For the first time since November of 2010, WWE Monday Night Raw will be going old school Monday night. The WWE's first such effort was met with rave reviews and turned out to be extremely entertaining. Based on the way things are playing out right now, the second Old School Raw could very easily blow the first out of the water.
Not only are there many legends already confirmed to be in attendance, but there will likely be several more surprises. On top of that, Raw will feature an old set, throwback graphics and many other aspects that will make the show feel vintage. When you add that to the fact that the road to WrestleMania is heating up in a big way, it's clear that Monday night's Raw is a can't-miss show.
Speculation persists regarding The Undertaker's potential return. While nothing can be confirmed at this point, it's probably a pretty good bet that he'll make an appearance. Also, WWE Champion The Rock is advertised, and he is likely to reignite his feud with John Cena. Furthermore, Triple H is scheduled to take part in the festivities and is likely to address his brawl with Brock Lesnar from last week.
Perhaps I'm a bit overexcited given that I'll be in attendance as Raw emanates from First Niagara Center in my hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. Even so, this promises to be an exciting show, so here are the top five things that you should keep an eye on while watching.
As someone who started watching the WWE in 1995 and has a huge appreciation for everything that happened before that time as well, I immensely enjoyed the original Old School Raw. I was one of many who hoped that it would become a regular occurrence, but that obviously wasn't in the cards.
It's better to bring it back later than never, though, so I'm ecstatic that the WWE decided to resurrect the old-school theme that so many fans seem to enjoy.
According to WWE.com, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan are all confirmed to appear. Also, "Mean" Gene Okerlund, The New Age Outlaws and The Honky Tonk Man have been confirmed on Twitter, although the WWE hasn't commented on any of them.
If all of them show up as scheduled and the WWE sprinkles in some surprises to boot, then Monday's show will definitely be a fantastic blast from the past.
The past superstars aren't the only thing that will make the show old school, though. The WWE will also utilize a retro set, the on-screen graphics will be vintage and the announcers are supposed to wear the mustard-yellow blazers that were commonplace in the 1980s.
There are many fans out there who are constantly calling for the WWE to look to its past, and that is precisely what the WWE will do on Monday on Old School Raw.
While it seems like most fans are looking forward to the theme of the night, there are some who believe that it will take away from the road to WrestleMania. Only a couple matches have been confirmed for 'Mania, so the WWE definitely has a lot of work left to do.
With that said, the WWE can easily incorporate the legends into current storylines in order to further things. Also, most segments that include legends aren't likely to take up a ton of time, particularly on a three-hour show.
Monday night's Raw should be fun, and the fans should sit back and enjoy it rather than worrying about the implications.
It is well-documented at this point that The Undertaker made his shocking return to the WWE more than a week ago at a house show in Waco, Texas. Taker teamed with Sheamus to take on Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow, and he sent the Waco crowd into a frenzy.
That seemed to suggest that The Undertaker was back in order to begin a WrestleMania feud, but he surprised many when he didn't appear on Raw last week in Dallas.
That has some people questioning whether or not he's actually back in the fold. But the fact is that The Undertaker wouldn't wrestle at a house show if he wasn't going to compete at WrestleMania.
The WWE also knew what it was doing when it made his live event appearance public. Rather than having Taker return without any sort of warning, the WWE decided to create some buzz. I'm sure it led many people to watch Raw last week when they normally wouldn't have, and the same is likely to be true this week.
Perhaps it's nothing more than a coincidence, but it would be fitting for The Undertaker to make his triumphant return on Old School Raw.
There aren't many guys left on the WWE roster with an old-school mentality, but The Undertaker certainly has it. He may not be a full-time wrestler anymore, but he is the senior member of the roster and is the most respected person in the locker room. He is as old school as they come, and it would make a lot of sense if he appeared Monday night.
In addition to that, CM Punk currently has nothing to do. He lost to John Cena on Raw last week, so he missed his chance to challenge The Rock for the WWE Championship yet again.
Taker is Punk's only logical WrestleMania opponent, and I doubt that the WWE wants to wait around much longer. It has to begin building its main feuds, and Punk vs. Taker would probably go on just before The Rock vs. Cena. There isn't much time that the WWE can afford to waste, so the first encounter between The Undertaker and Punk should take place Monday night.
When it was announced the night after WrestleMania XXVII that The Rock and John Cena would compete in the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII, it took many fans by surprise. A WrestleMania match had never been determined that far in advance before, and there was some concern about whether or not the WWE could pull it off.
