WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 7.16.12
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 July 16, 2012
3. Alberto Del Rio – for rebounding from his World Heavyweight Title Match loss to Sheamus at Money In The Bank with a dominating win over Zack Ryder on RAW:
Alberto Del Rio has always believed it to be his destiny to be world champion. Unfortunately, that destiny would not pan out Sunday evening at Money In The Bank. He put up a valiant effort against Sheamus as he vied for the World Heavyweight Championship. But a little White Noise and a Brogue Kick kept the gold around the waist of Sheamus.
Del Rio and his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez, tried to send a message Sheamus’ way after the match with a beatdown, maybe with the intention of getting right back to the front of the line for another title shot. But when their party was interrupted by a failed attempt by Dolph Ziggler to cash in his recently-won briefcase (which he still possesses since a title match with Sheamus was never made official), it appeared Del Rio would have a bit more work to do before getting right back in the title hunt.
He took a step back Monday when he squared off with Zack Ryder. And he was not amused. He blistered Ryder with fists and then kicks in the corner right at the opening bell. Ryder rebounded for a couple of seconds, but Del Rio quickly regained control by attacking the arm.
With a focal point for his offense now, Del Rio remained on top and even took the action to the outside. He was relentless against Ryder and spent a good several minutes seemingly determined to just punish Ryder. After bringing the action back into the ring and slamming Ryder’s shoulder into the steel ring post, Del Rio finally showed some mercy by floating over into the cross armbreaker for an easy submission victory.
Del Rio didn’t show too much mercy, however, when he put the armbreaker back on Ryder after the bell. Thankfully, Rey Mysterio was in the house and he made his long-awaited return to RAW much to the chagrin of Del Rio. Mysterio got the last laugh in an exchange between the two courtesy of a 6-1-9. But Del Rio also got some shots in, and we should be looking forward a program between these two.
Del Rio should be commended for the way in which he rebounded from the tough loss to Sheamus a night earlier. Losing that World Heavyweight Title Match was not what Del Rio was expecting. And he came back strong on RAW with a dominating win over Ryder. He’ll have to deal with Mysterio now, who undoubtedly wants his retribution. Del Rio has handled him in the past and will look to do so again whenever they match up.
2. Daniel Bryan and AJ – for teaming up inside the ring before promising to team up outside of it:
The WWE Championship Match at Money In The Bank turned out to be pretty wild. And it got that way primarily because of the involvement AJ.
AJ was the special guest referee for the match and really should have only been there to count a pinfall or notice a submission. Instead, she decided to affect the matchup much more than that. She steered both CM Punk and Daniel Bryan toward utilizing more violent measures in order to leave with the WWE Title. After the smoke cleared and both men brutally beat themselves thanks in large part to the introduction of weapons by AJ into the match, Punk was the man standings tall – still WWE Champion and ready to take on whatever challenges lie ahead.
Where Bryan may have lost the match, however, he still held onto his affection for AJ. He apologized to her backstage on RAW for all the bad things he’s done to her. Then they were interrupted by Eve Torres, who was still upset over the way Bryan bailed on her last week during their mixed tag team match. She informed Bryan and AJ that she would meet them in the ring with a mystery partner.
That mystery partner turned out to be The Miz, who made his returning from movie making Sunday night at Money In The Bank. He took part in the WWE Title Money in the Bank Ladder Match and failed to come out with the briefcase.
He also failed on this night as a partner for Torres.
Torres and AJ were in the ring for majority of the match, with Torres managing to get some retribution over AJ with a punishing offense. But AJ was never all that worse for wear during the bout and continued to play some mind games.
When she went for a cover on Torres, Miz stepped into the ring to distract the referee and break the cover. AJ responded by dropkicking Miz off the apron and then smiled oh so innocently at him. Miz darted back into the ring and had to be held back by the referee, at which point Torres went for a rollup on AJ. With the ref’s back still turned, Bryan entered the ring and reversed the cover. When the referee turned around, he saw AJ on top of the small package and counted the three-count in favor of Bryan and AJ.
That win was special in its own right. But Bryan put a little icing on the cake for both of them when he reiterated his marriage proposal from a week ago; albeit this time he had a ring and a seemingly genuine expression of his love. He got the answer he was looking for – YES, as in that’s what AJ said.
So, hey, we’re getting married! Most men aren’t going to love that, but I’m still a bit wary of Bryan’s true motive here. So I’m not banking on this marriage to last anyway. For now, however, there’s a pretty happy couple in the WWE right now.
1. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth – for retaining the WWE Tag Team Championships against The Primetime Players one night after taking a preshow victory against Hunico and Camacho at Money In The Bank:
I never thought I’d see the day that either Darren Young or Titus O’Neil would compete for championship gold in the WWE. After combining their efforts back in February as members of NXT, Young and O’Neil have steadily climbed the tag team ranks between RAW and Smackdown. They’ve only become more relevant since joining All World Promotions and taking on Abraham Washington as their manager.
Young and O’Neil have also been sitting on an opportunity to wrestle for the WWE Tag Team Championships. By defeating three other teams at the No Way Out pay-per-view on June 17, they earned No. 1 Contendership for the gold held by Kofi Kingston and R-Truth since late-April. About one month after earning that title match, Young and O’Neil would cash it in as the opening bout on the 999th episode of RAW.
If what took place at Money In The Bank one night early was to be any indication of how this match played out, it already didn’t look good for the contenders. Truth and Kingston managed to come away with a well-earned non-title victory Sunday night by scoring a pinfall over Hunico and Camacho. Meanwhile, The Primetime Players suffered defeat via rollup by the team Washington bailed on before joining up with them, Primo and Epico.
Young and O’Neil held their won to a degree and seemed to be working over Kingston pretty well. But they are still inexperienced and let a few mental lapses get the better of them. They gave the super-quick and agile Kingston just a small window to break free from their clutch and dart toward his corner in order to tag his fresh partner in.
Truth darted into the ring after taking the tag and hit the ropes, coming back at O’Neil with a low dropkick to the leg. A few fists, a spin kick and a DDT dumped O’Neil to the canvas and allowed Truth to cover up for a two-count before Young came in for the save. Young tried to toss Truth to the outside, but he was only closelines to the floor for his troubles.
Seeing that his team was in trouble, Washington hopped the apron and distracted the referee. But when O’Neil went after Truth from behind, Truth knew he was coming and ducked out of the way. After getting caught up in the ropes, O’Neil at a Trouble in Paradise delivered from the apron by Kingston. Truth jumped right on O’Neil as he spun around for a What’s Up that enabled him to cover up for the three-count.
It was obvious in this match that, while Young and O’Neil are improving, there is a lot left to learn for The Primetime Players. Kingston and Truth are much more cohesive and experienced, and they proved that in successfully defending the WWE Tag Team Titles once again.