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WWE Raw preview (August 24, 2015): You've got some 'splaining to do

Whew, there has been a lot - and I mean A LOT - of sports entertainment to enjoy over the past couple of days.

Who's ready for three more hours tonight?

We don't have to go far. If you were in New York City for NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn or SummerSlam, tonight's Raw emanates from the same building, with another sold out show at Barclays Center. If you were watching at home, you can probably use the same screen on which you watched the previous six hours of WWE programming.

Death cheats The Beast

From the moment shockingly returned at Battleground with a boot to the yams of Brock Lesnar, we've known that something was different about the Undertaker. Sure, he said he was still steamed about having his WrestleMania undefeated streak broken eighteen or so months ago, and that he couldn't let it go because Paul Heyman and his client kept reminding him of the lone blemish on his record on the company's biggest stage.

We couldn't have known how different he was until last night at SummerSlam, though. The Dead Man proved to be capable of a lot more as he starts his sixth decade on the planet than many of us thought, and went toe-to-toe with the former UFC and WWE champ, surviving multiple suplexes, F5s and kimura attempts.

It still wasn't enough, as he tapped out to a Lesnar submission. But referee Charles Robinson didn't see it, even though an overzealous timekeeper did, and Taker used the confusion to hit Brock with another low blow, followed by a Tombstone and getting The Beast to pass out in Hell's Gate for the official win.

Heyman's protestations were proved correct by the tape, but The Phenom was still content to take a tainted win. He may feel like he's avenged the New Orleans loss from last Spring, but the WWE Universe has nothing but questions - and is expecting answers tonight.

What they should do: The way the storytelling dovetailed with Geno's read of this feud convinced me that someone backstage has a similar view of it. And for that tale - that a desperate veteran toward the end of his career is questioning his legacy and becomes willing to do anything to preserve his version of it - to work for me, I need to see more of the human side of The Undertaker.

This idea wasn't terribly popular when I floated it last night, and that's caused me to realize that it doesn't need to be a wholesale character change. Let the mystique remain, couch the whole promo in "rest in peace" and allusions to death riding a pale horse or whatever else is needed to maintain the illusion. In fact, having Taker cling to those things may work even better.

But he needs to explain being willing to do so many less than honorable things to avoid being put out to pasture on terms other than his own. Shades of gray can work here as well as they did for Shawn Michaels when his time came, but the supernatural has to be rooted in something relatable in order for fans to relate to The Dead Man's willingness to cut corners.

If Lesnar is still in New York tonight, we'll need the threat of violence, because the man who passed out with his middle finger extended isn't going to let this pass. Either way, look for Heyman to cover for the time Brock won't be around in the coming weeks by saying The Authority needs to straighten out the situation before his client returns.

What we're afraid they'll do: Probably also in the minority here, but...not looking for more of The Man Called Sting in Vince McMahon booked stories. Yes, the noble vigilante would want  to keep Taker on the straight and narrow, but that dream match has come and gone. Lesnar vs. The Phenom is still an attraction because of Brock.

Based on a fun but flawed Mania match this past March, I don't trust WWE to tell that story in a way that does anything but expose both legends current weaknesses. I'm willing to wait until next Spring to get a rubber match between The Beast and Undertaker, rather than fast-forwarding or padding that out for work with the Stinger that will likely disappoint.

Why, Retired Talk Show Host Guy, Why?

Former Daily Show host and lifelong wrestling fan Jon Stewart had a memorable guest stint earlier this year that lead to an ongoing rivalry with WWE champ Seth Rollins. When it was announced that Stewart would be the host of SummerSlam, a lot of people wondered if the two might get involved in each other's business, but few predicted what went down last night.

After a lengthy match with big spots from both men (using their own, each others and Ric Flair's finishers), the referee was taken out by the WWE champ's legs while he was having his Attitude Adjusted by the U.S. titleholder. That meant he missed another knee to the Face That Runs The Place by Rollins that looked like it would have ended it.

Instead, Stewart, who had spent the beginning portion of the night yukking it up with fellow New Jersey native Mick Foley, collecting autographes with his son for their eBay store and trading verbal jabs with fellow mensch Paul Heyman, ran in and had the world's longest moral dilemma before hitting Cena in the mid-section with a chair.

He encouraged Seth to hit the 15 time world champ with a Pedigree onto the chair and rolled out as the ref came to, counting three and making Rollins a double titleholder.

What they should do: Here's another controversial booking decision from SummerSlam I'm reserving judgement on until we get something more on it tonight.

Much as I like my fantasy booking of J-Stew as the ultimate Smark, wanting "real" wrestling to be the focus of WWE and therefore siding with even his nemesis against the sports entertainment scourge of Cena, the real reason this happened played out on ESPN last night, where Stewart's "heel turn" was a top story.

Still, there's got to be an explanation, and unless we're entering an Andy Kaufman-esque "living the gimmick" period of the Emmy winner's career, I doubt he bought in to The Authority. Stewart has proven himself to be a pretty good promo guy in his run with WWE this year, so hopefully he can sell a story about being a fan whose legacy with wrestling was tied to Rollins'...and he wanted that cemented with a big SummerSlam moment - and The Architect's new statue at Titan Towers.

What we're afraid they'll do: Prove the whole thing was just a headline grab by just having the now WWE & US champ thank his nemesis with nary an explanation during the latest of his twenty minute promos.


While nothing much got resolved last night on what was essentially a super-long, star-studded episode of Raw (thanks WWE Network!), a lot of stories were advanced with the ten match card. In an effort to try to get to it all, let's run down...

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- New. Day's. Champs! The tag titles are back on one of the most entertaining acts on WWE what? PrimeTime Players will get a rematch or six, but maybe its time for a bit of a return to the days of big name singles stars working the pairs division? Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns need something to do...

- The company is finally teasing making the Divas championship the center of the Divas Revolution story. Becky Lynch picked up a pin on Brie Bella last night...will she be first up to try to keep Nikki from setting the record for longest title reign? Or will Sasha Banks and Charlotte's submissions of the champ make them the first challengers from the recent call-up?

- While King Barrett and Neville will likely rekindle their long-running issues on the undercard following The Jumpin' Geordie's pin of his countryman last night, what's next for Stardust? He "failed this city" in his battle with Green Arrow, but Stephen Amell hinted he might not be done with WWE.

- Intercontinental champion Ryback Shellshocked Big Show and outsmarted The it time to move on and get back to trying to make that strap mean something again? I mean, the answer is obviously yes, but how?

- After a double countout ending to Dolph Ziggler's first match in a month, we've got at least another few months of his feud with Rusev to look forward to. Up next, intergender tag match playa!

- Already pencilled in to open Night of Champions...Sheamus vs. Randy Orton!

SO MUCH FALLOUT from SummerSlam!

What do you think they should, or are afraid they will, do on Raw tonight?

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