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WWE Raw preview (August 31, 2015): Focus on the future

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Mother Nature looks like she'll play along, so we should be a go for Raw in Tampa, Florida tonight.

Part-timers Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker have exited stage right, making room for Sting! Last week's packed show that actually did a lot more to advance storylines than the four hour event that preceded disappointed in the ratings, which can make Vince K. McMahon do all manner of crazy and/or brilliant things.

Let's see what they're promising for tonight, and what we think of it, right now.

It's my Sting in a Box

Like Undertaker before him, The Man Called Sting must have been sitting at home thinking on his WrestleMania defeat and decided he wasn't that okay with it after all.

Last most of us saw him, he was shaking hands with Triple H after being beated in what turned into a D-Generation X vs. nWo showdown in Levi's Stadium (not counting a WWE Network-exclusive "see you later" segment with Bo Dallas from the night after that's been removed from WWE's YouTube page). Not buying Triple H's good guy routine from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, or Stephanie McMahon, savior of Divas, Stinger stepped in when John Cena has been banished for AA-ing Jon Stewart to stand up to The Authority's on-again, off-again villainy.

Replacing the statue of WWE and United States champion Seth Rollins, The Icon waited out a birthday sing-a-long and a Rollins promo to issue a silent challenge for the more prestigious belt. A gauntlet the humilated champ and his mentor were only too happy to pick up.

The TNA Hall of Famer will open tonight's extravaganza, presumably by using his words to explain his actions.

What they should do: At Night of Champions, I'd expect an overbooked affair. The 56 year old Sting looked great - he might even look good wrestling without his t-shirt! - but he's still fifty-freaking-six years old. That means Hunter and probably a variety of his cronies will probably get involved, and Sting won't even be able to call on his good friend Hulk Hogan this time. The end game for his WWE run is likely going over The Authority (assuming that Vince's desire to have babyfaces win feuds overcomes his desire to book things associated with WCW like crap).

For now, though, keep the focus on Rollins. Creative did a pretty good job with this last week following his latest assisted accomplishment, and they should keep things going in that direction for as long as they can.

Every guy chasing Seth is going to have pretty much the same promo, at least for the foreseeable future. "You're great, but you cut corners, and I'm going make you beat me straight up to prove you're for real". And that sounded great coming from Cena, but it will sound even better coming from a living legend - and the only guy who can say that he took on perhaps the best and most famous great-but-corner-cutting faction during the Monday Night War.

It also reminds a younger generation who only saw this guy in a nostalgia bout last Spring that he is a really big deal, which reinforces that Rollins getting to face him is a really big deal. And the great thing about a speech like that is it also sets up a larger showdown with The Authority at a later date without ever naming them.

What we're afraid they'll do: Focus on Triple H, and the McMahons, with little attention paid to the dual champ. Bring Cena out to remind us that he'll be the one to feud with The Architect long-term, probably working in some more backhanded compliments to Sting about having been in the minor leagues.

Salvaging a Revolution

After more of the same old stakes-free team warfare at SummerSlam, and a nightmare of a follow-up on last week's Raw, the women of WWE's main roster had a bit of a meltdown. A possible huddle with the powers-that-be backstage later, the Divas actually started cutting promos on each other instead of the crowd.

A short tag match on SmackDown looked like we might be back to more of the same, but this announcement from JoJo makes it seem like the increased frequency with which announcers have been mentioning the length of Nikki Bella's title reign, and rumors that Miz TV was supposed to tease dissention among PCB, might actually lead to something.

Becky, Charlotte and Paige compete to determine Nikki's next challenger tonight.

EXCLUSIVE: Jojo announces the first ever Divas Beat-The-Clock ...

BREAKING NEWS: This Monday on WWE Raw, #TeamPCB will compete in the FIRST EVER Divas Beat-The-Clock Challenge to see who will be the No. 1 Contender for the Divas Championship!!!

Posted by WWE on Saturday, August 29, 2015

Plus, the announcement doesn't involve Stephanie...giving the angle on tonight's show a fighting chance of actually getting over one of the wrestlers.

What they should do: Becky Lynch wins. A real change in WWE's presentation of women's wrestling has to start with a great showcase of women's wrestling. Whether or not Vince & company go along with Geno's suggestion to main event Raw with a Divas title match, the woman who has been working rings all over the world since she was a teen - and gotten over nearly exclusively on her workrate - is the best hope for a bout that makes the needed impression.

What we're afraid they'll do: Paige vs. Nik, round 3,042. Or even worse, a Team B.A.D. run-in before the final PCB-er can beat one of her teammates' times, leading to more of the trios action on which fans have already soured.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Sister Abigail's Black Sheep is here, and Braun Strowman is giving Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose fits. It's still not clear what form this feud will take for the next pay-per-view (PPV), but after The Shield guys got leveled by Bray Wyatt's new recruit twice last week, expect some kind of reckoning tonight.

- Everyone was expecting more of The New Day and PrimeTime Players battling for the tag belts, just with more trombone now that Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods had the straps again. But then those darn Dudleyz showed up last week, and now tables - and the Positive Ones' championship - are at risk.

- The whole WWE roster seems to agree on one thing: f*** Big Show.

- Sheamus has the Money in the Bank briefcase, but despite rumors floating around this weekend, does not yet have custom sideplates for his WWE championship.

- Ryback has the Intercontinental title, but despite the fervent wished of the internet, does not yet have a challenger in either Kevin Owens, Cesaro or both.

- Dolph Ziggler has Lana raiding his wardrobe, Rusev has Hot Summer wearing Lana's old clothes, and the two men will have a rematch of their SummerSlam bout that ended in a double countout...that will probably set-up a mixed tag match for the September 20 PPV in Houston, Texas.

Night of Champions here we come!

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