Previously on Raw
HHH wants you to bow down, y'all. You can tell because one of his several kick ass themes says so. It launched last week's show, as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) was introduced so he could introduce us to the WWE champion - and face of the company - Randy Orton.
The Viper is also the protector of the business, and he wants to protect it from Daniel Bryan ever being WWE champ. They try to get D-Bry to forego his title shot at Night of Champions, but he says "nein". The Beard seemed a little angry about the whole thing, but The Game told him to direct his anger at the man who stood by while he got spray painted on Smackdown - and booked a main event against The Big Show.
Cody Rhodes tried to speak up for DB backstage, but Hunter and the champ weren't having it. All it got the son of the son of a plumber was a match against Orton - with his job on the line. Another person who has spoken out against the regime, Dolph Ziggler, was waiting to face a surprise opponent when he was beaten down by The Shield. But that wasn't even the official contest, that was against...
Ryback! (That should sound more menacing than it does) It goes about as well as a beaten up Show Off versus a giant muscle in a unitard probably could have possibly gone.
Mrs. Aitch is out to talk about the guy who was most helpful to her as a kid growing up backstage. Everybody who says "Randy Savage" should be ashamed of themselves. No, it was Show. And she knows that his recently acquired moral compass is telling him not to fight Bryan, but Steph was just looking out for him when she pointed out that he's a big broke guy who could die at any moment. So he better fight DB, or else.
Cody fought valiantly, but came up short against the champ. Hunter went the understated route with his delivery of his father-in-law's catch phrase. Rhodes nails his farewell interview, hinting at long-standing issues between his family and the McMahons and playing up the sadistic timing of firing him right before his wedding.
A typically bad Divas match ended with an epically pathetic beatdown. The curse of the blue briefcase has been transferred to the leather one held by Damien Sandow, as he was defeated by #1 contender to the World Heavyweight Champion (WHC).
Our climax was Big Show and Daniel Bryan kind of having a match that we were left to believe that Show could have won. He opted to walk away, which resulted in The Shield decimating DB (again) before Stephanie made a sniveling Show finish The Beard with a WMD.
LIVE from Toronto, Ontario - home of 7 time WHC Edge! Wonder what he's up to these days...
The current best sub-plot to spin off from the rise of evil Aitch saga will see Golddust, aka Cody's half-brother Dustin Rhodes, battle the WWE champ to earn his brother the right to apologize to HHH. That's so deliciously evil I can't stand it. More on that farther down the preview.
It's all about the Game right now. Are we in for another 15 minute show opening promo about THIS BUSINESS-AH? He's already done a 60 Minutes-style interview, a "Town Hall" meeting and some Jiminy Cricket karaoke...what will be the next vehicle for his villainy? And who will be fired/laid-out/humiliated as a result?
RVD is on a win streak (even if it's largely against our Intellectual Savior) and the WHC storyline could, as usual, use some momentum as we head to the pay-per-view (PPV). I feel like I type that as we head into every PPV...
Can the Divas make it look like any of them deserves time on an actual pro wrestling show? Why haven't I talked about the co-main event featuring two of my favorite performers of all-time (and the Intercontinental champion)?
And the last time we saw the Rated R Superstar in a wrestling ring, he was stuck between a bickering Team Hell No last fall. Will he be involved in either the #1 contender to the WWE championship's or the M.I.A. victim of the Wyatt Family's story during his return appearances this week?
Expect to pop for:
The Rhodes Family. One thing that the COO's administration has returned to pro wrestling is the notion that fans will rally behind a wronged underdog. Now, as folks who were around for Evolution in the early/mid-aughts might recall, there's a fine line between making protagonists look sympathetic and making them look pathetic, and we're already getting too close to that line with Show and Bryan for some.
Creative may be hitting the sweet spot with Cody Rhodes and this trope right now, though. Time will tell, but it's interesting that that (1) this is the second version of this story in just a few months that they're telling with the formerly moustachioed one and (2) that Cody's Daddy is one of the best ever in the role that he's been cast, daddy.
The break-up of Team Rhodes Scholars can be seen as both a trial run for giving CR a larger spotlight and as a way to build him up a bit before pushing him on the main stage. In his partnership with Sandow, he often seemed in a supporting role due to the nature of Damien's character and his microphone skill. Their brief program let the powers-that-be see how crowds would react to Cody as a wronged babyface and gave him some wins so a match against his former Legacy faction leader could be seen as more of a level playing field.
I still think his farewell should have closed last week's show - it was that good of a match and it would have been a change of pace from the Viper standing tall over the Beard - but I do understand that it was important to get his devastating interview on the show (by the way, don't feel too bad for the groom...he's honeymooning with her).
That promo could have gone on the company's other media outlets, and then been replayed on Main Event and Smackdown to similar effect, though. They certainly haven't hesitated to use Twitter, their website, etc to involve the rest of clan Rhodes. Is Dustin's return tonight a "one shot deal" or could we be headed to another potential Survivor Series match of The Rhodes vs. The McMahons?
The Bizarre One has been bucking for a program against his half-brother for years. His former tag team partner, Booker T, was pushed out of a job by the regime's selection of Vickie Guerrero as Smackdown General Manager. Dad is doing great work as a creative presence and on-screen authority figure in NXT. Maybe he could bring some guys who feel they've been held down in developmental for too long up to fight with him?
Alright, I'll stop fantasy booking now. But what they've done with Cody lately has been great, and they have a lot of options for keeping it rolling. Should be fun, and a great opportunity for a guy I've enjoyed throughout a variety of gimmicks over the last five or so years.
The heat is on:
CM Punk. He and Paul Heyman have been spitting fire at each other for months now. Maybe they aren't the best promos either man has ever delivered, but they convey a ton of emotion and manage to feel like they're building on each other even when they don't say anything new.
The Chicagoan and Curtis Axel are both above average (or better) workers who seem to have decent chemistry in the ring. The main handicap to their program is that the Intercontinental champ doesn't feel like he's in Punk's league - and that's because he hasn't been booked like he is. But this program is really about Punk and Heyman.
So, for what needs to be a big deal on Sunday's card, why does this feud feel so blah? Maybe it's the inevitable let down after the masterpiece between The Best and The Beast at SummerSlam. Maybe it's that Axel's lack of charisma and big wins makes this all seem beneath the longest reigning WWE champion of the modern era.
But it feels like maybe Punk's position as a guy who can make any feud he's in a main event one, and his ability to fill a Chris Jericho kind of role in helping to build up younger mid-carders, are on the line. If Night of Champions isn't the blow-off, but the chase of Heyman is going to continue into the fall, all involved should be mindful of doing whatever it takes to not get completely washed away by the main story.
Will the good guys get in a few shots, or will any of the other stories get any traction, tonight as Raw takes it home for the next big event?
Find out from Cageside Seats - we'll have all your rumors, card updates, predictions, previews and more during this PPV week. Get warmed up in the comments below, and be sure to come back for tonight's live blog!