5 Things to Watch For on the Oct. 22 Edition of WWE Monday Night Raw
The long road from Night of Champions to Hell in a Cell is nearing its conclusion, but there is one more episode of RAW left before WWE's October pay-per-view. After last week's surprising revelation of Ryback challenging CM Punk for the WWE Championship at the event, Raw is likely to focus largely on that feud.
Ryback has gotten the better of Punk on several occasions, so the titleholder will obviously want to one-up Ryback in order to have the upper hand heading into Hell in a Cell. The WWE is trying to make Ryback look like a very real threat to take Punk's championship, however, so it will be interesting to see how the build culminates.
In addition to that, the WWE will have to figure out what it's doing with John Cena, who continues to nurse an elbow injury. Also, the No. 1 contenders for Team Hell No's Tag Team Championships will be determined, and perhaps a few more matches will be added to the Hell in a Cell card as well since things are looking fairly light as of now.
Here are the top five things that you should keep an eye on while watching the go-home edition of Monday Night Raw.
Will CM Punk or Ryback Have Momentum Heading into Hell in a Cell?
If Hell in a Cell were to be held tonight, then Ryback would obviously have all of the momentum in his favor, but there is still one episode of Raw left for CM Punk to swing things the other way. Ryback has thwarted Punk's physical and verbal attacks against Mick Foley, Jim Ross and Vince McMahon over the past few weeks, and he even hit him with Shell Shocked at the close of last week's show.
Punk has been the WWE Champion for nearly a year, so it isn't integral that he is made to look strong, but the writers may want to give him at least one positive moment prior to the pay-per-view. At the same time, though, Ryback is an experienced competitor who needs to be molded into a challenger who people believe can end Punk's incredible reign.
Most people would be extremely surprised if Ryback were to beat Punk at Hell in a Cell, myself included, but the casual fans look at him and see a guy who should be able to rag-doll Punk. Since CM Punk is already so established and entrenched as a top guy, I would give Ryback the last laugh heading into Hell in a Cell in order to create some doubt about the potential result.
What Will the WWE Do with John Cena?
The overwhelming sentiment last week was that Vince McMahon would choose John Cena to face CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell, but then WWE threw a curveball, as Ryback was the selection instead. The no contest at Night of Champions suggests that Cena was the top choice all along, but it is quite obvious that his elbow hasn't healed as quickly as hoped, and that forced the WWE's hand when it came to making Ryback No. 1 contender.
Cena's exclusion from the match could have been explained quite easily last week, but it was done in a peculiar way. Rather than simply having Cena say that he wasn't cleared by the doctors, he said that Punk needed a beatdown at Hell in a Cell and Ryback was just the guy to give it to him. He then led the crowd in a loud "feed me more" chant as Ryback signed on the dotted line.
It was quite bizarre to see Cena willingly step away from a WWE Championship match, and I'm interested to see how he is handled this week. Will his injury be used as an excuse? Will it be ignored completely? Will he even appear on Raw or at Hell in a Cell? None of that is certain at this point, but WWE has come up with something for the face of the company.
Who Will Become No. 1 Contenders for the Tag Team Championships?
The finals of the tag-team tournament to determine the No. 1 contenders for the Tag Team Championships were supposed to be held last week, but with Rey Mysterio under the weather, the match was moved to this week's edition of Raw. In the bout, Mysterio and Sin Cara will face Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow for the right to take on Kane and Daniel Bryan for their titles at Hell in a Cell on Sunday.
The tournament started a few weeks ago with eight teams participating, and it has since been whittled down to two, with Team Rhodes Scholars being the obvious favorite. Although you could say that Team Hell No as a whole is technically a tweener squad with Kane leaning face and Bryan leaning heel, the fans love them as a unit and give them overwhelming support. With that in mind, the odds are stacked against Mysterio and Sin Cara in their pursuit of the straps.
I do believe that we will see Mysterio and Sin Cara capture the titles soon enough, but that time hasn't yet come. Kane and Bryan have a lot left to do when it comes to rebuilding the tag-team division, and that means they must retain at Hell in a Cell. Team Rhodes Scholars is a very good heel tandem, but the team is only temporary and isn't a real threat to win the Tag Team Championships.
Team Hell No needs to have a quality defense at a pay-per-view, and the duo of Rhodes and Sandow will help them in that regard.
Will Antonio Cesaro's Hell in a Cell Opponent Be Determined?
With the exception of the Tag Team Championships, the United States Championship is really the only major title that has yet to be put on the line for Hell in a Cell. Antonio Cesaro has been very impressive as an individual since taking the strap from Santino Marella at SummerSlam, but he hasn't been put in an actual feud since winning the championship and definitely needs an angle of some sort in order to take the next step.
Cesaro has dominated lower-level competition such as Brodus Clay, Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel and Ted DiBiase over the past month, but there aren't really any believable challengers. There are hardly any good mid-card faces, and Cesaro has beaten pretty much all of the possible contenders. With that in mind, it is unclear who Cesaro will face at Hell in a Cell, if anyone.
Having him face the winner of a pre-show battle royal, as was the case at Night of Champions, is a possibility, but that would be overkill. Given the choice, I would have Jack Swagger return as a pro-American face, aiming to beat the smug European. Swagger is back on the house show circuit, so he should be back on the regular roster very soon, and since he needs a change of pace anyway, making him the No. 1 contender for the U.S. title would be sensible.
What Other Matches Will Be Added to the Hell in a Cell Card?
As things currently stand, there are only five matches set for Hell in a Cell, so at least two or three more will obviously have to be added between now and Sunday night. There are several upper-echelon superstars without a match right now as well, with Dolph Ziggler being the most notable among them. Who Ziggler or anyone else is going to face is unclear, but the WWE clearly needs to add a little more meat to what looks like a very thin card.
Ziggler has been handled very poorly since winning Money in the Bank, as he owns pay-per-view losses to Chris Jericho and Randy Orton and may not even have a match at Hell in a Cell. I initially thought that he might face Ryback, but that theory was shot down when Ryback was chosen to face CM Punk for the WWE Championship. With that no longer on the table, there is nothing logical for Ziggler to do.
My best guess is that he won't have a match and will attempt to cash in on Sheamus, but will ultimately be foiled again. Aside from Ziggler, Wade Barrett and a few other upper mid-card guys aren't on the Hell in a Cell radar either, so hopefully, the writers figure out something for them to do.