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Preview for the September 16, 2013 episode of WWE Raw: The Rhodes to Battleground

Catch up on recent events, find out what's being hyped for tonight and read some thoughts on positive innovations in how WWE is building stories, and good advice for a color commentator. Then join in a discussion about it all...right here in this week's 'Raw' preview!

Previously on Raw

and a little show called Night of Champions. You've heard of it? I couldn't hear you. Was that a...


Let's call it a modified Dusty finish, for now - it wasn't due to interference, but multiple referees due to a bump followed by the temporarily incapacitated one counting the pinfall too quickly isn't going to go unaddressed. But after managing to stand tall at the end of both of last week's Raw and Smackdown, The Beard also got a substantial amount of time to celebrate with the WWE championship and 15,000 of his closest friends in the Motor City last night.

The man who was somewhat responsible for Daniel Bryan's moment in the sun last Monday after beating Dean Ambrose and fending off his Shield-mates, The Big Show, was not at the pay-per-view (PPV) last night. The Giant, still under the thumb of the McMahon's due to his personal issues, stalled in following Randy Orton's directive to level Bryan with a him time to launch a retaliatory attack on the VIper.

If the champions who show up tonight look a lot like the ones from before the event named after their night, that's because they are. Every one except for Orton retained, even if World Heavyweight Champion (WHC) Alberto Del Rio did so via disqualification loss when he refused to release the cross arm-breaker after a count of five. RVD did gain some measure of revenge when he broke out the Van Terminator on the Essence of Excellence's face.

Speaking of The Whole F'n Show, and DQs, the man who lost to Van Dam because of one last week was a surprise hero to Paul Heyman last night. After Intercontinental champion Curtis Axel, who had defended his strap in an impromptu match to start the paid festivities, had been dealt with by CM Punk, Ryback was the man who put an end to the Straight-Edged Superstar's kendo sticking of his former father-figure and earned the Advocate a pinfall victory.

Miz and Fandango is a thing we have to deal with, apparently. Santino Marella returned, which is good news for people who like to laugh. He defeated Antonio Cesaro, which is bad news for people who want to see great wrestlers receive pushes.

Dolph Ziggler lost to Bray Wyatt on Raw and Ambrose last night, officially settling in to his role he has long unofficially held - making other guys look good. The Primetime Players went from not appearing on last Monday's program to being the latest tag team set-up for one PPV so Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins could knock them down.

And Dustin "Goldust" Rhodes made a spectacular if ultimately unsuccessful return to WWE television on September 9th. A heck of an effort to not only defeat Orton but earn his younger brother's job back came up just short, and Stephanie McMahon brutally showed him the door back out of the company.


The mistake on the Lake welcomes WWE's flagship show. And Dusty Rhodes!

The simmering Rhodes vs. McMahon feud gets the heat turned up on it, if you will, when the American Dream shows up to "talk business" with Mrs. McMahon-Levesque on tonight's show. Will the Son of a Plumber be able to fix things for the Sons of the Son of a Plumber?

How will the former WWE champ and his boss, Chief Operating Officer HHH, react to the events of last night? Hunter had said he would shake Bryan's hand if he could pull out the victory - but no one thinks that shake won't be followed by a punch.

Is Ryback a Heyman Guy? And what does that mean for the current or former ones that battled it out before he showed up in the ring to earn Paul E the victory at Night of Champions.

Does Van Dam standing tall mean that that WHC program is still ongoing? Does anyone care about that or any other WHC program? Will the Divas be mentioned again now that Total Divas is on a mid-season break? Can anyone stop The Shield? As long as they keep having great matches with broomsticks Titus O'Neil, do we want anyone to?

Expect to pop for:

Cross-show continuity. Not to get "inside baseball" on y'all, but when I took this preview gig, the "Previously on..." section was pretty straight-forward. Sure, it got jenky before and after PPVs, but I knew that I wouldn't have to type John Cena's name for the Friday show, the Rhodes Scholars drama wouldn't get too much play on Mondays, etc, etc.

With the advent of the Best for Business saga, that's all changed. And while it may present a bit of a blogger's dilemma for yours truly, it makes for a much more interesting product.

They maybe never officially drove a stake through it's heart, but it's safe to say that the brand split, for television puropses, is dead. While there is some risk in over-working the guys in the main event, it is better for business (DRINK - but if you're playing that game with internet columns, you might have a problem) to give your fans a reason to tune in to all of your shows if they want to keep up with a hot program like Daniel Bryan versus the Corporation.

That they've managed to create that kind of through line while also telling a complete story on each show - such as they did with the Edge appearances last week - is pretty amazing. The level of craft on display from Creative this year has been unexpected yet welcome. Pretty impressive from a company that doesn't really have any competition in their genre, and evidence that they clearly see themselves as a player in the larger field of entertainment.

The heat is on:

Jerry Lawler. I believe Ms. Lee pulled a Taylor Swift on you last week. Whether or not you believe it was a game changer for AJ, or women's wrestling...I think we can all agree that it was good advice for the King.

Fall-out and build for the I-can't-believe-it's-less-than-three-weeks-away Battleground show all in one! Can tonight's Raw wrap things up and kick start them at the same time?

Cageside Seats will have the blow-by-blow for you - rap about last night in Geno's reactions post, speculate on tonight below and them come back and join Rex in the live blog tonight!

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