There are plenty of questions left to be answered in the aftermath of the Royal Rumble, and tonight's edition of Raw should go a long way in doing that. Both The Rock and John Cena stood tall on Sunday, and it appears as though they are on a WrestleMania collision course yet again.
This episode of Raw figures to be one of the highest-rated ones in recent memory, as even casual fans will want to tune in to see The Rock as WWE champion. Also, Cena could very well announce his WrestleMania intentions. On top of that, CM Punk will have plenty to say now that his 434-day reign with the title has come to an end.
While those angles promise to be spotlighted, there are many supporting storylines worth watching as well.
Alberto Del Rio retained his World Heavyweight Championship against Big Show on Sunday, and Team Hell No defeated Team Rhodes Scholars too. Kane and Daniel Bryan eliminated each other in the Rumble match, though, so there could be some dissension within the ranks. The Shield also played a pivotal role in the WWE Championship, and they figure to be addressed in some way on Raw.
With the road to WrestleMania officially underway, this is a Raw that you certainly don't want to miss. Here are the top five things that you should be looking for while watching Raw tonight.
Most figured that The Rock would prevail at Royal Rumble to become the new WWE Champion. And while it looked like CM Punk had once again escaped at first, The Rock ultimately reigned supreme.
The Rock's victory has already been a point of contention among WWE fans both due to the finish and the concept of him winning in general, but there is no doubt that he will be celebrating tonight on Raw.
While I loved the match, I do feel like the ending was a bit muddled.
The Shield attacked The Rock with the lights out and Punk proceeded to pin him, but Vince McMahon emerged and was about to strip Punk of his WWE Championship. The Rock interjected and said he would be the one to take the title from Punk. Vince ordered the match to continue, and The Rock responded with a People's Elbow to defeat Punk.
I personally liked the interference from The Shield since they had to play a role in the match somehow, but I would have preferred for The Rock to kick out of Punk's pin attempt before mounting a comeback and winning. The Rock losing and the match restarting took some of the luster away, but it was a big-time bout nonetheless.
A legion of fans is upset about The Rock winning the WWE Championship, but I can confidently say that it was the right move for the WWE.
Punk was great as WWE Champion, but he had done everything possible and really couldn't accomplish much more. The WWE is looking to bring in huge ratings on the road to WrestleMania, and putting the title on The Rock is the best way to do that.
Raw has suddenly become must-see TV and both Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania figure to score record buy rates as well. This decision was financially driven, but it was smart on Vince McMahon's part.
CM Punk hasn't been without the WWE Championship for 434 days, so it will certainly seem odd to see him without gold around his waist on Raw. The title had become such a huge part of Punk's character that it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to life after his championship reign.
Despite the fact that Punk is no longer atop the company, he will undoubtedly play a huge role moving forward and promises to make a major impact tonight.
Punk won't take too kindly to dropping his title, and he'll have plenty to say about it. The Rock and Vince McMahon figure to receive the brunt of the vitriol that he'll be spewing, thanks to the surprising ending at the Royal Rumble.
Punk will probably maintain that he's still the real WWE Champion since he initially beat The Rock, and I'm sure that he'll use that point to receive a rematch in the near future. Whether that comes at Elimination Chamber or prior to it remains to be seen.
The one thing I'm hoping to see from Punk tonight is a signature pipe bomb promo. He delivered one to some degree when The Rock made his return a few weeks ago, but he has a lot more ammunition now. I'm not sure exactly what Punk will say, but he needs to look strong after losing the belt.
Even though John Cena is clearly going to challenge The Rock at WrestleMania, Punk is still very much involved in the WWE title picture.
He's going to get a rematch at some point, so his feud with The Rock will definitely continue tonight. I doubt that he'll exercise his rematch clause tonight since the WWE would want to advertise a match like that ahead of time, but he'll probably announce when he's going to face The Rock next.
If he decides to do it in a singles match at Elimination Chamber, I'll be interested to see how the WWE handles the Chamber matches themselves.
If there is one complaint that I have about last night's Royal Rumble event, it's that the matches were fairly predictable in terms of the outcomes.
As much as myself and others tried to rationalize that someone other than John Cena could conceivably win the Rumble, Cena did rise above the rest of the field to earn a guaranteed world title shot at WrestleMania. I'm certainly no Cena fan, but I can obviously see why the WWE decided to give him the win, and I'm not going to complain about it.
