broken out in a HUGE way in the last few months as manipulative attention-seeker who loves to torment men, and she currently generates some of the biggest heat in the WWE.
The powers that be are wise to be giving so much TV time to Torres, who continues to rile up , and she seems ready for a Divas Championship reign, which can be used to raise the profile of the entire division.
Kharma, who is about as far away as you can get from Torres, will likely return at some point this year and resume her much-anticipated dismantling of the divas division.
Both women with their respective story lines will drive interest back to the divas, which will be good for talent, good for the WWE and good for fans.
Incoming Talent from FCW
The most hardcore wrestling fans have been paying attention to the WWE's development territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, to see which wrestlers are poised to make a WWE debut.
Though several FCW talents made their WWE television in 2011, including Hunico and Epico, the majority of Internet fans were disappointed that several wrestlers didn't make the cut last year.
Coming into the new wrestling year, numerous members of the developmental roster seem primed to make debuts, including Seth Rollins (pictured), Dean Ambrose and Richie Steamboat. All of these men will likely inject WWE's programming with fresh blood and will boost the mid-card with new personalities.
It's not a question of 'if' anymore. There will be several television debuts this year from current FCW wrestlers this year.
The Return of Numerous Injured Superstars
Professional wrestling can occasionally be quite dangerous and there is an unusually high number of WWE Superstars who are currently on the DL.
Though absent for months, and in some cases nearly a year, several wrestlers are looking to make big returns as Alberto Del Rio has on the April 2 Raw.
A return to action seems imminent for Christian, Ted DiBiase and Layla, all of whom would be warmly received by the WWE Universe.
There are others whose medical status is less clear at the moment, including Wade Barrett, Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and Evan Bourne, but if their physical therapy goes well, they should also be back in the ring at some point this year.
The Rock Will 'Come Back' for the WWE Championship
After defeating John Cena at WrestleMania 28, The Rock has nothing left to prove to the WWE.
Nonetheless, Rock promised his fans on the April 2 Raw that he would be returning to the ring later this year and would fight for the WWE Championship.
His temporary departure will loom over several discussions amongst the Internet Wrestling Community: Whom will Rock face? Can CM Punk retain his title until Rock returns? And when will we see Rock again?
Last year, we knew Rock would be back by WrestleMania. This year, he could pop up at almost moment.
The Mystery and Debate Surrounding Undertaker
In an emotionally charged match that many of singled out as the best of WrestleMania 28, The Undertaker kept his streak alive by laying waste to Triple H for a third time.
Undertaker's WrestleMania record now stands at 20-0, which some believed would never happen. Meanwhile, others think Undertaker's record should stand where it is and never be put on the line again.
This debate will form a nearly year-long mystery about Undertaker's status. Will he retire at 20-0? Will he face another opponent at WrestleMania 29? Will his streak be broken, and which wrestler is worthy of breaking it?
The WWE Network's Launch Will 'Change Everything'
Originally set to debut this week, the WWE Network is now aiming for a launch in the fall.
Although critics debate the merits of the WWE launching their own channel, a 24-hour television destination for professional wrestling and WWE-themed entertainment will be a game changer for the company and the industry.
New wrestling shows will likely be created and populated by worthy wrestlers who currently have difficulty securing television time on Raw and Smackdown.
An expanded universe can add value to the product that the WWE puts out now and make pay-per-views and special live events that much more prestigious.
If the WWE Network fails, it will be another high-profile failure. If it succeeds, the WWE will never be the same going forward.