WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 7.11.11
By Neil Borenstein
Each week here at 1wrestling.com, I will select three of the top wrestlers from the Monday Night RAW brand and present them to you in inverse order as the show’s Wrestlers of the Week. In choosing the brand’s top three superstars, performances from that week’s RAW and any relevant preceding programming will be taken into consideration. This is a RAW exclusive. However, SmackDown and NXT brand wrestlers will be eligible if they appear with any significance on that week’s RAW broadcast.
Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week for July 11, 2011
3. Alex Riley – for getting the momentum-building pinfall in six-man tag team action six days ahead of competing in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match:
While Alex Riley may not appear to be a clear favorite in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match this Sunday, the recent roll he’s been on since leaving The Miz has greatly increased his odds of becoming a challenger for the No. 1 Contender’s briefcase. Riley has picked up quite a few wins as of late and put on some tremendous performances in the process. It’s still easy to assume the likes of Alberto Del Rio, R-Truth, Jack Swagger and even Miz are viewed more highly come the eight-man bout at Money in the Bank. But Riley’s stock has certainly risen and went up even more Monday night.
There was a spot during RAW in which the participants for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match decided to verbally make their cases for victory in six days. As a result of this bantering, the anonymous RAW general manager beeped in and scheduled an immediate six-man tag team match that would team Riley up with Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston to take on the combination of Truth, Swagger and Miz. Del Rio apparently earned the night off as a result of having his No. 1 Contender status earned last week taken away with CM Punk’s reinstatement. Rey Mysterio didn’t appear at all on the show.
Bourne felt the brunt of the punishment from the start of the match, as all three members of the heel team did a great job working him over to maintain control. But Bourne was resilient and eventually mustered up enough energy to avoid a scissors kick from Truth and counter back with a knee to the face. That allowed him time to get a hot tag to Kingston, who went right to work on Truth to set up a Boom Drop. Kingston appeared ready to hit the Trouble in Paradise, but he knocked Swagger off the apron instead and had to settle for hitting a high flying crossbody off the top rope on Truth that only netted him a two-count cover following a save from Miz. Truth then knocked Kingston out of the ring to head to a commercial and the heels remained on top coming out of the break.
Much like Bourne was on the mat for much of the early stages of the bout, Kingston found himself in that same predicament until he was able to double DDT Truth and Swagger in order to buy himself some time to make a tag. That tag went to the victor, Alex Riley.
Riley went right after Swagger with a spear and some mounted right hands. He followed up with a couple of elbows and a huge spinebuster in the middle of the ring off a ducked closeline. Clearly pumped up, Riley turned his attention toward Miz and pulled him into the ring from the ring apron. He clasped back onto Swagger, but Truth nailed him from behind before Bourne entered the ring and took him down with a leaping kick.
Riley and Swagger somehow ended up as the only two men in the ring, and Swagger looked to take advantage of that with a running Vader Bomb. Riley got the legs up into his face, however, and immediately dumped the All-American American with a big DDT that secured the three-count.
Guys traded shots after the match just to give everybody a little momentum before the Money in the Bank Ladder Match this Sunday, including a ladder swinging Del Rio.
Riley still may not be a favorite to come out of the PPV this Sunday with the briefcase guaranteeing a shot at the WWE Title. But he did manage to get the pinfall in the six-man tag team match on RAW and is coming off several big wins since going out on his own. It’s not impossible for him to get the win in six days, or at least put on a performance worthy of getting him better opportunities going forward that may not necessarily involve an immediate run at the WWE Championship.
2. John Cena – for going at it on the mic with CM Punk and in the ring with two of his Nexus followers, WWE Tag Team Champions Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga:
John Cena is not loved by everyone, but he still chooses to stand up for what he believes in regardless of the reaction and the consequences associated with it. Last week, Cena decided to take a stand against Vince McMahon’s suspension of CM Punk following the glorious promo the Straight Edge Superstar delivered on the June 27 episode of RAW. Cena encouraged McMahon to reinstate Punk and grant him the WWE Title shot at Money in the Bank that he earned. McMahon didn’t really want to take the chance on having Punk win the title and take it to another organization. But he was left with no other choice when Cena handed him the WWE Championship and appeared to be working out. McMahon granted him his wish – the original match as planned this Sunday with Punk fighting for the title on his last night with the company. However, McMahon warned Cena that a loss on his end would leave McMahon no other choice but to come out to the ring that night to fire Cena on the spot.
