Posted May 22nd, 2012 by Bill Apter

WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 5.21.12
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 21, 2012

3. CM Punk – for making a fool out of Daniel Bryan one night after defeating him to retain the WWE Championship:

CM Punk faced one of his toughest tests to date as WWE Champion when he stepped into the ring with long-time acquaintance and fellow independent wrestling hero, Daniel Bryan. An epic battle was destined to ensue between those two. And after 20+ minutes of battling it out, Punk was able to walk away the way he entered Over The Limit – as WWE Champion.

The ending wasn’t without controversy, however, although it also wasn’t really as close as Bryan would like you to believe. Toward the end of the bout, Bryan had Punk tied up in Yes Lock. As Bryan looked to roll over to apply some more pressure, Punk was able to stop the roll a bit short and leave Bryan’s shoulders down on the mat. The referee caught that positioning and counted Bryan down for a three-count. Shortly after the ref’s hand hit the mat for three, and as he was calling for the bell to ring, Punk began to tap out to the Yes Lock. Bryan believed he had the match won because Punk tapped. But in reality, the pinfall came first and he was out of luck.

That didn’t prevent Bryan from addressing the issue on RAW this week. He showed footage from the night before that showed Punk tapping, though he edited the video nicely to leave out the referee’s three-count. He figured he should be champion and isn’t based entirely on a bad call by the ref. So, Bryan challenged Punk to a rematch.

Punk came out to the stage and informed Bryan that, while that match at Over The Limit was one of his best, he was pinned for a 1-2-3. And while going at it again would certainly be a likeable option for Punk, he also wanted to remind Bryan of what occurred last Friday night on Smackdown. It was then that Punk fought Kane, and Bryan tricked Kane into believing Punk nailed him with a steel chair so that he would go ballistic on Punk.

That naturally led to Punk informing Bryan that he was wrestling and his opponent would be none other than The Big Red Machine.

Punk decided to hang around during the match and provided some guest commentary. When the opportunity to get involved presented itself, he was also very open to becoming a part of the match. He took a page right out of Bryan’s playbook when the two actual combatants ended up on the outside. Punk removed his headset and searched for a steel chair. Upon finding one and getting ready to swing, Bryan grabbed the foreign object right out of his hand. But Kane was back on his feet by this point. And noticing Bryan holding the chair, Kane delivered a boot right to his face. Kane delivered repeated blows to Bryan using the steel chair, forcing the referee to call the match a disqualification in favor of Bryan.

After the bell, Kane returned the action back inside the ring and dropped Bryan right into the mat a couple of times with chokeslams. “Concerned” over the condition of Bryan, Punk once again removed his commentary hat and entered the ring. His method of making sure Bryan was all right, however, ended up being the application of the Anaconda Vice.

Punk, who also seems to have something going on with AJ after another backstage visit from Bryan’s ex took place Monday night, has really gotten the best of Bryan these past couple of nights. A huge WWE Championship victory in a tough match from Over The Limit was a huge deal in its own right. But to couple that with embarrassing Bryan the next night on RAW only makes the 24-hour span for Punk all the more successful.

2. Beth Phoenix – for rebounding from her loss to Layla for the Divas Championship with a convincing victory over Kelly Kelly:

Beth Phoenix was unable to get the job done and reclaim the Divas Championship at Over The Limit when she went down to a neckbreaker by Layla that awarded the current titleholder an impressive pinfall victory. But that loss doesn’t hurt Phoenix’ position within the Divas Championship picture and she remains the top contender for the strap.

As a way of boosting her spirits, Phoenix competed this week on RAW in a singles matchup against Kelly Kelly. Meanwhile, Layla was shown watching this bout in the back with a somewhat concerned look on her face as if knowing that another showdown with Phoenix is very much in the cards.

Kelly got in a shot or two at Phoenix, which mainly came off quick counters. But Phoenix was still the dominant competitor in this match and easily shrugged off anything Kelly threw at her. When Kelly tried to be bold and deliver a shot off a back handspring to Phoenix in the corner, The Glamazon simply blasted her with a double axe handle right to the back of the neck. Then she lifted Kelly up for the Glam Slam, which resulted in a pinfall for Phoenix.

Losing to Layla in her chance to reclaim the Divas Championship was not the way Phoenix would have liked for her Over The Limit experience to go. But knowing she’s still in the hunt and has Layla on her toes, Phoenix took out some aggression out on Kelly at RAW and sent a little message Layla’s way in the process.

1. Christian – for finding instant success in his WWE return by picking up the Intercontinental Championship at Over The Limit and scoring a pinfall over Jinder Mahal on RAW:

After being out of commission for about eight weeks, Christian made his surprise return to in-ring competition at the Over The Limit pay-per-view this past Sunday. He picked the right time to come back and had a banner evening in the process. He competed as one of the participants in a People Power battle royal that opened the show with a shot at either the Intercontinental Championship or United States Title waiting in the wings for the victor. And that victor turned out to be Christian, who got past a slew of other WWE superstars to earn the right to select what title he’d be fighting for later in the evening.

At first, it appeared that Christian would challenge Santino Marella for the U.S. strap when he pointed to the champ after winning the battle royal. But the cocky Cody Rhodes made some comments behind Christian’s back that didn’t quite sit well with him. So, Christian changed his mind and instead informed Rhodes that he would go after the Intercontinental Championship instead.

Although a win over Marella would have been a safer bet for Captain Charisma, Christian still ended making a correct move there based on the result. He was able to nail Rhodes with the Kill Switch to get the pinfall and become the new Intercontinental Titleholder in his first day back on the job.

On his second day back, Christian competed on RAW in a non-title singles bout against Jinder Mahal. Though not the caliber of opponents Rhodes was a night earlier, the fact that Christian had to do so much in such a short time frame after coming off an injury certainly didn’t work in his favor. And he suffered a bit early on in the match when Mahal was rather aggressive in keeping the IC champ grounded.

But Christian found a way to fight back when Mahal shoved him into the corner. Christian was able to deliver a kick to the midsection of Mahal as he moved toward him and then springboard off the turnbuckles for a sunset flip pinning combination that went to a two-count. Christian followed up with a couple of right hand shots before utilizing an irish whip. Mahal reversed, but Christian ran back off the ropes with a forearm shot that dropped him. With Mahal leaning against the middle rope, Christian leapt to the outside so he could deliver a fist to his face. Then Christian rolled back into the ring and headed to the middle turnbuckle, where he leapt off with a back elbow shot for Mahal.

Christian hoped to put things away at this point with the Kill Switch. Mahal was able to counter out and drilled Christian in the face with a high knee after Christian had actually flipped off a back suplex attempt from Mahal. Mahal then called for the Camel Clutch and began the process of applying it when Christian squirmed free and hit his feet to deliver a successful Kill Switch. He could have gone for the cover, but instead headed up top for a frog splash. From there he covered and got the three-count.

Christian could not have asked for a better return to the WWE after an eight-week hiatus. To win a battle royal, win the Intercontinental Title and appear on RAW for a hard-fought win over Mahal rounds out as a solid 24 hours for Captain Charisma.

Neil Borenstein

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