What you need to know
Daniel Bryan has been abducted by The Wyatt Family. His recent tag team partner CM Punk is worried about him, even though Bray says that he is safe with Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and him. Punk has more to worry about than whether The Beard will re-emerge as more of a Gobbley Gooker or corporate-type monster. The Shield has targeted The Best in the World once again, and Chicago's favorite sports entertainer thinks they're doing so under orders from a higher power.
The Hounds of Justice are still in pursuit of the tag team titles currently being held by Goldust and Cody Rhodes. Seth Rollins and sole survivor Roman Reigns were close to a loss in their latest shot at the belts, but interference by United States champ Dean Ambrose resulted in battles the boys in black are fighting collapsing into one. Punk joined the fight, followed by Rey Mysterio and The Usos, to take down The Shield in a great main event on Smackdown.
Big E Langston and new bestie Mark Henry need a name for their team, and some worthy opponents. The Intercontinental champ and The World's Strongest Man have spent a week making short work of former IC titleholder Curtis Axel and Ryback. In other minority tag team news, the recently debuted Xavier Woods and once-and-again partner R-Truth seem to have run afoul of Tons of Funk due to the PhD candidate's co-opting of the Funkadactyls for his aqua-fro entrance.
The Divas division is a mess, with champ AJ Lee in a never-ending beef with the cast of Total Divas that shows no signs of involving the belt. Or mattering. Or being entertaining. Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow are feuding...for the title of most aggrieved former Money in the Bank briefcase holder, I guess? The Miz is a babyface again. Unless he's not.
And World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) John Cena will face WWE champion Randy Orton in a tables, ladders and chairs match at TLC with both belts on the line. With The Viper's previous #1 contender The Big Show sidelined with a concussion and Cena's nemesis Alberto Del Rio seemingly working with Orton, the WWE champ has gotten the early upper hand. It's unclear at this point of that's what HHH's Authority wants, though.
What to look out for
Is the goal for WWE moving forward really one champion? And does that mean only one belt? Triple H is watching his words, and what happens in the main event of the next pay-per-view will probably be an indicator of the company's direction heading to WrestleMania season.
How is Big Show's head? The concussion may be kayfabe, but the bigger questions are how will Creative bring him back into action, and were we really just given three months of crying for one bad title match and a return to the World's Largest Mid-Carder?
While we're on the subject of monsters and hosses, is Miz-ark back to mentor Big E or will he be placed in the hunt for a title before he inevitably gets hurt again. And is Kane going to do anything other than wear a suit and look uncomfortable while standing behind Stephanie McMahon?
What are The Wyatt's doing to DB? What's the future hold for The Shield, both in terms of their current storylines and their status as a unit? We'll probably find out the answers to some of those questions when Raw thunders it's way through Oklahoma City tonight!
What they should do
It's not so much that I'm against having one major champion (although I am nervous that it will lead to WWE leaning on its bad habit of putting all of their creative eggs in one over-used basket). Or even that I'm bored by the principals (but if Cena vs. Orton was the epic rivalry they'd like us to believe it is, they wouldn't even need the belts to sell it, and the fact that a lot of fans aren't sold on it even with the titles stipulation should indicate just how stale both characters are for a lot of fans).
Shouldn't the unification of the titles, or the prospect of one man holding both titles, be worth more than the main event that runs though the holiday dead zone, when you're competing with shopping and family and football? Even if you believe this is the attraction to break through those other options and obligations, wouldn't you build it from more than a last second staredown at the end of your last lackluster PPV?
Maybe it's not too late to create a feud worthy of the first major title unification in over a decade.
Have The Shield and/or ADR take out the WHC in the next couple of weeks. Leave it an open question whether or not he will be able to compete at TLC. An exciting show can be booked using the event's signature stipulations and the company's dynamic roster:
- A tables match for the Intercontinental title between the champ, Ryback, Mark Henry and Curtis Axel could be used to plant the seeds for a Langston - Henry program.
- A ladder match for the tag titles between the champs, Reigns and Rollins, The Usos and The Real Americans.
- Does anyone not want to see Ambrose vs. Harper in a chairs match for the US title that would further tease Wyatts vs. Shield?
When main event time rolls around, doctors refuse to let Cena go. The Authority has him legally and/or physically restrained because it's "best for business" to protect their cash cow. Orton demands a challenger, and defeats a game Dolph Ziggler, or a returned and turned Wade Barrett, or a debuting Sami Zayn...anyone that helps him to start looking strong again.
Take the time to build this into a Mania-worthy program. No one believes that this doesn't end with one Cena to rule us all. Create some tension with HHH and company by having them refuse to let him compete. When he finally gets to a re-charged Orton, it will feel like he already accomplished something and you might actually have some drama. As a bonus, some other folks on the roster will have had more of an opportunity to connect with the fans.
What we're afraid they will do
The main event at Royal Rumble? Cena vs. Orton.
The main event at Elimination Chamber? Cena vs. Orton.
You get the idea...
What, if anything, can they do on Raw tonight to make title unification feel more special for you?
Let us know your thoughts on that or any other WWE-related issue in the comments below. After you've used that space to warm up for tonight's show, head on over to the live blog to watch and discuss along with your favorite Cagesiders!