For a new champion, a rugged tag team and a masked monster, the May 5 edition of WWE Raw offered reasons to celebrate.
Sheamus ended Dean Ambrose's long run as the United States titleholder. He was one of a handful of Superstars who turned Monday's Raw into their own Cinco de Mayo party.
Adam Rose, a master of partying, had an uneven debut. His first appearance on Raw was a less exciting introduction than he had on NXT. He falls in the middle of the night's biggest winners and losers.
Xavier Woods was among the Superstars who made no upward movement. He was forced to watch men such as Ryback and Curtis Axel improve their standing.
Winner: Ryback and Curtis Axel
In a tag team division marred by a lack of depth, Axel and Ryback are rising. They are quickly looking like one of the top teams other than The Shield and The Wyatt Family.
They began Monday's Raw conspiring in the United States Championship Battle Royal, working together to oust Santino Marella and ganging up on Sheamus. When it looked like Sheamus was going to smash Ryback's face with a Brogue Kick, "The Big Guy" turned it into a powerbomb.
As two of the last five men standing in that match, RybAxel looked like a powerful duo.
Ryback added a pinfall victory over Cody Rhodes later in the night to continue his momentum. With Rhodes and Goldust closing in on implosion and The Shield and The Wyatt Family busy with their own respective feuds, Axel and Ryback will remain contenders to The Usos' championships.
Loser: Xavier Woods/Zack Ryder
The United States Championship Battle Royal had several winners beyond Sheamus.
Dolph Ziggler looked gutsy as he hung on to the ropes to avoid elimination. Big Show and Mark Henry looked strong by virtue of how many men it took to get rid of them. Woods and Ryder, on the other hand, ended that match early, emphasizing their low position in the food chain.
Woods was the first man to take a flight over the top rope. Ryder followed right behind him.
When WWE took a look at this 20-man field, it pegged those men as the most expendable.
Kofi Kingston got his usual Battle Royal moment. Santino had an elimination to brag about. Even 3MB outlasted Ryder and Woods.
For Ryder, Raw appearances are rare these days. For his latest to end so quickly is confirmation of his bottom-feeding status. Woods is being typecast as easy prey early in his WWE run, a poor sign for his outlook for the future.
Just weeks removed from being a corporate goon, Kane is back to being a horror-movie monster and a major star for WWE.
His defeat at Extreme Rules to Daniel Bryan apparently isn't the end of that feud or his time in the headlining position. Bryan spent much of Monday's Raw scurrying around the arena to avoid Kane.
Kane finally caught up with him in the parking garage and tried to abduct Brie Bella. After Bryan fought him off, felling him, Kane rose from the concrete floor like Mike Myers from Halloween.
Not only is Kane likely getting another title shot, but WWE is also portraying "The Devil's Favorite Demon" as an unstoppable force similar to who he was at his peak.
Loser: Los Matadores
Extreme Rules didn't end the 3MB vs. Los Matadores feud either. Although the story reached a natural climax during the WeeLC match at the event, WWE is dragging this story along.
It seems as if the company just doesn't know what else to do with the bullfighters.
The Puerto Rican wrestlers posing as Spaniards celebrated a Mexican holiday, complete with pinatas and sombreros. Forget the nationality confusion; the more disappointing part of this segment was Los Matadores' comically bad accents.
Monday's Raw provided further proof of the gimmick's limitations and the fact that there is nowhere for Fernando and Diego to go other than to take on 3MB ad nauseam.
The feud has been tepid, and it has done little to connect Los Matadores with the crowd. El Torito has been the beneficiary. He's become the star of that team while they serve as the goofy sidekicks.
One night after spending Extreme Rules at the pre-show panel table, Sheamus emerged from Monday's Raw as the new United States champ.
While it's not as prestigious a title as the world championships he's won in the past, the gold now on his shoulder gives him needed direction. As he told Renee Young backstage, Sheamus had been spinning his wheels.
The title will have new life now. WWE won't have to juggle The Shield's storylines with the champion's own story. Sheamus is already set to defend it on Friday's SmackDown.
"The Celtic Warrior" can get back to the hard-hitting action in which he thrives. As a major bonus, at the tail end of the above interview, he teased a move toward becoming a heel. A nastier version of Sheamus is going to be fun to watch.
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