WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 9.24.12
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 24, 2012
3. The Prime Time Players – for keeping themselves in the WWE Tag Team Championship hunt with a victory over Santino Marella and Zack Ryder:
The Prime Time Players were on track for a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships before general manager AJ Lee ripped their hopes and dreams away by booking them in a bout against Daniel Bryan and Kane with that No. 1 Contender spot on the line. Bryan and Kane won that match and went on to defeat R-Truth and Kofi Kingston at Night of Champions to become the new titleholders, while Titus O’Neil and Darren Young were left to think about what could have been.
To their credit, they have kept their spirits up and remain right on course to pursue another crack at the tag team gold. They competed on this week’s episode of RAW with hopes of further padding their credentials against the duo of Santino Marella and Zack Ryder.
This wasn’t a long match and it didn’t start off all that well for Young and O’Neil. When Young was taken down for a pin attempt after Marella hit a diving headbutt, O’Neil came in to break it up. Ryder went at him, but he was quickly sent right back to the outside when Young directed him into the steel ring post.
Young charged at Marella, who split out of the way to avoid damage, but O’Neil made a blind tag and waited for Marella to set up the Cobra before going in to hit a sitout spinebuster. O’Neil covered up to collect the three and earn the Prime Time Players the win.
Marella and Ryder aren’t exactly in the upper echelon of tag team competition in the WWE, though nobody really is to be completely fair. Regardless, wins are wins, and Young and O’Neil deserve a shot at the titles more than anybody else at this point. Now if they can just sneak in that opportunity in between anger management sessions between Bryan and Kane.
2. Dolph Ziggler – for winning a terrific, back-and-forth opening bout against Kofi Kingston:
Guys like Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston are currently in limbo. Ziggler is trying to keep fresh while he waits for the prime opportunity to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship. Kingston is awaiting the next move he will make alongside R-Truth after losing their WWE Tag Team Titles to Kane and Daniel Bryan at Night of Champions.
What better way to keep these two busy than to book them in a bout on RAW?
Before they could officially square off, there was a heated confrontation between Vickie Guerrero, Truth and Little Jimmy outside the ring. The end result was Guerrero getting water doused all over her and the referee kicking all of the extra parties out.
It simply boiled down to Ziggler and Kingston, who worked extremely well against each other to put on a terrific matchup. This match became a tradeoff of counters toward the end, with the winner being the guy to catch his opponent offguard with a quick finishing maneuver.
It really started to get interesting after Kingston hit a spinning Boom Drop and called for the Trouble in Paradise. Ziggler caught Kingston and went for a throw, but Kingston landed on his feet and went for an SOS. Ziggler countered and shoved Kingston into the corner, but a charge in after him only got Ziggler a boot to the face and then a right hand off the springboard by Kingston.
Kingston covered only to get the two-count before running at Ziggler in the corner. Ziggler moved, but Kingston was still able to springboard beautifully off the turnbuckles with a crossbody that delivered him another near fall. Kingston got Ziggler slowly off the mat, but Ziggler snuck in a kick to the leg and then the leg drop bulldog to get a two-count of his own.
Ziggler waited for Kingston to get up before running in for the Zig Zag. Unfortunately, Kingston was too close to the ropes and held on, enabling him to shove Ziggler off and follow up with a successful S.O.S. Kingston stacked the legs for another near fall, and both men were starting to show some signs of fatigue.
Kingston still headed up to the middle rope and he dove off. I order to avoid being caught with a dropkick from Ziggler, Kingston changed course and caught the legs in order to catapult Ziggler into the turnbuckles. Ziggler landed on the turnbuckles and flew off the middle rope, but Kingston moved and went back into the corner himself for another high crossbody that connected and delivered Kingston yet another close two-count.
Kingston moved into position to try for the Trouble in Paradise yet again, but Ziggler countered out one more time and sent Kingston flying into the corner. When Kingston tumbled out, Ziggler was finally able to get in from behind and drop his opponent with the Zig Zag in order to close out this hot contest with the pinfall.
It seems reasonable that Ziggler, who still has higher ambitions than Kingston right now based on the briefcase he possesses, would come away with the victory. Both men looked strong, but it was Ziggler who added an momentum-building win to his credit as he continues to search for that right moment to go for the heavyweight gold.
1. Ryback – for not only defeating the Intercontinental Champion, The Miz, in non-title action in a rare match against real competition, but for also closing out the night in a staredown with WWE Champion CM Punk:
While Ryback continues to make that steady climb in the WWE, he still has yet to embark on a journey that included facing higher-level competition on a consistent basis. He has certainly faced more permanent WWE opposition like Jack Swagger and Jinder Mahal, but he still gets a steady dose of one-off enhancement talent that are simply put in front of him to pad his undefeated streak.
Therefore, it was a nice change of pace when Ryback went one-on-one against a legitimate threat in the form of Intercontinental Champion The Miz. This was a non-title bout, but that didn’t slow Ryback down a bit as he went full force ahead against the former-WWE Champion.
Since Miz is a decent step up from the guys he normally faces, Ryback did stumble a bit in this match and play more defense than he is used to. However, Ryback still proved his strength and resilience when, after kicking out of a pinning combination following a DDT, he got himself in control of this bout by blocking a kick and lifting Miz up for a healthy powerbomb.
Ryback charged himself up and retreated to the corner, setting up for a huge closeline to Miz. The only thing left was for Ryback to hit the Shell Shocked and cover up for the three-count to keep his undefeated streak going.
Scoring that win made it a good night for Ryback, but he wasn’t done. In a surprising little twist, he made his presence felt in the closes moments of RAW.
After being dealt a blow to the gut with a lead pipe by John Cena inside the ring, WWE Champion CM Punk made his way through the backstage area. Along the way, he noticed Mick Foley, who he had a previous in-ring confrontation with. Punk walked past the hardcore legend at first, but then he turned around and delivered a kick to the midsection that put Foley down on the floor. Punk continued his walk before turning around again, except this time he was shocked at what he saw. There he saw Ryback standing tall and looking ready for a fight, instilling a sense of fear into the WWE Champion that we had previously not seen.
It might seem like a leap to anoint Ryback the next contender for the WWE Championship. And it’s doubtful that his time will come at Hell in a Cell, with John Cena lobbying for the opportunity even despite an injured wing. But Ryback is still making a move and it may not be long before the still-undefeated machine gets a crack at Punk and the WWE Title.