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FINALLY! THE ROCK RETURNS, PUNK VS. RYBACK & MORE: WRESTLEMANIA SEASON KICKS OFF ON MONDAY NIGHT RAW

By Mike Johnson on 2013-01-07 09:06:44
WWE returns to the USA Network tonight with the first three hour live Raw broadcast of 2013 from Tampa, Florida.

While the Royal Rumble traditionally kicks off WWE's build to Wrestlemania, the reality is that tonight's show, featuring the return of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson for a storyline building to his first WWE title match in over a decade, is the true kickoff.

While doing publicity for his upcoming TNT reality series "Hero", Johnson commented on the return, noting, "The storyline will be that starting this coming Monday, I'm gonna go back, and it's going to be a big return. That will lead to, hopefully, what will be the biggest WrestleMania of all time at Giants Stadium. I will headline that show, with someone who I can't say right now. We've got an amazing four months lined up and planned out that will culminate in the biggest WrestleMania of all time. It's going to be a hell of a thing."

While Rock will surely get the most attention from casual fans, also scheduled for Raw is CM Punk's return to the ring to defend the WWE championship against Ryback in a TLC match that was originally scheduled for the 12/16/12 TLC PPV before Punk required knee surgery.

Also set for Raw:

*Dolph Ziggler and AJ Lee want revenge on John Cena for embarrassing them at the end of last week's Raw.

*The build to the 2013 Royal Rumble bout continues with Randy Orton and Sheamus already seen having tension due to their mutual goal of winning the bout. That storyline is expected to figure heavily into the Wrestlemania build.