On the April 21 edition of WWE Raw, one champion returns, while another watches to see who will face him at Extreme Rules.
The Baltimore Arena hosts a show highlighted by the second round of the tournament to decide the No. 1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship, The Shield and Evolution continue their feud and Extreme Rules continue to take shape.
Daniel Bryan returns just in time to see Kane revert back to monster mode.
A number of absences from the midcard dominates the rumors and news heading into Monday's Raw. Who will step up with those Superstars gone? Will it be time to experience The Exotic Express or watch a TNA Hall of Famer begin the next phase of his career?
Backstage reports, WWE's foreshadowing and James Wortman's five-point preview on WWE.com provide insight into what to expect to see on Monday's Raw.
News, Potential Spoilers
The roster will be thinner when WWE heads to Baltimore. A former Divas champ and several midcarders won't be competing.
Neither Paul Heyman nor Brock Lesnar are scheduled to appear on Monday's Raw. It also looks as if we won't be seeing Lesnar for some time.
As reported by Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc, "Lesnar is not booked for the WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view and likely won't be back until SummerSlam."
After undergoing surgery for a torn ACL, Darren Young is out of action as well. WWE.com reports Young "will miss between 4 and 6 months of in-ring action as he recovers from surgery."
Recovery is going well. Been rehabbing 2x a day since Tues surgery. Walking without crutches at times:) Thanx 4 all the support! #NODAYSOFF— nodaysoff DYoung (@DarrenYoungWWE) April 17, 2014
Don't count on seeing Rey Mysterio, AJ Lee, Summer Rae or The Miz on Monday's Raw either.
According to Wrestling Inc's Raj Giri, "Summer Rae and The Miz are filming The Marine 4, and both Superstars are scheduled to return on May 16. AJ Lee is apparently taking some time off. There is currently no timetable for her return."
Wrestling Observer Newsletter, via Middleton of Wrestling Inc, notes Mysterio "is currently on vacation with his family in Hawaii." Mysterio's Twitter timeline confirms that.
Beutiful sunset on Easter Sunday only in Honolulu Hawaii! We Luv Hawaii! #aloha#Mahalo#paradise# http://t.co/Kqh9EoWhnO— Rey Mysterio (@reymysterio) April 21, 2014
All those absences mean more opportunities for other wrestlers. Alexander Rusev, Paige and Big Show will have less of the spotlight to share.
Will this be the night Sting finally steps into that spotlight? After months of rumors about him coming to WWE, he is reportedly an official WWE roster member.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider reports, "Sting and WWE have come to terms on a deal."
Fans of "The Icon" will be waiting patiently to see just when he makes his WWE debut or at least when the company airs a vignette announcing his arrival.
The tournament to decide the No. 1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship continues on Monday's Raw. Last week's first-round action saw Sheamus, Bad News Barrett, Cesaro and Rob Van Dam advance.
In the semifinals, Sheamus will battle Barrett and Cesaro will meet Van Dam.
Van Dam hasn't lost since returning to WWE. His momentum doesn't compare to Cesaro's, though. It's hard not to see "The King of Swing" ending that match just as he did against Mark Henry last week—with his arms raised in victory.
Monday's Raw will also be highlighted by Bryan stepping back into the ring.
After winding down during his honeymoon, it's time for him to battle an old enemy. He will face Kane, who has ditched his corporate look and slipped his mask back on. WWE is hinting Kane will revert back to his more sadistic side.
That's a suggestion this will be far from a standard match.
With three of Bryan's potential challengers busy in a feud against The Shield, this clash with Kane is likely to lead to another encounter at Extreme Rules. Expect hype for that event to be a major focus for Monday's Raw.
Extreme Rules Buildup
Last week, Randy Orton, Triple H and Batista reformed Evolution. The group made The Shield their first victims.
Evolution left Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose out cold in the ring.
Triple H has since demanded an apology from "The Hounds of Justice." He's far more likely to get a triple powerbomb from The Shield. Their six-man tag match is without a stipulation for the moment, but Monday would be a great time to up the stakes by adding one.
John Cena and Bray Wyatt already know they will be battling inside a steel cage.
Until that happens, expect more psychological warfare between the foes. Wortman asks of the feud, "Will 'The Man of 1,000 Truths' gain a psychological advantage over the embodiment of 'Hustle, Loyalty and Respect,' or will Cena's virtue continue to counter Wyatt's mind games?"
Last week, Cena relied on humor to call Wyatt out. With Extreme Rules drawing near, fans more likely to see things get more serious. Animosity has to pick up in order to better sell this bout.
Tamina Snuka vs. Paige should get some attention on Monday's Raw as well. Wortman lists that match as one of the items on the five-point preview.
Monday's Raw will be a show that provides the inherent excitement of a tournament, Bryan kicking chests red once more and a better picture of what the Extreme Rules card will look like.