More than ever, the WWE Network era means that the action never stops for Vince McMahon's sports entertainment juggernaught. We hit a few major story beats last night in Houston with the Night of Champions pay-per-view (PPV), but mostly the saga will just keep rolling right along when Raw hits Laredo, Texas tonight.
Unfortunately, that means angles that aren't working or decisions that just plain don't make sense for you will still be happening tonight. But, there's always a chance those will get better...plus, the stuff that is clicking will be on the show, too.
With that half-hearted pep talk out of the way, let's pick apart what Vince and team might have in store for us tonight.
Bai Gawd! That's...oh, it's just Kane
You'd think going one and one in back-to-back title defenses would be enough for a guy. But if you're the star of Everybody Hates Seth, that's only half your problem.
Seth Rollins was pinned by John Cena, getting his win and his U.S. title back from SummerSlam. That loss has now been thoroughly vindicated since Jon Stewart was already AA-ed for interfering the night after the last PPV in Brooklyn. The WWE champ then tried to walk out on his next match with Sting, but Cena put a stop to that by slamming Rollins to the Toyota Center floor with his finisher.
The 56 year old Sting gave more than many of us thought he had, but didn't have enough to kick out when his Scorpion Death Lock was countered into a roll-up. And then it got weird.
Sheamus had been teasing a cash-in of his Money in the Bank contract all day, so it was no surprise when his music hit. After laying out a weary Rollins with a Brougue Kick, it looked like the Celtic Warrior might be wearing the company's top prize for the first time in years. But Kane, in full Demon regalia, appeared for the first time since Brock Lesnar destroyed him in the build to Battleground, not only rekindling his long-running issues with The Authority's golden boy, but making it clear to the Irishman that no one gets their hands on The Architect until he's done with him.
What they should do: His return essentially signifies a face turn, because in 2015 a pyromaniac in a mask is less evil than a corporate lackey. A enthused as most of us are at the prospect of Kane contending for the WWE title, we have to give Creative some credit for telling a longform story here...even if it's definitely a bit short-sighting to be following up using a guy Sting's age as #1 contender with a guy Kane's age in the same spot.
Using The Big Red Monster as Rollins' main foil for the next month or so actually accomplishes a few things. It gives him something to do while the main focus returns to Kane's "brother" and his feud with Lesnar, and pays off their feud on a show where their match won't have to close. It stalls Sheamus' plan to use his briefcase for a while, and gives us more of what's been an entertaining "there is no honor among thieves" tag team act he and Seth have been doing.
And it could be used to further the big picture program they seem set on, which is Rollins vs. Triple H. Seeing his old rival Kane's doubts about his hand-picked successor can be the impetus for Hunter to undermine the WWE champ some more...or better yet, Seth earning The Demon's respect could be something that triggers The Game's sense of insecurity and hopefully putting his protege over as a way to finalize the ex-Shieldman's face turn.
What we're afraid they'll do: They're subjecting us to a safe but boring Kane match (or several) in the WWE title picture. Beyond that, nothing scares me.
The Man of 1,004 Jobs
I seemed to have been in the minority, at least around these parts, but I popped for Break the Walls Down, the light-up jacket and the whole Y2J experience as Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns mystery partner against The Wyatts. Even though putting over another new talent, which he helped to do when he was rendered unconcious by Braun Strowman, is getting to be a cliche when it comes to Chris Jericho (kind of like his "surprise" returns) it was the right thing to do, not just for the strongman, but also for his partners, who didn't need to be pinned, tapped or snoozed on PPV.
He has history with Bray, so it made more sense that he would sign-up for a suicide mission. And, most importantly, his leaving the match with attitude could significantly change the story in some really interesting ways.
What they should do: First of all, my name's Sean and I'm a Jericholic.
That out of the way, I firmly believe that a return to smarmy heel Jericho will silence more than half of his critics. His best work was never as a tecnico, and the pops created by his early, more successful returns necessitated he work face. With the bloom off that rose, he's free to go back to doing what he does best.
Will that elevate whoever he works with, who in my fantasy booking would be Ambrose? Probably not, but neither of The Shield bros need elevating per se as much as they need something to do. And having Dean run off to avenge a perceived slight from Y2J provides fuel for the much speculated on Reigns heel turn. Either because he tells The Lunatic Fringe to let him handle The Wyatts alone since the partner thing hasn't really been working out, or since he'll feel abandoned by his brother or, in a truly warped rudo view of thing, both.
Ideally, you even have Bray and his minions lose a decisive match to Roman, but laugh in triumph when he eventually attacks Ambrose...claiming victory in corrupting WWE's chosen one.
What we're afraid they'll do: The Fozzy frontman goes right back to working house shows as a good guy while we do the mystery partner gimmick again for Hell in a Cell, where this time, Dean & Roman gain back-up from a holographic version of John Cena, who no-sells a possessed children's choir to pin Bray.
Other stuff to keep an eye on:
- Kevin Owens has a title again. Ryback will probably want his Intercontinental strap back, since KO raked his eyes to win it, but once he survives that rematch, the workhorse belt should ready to challenge the red, white and blue one for great matches fought in its name.
- Speaking of the U.S. championship, Cena has it again for a fifth time. Will the popular weekly open defenses of it resume, and are their interesting match-ups within the roster that we haven't already seen?
- Ding-dong, the witch is...well, she's just no longer champ. A weird week of storytelling in the women's scene ended with Nikki Bella in the record books and Charlotte as Divas champ, so...either everyone or no one won. We find out what the division looks like with someone other than Nikki on top for the first time in over 300 days tonight.
- Meanwhile, Paige didn't look as happy for her PCB teammate as Becky Lynch and Papa Ric did. Her losing streak to Sasha Banks and Team B.A.D. has to be weighing on her mind, too.
- All of us who signed our name to The New Day's petition to #SaveTheTables were betrayed last night when Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston & Big E celebrated their retention of the tag titles via disqualification by trying to put the Dudley Boyz through some perfectly good wood. The tables were turned (pun intended), but Bubba Ray & D-Von have to still be itching for another shot at winning their tenth WWE tag championship.
- Rusev's not over Lana, and he probably trusts Summer Rae less than ever after she hit him with a shoe and allowed gift-giver and creepy-pants-wearer Dolph Ziggler to secure a win over The Bulgarian Brute.
- Evil triumphed over good on the Kickoff show when The Cosmic Wasteland took down Neville & Lucha Dragons...but you probably don't need to worry about any of that until Thursday at the earliest.
WWE continues on the road past Night of Champions!
What do you think they should, or are afraid they will, do on Raw tonight?