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WWE Raw preview (May 18, 2015): Unresolved issues

What you need to know

If Vince McMahon suggests you play dress up as a new character, expect to lose a lot. That was the moral of the Payback pre-show, where Star "Don't Call Me Cody" Rhodes jobbed to R-Truth, and Macho Mandow & a now-fully-impersonating-Hulk-Hogan Curtis Axel were essentially squashed by The Ascension of all people.

In the absence of an Intercontinental champion in the wake of Daniel Bryan's relinquishing that title due to injury, Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler continued their feud - this time without any kissing or arses (at least in the stip). It would have been nice if the could have continued their slobberknocker of a match, but it looked like they went for a quick wrap-up when The Celtic Warrior's adamantium skull claimed another victim and busted Dolph. Sheamus got his win back, and The Show-Off got some stitches (and some extra-curricular butt smooches from the Irishman).

Another match with two guys who seem destined for the IC title Elimination Chamber in a couple of weeks featured King Barrett against Neville. The powers-that-be must have decided both guys needed to not take a loss heading into that match, too, because after a big corkscrew tope from the Man That Gravity Forgot, the former Bad News said "forget it" to the whole match and took a countout loss.

Interesting night when it came to who said what, especially in the United States championship match between John Cena and Rusev. Despite a long, brutal and long fight, neither of the proud competitors would say "I Quit" and decide the match. The champ passed out once, but despite the Bulgarian Brute's arguments, that wasn't enough to trigger the stipulation. Unable to watch Cena administer his STF (which is even horrible-er when he uses the ring ropes), Lana threw in the towel, claiming Rusev had quite in his native tongue. While we wait for translators to come in and settle that debate, the Hero of the Russian Federation dismissed his social ambassador. Hopefully President Putin can keep those two crazy kids from doing anything rash...

The New Day does indeed rock, and they also cheat. While everyone was being awesome, especially whoever tailors Natalya's ring gear, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods performed a little of that twin magic. With their best two-out-of-three match knotted at one fall a piece, Cesaro ran wild on the tag champs, but the brains of the operation slid in and rolled him up to retain as inept and/or racist referee counted three.

Exceeding expectations, The Eater of Worlds got the win he desperately needed as Ryback and Bray Wyatt delivered a fun brawl that fans probably wouldn't mind seeing more of - if reports that Big Hungry is on the shelf with a broken rib aren't true. Coming in about exactly where we all expected it, Naomi's light-up boots were the highlight of the women's match that saw Divas champ Nikki Bella pinned by the former Funkadactyl because she was more concerned about her sister's well-being than a meaningless tag match.

And after a night of Kane drama, the Big Red Machine and J & J Security worked exactly the way Triple H drew it up. A brief Shield reunion popped the Baltimore crowd and put Randy Orton on thin ice, but when it came time to clear the deck for WWE World Heavyweight champion Seth Rollins to retain, it was the Director of Operations, along with Jaime Noble & Joey Mercury, who took out Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose, allowing Kane to take an RKO so the champ could use his mentor's finisher to keep his belt.

What to look out for

Heading a little further south along the Atlantic Coast, WWE rolls into Richmond, Virginia for a Raw that is at once a fallout show and a set-up for Elimination Chamber, coming your way in less than two weeks.

We already know two of the matches for that show - the above mentioned Chamber match for the vacant IC title and the first ever tag team match in the structure. How will the tag match work? No matter how they swing it, the champs will not be happy, as the news that they'd have to defend at the Network exclusive show spoiled their milk celebration last night.

Expect some sort of announcement or possibly even contest regarding the entrants for both Chamber bouts. It's been a while since we've had a "Beat the Clock" challenge, hasn't it?

Rusev and Lana will get screen time tonight, with the Ravishing Russian continuing her babyface turn that no one but Vince McMahon wants. Cena is continuing his U.S title open challenge series tonight. Will the former champ who has now lost three matches in a row to the Face that Runs the Place keep stepping to Mr. Hustle, Loyalty & Respect, or will he focus on feuding with his valet now?

And between the Fatal 4Way stip and the sheer amount of interference, all three men who left last night's main event without the title have justification for another shot at it. Who will be next, and what reason will they give for it being one or two of them but not another?

I'll leave them to figure out the "how" and "why", but they need to get working on it, because we need the "what"...

What they should do

It's clear that there are unresolved issues with The Shield. I'm not talking about between the three men that formed the Hounds of Justice - although there are probably some shoot and kayfabe things those guys could work on, too. No, I'm talking about for us, the fans.

Not only was the teased Triple Powerbomb reunion a "moment of the night", but the crowd at home and online went nuts for Ambrose and Reigns deciding to duke it out in the center of the ring. Those two and Rollins are crucial to the company's future, but whether Creative likes it or not, no one loves them more apart than they do together.

The Lunatic Fringe's chase of the traitor was the hottest storyline of last Summer, and it wasn't even close. Neither man reached the peaks of crowd response once they were separated that they had together. And I think there's a pretty good case to be made that one of the key mis-steps of the Big Dog's push was having him walk away from fighting or teaming with his brothers.

WWE needs to let that story play out to a conclusion or conclusions, and use the time they have fans obssessing about it to give us more reasons to care about Roman, Dean & Seth when they're aligned or feuding with other people. Their unity drew us to them in the first's not too late to use their dissolution to highlight what makes them distinct from one another and really drive home the point of why we should attach to each of them again as singles competitors.

What we're afraid they will do

Kane vs. Rollins. Big Show vs. Ambrose. Triple H vs. Reigns.

Can WWE re-capture The Shield magic without a reunion? Can Raw build a strong bridge from Payback to Elimination Chamber?

We've only got two live shows to find out about the former...stick with Cageside Seats to get answers, or more questions, along with the best pro wrestling community on the interwebs!

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