We all heard the rumors and speculated on the possibilities, but now we know. On this week's installment of WWE #RAW, it was indeed confirmed that next week, live from New Orleans, we will witness the return of the Phenom himself, the Undertaker. The Deadman — who has been a regular on WWE Programming for the past 26 years — will be returning to #TV on the company's red brand. And while this is definitely fantastic news for both fans and the WWE itself, it also happens to be incredibly puzzling.
We last saw the Undertaker in November when he returned for the 900th episode of #SmackDownLIVE, during which he confirmed that he was back "taking souls and digging holes. However, he also referred to the blue brand as his home — as it had been in the previous decade — and championed Team #SmackDown in the Survivor Series clash between both SmackDown LIVE and RAW.
So the question is — after returning to SmackDown LIVE, telling the team that the red brand's warriors had better rest in peace and confirming that we would see more of him — why has he suddenly decided to show up on RAW? If you really think about it, this might actually be pointing towards some of the Phenom's plans for the remainder of the year, or it might just be WWE's genius way of promoting next week's event. Let's take a look at a list of the possible reasons as to why the Undertaker is returning to RAW.
Return To The Royal Rumble
It's no secret that for the WWE Universe, the month of January is all about one thing — the #RoyalRumble. Winning the 30 man over-the-top-rope contest is a guaranteed ticket to the main event of #WrestleMania. And it just so happens that the road to WrestleMania has suddenly become very crowded as #Goldberg, #BrockLesnar, Chris Jericho and Braun Strowman have all announced their participation in the match. Could the Undertaker be travelling to Monday Night RAW to throw his name in the mix?
The Deadman is no stranger to the Royal Rumble, having appeared at the event 17 times in his legendary career and participating in the Rumble match itself 10 times. He won the contest a decade ago and went on to defeat Batista for the World Championship at WrestleMania 23.
With rumors that the Undertaker might get another title reign, perhaps he intends to win the Royal Rumble and main event WrestleMania 33. Thus, perhaps he will be making his way to RAW to join the other participants and make his presence felt. However, this is something he could easily do on SmackDown.
The Scene Of The Crime
Next week's RAW broadcasts live from New Orleans — the city in which the Undertaker's iconic WrestleMania undefeated streak came to an end back in 2014. Commentator Michael Cole made a point of mentioning the significance of the Deadman's return to the scene of the crime when announcing his appearance next week.
However, while this is a compelling enough reason to tune in, the most likely reason for his return to next week's RAW is due to the fact that New Orleans also happens to be the recently announced location of next year's WrestleMania. So Undertaker's return — and Shawn Michaels' one-off appearance — could very well be WWE's way of promoting 2018's WrestleMania 34. But while that would indeed satisfy the local crowd, they could have easily done this off-air. Thus, due to the fact that they announced the Undertaker's return on-air, he will likely promote both WrestleMania 33 and WrestleMania 34. The question is — how will he do this?
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The Biggest Dog In The Yard
For months, we have suspected that this year would finally see the WWE's idea of a dream match take place with Undertaker supposedly taking on John Cena at WrestleMania 33. However, recent reports suggest that Vince McMahon suddenly isn't sold on the idea as it does nothing for the future of the company. And thus, there are rumors that we might see the Deadman coming face to face with the man who has filled Cena's polarizing role on RAW — Roman Reigns.
Roman Reigns has been referred to as the "Big Dog" — a title the Undertaker has used over the years while commenting on how he runs his yard. Furthermore, as Reigns is currently on RAW, the Undertaker's return to the red brand would make total sense if they are indeed setting up a rivalry with Reigns. And I'm sure these two could pull out a physically impressive brawl, with the Phenom emerging as the victor and the big dog in the yard.
But while it might actually be a great match, it doesn't necessarily make sense. Despite being RAW's number 2 babyface, he is constantly booed by fans who quickly became unhappy with his predictably quick push to the top. Putting him in the ring against of the WWE's most beloved legends will only make more fans turn on him.
Ever since the brand split last July, RAW has found itself receiving constant criticism. While many people expected the red brand to thrive, it is actually SmackDown LIVE that has delivered the more consistently impressive programming. But it never seemed to bother WWE as they continued to produce the same kind of storylines on RAW. However, last week marked the first time since the brand split that Tuesday night's SmackDown LIVE actually got higher ratings than RAW.
Relive the Undertaker's return to WWE SmackDown LIVE in November:
And thus, perhaps WWE has finally saw the issue at hand and are bringing in legends to try and boost the ratings. They have always relied on big names to carry them through low ratings and it seems like they are pulling out all the stops to make sure fans continue to tune into RAW as this week's episode saw the return of Goldberg while next week's will see both the Deadman and the Heartbreak Kid under the one roof.
Perhaps it is just a one-off appearance for the Undertaker before he returns home to the blue brand, or maybe the higher powers don't like the fact that SmackDown is now starting to beat RAW in every way possible. Whether this is the case or not, we can expect strong ratings from RAW next week, because when the Deadman speaks, we listen.
So despite the confusion, the fact that the Undertaker is returning to RAW is certainly something to be celebrated. Whether he is just appearing on the red brand to promote next year's WrestleMania or has set his sights on Roman Reigns, it will definitely be a moment to remember when the Phenom returns. We have suspected in previous years that he would return in January to build towards WrestleMania, but he usually emerges in February or March.
So despite his earliness, you can guarantee that the Undertaker will be sticking around to prepare for his marquee match on the "Grandest Stage of Them All". But the question is — will he be representing RAW or SmackDown LIVE?
Why do you think the Undertaker is returning to RAW? Let us know in the comments!