Expect WWE Payback 2014 to be a coming-out party for the next generation of stars.
That's what the stories leading up the pay-per-view suggest. Search Bray Wyatt's diatribes, observe Bad News Barrett's new position and take note of how The Shield handles itself in free-for-alls.
The answers found there tell us that WWE's younger, emerging talent is going to win and be the focus of the second edition of Payback.
For Wyatt's battle with John Cena, it also provides a timeline for their war. Count on it culminating when one man is no longer able to stand.
Wyatt vs. Cena is Entering Final Chapter
A rivalry that began with a collision back at the Royal Rumble is set to end at Payback. The stipulation of Wyatt and Cena's match and Wyatt himself have told us that.
Last Man Standing bouts are usually in the feud-ending category of matches. Its elevated violence adds finality to a victory.
In 2009, Cena turned his attention away from Edge and toward Big Show after their Last Man Standing match at Backlash. Cena and Alberto Del Rio stopped fighting after their rendition of the gimmick match at Vengeance 2011.
Wyatt is foreshadowing that round three will be the final round of the fight. On Monday's Raw, he said that this was all coming to an end.
This wasn't the only time that Wyatt has laid out such strong hints. On the May 16 SmackDown, he said, "Your world came begging to me on its knees for mercy. And now they'll be the end of our little story." A week before that, the truth emerged from his riddles once more.
He told Cena that they were going somewhere "from which they would not come back."
"The Eater of Worlds" often fills his rants with cryptic messages, but what he's been saying in the last few weeks is unmistakable. This feud will close come Payback.
WWE is Big on Barrett
Quick, try to name the last time Barrett lost.
Since leaving his podium for the ring, Barrett has been unstoppable. He heads into Payback, not only with the Intercontinental Championship in hand, but in the midst of a winning streak. Barrett has beaten Big E, Sheamus and Rob Van Dam in the past two months.
The victory over Sheamus is the diamond in the bunch. "The Celtic Warrior" has been on a tear himself, knocking off just about everybody else but Barrett.
Van Dam gets a crack at doing what the Irishman couldn't. He earned that title shot by winning a Beat the Clock challenge on Monday's Raw.
The fact that WWE went with this method of determining a No. 1 contender shows a desire to showcase the IC title match rather than just throw something together. There are just three confirmed matches for the pay-per-view so far and Barrett is a part of one of them.
Meanwhile, Big Show, Alberto Del Rio, Mark Henry and other former world champs are not guaranteed a spot on the card at all.
WWE made its renewed confidence in Barrett clear on Monday's Raw after the announcement that Van Dam would be challenging him. "The Bare Knuckle Brawler" knocked Van Dam out cold and towered over him, promising not to lose to a "bloody Yank."
Some of that was surely playing up to the English crowd, but when Raw was in the U.K. last year, Barrett didn't even make it on TV.
His move from behind the curtain to the limelight is a sign that WWE is looking to showcase him. If you're a Van Dam fan hoping for him to get a late run with the IC title, I've got some bad news for you.
WWE Sees Stars in The Shield
PWInsider, via Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc, reported back in April that "the main goal of WWE doing a feud between The Shield and Evolution is to push Roman Reigns as a top player and get him into a singles match with Triple H."
The buildup to Payback has made Reigns look good, but the spotlight has warmed Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins as well.
The Shield head into this six-man rematch both the favorites and the men in the leading roles. After defeating Evolution at Extreme Rules, "The Hounds of Justice" have been throttling and overpowering Triple H and company.
Evolution did win an early round. The trio left The Shield sprawled out on the May 5 Raw.
Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose hit back hard over the next few weeks. On May 12, the group hunted down and attacked Evolution throughout the night, including an ambush during Triple H's speech.
The two squads met again on the following Raw. Rollins and Batista's match didn't remain a one-on-one contest for long. When it morphed into a barroom fray, The Shield again looked the strongest of the two groups.
Reigns speared Batista. Ambrose dove at Randy Orton from the announce table.
The story has continually made The Shield look like superheroes in a fight with normal folk. It hasn't mattered if Triple H asks Ryback and Titus O'Neil to assist him, Reigns has led his wolf pack to chase away the would-be predators.
The buildup's focus has been more about The Shield's toughness and less about Evolution's destructive powers.
That's a sign that this rivalry and the match at Payback is destined to elevate Rollins and Ambrose just as much as Reigns. Evolution looks to be playing the part of launching pad, meaning when June 1 hits, their chances of winning are minimal.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!