What you need to know
Product placement was the name of the game, as Apple Watches, Cadillacs and that tropical vacation destination Hawaii were all featured when Raw kicked off this past Monday. It was all necessary to prove how grateful WWE champ Seth Rollins was to have his guys back by his side, and why Kane, Jaime Noble & Joey Mercury stuck by him.
If you weren't already like the millions of Americans with something better to do, two segments devoted to the Intercontinental title program probably had you loading Candy Crush on your tablet. Big Show took out his old pal Mark Henry with a punch, prompting the champ to rush in for revenge for last week. Convenient that he was there, since he had a scheduled contest against the third-wheel of their feud, Miz, who just happened to be a guest on commentary. The Tough Enough after-party host got some heat for stopping Ryback's assault of Show, but didn't stick around to see the end of his own match with The Big Guy - opting to take the countout loss instead.
A guest commentary segment did lead to the best thing on Monday night, when NXT champ Kevin Owens made us believe he was answering John Cena's U.S.title open challenge, thereby giving us their Battleground match weeks in advance. Though the master was only setting us up for another disappointment, he did have good news when he announced Cesaro as his proxy. The Swiss and WWE Supermen had a phenomenal match, and it even looked like Tyson Kidd's partner might pull off the upset - until KO took him out for daring to take the red, white and blue belt away from his target.
Other than that, there wasn't a whole lot worth noting. Paige returned and beat old foe and new Team Bella member Alicia Fox. Tag champs The Prime Time Players linked up with Lucha Dragons to again defeat The New Day in a SmackDown rematch. At least Kofi Kingston didn't eat a pin heading into his match with Brock Lesnar at Beast in the East (sike - yes he did). Mr. Money in the Bank Sheamus took out Neville with a Brougue Kick in an entertaining yet inconsequential match, and King Barrett beat Jack Swagger in an "oh wow, Swagger still works here" affair.
Fluff-tastic as all those segments were, any one of them was better than Lana & Dolph Ziggler explaining how what started as a Tinder hook-up is now an eHarmony connection, leading to a catfight between the Ravishing Russian & Summer Rae while the man who arrived at WrestleMania on a FREAKING TANK looked like Ron Burgundy after Baxter goes off the bridge.
Also, IRS was a bad dad, so Bray Wyatt is feeling some kind of way about Roman Reigns being picked as the face of the company over him. The Big Dog is feeling irritable, but is content to rage with his brother Dean Ambrose at his side.
All that rage blinded the former Shield-mates from the fact that they were walking into a no-disqualification match against The Authority. They actually did alright, though, thanks to Rollins and company being ineffectual when they're not being incompetent, but Wyatt dimmed the lights and attacked when it looked like Roman might overcome DAT NUMBERS GAME. That lead Reigns taking lots of finishers, and Bray posing over him to end the night.
What to look out for
Chocolate and roster-depleted, B-shows. That's what I think of when someone mentions Hershey, Pennsylvania. WWE was there on Tuesday, and we can tell you right now most of what will air tonight on SyFy. Click here if you want to know. Otherwise, we're going to use our years of experience watching sports entertain to take a stab at what you might get, without the benefit of spoilers.
Well, we'll take one benefit from Geno's headline on the spoiler post, and look at the Rollins vs. Reigns headliner. With the champ having defeated Ambrose via the usual tomfoolery last Thursday night, it makes sense to avoid rematching that rematch again. But Roman's obvious beef is with Wyatt and, like the men who used to make up The Shield, the Eater of Worlds isn't in Japan for this weekend's shows. So it will be worth noting how we get to both this match and whatever it is Bray will be up to tonight.
WWE has announced that Ryback will face off against an I-guess-he's-a-heel-again-because-Creative-needs-him-to-be Mark Henry. Hopefully, it will be better than their WrestleMania showdown a few weeks back, and more exciting than Big Hungry's chat with Michael Cole.
Beyond that...something with the ladies and tag teams that aren't featured in Beast in the East, I guess? Given the amount of talent that is gone for that show and the fact that much of their domestic audience may already be in holiday mode, it might be a good idea to just use this show to hype that WWE Network-exclusive special as much as possible.
(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)
Is there anything WWE can do to bring the magic back tonight? Should they just save their tricks for next week?
Let us know what you think in the comments below, and stick with us tonight and on through the weekend for coverage of SmackDown, Saturday's live show and all things WWE.