WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 8.27.12
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 August 27, 2012
3. Randy Orton and Sheamus – for combining their efforts in a tag team victory over Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio:
The World Heavyweight Championship scene is a bit cluttered at the moment and not nearly as defined as the one surrounding the WWE Title. Sheamus remains the holder of the strap, but it seems that he has three contenders breathing down his neck for the next crack at it.
One thing that is clear is that Alberto Del Rio will receive another shot at the title at Night of Champions. By defeating Randy Orton in a No. 1 Contender Match on Smackdown last Friday night, he earned an opportunity to rectify the wrong that was done to him at SummerSlam. Del Rio needs to give it his best effort in this one, however, because the likes of Orton and Dolph Ziggler also have their eyes on the World Heavyweight Championship.
In fact, Ziggler can really get his title shot at any time he sees fit. As the holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase, he can cash in his automatic World Heavyweight Title contract whenever he deems it to be most opportunistic and he has even attempted to do so on a few occasions already. An example of that came right after the No. 1 Contender Match on Smackdown, when Ziggler’s plan to take advantage of a hurting Sheamus was thwarted by an RKO courtesy of Orton.
Since they are so closely intertwined at the moment, these four superstars competed in tag team competition during this week’s episode of RAW. Sheamus teamed up with Orton to take on the duo of Del Rio and Ziggler.
Sheamus was on the sidelines for most of this one, but he did eventually receive a tag in when Orton managed to counter attacks by Del Rio in the corner on two occasions. Ziggler was tagged in on the other side at the same time and Sheamus was able to drop him right away with a few double sledges. He then shoved Ziggler into the corner and continued through with a shoulder thrust before hitting the ropes for a high knee.
Sheamus knocked Del Rio off the apron before turning back to Ziggler. He sent Ziggler to the ropes and caught a boot the chest on the return. Ziggler took a moment to nail Orton off the apron, which gave Sheamus enough time to recover and lift Ziggler up for an attempt at White Noise. Ziggler did counter out of the move, however, and he followed through with a kick to Sheamus.
Ziggler would surrender this brief moment on top when he ran right into an Irish Curse and went down for a cover. Luckily for him, Del Rio was able to dart in and make the save at a two-count, prompting the referee to admonish him and chase him back toward the apron. As the referee had his back turned to the other competitors, Ricardo Rodriguez slid the Money in the Bank briefcase into Ziggler.
Before any damage could be done by Ziggler, Orton came in from behind him and delivered a backbreaker. Ziggler came off that move still standing, but it wasn’t long before Sheamus followed up with a Brogue Kick that did drop Ziggler to the mat. Sheamus covered and the referee turned around to count the three in favor of The Celtic Warrior and The Viper.
While Orton and Sheamus shared a momentary embrace during their postmatch celebration, there is no mistaking Orton for a friend. Sheamus does need to be aware of the fact that Orton does want his championship and could very well be working his way toward a shot in the not-too-distant future. For the night, however, they worked very well together to defeat a couple of foes that have been respective thorns in their sides recently.
2. John Cena – for getting the best of Intercontinental Champion The Miz in non-title action before being named the official No. 1 Contender for the WWE Championship:
At a time when CM Punk feels disrespected, he has pinpointed John Cena as one of those perpetrating the trend. Punk was given the opportunity by general manager AJ Lee to announce a contender for his WWE Title at Night of Champions, and he had his mind set on Cena last week on RAW. All Cena had to do was come out to the ring and claim Punk as “the best in the world.”
Cena did come out to the ring, interrupting a confrontation between the champion and Jerry “The King” Lawler in the process. However, he refused to brand Punk as “the best in the world” and instead called upon Punk to give him the title shot because it would earn him the respect he sought. Cena walked out and basically left the ball in Punk’s court. The champion would not address the issue further, instead opting to continue his pursuit of clearing things up with Lawler.
That did not mean Cena was out of the running, though. In fact, Lee officially named him the challenger to the WWE Championship at Night of Champions, which will take place in Boston, Mass., just before the main event Steel Cage Match between Punk and Lawler.
Cena had already put in his work for the evening at that point. He went one-on-one with The Miz, who is the Intercontinental Champion and the man who defended the WWE Championship against Cena in the main event of WrestleMania XVII.
Miz actually did fairly well in this bout and came close on a few occasions to closing it out on covers. He couldn’t manage to put Cena away for good and he gradually started to let Cena back into it when he came off the ropes looking for a kick but ended up being countered with the STF. Miz squirmed his way toward the ropes in order to break the hold and he followed up by planting Cena into the mat with a DDT that netted him a two-count.
