Stone Cold Steve Austin's Rumored WWE Raw Return Must Tease WrestleMania Match

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJanuary 8, 2013

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 15: Honorary Starter, WWE wrestler 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, gives the command for drivers to start their engines prior to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 15, 2007 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

With the 20th anniversary of WWE’s flagship show, Raw, scheduled for Jan. 14, the rumors about how the company is treating the event and the caliber of stars returning is through the roof.

The biggest name reportedly slated to show up Monday will be Stone Cold Steve Austin, but it's the possibility that he could be there laying the groundwork for a potential WrestleMania 29 match that should have wrestling fans excited.

According to F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com, Austin was questionable to show up at Toyota Center in Houston, but things are looking up for the possible appearance:

There was some doubt regarding Steve Austin's status for next week's RAW 20th Anniversary show but word now is that something happened over the weekend and Austin will most likely be appearing now. WWE is looking to go very big with next week's show.

While the return of the Rattlesnake to WWE television will be something fans from all eras can enjoy, there has to be a reason behind the veteran’s presence on the show.

Stone Cold can’t be out there selling Redneck Island and putting himself over; Austin must be on TV setting the stage for his in-ring comeback.

With the road to WrestleMania kicking off with The Rock’s return, what better way for the WWE to top themselves than by bringing Stone Cold Steve Austin back on the same card as The Rock?

How This Helps WWE

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While a one-off return to the WWE for Austin would be enough to push next week’s Raw ratings as high as they have ever been since changing to three hours, there is so much more value for WWE in an extended run with the company.

The WWE needs Stone Cold back for the road to WrestleMania in the same way they need The Rock. Some fans will complain about the infusion of part-time stars, but wrestling is a business and it’s the WWE’s job to sell tickets.

Austin and The Rock put people in the seats.

As much as having The Rock and Stone Cold in two separate matches at the top of a WrestleMania card would limit how many younger stars could shine on the grandest stage, the national exposure of those co-main events would bring wrestling fans back to the WWE in droves.

The younger stars wouldn’t get the immediate rub, but the idea of having a card that could also include Brock Lesnar, Triple H and the Undertaker would make wrestling cool once again.

With more eyes on the product, guys like Damien Sandow and Antonio Cesaro would become main-event caliber stars faster.

Question on Everybody's Mind: Which Star Would Stone Cold Fight at WrestleMania?

While there is a plethora of young stars on the roster that could use the rub from Austin—every star in the locker room to be exact—the best fit for a long-term feud culminating in a WrestleMania match would be CM Punk.

Punk is the perfect heel to play off Austin's anti-hero persona.

After Punk’s done feuding with The Rock, what better way to turn his attention away from the WWE Title than by letting him work a program with another WWE legend like Stone Cold?

Some fans may question why Punk would need a rub of these proportions, especially after an extensive title run and feud with The Rock, but it’s still very clear that John Cena is the WWE’s No. 1 superstar.

After feuding with Cena, Chris Jericho, Triple H, The Rock and now possibly Stone Cold Steve Austin, there would be no questioning that the WWE has turned Punk into one of the sport’s top draws.

Add in the selling power of Stone Cold squaring off with Punk at WrestleMania, and the war of words that would ensue would go down in history as one of the best.

If you love great mic work in the WWE, this would be one of the biggest dream feuds in history.

Final Word

There is never a bad time to bring back a WWE legend like Stone Cold because of the pop he will get and the ratings he will draw into the show, but that is a temporary fix to serious long-term ratings problems.

If the WWE brings back Austin Monday, it must be the first step in what will become an extended stay on the main roster before WrestleMania.

With a feud brewing between Punk and The Rock leading into the title match at the Royal Rumble, it’s imperative that Austin comes out and lays the groundwork for a match between the Rattlesnake and Punk at WrestleMania 29.

When Punk is done with the WWE title scene, the company must be ready to move on to a pre-built Austin vs. Punk feud that could be rehashed in the six weeks between Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania.

As long as the WWE foreshadows the tensions and starts to tease the possible feud now, it will be easy for the casual fans to buy into the match when it pops up again quickly before the company's marquee event.

Bringing Stone Cold back to WWE is a win-win situation, as long as he’s back to set the stage for his epic return to WrestleMania.

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