5 Things to Watch For on the Oct. 15 Edition of WWE Monday Night Raw
After a lackluster episode of Raw two weeks ago, WWE bounced back in a big way, as chairman Vince McMahon made his on-screen return to deliver a state of the WWE address. It was interrupted by WWE Champion CM Punk, however, and that led to an all-out brawl between them later in the night.
Punk escaped when Ryback and John Cena came to McMahon's aid, but Vince dropped an ultimatum on Punk. The champion has been dodging both Ryback and Cena for the past few weeks, so he will have to decide which one he will face at Hell in a Cell on this week's edition of Raw.
With Cena's health status in question, however, it is anyone's guess as to who Punk will ultimately choose. The writers have done a very nice job since Night of Champions making sure that the WWE Championship is the most important thing in the company, and that figures to be apparent yet again on Monday night.
In addition to Punk, Cena, Ryback and McMahon, there is plenty to follow with regards to the mid-card and tag-team scenes as well, so Raw should be stuffed to the rafters with action. Here are the top five things you should be watching for during Raw this week.
CM Punk to Pick John Cena or Ryback for Hell in a Cell
Most WWE fans have thought since Night of Champions that WWE Champion CM Punk would once again defend his title against John Cena at Hell in a Cell, especially after the controversial draw at the last pay-per-view, but it is no longer a sure thing. Vince McMahon said last week that Punk would have to choose either Cena or Ryback, though, so we should know the Hell in a Cell main event by night's end.
If Cena is healthy enough to wrestle, then he is clearly going to be the pick, but absolutely everything is contingent on his elbow and how quickly it heals. Cena has always proven to be a quick healer, but he was very limited last week, and it showed when he threw Punk back into the ring. It didn't look like he could do much of anything with that arm, and that is something that could pose a major problem.
I have thought since the beginning that Ryback was simply a contingency plan, and I still do believe that, but Plan B may become the go-to option on Monday. WWE has done a nice job of integrating Ryback into the main-event scene without actually forcing him into the main event at Hell in a Cell, but that may ultimately happen.
My guess is that Cena will be the pick in hopes that two more weeks of rehabilitation will do the trick. If it turns out that he isn't ready, then there can always be an attack angle where Punk "re-injures" Cena's elbow. There is simply too much to lose by doing Punk vs. Ryback, so the WWE will do everything in its power to avoid it.
What Is John Cena's Medical Status with Hell in a Cell Drawing Near?
Many are questioning whether or not John Cena will be ready to face WWE Champion CM Punk at Hell in a Cell, but I'm not sure even Cena knows the answer to that at this point. Cena is the ultimate company guy, and he knows how important it is for him to be in the main event against Punk, so he'll definitely do everything in his power to make it happen, but if his body doesn't cooperate with him, then he may have to step aside.
We may not find out Cena's status for sure on Raw, but it should be a lot easier to see where he stands. If Cena moves the arm as gingerly as he did last week, then that probably doesn't bode well for his chances of competing at Hell in a Cell. If Cena is able to engage physically in some manner, though, then perhaps there is a chance.
Whatever the case, WWE has options. Punk can pick either Cena or Ryback and stick with that selection, or he could pick one them only for it to change down the line. I can definitely see Punk going with Cena only for that to be changed prior to Hell in a Cell based on Cena's condition. Everything seems to be pretty touch and go at this point, so the WWE has to tread carefully.
As much as I like to see new guys in the main-event scene, I'm pulling for Cena to be ready in time for Hell in a Cell. It would be very easy to carry the Punk vs. Cena feud up until Royal Rumble, and that is precisely what the WWE should do. Ryback may be a main-event performer at some point, but he simply isn't ready yet.
Will Vince McMahon Make Another Appearance?
Vince McMahon appeared on Raw last week for the first time since the 1,000th episode and reminded many fans why they came to love the product. Despite being 67 years of age, he looked like the Vince of old, as he cut a great promo on CM Punk and went toe-to-toe with the WWE Champion in an old-fashioned slobberknocker to end the show. The WWE needed something big after lackluster ratings the previous week, and McMahon delivered.
Although his presence for this week's show hasn't been officially announced, I'm guessing that Vince will indeed be there. He told Punk that he would have to choose John Cena or Ryback as his Hell in a Cell opponent this week, so that means McMahon will want to be there in person for the official announcement.
I doubt Vince would be as physically involved as he was last week, but things are always better when he is in the fold. A.J. Lee may technically be the Raw general manager, but nobody actually believes that she has any real power. It is well-known that McMahon runs the joint, though, so having him force Punk's hand will be infinitely more impactful than if A.J. is charged with the same job.
At this point, I don't really care what Vince does or says. I just want him on Raw as often as possible. I feel pretty confident that he will be once again this week, so we're almost guaranteed to see a dynamite show.
Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender Tournament Finals Set to Take Place
After a couple weeks of solid matches, the tournament to determine the No. 1 contenders for the Tag Team Championships will come to a close on Raw. Rhodes Scholars and the team of Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara have advanced to the finals, and they will do battle in what is sure to be an entertaining contest. I'd be fine with either team winning, but there is one clear-cut favorite right now.
Since Team Hell No, comprised of Kane and Daniel Bryan, is leaning toward the face end of the spectrum at the moment, Rhodes Scholars would appear to be the likely winners. Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow got into it with Team Hell No on Smackdown a few weeks back, and they would be great opponents at Hell in a Cell, with Kane and Bryan receiving the favorable crowd reaction.
With that said, I would rather see Mysterio and Sin Cara win since they seem like more of a traditional team, but I understand why they probably won't.
One possible solution that hasn't really been talked about, though, is a draw of some kind that leads to a triple threat at Hell in a Cell. That match would involve six great athletes, and I believe it would really help get the revamped tag division over.
I don't anticipate that happening, as The Prime Time Players will probably interfere on Rhodes Scholars' behalf, but you never know.
What Is Next for Dolph Ziggler?
Hell in a Cell is just a couple weeks away, and Mr. Money in the Bank Dolph Ziggler doesn't currently have a logical opponent. He has feuded with Chris Jericho and Randy Orton since securing the briefcase, but Jericho is touring with his band while Orton has moved on to Alberto Del Rio, so Ziggler is on the outside looking in. I suppose he could go over a mid-carder like R-Truth, Brodus Clay, Santino Marella or someone similar, but that wouldn't help him at all.
If Ziggler doesn't end up getting a match set between Monday and Hell in a Cell in two weeks, then it's very likely that he will cash in his Money in the Bank contract on Sheamus. Ziggler has threatened the World Heavyweight Champion in recent weeks, and since he has no direction at the moment, I can see the writers pulling the trigger.
The only other potential option in my mind is a match with Ryback. It remains to be seen whether CM Punk will take on John Cena or Ryback at Hell in a Cell, but if Ryback is passed over, then he will be another guy close to main-event status with no direction in sight. It wouldn't be ideal, since Ziggler would obviously lose, but at least it would get him on the card.
I have hated the way that Ziggler has been booked since winning Money in the Bank, but hopefully, the creative team will surprise me something of note on Raw, or some time prior to Hell in a Cell at the very least.