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Undertaker, Shawn Michaels Return to Raw, Deadman to Enter WWE Royal Rumble 2017

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 23: The Undertaker recovers during his fight against Brock Lesner at the WWE SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on August 23, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)
JP Yim/Getty Images
Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2017

Both The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels made their respective returns to WWE programming on Monday night's edition of Raw from New Orleans.

Michaels hyped both the Royal Rumble and his upcoming movie, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone, before getting interrupted by Rusev, Lana and Jinder Mahal.

Big Cass and Enzo came to the WWE Hall of Famer's aid, however, and helped him run down the foreign trio on the mic, as seen in this tweet courtesy of WWE's official Twitter account:

Michaels tweeted about his return:

The Undertaker made a more impactful appearance Monday night, announcing he intends to enter the Royal Rumble match, courtesy of WWE:

WWE cut backstage to Braun Strowman, who was intently watching The Undertaker's monologue, signaling a possible battle between the two at the Rumble.

The Undertaker's Rumble proclamation was a surprising development since he hasn't competed in the Rumble match since 2009. His last appearance at the Royal Rumble in any form was his world title defense against Rey Mysterio in 2010.

The Deadman was last seen on the go-home episode of SmackDown prior to Survivor Series in November, as he threatened the blue brand's team with repercussions if it didn't prevail against Raw.

He also announced he would no longer allow WrestleMania to define him, which led many to speculate The Phenom would return to in-ring action at some point prior to WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, Florida.

The locale of Taker's appearance Monday added to the intrigue of the situation, as his WrestleMania undefeated streak came to an end in the Big Easy at WrestleMania 30 when he shockingly fell to Brock Lesnar.

While The Undertaker hasn't competed in a match since defeating Shane McMahon in Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania 32 last year, his return once again has fans clamoring for more in-ring action from the future WWE Hall of Famer.

As for the Heartbreak Kid, his on-screen role has diminished significantly since he retired after losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26.

He has made sporadic appearances with his most recent one prior to Monday occurring at WrestleMania 32.

Along with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Mick Foley, The Showstopper beat down the League of Nations at the Showcase of Immortals.

Although Michaels hasn't been on television since then, he has taken on a significant role with the company as a coach at the Performance Center in an effort to put finishing polish on WWE's prospects, as Triple H revealed in a conference call, per Sean Rueter of CagesideSeats.com.

The timing of HBK's appearance was fitting since the Royal Rumble is just a few weeks away and will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, which is Michaels' hometown.

With WWE looking to sell out the large venue, it made plenty of sense to bring in Mr. WrestleMania to create some hype.

Additionally, WWE advertised both The Undertaker and Michaels one week ahead of time, which suggests there was some extra motivation in the form of increased ratings.

It isn't yet known how much of an impact the Superstars had in that regard, but as two of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, it's easy to presume they generated added interest.

WWE is often about looking ahead, though, and there is now a great deal of focus on how Taker and Michaels may be utilized heading toward the Rumble and during WrestleMania season.

 

Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: some language NSFW).

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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