What you need to know
Triple H returned, and his first order of business was to try and settle issues between his WWE World Heavyweight Champion and Director of Operations. Seth Rollins was anxious to kiss his boss' butt and agree to whatever The Game had to say - as long as what he had to say was that Kane is old, out of touch and should be removed from power.
Rollins, Kane countered, needed to be taught some respect. And even when Haitch threatened him with being ousted from The Authority, The Demon was tempted to screw over Seth during Payback's Fatal 4Way for the WWE title just to send a message.
Looking to keep things fair, Trips booked each of the men in Sunday's championship battle for a match on Raw - and he gave Kane & Rollins equally tough roles in that plan, as the D-Ops would face Roman Reigns while Seth took on Randy Orton. In the meantime, since half of the champ's bodyguarding team mouthed off during his opening address, the other participant in the 4Way, Dean Ambrose, opened the show by facing off against J & J Security.
Homeboy Ambrose thrilled Cincinnati by overcoming the numbers game when he sent Joey Mercury to the outside and hit his finisher on Noble. The Ohioans were probably less enthused that another of the rumored big returns, Stephanie McMahon, did not show up on Monday night, while the third, Daniel Bryan, came out to break our hearts by relinquishing the Intercontinental title due to his ongoing health issues.
WWE's other secondary title had a better night. John Cena continued to put over the United States championship, promising to never give up - either to Rusev at their next pay-per-view (PPV) showdown, or to the politics in which the main belt is often mired. He also continued his open challenge series, getting another fantastic showing from Neville. The New Sensation almost pulled off the upset, hitting the champ with Red Arrow, but interference by The Bulgarian Brute ended any chance of pinning Cena. Rusev locked in The Accolade while his Payback opponent faded and the crowd cheered for Lana.
Newly crowned King of the Ring Bad News Barrett has plans to end Neville's uprising on Sunday, and he built momentum for that match by defeating Dolph Ziggler...albeit with an assist to the man The Show Off will fight, Sheamus. At least there won't be any arse-based stipulations in Baltimore. Someone else who's less ass-centric is Naomi, who talked up her family ties to new enforcer Tamina Snuka, and watched as her cousin-in-law knocked the Divas' champ's sister Brie down and out with a Superkick.
Family reunion fever has also hit the backwoods, apparently, as Luke Harper showed his team-up with Erick Rowan on last week's Smackdown wasn't a one-time thing by accompanying the Redbeard to the ring for his quick destruction of Fandango. Their patriarch remains separate from them on screen, but if his sermons continue to end with Spinebusters from Ryback, he may want to get them all back together, all the time.
A union of the past was impersonated in the present, as Macho Mandow & Axelmania joined forces to stand up to The Ascension, and got a Kickoff show match in the bargain. Titus O'Neil and Darren Young continue to try to get some momentum making fun of other teams, but not in the ring. The New Day tried to get heat preaching positivity that took shots at DB and Pete Rose, and they got boos, but Big E couldn't get a win over Cesaro despite Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods cutting corners on his behalf.
Doing his best to make sure his match with Reigns never happened, Kane began assaulting The Big Dog before he could even leap the barricade. That plan backfired when he ended up being Speared over the announce table while Roman roared to his fans. Another plan that backfired was Triple H's pitch for Authority unity. His Director came out to watch Rollins and J & J beatdown The Viper after the security duo triggered a disqualification, but he did nothing but watch as the other two former Shield members evened the odds and ended up ensuring the champ took finishers from all three of his Payback rivals.
And the Cincy faithful loved it as the traditional 'go home' show parade of finishers ended with Ambrose standing tall, having decided to put business before brotherhood when he hit Dirty Deeds on Reigns after Roman had Speared Orton.
What to look out for
Tonight's show was flimed in advance, as usual, on Tuesday night in Evansville, Indiana. And I can't claim that this Preview is spoiler-free since I had to write-up this week's version, so just read those here if you don't want to read me pretending I don't know what's on the show tonight...
We all know that The Big Red Monster and The Shield's old Powerhouse will try to come to a definitive outcome in tonight's main event, as they've been booked in a no DQ affair to ensure that we get a winner and a loser, no matter the shenanigans. Creative is trying to keep the "will Kane screw over Rollins?" drama alive for at least one more PPV, but how exactly having he and one of Seth's opponents beat the crap out of each other furthers that, I don't know. Reigns may also be looking for answers from Ambrose from the end of Monday night's show.
Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback became an official thing yesterday, so look for a little bit more meat to be added to their Payback story tonight. Another pair of competitors on Sunday's card, Neville and Barrett, stayed away from each other on Raw - so they'll be likely candidates for conflict tonight.
The PPV is currently Diva-free...expect either another Naomi vs. Nikki title match or a tag contest between the combined Bellas and the Fatu/Snuka clan to make the card.
(Note: I know some folks have come looking for a more definitive match listing - that will be posted behind spoiler text in the comments. If WWE.com releases more information on anything that's officially going to take place on tonight's show, that'll be updated here)
Will WWE succeed in tying things up in form that makes you want to watch three more hours of wrestling this weekend?
Don't tie yourself in knots trying to figure it out. Discuss before hand, watch along and discuss again after the show with all your pals here at Cageside Seats!