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Posted in: Hustle Is Posting Right Now
Hustle Is Posting Right Now - Raw's Biggest Mistake
By Hustle
Mar 5, 2013 - 10:42:01 AM

"Why you gotta do it like that, son?"

This is going to be a quick column, but I have something to say, so I'm going to say it.

WWE absolutely, positively, unequivocally botched The Undertaker's return.

Stay with me, folks.

We all had a feeling Taker would be making his return for WrestleMania. Unlike a lot of people I know, I was excited about seeing Taker again. I don't want to see Taker as a full-time performer anymore, but as a "special attraction" at WrestleMania? I can deal with that, and when the storylines are done correctly, Taker's return makes for some great television. Before I really go on any further, I want to remind everyone of the stories behind Taker's Mania matches over the last few years, just in case you forgot..

WrestleMania 26: After he defeated Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25, people were wondering what Taker's plans would be. Their match at Mania 25 won the Slammy Award for Match Of The Year, and it was during his acceptance speech that Michaels decided to challenge Taker to another match, saying he knew, deep down, that he could win the match. Taker would go on to turn HBK's offer down, with the reasoning being that he already defeated Michaels and had nothing left to prove. The storyline would turn into Michaels become almost obsessed with finding a way to earn the rematch. Since Taker was World Champion at the time, Michaels found himself trying to win the Royal Rumble. When that was unsuccessful, he tried to qualify for the World Title Elimination Chamber, but that didn't work out, either. Finally, he would end up sneaking into the Chamber, hitting Taker with Sweet Chin Music and costing him the title. This was enough for Taker to change his mind, and the match was on, with Michaels putting his career on the line to sweeten the deal.

WrestleMania 27: Taker made his return to the company after being revealed as the man behind the "2 21 11" vignettes that would had been airing on WWE programming for weeks. Before he could even say a word, though, his return promo was interrupted by Triple H, who was also making his return to the company. The basic premise behind the build here was that Triple H was, essentially, sticking up for his best friend, who Taker retired the previous year. During the build, Michaels was brought in for added drama, and we eventually saw Michaels turn his back on Triple H, all but saying he didn't think he would beat Taker at WrestleMania.

WrestleMania 28: Even though he was victorious at WrestleMania 27, the major story coming out of the match was that Taker had to be stretchered out of the ring because of how beat up he was. Returning after the Royal Rumble the following year, Taker would flip the tables a bit by issuing a challenge himself, saying that he wanted to face Triple H again. It was the footage of Taker being stretchered out that was used as the storyline fuel, with Taker saying that he didn't want the footage to go down in history as what everyone remembered. Triple H would decline the rematch offer, which would bring Shawn Michaels back once again. Michaels would go on to say that he felt Trips should take the match. Trips, in his new C.O.O. role for the company, said that he wanted to focus on that, and again refused to accept Taker's challenge. The following week, Taker would again challenge Triple H, this time trying to goad him into the match by putting down Michaels and mentioning his multiple failures to end "The Streak". This was enough, and Trips finally accepted Taker's challenge, but adding Hell In A Cell as a stipulation, and Michaels would eventually go on to be added as the guest referee.

That's three different matches. That's three different scenarios. They were all done very well, and the storyline builds made perfect sense. Michaels, as one of the most decorated WWE Superstars of all-time, wanted to put the icing on the cake that was his career by being the only man to ever defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Michaels, becoming obsessed with defeating The Undertaker after losing to him. Triple H, wanting to get revenge on the man who forced his best friend into retirement. Taker, wanting to make sure that the lasting memory to cap off his career wasn't a moment of weakness where he had to be physically assisted from the ring. I know the WWE Creative Team catches a lot of grief from people, and often rightfully so, but those storylines were very well done, and I applaud them for it.

What did we get this year?

We got four men playing a game of "I wanna face Taker" and "No, I wanna face Taker", only to have Vickie Guerrero just walk out and say they would face each other in a match, with the winner going to WrestleMania as Taker's opponent.

For all intents and purposes, The Undertaker's WrestleMania opponent was chosen as the result of a random match on a random episode of Raw.

To quote a great philosopher.. "Uh, what?"

Look.. I get the reasoning behind the match. Punk has lost his last few "big" matches, so defeating Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus in a Fatal Four Way, and doing it in clean fashion, gives him some momentum in the eyes of people who feel that kind of thing is important. That's fine and all, but I need to say this one more time..

For all intents and purposes, The Undertaker's WrestleMania opponent was chosen as the result of a random match on a random episode of Raw.

No build. No back story. Nothing. Just a return from Taker that was spoiled in 39 different ways, and without using words, he came out and hinted that he was going to wrestle at WrestleMania. Then we got four men who said they wanted to face him, followed by those four men facing each other for the opportunity to face him. It's the equivalent of you going to work and finding out that there's going to be a spectacular prize offered to the first person who claims it, and you claim it at the same time as three other people, so your boss says that the only fair way to decide who gets the prize is to have a pie-eating contest.

I'm not going to be one of those people that writes off an entire match or storyline after watching it begin. With Taker's unmatched presence, and with Punk's verbal ability, I have zero doubt in my mind that these next few weeks of television are going to be fun. Punk can find the line between a work and a shoot, and he can discuss all of Taker's backstage power, and how he is viewed as a "leader" in the locker room. He can talk about Taker being a "leader" but never really doing anything to help the younger talent through the years. It wouldn't even matter if any of it was based on facts or not, to be honest. That's the beauty of Punk's mic work, and that quasi-shoot delivery he likes to use. At this point, it makes everything he says get viewed in a different light, with people not taking it at face value and searching for deeper meanings as they wonder what the real back story behind his words is. Punk can say that Taker made him and other rookies feel like absolute garbage in the locker room, bullying them and pushing his weight around, knowing that there wouldn't be anyone to stand up to him. He can then transition into disgust over Taker sitting at home for 11 months out of the year, only to show up for a big WrestleMania pay check, while the hard working men and women of the locker room spill blood, sweat and tears night in and night out in arenas all over the world. It could work, and I don't doubt that at all. I have faith in both men. They'll be able to play their roles properly and give us some fun stuff to watch.

Again, though, it isn't the future that I have concerns with. It's how we got to the present that concerns me. In the wonderful world of kayfabe, there's absolutely no reason for Taker to have made his return. He wasn't challenged by anyone. He doesn't have an unfinished problem he needs to solve. He doesn't have anything else to accomplish in his career. He isn't coming back to challenge for the WWE Title or World Title one last time. After several years of playing games with two of the greatest of all-time, including turning down challenges because he felt he had "nothing else to prove", he came and basically set himself up for an open challenge.

WWE, it's these types of decisions that make people scratch their heads. It's these types of decisions that make people question your Creative Team. It's these types of decisions that make internet columnists write about how they're "quitting" WWE for a while. There's never a good time to make huge logical errors, or to put some ridiculously lazy booking together, but WrestleMania season? This was a huge error on your part.

Now, is there someone I can talk to about the Intercontinental Title, United States Title and Tag Team Titles all meaning bupkis these days?

E-mail: HIPRNFeedback@gmail.com


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