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Bleacher Report featured columnists Mike Chiari, Donald Wood and Brandon Galvin give the lowdown on everything going on in the wrestling world.
With another unpredictable episode of Ring Rust Radio in the books, you can't afford to miss another second of the action. Catch us live every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET (some language NSFW), or follow us on Twitter @RingRustRadio.
Some Language NSFW.
Aug 5: TNA star Jeff Hardy
Aug. 5: Ring Rust Radio's current-era fantasy draft
Stephanie McMahon to Face Brie Bella at SummerSlam
After weeks of slowly building toward it, Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella finally agreed to a SummerSlam match on Monday's episode of Raw. Brie demanded her job back and a match against Stephanie in exchange for dropping the charges against WWE's principal owner. Stephanie initially agreed in a reluctant manner, but she then slapped Brie and turned up the heat between them even more.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is Steph vs. Brie an Intriguing Feud?
This rivalry has been bubbling for quite some time and it truly came into the consciousness of the fans at Money in the Bank. McMahon laid down an ultimatum that called for either Daniel Bryan to surrender the WWE World Heavyweight Championship or Brie to get fired. Rather than giving Stephanie the satisfaction of firing her, Brie quit and slapped Steph right across the face.
After getting embarrassed by Brie, Stephanie decided to make life miserable for Brie's sister. McMahon started booking Nikki Bella in unfair handicap matches, which led to Brie returning as a spectator on Raw. Stephanie took advantage of the situation by slapping Brie, but Bella got the last laugh when she had McMahon arrested for assault. That led to the confrontation on Raw, which set the table for an interesting encounter at SummerSlam.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Nobody will ever confuse Stephanie or Brie with Lita or Trish Stratus in terms of in-ring work, but this match isn't about work rate. McMahon hasn't wrestled a legitimate match since 2003, so seeing her lace up the boots once again is somewhat of an attraction. Vince McMahon wasn't a trained wrestler, but he was a hated authority figure, so the fans loved to see him get beat down in matches. Stephanie isn't at the same level, but there is little doubt that the WWE Universe wants her to get what she has coming to her.
Whether Brie gets her revenge at SummerSlam remains to be seen, but there is no question that it will generate interest. The crowd was red hot at Raw when Stephanie and Brie locked horns, and there is no reason to believe things will be any different at SummerSlam. One can only assume Steph will have a trick up her sleeve as her father so often did. It has been a long time since the majority of fans have been truly invested in a Divas storyline, but this rivalry is hitting on all cylinders. The SummerSlam card is stacked as a whole, so there is absolutely room for Stephanie vs. Brie.
Backstage talk regarding arrest angle (WrestlingInc.com via F4WOnline)
John Cena Addresses SummerSlam Match vs. Brock Lesnar
Triple H chose Brock Lesnar as John Cena's opponent for SummerSlam on the July 21 episode of Raw, but Cena wasn't present due to movie commitments. The WWE World Heavyweight champion returned to Raw on Monday and had plenty to say about Lesnar. Paul Heyman offered a rebuttal to Cena's promo, which furthered the Cena vs. Lesnar feud, despite the fact that the Beast Incarnate was not part of the show.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is Cena Hitting the Right Notes?
Cena has often been criticized for not taking his opponents seriously over the years. As someone who wins the vast majority of his matches, Cena is almost always expected to come out on top. Because of that, it is difficult to develop true threats to put up against him. Lesnar is one guy who doesn't fit into that category. He can believably beat anyone in the world, especially on the heels of ending The Undertaker's vaunted streak at WrestleMania.
With that in mind, there was no room for the typical Cena shenanigans. He cracked jokes throughout his feud with Bray Wyatt, which often undermined the up-and-coming star. One can only assume that the fans would have reacted negatively had he tried something similar with Lesnar. Cena took a more serious approach and even acknowledged the fact that he was in for the fight of his life. There is still plenty of build-up remaining, but it was a promising start to say the least.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Cena revealed that facing Lesnar at SummerSlam was precisely what he had hoped wouldn't happen. Heyman proceeded to prey on Cena's apparent vulnerability but Cena fought back. He bashed Lesnar for his lack of passion and accused him of not caring about WWE. In many ways, it harks back to his feud with The Rock. That line got repetitive during the Rock rivalry, but it actually rings true with Lesnar. Also, Cena made mention of beating Lesnar in 2012, which may have miffed some, but it made sense in this angle since Lesnar is actually favored.
There are a couple of concerns moving forward; one of which relates to Cena maintaining this fire. If he can do that, then the threat of undermining Lesnar will be gone. In addition to that, Cena and Heyman have to keep things interesting if Lesnar isn't on the next episode of Raw. Lesnar will definitely be there for the go-home edition, which opens options in terms of a physical confrontation. As long as Cena keeps the same tone and intensity on the Aug. 4 Raw, though, the build should keep moving in the right direction.
Backstage talk on Cena's acting career (WrestlingInc.com via PWInsider Elite)
Chris Jericho Continues to Impress
Chris Jericho is among the most talented and accomplished wrestlers of all time, so his returns always generate plenty of interest. With that said, fans aren't always satisfied with the way the writers use Y2J. However, he always manages to cut great promos, put on fantastic matches and elevate those around him. Jericho is already doing that during his current stint, so there is reason to believe this run will be even better than some of his recent ones.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is Jericho Being Utilized Correctly?
Since Jericho is firmly established as a true legend and doesn't have any qualms with putting others over, it seems like he loses the vast majority of his big matches when he returns. It is certainly admirable that Jericho is willing to do that, but his fans understandably want to see him win. WWE satisfied those fans at Battleground by having Y2J beat Bray Wyatt, much to the surprise of many.
There is little doubt that Jericho will lose to Wyatt at SummerSlam and likely Night of Champions as well, but beating him at Battleground was a big deal. Jericho doesn't necessarily need to "establish himself" since he is already a top star, but winning a big match right off the bat makes this stint feel different than the others. Jericho will still ultimately big Wyatt a major rub as he should, but beating Wyatt initially will make it even more important.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
While wins and losses are always a topic of conversation when it comes to Jericho, there is much more to him than that. Y2J was a huge part of Monday's Raw as he cut a promo on Triple H and Stephanie, which provided Attitude-era fans with a welcomed dose of nostalgia. After that, Jericho went on to have a fantastic match with Seth Rollins, which led Wyatt to interfering and getting the better of him. Jericho did a little bit of everything and was among the biggest parts of the show.
When Jericho had his last stint, he was somewhat pigeonholed into the midcard against the likes of Fandango and Ryback. While Jericho certainly did a great job with those guys and helped get them over, it wasn't the best way to use him. Jericho is elite in almost every facet of professional wrestling, so he belongs closer to the top of the card. He may not technically be in the main event, but he isn't far off it, and WWE is making the most of him while it has him at its disposal.
Ring Rust Radio's Season 5 Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Mike Chiari: 490
2. Donald Wood: 332.5
3. Brandon Galvin: 105
4. Tom Kinslow: 97.5
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