With only six days until WWE's Battleground pay-per-view, this week's Raw emanated from the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss.
Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton would stand across the ring from one another just under a week away from their big WWE title match. Would their scheduled faceoff remain peaceful, or would the enemies' hatred for one another get the best of them, leading to a physical preview of the pay-per-view main event?
Elsewhere on the show, The Shield looked to gain a measure of revenge against Dolph Ziggler and The Usos, three men who were instrumental in their 11-on-3 Handicap Elimination match on last week's show. Would Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins pick up another impressive six-man tag match, or would Ziggler and The Usos shock the world by upsetting their opposition?
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon welcomed the Rhodes Family to Raw with the promise of a business proposal. Would it prove to be a ploy to further destroy the dynasty, or would Cody Rhodes have a fair shot at regaining his job?
All of those questions would be answered on the September 30 edition of Raw.
Here is a look at the good, the great and the awesome from Monday night's broadcast.
CM Punk Survives Big E Langston
The opening match of the evening saw CM Punk take on Big E Langston in what was a suitable preview of what fans can expect from Sunday's showdown between Punk and Ryback.
Langston utilized his strength advantage to wear down his smaller opponent before the Second City Saint, like a tenacious pit bull, fought back and picked up a hard-fought pinfall victory following the Go To Sleep.
Punk gains momentum heading into Sunday's show, and Langston looks strong in a competitive match against one of the sport's top stars.
The definition of a solid segment.
Six-Man Tag Team Match
Yes, it feels like the WWE Universe has been treated to different combinations of Dolph Ziggler, The Usos and The Shield for the past two months, but when those combinations produce the quality of matches as they have, the repetition is forgivable.
As has been the case in their previous matches, the faces brought great energy and excitement to the match, but the heels were quick to cut them off and methodically pick them apart for the majority of the contest.
The hot tag to Ziggler late in the bout brought the Mississippi fans to their feet and had some believing that the good guys may escape with a victory.
It was not meant to be as Roman Reigns caught Ziggler with a hellish spear and picked up the win for his team.
The match was a nice bit of continuity as The Shield gained a measure of revenge on three of the men who contributed to their defeat last week and three of the men who came to Daniel Bryan's aid, to the dismay of management, two weeks ago.
The Big Show Is Going to Cry Again...or Is He?
Monday night saw Big Show lose control of his emotions and threaten to knock out Triple H. He stomped into the COO's office, ordered Brad Maddox to go get the boss, then waited in said office for The Game to make an appearance.
As Show stewed, pacing back and forth, he was approached by a number of Biloxi's finest. The police officers were prepared to take the giant into custody for making threats against Triple H, but Stephanie McMahon intervened.
She brought back into focus the monetary issues Big Show was having in a very back-handed manner, humiliating him in front of the officers. To really humble him, she mentioned a conversation she had with Big Show's wife, who confided in her that he was not measuring up in other aspects of his personal life, either.
Having been embarrassed in front of complete strangers by one of his bosses, he sat down and began to tear up. Rather than feeling bad for himself, however, he rose from the sofa and walked across the room. He stared into a promotional poster for Triple H's new DVD release, then punched a hole in it and the wall behind it.
For the first time since becoming the sympathetic giant forced into acts of violence he wants no part of, Show became fed up with his abuse at the hands of his power-hungry bosses and let his emotions boil over.
He showed fire for the first time in a while and teased that his days of being the oversized toy for Stephanie and Triple H to manipulate are coming to an end.
CM Punk Feigns Injury, Canes Heyman
Following what was one of the more surreal moments in recent Raw history, that being Paul Heyman's proposal to Ryback that the massive Superstar become a Heyman Guy, CM Punk's music played and the Best in the World entered the arena through the crowd in an attempt to catch both his former friend and Ryback off guard.
As he hopped the guardrail, however, he crumbled in pain, apparently injuring his knee. He hopped around ringside but exhibited no ability to stand or walk on the inured body part. The ringside physician checked on Punk.
The crowd fell silent as there was legitimate concern as to the well-being of the former WWE champion. Even Heyman, who seemed hesitant to believe the injury at first, approached with caution. He could be seen asking the doctor what was wrong.
Then, without warning, Punk popped up, grabbed a kendo stick from underneath the ring and struck Heyman with it. He did the same to Ryback, then to Curtis Axel, who hit the ring after Punk began his assault.
After a stiff cane shot to the face of the intercontinental champion, he delivered Go To Sleep.
It was a great way to build to Punk and Ryback's match on Sunday as it created more interest and introduced a little more heat for a match that, even on the heels of last week's Raw, was beginning to feel like an afterthought.
It was announced over the weekend that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon had invited Cody, Dustin and Dusty Rhodes to appear on Raw. They promised a proposal that would make up for what many consider to be the unfair termination of the youngest in the bunch.
Triple H and Stephanie made their way to the ring and called out Cody, Dustin and Dusty. They offered Cody and Dustin the opportunity to gain employment Sunday night at Battleground, but only if they defeated Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
Too hurl even more pressure the Rhodes' way, Triple H added that, if the brothers lose, they will never work for WWE again.
Dusty Rhodes spoke up for his boys and promised to be in their corner for the match.
The segment ended with Cody, Dustin and Dusty falling prey to a beatdown at the hands of The Shield.
The Rhodes family saga has resulted in dramatic television in the past few weeks. Cody will be a star coming out of the ordeal, and the match with The Shield on Sunday should be one of the more fun bouts of the evening.
On a card lacking must-see matches, the added stipulations will go a long way in delivering a few extra pay-per-view buys.
The Faceoff Turns Ugly
The only awesome moment on an otherwise subpar episode Raw was the show-closing in-ring faceoff between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton.
The verbal exchange was nothing new, and it really did nothing to sell any additional pay-per-views. What happened once Orton brought up Bryan's real-life fiancee Brie Bella did.
Bryan unleashed with tremendous fury at Orton. The two brawled around ringside until Orton took advantage and reverted to the days of the old, more violent and sadistic Apex Predator.
He set Bryan up for a DDT from the ring apron when Brie made her presence felt. She begged Orton to stop his assault, but the Viper ignored her pleas, dropping Bryan headfirst on the floor. He then delivered an RKO to Bryan, through the announcing table.
Brie continued to beg Orton to stop and slowly approached her fiancee as his attacker left the scene of his brutal and violent attack. She checked on Bryan as the broadcast reached its conclusion.
The introduction of Brie Bella to the angle involving Orton, Bryan, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon has been long overdue.
For weeks, corrupt upper management set Bryan up to be physically destroyed at the hands of Orton and The Shield and, every week, Bryan would get up and come back stronger than he was previously.
What better way to truly affect a man than by targeting the love of his life?
Orton started that last week, then continued it this week by asking Brie why she was happy with a man like Bryan when she has the chance to experience a real man like Orton.
Bryan and Brie's engagement was heavily played up on Monday's show and may very well come into play in the coming weeks.
For the sake of keeping the rivalry fresh and interesting, involving the beautiful twin in some manner would be extremely beneficial.