WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 4.23.12
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 23, 2012
3. Lord Tensai – for continuing to dominate by following up his victory over John Cena last week with a squash over R-Truth:
Since making his return to the WWE the night after WrestleMania, Lord Tensai has made an immediate impact. He is picking up wins, looking dominant over his opponents and has clearly picked up his game while working over in Japan.
After two weeks of being put into matches where he destroyed Alex Riley and Yoshi Tatsu, Tensai was called upon last week to do a much bigger job. John Laurinaitis wanted to give John Cena and the fans a taste of what’s in store for Extreme Rules, so he put Cena in the main event against a mystery opponent with the Extreme Rules stipulation that will be in place for his match against Brock Lesnar at the pay-per-view. Tensai turned out to be that mystery opponent. And while his victory was mainly as a result of capitalizing on interference from David Otunga, Tensai was still able to pick up the win and look pretty solid in the process.
Tensai’s opponent this week on RAW was not quite the caliber of John Cena. But he did step into the ring with R-Truth, who is far from a scrub in this business and is certainly capable of taking a fight to anybody – except for possibly Tensai on this occasion.
Tensai was once again a destructive force inside the ring. He didn’t look for the quick pin and made sure to punish Truth. When Tensai decided he wanted to deliver a little more punishment after a chokebomb, he sprayed the green mist onto his hand and clawed the forehead of Truth. A quick slam to the mat was the final nail in the coffin and Tensai put Truth out of his misery by collecting the pinfall.
There doesn’t really seem to be any long term plans for Tensai at the moment. He’s just sent out to destroy people. And as witnessed once again Monday night, he apparently doesn’t have much of a problem doing just that.
2. Nikki Bella – for taking advantage of an injury to Beth Phoenix to become the new Divas Champion:
Beth Phoenix has been a strong champion within the Divas division and has long ranked up there as one of the top legitimate female talents the WWE has. But once it was mentioned on RAW that Phoenix was aiming for the record as the longest reigning Divas Champion, and that she was only a week away from getting there, it became instantly apparent that she was dropping the title this week on RAW.
Her match was against Nikki Bella, who earned a shot at the championship a few weeks back when she defeated Phoenix in non-title action. This go around, the Divas Championship would be on the line and the match itself would come with a last-minute stipulation change. Instead of just being a straight one-on-one match, John Laurinaitis’ new Executive Administrator Eve Torres announced that it would be a Lumberjill Match.
Phoenix had good control for most of the match, but simply wasn’t able to get past a two-count to put things away for good. When she attempted to go for a Glam Slam to try and finish things off, Nikki managed to get out of it by running Phoenix right into the ropes. She followed up with a faceplant on Phoenix and went for a cover of her own, only to get the two-count. Seeing Nikki running in at her, Phoenix was able to toss her through the ropes and to the outside instead. But when she followed her out, Phoenix landed on her ankle awkwardly after hopping off the apron.
She tried to continue on, grabbing hold of Nikki before Brie came along to attack her. That’s when the rest of the Lumberjills basically piled on, undoubtedly making the situation with Phoenix’ ankle even worse. When they separated a bit, Nikki was tossed back into the ring with Phoenix being sent back in by Brie soon thereafter. The damage to Phoenix had been done, however, as her ankle seemed to be causing a lot of pain. As the referee checked on her and she tried to lift herself up off the mat with help from the ring ropes, Nikki bolted in for a rollup that Phoenix was unable to kick out of at this point.
It’s a shame Phoenix couldn’t snatch the record. But an ankle injury was Phoenix’ demise in this one and Nikki is now the new Divas Champion with little chance The Glamazon will cash in her rematch any time soon.
1. Santino Marella and Zack Ryder – for forming yet another unorthodox duo and going on to defeat the WWE Tag Team Champions in non-title competition:
Even though they’ve held on to the WWE Tag Team Championships for over three months now, the title reign of Primo and Epico always seems tenuous at best. The lack of any true tag team talent in the WWE has allowed them to remain champions as long as they have. But it was only a matter of time before the WWE took a liking toward two randomly thrown together talents in an effort to shake things up a drop within the division.
On this week’s RAW, two of the most popular superstars as of late in the WWE were teamed together for a non-title matchup against Primo and Epico. There really was no rhyme or reason for this pairing to be made, other than Zack Ryder and Santino Marella having truly connected with the fans and having done some good work for the WWE recently.
So this odd pairing went into their tag team matchup on Monday with the knowledge that the titles were not on the line, but that a victory regardless could go a long way in setting them up for a future championship matchup. And it was that mentality that ended up scoring them a crowd-pleasing victory over the champs.
Ryder got to work early on Epico, getting him into the corner where a Broski Boot was imminent after the crowd really got behind him. It connected and seemingly set the stage for a Rough Ryder to follow. But Primo distracted Ryder and then dropped off the apron so that he could pull his partner out of the ring. Ryder left the ring too and went after Primo, but that only resulted in him being shoved from behind into the steel ring post by Epico.
Ryder was brought back into the ring and worked over fairly well by the tag champs. He eventually broke free from Primo, however, in order to make the tag to Santino. He delivered some fists to Primo and put him down on the mat with a hip toss. A diving headbutt followed before reaching into his tights to grab the Cobra sleeve.
To prevent the move from going down, Epico ran at Santino. But Santino ducked and Ryder, from the apron, was able to lift him all the way to the outside. This slight distraction enabled Primo to get a dropkick in to Santino. But he enabled up rolling right back up to his feet and immediately connected on a Cobra to Primo to pick up the pinfall.
Santino and Ryder obviously participated in a dual celebration after the match and are likely candidates to be called upon the next time the WWE wants the tag straps to be put on the line. Judging by their performance Monday, they stand a good chance of being the ones to end the reign of the current titleholders.