There are just two episodes of WWE’s flagship show left before June’s Payback pay-per-view, and the success of Monday’s Raw will be imperative to how well the company’s secondary PPV is received.
The short build for this event is a change of pace from the last three-plus months of booking from the WWE—just two PPVs in the time period since Elimination Chamber on Feb. 17—and this could result in some of the most exciting action of the year.
This week’s Raw will set the stage for the June 16 PPV, and while next week’s go-home show will finalize many of the top storylines, the bulk of the groundwork for the secondary angles will be laid on Monday’s broadcast.
Where: XL Center, Hartford, Conn.
When: Monday, June 3, at 8 p.m. ET
Watch: USA Network
While there were initially reports that World Heavyweight champion Dolph Ziggler would not be on Monday’s edition of Raw, the fact that the charismatic star appeared at the WWE live shows this weekend, according to Wrestling Inc., should prove that he will be in attendance Monday.
Ziggler will likely not wrestle, but having the title back on TV and allowing the champion to cut a promo would be a great way to refresh the crowd’s memory since Dolph has been away for so long.
Just two weeks remain until the June PPV, and the hope that Ziggler will be able to compete is the overriding emotion from the WWE Universe and those backstage. How the champion acts Monday night should be a good gauge of whether he'll perform at Payback.
John Cena and Ryback Face Hell
A very vocal minority of wrestling fans has continued to complain about the Cena vs. Ryback feud for the WWE Championship, but the addition of a Three Stages of Hell stipulation to their Payback match will make this one of the better battles these two men will ever have. After being attacked by Ryback last week, it will be Cena’s chance to retaliate.
Question on Everyone’s Mind: Will Cena Get Even with Ryback?
It was during Cena’s match with Curtis Axel that Ryback tricked the champion into leaving the ring and going after the ambulance that he thought the challenger was in, but it was a trap, and Cena was assaulted. This week, it’s a very real possibility that it will be Big Hungry who gets tricked and beat down by Cena.
Hype Meter: 4 out of 5 Fruity Pebbles Delivery Trucks
As much as the WWE Universe would love to see Cena make his way to the ring in a Fruity Pebbles truck during a Ryback match in the same way Stone Cold did with the beer truck, there will likely be just a backstage segment where these two competitors maul each other. That should be enough to hold this feud over until the PPV.
WWE Rumors: Why WWE Added Three Stages of Hell Stipulation (Wrestling Observer)
Express-Lane Booking for Payback
The WWE has been in long-term storyline mode for months, but the fact that Payback is already only two weeks away will force the company into booking overdrive. With just one match official (Cena vs. Ryback) and one match tentatively booked (CM Punk may not even show up to fight Chris Jericho), the WWE can’t waste a second Monday night on Raw.
Question on Everyone’s Mind: Will We Have the Completed Payback Card Monday Night?
While the company hasn’t made several of the matches official, the WWE has done a good job teasing them over the last few weeks. Look for The Shield, Team Hell No, Randy Orton, Fandango, Sheamus and the rest of the June PPV card to get their matches booked Monday night.
Hype Meter: 4 out of 5 Proper Storyline Developments
There are so many ways the WWE can go with Monday’s broadcast, but with some of the groundwork already laid—Team Hell No isn’t done with The Shield, and a three-way battle for the WWE Intercontinental Championship is inevitable—the company has given itself a great chance to make this throw-away show something very special.
WWE Rumors: More Changes and Additional Matches for Payback (F4WOnline)
For more wrestling talk, listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot topics or catch the latest episode in the player below (some language NSFW.)