What you need to know
Remember when Bray Wyatt facing off against Roman Reigns was a "Holy $#!+" moment? Well, if you don't, take my word for it: it was. And it wasn't that long ago, either.
That was then, and this now. The Big Dog of The Shield, now the object of smark derision, and the Patriarch of the Wyatt Family, now Creative's go-to jobber to the stars, opened up Smackdown last week. Reigns got a disqualification win when Luke Harper interfered, but they he and Erick Rowan should have learned their lesson from last Monday night and taken care of Big Show and Mark Henry first. Those veteran hosses ran in to even the score, and to round out a six-man main event that would have made Theodore Long proud.
The task of fortifying Seth Rollins reputation fell to Rob Van Dam, who put him over relatively cleanly on his way out the door. Jack Swagger continues to make Lana's favorite Bulgrian look like 37 million rubles (and some change). In addition to a bunch of matches, the Real American has lost his manager to Rusev's reign of Russian terror, but he's still getting over with valiant losses...and an intriguing storyline that just might see him BOlieve in a new leader.
Divas champ Paige put together a couple of nice wins last week over old nemeses Natalya and Emma, but she seems as confused as Geno and I are about what AJ Lee's flirtatious behavior is hoping to accomplish. Despite appearances on Raw, Miz has not ended his flirtation with keeping Damien Sandow on as a stunt double. Mizdow lost to the United States champion on Friday, protecting the moneymaker by taking White Noise. And the Brogue Kick that Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler tried to chase the Awesome One into during his post-match sneak attack on the Celtic Warrior.
A pre-match apology from Goldust sounded good, but when Jimmy Uso rolled up Stardust in their singles match, the Brothers again exhibited behavior unworthy of the Cosmic Key when they beatdown the twins. Unless the Cosmic Key is the tag championships currently held by Jimmy and Jey, in which case...well, it still wouldn't be terribly honorable, but at least we'd get some storyline continuity out of the deal.
In the end, the Wyatts fought valiantly and got a decent match out of Reigns, Henry and Show, but their losing streak continued when Luke ate a spear from Roman and the faces stood tall. At least Bray and Rowan didn't have to take Reigns' finishers too this time.
What to look out for
WWE doesn't get the day off on Labor Day, as America celebrates the hard working men and women who built the country. They'll circle their wagons at the Wells Fargo Center in Des Moines, Iowa to bring Raw into your living rooms at 8PM Eastern on USA Network.
Last week, John Cena got pissed. He snapped at Hulk Hogan and the laid waste to the entire Wyatt Family. Don't ask me how that's much different from when he was feuding with Bray before and after WrestleMania, just hope that all the time they're spending telling us he's mad means he's dropping another one to WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions. Lesnar, by the way, is not listed as a featured Superstar by the venue, and most likely will only appear via pre-tape, if at all.
If you thought Chris Jericho had snuck out the door with RVD, think again. He's still around for a few more weeks. Is he still feuding with
Cena's whipping boy Bray Wyatt? Tonight, he's hosting a "Highlight Reel" with special guest Randy Orton, so if he is, don't ask me how chatting with the Viper ties into it.
Mr. Money in the Bank has been looking pretty good the last few weeks, even if there isn't a chance in hell he cashes in on the current champion. Beside that, though, one of his accomplishments - the destruction of Dean Ambrose - has made him the target of another former brother in arms. Triple H has promised punishment for Roman Reign's assault on Rollins and Kane last Monday. Will that punishment be levied before Reigns comes for the Architect again?
Last we saw of Brie Bella, she was making horrible noises while pretending to cry after her sister said some stuff to her that was as cruel as it was out of the blue. How will Mrs. Daniel Bryan respond this week? Can it be any worse than how she responded last week?
What they should do
Last week's Bellas segment should have given them all the Total Divas footage they need for a season or two's worth of sister drama. And, if you're really going to try to use this crap on your "reality" show, maybe you should get the ladies different Twitter accounts...
Anyway, Nikki's out of nowhere transformation from someone who is willing to take six-on-one beatings for her sister to someone who always hated her can be explained by leaning on the best part of this program, and one that was sorely missing last week. Stephanie McMahon should be the mastermind who has brainwashed Nikki just as she blackmailed D-Bry's physical therapist into lying about their relationship. It's ridiculous, soap operatic bull crap, but - hey, pro wrestling.
From there, any hopes of having Brie emerge from this as a babyface marketable anywhere other than E! Network hinges on her aping her husband's appeal. A quick speech about how she can't argue with crazy, and you can't outmaneuver the boss and her money, so Brie Mode from here on out means outwrestling anyone that McMahon puts in her way, up to and including her sister. When she's beaten all comers and stands a top the division, there'll be nothing WWE can do to her. Her sister's words will still hurt, but there's already nothing Nikki can do to top them, so Brie can give her a reason to really be jealous when she's the best women's wrestler in the world.
Which will of course be utter crap, and pretty hard to back up in the ring. But given the time limits Divas matches get, she can be servicable. And that kind of response is a lot more likely to get fans behind her than crying fits will.
What we're afraid they will do
WWE.com is already running features that are complicit with another "John Cena overcomes" narrative.
You don't need me to tell you the sky is falling.
Can Raw bounce back from an uneven-to-downright-horrible episode last week? With a bunch of Americans passed out from the last barbeque of the summer, will they even try?
We're watching anyway, because that's how we roll. As long as you don't try to chill said roll, we invite you to join us in tonight's live blog.