John Cena and Randy Orton stand at the center of the spotlight for the Dec. 2 edition of WWE Raw.
Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., will host a show sure to built around hype for WWE TLC 2013, building on budding storylines while offering a few surprises as well. The promised merging of two world championships, a giant's health and what the Wyatt Family did to Daniel Bryan will be among the biggest plot points.
What matches get added to the pay-per-view? Who is headed for the dark side?
Backstage reports, hints from WWE.com and Twitter provide insight into what to expect on Monday's Raw, as WWE looks to compose the TLC card and do battle with Monday Night Football in the process.
Rumors, News, Potential Spoilers
WWE has stiff competition this Monday. The Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints face off in one of the biggest games of the NFL season. With that in mind, WWE has to start strong to keep viewers engaged.
Expect big things in the opening hour of Monday's Raw as WWE looks to keep fans from switching over to the NFL.
It appears that Jim Ross won't be part of that, but a manager and a nonactive Superstar may be part of the surprises and excitement of the night.
Despite the show being in Ross' home state, the Hall of Famer has told fans via Twitter that he'll be watching Raw rather than participating in it.
Paul Heyman, though, could be part of the action. WWE.com is advertising that the weasel-like manager will be in attendance Monday. With Curtis Axel and Ryback parting with Heyman, Brock Lesnar is his only remaining client.
Don't expect Lesnar to show up until much closer to WrestleMania, but perhaps Heyman has a new "Heyman guy" to unveil.
Christian could make an appearance as well. Fans haven't seen the former world champ since September. In terms of storyline, The Shield attacked him backstage and forced him out of action. In reality, he was recovering from a severe concussion.
Per Wrestling Observer, via WrestlingInc.com, Christian "is expected to return to action in early December." That could have "Captain Charisma" make his way back just in time to develop a feud for a match at TLC 2013.
Several changes in direction for a handful of Superstars are far more certain to be part of Monday's Raw than those potential surprise returns.
Character Shifts, Superstar Movement
Brodus Clay may not be dancing much longer.
WWE hinted at a significant change for the big man on last Friday's SmackDown. Clay was angry over Xavier Woods using his entrance and showed a more aggressive, serious attitude during their tag team match that night.
After Tons of Funk won, The Funkadactyls were reluctant to celebrate with Clay. They appeared fearful and nervous around him. Clay did dance, but he did so in an unenthusiastic and annoyed manner.
Monday's Raw could see him complete the transition from fun-loving fan favorite to scowling heel, completely shedding his dancing gimmick.
For The Miz, the heel turn that appeared on its way right before Survivor Series won't be happening. Look for Miz to continue to revert to his babyface tendencies. WWE apparently wants us to forget that he was morphing into a villain, at least until after Christmas.
Miz stars in the upcoming movie Christmas Bounty. According to F4WOnline, via WrestlingInc.com, "WWE's writing team reportedly forgot about the movie when they booked his heel turn a few weeks back."
To better promote the film, count on a smiley, rule-abiding version of Miz rather than him going back to what's best for him—villainy.
Mark Henry appears headed for a different kind of shift, one that would have him ascend the WWE ladder. Mitch Passero asks of Henry in his five-point-preview on WWE.com, "Is it only a matter of time until the big man sets his sights on winning a championship?"
Take that as a hint that the company will have him move up from dominating men like Axel to stomping on bigger prey.
Someone is going to need to step up and challenge the winner of Orton vs. Cena at TLC 2013. Look for WWE to build up Henry on Monday's Raw and in subsequent weeks to prepare him for that role.
While Henry seems to be headed upward, another big man could be out of action for a long while.
On last Monday's Raw, Orton and Alberto Del Rio left Big Show woozy, concussed and weakened. WWE.com reported after that attack that Big Show was "not cleared to participate in any in-ring competition."
Will the company have "The World's Largest Athlete" recover from his injuries and battle Monday or will this be how Big Show is taken out of the WWE title picture and written off TV for the moment?
Passero's Raw preview asks the telling question, "How long will The World’s Largest Athlete be out of commission?"
Biggest Questions, Buildup
Big Show's medical condition is one of many storylines that will continue and that will offer WWE's best chances to intrigue fans.
What exactly happened to Bryan has to be answered on Monday's Raw. Last week, the Wyatt Family abducted Bryan, which left his fiancee frazzled.
In Michael Cole's latest interview with Triple H, we discovered that Bryan was found in a parking lot, disoriented. Could this be a precursor to Bryan joining the Wyatt clan or will it only be another reason for Bryan and CM Punk to want to kick Luke Harper, Erick Rowan and Bray Wyatt in the head?
The biggest takeaway from that interview is what Triple H said about the upcoming double-title match at TLC 2013.
Fans wondering if this would be a bout for both the World Heavyweight Championship and WWE title or a unification bout received a clear answer from the COO. He said, "the goal is one champion" and used the word "undisputed."
The premier match of the pay-per-view will be the biggest focus on Monday's Raw. Cena will no doubt respond to Orton's attack from last week. Orton had nothing to say when asked on last Friday's SmackDown about the big showdown.
Expect a more mouthy version of "The Viper" to appear on the first Raw of December.
As Orton and Cena's collision approaches, WWE has to sell fans on the magnitude of their title bout. The pay-per-view can't be built on that alone, though. Bryan, Punk, Henry and others will soon find out what opponents they will battle and what stipulations their matches will have at the upcoming event.
Monday's Raw will begin to answer those questions.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!