The fallout from Stephanie McMahon's arrest and Cesaro's continued pursuit of The Authority's attention highlight the July 28 edition of WWE Raw.
A returning giant, an unemployed Diva and an acrobat in new duds may step onto center stage when WWE rolls into Houston's Toyota Center. The march toward SummerSlam will progress on Monday's Raw, with rivals striking back and alliances strengthening.
John Cena makes his way back, a daunting challenge awaiting him on the horizon.
Who will show up, and how will the show's stories unfold? Backstage reports, Twitter and Anthony Benigno's five-point preview on WWE.com offer a number of answers to those questions.
News, Potential Spoilers
Big Show returned to action over the weekend. That could well be a precursor to his return on a bigger stage: Raw.
According to PWInsider, Big Show wrestled Cesaro on the July 26 live event in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
The Cynic tweeted an image of the giant in the ring:
The World's Largest Athlete had been away shooting the movie Vendetta. This is likely the first step in his storming back into the WWE spotlight. A majority of the roster's heels are already involved in storylines, so should the big man return, it's unclear where he would fit in.
Before his hiatus, he periodically collided with Damien Sandow, so it's possible that their semi-feud resumes.
Fans can count on Cena returning from one week away. The WWE champ is one of the Superstars scheduled to appear in Houston, while his SummerSlam rival is not.
Triple H announced on last week's Raw that Brock Lesnar would challenge Cena for the title at the upcoming pay-per-view. Cena wasn't around to respond to the news. He'll do so on Monday's Raw with Lesnar likely not around.
Benigno notes in his preview, "John Cena is set to make his first address to the WWE Universe since retaining the ultimate title in a Fatal 4-Way at WWE Battleground."
It appears that the build for SummerSlam's main event will not often feature both foes at the same time. That will make Cena and Lesnar's next face-to-face meeting more momentous, having forced fans to wait to see it.
Another major storyline has seen Brie Bella and McMahon clash. On last week's Raw, McMahon whacked Brie across the face, an action that led to her arrest live on air. The Toyota Center is set to host the aftermath of that incident.
Brie tweeted that McMahon invited her to Monday's Raw:
The angry, vengeful executive is likely setting a trap for Brie. It's clear that this feud is a priority for WWE, suggesting that a SummerSlam match between them is on the horizon. Nikki Bella figures to continue to play a part in the narrative as well, but perhaps as McMahon's crony and as a traitor to her own sister.
According to F4WOnline (h/t WrestlingInc) WWE officials have been discussing a possible heel turn for Nikki.
That's not likely to happen until later in this story. It's too powerful a moment to reveal this early. However, expect WWE to plant some seeds of that potential betrayal on this Monday's Raw and beyond.
Sin Cara has already undergone a far less significant change. He was spotted during the weekend's live events sporting new ring gear.
WWE fan @DanielSupreme tweeted a shot of the high-flyer's new look from a house show in Dallas:
From a live event in Oklahoma City, Alexiz Villa added some additional glimpses via Twitter:
Sin Cara fans will be more interested in the luchador's onscreen direction. WWE has used him sparingly as of late and may be headed for a stretch where he appears at NXT more than Raw. He teamed with Kalisto on Thursday's NXT, scoring a victory over The Vaudevillains.
Alliances, Enemies and The Authority
Cesaro ditched Paul Heyman and looks to be working his way into Triple H's good graces.
The COO sent him after Dean Ambrose on last week's Raw. He won that match, but in one of the most painful ways possible: earning a disqualification after Ambrose cracked a steel chair against his flesh.
The two met again on last Friday's SmackDown in a No Disqualification match. Cesaro and Seth Rollins left Ambrose lying out cold amid a bed of scattered chairs.
This is certain to help his case to be a part of Triple H's crew. Benigno listed the destruction Cesaro has caused and asked in the five-point preview, "Will Triple H accept?"
Count on WWE dragging out Cesaro's tryout period a touch longer. There's drama to be milked here in seeing Cesaro turn up the viciousness in order to get Triple H's attention.
The Authority will be busy with its own legal mess anyway.
In addition to Brie's announcement that she and McMahon will meet on Raw, a hint from the preview points at the story of McMahon's arrest unsurprisingly being a huge part of the show. Benigno writes, "The Authority has been instructed to keep quiet on the situation while legal issues are resolved. Will they heed the lawyers' warning come Monday?"
Keeping quiet does not make for good television, so expect the answer to that question to be "no." McMahon will no doubt find a way to make Brie's life hellish following last week's happenings, and both she and Triple H will likely be so charged up that they will say and do some regrettable things.
McMahon won't be the only one in the mood for revenge come Monday. Chris Jericho will be driven by fury as well.
Last week, The Wyatt Family attacked him backstage, leaving him dazed, a trail of blood later sliding down his ear.
Monday's Raw marks Jericho's turn to do the attacking. The build to their expected rematch at SummerSlam will continue and promises to be one of the more high-profile bouts on the card.
Bray Wyatt trounced R-Truth on last Friday's SmackDown. Jericho will likely get a crack at either Luke Harper or Erick Rowan for his own shot at gaining momentum.
Last week also featured Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E joining forces.
Woods looked to inspire Kingston and Big E on Raw with an impassioned speech. He then stood in their corner as they battled Heath Slater and Titus O'Neil on Tuesday's Main Event.
Benigno implies the newly formed stable will continue to get screen time when he asked, "The budding tag team already showed an attitude change on WWE Main Event when they mauled 'Slater Gator' into defeat; will the trend continue on Raw?"
Look for the trio to better define their intentions and reveal if they are simply aggressive heroes or headed for villainy. Whether the group will be driven by issues of race a la The Nation of Domination will be made clearer as well.
Their progression offers an intriguing subplot as SummerSlam's biggest matches soak up the majority of the spotlight.
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