The reinstated Punk opened up RAW to continue voicing his opinion, but Cena eventually heard enough and confronted him. Cena informed Punk that he isn’t a pushover and that while Punk may believe he is the best wrestler, the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle all believed he couldn’t hang with them either. But he did and will go to Chicago to deliver an ass whooping to Punk.
Before the two could really come to blows, the anonymous RAW GM sent in an e-mail that noted Cena should be in action considering this could be his last night on RAW. And with that, Cena was booked in a handicap match right there against Nexus members and current WWE Tag Team Champions – Michael McGillicutty and David Otunga.
After maintaining control early in the match, Cena succumbed to the numbers game following a commercial break. McGillicutty and Otunga were able to keep Cena grounded for a bit and try their best to take something out of Cena before his big match against their leader on Sunday.
Cena wasn’t going to lose to those two, however, and got back into the match with a suplex reversal on Otunga. Otunga made a tag to McGillicutty, but he just found himself on the wrong end of Cena’s signature series of moves that included the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Otunga pulled McGillicutty out of an Attitude Adjustment and set Cena up for a dropkick from McGillicutty. But they were only able to get a near fall out of the double team and Cena soon recovered while battling McGillicutty on the turnbuckles. He shoved McGillicutty down to the mat and kicked Otunga off the apron so he could hit a long leg drop off the top rope onto McGillicutty. Cena locked on the STF and only let go when Otunga came in with some forearms to the back. Otunga got a few shots in afterward, but Cena dodged a charge in the corner from him and hit a quick Attitude Adjustment on McGillicutty when he came out of the corner. Cena hurled Otunga out of the ring and then went for the cover that turned into a successful pinfall.
That was a big win and huge momentum builder for Sunday. But his night was not yet finished. He made himself visible one more time during the show just when McMahon was about to sign a new deal for Punk. Cena explained that he got what he wanted when McMahon put the match for Money in the Bank back into effect. But what they were doing during a contract negotiation was bickering like a bunch of spoiled brats. And then he called Punk a hypocrite for essentially saying he was standing up for the people but then claiming he was going to turn around on Sunday and walk out on them with the WWE Title in hand. And when Punk tried to challenge him by calling him the New York Yankees in front of his home crowd in Boston, he delivered a shot right to Punk’s face as the final physical blow of the night before the two go toe-to-toe on Sunday.
While Punk has all the hype right now, John Cena is still very much holding his own. He has no problem challenging Punk and did just that six days before what has turned into a heavily anticipated Pay-Per-View showdown. Cena is ready and raring to go for Money in the Bank and appears to have just as strong a chance of retaining the gold and keeping his job this Sunday as Punk as of escaping the WWE with the championship.
1. CM Punk – for firing the final shot against both John Cena and Vince McMahon before fighting to take the WWE Championship away from the WWE at Money in the Bank:
For as good of a night as John Cena did have for himself, there’s no denying that CM Punk’s evening was a winner as well. In his possibly one week return to RAW after being reinstated before his contract goes out on July 17, Punk had a few more things to get off his chest and a last-ditch effort to maybe hammer out a new deal with the WWE. Punk not only opened the show with a live mic to continue saying what was on his mind, but he even called for McMahon to come to the arena and conduct a live contract negotiation in public later on during the show.
