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WWE Raw preview (Mar. 24, 2014): Light a candle rather than curse the darkness

What do a former Governor of California, a mystery solving mutt, a former UFC Heavyweight champ and a man who's never lost at WrestleMania have in common? They'll all be in Brooklyn for Raw tonight! All that and more, with a little brainstorm session on how to handle Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena, in this preview.


What you need to know

One of the responsibilities of the Director of Operations is to read messages from the Chief Operating Officer. Kane was excited that his boss had ended the YES Movement on Raw last week, conveniently glossing over that (1) all Triple H did was beatdown Daniel Bryan, in the process further instigating the YES Movement and (2) he got his @$$ handed to him by the now babyface Hounds of Justice. The Devil's Favorite Libertarian did have a plan for that, though...

Dolph Ziggler's Friday night win streak continued, this time at the expense of only the second man to win a Money in the Bank briefcase but not turn it into a title. Damien Sandow's run of bad luck will probably continue through WrestleMania, because he's in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and the focus of the build is decidedly not on him.

That spotlight would be on hot, up and coming act The Big Show. The Giant was the first guest on a segment of Miz TV. The pair reflected on their days as a tag team before things got a little heated (The Awesome One is also among the thirty men in the Mania match). Other competitors such as Titus O'Neil, Kofi Kingston, Mark Henry, The Rhodes Brothers and Sheamus hit the ring, but even a Brogue Kick wasn't enough to force Show over the top rope. All of it would seem much more meaningful if WWE gave us a reason to care about the outcome.

As of now, it seems like a way to use a bunch of guys for whom they can't be bothered to come up with stories. Like when they had Alberto Del Rio beat Intercontinental champion Big E is a nothing match right after the MizTV segment.

In more interesting news, the promised Fatal Fourway to determine the #1 contender to The Usos tag titles was all a charade to get Kane a measure of revenge over The Shield. All the teams involved, and the New Age Outlaws, had a hand in laying out Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. In exchange for their services, Rybaxel and The Real Americans both earned a shot at the belts, while 3MB will join the cast-offs in the Battle Royal.

Michael Cole finally stated out loud what so many of us have been scratching our heads about since Road Dogg first yelled "D-Generation X proudly brings to you" in 2014 - NAO have ties to Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Perhaps that could play a factor in the recently developed Shield vs Authority feud?

AJ Lee and Tamina made up quick. They still seem to have beef with The Bellas, while Natalya might be moving on to a program with fellow Total Diva Summer Rae. Or not. It's the Divas - all of it is subject to change. At least those women are doing things in the ring - poor Emma is stuck in backstage screwball romantic comedy skits with Santino.

After delivering an update on the kayfabe injuries of his possibly real life future brother-in-law, John Cena swallowed his fear long enough to squeak out a victory against Bray Wyatt's reaper, Luke Harper. Then he followed Erick Rowan's advice and ran, staying one step ahead of The Wyatt Family.

For now.

What to look out for

Raw returns to Brooklyn, and they're bringing the guest stars! Not only will former nemesis of The Game Arnold Schwarzenegger be there (along with his Sabotage co-star Joe Manganiello), but so will a certain crime solving canine whose name rhymes with Roobie Roo. As a matter of fact, I think that's how he pronounces his name, too.

That would usually be enough to totally derail one of the last two live shows before The Showcase of the Immortals, but WWE also has Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker appearing in the same building since The Dead Man put a pen through the hand of The Beast Incarnate. With Paul Heyman there to narrate, it should make up for a lot of other nonsense.

There's still more, though! We'll see Daniel Bryan for the first time since Triple H "injured" his shoulder and Stephanie McMahon openly mocked him. The Shield now have three men to target for justice, and putting Ambrose, Rollin and Reigns near a trios match always leads to good things.

Hey, they might even let the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and the winner of the Royal Rumble get some television time. Stranger things have happened.

What they should do

When it comes to John Cena, I'm not someone who despises his every move. His character is rarely for me; his promo delivery is something I only find palateable slightly more often. And I do see the slight change in how he's been booked that many have been pointing out - he appears to have reached a point in his career where making some other guys look good is part of the package.

So I'll give him his props, and acknowledge that the days of guaranteed LOLCENAWINS are fading.

But I still don't see him eating a pin to the scary backwoods man at WrestleMania with Hulk Hogan in his corner.

So how do we reconcile these two disparate outcomes? Can Bray Wyatt be elevated by their match in New Orleans without scaring the children who buy the black and neon gear to wear while watching Scooby Doo DVDs starring their hero?

I honestly don't know. And probably not without pissing off a lot of smarks in the process. But if they could deliver a hot ten minute match before weaving in some story points to be developed later, after the children's bedtimes, so to speak, maybe they could.

Perhaps with Cena halfway through his moves of doom, Rowan appears on stage with a scared looking Nikki Bella (Total Divas tie-in!). The distraction allows Harper to attack, but the Hulkster scares him off with the threat of a 24 inch python attack. Bray has rolled out, but John gets his hands on Luke. He connects with an Attitude Adjustment and threatens more violence if the redbeard doesn't release his beloved. A laughing Eater of Worlds signals for to his follower to release the woman, gathers his First Son and exits looking triumphant. A confused looking Cena is convinced by Hogan to flex for the crowd.

Everyone involved in this program has been driving home how wins and losses don't matter to Wyatt. He can confirm this the next night on Raw, saying that he proved that Cena would resort to attacking a wounded man - that he was therefore a liar capable of despicable acts just like everyone else.

Ideally, it would lead to a follow-up contest at Extreme that Wyatt would win clean. Maybe "The Champ" takes a month off to heal up before coming back for SummerSlam.

I don't love the idea, but I've been a pro wrestling and WWE fan for long enough to know that heels without three 'H's in their name don't win feuds - regardless of how hot they are. If they're willing to try something with some depth and nuance, I think they can serve all of their masters, harcore fans and the kids & parents crowd, while telling a good tale.

Crazy idea, I know.

What we're afraid they will do

Have the Governator turn on Daniel Bryan for another overrun beatdown. Last week was great, but that point's been made, and this week has to be about showing The Beard's grit.

Probably wouldn't hurt to give those other guys...Boreton and Potista, was it?...something to do to keep them in the picture.

Can WWE schill their own product and somebody else's while setting up compelling drama for April 6th?

We'll find out tonight. And you should find out with your fellow Cagesiders in the live blog, then listen to see what three dudes who think too much about wrestling thought about it afterwards on Cageside Live!

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