Welcome to this week's edition of Raw Afterthoughts.  This is our opportunity to reflect on last night's show, add some additional analysis and insight, and elaborate on points we can't necessarily get to in a live recap.  Feel free to comment with your own insight and questions below!

The Champ is New!

After a number of years, we've finally seen something new:  A new WWE Championship belt.  The spinner belt, at least for now, has been retired.

Last night, I recoiled in horror at first.  But now I fall more into "like it" territory.  The spinner has well run its course, so it was time for a change.  This is a good step in the right direction.  I was a fan of the last "undisputed championship belt" that Rock, Brock, and JBL carried before the spinner and wished they'd have brought that back.

My one thought is this: I am not a fan of personalized titles.  This new title has the bull's-head side plates.  Reports are that the side plates can be changed out and I assume they may do so for various champions.  I would rather have seen them go with something more "singular" to represent the company.

As an aside, Rock debuting the new belt should make for great fodder for CM Punk promos.

John Cena Gets "James Storm Syndrome"...

TNA's James Storm has this habit of being gullible enough to put up his title shots (and lose them) when goaded.  Well, it looks like John Cena caught the bug.  He put his opportunity to face The Rock at WrestleMania against CM Punk last night.

But in this case, it works.  Cena's promo about it was centered around wanting to "shut Punk up" and essentially doing the right thing.  He has the confidence to win the match they set up for next Monday night also.

Lawler and Punk played in it perfectly, too.  Lawler questioned whether Cena had lost his marbles.  Punk played it incredulously and mocked Cena for "not winning the big one" and saying he can't win.  Good work there to set the tone.

The one big downside - this could really cheapen up the Royal Rumble winner.  I don't think Cena loses next week, but if he were to, it would really cause problems for future Rumble winners, in my opinion.

Stumbling Out the Gate...

This was a solid show, but it certainly didn't live up to expectations.  I think most fans came into last night's show thinking WWE would give us a loaded show and kick off the major hype for WrestleMania 29.  There's six weeks between now and WrestleMania, so there's no reason to hit the panic button.

There have been years that WWE ran out of gas trying to hype WrestleMania.  Looking at this potential card, it is going to be pretty loaded at the top end (Rock/Cena, Trips/Lesnar, etc.).  With that kind of star power, you certainly don't want the build to fall short going to the biggest event of the year.  So, to wrap Elimination Chamber up on this show was a good plan.

Taking a pulse though, a lot of people were left disappointed by a mostly forgettable program.  It's not that there was a lot of terrible filler or awful work, but just enough stuff that didn't click that wore old after three hours.

On the upside:  WWE did a great job of building to next week's program.  I sense that will be our true kick-off to WrestleMania.

Quick Hits:

  • The Vince/Vickie/Heyman/Maddox segment was greeted with crickets.  Either the live crowd was burned out or it just never clicked.
  • R-Truth is apparently back.  I didn't miss him, though.  Did Little Jimmy come back with him?
  • I would rather have seen Swagger squash someone of no consequence to establish his character, but the match he had with Daniel Bryan was very good and surprisingly competitive.
  • Zeb Colter feels repetitive already.  Is this the way to get him established?  I hope so, that way he doesn't seem one-dimensional.
  • Brad Maddox with a regular character on television is full of win.  I like the charisma he shows.
  • I find myself shocked by how far AJ has fallen off the radar after being such a key show component over the past year.

That's it for this week.  Join us next Monday for the next mile-marker on the road to WrestleMania.