The Feb. 24 WWE Raw promised its biggest victors shots at the WrestleMania spotlight.
After the episode, coveted opportunities await both Brock Lesnar and Bray Wyatt. Sheamus is seemingly in line for one as well, continuing his recent streak of dominance.
Monday's Raw also made it clear what WWE has in mind for Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania. He is headed for a collision with an executive, a matchup that is sure to be huge, but is not the main event.
That spot goes to Randy Orton and Batista. The fans in Green Bay, Wis., watched as WWE stumbled through that storyline, unsure of how to sell the match to an audience who is rejecting it.
The following breakdown of Raw's biggest winners and loser begins, though, with Summer Rae, who came out of the night better than she began it, regardless of the result of her match.
Winner: Summer Rae
Emma defeated Fandango's dance partner, but it was Summer who left the biggest impression.
Summer dominated the match, stalking and felling Emma while wearing a grin. Utilizing the Chris Jericho playbook, she yelled out insults as she clamped on holds.
While in control of her opponent, she asked Santino Marella if she thought Emma was cute now.
NXT fans are fully aware of Summer's skills at irking the audience through arrogance and WWE fans now got to see that aptitude as well. She was at her most catty since joining the main roster, hinting at her ability to be the division's top heel.
She and Emma are clearly carrying their feud from NXT to a bigger stage. If WWE will allow the two Divas more ring time, the results are sure to be most excellent.
Loser: Daniel Bryan
Monday's Raw made it clear that a clash between Triple H and Bryan at WrestleMania is coming. For just about any other star, this would be an opportunity worth celebrating.
Bryan's popularity, though, begs for him to get an even more marquee bout. Having the bearded one face The Undertaker, a returning Shawn Michaels or the WWE world champ would have satisfied his raucous fanbase.
This choice will not.
Cameras showed Bryan shouting at Triple H backstage, angry about getting cheated out of his championship chances once again. The COO dismissed Bryan's proposal for them to fight at WrestleMania.
Bryan then took to the ring to issue his challenge more publicly.
There was no mention of Batista or Orton. The story is zeroing in on Bryan's issues with The Authority and that likely means that in spite of the public demand for it, Bryan will not be battling for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at "The Show of Shows."
Instead, he gets what has to be viewed as a consolation prize.
Count Christian as a winner too, despite a midair Brogue Kick causing him to lose once more. Both he and Sheamus delivered the match of the night, a bout powered by intensity with each man seemingly holding little back.
It was Sheamus, though, who came out of this collision with an added "W" on his record.
Those wins, the extended ring time on Monday's Raw and the memorable performance in the Elimination Chamber point to "The Celtic Warrior" getting a big opportunity at WrestleMania. He and Cesaro are both stockpiling momentum.
Loser: WrestleMania Main Event
WWE is stubbornly continuing with the Orton vs. Batista main event without Bryan, even as the audience's disapproval grows louder.
Orton distracted Batista during his match with Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio stole a victory and the two men set to headline WrestleMania took to barking at each other.
Fans are unsure of who to root for in this match. In one corner stands a slippery villain who has gone from predator to coward in his most recent incarnation. In the other, his challenger is earning such negative reactions that the crowd treated Del Rio like the hero of the equation.
Batista teased at turning heel as he derided fans for booing him.
Is Orton then going to be morphing into a fan favorite? That's a hard scenario to swallow at this point with as much time and energy as WWE has put into convincing fans to hate Orton for the last few months.
There is still time to alter the dynamic of this match, but as it stands, it seems to be the next Goldberg vs. Lesnar—a bout where the fans jeer everyone involved.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
The way Roman Reigns has torn though his opponents, Mark Henry included, Wyatt standing tall against the powerhouse speaks loudly about his position with the company.
Wyatt and Reigns left their teammates in the locker room, for a while at least, so that they could pound on each other one-on-one. The battle felt like a movie where two giant creatures tear apart a city as they try to determine who is king of the monsters.
In addition to being booked on Reigns' level, Wyatt took a long stride down the path to facing John Cena at WrestleMania.
Cena called out The Wyatt Family so that he could deliver some payback to the clan that attacked him at Elimination Chamber. Wyatt and his crew ended up overpowering Cena, leaving him unable to stand and in need of medical attention.
Being pitted against Cena is a career-defining opportunity for Wyatt as his WrestleMania debut promises to be a momentous one.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
In most worlds, suffering a chokeslam through a table does not constitute a victory. For Lesnar, though, it meant he was getting a coveted opportunity.
Paul Heyman and Lesnar griped about not getting a title shot at WrestleMania. Heyman told the fans in Green Bay that "The Beast" wanted a chance at history.
That's exactly what he will now get.
The Undertaker returned after Heyman's rant and stared Lesnar down. The match many expected to happen was made official after Lesnar signed a contract and Undertaker used a broken table as his signature.
The annual battle to end Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania has become a major spectacle and has consistently produced Match of the Year candidates. While Batista enters a boo-drenched championship bout, Lesnar seeks WWE's ultimate prize—proving Undertaker's mortality at WrestleMania.
Of all the matches Monday's Raw set up or confirmed, none is bigger than the one WWE gave Lesnar.
Titles change hands every few months. Heroes face monsters regularly. The streak match happens just once a year and is not guaranteed to exist past this one.
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