Their feud seemed to suffer a bit due to the lengthy time frame, and a lot of fans were already fed up with it by the time WrestleMania XXVIII rolled around. Because of that, their rivalry and subsequent match received mixed reviews.
With that in mind, the WWE decided to take a different approach this time around. Rather than announcing a rematch immediately following The Rock's victory over Cena last year, things were allowed to simmer.
At the Royal Rumble, Cena reigned supreme and earned a title shot at WrestleMania. The Rock beat CM Punk for the WWE Championship on that same night, and it became apparent that "once in a lifetime" would be taking place twice.
Cena beat Punk on Raw last week to retain his WrestleMania title match, so now there is no doubt that it will be Cena vs. The Rock once again. With that in mind, Monday is likely to mark the beginning of the second phase of their feud.
There are definitely some fans out there who are less than impressed by the entire situation, but the majority of fans, including those who don't watch regularly, are firmly behind another Cena vs. The Rock WrestleMania matchup.
I'm interested to see what route the WWE takes this time around. Last year, it was personal, as The Rock believed that Cena had slighted him. Cena and The Rock seemed to come to an understanding in the aftermath, though, and I'm not sure that the hard feelings can be replicated.
Maybe this will be more of a friendly rivalry, but it definitely needs to be different regardless.
No matter how you feel about The Rock vs. Cena, it's always interesting to see two of the biggest stars in the history of the business in the ring at the same time.
Prior to last week, Triple H hadn't been seen on WWE programming since appearing on the Slammy Awards edition of Raw. He made his triumphant return on the latest episode of Raw, however, as he prevented Brock Lesnar from attacking Vince McMahon. Triple H and Lesnar then proceeded to engage in a brawl that resulted in Lesnar getting busted open. Triple H capped things off with a chair shot, and Lesnar was forced to retreat.
Although Lesnar is not scheduled to appear Monday night on Raw, The Game is. From a storyline perspective, Lesnar seemingly ended Triple H's career at SummerSlam. He beat Triple H with a Kimura Lock and broke his arm for a second time. Triple H essentially gave a goodbye speech a couple weeks later, and it was meant to make it look like he was retiring.
Most fans realized that it was just a way to get him off television for a while, though, so it didn't come as a big surprise when Triple H returned to cut off Lesnar at the pass last week.
The WWE can only do so much without Lesnar in the fold this week, but my guess is that Triple H will issue a WrestleMania challenge.
Every fan already realizes that Triple H vs. Lesnar at 'Mania is already a foregone conclusion, so the WWE might as well get the announcement out of the way. Triple H can cut a promo this week about why he decided to return, and he can punctuate it with a challenge. Lesnar can then accept next week, and there will be a solid month with which to build.
Even though Lesnar won't be in attendance, Paul Heyman very well could be. Heyman and McMahon were engaged in a fight last week, and that is what prompted both Lesnar and Triple H to show up. I can see Triple H calling out Lesnar only for Heyman to appear and speak on behalf of his client.
The WWE has a very valuable asset at its disposal in the form of Heyman, so it might as well use him as effectively as possible.
There are a lot of uncertainties in the WWE as WrestleMania XXIX approaches, but many of them figure to be resolved in short order. One that could drag on for a few weeks, though, is the status of The Shield.
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns competed in their second official WWE match at Elimination Chamber, defeating John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus. That was obviously a huge win for the young trio, but it remains to be seen where they can possibly go from here.
Although many fans were concerned about The Shield getting buried at Elimination Chamber, the WWE protected them well and made them look equal to three of the WWE's biggest faces.
Despite the fact that the WWE handled that correctly, there is concern about how much longer The Shield can be sustained. Their WrestleMania involvement is obviously a huge deal, and while the WWE has teased some potential opponents thus far, there are a number of different directions in which this situation can go.
Perhaps the only good bet at this point is that Randy Orton will be part of a team that faces The Shield at 'Mania. Orton hasn't yet taken on The Shield in a match, but they have attacked him numerous times and he hit Rollins with an RKO last week.
Sheamus has also been involved, but he is feuding with Wade Barrett at the same time. Chris Jericho teamed with Sheamus and Ryback against The Shield on Raw a couple weeks ago, so he is an option, as is Ryback.
The Shield crashed a match between Orton and Big Show on SmackDown, which resulted in Big Show hitting Reigns with a Knockout Punch. That means Big Show could potentially be part of a dysfunctional team at WrestleMania.
The main point is that there are probably at least five or six guys who could feud with The Shield moving forward. I can't say with confidence who will ultimately get the nod, but hopefully we'll come closer to an answer Monday night.