What you need to know
In the midst of all these Intercontinental shenanigans, Dolph Ziggler raises a good point. He never got his rematch when Bad News Barrett beat him for the title. He and Daniel Bryan should start a support group for men denied rematches by The Authority.
While The Show Off and the former Nexus leader argued about the IC belt, Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper also showed up to stake their dubious claims to the title. A whole lot of brawling later, and Smackdown had its obligatory tag team main event. And R-Truth still had the championship in his possession due to some stealth maneuvering that was more Ace Venture than Solid Snake.
It was already going to be hard to beat the smark dream team of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. But the more Natalya gets on board with her husband's heelish ways, the tag champs might just be unstoppable. On Thursday, they defeated Los Matadores - with an assist from Natty when she waylaid Diego & Fernando's sidekick.
Though they have a history as a tag team, Kane and Big Show can't decide whether to work as a unit or destory each other these days. They'll probably lean toward the second option at WrestleMania when they're both in the Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal, but on Smackdown they were able to set their differences aside and take out Ryback. The Demon tried first, but fell to meat hook clothesline, but then he took another one after booking Big Hungry in a follow-up bout with Show - and that meat hook opened the door for a WMD and a win for Team Authority.
Seven minutes is a lifetime for a Divas match, so I guess we should count that as "a chance". Nikki Bella became the second woman to co-opt the hashtag when she used it in a promo on the recently returned AJ Lee. But the Divas champ wasn't able to give her sister a chance in her match with Lee, because AJ's frenemy Paige kept Nik at bay long enough for Brie to be forced to tap to the Black Widow.
Miz is still jealous of Mizdow, who still mostly puts up with his boss' abuse while occasionally tricking him into humiliating himself. However it goes down, it results in tag team losses for the Hollywood duo. Jack Swagger still wants a piece of U.S. champion Rusev, so he and John Cena have something in common. At least Cena is only 0 - 1 against the Bulgarian Brute, whereas the Real American's losing streak has to be in the double digits at this point. Not to mention, the Oklahoman lost an uncle/manager.
Don't worry Zeb, you're about to avenged by the red and yellow of Axelmania!
Last week's Teddy Long special put the heels of the IC title program against a couple of the non-rudos in Ambrose & Ziggler. Good prevailed over evil, in the match anyway, as those two earned a pinfall victory after a ZigZag to Harper. Truth again tried to take off with the belt, but Daniel Bryan stopped him and accepted the trophy. Just when we thought we had an even number of participants for the ladder match at 'Mania, Stardust broke free from his feud with his brother and laid out The Beard to end the week.
What to look out for
Well, they won't have Batista to kick around any more, but I'm sure the Pittsburgh crowd at the Consol Energy Center will find a way to deal with it. Especially considering they may not only be getting the rare and elusive Brock Lesnar appearance, but maybe the first sign of the Dead Man since New Orleans, as well.
Undertaker just might be beckoned by his infamous urn, which Bray Wyatt showed us on Friday was now in his possession. If the Eater of Worlds doesn't slow down, he won't have any Taker feud cliches left for the rest of the Road to WrestleMania. Will he get a glare or even some words from the Phenom to sustain his oratory fire for the next few shows?
Even when Paul Heyman spit fire in his direction last Monday, Roman Reigns hasn't flinched. The Big Dog even laid out his game plan for dealing with Lesnar so he could claim his WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Brock will be there tonight so as to not breach his contract, if nothing else. Will he do something to shake Roman's belief in himself while he's there?
We know Rusev isn't interested in giving Cena any more shots at his red, white and blue belt...but might he give one to Curtis Axel tonight? The Axe Man has been entertaining most of the WWE Universe since his unfortunate Royal Rumble entrance gave him a gimmick, but he might not be able to flex his pythons ironically when Lana's man is done with him. And last we heard, Stephanie McMahon was leaving the Face that Runs the Place on the bench for the Granddaddy of Them All. For some reason, I don't think John is going to give up, though.
His wife might be dealing with Cena because Triple H's plate is so full. He's got a match with Sting to worry about, one he claims he has to win in order to firmly establish control of WWE. If that wasn't enough, his hand-picked guys, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins can't seem to get on the same page, no matter what The Viper says. Hopefully The Game had a relaxing weekend in Ohio kicking it with the Governator, because he's got to get right back to work on Raw tonight.
What they should do
There's precious little chance of it, but how great would it be to see a show that was 60 - 70% wrestling tonight?
As entertaining as last week's show was, there was A LOT of talking. And at this point, I really don't think it's helping the 'Mania programs. No matter how phenomenal Heyman's promos are from here on out, they're not going to add the depth to Reigns' character that should have been added six months ago. Hunter could lecture us for an hour on Attitude Era history, and it's not going to make his match with Sting any more than the true "once in a lifetime" showdown between past their prime legends.
The feuds that could benefit from explanations - Taker on why he's coming back for something other than a rematch with Brock, Bryan on why the Intercontinental title is suddenly of interest to him - are relying on other things to distract us from those missing motives.
So, in keeping with WWE's desire to distract us from things, how about they dazzle us with in-ring action to take our minds off their real world issues? I don't want to hear Hunter talk for twenty minutes while I think about what he knew when with regards to human resource complaints filed by Developmental roster members. I don't want to watch women sports entertainer stand around an say they want a chance instead of having a character written for them.
Most of the Raw audience won't have spent the last couple of weeks mired in debate over training practices and sexist booking practices. But they've heard all the arguments for why they have to pay $9.99 for the March 29th show. And they'll hear them all again over the next couple of weeks.
For tonight, give us some of what everyone who tunes into Raw agrees on, whether Vince McMahon wants to admit it or not. Give us some pro wrestling. You can get back to sports entertaining us on Thursday night.
What we're afraid they will do
Give us a show that pays off in a Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns match...but only after both men cut 20 minutes promos with frequent shots at internet fans and 'Reality' Era references to their place on the card.
Anyone else in need of a palate cleansing to get the taste of dirt screen news out of your mouth so you can enjoy a hopefully delicious kayfabe WrestleMania feast?
Let us know what you'd like to see on the Road to Santa Clara, and watch what WWE decides to do tonight with your fellow Cagesiders in our live blog!