5 Things to Watch for on Feb. 4 Edition of WWE Monday Night Raw
With Elimination Chamber already less than two weeks away, tonight's edition of Raw will certainly focus on building toward the WWE's bridge between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. The bigger story, however, promises to be Brock Lesnar's return to television, as he attacked Vince McMahon last week.
Lesnar hadn't been seen in a WWE ring since the night after SummerSlam. Lesnar announced on that night that he was quitting the WWE because he had already accomplished everything. Fans knew it was only a matter of time before he returned, and now everyone is dying to know why he came back and what his role will be moving forward.
On a related note, Paul Heyman narrowly avoided termination last week as Lesnar interrupted McMahon when he was about to fire his business associate. Heyman is suddenly in limbo both in terms of his employment and in terms of who he will represent. The former ECW boss did a masterful job on the mic last week and is likely to play a big role this week as well.
In addition to that, The Rock, The Shield, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho and John Cena all figure to be featured in some way this week. The show seems to be jam-packed in terms of star power, so here are the top-five things that you should keep an eye on while watching Raw on Monday night.
Why Is Brock Lesnar Back in WWE?
Ever since Lesnar's last appearance following SummerSlam, rumors have run rampant with regards to when he might return. There seemed to be several opportunities for him to do so, but it didn't come to fruition until last Monday night as he prevented McMahon from firing Heyman. Just before McMahon could utter the word "fired," Lesnar's music hit and he proceeded to deliver a thunderous F-5 to the WWE chairman.
Due to the fact that Lesnar's original reason for leaving the WWE was that he had already accomplished everything, most are probably wondering why he decided to come back. The easy answer is that he wanted to help his friend, but there has to be more to it than that. Lesnar defeated Triple H at SummerSlam and essentially retired him from a storyline perspective; however, it seems like their rivalry is far from over.
Lesnar has been on the WrestleMania XXIX poster from the start, so it was always known that he would be back. The uncertain thing has always been who he would potentially face. The Undertaker was a popular name that was tossed around for a while, but it seems much more likely that Taker will go head-to-head with CM Punk. That leaves Lesnar with only one realistic option, and that is a rematch with Triple H.
Since Lesnar went right after Triple H's father-in-law, it's blatantly obvious to me that Triple H will return in the coming weeks as well. Perhaps a rematch isn't ideal, since we're already likely to see Cena vs. The Rock yet again, but the Lesnar vs. Triple H match at SummerSlam received favorable reviews from most, and there is no doubt that both men will work hard to put on a big-time performance on the WrestleMania stage.
How Will The Rock Be Handled?
It has been just over a week since The Rock defeated CM Punk for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, and I can already tell that the more pessimistic fans among us are going to have a conniption fit. The Rock is not scheduled to appear live on Raw tonight, so a pre-taped segment or satellite appearance is quite likely. That obviously wouldn't be an ideal situation, but it could very well help his feud with Punk more than it hurts it.
We have already seen pretty much everything The Rock and Punk can do to each other from a physical and verbal standpoint. They have brawled, traded insults and competed in a match thus far, so there isn't a big difference between them cutting a promo face-to-face and doing it with Punk in the ring and The Rock on the big screen. The best part about it is that Punk will use The Rock's absence to his advantage, just like Cena did during his feud with The Rock last year.
Even though Cena is the most-hated man in wrestling among the "smark" crowd, he actually gained widespread support because of the notion that The Rock was an absentee superstar. That, of course, was the WWE's plan all along, and it worked to perfection. While Punk is a heel and the preference is for him to get booed, he'll surely call The Rock an absentee champion if he doesn't appear live tonight, and that will add even more fuel to the fire that is their rivalry.
As long as The Rock appears on the go-home edition of Raw next week, I don't really care what he does this week. I'm a lot more understanding than a lot of fans and realize that he has countless commitments that he has to tend to. Some are going to find his absence to be unacceptable, but the WWE knew what it was doing when it put the WWE Championship on him. If The Rock can't make an episode of Raw here or there, then so be it. The positives will outweigh the negatives for the WWE in the long run.
Where Does Paul Heyman Stand?
