On the June 23 edition of WWE Raw, victory equaled the promise of opportunity for Dean Ambrose and Bad News Barrett.
After the Money in the Bank go-home show, those two Superstars now find themselves entered in the titular Ladder match at the upcoming pay-per-view. In Monday's chapter before that climax, both men ended the night towering over fallen foes, their momentum building.
In spite of the fact that she performed on a stage made of muck, Vickie Guerrero managed to earn a win for the Guerrero family. She constructed a strangely moving image as she made her exit.
Monday's Raw was not all triumphs and bright horizons, though. The show featured Cameron and Big E floundering as well.
On a night where several Superstars earned a spot on the Money in the Bank card and improved their resumes, those two had to be wishing for a reset button.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Smugness wafting from him, Triple H announced who would join Seth Rollins in the Ladder match for a world title contract. Ambrose's name was not on the list. Instead, Jack Swagger, Rob Van Dam and Kofi Kingston got the nod.
Ambrose's time would come, though.
Just as Rollins looked to end his battle with Van Dam, Ambrose leaped from the crowd, a frenzied animal gnashing his teeth. He peppered his former ally with punches and flipped him over the security barricade.
Evoking the wild energy of Roddy Piper and Brian Pillman, Ambrose scooped up a mic and threatened to ruin the whole pay-per-view if WWE didn't enter him in the Ladder match. He was the most unhinged and compelling that he's been since joining WWE.
Rollins demanded Ambrose be added to the bout so that he could control him and not have to worry about him bursting from the audience as he's done over the past few weeks.
Ambrose now heads into the Money in the Bank pay-per-view as a pillar of one of its narratives after offering fans a glimpse at the maniac he can be.
Cameron not only had to watch her partner officially earn a title shot against Paige at Money in the Bank, but she fumbled an opportunity WWE handed her.
While Alicia Fox and Naomi collided in the ring, Cameron and Paige sat in on commentary. The Funkdactyl was unbearable to listen to. She repeated the same lines too often; her voice grated.
It was nearly impossible to focus on the match with Cameron squawking into her headset.
Her performance was so dreadful that it'd be a shocker to see her be put in a similar spot again. The tension between her and Naomi is growing, signaling a coming breakup. That's bad news for Cameron, who is going to struggle on her own.
She has yet to impress in the ring and now adds a historically bad performance on the mic to her resume.
Winner: Bad News Barrett
The best match on Monday's Raw came at the show's midpoint when Dolph Ziggler challenged Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship.
The two foes have had standout matches in the past, but this was their best showing together. Given an extended amount of time, both champion and challenger poured themselves onto the mat. They had the crowd chanting "This is awesome!" and roaring with every near-fall.
Even in losing to Barrett, Ziggler elevated himself.
It was Barrett, though, who had the most to celebrate. He ended the bout with one of the better Bull Hammers ever delivered, a stunning blow to Ziggler in midair that sent spittle flying into the air.
Beyond that, the quality of the match helps boost the IC title's prestige. The last reigns Barrett had with the belt didn't have enough bouts like these.
Both Ziggler and Barrett were entered in the contract Ladder match, but it's the champ who heads into that clash with the advantage in momentum. It's hard to imagine Ziggler pulling down that briefcase after spending so much of 2014 on his back.
Barrett, on the other hand, has refused to let go of his championship, knocking down all comers.
Loser: Big E
Big E won't be a part of the Money in the Bank Ladder match. Triple H called Kingston and Swagger's names instead.
It appears that WWE has something else in mind for him—playing the part of Rusev's prey. After beating Damien Sandow, Big E challenged Rusev and Lana, dismissing their anti-American sentiments.
Big E attempted to implement a preacher-like inflection to his promo. It was awkward, ineffective and nowhere near as entertaining as he has been when he's just himself.
Many didn't get what he was doing either, inspiring a collective "huh?" from the Internet.
Who was Big E supposed to be imitating in that promo? If he's trying to convince me that's how he really cuts a promo, he failed. #Raw— Greg Parks (@gregmparks) June 24, 2014
Was Big E being serious with that promo?— WrestlingINC.com (@WrestlingInc) June 24, 2014
He didn't get to defend his country for long. Rusev soon charged at him.
"The Bulgarian Brute" once again dominated the former powerlifter. The scuffle ended with Big E's back bent backward. Big E hasn't put up much of a fight against the newcomer, likely signaling that WWE is planning to have him be the fodder and for Rusev to be the devourer.
Winner: Vickie Guerrero
WWE chose to pay tribute to Vickie on her way out in one of the most lowbrow and stupid ways possible. Somehow, she managed to salute her late husband and leave the crowd misty in the process.
Stephanie McMahon offered Vickie one chance to keep her job. She had to beat McMahon in a career-threatening match. That bout turned out to be a contest where the winner pushed the loser into a pool of foul-smelling brown liquid.
Vickie dodged McMahon's cronies, forcing Rosa Mendes, Layla and Alicia Fox into the "mud." McMahon and Vickie both ended up falling into it as well, but the latter did so first, meaning she had lost her job.
Standing on the entrance ramp, smeared in sludge, Vickie did Eddie Guerrero's famous shimmy. After one last kiss to the sky, she left, salvaging a moving tribute to her husband out of a juvenile segment.
WWE took too childish of a route, but it did make a big deal out of Vickie leaving, a sign that they respect her and her family, even if she walked out of the door dripping brown goop.