Previously on Monday Night Raw
General Manager Brad Maddox brought out the SummerSlam main eventers for ye olde contract signing. The champ dogged his bosses and invoked names like Shawn Michaels and Eddie Guerrero to convince us that Daniel Bryan has a shot to take his belt. Maddox decided to give Bryan an opportunity to prove Cena right by booking him in matches (plural) for later in the night.
The World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) Alberto Del Rio defeated Sheamus as Damien Sandow considered cashing in his Money in the Bank contract. The Intellectual Savior also failed to interfere to Fandango's benefit and ended up factoring into the dancer's loss to Cody Rhodes, while Christian continued his winning streak with an eye toward a WHC shot of his own.
Mark Henry was joined by the Usos to send The Shield retreating back into the stands. When Big E Langston tried an attack after his match against Darren Young, Dolph Ziggler dumped him to the floor like he dumped AJ.
CM Punk hit the ring to tell the world that he isn't afraid of Brock Lesnar, and that at the next pay-per-view (PPV) it would be the Best versus the Beast. Paul Heyman accepted the match, but told Punk that he should be afraid because the Best IS the Beast.
D-Bry's main event gauntlet ran through Jack Swagger, featured a match of the year candidate against Antonio Cesaro and ended amidst the remains of table after a DQ win over Ryback. He stood tall after the champ ran off Big Hungry, but Vince McMahon was already conspiring with Maddox to set-up his next test.
(NOTE: This show was taped on Tuesday, July 23rd for broadcast tonight. Previews are spoiler free, but results are available here)
Their feud took a year off to dominate the tag division as Team Hell No, but thanks to the Chairman, Kane and Daniel Bryan go one-on-one tonight! Will the buzzards that the Wyatt Family wants the Big Red Monster to follow be circling?
Following their words at the end of last week's show, Cena will resume their stipulation-heavy program in a tables match against Ryback. Kaitlyn showed up with the Show-Off last Friday night, just the impetus needed to re-ignite hostilities with the Divas champ.
RVD looks to bounce back from a quick loss to the WHC on Smackdown when he collides with a Fandango who could stand to add some wins to his entertaining performances. And speaking of Del Rio, he'll face the white-hot Captain Charisma.
Maddox is really looking to impress Mr. McMahon, and his proposed card for Raw features a lot of matches that have been rumored for the Staples Center show in Los Angeles next month. The Shield versus The Usos & Mark Henry rounds out what should be a packed night of pro graps.
Expect to pop for:
HHH. I mean, that's the narrative, right?
If you weren't convinced by his moving speech about Daniel Bryan's superior ability overcoming all those horrible preconceived notions that people have about pro wrestling champions needing to be big and muscular from last week's show, maybe you picked up on the innuendo from prior weeks? You know, the ones where he said Vince would be mad if John Cena picked a certain someone as his SummerSlam opponent? How about when he smirked his way through Vickie Guerrero's performance review, as if he was above the silly drama and as exasperated as a Cagesider in the live blog?
No? You're one of them "smart" fans, eh? Did you know that Hunter is backstage, everyday, fighting for your favorites from the independent scene? Well, he totally is, when he's not busy personally rebuilding the women's and tag team divisions.
I'll give all involved some credit for real innovation in figuring out how to adapt their storytelling to the 21st century, nearly impossible to keep secrets, everyone's a critic with a megaphone media and fan environment. But that only serves to remind me that, kayfabe or meta, there's an element of "story" to all of it.
And I'm not forgiving the Chief Operating Officer for shoehorning himself into CM Punk's storyline in 2011.
The heat is on:
Vince McMahon. Sure, he says he wants to "bring out the ferocious side" of Daniel Bryan. But I think he's really hoping that the Devil's Favorite Demon beats him up real bad. And he has the gall to believe that he, a veteran promoter who consolidated an entire industry and leads a billion dollar company, had anything to teach an independent wrestler!
Alright, I won't beat that expired equine any longer. Perhaps of more legitimate concern for "the boss" and WWE is whether or not the reported "extremely poor" promo he cut for tonight's broadcast is a sign of things to come. I thought he did great work in support of Guerrero a few weeks back, but his appearances since have been far from his best.
All signs point to a very McMahon-centric program being a centerpiece of WrestleMania 30. Vince will be 68 years old later this summer. He's in great shape, and rich - two of the best ways to stave off the effects of old age. But whether or not he takes a single bump, they need his A game to make their umpteenth power struggle story sizzle.
The card is packed, but many of us already know the match outcomes. What, if anything, will you be tuning in for?
Let us know the answer to that, play "work or shoot" on all of the McMahon - Levesque tidbits flooding the internet or just warm up for the live blog in the comments below.