WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 9.17.12
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 September 17, 2012
3. Eve Torres – for squirming her way into a Divas Championship at Night of Champions and successfully defending the title one night later against Beth Phoenix:
Eve Torres has been sugar and spice and everything nice lately. But behind the smiles, handshakes and various other signs of good sportsmanship, there is something not quite kosher about her demeanor since losing the leverage she held as a member of John Laurinaitis’ administration.
She still holds some power as an assistant to Smackdown general manager Booker T., and she seems to be using whatever bit of power she still maintains as a way to manipulate the system around her. Despite losing the battle royal a few weeks back that named a No. 1 Contender for the Divas Championship – a contest that Kaitlyn of all people managed to come out victorious in, Torres got extremely lucky at the Night of Champions pay-per-view.
Early in the show, Torres “stumbled” upon an injured Kaitlyn lying on the floor backstage. Conveniently, Kaitlyn was too hurt to compete in her title match against Layla. Since Torres defeated Kaitlyn last week on RAW and was the runner-up during that No. 1 Contender battle royal, Booker T. saw fit to slide Torres right into the Divas Championship Match.
Torres took advantage of this opportunity. When she saw Layla trying to close things out with a double springboard crossbody out of the corner, Torres moved out of the way to avoid the move and she came right back with a spinning neckbreaker. A three-count later and Torres was the new Divas Champion.
With Divas Championship in hand, Torres competed for a second straight night when she battled Beth Phoenix in non-title singles action this week on RAW. Phoenix may not appear on as consistent a basis as she used to and she seems pretty far out of the title picture at this point, but there is little denying that The Glamazon is still a dangerous opponent for anybody in the Divas division.
Layla had a front row seat for this one, as she provided what I guess we’ll call guest commentary during the bout. In reality, it was just a lengthy argument with John Bradshaw Layfield. But she did discuss her theory on Torres’ actions as of late.
While Layla did that, Torres got the job done inside the ring. When Phoenix had Torres in a powerslam position, the champion slid out of the back and used her foe’s own momentum to shove her into the turnbuckles. Torres then rolled Phoenix up and stacked the legs to pick up the pinfall.
Torres expanded on her victory by confronting Layla after the match and showcasing her newly-won strap to the former titleholder. A rematch is likely in the making between these two. But Torres seems to be so well in control that it’s going to take a supreme effort on the part of the Layla to get the Divas Championship back.
2. Randy Orton – for keeping on the up-and-up with a victory over Dolph Ziggler on Sunday sandwiched between two consecutive wins over Tensai:
Randy Orton’s ultimate goal in to maneuver his way back into the World Heavyweight Championship scene, which a recent 60-day suspension ultimately cast him out of. While he works his way back into the heavyweight title picture, The Viper has done some fine work against other quality opponents.
His most recent challenges have come in the form of Dolph Ziggler and Tensai. Ziggler has been on his radar for a bit and those two went at it one-on-one in a tremendous match at Night of Champions. As the lone non-title bout of the evening, this match would need to hold up on the laurels of the talent involved, and it did a great job of that. Orton pulled out the win when he countered out of a sleeper hold with an RKO to pick up the pinfall.
Besides Ziggler, Orton has come up against Tensai over the past week. He faced the big man in tough contest last Friday night on Smackdown, where a missed splash by Tensai enabled Orton to hit the RKO for the win. Orton would look to repeat this week on RAW, making for a rough four-day stretch.
Tensai did a decent job wearing Orton down over the course the match, but it was simply a matter of time before the third generation superstar would work his way back into control of the contest.
After delivering a couple of shots the kidneys just as Orton worked out of a nerve hold, Tensai hit the ropes and ran right into a snap slam from The Viper in the middle of the ring. Orton took some time recouping, which allowed Tensai to roll to the outside. While Orton initially caught an uppercut to the jaw when he tried to pull Tensai back in with the rope-assisted DDT, he did manage to hit the move a few moments later when he caught his larger foe re-entering the ring with a plethora of kicks.
