Previously on Monday Night Raw
Before we could get to the Daniel Bryan show, Stephanie McMahon made her return to Raw. She was there to tell us that her husband is not allowed to wrestle after the concussion he received facing Brock Lesnar at Extreme Rules and collapse the next night while going against Curtis Axel. Her father came out to get her back when the crowd wasn't thrilled by the news.
What initially seemed like The Shield coming out to address some injustices with Vince disappointingly turned into a match with Team Hell No and Randy Orton. The disappointment was short lived, as it was another great six-man match for the trio and the beginning of an amazing night of D-Bry.
Orton ate a pin in that one, and even apologized to his teammates. Daniel couldn't be consoled, and set out to look for another match.
Triple H showed up to tell his wife he was not done wrestling, and he'd beat up her dad if they tried to stop him.
Vince held the line when Paul Heyman tried to get a rematch made between Hunter and his newest guy, Axel. Mr. McMahon was willing to give Curtis another shot at WWE champion John Cena, though.
Daniel Bryan found someone that he would just love to beat the disrespect out of when he ran into a mocking Ryback backstage.
AJ continued to be disappointed in her associate Big E Langston as he was beaten by Alberto Del Rio again. She also proved that, as far as the Divas division is concerned, she's only in it for herself, by walking out on the Bellas in their tag match against the champ, Kaitlyn, and the Funkadactyls.
The number one contender to Cena's belt was given almost all he could handle by Bryan, but in the end, the hungry one sent the goatface killah through a table. The WWE champ made the save before he could get planted again, but would soon get put through a table himself - as Ryback's interference in a no disqualification match earned Curtis Axel a countout victory. Another win in which he wasn't really a factor in the decision, at all.
The Game has vowed to get back into the game. "Paul" swears that, regardless of what his wife and father-in-law say, he will face Curtis Axel tonight on Raw. What will the McMahon's have to say about that? What will Paul Heyman have up his sleeve to protect his client's unbeaten streak - since three weeks have shown us that his client needs help to win matches.
THE CHAMP IS HERE! World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) Dolph Ziggler, that is. Ziggler informed the WWE Universe on last week's Smackdown that he has been medically cleared and will be on tonight's show to address the #1 contender to his title, Alberto Del Rio.
Also promised on last Friday night's show - Kaitlyn's secret admirer will be revealed! Yay?
Chris Jericho and Heyman sat down and signed a contract for a match between Y2J and the originator of the "Heyman guy" moniker for the upcoming pay-per-view (PPV). But did CM Punk approve of the deal? Will he have any kind of statement or possibly even appear on the go-home show for a PPV on which he is now seemingly committed to wrestle?
Ryback has had the upper-hand in nearly all of the interactions between himself and his prey since their no decision at Extreme Rules. John Cena didn't get to where he is today by not knowing how to respond. What could the WWE champ have in store for his challenger, and who might get the
kiss of death all-important final say before Payback?
Plus, Daniel Bryan will threaten to drive you insane with greatness!
Expect to pop for:
Dolph Ziggler. I mean, how does the crowd in Richmond, VA not cheer for a hard, talented worker returning from injury. In this day and age where everyone except for Hunter Hearst Helmsley is worried about concussion safety, you've got to respect WWE sticking to their convictions (and recent partnership with Christopher Nowinski's concussion research/lobbying organization) by rewriting their plans on the fly and benching a main eventer. Of course, they never have a problem re-writing things at the last minute, but that's a whole 'nother subject.
Dolph has often straddled the line of heel/face reaction lately, as smarks, men and women who appreciate a finely sculpted physique and fans of cartoonish bumps love the guy. Richmond is a business and college town in a swing state reachable from Washington, DC as well as more rural areas of the mid-Atlantic states. While it won't be like the New York/New Jersey audience that went crazy for his title win, crowd reaction could potentially run the gambit.
You've got to love a guy who's athletic with a great look, a nice little stable, a commitment to the business and entertaining the fans - a wrestler who put up with a lot of crap treatment and bad gimmicks in his career to finally get a chance to run with a big belt. A chance that was given a scare that now looks like it was only a momentary delay. You've got to be excited for that guy's return...right?
The heat is on:
Dolph Ziggler. What if you had to exit the stage for a month and nobody noticed? I mean, obviously, it was noticed. But wouldn't it have been better for Dolph's career if we had spent the last five weeks going, "damn, these shows need Dolph back" and not "damn, these shows need Punk back. I hope Ziggy's oka...ZOMG DANIEL BRYAN!"
Is he ready to wrestle? The show-off's gifts are seen in the ring. He's never connected with the general audience via the microphone. If he's coming back to jaw with Del Rio, well, I don't think even his biggest supporters are clamoring for that.
Has he been eclipsed in his own universe? The AJ-Langston break-up seems to be happening quicker than any of us imagined it would. Whether that's as a result of his absence or it was the plan all along, right now he doesn't have a plot thread in the story that's been going on between his partners (while feuding with the #1 contender to his title).
And is having a group even something that's associated with him now? Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are the preeminent faction in WWE. There's a little group making their way up from the South now that has people excited. Not too long ago, we were hoping for Big E and Ms. Lee to hold gold along with the WHC. How much do we care now if they stand together at all?
Last week's show rode the Daniel Bryan express to favorable reviews. Can this week's Raw break the curse of the sucky go-home show?
Join the live blog tonight for play-by-play and snark-free fun. Check back tomorrow for Reactions from the whole gang. Get out your free show jitters right here!