Battleground 2013 generated a thick fog of confusion that Monday's WWE Raw will attempt to cut through.
Pittsburgh hosts the fallout episode, which will help clarify the situation surrounding the WWE Championship, Big Show's role with "The Authority" and where the CM Punk and Paul Heyman feud heads from here. The match card for Hell in Cell 2013, just three weeks away, will begin to form as well.
Expect Big Show, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Brad Maddox to be standing in the center of the spotlight.
As Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton fought for the vacant WWE Championship at Battleground, Big Show created chaos by knocking out both competitors and two referees. Maddox watched on at the entrance ramp, stunned and fearful.
Renee Young interviewed Maddox afterward in a WWE.com exclusive interview.
Maddox denied having any prior knowledge of Big Show's actions or that there was a conspiracy to keep Bryan from winning the title. Nervousness shone on his face, and it's clear from Young's comments during the interview that it will be Maddox who takes the blame for what went wrong at Sunday's pay-per-view.
Look for Triple H and McMahon to punish and intimidate Raw's general manager. Those two firing him isn't out of the question, either.
Maddox will undoubtedly also be held responsible for the Rhodes family winning their match against The Shield and re-entering the WWE as employees.
Championships and Challenges
WWE will look to capitalize on the emotional power of Cody Rhodes and Goldust's win at Battleground. Rhodes' saga has been a focus on Raw over the last month, and there's no reason for that to change now.
Rhodes will enter a hostile work environment and certainly face obstacles thrown at him from "The Authority."
Fans will be anxious what direction this story takes in terms of a match for Hell in a Cell. Triple H could have Rhodes continue to battle The Shield or punish Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for failing to get their job done.
Rhodes heads into Monday on a tidal wave of momentum.
Will it be enough to have him seize the No. 1 contender's spot for the World Heavyweight Championship or will he be sidetracked with a Shield-centric storyline?
Anthony Benigno's five-point preview on WWE.com hints at the latter with the question: "What challenges will 'The Authority' cook up for their newest employees?"
Alberto Del Rio ended Battleground victorious, outlasting Rob Van Dam. He marches toward Hell in a Cell still world champion.
Benigno's preview suggests that WWE isn't planning a trilogy of pay-per-view bouts between Van Dam and Del Rio. He writes of Del Rio, "With the title safe in his clutches, who will step forward to challenge the champion?"
Bet on a new face emerging to challenge him.
If Rhodes isn't too tied down with battling Triple H's tyranny, he makes an ideal rival. He is on the rise, already in the spotlight and a formidable foe behind whom the crowd can get.
Other options are limited at the moment.
The roster offers little in the way of alternatives for babyfaces in position to challenge Del Rio. It's too early to go back to a Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler feud, The Miz hasn't been active or victorious enough lately and CM Punk is busy trying to gut a walrus.
Not Yet Satiated
Punk earned a win over Heyman's newest client at Battleground, but not in a definitive, feud-ending way.
"The Second City Saint" landed a low blow on Ryback with the referee's back turned. This is the type of win that keeps a rivalry going.
Punk made it clear in his backstage interview with Young that this battle of former friends isn't over when he said, "I haven't got my pound of flesh."
Benigno reiterated the rivalry's ongoing status by asking, "While Punk continues his quest to get his hands on Heyman, though, will 'The Big Guy' be looking for revenge against Punk or the man who cost him his match with Punk, Paul Heyman himself?"
Does WWE play up the tension between Heyman and Ryback or even between Curtis Axel and Ryback on Monday's Raw? Axel has shown signs of personal jealousy as Heyman has doted over his new client and grown increasingly intimate with him.
Punk's endgame could be the dissolution of Heyman's camp.
Raw will give fans a clue of how WWE proceeds with this storyline and if we'll see Punk and Ryback battle at two consecutive Hell in a Cell events.
Possible Reinforcement Coming
Vince McMahon is scheduled to appear on Monday's Raw, per WWE.com.
He's no guarantee to show up, though, as he's been scheduled for the last few weeks without a single Mr. McMahon sighting. With Raw ratings doing poorly, he may choose now to make his move back on screen.
Wrestling Observer, via WrestlingInc.com, reports that "there are people within WWE speculating that Vince McMahon will resurface on television sooner rather than later. Original creative plans call for the Chairman to return sometime in November."
It may soon be time to hear Mr. McMahon's two most famous words again.
He could either struggle to reclaim control over the show from his daughter and son-in-law or increase their power by backing them. Either way, low ratings are likely to make the chairman nervous, and that could very well mean him inserting himself into the current storyline.
Kaitlyn and Wade Barrett are also on the list of scheduled Superstars despite not being seen for some time.
It probably won't happen this Monday, but WWE reportedly has big plans for Barrett in the near future. Per F4WOnline.com, via WrestlingInc.com, "WWE creative writers are contemplating repackaging Wade Barrett and giving him a strong push."
He may have to wait, however, as two other men look to be undergoing gimmick makeovers.
Shifts in the Making
Monday's Raw could be where both R-Truth and Drew McIntyre undergo dramatic transformations.
F4WOnline, via WrestlingInc.com, reports that "WWE creative has been discussing a R-Truth heel turn." That comes as no surprise to fans who have seen R-Truth's preacher-inspired promo for Hell in a Cell.
This could well be just something WWE filmed for the preview with no intention of carrying it over to the ring, or it could be a sneak peek at R-Truth's gimmick change. An angry, evil preacher would be a fine fit for R-Truth and make him far more relevant in an instant.
As for the Scottish member of 3MB, McIntyre appears to be headed for a metamorphosis as well.
McIntyre has been teasing such a change on his Twitter account, moving from playful banter to a darker, more intense voice in his messages.
Having either Superstar make a significant change will be a fun addition to the episode and create some excitement going forward. A Reverend Truth character could either join or oppose the Wyatt Family while McIntyre breaking away from 3MB forces Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater to react and adapt.
Enough instances of sleight of hand and introducing exciting clashes to look forward to will help ease the disappointment of Battleground's missteps. The road to convincing fans to buy Hell in a Cell begins on Monday as an irritated fanbase looks on for WWE's next moves.
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