What you need to know
Shield vs. Evolution is the hot feud right now, and with good reason. All six men are doing good work, the faces are popular, the heels are hated and no one is hurt. Well, we got to see Roman Reigns brain as the result of his bumping heads with Randy Orton in Europe this week, but you think a
little nick inch-wide gash is going to stop the big dog?
The Hounds of Justice took the fight to Triple H's crew every chance they got on Monday night, including the main event. That was supposed to be a one-on-one affair between Reigns and Batista, but a melee predictably ensued. That ended as Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman took out the job squad and Evolution on route to their rematch coming up at Payback.
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan has missed a bunch of time since his one shining moment in New Orleans last month. And he's going to miss some more due to a surgical procedure on his neck. The Authority is taking this as more evidence that he can't handle being the top man in the company, and will address the title situation on Monday when there's more information from the doctor. In kayfabe land, Stephanie McMahon may or may not have instructed THE DEMON KANE to assault Bryan on Raw. Brie Bella-Bryan certainly thinks she did. You could tell by the way she almost emoted.
New United States Champion Sheamus has taken a page out of Eric Young's playbook and wrestled three times this week already. First, he took out Rybaxel in sequence on Monday night, and followed that up with a brutal no contest double countout with Cesaro on Main Event. With The Celtic Warrior rumored to remain a babyface due to Bryan's injury, we may see more of he and The Swiss Superman.
A series of three-man tags between his family and John Cena & The Usos has made it clear to Bray Wyatt what he must do. What do you get the man who will never quit? You get him booked into a Last Man Standing match with you, of course.
Fandango loves Layla, and doesn't care whether he wins or losses as long as he has her. Damien Sandow and Alicia Fox (really, I could have linked to a million stories on Foxy here - Cageside is kind of in love with her right now. Just remember - we loved her first, Preview-ites!) do nothing but lose, and it makes them very angry, but still they lose.
One guy that beat Sandow this week, Cody Rhodes is acting heel-ish, and his brother doesn't like it. The WWE expects us to like Adam Rose even though he acts kind of heel-ish, but most of the audience is just kind of befuddled by the whole experience. It's resulting in loses for Jack Swagger, though, so Zeb Colter (and possibly Vince McMahon) will be trying to get the leader of The Exotic Express deported.
And bad news for Intercontinental title buffs - no one has seen that belt since the last episode of the best little show on the interweb.
What to look out for
We keep it spoiler-free in the Preview Zone, but this show was taped three nights ago in Greensboro, North Carolina. So if you want to know what happened before 8PM Eastern tonight, click here.
Bray Wyatt has been doing most of the talking over the last couple of weeks. Tonight, his target, John Cena, will address Wyatt and the WWE Universe. While news broke about their next special event/pay-per-view match already, expect the Leader of the Cenation to make it official on Smackdown.
With Orton, Kane, The Shield and others already departed for the United Kingdom, WWE was working at about half the roster for this taping. The issues surrounding Cena and Wyatt, including their dance partners the tag champs and Erick Rowan & Luke Harper will probably dominate the show. But it will also be a chance for some of the mid-carders to grab a larger piece of the spotlight. And maybe more than just our usual Friday night Torito and Hornswoggle action (not that there's anything wrong with that).
What they should do
Right on, Dr. Woods!
WWE has obviously become aware of the fact that they were building Rusev on a pile of wins over brown-skinned wrestlers. Big E followed up his Tweet on the subject with an ill-fated run against The Bulgarian Brute on Raw. So when Xavier sent this little blast out over social media on Monday night, it was officially kayfabe.
So, why not have Woods, R-Truth and Big E band together to fight Lana and her man? They don't need to call them The Nation - in fact, it would be kind of refreshing if they didn't - but in WWE and pro wrestling, groups of African-American men banding together for their rights has historically been the purview of heels It would be a baby step to have a faction of faces fighting against an implied bigot. And, in this case, they would be the patriotic Americans rather than the extremist or separatists.
It's not like any of those guys are doing anything else right now, either. And at least having them band together would protect them from getting some other offensive gimmick that wrestling will often throw at a minority worker. Such as...
What we're afraid they will do
Alicia's new push is a good thing. She has worked to improve, fought for a chance and is making the most of it.
But what was wrong with it just being her kicking people's asses because she's frustrated that she hasn't done anything since she lost the Divas title? She still could have torn $#!+ up post-match, but maybe without stealing things?
I'll cop to being hyper-sensitive, but I still think it's worth pointing out. Female heels do not need to be "crazy" to get over as villainous or dangerous. I don't think WWE is interested in having a serious discussion about bi-polar and educating their audience about mental health issues, so how about we drop the word "manic" from this angle right now?
Not sure what WWE has done to earn the benefit of the doubt, but I'll give it to them - if for no other reason than that I'm pumped for a good women's feud. But Paige vs. Alicia has all the makings of that without giving Jerry Lawler and JBL fodder for the same "psycho chicks" they loved to make about AJ Lee.
So let's just steer way clear of that, okay?
Are you going to rise up and watch tonight, or do you think those that do are crazy?
If you're watching and you're proud of it, do it with your fellow Cagesiders in the live blog!