Orton looked for the RKO from there, but Tensai had just a bit more fight left in him. He shoved Orton into the corner and then charged right in after him in hopes of squashing him against the turnbuckles. Orton sidestepped him, however, and quickly pounced with the RKO that put Tensai on the mat for good with the three-count.
Orton may still be behind the likes of Alberto Del Rio and perhaps even Ziggler when it comes to who is next for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Performances like he has put forth especially over the past week will certainly help his cause, though, and it really is just a matter of time before Orton is gunning to be the top dog on Smackdown once again.
1. Daniel Bryan and Kane – for working together well enough to become WWE Tag Team Champions at Night of Champions and have a successful first title defense in the rematch on RAW:
The history between Daniel Bryan and Kane make them one of the unlikeliest duos in WWE history. However, the sheer determination on the part of general manager AJ Lee, who has called upon the aid of Dr. Shelby, to get these two past their anger issues and on the same page has seen them slowly by surely work together in various scenarios over the past few weeks.
By working together, I do use that term loosely. An ability to not want to literally destroy each other has seemed to work very well in their favor, though. Just one week ago, they got past The Prime Time Players to steal the No. 1 Contender spot for the WWE Tag Team Championships that Titus O’Neil and Darren Young believed they had a stronghold on. Of course, the win by Bryan and Kane came as a result of Kane chokeslamming his own partner onto the Young, whose shoulders remained on the mat and was therefore left vulnerable for the ensuing three-count.
Just like that, Bryan and Kane were in line for a shot at the tag team gold at Night of Champions, where they battled R-Truth and Kofi Kingston.
Similar to the way their bout ended on RAW last week, Kane and Bryan got into a bit of a confrontation toward the end of this match at the pay-per-view. Kane tagged himself in late, much to the chagrin of Bryan. They argued over it until Bryan finally receded to the apron and Kane began to climb the turnbuckles. When Kane got to the top, Kingston met him up there and was hoping to hit a super hurricurana. Bryan held onto Kane’s legs, though, and the big red machine remained on top.
Kane didn’t entirely like that assist from Bryan and he shoved his partner. That only led to Bryan pushing him back, and that sent Kane flying off the top rope and onto the fallen Kingston inside the ring. Kane remained on top of Kingston to pick up the three-count and deliver the tag team titles to Bryan and himself.
There was resounding joy between the two initially, but that eventually broke down into a shouting match over who was the tag team champions – as if only one of them could be. That argument continued one night later on RAW, where Kane and Bryan continued to shout at anybody who would listen that “I am the tag team champions!”
Despite this individuality, Bryan and Kane would need to join forces yet again when they took on Truth and Kingston in a rematch on Monday night. With the titles on the line, Bryan and Kane would set out to either prove they were one and done with the gold or a truly challenging set of champions that could possibly make a long run with the belts.
As Kane was looking to put Truth away with a chokeslam, he noticed Bryan going for a blind tag out of the corner of his eye. Hip to this game, Kane turned toward Bryan to stop him. Bryan begged him off, but Kane still put the hand around his partner’s throat, which prompted Bryan to drop him across the top rope. That enabled Truth to run at Kane with the What’s Up, which likely would have cost them the tag titles had Bryan not run in for the save on the pin attempt.
Kingston and Bryan momentarily took themselves out of the ring, which gave Kane just enough alone time in the ring with Truth to hit him with a chokeslam. After hitting that move, Bryan went for the blind tag and got it this time. He slapped on the “No Lock” and forced Truth to tap out to complete their first successful defense of the WWE Tag Team Titles.
After the match, this dysfunctional duo hugged it out before going right back to arguing over who between them is the tag team champions.
How long this winning in spite of their infighting will continue is anybody’s guess. One would have to assume that too much physicality toward each other will end up costing them much sooner than later. It seems to be working for them now, however, and it could just be a matter of time before they really put their differences behind them and get along well enough to be a truly dominating team in the tag ranks. We’ll just have to wait and see what long-term effects AJ, Dr. Shelby and the anger management sessions have had on these two.