WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 4.2.12
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 April 2, 2012
3. Mark Henry – for defeating WWE Champion CM Punk via countout with a rather dominating performance:
Mark Henry’s time in the spotlight may have come and gone since losing the World Heavyweight Championship off the best push of his career. But that run at least served to boost his confidence, and Henry remains called upon by those in need of some muscle to provide dominating performances against any and all competition.
When CM Punk decided to make fun of John Laurinaitis during a meeting being held by the new permanent general manager of both RAW and Smackdown, it turned into one of those situations when his mouth got him into trouble. By calling Laurinaitis a toolbox, he set himself up for said toolbox to book him in a match. Just one night after successfully defending the WWE Championship against Chris Jericho in a hard-fought battle at WrestleMania XVIII, he would need to put the strap on the line yet again – this time against The World’s Strongest Man.
With a chance to get back to the top of the mountain, Henry truly made the most of his opportunity against Punk. While Punk was clearly still feeling the battle scars from his match with Jericho on Sunday, it was Henry who was able to dominate for a good portion of this rather lengthy contest. His hefty power advantage not only allowed him to work over Punk well, but it also enabled him to constantly counter back at Punk and make his striking mostly ineffective.
For as good as Henry was in this match, however, he made a simple mistake that no 16-year veteran should ever make when it comes to competing in world title matches. After taking a few shots from Punk to end up in a bulldog position, Henry managed to lift the WWE Champion as he was executing the move and dumped him all the way to the floor on the outside. Henry made no attempt to get Punk back into the ring before the referee made it all the way through a ten-count and he was officially award the victory via countout, meaning he missed out on the chance to become WWE Champion even in victory.
That was a tough one for Henry to swallow and he couldn’t have felt like much of a winner without grabbing the gold. But his performance still stands in that match, and he was able to back up a tremendous showing that had him on top for majority of the bout with a significant “W” added to his record. He was also met by Abraham Washington in the back later on during the RAW broadcast, which could be the start of a little managerial relationship that certainly wouldn’t hurt Henry going forward.
2. Santino Marella – for retaining the United States Championship despite basically facing 2-on-1 odds in a triple threat title defense against Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger:
When the superstars involved in the 12-man tag team matchup to determine the general manager of both RAW and Smackdown signed up to join their respective squads, it must have come with the understanding that the members on the losing end would be facing some extra hardship from the new man in charge.
That was certainly the case for Santino Marella this Monday night. As the captain of Team Teddy, he was in line to feel perhaps the greatest brunt from John Laurinaitis. And he was the first person Laurinaitis picked on by booking him to face both Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger in a triple threat matchup. To make matters worse, Marella would have to put his United States Championship on the line.
For a while, Marella looked as if he would stand no chance in the match considering the way Ziggler and Swagger worked together to make this as much of a handicap match as they could. But it was just a matter of time before the desire for personal success would supersede this team-oriented mentality.
After hitting a double team move, Ziggler rushed right in for a cover. And that did not make Swagger happy. He broke the pin and asked Ziggler what he was doing. They argued over who would win and Swagger ended up dropping Ziggler to the mat with a belly-to-belly suplex.
Swagger ran to the corner in hopes of hitting the Vader Bomb on Marella. But Maerlla got the boots up and drilled Swagger in the face, enabling Ziggler to follow up with a dropkick to take down the All-American American. Ziggler tried to hit Marella with a dropkick, but he got caught and catapulted into the turnbuckles.
Marella temporarily tried to rest in the corner, moving out of the way once he saw Swagger charging in at him. He struck right away with a Cobra on Swagger and covered for the three-count that kept the U.S. gold around his waist.
Ziggler and Swagger were visibly upset by this outcome and wanted a piece of Marella in the worst way. They chased him up the ramp in hopes of getting to him before hitting the back. But Brodus Clay popped up out of nowhere to get Marella’s back, and a head butt into the chest of a charging Ziggler sent a clear enough message that there was no messing with Marella on this night.
Pending this partnership does, in fact, remain intact for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be really hard for any superstar to consider Marella an easy opponent now. Having the massive amount of humanity that is Clay as his backup will force any foe to take him more seriously and also stabilize potential outnumbering situations, which is a very good sign for the future of Marella’s United States Championship reign.
1. The Miz – for riding high off securing a victory for Team Johnny at WrestleMania with a second pinfall in as many nights against Zack Ryder:
The Miz was having a pretty sorry run over the last few months. Almost in danger of not even appearing on this year’s WrestleMania, he managed to work his way onto Team Johnny last week on RAW after saving John Laurinaitis from taking a Cobra.
That last minute addition ended up working out well for both parties. Miz ended up being the man to secure the decisive pinfall in the 12-man tag team matchup at WrestleMania that made Laurinaitis the overseer of both RAW and Smackdown on a permanent basis. And while Eve Torres played a major role in distracting Zack Ryder at the end of that bout, it was Miz who capitalized on it and finished him off with a Skull Crushing Finale to get the pinfall.
Ryder would look to avenge that loss with a singles matchup against Miz the following night on RAW. There wouldn’t be any extra superstars or Divas at ringside to get in the way of this one. But the head Broski himself was still unable to get the job done.
After eating the Broski Boot, Miz still had enough in him to kick out of a cover at two and then grasped onto the ropes so Ryder couldn’t move him back to the center of the ring. Miz returned to his feet as the referee backed Ryder off him and ended up taking a boot to the gut, at first. But when he got out of a swinging neckbreaker attempt, Miz sent Ryder shoulder first into the steel ring post. Miz then pulled Ryder out of the corner and hit the Skull Crushing Finale to secure his second win over him in 24 hours.
A few wins over Ryder doesn’t necessarily move Miz to the top of the food chain in the WWE. But after suffering defeat so steadily before WrestleMania, it seems like he got just the boost he needed by being added to Team Johnny. After coming up with the deciding pinfall in that match and following it up with another pinfall over Ryder on RAW, Miz does appear to be back on track.