Victories came in the form of favorable positioning for Jack Swagger, Roman Reigns and AJ Lee on the June 30 edition of WWE Raw.
By Monday night's end, those three Superstars found themselves in line for big matches at Battleground and involved in rivalries that will elevate them. Should the returning Chris Jericho move forward with what appears to be a feud with The Wyatt Family, add Bray Wyatt to the list of Raw's biggest winners.
When WWE reshuffled its deck after Money in the Bank, some wrestlers could celebrate where they ended up. That wasn't the case for Nikki Bella and Damien Sandow.
The spotlight whipped past those two. For them, Monday's Raw was added confirmation that the company has set its focus elsewhere.
Men like Swagger earned new, enticing opportunities in Hartford, Connecticut, while Sandow and Nikki occupied the bottom rungs.
Winner: Jack Swagger
Big E had previously been Rusev's toughest opponent. He was the first man to make The Bulgarian Brute look vulnerable when he had him teetering momentarily at Money in the Bank. WWE is now portraying Swagger as a challenge that is a step up from that.
In what has become a familiar scene, Rusev and Lana stood in the ring and insulted the U.S.
Swagger and Zeb Colter swooped in to defend their country. In the resulting melee, Swagger stood tall, forcing the foreign powerhouse to retreat. That's a sight fans had yet to see.
WWE is not making Swagger another easy victim for Rusev. It signaled that Swagger is higher on its hierarchy than Big E, and that should Rusev go through The All-American American, it's going to be an injurious trek.
The fans treated Swagger as the hero here, the patriot fending off the Soviet braggart. He hasn't received a rousing response like that in a long while, perhaps ever.
This apparent face turn and rivalry with Rusev promises to be a career-booster, a stage for him to showcase his physicality and give the audience a reason to invest in his matches.
Loser: Nikki Bella
The Divas division is featuring a number of stories, and Nikki's is one of the least prominent.
On Monday's Raw, Layla and Summer Rae continued their obsession with Fandango, Paige and AJ battled over the Divas title and The Funkadactyls took the next step in their alliance imploding. Nikki was left without a rival.
She played a bit role in The Funkadactyls' drama.
In her handicap match against Naomi and Cameron, she was not the focus. The contentious state of the partners' relationship was instead. Nikki served as the victim and the latest catalyst for Cameron and Naomi to go at each other.
Meanwhile, without her sister, WWE seemingly has less need for her. She's forced to watch the rest of the division find foils while she's involved in a subplot about Stephanie McMahon still having issues with Brie.
Unless that leads to Nikki wrestling to get Brie's job back, that is going to end up being nothing but a minor narrative diversion.
Winner: AJ Lee
One night back with the company and AJ is already champion again.
Proving rumblings about her possibly being pregnant wrong, as originally reported by Cageside Seats, she challenged Paige for the Divas Championship and quickly rolled her up for the win. After a long absence, WWE apparently has no issue with placing her right back on top of the division. She reclaimed her crown, bypassing women like Naomi who seemed on the verge of taking it themselves.
As a bonus, AJ now finds herself opposite a worthy rival.
A feud with Paige just as she arrived from NXT would have been too early. Now WWE fans have had some time to warm up to her, and Paige has also racked up a number of wins.
She comes off as a much more convincing threat now.
With Emma on the main roster and perhaps Sasha Banks and Charlotte set to soon join her, according to Wrestle Zone's Nick Paglino, AJ chose a good time to come back. The division should be increasingly deep as the year rolls on.
Loser: Damien Sandow
Sandow's descent worsened.
Dressed as Vince McMahon, he did his best version of the boss' famous walk and gravely catchphrase. While impersonating Mr. McMahon is a step up from wearing a Magneto costume or being a ribbon dancer, it was the in-ring action that followed that signaled a further slide down the card.
The Great Khali returned. He delivered a single blow, a chop to Sandow's brow, to end the match.
The list of heels who would lose after just one move is short. Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre might have received the same treatment when they were with 3MB. Sandow may soon follow their path out of the WWE if the company continues to shred his aura.
This loss follows a strong showing against Adam Rose at Money in the Bank.
In that match, Sandow looked aggressive and dangerous. On Monday's Raw, he wasn't allowed to look like anything but a pushover.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Of the three emerging stars from the WWE title Ladder match at Money in the Bank, Reigns remained closest to the main event.
Cesaro is heading into the Battle Royal to decide who wins the now-vacant Intercontinental Championship. Wyatt may be getting a beneficial feud with Jericho. It's Reigns, though, who is still within arm's reach of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
He capped off Monday's Raw as well, teaming with Cena against Orton and Kane. The Shield's former enforcer provided several of that clash's highlights. He cracked The Viper with a leaping clothesline and knocked Kane's head back with uppercuts before brawling with Orton on the entrance ramp.
Shortly after, he returned to deliver a thunderous spear to Kane.
With his foe writhing at his feet, he stared down Triple H. Eventually, the COO backed off the apron, Reigns still glaring at him.
That's a clear sign that this expected match is indeed coming at some point. It appears that Reigns isn't going to fall far from the top of the card once his attempts at the title are over. He'll instead slide slightly down to a marquee matchup with a future Hall of Famer.
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