Big Show won big on Monday's WWE Raw without even being put into a match.
The Nov. 11 episode also showcased a champion's success, a stable stepping into the spotlight and a powerhouse extending his slump. Ryback got dumped, but at least he appeared on the show, unlike a certain Englishman, whom only the fans in Manchester, England got a chance to see.
Much of the night focused on Kane, Vickie Guerrero and Brad Maddox scuffling for control with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon not around. They weren't among the biggest benefactors from the episode, nor were they among the night's biggest losers.
Beyond wins and losses in the matches themselves, these are the Superstars who had their long-term positions most strengthened or battered by the events from Monday's Raw.
Winner: Curtis Axel
Axel did more than defeat Dolph Ziggler; he looked like a champion.
The more times Axel defends the Intercontinental Championship, the more being champ benefits him and the more he looks like he deserves the title. After losing to Ziggler on last Monday's Raw, Axel fended off "The Show Off" and got a decisive win.
Axel proved his worth, providing one of the better matches of the night.
The midcard is an ideal spot for him right now, but only if WWE has him put the title on the line often and against worthy competition. Beating a former world champ is quite an addition to his resume.
As a bonus, Paul Heyman came back, complete with wheelchair and oversized neck brace.
Axel stood behind him, relishing the return of his leader. Whether or not Heyman will head back into hibernation, Monday saw Axel onscreen longer than he would have been had Heyman stayed away.
While Axel received the surprise benefit of having Heyman return to vouch for him, Ryback felt a knife plunge into his back, courtesy of his former cornerman.
Heyman dismissed Ryback in a promo on Monday's Raw, claiming that he was not a Paul Heyman guy and blaming him for the loss at Hell in a Cell. Heyman quickly moved on to threatening CM Punk, as if Ryback wasn't even important enough to talk about for a whole segment.
Getting tossed out of Heyman's camp hurts.
All the benefits of being paired with the best manager in WWE today have been stripped from "The Big Guy," who once again has been asked to change directions. WWE hasn't stuck with an angle with Ryback long enough. His run with Heyman is over, the advocate dumping the powerhouse abruptly.
Combined with a loss to R-Truth earlier in the night, Ryback had a terrible Monday in terms of momentum.
He continues to tumble after tangling with John Cena for the WWE title earlier in the year, now minus a manager and floating down the river with no oar, no rudder.
Winner: Big Show
WWE simplified the Big Show and Randy Orton story.
With Triple H and Stephanie McMahon on vacation, the narrative zeroed in on animosity between challenger and champion. Orton looked to escape his match against Cody Rhodes and Goldust but then saw Big Show stomping toward him.
Orton was clearly afraid of him, trying to squirm away from the big man.
In one of the biggest moments of the episode, the No. 1 contender then lifted Orton by the neck and drove him through the announce table. The Manchester crowd bellowed in approval.
Big Show gained a wealth of momentum without speaking a word into a microphone or wrestling in a match. He came, he saw, he chokeslammed.
The image of Orton wincing afterward, receiving medical treatment on his shoulder, makes Big Show look more dangerous heading into their match and suggests that Orton is the underdog despite The Authority backing him.
Loser: Wade Barrett
Not appearing on Raw has been commonplace for Barrett as of late, the former bare-knuckle boxer sitting alongside Yoshi Tatsu and JTG on the bench. But this was different.
Barrett said in an interview with Lancaster Evening Post that he'd been out of action because he was waiting for his visa to be processed.
You don't need a visa to work in your own country though, right? With Raw in Manchester, this would have been a fantastic time to have Barrett to appear. There's little doubt that the former leader of Nexus would have garnered the biggest reaction of the night.
For WWE to choose to hold him out, even in this circumstance, is a bad sign.
Brooklyn Brawler found himself in a match when Brooklyn, N.Y. hosted TLC: Tables, Ladder & Chairs, but Barrett didn't get on TV when Raw was about an hour away from his hometown. Instead, he was relegated to dark-match duty.
Winner: The Wyatt Family
There wasn't a more electrifying moment on Monday's episode than when The Wyatt Family and The Shield faced off, teasing a war between the two factions.
If that was WWE's way of testing the reaction to that possible future feud, the tests came back positive. Tweets like this flooded the Internet.
YES YES YES! I've been waiting sooo long for the Wyatt's and the Shield to kick each others butts! My dreams are coming true #RAW— Noelle Foley (@NoelleFoley) November 12, 2013
As successful as The Shield has been, being involved in a rivalry with them would do wonders for the trio's momentum. As for the near future, it appears that Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan are getting a spot in a potential show-stealing match.
If The Wyatt Family team with The Shield against The Usos, Punk, Daniel Bryan and the Rhodes brothers, they have a shot to make their pay-per-view debut a memorable one. Eliminating the biggest names from that bout would do for the Wyatts what his performance against The Dream Team in 1990 did for The Undertaker—provide a career with a running start.
Being in the main event segment is nothing new for The Shield, Punk or Bryan, but for The Wyatt Family, it's proof of their rising position, their momentum simmering like swamp water in the August sun.