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WWE Raw preview (July 21, 2014): Walking between the Reign-drops

What you need to know

John Cena is still WWE World Heavyweight Champion.  If this outrages you, I'm sorry.  If this surprises you, you haven't been watching Vince McMahon's brand of pro wrestling for several years.  The champ outlasted Roman Reigns, Randy Orton and the man, or DEMON, he eventually pinned in last night's Fatal 4Way, Kane, to retain his belts.  And yes, the big gold belt is back...but maybe just as a placeholder for something new.

Reigns continued to be booked in a way that both protects him from having to do too much and makes him look like a complete bad ass with whatever he does do.  The Viper and the Big Red Monster seem to be headed toward a heel vs. heel fued based on their not being able to stay on the same page in The Authority's playbook.  I'm sure someone, somewhere out there is excited by that prospect.

Triple H's regime got a win of sorts last night when Seth Rollins "defeated" Dean Ambrose via forfeit when the COO threw Ambrose out of the building.  That didn't stop the Lunatic Fringe from sneaking back in to assault his old partner several times, including once from the trunk of a rental car with a tire iron.  Hunter seemed to think that he was "ruining his pay-per-view (PPV)", but didn't do anything definitive to keep him out, and didn't seem to have a problem with sending his "Plan B" for the titles away with his Money in the Bank briefcase before the main event even started.

The tag belts are still with The Uso twins, who delivered a strong contender for match of the night at Battleground, and shocked a lot of gamblers, when they defeated the Wyatt Family two-to-one in their best of three falls contest.  Not sure where either team goes from here, but they have made the most of their time together.  Luke Harper and Erick Rowan weren't done, either.  They tried to help their Family patriarch in his match against Chris Jericho, but were ejected from ringside.  Which saved them from seeing a rough match, and another loss for Bray Wyatt on a major show.

On the subject of rough matches, AJ Lee is still Divas champ, and she's still friends with the woman she defeated to keep the belt.  Paige even shouted words of encouragement to AJ mid-match, so...  If you guessed that Cameron and Naomi would put on a better match on the pre-show than the title bout, well, you were right, and I was wrong.  Cam probably thought the Funkadactyls could steal the show, just like she stole that match with a fist full of tights.

Lana doesn't think Americans should blame Russia for any recent aerial tragedies, so she probably doesn't think we should give Rusev any grief for locking an Accolade on Jack Swagger after he lost by count out.  That he was unconscious for all of that probably wouldn't sway the Ravishing Russian, either.  At least her Bulgarian charge had the common decency to sell the Patriot Lock after the match.

Stardust and Goldust are looking for a macguffin from Masters of the Universe, which is just as well, since they don't seem to be doing anything else.  Perhaps Fandango can help them in their quest, since he is similarly unencumbered now that he's lost both his ladies and his match against Adam Rose last night.

Wrestling fans everywhere rejoiced when Dolph Ziggler tossed Sheamus from the ring, winning the Intercontinental championship battle royal.  Except that he didn't, because that darn Miz was playing possum by the announce table and snuck in to win his third IC title.  That match also saw Kofi Kingston and Big E continue their partnership opposite Cesaro, and all three men do amazing things in and around a wrestling ring.

Bo Dallas, unfortunately, is now BO and two in battle royals.  But he still BOlieves.  And so should you.

What to look out for

Miami will see the return of a WrestleMania legend tonight when Raw hits the American Airlines Arena.  That's right, kids, Flo Rida will be there!  And if you say his name really fast, it sounds like the state in which you'll find Miami.

But it's not where you'll find Cena, who is supposed to be off doing what he made fun of The Rock for for two years - filming a movie.  Paul Heyman says that he is off recruiting Plan C for The Authority, and many expect that man to show up tonight.  His name is "conquered The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania", I believe.  He's kind of a big deal, and probably the man who will challenge the champ at SummerSlam.  That build starts tonight.

How will Ambrose respond to being cheated out of an official match against his hated rival?  Will Trips or Rollins address why 'Plan B' was aborted so early in the evening?

What's next for Bray Wyatt and his followers?  Can the Eater of World's off-the-charts charisma sell fans on more matches with Y2J, and will Harper & Rowan still pursue tag team gold or settle back into their support role?

We didn't get a whole lot of answers last night in Tampa...let's see what we get tonight with only four weeks until the next Big Four PPV.

What they should do

Another guy for whom many are asking "what next?" is Roman Reigns.  Many industry veterans are talking about him as the next big thing, and when you see how crowds react to him, it's not hard to understand why.  But critics who say that he's too green and can't be counted on to carry a lengthy match have a point, too.

Now, although he hasn't been pinned or submitted, he has failed in a couple of WWE title matches.  Cena is clearly moving on to territory Roman isn't and shouldn't be treading - the land of the brocklesnar - somewhere where he would have to take a decision loss or two right now.

Triple H seems busy with his Dean Ambrose problem right now, but it wouldn't take a creative genius to weave Reigns into the simmering issues between Kane and Orton.  They could temporarily convince themselves that the new kid was what kept either of them from claiming the belts at the last two PPVs.  He could proclaim that he sees he needs to clear the deck of Hunter's lackeys before focusing on Cena and the title.

Putting the Big Dog into that mix saves us from a Viper vs. Demon solo feud, and keeps Reigns in the multi-man matches where he can do the things that crowds love while he continues to work on his overall workrate off of TV.

Since they seem invested in his character also being able to outsmart his opponents, that program would also provide him with ample opportunity to play the bickering heels against each other.

It makes so much sense for him as an athlete and performer, I'm almost worried they won't do it just to swerve us.  But there's too much invested in the rise of Reigns.

What we're afraid they will do

The upside of last night's disappointing show is that this can't help but be better.  Just give us a similarly structured show that ends with some Brock Lesnar destruction and this is a win.

They can't screw that up...can they?

Find out tonight - all set to the soothing tones of Mr. Rida's pop jams!

Check out tonight's live blog and the post-show video cast with yours truly and Matt Roth for all your WWE debate and discussion needs!

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