Mournfulness and the thunder of celebration will both shape the April 7 WWE Raw.
WrestleMania 30's two lasting images will be Daniel Bryan lifting his championships as confetti fills the air and an arena full of dropped jaws after Brock Lesnar pinned Undertaker. Monday's Raw will be defined by those moments.
The first Raw after WrestleMania usually boasts a major surprise, be it Dolph Ziggler winning the world title or Lesnar returning to WWE. This year, WWE will be hard-pressed to come up with something that will wake its numbed fanbase a night after watching Undertaker lose at WrestleMania for the first time ever.
Even the jubilance of the start of Bryan's title reign may not be enough to offset that.
WWE remains in New Orleans after its biggest event of the year. Count on the vocal crowd post-WrestleMania shows are famous for to heavily contribute to the night's atmosphere.
Backstage reports, Twitter and Tom Liodice's five-point preview on WWE.com hint at what the big surprise may be and what else to expect on the post-WrestleMania 30 Raw.
An icon and an ECW favorite may be on his way to the Smoothie King Center. Undertaker and Billy Gunn, however, are reportedly dealing with injuries.
WWE.com reports that Gunn was coughing up blood after his match at WrestleMania, noting that "he started to develop hemoptysis" after The Shield powerbombed him.
Even though he claims it was just a hiccup, expect Gunn to be out of action for Monday's Raw. Two exciting options could be there to take his place, though.
Potential Surprise Guests
Rob Van Dam hasn't wrestled for WWE since Battleground. That may change come Monday's Raw.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via Sean Rueter of Cageside Seats, reports that "Rob Van Dam will make his WWE return on April 7, 2014." Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc. reports that "Rob Van Dam is expected to return to WWE on tonight's RAW."
Van Dam is already in New Orleans, fresh off showing up for the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony.
While it would certainly be thrilling for Van Dam to make another WWE run, the bigger story would be if WCW and TNA star Sting makes his WWE debut. Whether he has signed and will compete for the company has been the subject of rumors for months.
He further stirred things up at a Q&A session in March. PWTorch covered the event, during which he said he had been watching Raw for weeks and would only be interested in facing Undertaker.
Sting, like Van Dam, wouldn't have to travel far to make it to Monday's Raw.
He is already in town, as he made an appearance at WrestleCon over the weekend. That's where he hinted he would be a part of WrestleMania 31.
Note: Video contains brief NSFW language.
There's a strong possibility WWE will build toward that beginning on Monday night. It will allow WWE-only fans to get to know "The Icon" better. One has to wonder, though, if his potential WrestleMania match would be against Undertaker, as so many fans have dreamed for so long.
Even with the spotlight Bryan's title win will garner, it will be hard to get out from under the shadow cast by Undertaker going 21-1 at WrestleMania.
After the initial shock of Undertaker's loss, fans began to wonder if that was his last match ever. It doesn't sound like we can expect a farewell address, though.
Neither Lesnar nor Undertaker was scheduled to appear at the Smoothie King Center. In addition, Undertaker reportedly suffered an injury at WrestleMania. F4WOnline, via Middleton of Wrestling Inc., reports that Undertaker "was taken to a local hospital last night for fear of a concussion and a neck injury."
It's more likely we get to hear Lesnar and Paul Heyman as they brag about doing the unthinkable.
Liodice writes in his preview, "Do The Beast Incarnate or Paul Heyman intend to address his stunning victory to the WWE Universe?" That's a strong hit that we will in fact see and hear that.
Not addressing it would do a disservice to the prestige of breaking the streak.
Stories and Momentum Continue
Count on Cesaro lugging around his newly won trophy. He outlasted 29 other Superstars to become the first winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
In order to highlight that victory and help develop it as a WrestleMania tradition, WWE is likely to send a healthy supply of Raw's focus to Cesaro.
He will have to answer to Jack Swagger after swinging him around on Sunday. Fans will be curious about whether Cesaro will officially break away from The Real Americans, whether Zeb Colter will go with him or Swagger, and how hard WWE will push the Swiss strongman.
Questions also surround The Shield.
Having dominated Kane and The New Age Outlaws, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose have wiped out memories of their infighting from earlier this year. The squad moves on united, but in what direction?
Look for WWE to slide the group into a new narrative.
For Bryan and John Cena, though, it appears their current stories aren't quite done. It is telling that Liodice asks, "But is one victory enough for John Cena to finally rid himself of the terrifying trio?"
It suggests that The Wyatt Family will continue to haunt Cena. Extreme Rules would be a fantastic place for a Cena vs. Wyatt rematch.
For Bryan, his long battle with Triple H and The Authority appears to have an epilogue on tap.
Liodice asks, "Will Triple H or The Authority have anything to say to a so-called 'B+ player' becoming the face of WWE?" One of two scenarios is likely: The COO continues his campaign of violence on Bryan, or he comes to respect the newest world champ.
Either way, Bryan finds himself the hunted, not the hunter, now given a chance to be WWE's top star. He must do so with a pall hanging over the ring.
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