12 Reasons to Follow WWE Programming This Summer (Part 1)

Raw Crowd

Sunday’s Payback PPV and the Monday Night Raw that followed it have brought new life to WWE. The post-WrestleMania period of bland weekly shows seems to have only been the calm before the storm, as the seeds are being planted for an amazing summer of wrestling TV. Top stars have undergone character turns, huge names have resurfaced, promising newcomers are yet to debut and some major storylines are in the works.

The June 17th edition of Raw was universally acclaimed for its numerous surprises, but the shock factor alone does not make for compelling television. What interests me as a writer is how the events we have witnessed may affect the company in the long run. The success of a character turn is defined not only by how impactful the surprise is, but by the doors it opens in terms of future feuds and angles. With that said, despite the tremendous amount of filler content we have seen over the past few weeks, the summer of 2013 has the potential to be mind-blowing. Here are the Top 12 reasons to follow WWE programming in the coming months.

Randy Orton12. RANDY ORTON’S LONG-ANTICIPATED HEEL TURN

Yes, I know, we have been anticipating it for ages and many out there might have given up by this point. Nevertheless, WWE continues to tease a heel turn for The Viper and his in-ring work reflects that. Prior to the X sign thrown at this Monday’s Raw, Orton’s in-ring behavior during his match with Daniel Bryan was very much that of a villain. It seemed to me that it was not simply a case of Orton adjusting his work to the crowd’s love for Bryan, because his attitude was almost identical to that of The Legend Killer from years ago.

As WrestlingNewsWorld has reported before, Orton has been pushing for a heel turn for a while now, but the current state of WWE’s roster would make it that much more reasonable. CM Punk’s face turn has left a huge void at the top of the card, which arguably only Orton has the drawing power to fill. It would certainly freshen up the WWE Championship picture, as Cena is running out of credible heels to work with.

 

Antonio Cesaro11. THE PAIRING OF ANTONIO CESARO AND ZEB COLTER

Putting these two together might not make sense to some out there, but I buy it. Announcers have referred to Colter’s actions as “hypocritical”, and guess what, that’s what heels are. The decisions of villains are meant to cause outrage, and we can expect them to manipulate their reasoning all they want, especially when a radical political stance is involved. In addition, I am willing to overlook any contradictions in Colter’s motivations if they are in favor of a push for Antonio Cesaro.

If Jack Swagger can rise from the ashes of complete burial and go on to compete for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, chances are Colter will do wonders for Cesaro’s career as well. From then on, the possibilities are endless, but I will throw this out there for Ring of Honor fans to drool over: Bryan vs. Cesaro.

 

Rob Van Dam10. THE RETURNS OF ESTABLISHED NAMES

It was announced on Sunday that Rob Van Dam would be coming back to WWE at the Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View and it was just one day later that Christian made his long-awaited return. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last fifteen years, not only can these two put on some amazing matches, but they are among the most reputable names in the industry today. If there is one thing WWE needs right now, it is star power to help elevate the next generation of main-eventers. Just imagine what RVD and Christian would bring to the table this summer if programmed with the likes of Cesaro, Fandango, Damien Sandow…

 

Damien Sandow9. THE RISE OF DAMIEN SANDOW

And speaking of Sandow, here is a guy who has the potential to steal WWE programming this summer. I will admit that the longevity of the enlightenment gimmick has surprised me, as this man has never failed to entertain me ever since he made his debut. Damien Sandow’s character is hilarious, yet he has also been established as a credible competitor. In my opinion, the Intellectual Savior of the Masses has all the tools to be a big name and it is nice to see that WWE is finally recognizing his talent.

Sandow may have lost at Payback, but the very fact that he has been working with a star of Sheamus’ rank indicates that he may be in store for a major push. He did go over The Great White on Raw, which is a confident step forward for Sandow. His versatility makes me eager to see what WWE does with him in the next few months, as the comedic element of his persona does not seem to get in the way of how over he is as a villain. After his feud with Sheamus is over, the sky is the limit for this man and hopefully he will soon be in a position to wrestle the likes of John Cena or CM Punk.

 

Dean Ambrose vs. Undertaker8. THE SHIELD VS. UNDERTAKER

The Hounds of Justice have already gone over the biggest names in the WWE locker room, so one has to ask, what’s next? The UK tour back in April planted the seeds for a feud with The Undertaker and there is a chance it might happen as early as the build-up to SummerSlam. The faction has already had a number of clashes with The Phenom and their performance did not disappoint. When an actual program does unfold, it would be of even larger significance, because at this point, it arguably has to tie into the stable’s disbandment.

After the feud with the Deadman is over, any other opponent would be a step down for The Shield. The group has surpassed all expectations and has more than fulfilled its goal of introducing the three young wrestlers as respectable competitors. Watching the Hounds battle The Undertaker may be intriguing, but witnessing the start of their singles careers may be an even more fascinating experience.

 

AJ Lee7. A RETURN TO FORM FOR THE DIVAS DIVISION

The female part of the roster has enjoyed an increase in TV time as of late. Whether it is the new “Total Divas” reality show, or WWE has simply realized that the division can not be neglected for much longer, it is nice to see that Raw features actual storylines involving the Divas Champion, rather than meaningless squash matches.

I thought Kaitlyn was a much more believable champion than the Eves and Laylas before her, but things are yet to get exciting now that AJ Lee has the title. Whether you like her or hate her, there is no doubt that there is just something different about her character, and the Divas division desperately needs change. AJ stands out with a unique personality and her affiliation with Dolph Ziggler adds significance to her reign, which we can only hope to be passed on to the next champion. Provided WWE does not simply stop caring, the months to come may inject much needed prestige into the Divas Championship.

Read Part 2 here

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