World Wrestling Entertainment was shaken by the fallout from SummerSlam on the August 18 episode of Monday Night Raw.
Brock Lesnar stood atop the WWE mountain, his trusted friend and advocate Paul Heyman by his side and a brand new WWE World Heavyweight Championship in his grasp. After such a dominant and one-sided win over John Cena, he celebrated accordingly.
Nikki Bella revealed her reasoning for betraying sister Brie, all the while Stephanie McMahon stood by her side, much friendlier to her after the assistance aided her to victory than she was a month or two ago when she was booking her in handicap matches on a weekly basis.
Mark Henry had a very successful Monday night, teaming with Big Show to knock off Luke Harper and Erick Rowan for the second consecutive time, then standing up in the face of the Bulgarian Brute Rusev later in the evening.
After more than a year of being mishandled and underutilized by WWE Creative, Ryback had an impressive homecoming, as did partner Curtis Axel in a huge six-man tag team contest.
Winners: Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman
The Beast Incarnate destroyed John Cena Sunday night at SummerSlam, and Monday he looked every bit the part of a cocky, arrogant champion who is unstoppable and knows it. The grins he wore on his face as Paul Heyman delivered one of the finest promos of the year enhanced the effectiveness of the duo, adding to their despicable and unlikable nature.
Heyman's promo gave credit to Cena but did so in a way that enhanced Lesnar at the same time. That is an artform that takes years to master and one very few can understand, let alone execute today. It is that knowledge and the mastery with which Heyman approaches his promos that makes him such an asset to the company.
Lesnar, on the other hand, is an unstoppable force merged with an immovable object, the most impressive physical specimen in the world of sports entertainment. As WWE champion, he instantly brings a legitimacy to the title that few others can and should be the perfect foil for a headline babyface to overcome if they want to save the company—and its top prize—from his monstrous grasp.
Loser: Jack Swagger
Yes, Swagger's loss to Cesaro was heavily reliant upon injuries suffered the previous night at SummerSlam during his Flag match against Rusev, but one could not help but feel like any and all heat he had garnered as the pro-American rival of the Bulgarian Brute disappeared the moment the Russian national anthem played Sunday night.
Swagger will always have a place in WWE's midcard thanks to his considerable skill and his workhorse nature, but one has to wonder how many times WWE Creative can start and stop his pushes before the audience stops caring altogether. That is the danger that faces both the writing staff and Swagger in the weeks to come.
The one bright spot in Swagger's Monday night was the introduction of Bo Dallas into his story, which could lead to a quality midcard program. That is, if both Superstars can do enough to keep the attention of those in power and not fade into the background as they have in the past.
Winner: Stephanie McMahon
There is no better heel in professional wrestling than Stephanie McMahon. That is a statement sure to be met with protest and insistence that Triple H, Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar or Seth Rollins are superior to the Billion Dollar Princess, but there is no performer who routinely generates the desired negative reaction that the boss' daughter does.
Stephanie relishes the opportunity to infuriate the crowd and has even begun mocking them in response, something she never would have done earlier in her career. She is so much more comfortable in front of the camera now and appears to be having fun each and every time she steps through the curtain.
A great performer whose mere association with a Superstar or Diva can elevate them in terms of importance, she kicked the show off with an outstanding promo before introducing Nikki Bella.
Speaking of whom...
Loser: Nikki Bella
Perhaps this deserves and asterisk of sorts because Nikki was not completely bad. She has much more camera presence and comfort on the mic than her sister, but like Brie her delivery leaves a lot to be desired.
Monday night she did not make the best impression as she over-dramatized her promo and came across like someone trying far too hard to get her point across. It seemed like a very unnatural promo, one that was forced, and it suffered as a result.
The more Nikki has the opportunity to enjoy increased mic time and the more she gets to perform in front of the live audience, the more likely she is to improve. Monday, however, will create doubters whom she will be forced to prove wrong in the coming weeks.
Winner: Mark Henry
It has been a long time since the World's Strongest Man was relevant on WWE programming, but that changed Monday night when he and Big Show defeated Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in another very competitive tag bout and simultaneously put himself in position to be the next big threat to Rusev's utter dominance of the WWE midcard.
A pro's pro who has withstood some truly horrific booking, injuries, questions about his heart and start-and-stop booking throughout his near two decades in the company, it is simply amazing both how many opportunities Henry has gotten and how many times he manages to get over with the audience.
He was passionate and convincing in the promo he directed at Rusev and Lana Monday night and had the Las Vegas fans ready to watch him rip the Bulgarian Brute apart. It was a beautiful performance by a man who always manages to connect emotionally with the WWE Universe. The eventual match between him and Rusev may not be pretty, but the build should be fun, especially if Henry continues to perform at the level he did this week.
Winners: Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins
After wrestling the best Lumberjack match of all time at SummerSlam, Ambrose and Rollins again stole the show with an extraordinary Falls Count Anywhere match that spilled out of the ring, up the ramp, onto the stage, around ringside, into the crowd and onto an announcer table. The match eventually ended via referee's decision following a vicious and vile assault by Rollins and the interfering Kane that involved putting Ambrose's face through a pile of cinder blocks.
The Superstars have such a heated storyline that it has developed into one of the marquee feuds in all of WWE. Fans love the wild, chaotic and unpredictable Ambrose and loathe Rollins, who always seems to benefit as the golden boy of The Authority.
The feud is far from over, something that should make fans of the competitors very happy.