A man decked out in gold face paint and two former members of The Shield emerged from the July 7 WWE Raw with the biggest victories.
These Superstars' futures look even more promising after WWE's trip to the Bell Centre in Montreal. The night signaled that marquee matchups and elevated positions are coming their way.
For Dolph Ziggler, Monday's Raw saw him sprinting on a treadmill once again. As hard as he works, he's still in the same spot: just below being a contender.
While The Showoff served as someone else's catapult, Stardust, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose soared on Monday's Raw.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Monday's Raw showcased Ambrose's unhinged energy.
His night began with a lengthy, hard-fought match against Randy Orton. While an RKO eventually did Ambrose in, the former member of The Shield looked formidable against a former world champ.
With his left shoulder bandaged, he still flew at The Viper and fought through pain time and time again.
In addition to his toughness and fighting ability, this match was a chance for Ambrose to show off his mental instability. He tossed a handful of chairs into the ring, and his face continually shifted, going from snarling beast to wide-eyed madman and back again.
As a bonus, WWE also had him prevent Seth Rollins from cashing in his Money in the Bank contract for the second consecutive Raw.
Just as Rollins was in the process of handing his briefcase to referee Charles Robinson, Ambrose barreled into his former ally. The two brawled all the way up the entrance ramp.
The eventual Rollins vs. Ambrose grudge match is going to be a high-profile one after all the attention it has received so far. It will be Ambrose's next big opportunity to improve his resume outside of his work with The Shield.
Loser: Dolph Ziggler
Someone like Zack Ryder who rarely appears on TV would love to be in Dolph Ziggler's position, but going from world champion to perpetual stepping stone has been a sharp fall for The Showoff.
He battled Alberto Del Rio for the right to face Sheamus in a United States Championship match on Tuesday's Main Event. Ziggler helped make this No. 1 Contender's match a thrilling one. It ended awkwardly, with Fandango dancing on the announce table long enough to distract Ziggler.
A kick to the side of the head later, and Del Rio got the win.
That sends Del Rio into another title bout and likely has Ziggler continuing his burgeoning rivalry with Fandango. Ziggler has struggled to be anything more than the No. 2 contender for the midcard belts of late.
A series of clashes with a ballroom dancer isn't going to help that situation.
Rather than have Stardust and Goldust take on Curtis Axel and Ryback ad nauseam, WWE has decided to focus on developing Stardust's character.
That choice spelled a win for Cody Rhodes and his new persona on Monday's Raw. With his sunburst eyes pointed upward and his golden-gloved hands clasped together, he spoke of celestial clocks and traveling.
His brother soon joined him in an exhibition of the bizarre. Goldust gets the credit for line of the night:
It's Stardust who was the star of the segment, though. He has seemingly gotten more comfortable with this character each week, slowly discovering who he is along with the audience.
Big opportunities must lie ahead for the team. WWE is paying close attention to the duo and building them up with backstage segments. Last month, F4WOnline (h/t WrestlingInc.com) reported that if the Stardust gimmick goes over with fans, the brothers will get a tag team title shot at SummerSlam.
That appears to be exactly where we're headed.
Loser: AJ Lee vs. Paige Rivalry (For Now)
AJ reclaimed her Divas Championship only moments after returning from hiatus. Last week's Raw featured her rolling up Paige for the win. That seemed to be the catalyst for a marquee feud between the division's top two Divas.
Monday's Raw said otherwise. It's a collision that is too good not to happen eventually, but WWE is apparently going the patient route with this story.
Paige and AJ weren't enemies in Montreal—they were tag team partners.
In fact, Paige cheered for the woman who ended her title reign. In a tag clash against The Funkadactyls, Paige spent much of the action clapping and cheering from the apron.
Naomi and Cameron were the ones clawing at each other by match's end. The two women many fans want to see fight were not.
This has a similar vibe to when Mickie James was Trish Stratus' friend and fan before losing her mind and stalking her. That could be Paige and AJ's story as well, just not for a long while. It appears WWE is stashing that Divas feud for later.
Winner: Roman Reigns
On stage for the opening and closing of Raw, Reigns was in the spotlight for much of Monday's Raw.
He began the night, mic in hand, delivering a solid speech. The performance featured a few stumbles and a touch of a lack of confidence, but he was effectively forceful. He also managed to turn a "Cena sucks!" chant into a positive for himself.
Kane soon came out after him, and the two traded right hands outside the ring. WWE referees and backstage personnel had to come out to quell the brawl.
Reigns wasn't done, though. He pushed Jamie Noble aside before spearing Finlay off his feet. A Superman Punch to Kane then had the Montreal fans roaring.
John Cena vs. Rollins ended Monday's Raw—or, more accurately, the chaos that followed that match did. Ambrose prevented Rollins from cashing in. Randy Orton and Kane then charged in, looking to hurt Cena.
That was Reigns' cue to spear The Devil's Favorite Demon and then stand alongside Cena as the men raised each other's arms in victory.
That image closed the show, one that leaves the impression that Reigns and Cena are on the same tier and that Reigns will continue to gun for the throne that Cena has been sitting on for years.
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