Monday Night Raw ended this week with Daniel Bryan being put through a table, but he was actually one of the night's big winners.
This episode was the last one before WWE’s inaugural "Battleground" pay-per-view, and it was one that saw new stars debut and current feuds escalate.
Paul Heyman proposed to Ryback, Big Show lost his mind, and Zack Ryder got more than two minutes of TV time. It was a crazy night!
The following are the biggest winners and losers from this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw.
Loser: Curtis Axel
Curtis Axel suffered a pinfall victory to R-Truth—which was almost immediately forgotten about.
The Intercontinental Champion’s loss wasn’t treated as an upset or a particularly big deal, which isn’t good for Axel.
He’s had trouble gaining traction as a solid midcard heel, even with Paul Heyman at his side. Part of that is due to his own charismatic shortcomings, but it’s also because of the way WWE has booked him.
Axel just had a feud with the company’s second-biggest (active) star and was never seen as a real threat. Now that Ryback is feuding with CM Punk, Perfect Jr. feels like an afterthought, even as a Paul Heyman guy.
Considering all of that, this loss—even cushioned by a fake Punk entrance—is still a big blow to the third-generation star.
This will all likely lead to a rematch, possibly for the Intercontinental Championship at Battleground. Hopefully, Axel will gets his vindication then.
Winner: Big Show
The biggest winner of the night was really Paul Wight, who for once didn’t have to cry or do anything laughably over-dramatic as The Big Show did.
No, this week, The World’s Largest Athlete decided he’d had enough and was going to knock Triple H out.
He was kicked out of the building before he could do any damage, though, meaning we’ll have to pay to see him knock someone out at Battleground.
He may end up attacking Triple H, but it’s equally likely that he costs Daniel Bryan the WWE championship and turns heel.
Either way, Big Show was more likable this week on Raw than he’s been in months.
Winners: Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton
The feud between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton has been really good, but who knew that the key to it becoming "great" would be Brie Bella?
Their rivalry has dominated WWE for the past two months, so it was a little surprising to see them get only one relatively short segment on Battleground’s go-home edition of Raw—even if it did close out the show.
Still, they made it count. A brief verbal altercation led to a clash outside the ring that saw The Viper get the upper hand and RKO Bryan through the announcer’s table.
Somewhere in between, Brie Bella came out to get Orton to back off, which he, of course, did not.
Seeing Brie plead for her fiance's safety gave their rivalry a personal touch that it instantly benefited from.
It seems probable that their feud won’t end at Battleground, and further involvement of Brie Bella could elevate this program to Y2J vs. HBK levels.
Losers: Los Matadores
The debut of Los Matadores has been built up with vignettes for weeks, but it didn’t make the impact it should have.
Their entrance seemed overly elaborate, but I’m sure we’ll grow to love it, so that’s fine.
What wasn’t fine was having a debut team have a competitive match against 3MB—a team that gets squashed by singles stars. They certainly didn’t look like a tag team that would take the division by storm.
They have a lot of potential, but not much of it was captured in their debut.
A feud between Los Matadores and The Real Americans seems inevitable, so hopefully we’ll get a better indication of what they’re worth then.