Uncertainty over the state of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship lingers before the June 9 edition of WWE Raw.
As the fans in Minneapolis, Minnesota, welcome Daniel Bryan, they have to wonder if the world title will still be his by the end of the night. His health and status as champion will be a prominent story.
Who joins the field in the Money in the Bank ladder match and how The Shield will respond to one of its members attacking them will be as well.
Last week, Batista stormed out of the ring, leaving WWE. Evolution was not the only group to implode that night, though. Seth Rollins betrayed his partners, signaling his split from the group with a steel chair.
Minnesota now hosts the aftermath, a splintered version of The Shield meeting a revamped version of Evolution.
Backstage reports, Twitter and James Wortman's five-point preview on WWE.com provide a glimpse of what Monday's Raw will feature beyond this narrative.
News, Potential Spoilers
Two Superstars will enter the Target Center wearing battle scars.
John Cena suffered an injury during match against Bray Wyatt at a house show in Madison, Wisconsin, over the weekend. It appears that he and Wyatt's heads collided.
PWInsider's Mike Johnson reported, "Cena's eye immediately swelled up and the match was stopped briefly so WWE officials could look at it. Cena did tough out the match and finish it, but afterwards, his eye was completely swollen shut."
Johnson then wrote in an update, "While John Cena is still dealing with swelling around his eye, he isn't expected to miss ring time."
The swelling may go down by Monday's Raw, but even if it doesn't, there's little reason to believe the injury will keep him out of the ring. This is the man who wrestled at last year's SummerSlam with a torn tricep and a baseball-sized glob of fluid protruding from his elbow.
Adam Rose was injured in "The City of Four Lakes" as well.
WWE.com reports that Rose "suffered a laceration above his right eye this past weekend at a WWE Live Event in Madison, Wisconsin." He was battling Heath Slater, when a collision opened him enough to need five stitches.
If WWE decides to use Rose despite his new unpleasant fashion accessory, he's more likely to appear in a non-wrestling capacity. Rose can party with his entourage or crowd-surf without any risk of reopening the wound.
As for the world champ, his injury status is a major storyline heading into Monday's Raw. News about his recovery from neck surgery points to him likely vacating the title.
According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via PWMania.com), "One person close to Bryan said that not only is he not making gains but he's actually losing strength in his arm while doing rehab."
News like that coming just a few weeks from Money in the Bank downgrades his chances of making it back in time. While it seems increasingly clear that Bryan's best route is to give up the title and avoid rushing back into the fray, there is word that his status as titleholder and for the show is undecided.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via PWMania.com), also reported the following:
Nothing is definite regarding Bryan right now and there's a feeling among some that even if it's not the best thing for him, Bryan will end up wrestling at Money In the Bank later this month because of how tough mentally is and how he always wants to be in the thick of what's going on.
It's said there is tremendous real life pressure being put on Bryan right now to be ready, whether it's directly said or just implied.
WWE already put in a contingency plan last week when Stephanie McMahon laid out the two possible scenarios for the championship at Money in the Bank.
Going with the Money in the Bank ladder match as how the vacant championship is decided is the wiser of the options, as it doesn't risk Bryan's long-term health. With three weeks until Money in the Bank, WWE can stretch out the decision a bit longer, but the safe bet is that Monday's Raw is Bryan's last day as champion.
The coming pay-per-view is reportedly set to feature two singles about featuring The Shield.
F4WOnline (via Wrestling Inc's Marc Middleon), reports, "Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns is currently planned for the June 29th WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view." With that in mind, count on Monday's Raw setting that match up.
With so little of the card official at this point, it's likely we see these two bouts added. WWE has to start building the buzz for the show and a clearer view of the lineup will help that.
What Else to Expect
So far, only Alberto Del Rio has earned his way into the Money in the Bank ladder match. He did so by defeating Dolph Ziggler on last week's Raw.
Expect more qualification matches this week. WWE.com hinted as much when Wortman wrote, "Who will join Del Rio in this career-changing Ladder Match?"
With Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose likely busy in a personal battle, two other emerging stars are likely to get a shot at what will be hanging over the ring at Money in the Bank.
Cesaro has garnered increased focus from WWE since aligning himself with Paul Heyman. Rather than have him win the Intercontinental Championship as was once reportedly planned or defeat Sheamus for the United States title at Payback, the company has kept him title-free. That's possibly to free him to go for the world title come June 29.
Bray Wyatt may be in contention for a spot in the ladder match as well.
He claimed to be reborn on Friday's SmackDown, speaking of being a leader and undertaking "great responsibilities." It's hard to decipher Wyatt's riddles, but this could be a way to describe being champion.
WWE clearly has something major planned for "The Eater of Worlds," whether it is championship-centered or not. Wortman suggests as much when he writes, "Perhaps the group's most heinous horrors have yet to be unleashed."
While Wyatt's intentions and direction is hard to predict, Damien Sandow's path is clear.
WWE has had him dress up and fight as Magneto, Sherlock Holmes and Lance Stephenson.
Count on more Sandow cosplay on Monday's Raw. Wortman writes, "We can't wait to see who this verbose Superstar will channel next."
He will provide the silly fare in between wrestlers vying for a spot at Money in the Bank, former allies clashing and wounded Superstars like Cena toughing it out at the Target Center.
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