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 30, 2012
3. Randy Orton – for, at that moment, leading the Beat the Clock Challenge with a win over Jack Swagger in four minutes, 16 seconds:
It was one thing when Randy Orton initially became a target of Kane and went on to lose to The Big Red Machine at WrestleMania XVIII. But it escalated to a whole new level once Kane decided to make things personal and brought Orton’s family into the mix. When he attacked Bob Orton on the old school themed episode of Smackdown as a way of goading the junior Orton into receiving a lead pipe shot of his own, it was certain that these two were going to hook up again in a very ugly manner.
That moment came this past Sunday night at Extreme Rules, where Orton and Kane went at it in a Falls Count Anywhere Match. Orton almost suffered two straight losses to Kane in this one. But by getting out of a Tombstone Piledriver to deliver an RKO to Kane right on top of a steel chair enabled Orton to even things out and rectify his loss at WrestleMania.
While it remains to be seen if Orton is truly finished battling Kane, he took a break from dealing with the big man to take part in the Beat the Clock Challenge this Monday night on RAW. The superstar to defeat his respective singles opponent in the shortest amount of time would be deemed No. 1 Contender for the WWE Championship and earn a shot to face CM Punk for that very title at the Over The Limit pay-per-view.
By the time it came to Orton’s match, the time to beat was the four-minute and 18-second mark set by The Miz in his win over Santino Marella. The time to beat likely should have been a second less had the referee in Chris Jericho’s match against The Big Show been able to squeeze in a 10-count over the course of 30 seconds. But alas, Miz was still in the lead when Orton received his shot to beat the block against Jack Swagger. And Orton was able to make good on this opportunity.
The strategy for this match and all the others making up the Beat the Clock Challenging was to finish things off quickly and efficiently. And that’s why both Orton and Swagger went for several near falls right from the start of this match after hitting a one or two moves before each.
Those early attempts at a pinfall didn’t get the job done. But it did provide for some nice back-and-forth competition that was going to boil down to one man making a mistake in order for the other to work toward that win. And that’s precisely what happened for Orton when he caught Swagger going for one of his splashes off the middle rope.
A kick to the gut gave Orton control of this bout, and he followed up with a couple of closelines and the powerslam. Orton’s signature DDT from the ropes was up next, and then Orton looked to hit Swagger with the RKO. He stalled perhaps a little too much and got tripped into an Ankle Lock by Swagger. This shift in control was only brief, however, as Orton rolled through to send Swagger into the turnbuckles. As Swagger stumbled out of the corner, Orton nailed him with the RKO and hit the cover that went to a three-count with just two seconds remaining on the clock.
Orton’s time may not have stood when it was all said and done. But at the time, he set the mark to beat, which did stand all the way until the final matchup. And he did so against a quality opponent in Jack Swagger, who is tough to beat without a time limit let alone with one in the four-minute territory.
2. Daniel Bryan – for actually winning the Beat the Clock Challenge to secure a WWE Championship Match against CM Punk at Over The Limit by defeating Jerry “The King” Lawler:
Daniel Bryan was unable to recapture the World Heavyweight Championship he lost to Sheamus at WrestleMania XVIII when he squared off with The Celtic Warrior for a Two-out-of-Three Falls Match at Extreme Rules. But he can take some solace in the fact that the bout lasted a heck of a lot longer than the 18 seconds it took for Sheamus to remove the strap from around his waist at WrestleMania.
Remaining without a championship allowed Bryan to enter as one of the participants in the Beat the Clock Challenge this week on RAW. His match was the final one of this competition and he needed to beat the mark of four minutes and 16 seconds set two matches prior by Randy Orton in his victory over Jack Swagger.
While a tough mark to beat, Bryan’s opponent certainly worked in his favor. Much to the surprise of most in the arena and watching worldwide, Jerry “The King” Lawler served as Bryan’s foe in this match. And while still capable of going toe-to-toe with practically anybody inside those ropes even today, Lawler would still find it difficult to keep up with the younger Bryan in this one.
When Lawler failed to get the three-count after coming off the middle rope with a fist to Bryan’s face, he looked next to try and hit a piledriver on him. But Bryan countered that with a back body drop and drilled Lawler right in the head with a kick. Bryan instantly grabbed the arm and rolled Lawler over so he could apply the Yes Lock, which Lawler had no choice but tap out to with a minute and 55 seconds remaining.
CM Punk hit the arena after Bryan’s win to set the stage for the coming weeks as they build toward their WWE Championship encounter at Over The Limit.
This won’t be the first time these two face each other in the WWE, but it’s always a match to look forward to no matter how many times it goes down. And as a likely co-main event on a pay-per-view card, it should get ample time to showcase the talents of two independent icons turned championship-caliber WWE superstars.
1. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth – for taking advantage of Primo and Epico being off their game in recent weeks to become the new WWE Tag Team Champions:
The way that Primo and Epico have been racking up losses lately, they certainly didn’t look like the WWE Tag Team Champions the straps around their waists signified that they were. Dropping matches to teams like The Big Show and The Great Khali, as well as Zack Ryder and Santino Marella, over the past two weeks made it seem only inevitable that any upcoming title defense could be their last.
They would have the chance to try and prove that sentiment wrong this week on RAW when they put the tag belts on the line in a bout against R-Truth and Kofi Kingston. Unfortunately for the Rosa Mendes managed contingent, they simply couldn’t get off the schneid.
Truth was able to get off to a hot start in that match, likely brought about by Primo’s decision to kick at Lil Jimmy right after the opening bell. And while Primo and Epico were able to get back into things and utilize some good tag teaming strategy to get on the offensive against Truth, Truth was able to hang on long enough to catch Primo with a kick to the jaw before getting that hot tag in to Kingston.
Kingston launched himself into the ring with a springboard forearm shot to Epico. Kingston then knocked Primo off the apron before turning back to Epico for some chops and a dropkick. Kingston came off the ropes with another closeline and got himself pumped for a nice Boom Drop to the midsection of Epico.
Kingston hung back and called for the Trouble in Paradise. But as he did, Primo got back onto the ring apron and charged toward him. Kingston saw him and nailed him right back off the apron. But that brought Rosa onto the apron to start yelling furiously at Kingston. The referee tried to deal with Rosa as Epico came from behind on Kingston. He wasn’t able to do any damage to Kingston, however, as he was instead sent to the corner where R-Truth dropped him across the top rope. Then Kingston drilled him with a Trouble in Paradise just as the ref was turning around so he could cover up and collect the three-count that made Truth and him the new WWE Tag Team Champions.
They, like most teams in the WWE today, are a randomly thrown together duo with no imminent competition standing in front of them. But this is still a nice deal for Truth, who hadn’t previously won tag team gold in the WWE, and Kingston, who has clearly moved on from his days as a member of Air Boom with Evan Bourne.