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WWE Raw preview (June 16, 2014): Perfect strangers

Two spots remain for the ladder match that will decide the next WWE World Heavyweight Champ. Who will claim them? Can Dean Ambrose get his hands on Seth Rollins? That, plus the only way they can pair Ric Flair with Miz that has a chance of working.

What you need to know

The Shield, or what's left of it, aren't going to wait for The Authority to come to them - but they have no problem playing their game.  After once again making it clear that Dean Ambrose was gunning for Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns wants Randy Orton, the now two-man unit lobbied for a match that would allow them to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match that  will determine the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion.  But Triple H said only one would get that opportunity on Smackdown, and a flip of a coin decided it would be Ambrose.

Reigns consolation prize was a match with Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett, but that didn't get too far before 3MB attacked, seeking revenge for being punked out on Raw.  The band went out they way they came in, putting over bigger stars.  Shine on wherever you land, you crazy diamonds.

Continuing the theme where the victims of "Black Thursday" went out on their backs, Alicia Fox built her dangerous loose canoon character up with a win over her partner in Foxsana.

Bo Dallas kept his main show undefeated streak alive and continued an amazing week with a win over R-Truth.  Fellow NXT alum Adam Rose got a win over Fandango, as the beneficiary of the ongoing (and kind of embarrassing) Summer Rae vs. Layla program.

While their patriarch learned that he would face Ambrose in the main event, The Wyatt Family got a win back against the tag team champions when Erick Rowan defeated Jey Uso.  It was announced later in the weekend that Rowan and Luke Harper would get at shot at Jey and his brother's gold at Money in the Bank.

Two men already in the ladder match at the next pay-per-view (PPV), Cesaro and United States Champion Sheamus, continued their ongoing brawl.  The Paul Heyman Guy won this latest round by virtue of being, well, a Paul Heyman guy - thanks to another distraction from his advocate.

The Real Americans might have entered into the feud between Rusev and Big E.  Lana interrupted the match between Jack Swagger and E on Friday night, and Zeb Colter took exception to it.  That ended up in a victory for the more recent IC champ, who may end up the odd man out of his own feud.

Main event time, and it looked like Ambrose was going to join Cesaro, Sheamus, Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio in the championship ladder match, but Rollins appeared to distract him.  That let Bray hit a Sister Abigail, and the buzzards will follow him to a title opportunity later this month in Boston.

What to look out for

The flagship show heads to the home town of Miz and Dolph Ziggler, as Raw comes our way from Cleveland, Ohio via USA Network tonight at 8PM Eastern time.

Since last week's announcement that Daniel Bryan will not be able to compete at the next PPV - complete with Stephanie McMahon telling us that meant he was not longer WWE World Heavyweight Champion - all speculation has focused on who will claim his belts.  In order to claim them, you have to be in the Money in the Bank ladder match.  With just two spots left, the pressure is on any title hopefuls to grab one before they're all gone.

Given that Roman Reigns has set his sights on Randy Orton, and that The Viper will be in that match, what will The Big Dog of The Shield do to make sure he can get his hands on Orton?  And Reigns partner has to be more focused than ever on getting his hands on the turncoat Seth Rollins after he cost him as shot at championship gold on Friday.

WWE is actually investing in the mid-card of late, with newcomers like Dallas, Rose and Rusev getting a chance to connect with audiences.  They're also giving some time to more established acts, like Cody Rhodes and his brother Goldust.  Cody has been hand-selecting tag partners for The Bizarre One that he believes are more qualified to help his bro in battle.  And tonight, he's promised a doozy - some Goldy "has never seen before".  Who will take The Dashing One's place when his brother goes to the ring (probably against Rybaxel again)?

And if you've been wanting more Hollywood on your Raw, funny man Kevin Hart will be there to hype his new movie, and he has big shoes to fill following the last guest host, Hugh Jackman.  Hopefully Damien Sandow will get in character to provide a big assist.

What they should do

Rumor has it that a certain 16 time World Champion will be returning tonight, on a show that just so happens to be in the home town of a former WWE Champion.

That's right, haters, the pairing that no one ever wanted, a meeting of Superstars that resulted in...well, a lot of "I can do a better figure four than Miz" jokes...just might be returning to WWE television tonight.

And I say...why the heck not?  I was not at all impressed, and mostly just felt scared, with Ric Flair's last appearance on Raw.  Some inspired attempts at retroactive kayfabe not withstanding, The Nature Boy either was out of it or completely uninspired when he came back to interact with Evolution and The Shield a couple of months back.  He looked much better on NXT cornering his daughter, Charlotte, to her Women's title win down in developmental.  Some of that was the familial connection, but I think it was also because he was focused, and being asked to perform as more of the straight-forward Ric Flair character he has played in (and many would say, out) of the ring for the last four-plus decades.

Nuance isn't Ric's bag these days, and babyface has never been Mike Mizanin's.  The Miz character got over to the extent that he did before his title run because he exceled at playing a douchebag.  Much like Batista, as much as Creative tries to convince us that he's an everyman, we still see the d-bag underneath it all.  So his babyface appeal is limited to those that blindly cheer anyone set opposite another character that WWE tells is is a heel.

The main reason that's usually given for face Miz is his value as public relations person and leading man in WWE Films B-movies.  Again like Dave Bautista, however, there's no reason he can't be a bad guy in the wrestling ring and still do those things.  All but the very young are able to differentiate between performer and wrestling character when it comes time to decide what else to watch or buy.  In fact, we are probably more likely to reward a really good pro wrestling performance with our wallets and attention, regardless of whether what's being portrayed is 'good' or 'evil'.

So, let classic heel Flair guide d-bag, duckface Miz, and let's see if that they can create something that we love to hate in 2014.

What we're afraid they will do

Pretty much anything else with Naitch and The Awesome One.  I mean, really, even the heel thing probably won't work for us smarks, but if they try to cast them as fan favorites opposite someone like Cesaro again, they're gonna get eaten alive.

Only two weeks until a very important PPV with Money in the Bank...can WWE continue to make the best of a champion-less situation?

Tune in and find out, and do it with Cageseat Seats as your second screen experience!

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