WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 5.14.12
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 May 14, 2012
3. Brodus Clay, Kofi Kingston and R-Truth – for collectively defeating the combination of The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger in six-man tag action:
Brodus Clay faced some real competition for the first time last week when he stepped into the ring with The Miz and picked up a well-deserved pinfall victory over the former WWE Champion. As the current WWE Tag Team Champions, R-Truth and Kofi Kingston will make their first defense of those titles this Sunday at the Over The Limit pay-per-view when they take on the Vickie Guerrero managed duo of Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger.
On this week’s episode of Monday Night RAW, both of these scenarios were combined to form an interesting six-man tag team matchup that partnered Clay up with Truth and Kingston to take on Miz, Ziggler and Swagger.
Heading into a commercial break, Clay’s team was really on fire and had all three members of the opposition reeling to the outside. Upon returning from break, however, Truth was grounded by Ziggler and remained on the defensive end of this match by Ziggler’s team until he was able to nail Miz in the jaw with a kick.
Kingston was on the receiving end of a tag from Truth and springboarded his way into the ring with a forearm to the head of Miz. Some double knife edge chops followed, as did a dropkick. A sloppy sequence ended up in Kingston hitting a hurricurana on Miz before connecting with an SOS that only resulted in a two-count when Ziggler and Swagger rushed in to break up the cover.
Swagger elected to run at Truth on the apron, but he was sent sailing all the way to the floor when Truth pulled down the top rope. Then Ziggler flew at Clay on the apron, but he was met with a headbutt to the chest that dropped him to the mat and then rolling to the outside. Miz had Kingston up at this point and sent him to the ropes, but he held on and delivered a boot to Miz’ face before taking a tag from Clay.
Kingston made sure to drill Miz with a Trouble in Paradise before leaving the ring, making a big splash from Clay the finishing touch the team needed to pick up the pinfall.
While Miz, Ziggler and Swagger had their moment in the middle of that match, Clay, Kingston and Truth worked really well together to come through with the victory. Truth and Kingston head into Over The Limit especially strong as they look to successfully defend their tag straps against Ziggler and Swagger, while Clay will hold onto the momentum gained from this match for what should likely become another one-on-one bout with Miz sometime in the near future.
2. Beth Phoenix – for sending a message to WWE Divas Champion Layla six days ahead of their title match at Over the Limit with a dominating win over Alicia Fox:
An ankle injury to Beth Phoenix’ ankle has not only cost her time in the ring, but also the WWE Divas Championship that she so dominantly held for 204 days. While the title has switched hands one more time and now straps around the waist of Layla, who returned at Extreme Rules to take it away from the departing Nikki Bella, Phoenix has waited for her ankle to fully heal before going after her rematch.
Phoenix’ time will come this Sunday, when she squares off with Layla at Over The Limit in an effort to reclaim the Divas Title. To get a little work in before the PPV, Phoenix stepped into the ring this Monday for a match against Alicia Fox.
Phoenix was simply dominant from bell to bell. She put Fox into the corner right from the start and, after Fox managed to dodge a few moves from the former champ, just dropped her straight to the mat with a hard closeline. It was at that point that Layla hit the stage for a closer look at her opponent this Sunday. But that move only served as motivation for Phoenix, who picked up her intensity even more as to send a message to the current titleholder.
Phoenix lifted Fox off the mat and put her back against the turnbuckles. She rifled off several right hands to the chest and boots to the midsection. Phoenix pushed Fox by the face to seat her atop the first turnbuckle and then lifted her off bench press style only to drop her to the mat as she stared at Layla. With a smile on her face, she took Fox up for the Glam Slam and hit it to roll right on over for the three-count.
Phoenix tried to add insult to injury by further attacking Fox after the bell. Layla did run down to the make the save before Phoenix could do much more damage, and that did seem to give Layla a bit of confidence while knocking Phoenix’ down a peg.
But Phoenix proved in this match to be fully healed from her injury and nowhere near hesitant when it comes to delivering the punishment to her opposition. And while Layla caught her toward the end there, it may be a different story when they’re actually face-to-face in the middle of the ring this Sunday.
1. CM Punk – for gaining a momentum-building win against the team of Daniel Bryan and Cody Rhodes with some, but little, help from Santino Marella:
As he often does, CM Punk got himself into trouble last week when he decided to open his mouth to John Laurinaitis and antagonize the general manager. His latest “pipe bomb” ended up resulting in Punk being on the outnumbered side of a 2-on-1 handicap main event against both Lord Tensai and Daniel Bryan. For the most part, Punk did all right in that match and left some belief that he might even be able to pull off the win. But the numbers caught up to him. Bryan prevented Punk from going high-risk and Tensai was able to finish the WWE Champion off.
In hoping to send a message for their WWE Championship Match at Over The Limit, Bryan proceeded to beat down Punk after the bell with some kicks to the arm and a Yes! Lock that could very well win him the title this Sunday if he’s able to get it applied.
Just six days before that match goes down, though, Punk and Bryan would work on opposite ends of the ring yet again this week on RAW. The sides were even this go around, as Punk teamed up with United States Champion Santino Marella for some tag action against Bryan and his partner, Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes, to open up the in-ring portion of this week’s show.
Punk did a nice job opening this match against Rhodes and managed to send both members of the opposing team to the outside. When Marella instructed him to dive onto them, Punk agreed and nailed Bryan and Rhodes after going through the ropes. But when Marella tried to replicate that move himself, he ended up getting caught in the ropes and set up for Bryan and Rhodes to take over control coming out of a commercial break.
Marella took a great deal of punishment while Bryan and Rhodes kept him grounded and out of his corner to prevent a tag from behind made. Even when he did get a little breathing room after rolling away from a closeline by Rhodes, a diving tag attempt missed Punk’s hand and kept him in as the legal man. Luckily, Marella was able to kick Rhodes off of him when the IC champ grabbed his foot, and then he finally made the long-awaited and necessary tag to Punk.
Punk flew in with a springboard closeline to Rhodes. He followed up with a closeline and then sent Rhodes to the ropes so he could deliver a nice heel kick to his face. Punk looked at Bryan as he receded to the corner and charged at Rhodes on the opposite end for a knee to the face. A bulldog out of the corner came next and Punk lifted Rhodes up on his shoulders for a Go2Sleep. Rhodes squirmed out of it, but he still ended up with a stiff kick to the side of his head after getting a kick of his own caught by Punk.
Punk went for the cover. But when he noticed Bryan entering the ring to break it up, he quickly got up and lifted Bryan onto his shoulders for another Go2Sleep try. Bryan got out of this one and rolled out of the ring before receiving a kick to his head by Punk, distracting the champ somewhat so that Rhodes could nail him from behind. Rhodes wanted to go for a Cross Rhodes, but Punk countered out of it and shoved Rhodes toward the corner. Rhodes stopped just short of getting a Cobra from Marella, but he only ran right into a Go2Sleep from Punk that finished him off for the three-count.
Punk looked really great and on his game this week. He made up for her very poor performance from Marella and always made sure to make every move he connected on count. He sent a strong message to Bryan the whole time and rolls right into Over The Limit with plenty of confidence as he looks to successfully defend his WWE Title.