Who's Hot and Who's Not Heading into Raw on August 19
Just 24 hours removed from a stellar SummerSlam pay-per-view, Monday Night Raw will hit the USA Network airwaves from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
There is a new WWE champion after a double-cross that shook the wrestling universe. Just moments after Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena to win the title in the most important match of his career, Triple H and Randy Orton conspired to take it away from him. The Game dropped Bryan with a Pedigree while Orton cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and stole the championship.
What explanation will Triple H have for a WWE Universe that is waiting with great anticipation to hear what he has to say following his actions at the conclusion of SummerSlam? More importantly, what state of mind will Bryan be in after seeing his childhood dream become a nightmare in one fell swoop?
Also at SummerSlam, CM Punk and Brock Lesnar tore the house down in one of the best matches of the year. It was a physical fight that lived up to the hype but in the end, it was well-timed interference from Paul Heyman and a brutal F5 onto a steel chair that allowed Lesnar to leave the Staples Center victorious.
Will Lesnar make an appearance on tonight's Raw? How much gloating will Heyman do? Will CM Punk try to get his hands on his former friend for the second night in a row?
After the biggest event of the summer shook Los Angeles Sunday night, there are a number of superstars entering Monday's Raw riding different waves of momentum. Who will arrive to the flagship show the hottest and who will limp in, their egos smashed and their career path suddenly uncertain?
These are the superstars who are hot and those who are not heading into the August 19 edition of Raw.
HOT: Alberto Del Rio
The World Heavyweight champion defeated Christian in a phenomenal wrestling match at SummerSlam and rolls into Monday's Raw riding a wave of momentum that he has not had since winning the title back in June at Payback.
For the first time in his title reign, he was put over a contender cleanly and did so while looking more aggressive and cerebral than ever.
Del Rio needs to continue building on his recent performances and is in position to do that. There are several very talented performers to work with in the coming months, including Rob Van Dam, Dolph Ziggler and the aforementioned Christian. Against all of those men, Del Rio has the opportunity to maintain that aggressiveness and cerebral storytelling.
Adding to his potential opponents in the coming months, Del Rio will also face the eventual return of Ricardo Rodriguez, who will not take kindly to being assaulted by his longtime friend and employer. What could the former personal ring announcer have in store for the champion and how could he affect his title reign?
Only time will tell.
For now, Del Rio enters Monday's Raw on the heels of a phenomenally worked wrestling match with the potentially for many more in the immediate future.
NOT: John Cena
The former WWE champion entered SummerSlam with the title but no one truly believed he would leave Staples Center with it still in his possession. In many ways, the face of the company and one of the biggest stars in wrestling history was a lame duck champion entering the summertime spectacular.
After catching a running knee to the side of the head and have his shoulders pinned to the mat in a decisive manner, Cena enters Monday Night Raw with no clear direction. An injury to his left elbow, which will reportedly require surgery, could result in some sort of beat down angle on the broadcast or it could very well mean that the former champion does not even appear.
Whatever the case may be, it is hard to remember a time when Cena meant as little to the immediate future plans of the WWE booking committee as he does right now.
HOT: The Wyatt Family
While the Ring of Fire match at SummerSlam may have been one of the worst pay-per-view bouts of the year, the affect the Wyatt Family has had on WWE programming, and the responses they receive from the WWE fan base, has been phenomenal.
Their entrance is one of the coolest the company has produced since Gangrel and The Brood back in the late-1990s and the characters themselves are completely fresh and intriguing.
Coming out of Sunday night's show, questions abound in regards to Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper's next move. Which superstar will they target next? What plans do they have for Kane, who they drug off with them following his loss to Wyatt? Most importantly, do they have a plan and, if so, when will it come into focus?
It is not often that characters come onto WWE programming and fans have no idea their story is heading. That is the case with the enigmatic, creepy new faction that has hit the scene and made an immediate impact.
Who knows what they have in store for the rest of the WWE superstars but, if they stay as exciting and interesting as they have been so far, it should bee a hell of a lot of fun finding out.
HOT: Daniel Bryan
Coming off of the performance of his life against John Cena in the main event of SummerSlam, Daniel Bryan enters Raw and the Honda Center in Anaheim as the most sympathetic, perhaps the most over, babyface on the roster.
His WWE Championship win, a moment that should have been a crowning achievement for the sport's greatest technician, was ruined when a conspiracy between Triple H and Randy Orton screwed him out of the title and transformed his childhood dream into a professional nightmare.
By the time Raw hits the airwaves on USA Network Monday night, fans will be solidly behind the man that overcame the odds, proved himself as a top contender and will stop at nothing to regain the title he had stolen from him.
Much in the same way that Steve Austin stood up to the corporate machine, run by Vince McMahon, who did not want a rebellious beer drinker as its champion, Bryan will be faced with the task of fighting past the oppressive upper management within WWE if he wants to relive the bliss of capturing the heavyweight title Sunday night.
The man referred to as "goat face" has been the hottest star in wrestling since April and he will remain that way, thanks to a storyline that will have fans begging for him to end the influence of Triple H and his handpicked champion, Randy Orton.
NOT: The Shield
Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns made a major impact on WWE programming throughout the first half of the year and when the collected the United States and Tag Team titles at Extreme Rules, it seemed as though their dominance over the sport's most recognizable stars would continue.
Somewhere along the line, however, the creative team's interest in the The Shield waned and as a result, an act that was extremely hot earlier in the year has fallen off significantly.
Rumors persisted that a backstage argument with Randy Orton led to a de-push for the trio. Whether that is factually correct or not remains a mystery but there has been a noticeable drop-off from where they were to where they currently are.
At SummerSlam, the second biggest show of the year, they were relegated to the pre-show. It was the second month in a row that they were left off of the main card.
Ambrose defended his US title against Rob Van Dam in a match that got the crowd inside the Staples Center hot for the rest of the show but really meant nothing in the long run.
The champion lost by disqualification after Reigns delivered a spear to Van Dam. The Big Show and Mark Henry chased The Shield out of the ring and assisted Van Dam back to his feet.
The match seemingly sets up a future six-man tag match but for The Shield, who spent most of the year involved in matches against legitimate main event stars in high profile spots on the card, their recent fall from grace has been disappointing, to say the least.
HOT: Randy Orton
After a year that has seen Orton float around the card aimlessly, with little to do and no clear career path, the Viper struck on Sunday night and made sure the second-half of 2013 is nowhere near as forgettable for him and World Wrestling Entertainment.
Six months passed with Orton serving as one of the top babyfaces in the company but, during that time, he had very few defined rivals and, more times than not, worked in six-man tag matches against The Shield because of a lack or direction.
That changed the moment he looked back over his shoulder and watched Triple H deliver a Pedigree to Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam before successfully cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and winning the WWE Championship.
Now, Orton will serve as the top bad guy on Monday nights. The chosen champion—the accepted champion of management—he will be the man that represented the villainous COO, Triple H, in his war of attrition against Bryan.
Long a performer that thrives in the role of a heel, Orton will have the opportunity to revert back to the days in which he kicked people in the head and liked it; in which he DDT'd the boss' daughter and sealed his assault on her with a kiss; in which he brutally and violently hurt people without remorse.
And he will do it under the protection of the company's COO.