WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 1.16.12
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 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 January 16, 2012
3. R-Truth – for winning a four-man over the top rope challenge to preview the 30-man Royal Rumble match:
The Royal Rumble is only two short weeks away, so it is natural that the intensity is heating up among the superstars set to enter the 30-man over the top rope battle royal. The prize for winning that match is, as usual, a spot in the main event of WrestleMania with either the WWE Championship or World Heavyweight Title on the line. With that much at stake, everybody wants to be in the match and is prepared to do whatever it takes to win it.
Four of the participants slated to be a part of the Royal Rumble Match got into a bit of a scuffle during this week’s episode of RAW.
It started when R-Truth came down to the ring to say a little something. But he couldn’t utter a word before Wade Barrett interrupted him. Barrett wanted to let Truth know that his name was one he would soon here as the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble match. He then made fun of Truth’s craziness, which prompted Truth to make fun of the way Barrett speaks. Truth then wanted to know why Barrett is so angry before unleashing a gorgeous slideshow on the Tron with pictures of himself and characters from Disneyland. Truth told Barrett that he doesn’t believe he’s going to win the Rumble. And just as he was telling Barrett about that being the truth, The Miz suddenly came out of nowhere and attacked him from behind.
Miz and Barrett proceeded to work over Truth in 2-on-1 fashion until Sheamus hit the ring and helped Truth take care of them. Smackdown’s general manager Teddy Long acted on behalf of the apparently busy John Laurinaitis and took this occasion to book all four of those men in a little bit of a preview of what’s to come at the Royal Rumble with an over the top rope challenge.
Barrett’s feet were the first to hit the floor in this contest after Miz proved it truly is every man for himself by helping Truth and Sheamus eliminate him. The match continued in that fashion and Truth ended up on the ring apron when Miz failed to throw him all the way to the outside. Miz then caught some double sledges from Sheamus before getting caught up in the ropes for repeated shots to the chest. Sheamus looked to nail the Brogue Kick, but Miz ducked and lowered the ropes so Sheamus got caught up in them. Sheamus did, however, manage to get his two feet back in the ring and then lifted Miz up in hopes of slamming him to the outside. During that process, Truth was able to get back up and dart across the ring to lift both of them over the top rope. All four feet hit the floor and Truth was declared the winner, much like he hopes will be the case on January 29.
While this was just small sampling of what’s to come when 26 additional superstars are added to the mix at the Royal Rumble, this is still a nice momentum-building victory for Truth. He played the game well by playing possum on the apron while Sheamus and Miz went at it. And then he swooped in at the most opportune time to take the win. It’s a strategy that works often and could, if replicated, help him at the pay-per-view.
2. CM Punk and Mick Foley – for picking up a victory over six-man tag opposition before an overruling by John Laurinaitis:
CM Punk puts the WWE Championship on the line in two weeks in a match where few things are actually in his favor. While he did manage to make sure both Vickie Guerrero and Jack Swagger will not be present at ringside in support of Dolph Ziggler by defeating Swagger in controversial fashion last week, Punk still needs to worry about John Laurinaitis serving as special guest referee when the two clearly have a strong dislike for each other.
Punk must also be aware of the fact that he is facing a tough opponent at the Royal Rumble. Ziggler has two consecutive victories over him and is focused on making the third one the charm to capture the WWE Championship.
Punk confronted Ziggler this week on RAW when he chose to rain on Mick Foley’s parade. Foley opened the broadcast to announce his intentions of entering this year’s Royal Rumble Match. Ziggler interrupted him to tell him to go away, which brought Punk out in Foley’s defense since the two are cut from a very similar mold. Punk thought it would be a thrill for Foley to enter the Rumble and perhaps even move on to fight for the championship at WrestleMania. Laurinaitis disagreed, however, and rejected Foley’s request for the Royal Rumble.
With that idea squashed, it was time for them to focus on the main event. Originally booked as tag team match with Punk and World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan partnered up to take on Mark Henry and Ziggler, it was turned into a six-man tag team bout when Laurinaitis added Chris Jericho to Punk’s team and David Otunga to the other.
This match did progressively break down, however, to the point that Punk eventually wound up by himself against Ziggler and Henry. Foley added himself to the mix by feeding the referee a lie that Laurinaitis approved his substitution into the match as Punk’s partner. Foley would also play an integral role in the decision.
After Punk managed to break free from Ziggler with a kick to the side of the head, Foley was tagged in just as Otunga became the legal man for the opposition. Foley drilled Otunga with a few fists before moving him to the corner to unleash a few more. Foley then charged in with a knee to Otunga’s face before waiting for him to get up so he could drop him in the center of the ring with a double-arm DDT. Foley then removed Mr. Socko from his pants and shoved it down Otunga’s throat to put him out for the victory.
The celebration between Punk and Foley was cut short, however, when Laurinaitis hit the ring and reversed the decision. He never approved Foley’s involvement.
Punk was not pleased with that ruling and took the opportunity to grab a microphone so that he could unleash some hell verbally on his “boss.” Punk laid out to Laurinaitis that his issues with Punk have nothing to do with who Punk is, but instead with who Laurinaitis is not. Laurinaitis, according to Punk, was not a good wrestler and hates seeing someone like Punk in the position he is as WWE Champion. And that jealously is going to lead him to screwing Punk out of the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble, which Punk assures will only lead to him kicking his pathetic ass.
Laurinaitis was pretty fired up from being spoken to like that. And after Punk left the ring and Foley pressed him to admit that he would indeed screw Punk, Laurinaitis let it be known that he was sick of being disrespected. And then he hit Foley in the head with the microphone.
So Foley is going to have a headache in the morning. But I’m sure he’ll take it knowing that he was able to make a return to the WWE ring and pick up a win in the process – even if the “W” won’t appear in the record book. And while Punk gets that same satisfaction, he also carries with him the momentum gained from tearing into Laurinaitis. Punk knows to look over his shoulder and expect that things are going to work against him at the Royal Rumble. But he is also prepared to deal with those things according, whether he walks out of the PPV with the WWE Championship or without it.
1. Epico and Primo – for retaining the WWE Tag Team Championships in the rematch over Air Boom one night after winning the belts from them:
Title changes don’t happen often as WWE live events (aka house shows), but they do occur every once in a blue moon. One went down at a live event Sunday evening in Oakland, where Epico and Primo were able to defeat Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne for the WWE Tag Team Championships. That turned out to be a pretty big deal considering it didn’t happen on television or pay-per-view, and because of how relatively new a tag team Primo and Epico are to be defeating the well-liked duo of Air Boom for the belts.
Kingston and Bourne would not need to wait long for the rematch, as it was scheduled to take place just 24 hours later on this week’s Monday Night RAW. With Rosa Mendes cheering them on from the outside, Epico and Primo made their first title defense against the team that they took the straps from. The result, much like the actual finish, worked out similarly to the night before.
Kingston appeared to have the match well in Air Boom’s favor when he was able to put Epico down with a Trouble in Paradise. But instead of covering, he made the tag to Bourne. Bourne climbed to the top rope in hopes of attempting the Air Bourne, but he became distracted when Primo took Kingston and sent him into the steel ring post. Epico took this time to get back to his feet and trip up Bourne. Bourne fell into the ropes and then the mat before slowly getting back to his feet for a backstabber from Epico that kept him down for a three-count.
The quick rematch was a bit rough for Epico and Primo, but they were impressive in defeating Air Boom two nights in a row to really solidify their spot as new WWE Tag Team Champions. Now they just have to hold onto them, which is an especially difficult challenge considering the WWE’s short attention span as it relates to the tag team division.