Desperate for some good news - or at least a distraction from what ever mainstream media outlet in the United States wants to talk about since last Friday when WWE is brought up - Raw pulls into Jack Swagger's home state tonight.
One thing we know you won't be hearing about is anything that rhymes with 'hunks in albania'. Here's what they will be talking about in Oklahoma City with less than a month to go before SummerSlam, and what we think of it:
What is Dead May Never Die
Sixteen or so months of listening to Paul Heyman talk about a match he lost was too much for Undertaker to stand, especially when he the only outlet for his pro wrestling frustration was reminding Bray Wyatt he's a mid-carder. So The Phenom rolled into Battleground, kicked The Beast Incarnate in the nads to cost him the WWE championship and showed up on Raw to announce that he wanted his win back. The suddenly-pretty-reasonable Authority gave him a main event match against Brock Lesnar for SummerSlam, but he still needed to terrorize Heyman, prompting one of the better pull apart brawls in recent memory (maybe of all time).
What they should do: Lean heavily on Brock's advocate. Let Paul E. tell us about how Taker has never beaten his client...going all the way back to 2002. Heyman is the one guy in the feud almost everybody want to hear talk. And really, he's the guy with that The Dead Man has a problem with, based on the reasoning he provided last Monday.
There shouldn't be anything beyond mic work for the next several weeks anyway. Physicality between the two combatants should be held off until the pay-per-view (PPV). Last week's fight will be hard to top. Let that be the the lasting memory (instead of their dog of a match in New Orleans) and make us want to pay for their bout in Brooklyn.
What we're afraid they'll do: Backstage interviews with Brock, sans-Advocate, and a tune-up match for Undertaker that reminds us he's a 50 year old man, not an undead force of nature.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
After miraculously reappearing and remembering to gloat about retaining his belt after facing Lesnar, Seth Rollins heard the music that has killed the heat of fellow NXT grads Wyatt, Rusev and Kevin Owens before him. United States champion John Cena arrived on Raw to call him on his crap and announce his intention to become a 16 time World champ.
What they should do: The WWE champ had a nice win over Cesaro on SmackDown. Whether or not that's worth a mention on Monday nights is subject to the whims of Vincent Kennedy McMahon, and I'm honestly not sure what good is accomplished by trying to make Seth look like a fighting champion all of a sudden.
The Face that Runs the Place should keep doing what he's been doing - defending the U.S title - as that's been both key to his great year and central to his critique of Rollins. Whether it's dislike of his gimmick or the performer, fans of all stripes want to see the WWE champ get his butt kicked right now, and trolling Cena with his own elaborate version of an open challenge where he either trots out a Stan Stansky-type or bails when a real competitor shows up, would keep the fire burning to cheer for anyone against him...even Amy Schumer's kayfabe lover.
What we're afraid they'll do: Photoshop. Or poop drop. Or a Photoshopped poop drop.
Replacing "Fight Owens Fight" with "Run Owens Run" has bummed out more than a few people who like to talk about wrestling on the internet. And when the former NXT champ did it during last week's main event tag and in a one-on-one match with Rusev on Thursday, a guy who likes to put on wrestling matches for people on the internet to talk about took exception to it. That resulted in a Pop-Up Powerbomb. Tonight, the Swiss Superman will be looking for answers, and lots of members of the internet wrestling community (IWC) will be salivating at the prospects of two of their favorites putting on clinics for our enjoyment.
What they should do: Go back to KO's early NXT character...the guy who would fight for a prize. He can still refuse throwing hands when he's not booked for a match, but Owens should explain to the fans that he realizes he need wins to get back into title contention in order to take care of his family. Let Cesaro take exception to the amount of punishment he dishes out to the men he faces AND the "cowardly" way he refuses to engage at other times. Remove any storytelling tics that make him look afraid to face anyone. He can be pragmatic, but after the last few weeks, he needs some rehab on his badassery.
What we're afraid they'll do: Even if they book him as chick$#!+ as Rollins, not too much, as long as it ends in Cesaro vs. Owens match or two.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- A revolution has turned into faction warfare among the women of the main roster. The Divas champ's Team Bella picked up a big win on Thursday, but that was the first in a while against Team B.A.D. and the Powerbuff Girls. Will Nikki look for new allies, or just pit their rivals against each other?
- Luke Harper is back in the family, and he & Bray targeted Roman Reigns brother Dean Ambrose on SmackDown. Rumors keep swirling that the former Shield vs. reunited Wyatts contribution to the August PPPV will be more than just a tag match - could we see the pairs become trios tonight?
- Mr. Money in the Bank is still Sheamus. Randy Orton doesn't like him.
- The Intercontinental champ is still Ryback. Big Show likes to call him out when he's not knocking Miz out.
- Prime Time Players are tag champs. The New Day don't think highly of that, and Xavier Woods is especially not impressed with Titus O'Neil's leg drop.
It's the last Raw of July...four more shows until SummerSlam.
What do you think they should, or are afraid they will, do on Raw tonight?