A trio of hunters and a pair of loose cannons won big on May 12's WWE Raw.
The Shield spent much of the show chasing down and gnashing at Evolution. Alicia Fox and Ryback added to their resumes as well, with each wrestler impressing in a loss.
Jack Swagger's loss won't get much attention, as it isn't surprising. Daniel Bryan's announcement on Monday's Raw, though, forced many a jaw to drop. It's unclear how much time he's losing, or if he will be able to keep the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but he certainly won't consider this night a highlight of his career.
However, that is exactly what Fox achieved.
Winner: Alicia Fox
A more compelling version of Fox emerged in one of the night's biggest surprises.
She took on Paige as she has done several times before. Their previous matches have been solid, but Fox has felt like a low-level foe each time out. On Monday's Raw, she turned her latest bout into her own showcase.
Before the bell rang, she slapped Paige and stomped on her until she needed to hold onto the ropes to stand up.
Fox's viciousness had her dominate the match, flinging the Divas champ out of the ring and stretching her out with a surfboard submission hold.
Paige managed to slip away with a win, which incited Fox to lose her mind. She tore at the announcer's table, sprayed John "Bradshaw" Layfield's drink on the floor and kicked the barricade.
Fox forced the spotlight her way and thrived under it. She upped her value to the Divas division with the performance, making a feud with Paige more appealing and urging WWE to find more airtime for her.
Loser: Jack Swagger
In the Adam Rose and Swagger story, the Oklahoma powerhouse is becoming less of a focus. The party maestro is the leading man, and Zeb Colter is the supporting actor.
Before Swagger took on Rob Van Dam, Colter talked about adding Rose to his deportation list. Swagger's role was to hold Colter's sign and stand silently next to his manager. "The All-American American" has always yielded the majority of his mic time to Colter, but he's contributing even less recently.
He didn't get to make up for it with his ring work, either.
Rose distracted Swagger during the match, crowd-surfing around the ring before prancing away. Van Dam ended the bout with just two moves—a kick to the jaw and a Five-Star Frog Splash.
It increasingly looks as if Swagger is just going to be fed to Rose to make him look good once he debuts in the ring. Losses are piling up for Swagger, and on Monday's Raw, he wasn't allowed to do much to resist it.
These signs all point to him sliding down the WWE hierarchy.
Ryback lost to Sheamus after the United States champ defeated Curtis Axel. That may sound like something a jobber would be asked to do, but Ryback looked more like a wrecking ball than he has in months.
He pushed Sheamus throughout the match.
"The Big Guy" pounded on the champ and left him reddened, drained and out of breath. When Sheamus went for a diving shoulder block, Ryback caught him and turned the move into a backpack stunner.
Ryback kicked out of White Noise and forced Sheamus to just avoid getting pinned on several occasions.
It was not only the strongest Ryback has looked in a long while, but it was his best match since his feud with John Cena last June.
Just when it seems like it's time to write the eulogy for Ryback's career, he shows the kind of promise he did on Monday's Raw. Inconsistent booking has held him back, making performances like these far too rare.
Loser: Daniel Bryan
Bryan's journey is set to take a downturn, though it's unclear how bad it will actually be.
The world champ announced to fans on Monday's Raw that he is having neck surgery on May 15. He doesn't know how long he's going to be out, and the fact that WWE hasn't stripped him of the title suggests that it may be just a short hiatus.
Still, "neck surgery" is never something a wrestler wants to hear or say.
His future is suddenly cloudier. Forget missing Payback: If things don't go well on the operating table or during rehab, Bryan could miss several months.
Edge retired early, and Steve Austin struggled to make it back thanks to neck issues. Hopefully, Bryan can avoid a similar fate. Missing any time at all, though, only serves to curb his momentum.
Winner: The Shield
Evolution won the last round, throttling The Shield to end last Monday's Raw. This time, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose earned a number of victories in a single night.
The show opened with The Shield calling their enemies out. When Evolution stepped out of a limo, "The Hounds of Justice" darted at them. The brawl ended with The Shield on top and Randy Orton, Triple H and Batista on their backs.
Rollins led another ambush after Evolution accepted the challenge for a rematch.
Again, The Shield came out as the winners. Evolution backpedaled after that, with Batista demanding a shot at Reigns later.
Reigns vs. Batista fell apart early. The night's third brawl went The Shield's way again, even though Ryback, Titus O'Neil, 3MB and others joined in on the fist throwing. Reigns burst out of the pack to nail Triple H with a spear.
The Shield then thinned the opposition, leaving each man hurting afterward.
WWE portrayed The Shield as a super group, putting it even higher on the ladder than Evolution. With Bryan likely out, the upcoming six-man match could headline Payback. The event gives The Shield a chance to continue its hot streak, taking advantage of the stockpile of momentum it gathered on Monday's Raw.
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