The April 28 edition of WWE Raw offers warriors, brutes and miscreants a chance at final preparations before the battles at Extreme Rules.
Hugh Jackman will make another appearance, Bad News Barrett faces a tough challenger and Daniel Bryan seeks revenge as WWE heads to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Barrett and Rob Van Dam meet in the finals of the tournament to decide the No. 1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship. Bryan will be back after suffering a storyline spinal cord injury, courtesy of Kane rediscovering his most vicious side.
Bryan, along with Batista, Big Show, John Cena and the usual, expected names are scheduled to appear in St. Louis. Backstage reports, Twitter and James Wortman's five-point preview on WWE.com give fans insight into what to expect on the show.
News, Potential Spoilers
Evolution is reportedly set to be complete. According to PWInsider, via Wrestling Inc, "Ric Flair has been booked to return to WWE on this coming Monday's RAW from St. Louis."
Randy Orton, Batista and Triple H reunited on April 14 with no "Nature Boy" in sight. It appears that the full group will be together, even if it's for just a single night.
The foursome does have a history of attacking its own members, though. This may not be a happy homecoming as much as Evolution adding another victim.
There's a good chance two NXT prospects join Flair in St. Louis.
F4WOnline, via Wrestling Inc, notes the following:
Adam Rose was on the road with WWE this weekend, picking up wins over Heath Slater. Their match on Saturday night in Rockford was described as a comedy match but the character got over great with the crowd. Bo Dallas also worked the show, doing a Bo-lieve promo and defeating Justin Gabriel.
Working against main-roster Superstars at WWE live events is often a sign of being ready to make the leap from NXT. Combine that with the recent vignettes airing for both men, and it appears Rose and Dallas are close to making their way to Raw.
This may be too busy of a show to have them come aboard, though.
WWE has to cover a number of storylines, hype Extreme Rules and deliver the final match of the IC title No. 1 contender's tournament. Rumors point to Barrett winning that match and grabbing all the spotlight that entails.
F4WOnline, via Wrestling Inc, reports, "Wade Barrett's stock within WWE went up a lot with his promo at the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Vince McMahon has been high on Barrett for a while and is a fan of the Bad News Barrett gimmick."
Word of his stock going up rings true, as he went from not wrestling on TV to defeating Sheamus cleanly and going on a winning streak.
The last time Jackman appeared on Raw, he punched Dolph Ziggler in the jaw while wearing a Zack Ryder headband.
A lot of things have changed since then, including Ryder becoming far less relevant and Ziggler becoming one of the good guys. It appears Ziggler and Jackman will be allies when they meet again. Damien Sandow may be the one getting tagged with a right hand this time.
Sandow and Ziggler have been squabbling on Twitter, and Jackman has been at the center of it all.
It's setting up to be a similar scenario to Jackman's 2011 appearance on Raw with Ziggler playing the Ryder role and Sandow doing Ziggler's part.
In addition to hearing Jackman promote X-Men: Days of Future Past, fans can count on Stephanie McMahon making an apology, be it sincere or otherwise, regarding what happened to Bryan last week.
As Kane smashed Bryan's head into every hard surface he could find, McMahon squealed at him to stop but also looked please to see the destruction.
The WWE.com Raw preview hints at even worse things headed for Bryan.
Wortman writes, "It will be interesting to see if The Authority is able to extinguish the wildfire they've started — or if they intend on letting it burn everything in its path."
Don't count on the former.
WWE is in the business of entertaining, and a fire going out isn't anywhere near as entertaining as watching it rage on.
Extreme Rules Buildup
Monday's Raw promises a wealth of animosity beyond Bryan and Kane. The last Raw before Extreme Rules is certain to provide more reasons to watch The Shield vs. Evolution, Big E's title defense and the tag team championship bout.
The six-man tag match between The Shield and Evolution is still without a stipulation.
If WWE is going to announce it is bringing back War Games for this battle, as many fans have been hoping for, this will be the time it would do it. Regardless of what kind of match they end up having, there is sure to be at least one more collision between the teams.
Wortman asks, "What will happen between these two powerhouse factions before they go to war at Extreme Rules?"
That question suggests Evolution and The Shield won't just be content to stay separated the whole night. With their clash less than a week away, it's ideal timing for one last pre-match brawl to get folks excited about Extreme Rules.
Big E will also find out who he is facing at Extreme Rules.
Barrett and Van Dam are only one victory away from earning that honor. Barrett is confident that it will be him who emerges from the tournament finals with a chance at gold.
WWE has already made it official Ryback and Curtis Axel will challenge The Usos for the tag team championships at Extreme Rules. With that title clash set, expect to see those teams go at it on Monday's Raw as well.
Ryback and Axel each notched singles victories over Jimmy and Jey, respectively, last week. Whether or not The Usos can snatch back some momentum will be among the many subplots to a busy Raw.