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Chair Shots: CM Punk 'urns' his heat on WWE Raw

Oh c'mon, you know you love that headline. Last night on Raw, sans John Cena, The Rock and Triple H -- three of the marquee performers at WrestleMania in just four weeks -- focused big time on getting over the Undertaker vs. CM Punk, which is the only one of the top three matches that isn't a rematch from 2012. And likely to no one's surprise, WWE used the recent real-life death of the Undertaker's long-time manager, Paul Bearer, to get a ton of heat on Punk.

However, I couldn't help but wonder what the build to this match might've looked like if not for Bearer's coincidental death last week. It certainly adds a lot of heat to the storyline. But what was the plan prior to that happening? Oh well.

I did think the opening segment with Undertaker posing on one knee to the urn -- the context from the announcers was the urn was symbolic of the one Bearer carried around from which the Undertaker drew his power, although apparenlty some have viewed it as supposedly containing Bearer's ashes -- was appropriate. The moment went on long enough that, when Punk interrrupted, it wasn't in completely horrible taste, although it made you uncomfortable enough to get him heel heat.

Disrespecting Bearer led to an obvious match with Kane later in the night, which was a smart way to do a match I thought was inevitable anyway. I was surprised, however, that Kane went over in the match, even after the Undertaker's distraction. Punk needs to be made to look as strong as possible if we are to believe he can end Undertaker's WrestleMania winning streak. I would suspect he gets his win back against Kane in the coming weeks.

After the loss, Punk stole the urn and attacked Kane with it, carried it up the ramp and mocked the Undertaker, prompting the Dead Man's signature throat slash gesture. Undertaker now, at least, has his motivation for wanting to destroy Punk beyond keeping the Streak alive. And Punk having possession of the urn means he can play mind games with 'Taker the next few weeks. ...

Brock Lesnar answered Triple H's challenge from a week ago by attacking the New Age Outlaws, who had done a fun backstage DX segment with the Game on the WWE App last week, establishing them as close friends. Paul Heyman delivered an excellent promo for Lesnar, saying he will accept the challenge if Triple H signs the contract and agrees to the stipulations that he won't learn until after the contract is signed.

Hopefully, one of those stipulations is the match be contested as a street fight or Hell in a Cell, something like that to allow these two to amp up the brutality that was missing from their SummerSlam match 8 months ago. The other will likely be some sort of loser leaves town or Heyman gets some sort of position of authority in WWE. Something like that. I just hope it's something that doesn't make it painfully obvious Triple H is going over.

And while I'm on that, I know a lot of folks thing it's a foregone conclusion Trips is winning at WrestleMania. (Meanwhile, a handful of these people actually think Punk is going to end the Streak too.) I'm 50-50 on the Brock-Trips match. Obviously, Triple H has a history of putting himself over. And I don't think he should hang up the tights for good, so I don't want him to be definitively written off television as an in-ring performer. He still has something to offer as a part-time guy. But I do think, as a part-time guy, his job should be to put other people over and that includes other part-time guys who are bigger draws than him. Like Lesnar.

When Lesnar lost to John Cena last year, I thought it was the wrong move. (I still do. In fact, Cena's storyline with The Rock would make a little more sense if he had lost to Lesnar last year and actually disappeared for a while -- or at least one of the two.) Defeating Triple H, although the match itself was a bit of a dud, was the right call at SummerSlam, although I thought WWE killed it's momentum by not having Lesnar more involved in the fall when fighting the NFL for ratings.

Because Lesnar has signed another contract to work a few more big events for WWE, I think he needs to go over one more time because he needs to do big business with The Rock and maybe the Undertaker down the road. And because I think it would make interesting television -- especially with Vickie Guerrero playing the babyface role a bit more lately -- I want to see Heyman in a storyline position of power following WrestleMania. The long-term gain is better than the short-term narrative. But we shall see. ...

There was a little bit more development in the feud between Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show vs. The Shield, as well as Ryback vs. Mark Henry, however neither match was made official for WrestleMania.

In fact, for some reason, Ryback vs. Henry was made for Friday's Smackdown. What the heck? I'm sure this will end in a no-contest or something, but I liked what they had been doing by having these two size each other up but not actually get physical. Too often, WWE rushes the physical stuff and then by the time the pay-per-view comes around, it's like we've already seen it. Ryback and Henry should be about who is the WWE's Alpha Dog, and they don't settle that until the biggest show of the year. Instead, just have them continue squashing guys like Kofi Kingston and Heath Slater, and beating up poor Drew McIntyre.

