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WWE Raw preview (July 18, 2016): Managing, generally

It may be the smallest state, but Rhode Island is getting a big show tonight as the last Raw before the brand split sends it home for Battleground from Providence!

The Headliner

Last Monday, WWE champ Dean Ambrose was tired of hearing his rival, Seth Rollins, run down his “brother”, the suspended Roman Reigns. More than that, he was tired of being treated like an afterthought in the upcoming Shield Triple Threat on Sunday’s pay-per-view (PPV) - even while he’s holding the top prize in the company.

Seeing how Dean has proclaimed himself a fighting champ AND a little crazy, he went ahead and put his title on the line six nights before he was scheduled to do it in Washington, D.C.

The match was approved because Stephanie McMahon can’t stand to see Dean as the face of her company, so much she can’t wait until Tuesday to simply not select him for the Raw brand she’ll be running in the roster split draft. Most fans seem to be thinking either Steph finds a way to make sure Ambrose isn’t the champ come draft day, a.k.a. SmackDown’s live Tuesday premiere, or that some kind of controversial finish builds to the Triple Threat and/or gives WWE and excuse to debut a new belt.

Either way, this could be the last time these two face each other one-on-one for a while. Could the champ shock the world by beating his betrayer one-two-three?

The Title Scene

Her Women’s title won’t be on the line Sunday, and that may be a good thing for Charlotte. Neither she nor her sidekick Dana Brooke can seem to stop Sasha Banks within the confines of an actual match - and it’s anybody’s guess who The Boss is bringing as a partner for their PPV tag bout.

On their compound in a swamp somewhere, the Wyatt Family seemed to have gotten the best of The New Day. But the tag champs escaped in a swarm of fireflies, and now it’s unclear how much positivity Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods are experiencing heading into their six-man at Battleground. Good thing their Tag Team championship isn’t on the line.

He’s a plucky underdog who never gives up. But considering he’s trying to come for Rusev’s United States belt, and the Bulgarian likes to break people, Zack Ryder may want to recruit more back-up than just Dolph Ziggler.

Next phase of Bob Backlund’s “Make Darren Young Great Again” plan is to capture the Intercontinental title. And since the Miz doesn’t appear to be taking the threat seriously, Young just might be able to do it.

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

There are other Battleground matches, a non-title feud of major import (#BeatUpJohnCena... howudoin?) and even an undercard program or two which are entertaining (hi Breezango!), but from the Ambrose/Rollins match on down, this is all about setting the stage and keeping fans excited for tomorrow night’s draft on the first live episode of SmackDown in its new Tuesday time slot.

Of immediate significance, Vince gave the Commissioners McMahon until tonight to choose General Managers, lest he pick one for them. Shane announced he had an agreement with someone for SmackDown, and the rumor mill immediately focused on Daniel Bryan. Stephanie’s been mum on her plans (although, they should at least address her husband and former Authority co-star’s status whether Triple H is the pick or not... we haven’t seen him since he dropped the title to Roman at WrestleMania, after all).

Whoever they end up being, these GMs will get as much or more screen time as the McMahons week-to-week while WWE heads into an extremely important period.

Plus, talent themselves may finally begin currying favor with the power brokers, and angling to be drafted by one show or the other... especially now that we know the rules.

It’s usually used hyperbolically, but in many ways its true about this show... after tonight, nothing will be the same.

Last show before the brand split (and Battleground)!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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