The Anti-Antagonist: The Road Ahead

Adam Gorzelsky

WWE WrestleMania 28It seems to be safe to say that Wrestlemania 28 was a tremendous, memorable show. Triple H/Undertaker was the ultimate gift to anybody who has followed the storied careers of all three men for any considerable period of time…It also was a stunning reminder of why we all became and have remained fans in the first place.

As expected, Rock/Cena was electric and somewhat surprising. Love him or hate him, John Cena has to be commended for the fact that no matter his stature or ego, he is willing to take the fall when it is best for business. He proved that this past summer with CM Punk and again exemplified this willingness on Sunday.

Speaking of CM Punk, he and Jericho put together a solid WWE Title match that served its purpose flawlessly. Although I’ve seen some disappointment shown regarding this encounter, the fact remains that the spot on the card called for a technically sound wrestling match that could calm the crowd before slowly building to an exciting crescendo. It may not have stolen the show, but let’s face it, no match was going to take that distinction away from Triple H/Taker.

Even the embarrassingly quick defeat of Daniel Bryan has turned into an unbelievable positive. I’m not so sure that this was the intended or expected result of the debatable decision, but it is becoming apparent that everything touched by Wrestlemania 28 has turned to gold.

There also seems to be a general consensus that the Post Wrestlemania Raw was spectacular. The crowd was unbelievable and showed just how important of a role the live audience plays in the overall enjoyment of the product. Punk and Mark Henry were given ample time to compete and simply did not disappoint.

Oh….And some dude named Brock showed up at the end of the night…I’m not sure if you’ve heard of him before, but I hear he’s kind of a big deal. Ultimately, if nothing else comes from a Brock/Cena feud, I’m hoping beyond hope that it results in the “Attitude Adjustment” finally being restored to its rightful moniker, the “F-U.”

All kidding aside, Raw certainly had its fireworks and left-over emotion from the night before. While all of these major goings-on are exciting, the main goal of any post-Wrestlemania Raw is to set the tone for the year to come. It is this all-important detail that was executed to perfection in my humble opinion.

Every road to Wrestlemania places the entire company on hold to some degree. Precious time is devoted to the angles and characters that actually are making an appearance on the grandest stage, leaving other facets in a bit of limbo. To me, this concept seemed to be taken to a whole other level this year.

I’m not sure if this was attributable to the length of the Rock/Cena buildup, but by the time Wrestlemania rolled around it felt like a large portion of the roster was like a giant rubber band that had been pulled to max tensity…So many storylines and characters were ready to snap…In a good way. Although it was clear that much of this tension had to be relieved on Raw, I was pleasantly surprised by the artful and effective manner in which this was accomplished.

For weeks, Brodus Clay has been mired in mediocrity; simply emerging from the back every once in a while to dance and squash Curt Hawkins. The post-Wrestlemania Raw saw his injection into his first major storyline with Swagger, Ziggler, and Santino. Within this segment, he displayed dominance via his devastating head butt and maintained comic relief with the Cobrasauras…A subtle, yet effective way for Brodus to take the next step with his character.

Speaking of Swagger and Ziggler, Raw set into motion their long-awaited and much needed split. Dolph has been primed to move far past the mid-card for some time, but such movement wasn’t possible prior to Wrestlemania as all major feuds had been claimed. By integrating the seeds of the breakup into the Team Johnny storyline, this transition should be rather seamless.

I could go on forever about the sheer volume of much anticipated storyline creation and advancement that took place on Raw. The Miz’s resurfacing as a major player via the Team Johnny Storyline…The interesting debut of Lord Tensai, complete with a surprisingly honest back-story….The return of Alberto Del Rio…All examples of storylines that could have emerged prior to Wrestlemania, but had to lie in wait for the dust to settle….All examples of storylines that fit perfectly within the current climate established the past few months.

At the end of the day, the April 2, 2012 Raw probably will be best remembered for the return of Brock Lesnar…After all, this was a huge splash move that got the world talking…However, I truly believe that six months from now, this edition of Raw also may be remembered as the major catalyst for a series of tremendous storylines.

Although it often is not the case, every post-Wrestlemania Raw should strive to meet this distinction…I can say without a doubt in my mind that this past Monday met its burden and left me thoroughly excited about the road ahead….I dare say that Raw was a handful of Tylenol to cure a massive Wrestlemania hangover.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @PolishHMR if you have any questions, comments, or if you just want to hear some random nonsense throughout the week.

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