WWE Raw Preview - 8.22.11
What's Being Advertised...
"Since snaring the WWE Title, Alberto Del Rio's reign has been shrouded in controversy and confusion, especially when it comes to the management of WWE COO Triple H. Now a target, will Del Rio see an escalated confrontation with John Cena live on Raw?"
My Take: I like the fact that WWE is promoting Del Rio and his WWE Championship over the Nash/Punk angle, as misleading as they might be. In Vince's mind, I'm sure priority #1 is the "Who texted Kevin Nash?" story that's probably still up for grabs in the mind of Creative. Del Rio working with John Cena should at least assure us that the new Champion isn't going to go unnoticed. Cena's promo last week on Raw should be something worth remembering as it was different than his typical mic work and it will be interesting to see if they continue with that. There were some critics very high on his performance last week, but it seemed a bit forced to me. Why John Cena was so outraged over ADR's cashing in of the MITB when Punk had even acknowledged earlier in the night that he wasn't (and Del Rio beat "Punk" to win it - not Cena) is a little misguided. However, I do like the fact that WWE separated Punk and Cena quickly now that Punk is a full-fledged babyface.
The Main Event...
I laid out the most logical scenarios in the Nash/Punk situation last week and tonight's Raw should clear a lot up as it pertains to who texted Kevin Nash from Hunter's phone. I expect that they will make the reveal tonight on Raw, but it wouldn't necessarily surprise me if they opt to eliminate certain people and leave it open for another week or two, rather than show all their cards now. I'm okay with that if it's done well - I'm not sure the audience will stay behind the story if they drag it out too much without good reason. Stephanie McMahon and Johnny Ace are the front-runners as to who did it, but that seems "too" obvious and logical to me. And WWE rarely goes with the obvious, logical choice. I fully expect a more complex, potentially nonsensical explanation and resolve.
Other things to look out for tonight...
The Tag Team Division - We've been reporting on WrestleZone that WWE has plans to rebuild the Tag Team Division and while I'm a definite fan of this idea, the priority has to start at the top with the Champions. Either get the belts off of Otunga and McGuillicutty or find a way to get some heat back on the duo. Jerry Lawler calling the Champs out on last week's Raw was definitely planned and meant something - more than likely that the rumors and reports are true. If David Otunga and Michael McGuillicutty are going to remain as a tag team (and especially the Champions), I fully expect WWE to start putting them back over as such very soon. Tonight, even.
EXCUSE ME...Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler have been having some very apparent problems in recent weeks and I'm sure that will continue as WWE looks to break them up at some point. However, I don't believe it will happen right away as they teased the idea of Vickie representing multiple clients last week during her backstage segment with Jack Swagger. If she were splitting with Dolph immediately, I'm not sure why they wouldn't have played that out first before inserting Swagger into the mix. Vickie is a heat seeking missle and that bodes well for the person next to her, but she's got to find a way to transfer that heat to the person she's managing a little better. I'm not sure Ziggler will be that much better off when he inevitably goes solo without Vickie, but I guess we'll see. I'm a fan of both Ziggler and Swagger, so this triangle scenario could result in a great pay-off for both men. It should turn Dolph face and give him a credible story to work himself out of the Vickie relationship while simultaneously transferring the heat to the new couple.
Night of Champions - In WWE's eyes, there's still plenty of time to build to the next pay per view, but I think the wheels should be set in motion early in most situations. The Nash/Punk angle doesn't need to lead to an advertised match by the end of Raw tonight, but in most other cases, I believe the sooner the better. Del Rio/Cena should be set up officially. Kelly Kelly & Beth Phoenix should be announced tonight. Dolph and the Tag Team Champions should at least have a clear direction by Raw's close tonight. My guess would be a Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger match-up and Otunga/McGuillicutty defending against Kofi and Bourne. Either way, tonight's Raw should shed some light on how the "Night of Champions" pay per view is going to shape up.