Normally, the return of Brock Lesnar brings thoughts like, well at least one segment will be good. But last week's Brock-free affair produced a much more all-around balanced show.
How will Raw in San Jose, California fare with The Beast Incarnate and his Advocate, but minus John Cena?
We dig into the big angles and try to figure that out...
Our sunshine after the rain
No shoulds, or coulds. Tonight, we'll continue saying goodbye to Roddy Piper. Vince McMahon will be there for a ten-bell salute, bag pipes will probably play, and we'll be treated to many of the numerous memories The Rowdy One entertained us with throughout his unforgettable career.
It's also a less permanent farewell to former Divas champion, Layla. Her retirement was big news for a hot minute last week, and will probably get a mention tonight - perhaps with a backstage scene. But this show is for Hot Rod. And for that old show biz truism: the show must go on...
At Battleground, The Undertaker returned to prevent Lesnar from winning the WWE title. The following night The Dead Man opened the show by explaining he was okay with having his WrestleMania streak broken, but he wasn't okay with Paul Heyman talking about it for more than a year.
After The Authority booked Taker vs. Lesnar as the main event of SummerSlam, Heyman came to the ring to hype the match-up, but was interupted - and menaced - by The Phenom. Brock came to his rescue and, almost the entire roster and some local police later, their brawl ended with both men's hands zip-tied together.
What they should do: With only two-thirds of the feud in the house (Undertaker is not booked), the company's preview is playing up Lesnar's "sending a message". Will that message be much more than the Heyman promo we were calling for last week in this space? It doesn't need to be, but it's always fun to watch to watch Brock smash.
Having been down the inanimate object road recently with J & J Security's Caddy, and given that The Beast Incarnate is a face still, maybe it's a good time for The New Day to try to bring some positivity - and continuity - by cutting in on Paul's promo?
What we're afraid they'll do: "Punish" Hogan, and further muddy Brock's alignment, by having him beat up Curtis Axel and provide an injury write-off for the Meta-Powers.
The IWC's not big enough for the two of us
Ever since John Cena finished his pursuit of the United States championship, Kevin Owens keeps finding himself in Cesaro's path. After a couple of run-ins ended with KO's Pop-Up Powerbomb, Owens explained to Michael Cole that he's protecting his spotlight by mucking up the works for the Swiss' latest attempt to grab a brass ring. The King of Swing got the last word for the week, however, when he pinned the former NXT champ in SmackDown's big tag team main event.
What they should do: By all means, continue. While this program is guaranteed to have so-called smarks drooling at the matches and worried to death about the next storyline for the loser, it would be nice to convey a sense of purpose to casual fan.
Perhaps somewhere along the line, a title shot could be placed on the line? Not a Money in the Bank-type deal, but a shot at one of the belts on a specified date. Night of Champions is coming up in September...
What we're afraid they'll do: Probably give the winner a title shot, since there's a decent chance Cena will be holding half the titles WWE awards to men by then, and we've seen what pay-per-view (PPV) feuds with the Face That Runs the Place can do for an indy darling on the rise.
Who's ready for Prime Time?
Tag champs Darren Young & Titus O'Neil are getting more time at commentary and on the public relations circuit than they are in the ring. That's because no one really knows who their next challengers will be.
Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods keep stalking them, but have failed in a multiple attempts to regain the straps. Lucha Dragons & Los Matadores battled each other on Raw and joined forces on Thursday to defeat The New Day & The Ascension. After the bout, the two teams went right back to bickering over this exact question.
What they should do: One thing Creative is good with doing among the pairs is quickly elevating contenders. PTP were a joke right up until they weren't, and they were champs within a few weeks of a valiant effort at Elimination Chamber, they were champs.
Sin Cara & Kalisto probably have more long-term potential, but Diego, Fernando & El Torito have been hustling through a variety of characters and gimmicks, and deserve the same kind of attaboy rub that Darren & Titus got. In Los Matadores case, it probably won't include a title win, but a clear cut heel turn and devious win over the fan-friendly Dragons would be a quick shot to the top.
Plus, an evil, high-flying tiny bull is a license to print money.
What we're afraid they'll do: Six words...Konnor & Viktor, #1 contenders.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- Our WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture is in limbo since Seth Rollins busted Cena's nose last Monday night. While we wait for word of whether the U.S. champ will be able to go in Brooklyn on August 23, the Architect can generate some real heat by claiming responsibility for John's first prolonged absence in quite some time.
- Roman Reigns went missing from TV last week, but he was back on the house show circuit this weekend, so business should pick back up in his program with Bray Wyatt. Luke Harper's back with Bray, so look for Dean Ambrose to circle back from miscellaneous duty to get his brother's back.
- Mr. Money in the Bank is still Sheamus. Randy Orton doesn't like him. As my colleague Tonya Rodgers points out, the words "Last Man Standing" were said a lot as it pertains to this feud on Thursday.
- The formula for the Divas Revolution appears to be that we'll get one tag match and one singles match tonight as they try to determine whether they'll do a Triple Threat for Nikki Bella's title or a big inter-faction tag team match at SummerSlam.
- Things are proceeding exactly according to Stardust's evil plans for Neville. If a emerald-clad superhero from The CW and Starling City is going to join the party, he should do so soon.
It's the first Raw of August...three more shows until SummerSlam.
What do you think they should, or are afraid they will, do on Raw tonight?