Miz stalked Cena in hopes of hitting the Skull Crushing Finale. He failed to deliver that move when Cena countered by putting him up on his shoulders, but Miz remained in control by getting down and putting Cena back down on the mat with a side slam for another two-count.
Cena rolled to the corner after kicking out and he avoided a corner closeline in order to set up for the running shoulder blocks and spin-out powerbomb. He told Miz he couldn’t see him and delivered the Five Knuckle Shuffle, leaving only an Attitude Adjustment before Cena covered up and collected the pinfall.
For taking a good deal of punishment from Miz for most of this match, Cena hung on impressively and came out strong at the end to get a momentum-building “W” before learning of his No. 1 Contender status for the WWE Title. Cena would make an appearance later in the show when he tried to make a save for Lawler, but much of the damage had been done to that point.
Cena does seem pretty motivated, though, to give Punk a lesson in respect at Night of Champions. Winning back the WWE Title is naturally going to be Cena’s main priority at the pay-per-view. But a chance to teach Punk a thing or two during the bout has to be on the agenda for the former 12-time heavyweight champion.
1. CM Punk – for having his challenge accepted by Jerry “The King” Lawler and dishing out a beating to the Hall of Famer during and after a main event Steel Cage Match:
All CM Punk really wants these days is the respect he feels the WWE Champion deserves. It’s not so much to ask, after all. When guys like The Rock, Brock Lesnar and John Cena are showered with the admiration and spotlight while he’s left taking a backseat, it does make one wonder just how much value there is in being a heavyweight champion in the WWE.
Ever since the 1,000th episode of RAW, Punk has sought to restore the prestige and respect that should be associated with holding the WWE Championship. One thing that constantly irked him was the moment Jerry “The King” Lawler stated that he turned his back on the WWE Universe when he drilled The Rock with a closeline out of nowhere.
Punk never let that moment go and he brought it up again last week when he was supposed to be naming a No. 1 Contender. Surrounding an interruption by the would-be challenger, John Cena, was demand from Punk that Lawler both apologize for his comments and announce that he was “the best in the world” in front of the entire world. Lawler granted Punk his first request, only because he didn’t really seem to care all that much. But “The King” refused to call Punk “the best in the world,” and he received a kick to the back of the head for it.
That led Lawler to opening up this week’s program with a few words, to which Punk made his presence felt and confronted Lawler in the ring. Punk downplayed Lawler’s tremendous career in the business, specifically pointing out his time in Memphis and his juvenile actions as a commentator. Throughout all of this, Punk got the impression that Lawler was itching for a fight even if he wasn’t coming right out and asking for one. So, Punk challenged “The King” to one an awaited an answer.
Lawler later agreed to take on Punk and the match was set for the main event. To make things even more interesting, fans were allowed to vote on the stipulation and they decided on a Steel Cage Match.
No matter what, this really wasn’t going to work out well for Lawler. As Punk predicted, he pretty much controlled Lawler most of the way through. Lawler’s best chance to take the victory came when he countered out of a neckbreaker and pushed Punk into the cage.
After another toss into the cage, Lawler followed up with a closeline and a series of fists to the forehead that opened Punk up. Lawler headed to the second rope and leapt off with a first drop, leading to a cover that Punk kicked out of at two. Lawler had enough and shrugged Punk aside as he walked toward the door in hopes of escaping. Punk got up quickly, though, and nailed him in the back.
Punk then sent Lawler into the opposite corner and drilled him in the face with a running high knee. The champion called for a Go2Sleep, but he delivered a Rock Bottom instead before slapping on the Anaconda Vice to force a tapout from Lawler.
Even in victory, Punk was not done. He grabbed a chain and a lock from under the ring and closed the cage up in order to continue punishing Lawler. He resumed his command to be called “the best in the world,” which Lawler refused to do. He received a pounding for it until Cena was able to run down and eventually get the cage lifted, which prompted Punk to immediately escape once the steel began to the rise.
Punk seems to be pushing the right buttons now and Cena is clearly getting angry. While that could mean that he’s just gearing up to hand out a butt-whooping, it also could mean that Punk has Cena on edge and might very well look to take advantage of that come Night of Champions. Either way, Punk made his point on Monday and Lawler might just think twice before questioning the champ’s motives going forward.