With Survivor Series now less than a week away, Monday's go-home edition of RAW promises to be an important one. There are only three matches currently announced for Sunday's card, so the creative team figures to pack a lot of action into three hours in an effort to generate buzz for the pay-per-view.
The biggest storyline heading into Monday night is the status of rogue referee Brad Maddox. He helped CM Punk defeat Ryback at Hell in a Cell and explained himself last week by stating that his goal was to get noticed and receive a WWE contract as a superstar. He'll have his chance on RAW as he is slated to face Ryback for a $1 million contract.
Also, there is a big hole in the current Survivor Series card as Mick Foley's team is one wrestler short. The formation of the WWE Championship match between Punk, Ryback and John Cena removed both Punk and Ryback from the traditional five-on-five match and Foley has yet to name a replacement. He figures to do so on Monday.
Vickie Guerrero supposedly has more incriminating evidence relating to the alleged affair between John Cena and former RAW general manager A.J. Lee that she promised to make public. Perhaps more importantly than all of that, though, Jerry "The King" Lawler is set to make his return to commentary after suffering near-fatal heart attack a couple months ago.
Keep your eye on all of that and more when we tune in to Monday's edition of RAW.
Many fans were shocked and confused when referee Brad Maddox hit Ryback with a low blow and cost him his match against CM Punk at Hell in a Cell, but his actions were explained last week. Maddox has been a wrestler in WWE's developmental territory for quite some time and has always wanted to be a superstar. Since he was told that he didn't have what it took to make it, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Maddox asked for a match with Ryback and Vince McMahon accepted Maddox's proposal, going so far as to give him a $1 million contract if he manages to upset the beast. Conventional wisdom says that Ryback should make quick work of Maddox, especially since his only loss was the result of a massive screw job, but I have to believe that something big is bound to happen rather than Maddox getting squashed.
I have no doubt that Maddox is working with Punk, Paul Heyman and perhaps even A.J. Lee behind the scenes, so I have a feeling that he'll come out on top. The most logical way to book it would be to have somebody appear during the match and attack Maddox. That would give Maddox the disqualification victory and the contract that goes along with it.
I struggle to imagine who will help him, though. Punk is a candidate, but he seems intent on keeping his name out of the Maddox situation. Brock Lesnar could potentially interfere as well, but I feel like he'll be saved for Survivor Series. The best-case scenario may be for someone with their identity concealed by a mask to interfere. That way Maddox would win, and the storyline would continue with fans wondering who was responsible.
A couple weeks ago it was announced that a team led by Mick Foley would face a team led by CM Punk in a five-on-five elimination match at Survivor Series. I was very excited about the prospects of that match as were many other fans, but it was blown up last week. Vince McMahon made a triple-threat match between Punk, Ryback and John Cena instead, and the entire pay-per-view was turned on its head.
Dolph Ziggler supplanted Punk as a team captain and his squad was appropriately renamed Team Ziggler. Foley lost his main man in Ryback, however, and he has yet to choose someone else. That figures to happen on RAW, but Foley's options are pretty thin. The one glaring name out there is The Miz, who has been acting more and more like a face as of late, so his inclusion could cement his turn.
Failing that, Foley may decide to suit up himself. Foley initially said that he didn't want to be the weak link for his team, so he opted not to compete. With options almost nonexistent, however, Foley may not have any other choice. Aside from Miz or himself, I honestly don't see a name big enough to put in the match and make the fans care.
The fact that Team Foley and Team Ziggler are facing each other is somewhat odd. It made sense for Foley and Punk since they had a rivalry going, but Foley and Ziggler haven't been involved with each other in a year. They had a war of words prior to last year's Royal Rumble, however, I doubt many people remember that.
The elimination match went from a main-event-level contest to a random bout with few repercussions, so while I am looking forward to the match as a Survivor Series fan, the final Foley pick won't be impactful unless it's a total surprise like The Undertaker or Triple H.
