The Wyatt Family made the May 19 edition of WWE Raw a celebration of their malevolence.
Even on a night when an Englishman came home and The Shield and Evolution brawled once more, it was Bray Wyatt and family who were the biggest stars when WWE hit London. Bad News Barrett and Alicia Fox benefited from the way the show unfolded as well.
Drew McIntyre and Alberto Del Rio, on the other hand, had bit parts in the latest drama leading to Payback.
While the Wyatt Family, Fox and Barrett sustained their recent success, one can count Daniel Bryan as a winner too. Stephanie McMahon teased at the possibility but didn't strip him of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
It's likely just delaying the inevitable, though. With the world title picture unclear, other storylines and championships took hold of the limelight.
Winner: The Wyatt Family
Monday's Raw began and ended with The Wyatt Family. With Payback not likely to have a WWE title match, Wyatt vs. John Cena is an even more prominent match on the card, and that was made especially clear by how WWE treated it in London.
The twinkle of cellphone lights around him, Wyatt preached to the crowd.
It was one of his best, most enthralling performances. He spoke of his tongue being a scorpion's tail, of how a teacher spotted the evil in him early on.
Wyatt was at his most focused on the mic. Perhaps feeding off the charged energy of the crowd, he made the ring feel like a stage, even more than he usually does. Cena eventually cut Wyatt's speech short, briefly outsmarting the monster.
The clan closed the show as well.
Luke Harper was the latest "family" member to take on Cena. Given the main event spot, Harper thrived. He tossed in flashes of surprising athleticism in between stretches of brute force.
It was the night's best bout and a reminder that Wyatt isn't the only superstar in this trio.
The Wyatt Family provided the final image of Monday's Raw—the backwoods cult towering over a fallen hero. After knocking Cena out on the entrance ramp, Wyatt hovered over his prey, and Harper counted to 10.
The amount of time WWE gave this rivalry and the fact that The Wyatt Family bookended the episode and interrupted the WWE graphic to start the night off are signs of just how highly the company thinks of this squad.
Loser: Drew McIntyre
Even in a group that occupies a bottom-feeding position in WWE, McIntyre remains in the background.
Hornswoggle has been the biggest star of 3MB over the last month, as the company has highlighted his rivalry with El Torito. On Monday's Raw, Heath Slater got the spotlight and the unenviable task of facing Alexander Rusev.
"The Bulgarian Brute" tossed both Jinder Mahal and McIntyre aside before the match.
Even when WWE travels to the U.K., McIntyre can't get a significant opportunity. Being the easy-to-topple sidekick to a jobber bandleader is a waste of the Scotsman's talents. In front of a crowd that would have given him a big reaction, he was the pawn knocked over in the first few moves of a one-side chess game.
Winner: Alicia Fox
Two defeats last week led to Fox throwing memorable hissy fits. She won her match on Monday's Raw and still went nuts.
She knocked off Paige in her home country in dominating fashion. The bout began with Fox smashing her boot against the Divas champ's mush. It didn't get any better for "The Anti-Diva" either.
The nontitle win likely means that Fox is headed for a championship opportunity. Beyond that, this more interesting version of Fox is making her more relevant. Her outburst after the bell included her sauntering around with Jerry Lawler's crown on her head and dumping a fan's soda on herself.
Rather than just make her a placeholder rival until AJ Lee gets back, WWE is working to make Fox a star. The process is working so far.
Loser: Alberto Del Rio
Three sets of opponents battled for the right to face Wade Barrett at Payback. Rob Van Dam won this Beat the Clock Challenge by defeating Del Rio faster than anyone else could beat their opponents.
Being the Superstar whose loss came the fastest is nothing to brag about, but that wasn't the only reason "Mexico's Greatest Export" had a bad night on Raw.
His match with Van Dam was also the least entertaining of the three Beat the Clock bouts. For someone whose greatest strength has always been his in-ring ability, it was surprising to see such a tepid effort from Del Rio. Van Dam and Del Rio have had good matches before, but this was not one of them.
There was little energy and a lack of flow from bell to bell.
Perhaps it can be chalked up to an off-night in a business that requires men and women to perform for hundreds of nights every year. It could also be a lack of enthusiasm from a former world champ who now resides on a low tier.
Del Rio continues to watch his place on the card drop.
Winner: Bad News Barrett
Barrett was winning even before the show began. His T-shirts were apparently selling out at the O2 Arena.
Monday's Raw treated him quite well too. Aside from The Shield vs. Evolution and Wyatt vs. Cena, Barrett's match at Payback got the most attention.
WWE wisely waited to have him make an appearance until nearly the end of the show, maximizing the response he got from the U.K. crowd. After it was official that Van Dam would be his next challenger, Barrett attacked him and mocked him while he was out cold.
Barrett played to the fans, saying that England sets the time for the world and that there was no way he was going to lose to a "bloody Yank."
WWE continues to focus on the midcard titles, not only assuring Barrett of a spot on the Payback card but giving him a high-caliber opponent. He now goes into that show as the favorite—a significant leap from Van Dam running over him on Raw last year.
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