Following a complete dismantling at the hands of new WWE World Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, John Cena returned to Raw August 25 and was determined to send a message to the Beast Incarnate.
Unfortunately for The Wyatt Family, it came at their expense.
Elsewhere on the show, Nikki Bella continued her push for "Worst Sister Ever" honors as she berated Brie Bella in front of an international viewing audience then physically assaulted her to a chorus of boos.
Jack Swagger's trials and tribulations intensified as he squared off with Rusev in the night's opener. He then shut Bo Dallas' inspirational mouth—at least momentarily.
Stardust and Goldust's quest to win the WWE Tag Team Championship took a dark turn as they brutally attacked The Usos following a countout victory. What could their twisted assault mean for the rest of WWE?
While this week's broadcast felt very much like a place holder overall, there were elements that helped advance stories and put the spotlight on some of WWE's biggest and brightest stars.
They are the winners, and losers, from the August 25 episode of Monday Night Raw.
Winner: John Cena
The franchise player of World Wrestling Entertainment needed a strong bounce-back performance following his demolition at the hands of Lesnar at SummerSlam. He got it, thanks to an intense, aggressive performance against Bray Wyatt in the night's main event.
First, he tossed Wyatt around the ring with reckless abandon, punishing the Eater of Worlds and leaving him stunned following a barrage of suplexes and stiff clotheslines. It only got worse for Wyatt and followers Luke Harper and Erick Rowan as they fell victim to Attitude Adjustments, courtesy of the leader of the Cenation.
Cena looks more determined than ever and showed a side of himself fans are not all that familiar with. It was a character development he desperately needed if he is to be perceived as a legitimate threat to Lesnar's title reign.
Losers: The Wyatt Family
As if the first go-around with Cena was not already bad enough for the cult-like faction, Monday's Raw further left Wyatt, Harper and Rowan in far worse shape than they were prior to their latest meeting with the former WWE World Heavyweight champion.
Wyatt was pummeled like an ordinary jobber, while Rowan and Harper stupidly and nonsensically stood by and watched. By the time they finally did something about Cena's dominance, it was too late. That they were so soundly tossed around the ring by the top dog in all of sports entertainment only made the night significantly worse for the entire group.
Why WWE Creative has lost interest in The Wyatt Family to the extent that it has is a mystery.
Whether it came from Vince McMahon himself or there is simply more interest in the likes of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, the decision has adversely affected one of the hottest, most compelling acts the company has produced in years.
If things stay the way they are, WWE runs the risk of killing any and all momentum built by the trio since the beginning of the year, leaving them to wallow in the dark abyss that is the WWE midcard.
Winners: Stardust and Goldust
Face it: The last thing WWE needed was another kooky comedy act. Any potential for Stardust and Goldust becoming another bathroom break barrel of laughs ended Monday night as they showcased a dark side at the expense of tag champions The Usos.
After being pushed to the brink following a countout ruined any chance they had of capturing the titles, Goldust and Stardust assaulted the twin brothers, leaving them battered and creating questions about the sudden shift in demeanor.
The fact is, Goldust and Stardust have been frustrated and infuriated since losing the tag titles to the New Age Outlaws last January. So much so that Cody Rhodes underwent a dramatic transformation into the Stardust character following what one can only assume was a mental breakdown of sorts.
It makes perfect sense that they would be pushed to the edge and resort to much more violent, dangerous methods in their quest for tag team glory.
Considering the somewhat stale nature of the tag division, the heel turn could very well freshen things up and create some interesting matches in the weeks and months to come.
After two straight victories over Paige last week, it appeared as though the third-generation Hart family star was on her way back into Divas championship contention, perhaps as a third party to the current storyline involving the champion and AJ Lee.
That no longer appears to be the case following Monday's Raw.
Despite a hard-fought match with Paige and a valiant effort on her part, Natalya suffered the Paige Turner and had her shoulders pinned to the mat.
It was a disappointing outcome for Natalya and her fans, who have watched the skilled in-ring competitor be underutilized for years now.
Winner: Nikki Bella
After drawing criticism from this writer for her overacting last week, Nikki Bella made major strides Monday night and came across as a natural villain. She was incredibly unlikable during her promo and appeared far more comfortable on the microphone than she did seven days earlier.
The crowd response for the segment indicated that the people were far more affected by what Nikki was saying, which will only help her heat when she finally takes to the ring for her match with Brie.
To top it all off, her attack on Brie was quite ferocious. She showed suitable aggression and intensity as she pounded away at her sister and pulled her hair before being pulled off by Jerry Lawler.
It was a fine performance that indicated the increased exposure and brighter lights that the program is bringing her is not too much for the buxom beauty.
Winner: Jack Swagger
After appearing as though he was on his way back down the ladder, Swagger took on a fairly large role Monday night, appearing in a match, a backstage segment and a post-match attack all on the same broadcast.
His latest loss to Rusev appears to have awakened a beast inside him. After being confronted by Dallas in the backstage area, he attacked the inspirational star following his win over Kofi Kingston, laying him out with a belly-to-belly takedown.
Without Zeb Colter to help keep him over, it is imperative that Swagger continue to develop with the help of WWE Creative or risk falling back into irrelevancy sooner than later.
Monday night, he got the help. Whether that is the case going forward is something to watch.
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