“It Begins” 1/2/2012, But For Who? – The Panther Plex

The Undertaker ITIf you tuned into last week’s WWE Raw you might have caught a mysterious commercial promo WWE ran, proclaiming that someone or something will return on January 2, 2012 to “claim what was his.” This set the internet abuzz and sure enough, everyone had their crackpot theories on the returning character.

I like to dream big like some of these internet commenters and secretly hope that it is indeed someone so random that the likes of Jeff Hardy seem tame, but my expectations for these returns are stunted. Not that that’s a bad thing, because you can’t really expect WWE brass to pull a rabbit out of a hat at this juncture–although Stone Cold returning to mess with The Rock one last time would be apropos.

I’ve mulled this over for several days and compiled an odds list of just who could be responsible “for the end of the world as [we] know it.” I’ll start with the extremely dreamy longshots and end with my preference and prediction…

Dave Batista – 99:1
I kind of missed the boat on Batista’s whole career, so this doesn’t resonate with me as much, but I could see his star power and understand why this would be a big deal. If we stick with the message, what would Batista even be reclaiming? He was mostly overshadowed by John Cena and Randy Orton his entire career and for the most part came off as a guy who wasn’t a team player. I wouldn’t exactly say the MMA and movie path is treating him well, but it beats tearing a muscle off a tendon every other match.

Kane – 99:1
We’ve now had successive Kane promos the past two weeks, so he is definitely coming back, but the cryptic nature and tone of the It Begins clip just doesn’t make sense. I only put this up here because it was highly suggested following last week’s burning mask segment, and the questions arose about when Kane would return, what his purpose would be, and will he be back to wearing that mask? Masked Kane should come back, because street-faced Kane has nothing left to do. So, sorry, it’s not him, but his return could coincide with something bigger that’s afoot.

Shane McMahon – 75:1
If you didn’t love most parts of Shane-O-Mac, I don’t know what to tell you. The former heir apparent to the wrestling throne cut ties with the company a few years back, which is a shame because his character had a chance to be more well developed than his old man. Just think–Vince has to be coming back to television soon to squash the red tape mess that has been John Laurinaitis/whatever became of the Raw GM. A program that pits Shane against Vince and reveals who’s been behind the main Raw conspiracy as of late, all of which culminates in some sort of Wrestlemania showdown? I’d love to see Shane back as a character but I just think this is too far from happening.

Rob Van Dam – 60:1
Is there even any demand for RVD to come back to the big leagues? His overly animated offense and veteran prowess make him more of an Impact fixture more than ever, even if he’s currently wading in the midcard. I could see WWE spinning this in a way that RVD had a gripe about not having enough championship opportunities, despite his marketability and leadership in other promotions. Heck, the guy only had one major championship in WWE, and that came off cashing in a Money In The Bank briefcase, which was then parlayed into a barely there 22 day title run. For now, though, I think the money is just too good down in Orlando for the Whole F’n Show.

Big Brodus Clay – 30:1
Hey, why not? I’ll also only consider him if he convinces us that he comes from a long line of “Bigs,” akin to guys like John Studd, Bossman, and Van Vader. Like Kane, he is eventually coming, and not to put anything past the at times suspect WWE writing, this would just be lazy. I’d call Clay a disaster whenever he was in the ring during his Alberto Del Rio tour, so the only real upside here is that Clay could be reclaiming the glory of the fat man in WWE. However, another month of waiting? The philosophical tones match up, but I’m just afraid that if we have to wait that long to get the BBC train going it won’t nearly match the already growing hype surrounding his arrival.

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Edge – 25:1
As I’ll discuss later, no one is ruling out that this is definitely an in ring performer. Edge is still wildly popular among the younger wrestling crowd and could probably make a more convincing authoritative figure than watered down Triple H. This probably wouldn’t create as much as a spark since he was active as recently as last Wrestlemania, but the growing trend of guys like Booker T, Mick Foley, and Kevin Nash being more involved proves that WWE is committed to a renaissance era.

Bill Goldberg – 20:1
This would be a real shocker considering that the man has been out of the ring since 2004 and is settling in nicely on other television outlets, but Goldberg is still in incredible shape and at 44 would be the younger competitor in the dream Wrestlemania match that’s running through my head. Besides the nWo movement, Goldberg was the most integral part of WCW’s success, something he just couldn’t transfer when he reached WWE. Most people have heard the name Bill Goldberg, so to add him to the Wrestlemania season would be a no-brainer.

Chris Jericho – 8:1
Y2J has to be the most popular name being thrown around after this video dropped and with good reason. His Y2K-themed debut over ten years ago remains one of the most effective promos to date and fits right in line with the current end of the world theme. My problem here is that he went out with such a whimper last time and he’s already had a comeback once in his career. This would be a cool story if I wasn’t convinced that Jericho has seen and conquered all in front of him in the WWE, mentioned in his career documentary “Breaking The Code.” Also, Jericho has found way too much commercial success to want to come back and have the possibility of tarnishing his legacy with a last hurrah.

Vince McMahon – 3:1
Astute internet wrestling auteur Brandon Stroud of pointed out about how the kid in the video was dressed eerily like that of a certain wrestling megalomaniac. Save one brief appearance on television since being ousted as big cheese by Triple H, Vince has enjoyed an extended vacation and must be itching to come back and swing those arms and knees around with reckless abandon. The promo may not be his, but Vince’s return needs to happen in order to save this trainwreck of an upper management coup. Seriously, is anyone buying Triple H, Laurinaitis, or Kevin Nash in their current roles? Take back what’s yours, VKM, if only for a temporary amount of time.

The Undertaker – 3:2
Ahhh, the Wrestlemania standard. This is what I want this to be, and what WWE needs it to be if they are going to send the Deadman out on one last trip around the bases. Right now, all signs point to a final WM showdown between Taker and his brother Kane, a story which commands the full four months to play out and add another layer to what’s shaping up to be a must see WM28 in Miami.

Shortly after his last match in April against Triple H, Taker has had multiple surgeries and has been doing nothing but recuperating for what seems like the perfect time to go balls out and attempt to extend his streak to a nice, round number of 20-0. If the Kane match sounds played out, remember that it’s been since Wrestlemania 20 in 2004 since the brothers squared off in this series, their second Mania match. So it would be a rematch eight years in the making, and perhaps with a masked Kane! If they don’t go in that direction, WWE would be hard pressed to go wrong with any number of suitors, including Triple H, Mark Henry, or Alberto Del Rio.

Did I leave anyone off this list? Should WWE have run a second promo on last night’s Raw to expand upon the hype? I’d love to hear all your thoughts on this, and let the countdown to 1/2/2012 begin!

Joe Leininger lives in Jacksonville, FL via the greater Philadelphia area. He dabbles in all things sports, pro wrestling, and television, and more of his work can be found at The Playing Field Blog and DestiGeddon.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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