First, Punk started out RAW with that live microphone and a backup megaphone just in case the production crew decided to cut him off like it did two weeks ago. He recapped the situation from the prior two weeks and deduced that he got in trouble simply because he has the balls to say things that nobody else will. He went on to explain that McMahon wants to sign him to a very long-term, very lucrative new contract with the WWE. Punk found that funny because now McMahon is bending over backward to give him everything he’s ever wanted when all he’s ever wanted was the microphone. That mic is power in his hands, as witnessed by his show closing speech two weeks ago. And now McMahon sees him for what he is – the hottest property in the industry today. Punk did what neither McMahon nor the empty suits around him could do, and that is make the WWE socially relevant. But with one foot out the door, Punk finds it funny that McMahon now finally wants to give him everything he wants. Perhaps if McMahon treated him this nice five years ago, he wouldn’t have five years worth of ammunition to unload. But he does and he knows how McMahon is going to conduct business if they discuss a contract. But instead of holding a man-on-man conversation, Punk also knows McMahon likes to do things that have never been done before. So he called for the first ever live public contract negotiation in the ring. Maybe he’d sign, maybe not – maybe McMahon would have to join the CM Punk Kiss My Ass Club.
And by that point, Cena interrupted the Straight Edge Superstar. Before Cena could say anything, Punk thanked him for getting him reinstated to a job that he never even really wanted. He also thanked Cena for giving him what he wanted – an opportunity to beat him for the WWE Title at Money in the Bank, after which he was going to change the look of the belt because he considers it to have looked stupid for far too long. Punk also informed Cena that he will in fact beat him on Sunday and leave with the WWE Title. But in regard to Cena getting fired, that apparently won’t happen according to Punk.
Cena then went on to say he wasn’t a pushover and that he would go to Chicago to whip Punk’s ass. And before they could come to blows, the anonymous RAW GM put Cena in his upcoming matchup for the night and informed Punk that McMahon was on his way to take part in the negotiations with him over a contract.
That was an interesting affair in itself. McMahon came out first and wanted to get the contract signing over with in a peaceful manner, if you will. He was willing to give Punk a deal that would make him a rich man for a long time and avoid any ugly circumstance in which McMahon might see his precious WWE Title leave the company.
But Punk wanted to play around a bit. He informed McMahon that the contract he brought out with him wasn’t good enough and his lawyers hammered out another one that he already signed and included a few new provisions in. Those provisions include his very own jet, his face on everything – including the WWE Ice Cream Bars (tremendous idea!), his own WWE Films CM Punk movie and the main event to actually include him – not be “Dwayne” vs. Cena. Those were just a few new perks, but another one is that McMahon has to apologize to him and the people. Punk wanted McMahon to apologize for being a hypocrite, a bully, for firing a bunch of talented people and for punishing people for actually liking pro wrestling.
Punk had to demand it a few times, but he eventually got a rather aggressive apology out of McMahon and an attempt to put his signature on the contract before Cena interrupted the proceedings. Cena essentially called Punk a hypocrite before Punk turned the tables on him a bit. Punk recalled Cena saying to him earlier that a lot of wrestlers figured Cena couldn’t hang with them, but he did. Well, Cena is now a 10-time heavyweight champion but still claims to be an underdog – a label Punk believes should be his. And while Cena aligns with that whole Boston sports attitude of being underdogs even though they aren’t, Punk called Cena out for being a dynasty and exactly what he hates. He called Cena the New York Yankees.
That got Punk a right hand to the head, which caused him to promptly roll out of the ring, grab the contract from McMahon and go to the top of the stage to get in some closing remarks. What just went down is exactly why Punk no longer wants to be in the WWE. He’s tired of this, of Cena – just tired in general. On Sunday night, everybody can say goodbye to the WWE Title, Cena and CM Punk – which he illustrated by ripping up the contract.
So, Punk gets the final word in all of this and made his motivations perfectly clear throughout the entirety of the show. Like Cena, he’s ready for battle and has just as much of a chance walking out of Money in the Bank with the WWE Championship in his possession as Cena does of keeping it in the WWE. But Punk has a little extra fire under him than Cena does and really has done a tremendous job building this into one of the WWE’s biggest title matches in recent history. If this really is his final RAW appearance for the foreseeable future, Punk is certainly going out with a bang.