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   September 18, 2014



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Raw: Title is "up" for grabs
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Raw hit the airwaves Monday with the big news none of us wanted to hear (well, at least most of us) but all knew was coming - Daniel Bryan has had to surrender the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Yes, sad but true, Bryan had to relinquish his belts and, as the Authority pointed out to all us believers, he didn't even show up on television.

In reality, Bryan's injury has throw not just a monkey wrench in WWE's planning through the summer, but also opened a door of opportunity to seven select Superstars to grab the gold. One, Alberto Del Rio, had already been established the week prior after beating Dolph Ziggler.

Raw exposed us to two other candidates who are former WWE and World champs - Randy Orton, who won by defeating a sunbathing octogenarian (no, I shouldn't say that, that's a dirty lie - he beat a shark after jumping it), and Sheamus, who defeated Bad News Barrett in the match of the night (for which he had stiff competition, but more on that in a moment).

The other big winner of the night was Cesaro, who upended Rob Van Dam for what feels like the 100th time. The ROH alumn is already the favourite for many fans going into the bout, especially with the prospect of Brock Lesnar (who was teased by Paul Heyman as appearing in his home state but didn't) and him squaring off at SummerSlam.

Now the other MOTN candidate, Jack Swagger vs. Santi... er, I mean the Wyatts vs. The Shield/John Cena, succeeded in in-ring, but felt stopgap, especially when you consider that the CeNation leader just beat Bray two weeks ago. Yes, they needed a spot to fill while they establish Cena in the MITB match, but there was something that didn't quite click, especially if the prospect is that Cena now hangs with Ambrose and Reigns to get the rub (yes, I said it in the correct order).

Countering the Shield's willingness to survive was a decent promo by turncoat Seth Rollins, solo might I add. Rollins delivered fairly well in the high-pressure situation and, despite a somewhat apathetic crowd, came off incredibly well on TV. I look forward to seeing more from him in the coming weeks.

Elsewhere, the aforementioned Swagger beat Santino, Paige upended Alicia Fox (in an angle that's losing steam quickly), Goldust and R-Truth lost to RybAxel, after which Cody Rhodes teased a surprise partner for next week which has me intrigued, The Usos defeated Fandango and Damien Sandow (the less said the better) and Bo Dallas kept his win streak alive vs. Xavier Woods.