WWE RAW 1,000 Wrestlers of the Week 7.23.12
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.
RAW 1,000 Wrestlers of the Week for July 23, 2012
3. Sheamus – for nailing Chris Jericho with the Brogue Kick to pick up a pinfall for his team in six-man tag action:
The celebration for RAW’s 1,000th episode was geared mainly toward reminiscing about the legends that used to compete for the company on its flagship program – including some that still do. But no matter the milestone, it’s still a wrestling show and in-ring action must take place. After a rather monumental D-Generation X reunion that actually included more than just Triple H and Shawn Michaels this time, the in-ring competition kicked off with a big six-man tag team matchup.
WWE Champion Sheamus led the charge on one end of the ring. He was joined by the recently returned Rey Mysterio and the high-flying Sin Cara. Meanwhile, Alberto Del Rio headlined the squad on the other side of the ring. And he was partnered up with Chris Jericho and the man Jericho delivered a Codebreaker to last week, Dolph Ziggler – who failed on two occasions to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.
While one could easily assume the trio of Del Rio, Jericho and Ziggler would have a tough time getting along, they had a decent strategy working for them early on. They focused on keeping the starter member of their opposition, Cara, grounded and tired while they kept themselves as fresh as possible by making tags when necessary.
The tide turned, however, when Cara was able to deliver a tornado DDT to Del Rio. Both men were in need of tags and crawled toward their corners with that purpose in mind. A fresh Jericho took the baton from Del Rio, while Sheamus came charging in for his team after getting the tag from Cara.
Sheamus was red hot with a few double sledges to Jericho. He speared Y2J into the turnbuckles and then came off the ropes for a running knee lift. Jericho avoided a powerslam, but he couldn’t get away from two straight backbreakers that put him down for a cover that was broken up by Del Rio at two.
Mysterio took Del Rio out of the ring and then participated in a staredown with Ziggler. As Mysterio and Ziggler charged at each other, Mysterio changed course midway and delivered a seated splash onto Del Rio from the apron. Meanwhile, Ziggler ran into the steel ring post and then ate a kick from Cara that dropped him off the apron. Cara joined the other three non-legal men on the outside when Jericho closelined him over the ropes.
When Jericho turned around, he saw Sheamus waited for him. He was initially lifted up into a fireman’s carry position. But some quick countering enabled Jericho to roll out and attempt a Walls of Jericho on Sheamus. He could not apply the hold and Sheamus ended up flipping him off. A double sledge from Sheamus missed and Jericho tried for a Codebreaker. But Sheamus caught him in the move and sent him into the turnbuckles.
Jericho still had enough in the tank to avoid a Brogue Kick. But he couldn’t predict Ziggler hopping onto the apron and decking him while he was going for a springboard maneuver to Sheamus. Sheamus nailed Ziggler off the apron and waited for Jericho to get up in order to hit the Brogue Kick. This one connected and the World Heavyweight Champion was able to get the cover for a three-count.
Sheamus received help in that one when Ziggler drilled his own tag team partner. But he still held his own well enough that a win very well could have been his anyway. He really looked great from the second he was tagged into the match and did most of the legwork in getting his team the victory.
2. The Miz – for taking just a couple of weeks into his return to WWE programming before becoming the new Intercontinental Champion:
The Miz has only been back in the WWE for a few weeks after taking his hiatus to do a little bit of movie making. But the time off did not hurt his status with the company one bit. On this week’s 1,000th episode of RAW, he already found himself in a championship match when he stepped into the ring with Christian for a shot at the Intercontinental Title.
And to make things about a million times better, Bret “The Hitman” Hart was the guest ring announcer for this match. He had some enthusiasm in his voice when he introduced Christian, while Miz didn’t seem to get him nearly as excited.
Either way, this was sure to be a fun bout between two good in-ring competitors.
Christian was pretty good on the offensive front for most of this match. But he ran into a problem before a commercial break when he seemed to injure his knee while delivering an aerial move to Miz on the outside. It wouldn’t take him out of the bout, but it definitely hindered his ability to go full force against Miz. And it did play a pretty critical role in the outcome of the match.