As for the Shield, they basically did a redux of their attack on Big Show that was on the App last week, after a one-on-one between Show and Seth Rollins to start Raw. It worked, although the Shield needs some new motivation, in my opinion. I was waiting for someone to help Show, but the more I thought about it, why would they? One, why subject themselves to getting beat up by the Shield. And two, the Big Show's character is kind of a jerk, so why would they help?

Sheamus and Orton won a decent TV tag match with the Rhodes Scholars, then were attacked by the Shield in another WWE App segment. I think they need to make this WrestleMania 6-man tag match official on Smackdown this week.

By the way, I like the idea of a short-term tag team for Orton and Sheamus after WrestleMania. Celtic snakes are actually a thing (inspired by a viper even), so there is a merchandising side to this too. And since WWE loves nothing more than to form tag teams just to blow them up and have them face each other, why not? ...

The Rhodes Scholars were involved in three seperate segments on last night's Raw, including the loss to Orton and Sheamus. The first was the match with the New Age Outlaws that set up Lesnar's return. Prior to that, Damien Sandow was comedic gold when he did Road Dogg's entrance hype using proper English. Hilarious. Sandow promos might be the greatest thing that has happened to WWE ever. ...

Rhodes and Sandow also had a backstage segment with Cody awkwardly flirting with Kaitlyn again, which led to the return of the Bella Twins. Apparently, WWE realizes its Divas division is a disaster right now and are looking to bring back a few. The Bellas are a nice start. How about we work on Kharma now? ...

And speaking of tag teams, it looks like we might get a Daniel Bryan/Kane vs. Dolph Ziggler/Big E Langston feud after all. In what was arguably the best match of the night, Ziggler got back on the winning track, pinning Bryan after some distractions from AJ and Big E. After the match, Langston hit his finisher on Bryan, leaving some unfinished business for one half of the tag champs. Obviously, Kane would be a heck of a neutralizer, but I suspect he'll be distracted by Punk the next few weeks (which I also hope leads us to another Bryan-Punk match during the build to 'Mania).

It should be noted that Michael Cole specifically says Ziggler's Money in the Bank contract doesn't expire until July, at the next MITB PPV. For those wondering if it expired at WrestleMania, there is your answer. I still think there is a good chance Ziggler cashes in at 'Mania, though, and this might just be a red herring so people aren't thinking about it. ...

The Highlight Reel featuring The Miz, Wade Barrett and obviously Chris Jericho wasn't nearly as bad as it was being made out to be, but it wasn't good either. Brad Maddox was awful, although I think that's supposed to be part of his "charm." I wrote yesterday that Jericho vs. Miz or Jericho vs. Barrett were two possible choices for 'Mania if Y2J wasn't going to wrestle Ziggler (and as you can tell from above, I don't think he is), but I hadn't thought about a Triple Threat. Unfortunately, that match is now booked for next week's Raw, so who knows what the plan for WrestleMania is for these three now. ...

Alberto Del Rio had a solid match with Antonio Cesaro, which once again saw the U.S. Champion do a job. He's losing to top tier guys, so that's OK, I guess, but he needs to get some wins back against the mid-card. He was being booked really strong up until recently. I don't know if he has a spot at WrestleMania right now. ...

Not much new for Del Rio and Jack Swagger either. Zeb Colter cut a promo on Sin Cara, but it seemed like he was getting a lot of go away heat instead of real heat. "What?" chants and "Boring" could be heard near the end of the promo. The match was oddly booked, with Sin Cara dominating, then Swagger getting in very little offense but winning with the ankle lock. I'd like to see them get a little more time on Smackdown.

Actually, it seemed more like an angle with Swagger refusing to release the Patriot Lock and Del Rio making the save (even though he hated Sin Cara a few months back) and the two of them finally getting physical. Sigh. Remember what I just wrote about Ryback and Henry not touching until the match? Obviously, they are trying to sell Del Rio's Arm Breaker vs. Swagger's Ankle Lock, but I think that fell flat. I'm worried WWE is already getting bored with this storyline after not getting much more mainstream press after the initial Glenn Beck stuff. Uh oh. ...

Brodus Clay, Tensai and Fandango? I'll pass. Fandango strikes me as a different take on the Goldust character, intended to push certain buttons. I'm not sure if it's working or not. ...

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