The world champ may have the Labor Day edition of WWE Raw off, but John Cena will be working to send another statement Brock Lesnar's way.
When WWE arrives at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, it will do so without The Beast Incarnate. It looks as if Cena will be the central figure of Monday's Raw, just as he was last week.
In addition to the No. 1 contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Raw will highlight Paige, Roman Reigns and Randy Orton. A patriotic manager may be showing up for the first time since SummerSlam as well.
Twitter, backstage reports and James Wortman's five-point preview on WWE.com provides a glimpse of what to expect on Monday's Raw. The company will continue the journey to Night of Champions, aligning feuds and matches for the pay-per-view that is now just three weeks away.
The action begins at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on USA Network. The Raw pre-show begins 30 minutes prior on the WWE Network.
News, Potential Spoilers
Sightings of Lesnar in the flesh are going to be rare.
He showed up via a pre-recorded video package last week. That may be the case again this time around. Per WWE.com, Lesnar is not advertised to be on Raw this week.
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t FanSided.com), WWE will be airing Lesnar video promos for three weeks leading up to Night of Champions. That would mean for this week and next, Lesnar fans will have to settle for video clips of him.
Lesnar is not listed to appear on any Raw until Sept. 15, per WWE.com.
In addition to Lesnar, Monday's Raw will be without Rob Van Dam. As PWInsider's Mike Johnson reported, Van Dam "officially finished up his latest cycle of dates" on last Friday's SmackDown. If his recent pattern holds, he'll be out for a few months before making another short-term run.
Fans won't likely see much of R-Truth at the Wells Fargo Arena either. In an interview with JournalStar.com, he said that he's dealing with a shoulder injury and is currently at "80-85 percent."
That at least partially explains his minimal in-ring work as of late.
With him not being in a feud or in contention for any title, there's little reason to lean on him. He may be getting another Raw off.
Naomi has been missing lately too. She explained on Twitter that she's currently dealing with issues related to the eye injury she suffered in February:
To my fans-I had to have a minor procedure done to correct a problem from the orbital fracture, I'll be back with a whole new feel #SLAYOMI— Trinity Fatu (@NaomiWWE) August 30, 2014
Des Moines fans may see Zeb Colter return to Jack Swagger's side. Colter has been out of sight since Rusev coldcocked him at SummerSlam. He had been silent on Twitter from that incident until now.
Colter's tweeting "I have returned" could apply to his managerial duties as well:
His return would be well-timed if it occurred on Monday's Raw. Swagger's feud with Bo Dallas is progressing swiftly as fans saw when the would-be motivational speaker attacked Swagger during his bout with Rusev on last Friday's SmackDown.
Swagger's going to need his mouthpiece back to make the most of that rivalry.
Feuds Roll On, Night of Champions Card Gets Clearer
Orton will be Chris Jericho's guest on the latest Highlight Reel segment. Wortman offers very little in the five-point preview in terms of what to expect here.
It's not clear if Jericho and Bray Wyatt will get a rubber match at Night of Champions. Last week, Wyatt was busy getting steamrolled by Cena. Should Wyatt go unmentioned here, it will point to his feud with Jericho being over.
As for Orton, it's not obvious where WWE is going with him, either. His current rival Reigns has now aimed his fury at Seth Rollins. If that means that Rollins and Reigns are destined to collide at Night of Champions, where does that leave The Viper?
Who Orton calls out or who he brawls with during this segment will offer a major clue as to what's in store for him.
Wortman hints that Reigns and Rollins' animosity will continue to build when he asked, "Will we see Reigns get his hands on his former 'brother' Monday night?" That would also allow Reigns to move closer to a showdown with Triple H.
The COO alluded to potentially punishing Reigns for hurling a cinder block at Rollins in his latest interview with Michael Cole:
AJ Lee and Paige's strange feud is set to continue as well. The story unfolding between them has featured awkward hugs and projectile chocolates. Monday's Raw may help fans find out, as Wortman puts it, "just what the heck is going on between these 'frenemies'?"
While it's not an official match yet, it's clear that WWE is setting up for another AJ vs. Paige title bout at Night of Champions.
Expect another uncomfortable meeting between champion and challenger on Monday's Raw. That's been the crux of this narrative so far.
Cena will likely be the star of the show. Last week, Cena ran through The Wyatt Family to announce to Lesnar that he would be no pushover at Night of Champions.
WWE doesn't appear to be done with making Cena look strong after getting trounced at SummerSlam. Wortman asks, "What will be Cena's next message to the WWE World Heavyweight Champion?"
That seems to imply that someone else is in line for a beatdown from Cena as the company showcases the No. 1 contender's aggressive side.
Lesnar won't be around for him to bark at. That forces Cena to do his shouting via Attitude Adjustments to whoever is unlucky enough to have to face him.