Extreme Rules, often known simply as the pay-per-view after WrestleMania, showcased some scintillating action on Sunday night, and as a result, the expectations for the next day's Raw were almost unreasonably high.
Consider the test passed.
Highlights included Ryback quickly setting a compelling stipulation for his rematch with John Cena, Paul Heyman revealing a shocking choice as his new client, Triple H wrestling on Raw for the first time in years and The Shield, Team Hell No and Kofi Kingston competing in a tactically elite match.
Let's take a look at the full results.
Ryback challenges John Cena to Ambulance Match at WWE Payback.
The Miz and Jericho defeat Fandango and Wade Barrett via submission by Miz.
Sheamus defeats Titus O'Neil via pinfall.
Paul Heyman reveals Curtis Axel as his new client.
Big E Langston defeats Alberto Del Rio via pinfall.
AJ Lee defeats Layla via submission.
Cody Rhodes defeats Zack Ryder. Ryback puts Ryder in the ambulance after the match.
The Shield defeats Team Hell No and Kofi Kingston via pinfall.
Randy Orton defeats Jack Swagger via pinfall.
Triple H and Curtis Axel fight to a no contest.
Ryback Challenges Cena
After an epic Extreme Rules battle that saw Cena taken off on a stretcher but refuse the ambulance, this is how Raw started on Monday night:
Ryback went on to give a promo that, for him, wasn't too shabby:
Well, Ryback went FAST during that promo, his best promo since his heel turn..except WHY THE HELL CHOOSE AN AMBULANCE MATCH! #raw #wwe2013-5-21 00:06:57
Best promo Ryback has done.. I marked a little with him standing on top of an ambulance #RAW2013-5-21 00:12:24
Mr. Feed Me More ended up challenging Cena to an Ambulance Match.
That's not exactly surprising considering his match with Cena—which snaked through the arena on Sunday night and featured several impressive, powerful spots—was a truly memorable one. Not only does this stipulation let them leave the ring in similar fashion, but neither wrestler will have to be pinned.
For the WWE, which is trying to keep up each star's momentum, that's an ideal circumstance.
To further cement his point, Ryback attacked Zack Ryder later in the show and after a power bomb and Shell Shocked, threw him in the ambulance.
Because, you know, there's no better way to intimidate the WWE champ than by beating up a guy who was just beaten up.
Also, poor Ryder:
Pat McNeill @RealPatMcNeill
Cody Rhodes beats Zack Ryder. Then Ryback beats up Zack Ryder. Then the ref beats up Ryder. Okay, made that last one up. #Raw2013-5-21 01:40:09
The Debut of Curt Axel
There was endless speculation about who Paul Heyman's newest client would be. Wade Barrett, Antonio Cesaro, Ryback, Christian, Rob Van Dam and several other names were tossed around as possibilities.
It was none of them, as Heyman revealed the newest member of his stable to be Curt Axel, formerly Michael McGillicutty of The Nexus:
Paul Heyman took to Twitter following Raw to express his excitement:
Paul Heyman @HeymanHustle
I always wanted to manage @RealCurtisAxel's father. A better-than-Perfect debut tonight! @WWE #RAW http://t.co/MCJh5jQjKZ2013-5-21 06:12:13
Sidelined WWE star Tyson Kidd was certainly enthused about the development:
TJ Wilson @TJWilson
Curt Axel has some amazing music. Natural from day 1, he doesn't know his own potential. He can go in the ring #Raw2013-5-21 01:02:24
Combine the technical prowess of Axel, who is the son of "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, with Heyman's talent on the mic, and you have the potential for a future champion. As such, a massive push will almost undoubtedly follow.
But when Triple H came out to confront Axel and Heyman, most fans couldn't help but make jokes:
WWE Creative Humor @WWECreative_ish
Congratulations to @TripleH for breaking his own record by burying Curtis Axel during his debut segment. #RAWTonight2013-5-21 01:03:16
The Game slapping the former Nexus member didn't exactly quell those jokes, either.
In all seriousness, though, a feud with Triple H has the potential to serve as a gargantuan moment for the burgeoning third-generation star.
And after Raw ended in a no contest between the two after The Game nearly passed out with doctors surrounding him, it's clear a feud is on the way.
The Shield, Team Hell No and Kofi Kingston Electrify
A night after they swept for gold, it's not surprising that The Shield came away with the victory over Team Hell No and Kofi Kingston.
But it was an absolutely thrilling match:
Jonathan Snowden @JESnowden
The Shield vs. Kingston/Team Hell No. Go ahead and book it every week for the next three months. Three years. I'm cool with that.2013-5-21 02:14:37
Every wrestler got in a healthy amount of terrific offense, while there were several spectacular spots throughout the 23-minute match.
It doesn't appear that these feuds are anywhere close to coming to an end, and the entire WWE universe should be overjoyed by that fact.