On an edition of WWE Raw without Daniel Bryan, one of his former foes and his former tag team partner captured the night's biggest victories.
Kane, Bad News Barrett and the Intercontinental Championship made the most upward movement, receiving more spotlight and heading in promising directions. Xavier Woods and Emma, on the other hand, suffered losses in short matches, indicating an unenviable position in the WWE hierarchy.
One may argue that Evolution reforming produced three huge winners, but that move takes Randy Orton and Batista away from the world title picture. They are both in much the same place they were last week—engaged in a feud with The Shield.
For now, men lower on the card and a midcard title made the biggest jumps on April 14.
Winner: Intercontinental Championship Prestige
The United States Championship remains a dust-collecting artifact WWE has paid little attention to, but the Intercontinental Championship received a major boost on Monday's Raw.
WWE set up a tournament to decide the No. 1 contender for the title. The quality of the entrants was impressive. Of the eight men to enter the tourney, six have been world champion.
In the first round, Cesaro defeated Mark Henry, Rob Van Dam bested Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus survived Jack Swagger and Barrett came away with the win against Dolph Ziggler.
Not only does this assure us that Big E will defend the belt at Extreme Rules, but it also gives the impression that Superstars desire it and are willing to work their way through top-notch competition to get a crack at it. This is miles better than deciding the top contender via a Christmas Present on a Pole match.
Next week's Raw will host the second round, pitting Cesaro against Van Dam and Sheamus against Barrett.
The journey to a title bout against Big E promises to be fun and focus on his championship, helping to restore it back to its glory days.
Loser: Xavier Woods
Alexander Rusev trounced Woods in what looked like a battle between a man and a boy.
When he took on the powerhouse at NXT, Woods at least put up more of a fight. In front of the fans in Birmingham, Ala., though, Woods was made to look as if he didn't belong in the same ring as "The Super-Athlete."
Last Monday, the company went with Zack Ryder as the Bulgarian's first victim. A week later, Woods played the same punching-bag role.
Unlike Ryder, though, Woods has fallen to jobber status before getting a chance to peak. Ryder won the tag titles with Curt Hawkins, served as Edge's crony and ended 2011 as the United States champ. He then fell to WWE's bottom rungs, where Woods is now. Woods hasn't tasted any of that kind of success.
It is going to take a concentrated effort to build Woods back up.
Winner: Bad News Barrett
Barrett's momentum has gone from dribbling to gushing in just weeks. Like he did on last week's Raw, he slipped from behind his podium and stepped into battle.
He was one of four men to advance to the second round of the Intercontinental Championship Tournament, by way of an impressive win over Ziggler.
Their match was the longest and most exciting of the tourney, filled with near falls and fans chanting, "This is awesome!" at one point.
He now heads into the second round, where he will collide with Sheamus next week. Those two brawlers have produced several memorable matches together in the past. Count on "The Celtic Warrior" and Barrett making the most of their latest opportunity in the spotlight.
WWE also placed Barrett in the 11-on-3 Handicap match that ended Monday's Raw. While that bout didn't highlight the Englishman all that much, the move from not wrestling at all to competing twice in a single night is a significant one.
Emma continues to fall into the sinkhole that is the feud between Santino Marella and Fandango.
The headlines coming out of Santino and Emma vs. Layla and Fandango will focus on Layla replacing Summer Rae or Layla's flowy, white ring gear. Emma, meanwhile, has had little chance to connect with the crowd and show off her personality.
Emma did thrive during her time in this two-minute bout, but Layla pinned her after just one offensive move.
The recent NXT transplant is spinning her wheels in this rivalry. It has produced a minimal amount of memories, hindered by a lack of story and the fact that the wrestling has only come in spurts.
Kane is set to undergo another transformation.
After serving as The Authority's unmasked Director of Operations, Kane pulled his mask out of its glass case and promised to return to the monstrous ways of his past. Thank Stephanie McMahon for the change.
Her scorching reproach on Monday's Raw inspired him to shake off his recent funk and become "The Devil's Favorite Demon" once again.
WWE showed a collection of clips containing his most heinous acts, strongly hinting that he will be featured far more going forward. The last time the WWE production team cooked up something like this for him, he entered into a high-profile feud with John Cena.
On Monday's Raw, Kane threatened to take out Bryan. This may mean he gets a title shot at Extreme Rules, especially considering the fact that Triple H, Orton and Batista may all be busy trying to tear down The Shield.
With Evolution reforming, Kane is seemingly freed from his corporate duties and allowed to slip into his monster's skin once more.
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