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WWE Raw preview (September 29, 2014): Lunacy Ascending

What you need to know

Proving that he was a better host for Miz TV than The Miz or his stunt double on Main Event lead to the Awesome One challenging Dean Ambrose to a match to kick-off Smackdown.  The former WWE champ had a pretty good showing against the rising star (with help from Damien Mizdow, of course).  But an entrance from Ambrose's nemesis Seth Rollins and his Authority stablemate Kane worked in Dean's favor, and he was able to deliver Dirty Deeds for a clean win.

An attempted post-match assault also backfired on Triple H's boys.  The Demon Corporate Kane ate a lariat, and Ambrose made off with Mr. Money in the Bank's briefcase.  Rollins vowed that he'd still be the next WWE champ, and the pair promised to take Dean out for good with something that would make their cinder blocks curb stomp look like child's play.  Which is good, because I think Dean is on to the cinder block curb stomp trick.

Eschewing its usual makeshift tag team formula, the blue brand delivered a battle royal to determine the #1 contender for the Intercontinental championship - and they paid it off on the same night!  Kofi Kingston did his usual amazing multi-man match spots (and worked in tandem with his smart athletic friends), but Cesaro's ridiculous every match shows of strength won the battle royal when he eliminated Jack Swagger with Kingston.

The Swiss Superman was unable to win the night however.  In only a little more than five minutes, he and Dolph Ziggler showed flashed of the kind of match we'd expect out of them.  But don't worry, we'll get more.  The referee missing that Cesaro had the ropes when Ziggler rolled him up for the win assures us of that.

That wasn't the only successful, or controversial, title defense on the show.  Stardust & Goldust kept the cosmic key/tag team belts when Goldy thwarted a post-Doomsday Device pinfall from the triggering a disqualification when he broke the cover by attacking with said key/belt.

It sure looked like a pre-heel turn promo, Mark Henry blaming the fans for making him fight Rusev again earlier in the week.  But Big Show said it was just that the World's Strongest Man is passionate, and Mizark seemed pleased when his big buddy promised to take care of the Bulgarian for him.

And that's what the World's Largest Athlete did.  He almost ended Rusev's run of never having been pinned, but Lana grabbed a leg and caused the DQ before he could land a knockout punch.  After the bell, Vladimir Putin's favorite pro wrestler laid into Show with the Russian flag, but he fought back and landed the WMD to end the week standing tall.

What to look out for

And we're back in Chi-town.  Hoo-boy.  Please allow me to echo kylieceline's plea that the Allstate Arena actually cheer for the Divas champion and not her absent hubby.

Then again, maybe AJ Lee will just take a page from WWE World Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar's playbook and just not show up on tonight's Raw.  There's no indication that the Beast Incarnate will be traveling to Illinois from Minnesota, so expect another night without that title on the show.  If Nikki vs. Brie's battle for the name Bella takes up enough time, AJ and Paige can probably just skip tonight, too.

In Lesnar's stead, expect a lot of the plot to swirl around Ambrose and the man Brock defeated for the belt, John Cena.  The Authority will be out to punish Dean for both escaping one trap and foiling another last Monday night, then his robbery of Rollins on Friday.  But Cena still wants to get his hands on Seth himself, and the Lunatic Fringe didn't seem too keen on having the Ce-nation leader in his way.

With Cesaro using his failed United States title shots as a springboard to an Intercontinental title feud, it's probably time to get Cesaro a new dance partner to the red, white and blue belt.  And who will step up to face the Dust Brothers now that Jimmy & Jey's rematch clause has been spent.

We've got some ideas on the latter we'll share in a second...but we'll all know for sure tonight at 8PM Eastern time on USA Network.

What they should do

One of the reasons the tag titles stayed on the Usos for so long was that there's no othe legitimate babyface threats on the roster to chase heel champs.  But one of the great things about turning the Rhodes boys rudo is that short of flying to Aberdeen and botching an illegal surgery on Daniel Bryan's neck, they're never worse than tweeners.

Long-reigning NXT tag champs The Ascension have already appeared on main roster "television" as heels when they defeated Los Matadores on Main Event.  But they often received a hero's reception in Developmental, and one bout against a borderline comedy team doesn't make them villains.  Monsters can easily be swung to either alignment depending on who they're monstrously defeating.

And, as a longtime NXT observer, I believe Konnor (the big guy) & Viktor (the long-hair guy) are kind of a long shot to have better WWE careers than the Adam Roses and Emmas of the world.  Their gimmick is kind of a cluster$#&%.  They've not proven to be anything above average workers.  They're pretty bad on the stick.

Their best shot is as mysterious asskickers.  That shot gets better if they're given some great workers to debut against.  Enter...Dustin Runnels and Cody Rhodes.  The men who make of The Ascension aren't bad wrestlers - just somewhat dull ones.  Give them a nice long feud against the Dusts to see if they can up their game.

The facepaint makes it even better.  Having the pair become increasingly deperate to keep their beloved key from the clutches of a pair of silent destroyers who seem destined to capture it?  I'll watch the crap out of that story.  And the hidden beauty of it is, if Konnor & Viktor aren't getting over, it's a small tweak to have Star & Gold work técnico again.  They overcome the invading monsters and you really haven't lost too much in the process.

Of course, they could always build up a vibrant tag scene with multiple heel and face pairings who could easily be positioned for a title feud.  But that would really be crazy.

What we're afraid they will do

Run Usos vs. Dusts for another two months, then bring up The Ascension and have that be the only story on the tag scene for a while.  Eventually put the brothers over Konnor & Viktor, turning them into an afterthought in the division like Luke Harper & Erick Rowan, know what?  It's depressing how much easier it is to come up with stuff for this section than the previous one.

Will we get much mid-card development tonight?  Or should we just worry about Cena co-opting the rise of Ambrose in the main event scene?

Hope and/or worry along with the best pro wrestling community on the internet in the live blog, on Twitter and with our post-show tonight!

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