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WWE Raw preview (August 4, 2014): Absent attractions and a money-making mid-card

What you need to know

The blaring siren that kicked off Cesaro's entrance theme has been replaced with a whinier, more annoying sounding one. Who says WWE doesn't know what to do with this guy?  Probably the people who watched him deliver yet another solidly entertaining match on Smackdown, and then tap to Jack Swagger.

Swags has to look strong, you see, for he will soon defend America - by keeping that darn Russian, er, Bulgarian who loves Russians' hands off Old Glory.  That's right, The Real Americans will be playing capture the flag with Lana and Rusev on pay-per-view (PPV).  Somebody call Lee Greenwood.  I've never been prouder to be an American.

Tired of being passed over for his one-on-one World title rematch, Randy Orton took it out on the man he blames for Brock Lesnar getting a shot at John Cena's WWE World Heavyweight Championship instead of him.  If the beating from last week wasn't enough for Roman Reigns, The Viper has offered to give him another one at SummerSlam.

Bo Dallas is now BO and two in this last couple of matches, both against R-Truth.  It's getting so as you don't know what you can BOlieve in anymore.  Certainly not Paige, who's "friendship" with AJ sent the Divas champ off the side of the stage and into the hospital.

Doesn't matter what the odds are, Dean Ambrose is crazy enough to face them - especially if it means getting his hands on Seth Rollins.  Triple H gave the Lunatic Fringe a two-on-one handicap match against the traitor and THE DEMON, which they won...because Dean couldn't help himself from kicking their asses.  Rollins managed to scamper away, but only because his Uncle Kane took all of the chair shots.

Dancing is a serious art, and Fandango doesn't like it when Layla and Summer Rae mock it by performing it with livestock.  He gets so distracted he loses wrestling matches to whichever Colón it is that's still employed by WWE and not currently injured.  Dolph Ziggler can put up with a lot of distractions by Intercontinental champ The Miz, but when his extemporaneous acceptance speech gets around to taunting him for losing the battle royal at Battleground - that's too much.  And that's all the opening Alberto Del Rio needs to make him tap out to a cross armbreaker.

The win that Chris Jericho eventually puts Bray Wyatt over with is going to be glorious, seeing as how he's already proven that he can beat any member of the family one-on-one.  Last week it was Erick Rowan's turn, and the big red head will not be able to corner his patriarch in Los Angeles for Bray's rematch with Y2J as a result.

What to look out for

WWE rolls into the capital of the great nation state of Texas - who will Damien Sandow appear as in Austin?  Only one way to find out...8PM Eastern, USA Network.

Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton is happening at SummerSlam.  They just need to make it official tonight.  But Reigns status as a top babyface may depend on how he responds tonight.  Can't be bringing that weak sauce, big dog.  Similarly, AJ's status as the top female on the main roster may be in danger of being usurped by the suddenly motivated Paige.  Amazing what an actual character and direction can do for a talented young performer...

The IC belt still might not mean much, but the feud between Dolph Ziggler and The Miz has become one of the more entertaining things on WWE programming.  Can they be the guys to finally transform the white strap into a meaningful secondary title?  Having another former World champ floating around in Del Rio won't hurt, either.

They're definitely doing better than Sheamus and the AWOL United States championship, that's for sure.

Brie Bella has her job back.  Now she's fighting for her family, and to prove she can hold her own against a force of nature like Stephanie McMahon.  The principal owner also has to prove she can tell a decent in-ring story with ten years of ring rust on her and without a ring general like Trish Stratus across the canvas from her.

Another legend battling time and fan perception is Chris Jericho.  He's being booked stronger than other recent returns, but he hasn't been getting rave reviews for his performances.  He'll probably get another match with Luke Harper to set the stage for his SummerSlam showdown with Bray.  Whether that's tonight or later this week, here's hoping the Ayatalloh can bring the rock 'n' rolla to silence his doubters.

What they should do

The last time John Cena wasn't on the show, we got an almost universally acclaimed episode of Raw.

They'll need to follow that script and then some tonight, with both sides of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture off the show.  It's a bizarre circumstance to have neither main eventer for one of the biggest shows of the year absent with only two Monday nights to go.  But it's also an opportunity to give us a nice big serving of Paul Heyman.  And to test the waters for a possible month to six months of the champ not being here should they elect to put the belts on Brock.

There are a ton of storylines to play with in the lower main event/upper mid card scene.  Not having to give a significant chunk of time to the titles could be a boon for the roster and WWE.

Keep the action coming fast and furious - don't give us a chance to notice that the two big mainstream draws aren't here.

What we're afraid they will do

Just tread water while waiting for next week when Lesnar and Cena will be back.  The SummerSlam card looks deep, and that's because they've taken the time to establish things like multiple Divas programs and an honest-to-goodness Intercontinental title feud that fans care about.

Don't just 50/50 book your way through the week.  Give us one or two noteworthy developments tonight, WWE.

Will Raw shine without it's brightest stars, or will WWE decide to let this week fade away while waiting for their return?

Tune in tonight to find out, and watch along with your fellow Cagesiders in the live blog - then dissect the show with Matt Roth and myself in the post-show videocast!

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