WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 7.25.11
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 25, 2011
3. Alberto Del Rio – for avenging his loss against Kofi Kingston from last week:
The fact that Alberto Del Rio holds the Money in the Bank briefcase and therefore has a guaranteed WWE Championship matchup at anytime he sees fit within the next year, it really made little sense for him to be included in the eight-man tournament for the vacated title that began last week. Luckily, the WWE avoided an incredibly awkward Del Rio vs. Del Rio bout when Kofi Kingston was able to come up with an upset of sorts. But that left Del Rio seeking some redemption, which he had the opportunity of achieving in a scheduled one-on-one bout against Kingston for his week’s RAW.
Del Rio’s night actually began way before that match even took place. After Rey Mysterio fought a grueling match against The Miz to become WWE Champion and then fell victim to a behind-the-back attack from the sore loser, Del Rio thought it was a perfect opportunity to cash in his briefcase. But when he ate a plancha by Mysterio that proved Mysterio was not as hurt as he had hoped, Del Rio took back the briefcase and decided to save his title shot for another day.
With that out of the way, he put his full focus on defeating Kingston.
While Kingston came at him with a high-octane offense, Del Rio was able to work around that throughout the match and make it a point to wear down the arm in hopes of hitting the cross arm breaker. Once Del Rio was able to avoid a Trouble in Paradise, he hit Kingston with an armbar takedown that netted a two-count cover. Kingston ended up in the corner when he made it back to his feet and he caught Del Rio charging in at him with a kick. Kingston then went onto Del Rio’s shoulders and rolled through when Del Rio dropped down for a pin attempt, but Del Rio was able to break the cover at two by grabbing onto the ropes. Del Rio moved to the apron and dropped Kingston’s arm across the top rope when he went over to retrieve him. Del Rio was then able to come back into the ring and float over into the cross armbreaker that forced Kingston to tap out in submission.
It wasn’t a WWE Championship victory, but gaining a measure of redemption over the upset victory that took place against him last week by Kingston counts as a pretty big win for Del Rio. Now he needs to wait and see how the WWE Title picture plays out and pick the most opportunistic spot to cash in that briefcase and achieve his supposed destiny.
2. Rey Mysterio – for being WWE Champion for a whole one hour and 50 minutes:
Vince McMahon’s final act in charge of the day-to-day operations of the WWE was establishing an eight-man tournament to determine a new WWE Titleholder after the most recent one absconded with the WWE Championship following the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. The initial plan was to have the entire three-round event last week. But time was running low and McMahon needed to spare a few moments in order to watch himself be relieved of his duties by the new man in charge, Triple H. So, the finals had to be held off for seven days.
Fortunately for the two finalists, the wait didn’t run any longer into this week’s program. The Miz and Rey Mysterio kicked off Monday Night RAW in a one-on-one showdown with the vacant WWE Championship on the line.
Both competitors obviously brought their A-game to a true championship caliber matchup. While Miz was probably a favorite by many to walk out of the bout with the title, it was Mysterio that came out the victor when it was all said and done.
Miz certainly had his moments, including a near fall off a devastating sitout powerbomb that came as the result of dodging a 6-1-9. But Mysterio kicked out and avoided an ensuing Skull Crushing Finale by holding onto the ropes. He ended up being pushed into the corner and then subsequently seated atop the turnbuckles, where Miz dropped his head down for a Tree of Woe. Miz drove the knee into Mysterio’s midsection several times before backing up for a charge. Miz missed the charge, however, when Mysterio lifted himself up and ended up bashing his hurt knee right into the turnbuckle. Mysterio waited for Miz to get up and then flew off with a hurricurana that sent him right into the ropes. Mysterio was then able to hit the 6-1-9 and follow up with a splash off the top rope to score the pinfall and the WWE Title.
Mysterio’s postmatch celebration was a cut a bit short when Miz attacked him from behind and Alberto Del Rio ran down soon thereafter to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase. But once Mysterio got his wits about him and nailed Del Rio with a plancha on the outside, the Mexican aristocrat thought better of his decision and took back the briefcase before the bell rang.
Mysterio was congratulated in the back by several fellow superstars – including John Cena, and he even thanked his family while talking about finally capturing this heavyweight title (Mysterio formerly held the World Heavyweight Championship twice as a member of Smackdown.) But Mysterio’s night was not yet done and he wouldn’t be able to take the gold home as he promised.
Triple H made an appearance during the RAW broadcast and announced that Mysterio’s first WWE Title defense would come later that evening in the main event. And it would come against the man that never actually got his rematch following a loss to CM Punk at Money in the Bank, John Cena.
And well, the result of that main event match should be a surprise to absolutely nobody. It was a good match, but clearly one Cena was going to win. And he did.
So, Mysterio’s night started off in rousing fashion. Unfortunately, it did not quite end that way. But he did hold the gold for most of the evening and performed incredibly in two really solid matches. Plus, hey, he held the WWE Championship longer than Andre the Giant. So, that’s something.
1. John Cena – for ending the evening with one of the WWE Championships in hand:
When John Cena lost the WWE Title at Money in the Bank and CM Punk elected to run away with it on the last night of his existing contract, he was faced with two rather critical problems. First, his job was on the line, as Vince McMahon warned him a loss to Punk at the pay-per-view would also cause him to be fired. Also, it was going to be difficult for him to get his automatic rematch for the WWE Title if the titleholder was no longer in the WWE.
Now, the second of those issues really didn’t matter had the first one actually occurred. But before McMahon could actually go through with firing Cena last week, Triple H emerged from out of nowhere and informed his father-in-law that no such pink slip would be handed out. Instead, “The Game” let McMahon know he was taking over.
One of Triple H’s first acts in charge was to provide Cena that rematch he deserves. And Helmsly wasted little time by making Mysterio defend his newly-won strap in the main event against Cena.
Much like his first match against The Miz, Mysterio was a tough foe and even tried a few new tricks – such as putting Cena in his own STF submission. But he just couldn’t close this one out like he did at the top of the program. Mysterio kicked out of a cover following the leg drop off the top from Cena and then elbowed out of an Attitude Adjustment. But when he dropkicked Cena into the ropes and ran for a 6-1-9, he ended up right back in another Attitude Adjustment that Cena quickly hit and covered for the three-count. And just like that, Mysterio’s first reign as WWE Champion was over in under two hours. Contrarily, Cena began a record ninth run with the WWE Title.
Cena’s celebration was cut short when Cult of Personality by Living Colour interrupted his own theme music and, after a few moments of suspense, CM Punk came out from the back. They had a bit of a title holding showdown, with both men raising their respective championships in front of the live crowd. Eventually, Cena just walked off and it appears as if our SummerSlam main event is set to be between those two in a unification bout.
To interject my opinion on this matter: Personally, I think that was ridiculously quick to bring Punk back. The WWE should have let the Mysterio vs. Cena title match actually happen at SummerSlam and have Punk make a return then. Essentially, what went down on RAW could have happened just three weeks later, all the while Punk could have made more monumental off-TV appearances to further build a more dramatic return – including possibly a spot on Ring of Honor’s show in his hometown Chicago the night before SummerSlam. But that didn’t happen and the WWE partially wasted its biggest angle in years by riding it out for a whopping eight days.
Regardless, Cena is once again a recognized WWE Champion and sits atop the pedestal over on Monday Night RAW awaiting that likely next showdown versus the real titleholder in Punk.