There was a pay-per-view (PPV) last night. Things changed. Things stayed the same.
Raw makes its way to the other big city in Missouri (no, Kansas City isn't in Kansas) to continue what was started - or continued - at Battleground.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Loser (?) and still champion, Seth Rollins! The announcers weren't real clear on the official decision, but we know for sure that Brock Lesnar didn't leave St. Louis with the title he promised to reclaim. Not for lack of trying - or suplexes. But when The Undertaker returned to kick The Beast Incarnate in his nether region and deliver two Tombstone Piledrivers, Rollins kept his belt and Lesnar & his Advocate were left to wonder if it was ending his WrestleMania streak, talking abou ending his WrestleMania streak or breaking his brother's ankle that lead The Dead Man to show up in WWE for the first time since March to cost Brock at Battleground.
What they should do: Couple of different programs to look at here, since Taker's return is partially designed to get the unstoppable machine they've built in Lesnar away from the WWE championship picture for a while.
Though I know I'm in the minority, and long-time Cagesiders have probably seen me type it out a million times, but I like Undertaker as a rudo - preferably one who rides a Harley and doesn't give a $#&% what you think of his nu metal entrance theme. While it's doubtful that they'll forego his supernatural and heavily produced entrance, I do hope the low blow and willingness to inflict damage means we're getting a more ambiguous character than before. Like Brock, he's going to get cheered no matter what - let them go at it like forces of nature. Hopefully over Lesnar breaking Kane's ankle, because pro wrestling.
For The Architect, I wish last night's finish would have included him slithering back onto the scene to regain some of the spotlight and heelishly claim victory. They can make up for it tonight, however, with one of the chicken$#!+ promos Seth has become quite good at since his 2014 turn. Not sure where they turn to for his next challenger, but it would be awesome to let an underutilized talent like Cesaro or Dolph Ziggler, or a newcomer like Neville, have a shot at the top prize while all the old guys and celebrities hit the scene for SummerSlam.
What we're afraid they'll do: Have Heyman cut a long promo about Undertaker being back for revenge from WrestleMania 30 - ignoring that he didn't seem to have any issue when they were both on the card in Northern California this Spring - or, worse yet, let The Dead Man talk for any extended period of time.
And give Rollins the night off and have commentary say it's because he's recuperating from the Brock match he never had a chance to win.
United States Championship
Another hard fought battle between John Cena and Kevin Owens ended in another loss for KO in what has been a pretty miserable July for him. Failing to win the U.S. title as he promised to means he has no belts and a losing streak. Perhaps worse, despite kicking out of a top rope AA and a number of other moves from the Cena, he ended up tapping out to a STF as the champ pulled ahead in their series with his second straight PPV win.
What they should do: Nothing on last night's show left me as dumbstruck as the finish of the U.S. title match. Owens did look like a million bucks and has the talent to overcome losses or outlast bad booking, but I would have said the same thing about Bray Wyatt last year at this time. If it were me, I would have had Rusev and/or Cesaro get involved in the end at Battleground to make it less clean than a submission loss. But it's not too late to bring those guys back in, and set-up a Fatal 4Way or tag for SummerSlam that could put the French-Canadian over with giving John a loss we all know he's not gonna take clean. And avoid having Kev's New York weekend include two losses, since they already put him in a NXT championship match on Saturday night that he's almost certainly not winning.
What we're afraid they'll do: Have KO challenge the Face that Runs the Place to an "I Quit" match for Brooklyn.
Last Monday night's most-buzzworthy segment was followed up with a SmackDown promo from Sasha Banks, Naomi & Tamina Snuka's Team B.A.D. and a whole lot of talking during the first half of Sunday's PPV before Banks, Charlotte & Brie Bella put on an above average for the main roster/below average for NXT Triple Threat match where The Nature Girl pulled out a victory over The Boss and the Divas champ's sister, Brie Bella.
What they should do: For goodness sake, let them wrestle! Their characters are all ill-defined, the factions they've been placed in are fairly arbitrary and none with exception of Sasha & maybe Paige has proven to be deft on the mic. The NXT women's revolution came about partially because the storytelling was more satisfying, but mostly because the ladies impressed in 15 minute matches that were as good if not better than anything the men did on the show. Cut the three separate interview segments and give us another match, or use the interviews to develop characters instead of tell us about the revolution over & over, and save the ring work for the best pairings.
What we're afraid they'll do: Ten minutes of Nikki Bella and Stephanie McMahon telling us how everything has changed before ruining Becky Lynch's debut main roster match by making her work with Tamina Snuka.
Blood is stronger than Roman
The Big Dog and the Eater of World gave each other everything they had at Battleground, but couldn't put the other away. Finally, a mysterious hooded figure attacked Roman Reigns on the outside, setting him up for a Sister Abigail from Bray Wyatt. That man was revealed to be Luke Harper, back in his patriarch's flock after a year lost in the wilderness. With his help, Wyatt continued to ensure that WWE's next big thing is anything but Roman.
What they should do: As excited as I was to see at least part of The Wyatt Family reunited, I was largely befuddled by this feud and outcome. Are the powers-that-be done with Reigns, at least for now? Is Bray being rebuilt for something new, or just more of the same?
Presuming rumors about a certain bat-wielding Icon joining this program are true, and Harper giving Bray someone to lead again support a tag match or two in its future, here's hoping The Family adds another member so Roman can invite his direction-less Shield brother into the fray. And since Dean's been "feuding" with Bray's real-life brother, well, we could all stand to BO-lieve, don't you think?
What we're afraid they'll do: Just do Reigns & partner vs. Wyatt/Harper, and have the old guy give Harper a Death Drop back into oblivion.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- Sheamus still has the Money in the Bank briefcase, and he's already losing like Mr. Money in the Bank should, last night to hometown boy Randy Orton. Where either of them go from here...your guess is as good as mine.
- Despite being the most entertaining thing on WWE screens not named Sasha Banks, The New Day are still without titles. We'll find out if they're still the top contenders for Prime Time Players tag belts.
- King Barrett defeated that usurper R-Truth on the Kickoff, possibly ending their royal dance?
- Lovebirds Lana & Ziggler haven't been seen since Rusev revealed his foot was healed, and have been absent while the Bulgarian inserted himself back in the U.S. title picture.
- Intercontinental champ Ryback is out with an injury. Though there's no word on how long he's out, WWE has not stripped him of his belt, but they have continued the storyline between his two challengers, Big Show and The Miz.
- Stardust is back, whether you Cody Rhodes marks like it or not, and he's trading wins over the guy that does the Red Arrow while talking trash about the Green one.
WWE is clearly treating SummerSlam as a WrestleMania-level show, and tonight starts the build for that - in all the good and bad ways that entails.
What do you think they should, or are afraid they will, do on Raw tonight?