In paying homage to his retired buddy Edge, Christian attempted a spear out of the corner, but he ran right into a DDT from Miz instead. Miz could only muster a two-count from the ensuing cover. Miz tried to follow up with a charge in the corner, but Christian moved out of the way and went for a Kill Switch. Miz shoved him off and tried for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Christian countered that back into a Kill Switch position. Miz countered yet again with what seemed to be a back suplex attempt. Christian flipped out of it, but he landed on that injured leg and Miz smelled blood. He pounced on the hurt champion with a Skull Crushing Finale, which led to pinfall for Miz.
Miz picked up his first Intercontinental Title as a result of this victory, and it seems more fitting than when he was WWE Champion. There really was no rhyme or reason to take the belt off Christian, but the shuffling of the title over to Miz is not necessarily a bad thing. He may not have been able to snatch the briefcase in Money In the Bank and he may have been on the losing end of mixed tag competition last week. But Miz should be pretty happy with his short return thus far now that he has some gold around his waist.
1. CM Punk – for holding onto the WWE Championship (albeit while taking the loss) and closelining his way into becoming to top bad guy in the company:
Whenever there’s a Money in the Bank briefcase floating around in the WWE, each brand’s respective champion must always be wary that their last night with the title could be imminent. They never know when the holder the briefcase is going to choose to cash it in, except that it’s likely to be at the most opportune time when the champion is at his weakest.
This wasn’t exactly the case for CM Punk. He was made aware of the fact that this year’s WWE Champion Money in the Bank briefcase holder, John Cena, would cash it in on this week’s 1,000th episode of RAW. Cena announced his plans last week and gave Punk an entire week to prepare himself for the title defense. That’s not the wisest move Cena will ever make, but it’s how he rolls apparently.
Before taking part in that monumental main event, Punk took a little time earlier in the show to get involved in the wedding festivities between AJ and Daniel Bryan. Actually, he took part in the aftermath of that debacle, in which Bryan was left at the altar and AJ accepted the position of new RAW general manager.
Punk essentially wanted to gloat at Bryan’s misfortune, as well as point out his spot as WWE Champion and the best in the world. Bryan disputed Punk’s self-proclaimed status as best in the world and said he was the greatest superstar of all time. And that, folks, brought out The Rock.
Rock made it clear to Bryan that he didn’t have any kind of authority to be making those claims about himself. Rock also delivered the message that he will face the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble. That announcement caught a few folks off guard, but Punk made it clear he would still be the champion by the time that event rolls around and he had every intention of leaving the pay-per-view with the title still in his possession. Rock showed him up by delivering a Rock Bottom to Bryan before pumping his chest toward Punk as he left the ring. It didn’t really seem like a big deal at the time, but Punk was apparently not amused.
His WWE Championship Match with Cena ran into several issues, the first and most important of which being the involvement by The Big Show. He attacked Cena twice – the first time coming behind the referee’s back. Punk tried to resist the temptation of going for the pinfall after, but he ended up trying for the win and failed when Cena kicked out. But when Cena countered Punk into an STF, Show re-appeared in the ring and started assaulting Cena yet again. This time, it was right in front of the ref and the match was called a disqualification in favor of Cena. The title would not change hands.
After the bell, Show kept punching Cena and Punk did absolutely nothing about it. Rock eventually came down for the save and got Show down for a Rock Bottom. As he came off the ropes, however, Punk darted back into the ring and took “The Great One” down with a closeline. The boos poured in toward Punk, who went from hero to villain in a matter of seconds with one simple closeline to Dwayne Johnson.
It’s baffling to me that people will suddenly turn on the man they have drooled over for more than a year because he closelines a man that is barely there anymore. But still, the babyface-to-heel switch was made just like that. It’s a role Punk will undoubtedly excel in, regardless.
While Punk may have lost the match to Cena by DQ, he still left the 1,000th episode of RAW with the WWE Championship still in hand. And he decided to take his spotlight back from Rock, who always managed to come back and steal it away from anybody that he can. It should be very interesting to see how this story unfolds, since it seems only reasonable to assume these two will be meeting up in January for a showdown at the Royal Rumble.