A.J. Lee resigned from her post as RAW general manager a few weeks ago when Vickie Guerrero reported to the board of directors that she was having an inappropriate relationship with a WWE superstar. It was revealed that the superstar in question was John Cena and over the past couple weeks, Guerrero has presented evidence such as Cena and A.J. having dinner together and A.J. supposedly entering Cena's hotel room.
Nothing has been proven, but according to WWE.com, Vickie has even more evidence that she will make public on Monday. Everything is circumstantial to this point and Cena claims that Vickie even doctored some of the footage, so she'll have to come up with something more substantial to advance the angle. Last week, she said A.J. entered Cena's room in a "state of undress" but it was simply her entering what could have been anyone's room in a robe.
Vickie's motives initially appeared to be focused on getting A.J. out of power, but the fact that she has been so persistent would seem to suggest that she is more worried about sullying Cena's squeaky-clean reputation. With that in mind, I'm fairly confident that A.J. is actually working with Vickie. She ceded control to Vickie without putting up a fight and she has noticeably been admiring Cena lately, especially when they had a conversation backstage a couple weeks ago.
Because of that, A.J. is likely in the process of seducing Cena or already did, and Vickie may show some fairly revealing evidence on RAW. Ultimately A.J. will end up with either Dolph Ziggler or CM Punk, though, and her rendezvous with Cena is simply meant to distract him for the gain of those she is actually associated with.
One of the most frightening happenings in the history of WWE took place a couple months ago as Jerry "The King" Lawler passed out while providing commentary on RAW as he has for so many years. Lawler had suffered a significant heart attack and there was concern that it could potentially be fatal. Luckily for Lawler, though, it happened at a WWE event and it allowed for medical personnel to act swiftly and properly.
After several weeks of recovery, Lawler has finally been cleared to return to work and he will do so on Monday. Lawler has been a staple on the WWE announce team since the mid-1990s and things simply haven't been the same without him.
Although the quality of his commentary has gone down in recent years, seeing him back alongside Michael Cole will be a welcome sight because he has been a bigger part of RAW over the years than perhaps anyone else.
To think that there was concern that he would survive just a couple months ago, yet he is already set to return to doing what he loves is nothing short of amazing. Also, since Cole has become a full-fledged face during his absence and Jim Ross figures to remain part of the program for the time being while Lawler gets back into the swing of things, I anticipate the commentary being really good.
I'm obviously not suggesting that Lawler suffering a heart attack was good by any means, but I do expect him to return to the booth with more energy and excitement than he had prior to the incident. I have to believe that Lawler is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to continue doing what he has done so well for years, and he is likely to be reinvigorated by the entire situation.
The creative team probably feels as though it has a pretty solid trio of main events set up for Survivor Series, but there is literally nothing else to speak of on the card right now. CM Punk vs. Ryback vs. John Cena will headline the card with Big Show vs. Sheamus and the five-on-five elimination match being featured as well, however, the WWE can't honestly expect to fill an entire three-hour event without anything else on tap.
Obviously the writers are going to add some matches, but there aren't a lot of good options. One clear addition is a United States Championship match between Antonio Cesaro and R-Truth. The two of them have been going at it for the past couple weeks and Cesaro doesn't have anything else to do at the moment, so a U.S. title match might as well be thrown into the mix.
Also, Eve will probably defend her Divas Championship. She has already beaten Layla and Kaitlyn on a couple occasions, but she and Kaitlyn haven't yet had a singles match, so I anticipate that being booked as well. That would account for five matches, but there would still be several unused guys on the roster as well as some time to fill on the card.
A No. 1 contender's match between Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara and The Prime Time Players would be decent, but they just had a match against each other at Hell in a Cell, so I'd prefer another elimination match featuring Mysterio, Sin Cara, The Usos and Team CoBro against The Prime Time Players, Primo, Epico, Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. Not only would that help promote the WWE's tag-team division, but it would get several deserving superstars on the card as well.