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WWE Raw preview (Aug. 29, 2016): Come out to play

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After a quick trip South of the Border, Raw sets up shop in Houston for what could be a history making night.

The Headliner

Sadly, Finn Bálor didn’t even get to keep the WWE Universal championship for 24 hours before a seriously torn labrum sent him to the operating room. Now he’ll watch along with the rest of us as Raw puts on the biggest (at least from among those not exclusive to WWE Network) match in the ‘new era’ to determine who becomes the second man to hold the red brand’s new top prize.

Two of the men who will participate in the Fatal 4Way main event tonight (Aug. 29) are former WWE champs. In fact, most of us assumed it would be Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns fighting for the belt at SummerSlam instead of Rollins & Bálor.

But the other half of the equation is more surprising. Kevin Owens is a former Intercontinental champion who’s been on the cusp of the main event since he showed up and verbally & physically assaulted John Cena last Summer. Big Cass has never held a title in his WWE career (and didn’t pin or submit anyone to get this title shot), but has impressed fans and backstage brass alike with his power game and quick wit.

Will Vince McMahon go with another newcomer to lead his flagship brand? Or was the charismatic Irishman our only chance for a non-Shield future?

There are a myriad of kayfabe and behind-the-scenes narratives at play in the quest to become the first person to defend Raw’s new title... you’re gonna want to tune in and see them continue to play out.

And who knows? Maybe “The Kevin Owens Show” will hit prime-time?

The Title Scene

Another injury - this one not requiring surgery, thank goodness - changed the Women’s title picture as well last week. Sasha Banks is out for a while and Charlotte is once again champ. In a thin division, the powers-that-be called on their ace-in-the-hole, and Bayley is finally on the main roster. She got a great reception in Brooklyn. Now we see how well that translates to other markets - and what Vince’s vision of and for the Hugster is.

Is Rusev banged up in real life, or just in-story from the beating Reigns laid on him at SummerSlam? The United States champ has taped ribs to help explain why he couldn’t put away the Big Dog and was unwilling to finish things with Enzo Amore’s seven-foot friend. Whatever the problem is, there will surely be a rumor blaming in on his ravishing bride soon.

So, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows technically beat The New Day at SummerSlam, but’s preview for tonight isn’t focused on the tag titles, but on who the “Doctors” will jump next after sending the Dudleyz into retirement. Shouldn’t they target Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods? Sure, E’s kind of made them look like chumps for messing with his deal, but who else is positioned to feud for the belts, and not otherwise tied up in the main event?

Other stuff to keep an eye on:

- Speaking of which, are Chris Jericho and Enzo just gonna corner their tag partners, or...

- It’s Nia Jax’s turn in the squash rotation.

- Even though it’s not his week, the company website is asking if he can be stopped. The more important question, however, after Braun Strowman crushed guys looking for money and sex, is what will the motive of his next victim be?

- Her brother is not happy with the $500 fine Commissioner Stephanie McMahon levied against Brock Lesnar for his actions at the end of Aug. 21’s pay-per-view (PPV). But I’m guessing neither Steph, Brock or Paul Heyman care.

- If the former Prime Time Players have to feud over Bob Backlund, at least don’t ask Titus O’Neil to cut anymore promos about it.

Four weeks until Clash of Champions!

What will you be looking for on Raw tonight?

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