Warriors will sharpen their swords in preparation for battle on the Sept. 30 episode of WWE Raw.
The final Raw before the first-ever Battleground pay-per-view will hype that event's marquee matches, continue the Rhodes family saga and reintroduce a tag team to WWE fans. The go-home show that airs from Biloxi, Miss. is the company's second-to-last shot at selling fans on ordering Battleground.
The Superstars advertised for the show, per WWE.com, include AJ Lee, the Wyatt Family, Rob Van Dam, Antonio Cesaro, Damien Sandow, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Ryback, The Shield, Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio.
Another noteworthy name on the list is Vince McMahon.
McMahon has been advertised for Raw during the last several weeks, but it's been his daughter and Triple H who have served as the domineering authority figures. It's worth keeping an eye out for the owner of the company to make an appearance, though it seems more likely that he'll stay on the sidelines.
Things are going so smoothly that McMahon isn't needed at the moment.
Fans can expect heavy focus on Battleground's biggest matches. That means more confrontations between Orton and Bryan, Del Rio and Van Dam as well as Ryback and Punk. With the World Heavyweight Championship match now officially a Battleground Hardcore Rules match, look for WWE to incorporate that stipulation into this feud.
This type of match is meant as a way to make Van Dam the favorite.
WWE has already played up his experience with ECW, and Monday's Raw should have "Mr. Monday Night" incorporating a kendo stick or steel chair into his pre-Battleground clash with Del Rio to further emphasize the stipulation.
As for additional matches that WWE will add to the card, count on Cody Rhodes and Goldust to get a shot at revenge.
The Rhodes Family
The narrative surrounding the Rhodes family has been nearly as prominent over the last month as Bryan's quest to become WWE champ.
Triple H invited Cody, Dustin and Dusty to Monday's Raw. He offered them an open forum and said that he had a lucrative business proposition for them.
Bet on that proposition being a way for Cody to get his job back via a match at Battleground. It would be strange for WWE to spend so much time on this angle only to not include it on the pay-per-view.
The Shield is the likeliest opposition for Cody and Goldust, though Big Show might be involved as well.
The Usos, recently named No. 1 contenders for the Tag titles, will either have to wait until after the event to get their shot or challenge Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins on TV this week. The Shield appear to have other business to take care of at Battleground.
Fans will finally get to see what Primo and Epico's transformation into bullfighters looks like in action.
Vignettes for the tag team aired over the past few weeks have given fans a glimpse of the gimmick. Los Matadores will now make their official debut.
Will WWE present them as comedy characters or attempt to have the audience buy into them as more serious Superstars? The Biloxi crowd's reaction will be interesting as well. Will we hear chuckling, cheers or just an arena full of murmuring?
As to what rivals Los Matadores go after, Dave Meltzer of F4WOnline reports, via WrestlingInc.com, "Los Matadores are scheduled to feud with Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro once they debut."
Whether WWE bills the repackaged team of Puerto Ricans as Spanish or Mexican, Zeb Colter is sure to hate them. For that reason, The Real Americans make ideal rivals for the bullfighters, and if Meltzer's report is accurate, we will see the two squads collide on Monday.
Dissecting the Five-Point Preview
In addition to the story of the Rhodes family and Los Matadores making their mark, the WWE.com Raw preview by Anthony Benigno focused on Big Show's struggle with authority and Punk's ongoing feud with Paul Heyman.
Of Big Show's current status as Stephanie McMahon's puppet, Benigno asks, "How long and how hard can the corporate power continue to push the giant until he snaps?"
Consider this a strong hint that Big Show will eventually reach his breaking point very soon. Will he do so by knocking out Triple H and suffering the subsequent consequences, or does he end up costing Orton the championship at Battleground?
Either way, expect a big turn in Big Show's tale.
He, like the Rhodes family, has been a major focus of recent WWE programming, and it will likely to lead something big for "The World's Largest Athlete." The question will be if Big Show fights back, like he appears on the verge of doing, or if he turns on Bryan and fully embraces his role as corporate goon.
Another intriguing question from Benigno's preview pertains to Punk and Ryback's clash at Battleground.
He writes: "Can the former WWE Champion keep his animosity in check until then? Or will he be goaded into another ambush?"
The safe bet is on the latter. Since breaking away from Heyman, Punk has done little else but suffer beating after beating. Brock Lesnar clobbered him, Heyman broke a kendo stick on him and Ryback's rekindled love for breaking tables with human bodies has left Punk in bad shape.
Punk won't get his revenge until Battleground.
Will Monday's Raw do enough to convince the audience to pay to see that happen? Before WWE's brawlers, fighters and warriors go to war at Battleground, Monday's Raw offers WWE a huge opportunity to sell the show.
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