What you need to know
After an eventful start to the week, you'd think that whoever was in charge of Friday nights was a big fan of gourds, or a that racquet sport where you can play the ball off of all four sides of the court (not racquetball... the other one). In reality, it was because - in addition to Daniel Bryan's neck surgery - half of the roster had already flown off across the Atlantic.
But that didn't mean that we weren't "treated" to a minutes worth of Cesaro beating R-Truth and the man he may be feuding with (if last week's Main Event was any indication), United States champion Sheamus, taking care of Titus O'Neil.
And that's not all! Notorious truth-teller Damien Sandow can't keep a live microphone, nor can he manage to get a win over Santino Marella. At least Emma might be moving on to a new man, if last week's JBL & Cole Show was any indication. Another star of that web gem, Clem Layfield, may want to offer some of his Uncle JBL's rules to his look-a-like, Heath Slater. Because as it stands now, the leader of 3MB can't even defeat a small bull in singles competition.
Natalya continues to have a sad, what with he repeated loses to Nikki Bella and the general lack of friendship being offered to her by her fellow Total Divas castmates. Dolph Ziggler probably still has a backache, because after he ran his
mouth Twitter talking trash about The Animal, the Evolution member handed him a win with a low blow and then Batista Bombed him all around the ring area.
Tag team champs The Usos kicked off the weekend with a lot of work, first winning a non-title match that seemed to further drive a wedge between Cody Rhodes and Goldust, then cornering John Cena for a big win over Wyatt Family member Erick Rowan.
Cena had words for Bray Wyatt at the start of Smackdown, and most of them were HI-larious euhemisms for testicles. The Eater of Worlds responded with a lot of cool sounding $#!+ that seemed to have to do with John having discovered a cure for breathing but Bray will only let him use on himself and then he'll set Cena on fire? Anyway, they're having a Last Man Standing match at Payback.
What to look out for
This show will be LIVE...six hours before it airs on USA Network tonight at 8PM Eastern. So, there will probably be some spoilers out there by the time the show starts tonight, but all Previews are spoiler-free.
The BIG news is that WWE and The Authority will be announcing what will be done with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, with Daniel Bryan on the shelf for a month or two following his neck surgery.
Evolution has been on the ropes in their feud with The Shield since a big Monday after Extreme Rules. The Cerebral Assassin isn't one to let that slide when he has the power to retort. Can we expect some comeuppance for The Hounds of Justice tonight?
In addition to the Cena vs. Wyatt stuff described above, and that, frankly, if I had a dime for every time I thought "that program sure is interesting" since WrestleMania, I would have ZERO DIMES, tonight is being hyped as a night to get NXT alumni over. The reign of Rusev marches on, with hints that Big E will try to fare a little better than he did last week when they neck meet. And The Exotic Express will try once again to convince you that you should not be a lemon, or a party pooper, or whatever uninspired slogan they have Adam Rose trying to get over with these days.
What they should do
I was all set to write my take on whether or not WWE should strip Daniel Bryan of the titles here when The General went and filled up a slow Sunday afternoon with a piece asking for everyone's opinion on the matter. And, lo and behold, I agree with the majority.
But to be completely honest with you, it's late and I don't have any other bright ideas for this section, so here's why I agree with 61% of Cagesiders on this matter:
The villainous heel faction, who has shown that they will stop at nothing to keep Bryan from being the 'face of WWE' by holding the belts, including but not limited to unleashing THE DEMON KANE from his protective plexiglass mask holder, is just going to let a completely legitimate opportunity to take the titles away from pass them by?
And a couple of months on the shelf sucks for our boy D-Bry's momentum, but that is easily reignited by having him resume his chase of the titles and his position at the top once he's healed. But the main belts have been made to feel important again for the first time since CM Punk's epic run with the WWE Championship was treated like an upper mid-card act. Even with a white hot program in Shield vs. Evolution to fill the main event spot for the summer, telling your audience that the straps are of such little import to the overall story that they can be set aside for two months undermines the value they've gained since being unified and quested after by The Beard.
There are so many ways you can go with stories if you vacate the titles, too. If you award them to someone, that person gets instant nuclear heat, even if they already had it (Hi, Batista! What's up, Hunter?). A tournament can be used (hopefully with some lessons having been learned from the Intercontinental title tournament) to build guys up and spin off ancillary tales. Faces can defend Bryan's claim to the belts, heels can call him weak for not being able to hold them. It's fodder for a very Reality Era legend.
Any rationalization they use to keep the belts on DB is just that, and not only limits future stories, but it cheapens the fantastic story that just culminated in New Orleans last month.
What we're afraid they will do
London is usually a hot crowd, and not in the "hey, South Carolina wasn't that bad" way, but more of a "crap, is this the Monday after 'Mania". So I don't think they can screw it up too bad.
But it would be a shame if they didn't let Zeb Colter talk. The man has been quietly on fire in support of his mid-card enhancement talent (who has been doing solid work, but that is his role), and it would be a shame if he didn't get a chance to interact with some actual 'furreners'.
He already doesn't wear pants, will they strip the champ tonight?
Find out (sort of) live with your fellow Cagesiders tonight in the live blog, and stick with us for audio and written reactions!