Monday's WWE Raw is the final mile before Hell in a Cell. One last uneasy descent into storyline hatred.
Marquee stars Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Paul Heyman, John Cena and Alberto Del Rio will be looking for momentum heading into Sunday's event. The tension between these rivals is set to escalate with the Memphis, Tenn. fans looking on.
Aside from selling fans on the Hell in a Cell bouts already announced and adding more matches to the card, Monday's Raw will apparently be serving as a commercial for the upcoming WWE 2K14 video game.
The WWE.com five-point preview revealed that fans will vote on which match from the 30 Years of WrestleMania mode will be simulated and shown on Raw. Showing more than a few clips of this would be a mistake.
YouTube is the place to watch a virtual version of Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase, not a show that's competing with NFL football for ratings. Video game wrestling matches on TV are not what's best for business.
The story of the Rhodes family going from unemployed to champions is the exact opposite.
Their climb has been one of the highlights of WWE TV over the last month. Last week's Raw ended with Cody Rhodes and Goldust embracing, the Tag Team Championships clutched tightly in their hands. You can bet that Triple H didn't send a congratulatory bottle of champagne to them.
WWE's COO has been trying to crush the brothers, but they continue to rise. Punishment is coming for Rhodes and "The Bizarre One." Expect some disadvantageous stipulations to be thrown at them.
They are without a match for Hell in a Cell at the moment, but with as hot as they are right now, that won't last.
Rumors, Potential Spoilers Surrounding Hell in a Cell Card
With as much attention that the animosity between Triple H and Big Show has garnered over the last few weeks, one would think those two would be certain to face off at Hell in a Cell.
Instead, reports say that WWE is saving that match. Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com writes that there is talk backstage that "Triple H vs. Big Show is penciled in for the Survivor Series PPV." So fans may see Triple H and Big Show escalate their feud on Monday, but it may just be a teaser for the next big event.
That would be a surprising move, as Big Show as been a central figure on Raw as of late.
He knocked out Triple H, played a hand in determining last week's tag team title match and when Michael Cole conducted his weekly interview with Triple H, the COO promised to deal with the giant on Monday's Raw.
New Triple H and Cole interview is great; http://t.co/rENTg8XDO2— Barrylad (@TheBarrylad) October 17, 2013
Triple H threatened to take Big Show's name from him since he's fired, so "The World's Largest Athlete" could be rolling with a new moniker by the end of the night.
Some of the folks on Chair Shot Reality on WrestleZone.com believe that it's another McMahon, either Shane or Vince, who is controlling Big Show, and so this feud would end up simply being a means to further the McMahon family tension that was brewing before SummerSlam. That's certainly something to be on the lookout for.
Backstage reports potentially reveal some of the undercard bouts we'll see added to Monday's Raw.
As reported by PWInsider.com, "Bellas vs. AJ and Tamina has been discussed for the PPV." That would come as no surprise, as Tamina has been heavily involved in AJ Lee's rivalry with Brie Bella. Throwing in Nikki to balance things out would make perfect sense.
AJ vs. Brie just happened at Battleground. This matchup offers something fresh.
Fans may see this match announced on Monday or else witness the tension between these four women increase before WWE adds this to Hell in a Cell later in the week.
A potential Tag Team Championship bout could get this same treatment as well. The Usos have not let us forget they are the No. 1 contenders for those titles even though Cody Rhodes and Goldust got the title opportunity on last week's episode.
With both The Usos and the Rhodes brothers working as babyfaces, expect a three-team clash involving The Shield to be set up, or, in a less likely scenario, the frustrated Usos turn heel and challenge the team that overtook them.
The matches already scheduled for Hell in a Cell will get the bulk of the attention on Monday's Raw.
WWE will approach enticing fans with Cena vs. Del Rio, Bryan vs. Orton and Punk vs. Heyman and Ryback quite differently. Bryan and Orton are scheduled to have a public contract signing for the WWE title match. Guest referee Shawn Michaels will be on the show as well.
The company's history of contract signings is marked with violence.
Don't expect this to be a segment where signatures are signed and the two combatants go peacefully back into the locker room, mulling over strategy in their heads. There is sure to be a brawl here, especially considering how vicious Orton has been in recent weeks.
WWE even posted a video playlist of past contract signings that ended with Superstars attacking each other.
As for the World Heavyweight Championship match, Cena reportedly won't be there to sell the match. WWE wants fans to pay for Hell in a Cell to see him again.
According to Wrestling Observer, via WrestlingInc.com, “The current plan is for John Cena to return to WWE TV for the October 28th RAW, the night after Hell In a Cell. WWE wants his first appearance back to be on the pay-per-view as opposed to putting him on the go-home show.”
Fans may see some more inspirational videos of Cena's return from injury or possibly Del Rio bashing his challenger in a promo, but a face-to-face showdown between these men appears unlikely.
Expect the Ryback, Heyman and Punk story to be a big part of the go-home episode. This appears to be the final clash between Heyman and Punk, so WWE will likely emphasize the climactic nature of this upcoming Hell in a Cell match.
This rivalry has seen several brawls and attacks, not to mention the promos that had these two former friends cut into each other with the microphone. They have a final opportunity do more of this on Monday, providing another lasting image for WWE to insert into the video package that will hype this bout.
SmackDown is sure to add some heat to Hell in a Cell, but more eyes will be on Raw. This is the company's last big sales pitch to get fans to buy in, to get so charged up that ordering the pay-per-view becomes a must.