To say that Heyman is in flux right now would be an understatement. Prior to last week's episode of Raw, Heyman was serving as CM Punk's business adviser and not much else. Things changed in a big way, however, as video evidence revealed that he had been paying off The Shield and Brad Maddox all along. This gave McMahon cause to fire Heyman, and he was about to before Lesnar made his surprising return and assaulted McMahon.
Heyman is now in a very interesting situation. It would appear as though he is a lame duck, but he was never officially fired. Also, he is still technically Punk's manager, but he is involved with Lesnar as well. Right now it's anyone's guess what he will decide to do. Will he take a leave of absence, side with Punk, go with Lesnar or manage both of them at the same time? There are plenty of possibilities, and it should make for intriguing programming.
I consider Heyman to be easily one of the most entertaining people in the WWE currently. Punk never actually needed a manager, since he is more than capable of handling himself on the mic, but Heyman was able to add to his character. At the same time, Heyman has always been integral to Lesnar since he struggles to cut promos. There is no question that Lesnar needs Heyman more than Punk does, but I would like to see him stick by both of them.
Perhaps that could lead to a stable that also includes The Shield. Whatever the case, I would definitely prefer it if Heyman remained in the fold. He could potentially screw over Punk, Lesnar or both, or he could potentially create the most dominant group in professional wrestling history. Heyman is likely be a key player over the next couple months.
Who Is The Shield's Next Target?
Much like Heyman, The Shield's future in the WWE is suddenly uncertain. They maintained that the motivation behind their attacks was the desire to maintain justice within the WWE, but it was revealed last week that Heyman paid them to preserve CM Punk's WWE Championship reign. The Shield has yet to address the video, and it is unclear if there were other reasons for their actions. Those questions could very well be answered tonight.
My guess is that there is more to The Shield than money. Heyman's financial backing explains why they took out Ryback, The Rock and other threats to Punk's title, but they also attacked Sheamus, Randy Orton, Cena and various other superstars who had nothing to do with Punk. That leads me to believe that they were initially guns for hire, but they have since found a greater purpose and are much more multi-faceted than the video would suggest.
Ideally, The Shield will be kept away from Punk and Heyman for the time being in order to push their own agenda. Their attack on Cena last week could be construed as an assault on Punk's behalf since Cena announced that he would face the WWE Champion at WrestleMania, but it seemed like they were acting on their own accord more than anything else. Going after Cena yet again would solidify The Shield as a group that is trying to rid the WWE of the very best it has to offer.
It's tough to say whether or not they will discuss the Heyman situation since they have yet to cut a live promo, but I would prefer them to remain silent, so that we can be left to wonder about their allegiances. Some fans are calling The Shield a lost cause since it was revealed that they were paid off, but I'm excited to see where the angle goes from here.
Where Is the Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho Feud Heading?
Much of Raw is likely to be dedicated to Lesnar, Heyman, CM Punk, The Shield and that entire situation, but one supporting feud that I'm particularly invested in is the one between Ziggler and Jericho. Their rivalry first came to be the night after Money in the Bank 2012 as Dolph called Jericho a washed-up has-been. Jericho went on to beat Ziggler at SummerSlam, but Ziggler caused Jericho to get fired by beating him the next night. They have since picked up where they left off.
Ziggler entered the Royal Rumble at No. 1 and Jericho shockingly followed that up by entering No. 2. They did battle for much of the Rumble until Ziggler eliminated Jericho in the latter stages. They exchanged words the following night on Raw and were forced to tag together against Team Hell No, but Jericho abandoned Ziggler to further their feud even more. Since Ziggler and Jericho are two of my favorites, I can't wait to see what they do tonight.
It seems as though they are heading toward a match at Elimination Chamber since Ziggler removed himself from chamber match consideration and Jericho's name wasn't even mentioned. I have no problem with that, but I sincerely hope that they have a match at WrestleMania as well. I realize that we have already seen it, but Ziggler and Jericho are two of the best in-ring workers in the company, and they wouldn't disappoint on the big stage.
Jericho's mic work is always impeccable, and I have enjoyed Ziggler with A.J. thus far as well. Jericho's insults toward A.J. last week were entertaining, as it reminded me of what he used to do with Stephanie McMahon. Ziggler and Jericho haven't received a lot of attention with so many other things going on in the WWE currently, but they could easily steal the show on Raw tonight.