Last week's WWE Raw will be tough to top, but the Sept. 23 episode has the ammunition to do so.
Last Monday's Raw was more entertaining than the Night of Champions pay-per-view it followed. Randy Orton reverted back to a darker side of himself, Daniel Bryan finally got some allies on his side and Big Show knocked out a Hall of Famer.
Those stories are sure to continue along with rivalries that will lead to bouts at Battleground.
That new addition to the pay-per-view schedule is less than two weeks away. WWE is sure to use Monday's Raw to sell the two championship matches already scheduled and add some fights to the card.
In addition, fans are going to get a look at what the final roster for WWE 2K14 looks like. A complete roster reveal is scheduled for Monday's Raw.
The upcoming video game already boasts today's biggest stars from John Cena to Bryan along with names from the past such as Randy Savage, Ric Flair and Goldberg. Fans will soon see which members of the current roster make it on alongside them.
As for the in-ring action fans can get hyped for, one Superstar is making his return in his hometown, another seems poised to come back and a familiar authority figure likely stays out of the limelight for now.
Who to Expect
Chicago fans will welcome CM Punk back after Ryback sent him crashing through a table at Night of Champions. The energy of one of the best crowds in wrestling is sure to make this a memorable night.Ryback and Paul Heyman. With the Battleground card needing some additions, Ryback vs. Punk is likely to be set on Monday. Heyman and Punk's rivalry is already teeming with emotion, so there's little work to do from a narrative standpoint.
Ryback simply steps into Axel's role as that story continues on.
Monday may not be the only return fans see on Monday. The timing is right for Cody Rhodes to seek his vengeance.
For three straight weeks, WWE Raw has been home to the Rhodes family saga.
Rhodes lost his job after losing to Randy Orton, then Goldust failed to win it back the following week. On last week's episode, their father came out to discuss the situation but ended the night tasting Big Show's fist and waking up in a medical center in Cleveland.
Should the pattern continue, Monday's Raw will continue to highlight Rhodes' story.
With no more wrestlers in the family to turn to, perhaps it's the man who is at the heart of this who makes his way back with revenge on his mind. As PWMania.com reported, Rhodes was written off TV so that he could get married and go on his honeymoon and would be "brought back to the storylines in a few weeks."
Rhodes is now hitched, and a few weeks have passed. Having him charge back into the spotlight now would be great timing.
It would not only take advantage of several weeks of Rhodes-centered drama, but it would allow for enough time to book and hype a match for him at Battleground. Would he go up against Triple H himself or have to earn his way back into the WWE by defeating Big Show or a member of The Shield?
"It's a fighting family, and that there...is the family gold-mine..." soundbyte from #TheOne and inspiration for my next career venture.— Cody Rhodes/Runnels (@CodyRhodesWWE) September 16, 2013
There's a chance that Vince McMahon stomps down to the ring at some point as well.
James Caldwell of PWTorch.com writes, "WWE continues to list Mr. McMahon for Raw TV despite McMahon being off TV for several weeks while Triple H and Stephanie McMahon represent the family in the power trip storyline."
WWE could be waiting to play the Mr. McMahon card at the right time or else has realized that the narrative is moving along excellently without him.
Triple H and Stephanie are doing such a magnificent job that adding the patriarch to the party would almost be overkill. Mr. McMahon can remain on the sidelines until the story needs a new spark.
Dissecting the Five-Point Preview
The five-point preview on WWE.com by Mitch Passero offers answers through which questions he chose to ask.
A group of fan favorites including Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder and The Prime Time Players defied Triple H's authority and aided Bryan against The Shield and Orton on last Monday's Raw. The following edition of SmackDown saw them pitted against The Shield in several 3-on-1 handicap matches.
What happens to these men next? Passero's preview includes a question awash with foreshadowing.
He writes, "Is a rebellion imminent?"
Despite being fearful of losing their jobs as Rhodes did, these babyfaces fought back against Triple H's tyranny. Expect Triple H to swing back once more, and eventually for the entire situation to explode. A revolution is just too exciting of an option to not happen.
AJ's quest to defeat each of the stars from Total Divas led to her knocking off Naomi on last Friday's SmackDown. Passero asks, "Which Diva will AJ look to tangle with next?"
All signs point to Natalya here.
It was Natalya and AJ who barked at each other while both doing commentary and Natalya who did commentary for the aforementioned SmackDown match. WWE is clearly positioning these two for a Divas bout—expect their animosity to intensify.
A match between them at Battleground is imminent.
Once it was made official that Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio would battle for the World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground, Del Rio attacked Van Dam backstage.
Passero poses the question, "Will RVD be out for retribution tonight on Raw?"
It wouldn't be WWE if he didn't. We can't expect them to find a non-violent solution to their problems. Van Dam will retaliate and add fuel to the fire both men are building for Battleground.
According to backstage reports, it looks to be Van Dam's last stand in WWE for the time being.
Wrestling Observer, via WrestleZone.com, says that Van Dam’s current contract is "set to expire shortly after Battleground." That has the rumor mill churning about how it will affect the world-title match.
Van Dam is not guaranteed to lose, though. Damien Sandow could pounce on a drained Van Dam and swipe the championship from him. Keep an eye on how much Sandow is featured on Monday.
The more we see him clutching that Money in the Bank briefcase, the more likely he uses it on Oct. 6.