I prefer when the Royal Rumble is used to push an up-and-coming star, but there weren't many good options for the WWE this year.
Ryback, Wade Barrett, Antonio Cesaro and even Daniel Bryan could have won and entered the World Heavyweight Championship hunt, but with Dolph Ziggler in possession of the Money in the Bank contract, he is going to dictate how things play out on SmackDown. Because of that, the WWE went with the easy, safe and logical decision by putting Cena over.
Cena vs. The Rock II will almost certainly happen at WrestleMania. It's far from the most creative route, but it's the smartest in terms of generating interest and drawing money.
Hopefully their feud is better the second time around now that the WWE Championship is involved. I am looking forward to it to some degree, but I'm not especially looking forward to Cena addressing the crowd tonight, as I'm sure we'll get an annoying, over-the-top promo.
One thing I am interested in, however, is whether or not Cena will reveal who he intends to face at WrestleMania. He's obviously going after the WWE Championship rather than the World Heavyweight Championship, but the WWE likes to build suspense.
The WWE title picture is still unsettled since CM Punk is owed a rematch, so I anticipate Cena waiting to make his call. Whatever the case, he'll definitely be featured in a big way tonight.
While rumored surprise Royal Rumble entries such as Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, John Morrison and others never came to fruition, the WWE knocked it out of the park on Sunday, as Chris Jericho shockingly entered the Rumble at No. 2.
There have been a lot of surprise entrants over the years, but Jericho took the cake. Not only is he a bona fide star, but the WWE managed to keep his involvement a secret, and he lasted nearly 50 minutes as well.
John Cena may have won the Rumble, but Y2J stole the show.
The great part about Jericho is that he wasn't a typical surprise entrant. Most of them show up at some point in the middle of the Rumble and are eliminated within a few minutes. Jericho was in it for the long haul, though, and if his backstage promo following the Rumble is any indication, he's here to stay through WrestleMania at the very least.
Even if Jericho is only back to put someone over, it's great news since he can make any feud and any match worthwhile.
The natural and obvious move would be to have Jericho feud with Dolph Ziggler. The Show Off was the No. 1 entrant in the Rumble, and the two of them did battle for the majority of it before Ziggler eliminated Jericho late in the match.
Ziggler was also responsible for Jericho's departure in the first place, as he beat him in a match in August. Ziggler put his Money in the Bank contract on the line, but Jericho would be fired if he lost, which he did.
Since their feud never ended, it makes sense to continue it. Some may complain about a rehashed rivalry, but their initial feud was very brief and should definitely be expanded upon.
Hopefully Jericho makes it abundantly clear on Raw that Ziggler is his main target. If all goes well, perhaps Ziggler will be World Heavyweight champion by WrestleMania, so his match with Ziggler can have the title on the line.
On last week's episode of Raw, The Rock cut a promo on CM Punk, but he was jumped by The Shield afterward. This prompted Vince McMahon to rule that if they interfered at the Royal Rumble, Punk would be stripped of the WWE Championship.
At a vital point in their match at the Rumble, the lights went out and The Shield presumably triple powerbombed The Rock through the announcer table. This led to Punk pinning The Rock, but the match was restarted and The Rock prevailed.
McMahon would have stripped Punk of the title had The Rock not demanded that the match be restarted, so I have to believe that The Shield will be addressed in some capacity.
It was never confirmed that The Shield attacked The Rock since the lights were out, but there were plenty of camera flashes, and I'm nearly positive that I saw Roman Reigns. Because of that, The Shield will have some questions to answer with regards to why they got involved.
Punk told them to stay out of his business on SmackDown, but that was likely just done for show in order to make it seem like he wasn't involved with them. Following The Shield's attack at the Royal Rumble, Punk smiled deviously as if he knew they would show up all along.
It is still unclear if The Shield is actually working for Punk or operating under a personal agenda, but maybe we'll find out the true answer tonight.
I will admit that The Shield has become somewhat repetitive, but I'm still interested in seeing what they're going to do. They could go after The Rock once again, or they could refocus their attention on someone else. The Shield is easily the biggest enigma in the WWE right now, and I can't wait to see where the storyline ends up.