With less than seven weeks until the "Showcase of the Immortals," WWE has planted seeds for a rivalry between John Laurinaitis and Teddy Long, the general managers of Raw and Smackdown, respectively.
The two men agree on the issue at hand: That power within WWE should be consolidated, and one sheriff should preside over both shows. But, of course, each man believes he is the right one for the job.
As the story advances, it's likely fans will be treated to a number of challenge matches and segments organized by the two, and that started on Monday’s Raw.
Two matches on the show fit the mold that will inevitably expand in the coming weeks. First, Laurinaitis' assistant David Otunga challenged any Smackdown superstar to a match.
Long selected Ezekiel Jackson as his representative, possibly a bad choice considering Jackson's momentum as of late consisted of losing to Jinder Mahal in a singles match and to Santino Marella in a battle royale.
The match was short and nothing special, but Otunga emerged victorious in the end, giving Team Laurinaitis an early lead in the battle. Otunga still looks out of place in a WWE ring, as a competitor at least. He'd be best used as a character rather than a wrestler, while working house shows to improve in the ring.
The other bout included the 10 losers of the WWE and World Heavyweight Championship matches at Elimination Chamber competing in a battle royale, with the winner receiving a shot at CM Punk's WWE title at WrestleMania.
Chris Jericho won the match, last eliminating Big Show with an assist from Cody Rhodes. There was little doubt about the outcome of the match, as Punk vs. Jericho has been the speculated - and obvious - WWE title bout for weeks.
With Jericho being a Raw superstar, this win also places Team Laurinaitis' record at 2-0 over Team Long.
As the WrestleMania card continues to take shape, it will be interesting to watch where this "war of the general managers" goes from here.
If one of the two is going to be featured as an authority figure on both shows, I personally would prefer Laurinaitis, as his dry sense of humor and subtle heel tendencies are more enjoyable than Long's comedy antics.
- The battle royale itself wasn't a bad main event, but it seemed like several of the eliminations ended badly. Wade Barrett appeared to be legitimately and seriously injured; Jericho was even seen asking the ref, "What happened to Wade" after the end of the bout. Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston and Rhodes also looked like they took potentially bad bumps.
- Triple H and the Undertaker made their WrestleMania match official, and it will be Hell in a Cell. The stipulation will allow them to cover shortcomings in their work, and if this is the end of Taker's career, it's possibly the best way to go out. As for their promo on Raw, something about it seemed off. That could be attributed to the very weird Minnesota crowd showing an ultimate sign of disrespect for the legendary superstar by chanting "What?" during his speech. With the Hell in a Cell stipulation, it seems less likely Shawn Michaels will have an official role in the match, but there's still time to develop that angle if WWE chooses to go that route.