WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 10.15.12
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 October 15, 2012
3. The Rhodes Scholars – for earning a momentum-building victory over Primo and Epico Colon one week before competing in the finals of the WWE Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contenders Tournament against Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara:
In one week’s time, the finals of the No. 1 Contenders Tournament intended to declare the challengers for the WWE Tag Team Championships at Hell In A Cell will take place on Monday Night RAW. Two relatively new teams in the form of The Rhodes Scholars – Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow – and Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara will battle it out to determine which team will face Daniel Bryan and Kane in two weeks at the pay-per-view.
Mysterio and Cara did not compete on this week’s program, which was originally supposed to be the setting of the finals matchup. Since Mysterio was out with the flu, Rhodes and Sandow received a tune-up match against former holders of the tag straps – Primo and Epico Colon.
This turned out to be a good momentum-building matchup for Rhodes Scholars, who benefitted from battling former-champions while actually remaining on the offensive side of the fight for most of the bout. Rhodes and Sandow were really able to get some good work in for most of the match and only let things slip away for a bit later on when Primo avoided a back body drop and got a tag into his partner.
Epico got the best of Sandow with some fists, a closeline and a dropkick. Three straight back suplexes put Sandow on the mat for a cover, which was stopped by Rhodes. Primo tried to take Rhodes out of the match, but he was sent to the outside instead. Rhodes soon followed after Epico closelined him out of the ring, too.
That left Sandow and Epico alone in the ring, where Sandow nailed a back elbow out of the corner and hit The Terminus after avoiding a crossbody to pick up the pinfall for his team.
Mysterio and Cara will be game for next week, but it certainly works out well in the favor of Rhodes Scholars to have gotten that tune-up in. They should be more prepared (even if just slightly) and be even more cohesive as they look to solidify themselves as contenders in the tag team division by earning a shot at the WWE Tag Team Championships.
2. Kofi Kingston – for sending a message to The Miz just a couple of nights prior to challenging him yet again on Main Event for the Intercontinental Championship:
Now that Kofi Kingston has moved on from being involved in a tag team alongside R-Truth, it’s time for him to go forth onto the next phase of his WWE career. When Larry King made an appearance on last week’s show and things got a bit heated with The Miz as his special guest, it was Kingston who found his new calling by delivering a fight to the Intercontinental Champion over his disrespect toward King and his wife.
That altercation would lead to an Intercontinental Championship Match being scheduled for this Wednesday evening’s Main Event. Miz would naturally need to get a few jabs in at Kingston before that encounter takes place and he saw fit to do so on his new in-ring interview segment, Miz TV.
Kingston was the special guest for this skit, which quickly developed into an exchange of barbs. It became pretty serious, however, when Miz began to knock Kingston’s relative lack of main event appeal over the course of his five-year career with the company. He called Kingston a “B player.”
That didn’t sit entirely too well with Kingston, but he didn’t entirely disagree. And he challenged Miz to a matchup right there on RAW as a tune-up for their title match Wednesday night. Miz initially rejected the proposal, but AJ Lee came out to book it anyway. Kingston attacked Miz after one last insult and the two were definitely set to go one-on-one later in the night.
Though this was a non-title encounter, Kingston still had plenty to prove and wanted to put himself in a position to defeat the Intercontinental Champion even if he couldn’t walk away with the gold on this night. He was definitely impressive, but so was Miz and the two put on a pretty exciting match that will undoubtedly up the interest in their match on Main Event.
With pride and momentum on the line, Kingston and Miz competed fairly evenly throughout the contest. Things picked up when, after kicking out of a cover resulting from Miz’ backbreaker/neckbreaker combination, Kingston punched out of a headlock and put his opponent on the mat with a back suplex.
Both men stayed on the mat for a few seconds and hit their feet at basically the same time. Kingston took the first shot with the double knife edge chops and he put Miz on the mat in position for the Boom Drop with a short leaping closeline. Miz managed to roll toward the apron to avoid the Boom Drop, but Kingston followed him toward the ropes and delivered a kick to the chest of his foe as Miz leaned in between the ropes.
Kingston tried to get Miz back into the ring with a suplex, but Miz was able to counter and start a Skull Crushing Finale. Kingston worked vigorously to get out of it and countered into an SOS instead. Miz countered that, however, with another start to the Skull Crushing Finale. Kingston avoided this move again by simply dumping Miz off him and then walked toward the opposite ropes. Miz hit his feet and charged Kingston, who sidestepped him and drilled Miz hard in the side of the head with the Trouble in Paradise. Kingston covered up to collect the pinfall.
This non-title match represents a big win for Kingston. When the Intercontinental Title is on the line at Main Event, this victory gives him something to build off – both momentum and strategy-wise. Miz has something to work off, as well, but the confidence Kingston may have been lacking previously has now been pumped up a few pegs because he knows he can beat Miz.
1. Ryback – for being fed more in the form of Dolph Ziggler and David Otunga before officially being declared CM Punk’s opponent in the WWE Championship Match at Hell In A Cell:
No man has been hotter right now in the WWE than Ryback. He’s getting the push of a lifetime and it’s hard to say it isn’t called for. Though most of the men he has faced in the WWE have been of the enhancement level variety, he has stepped into the ring with more legitimate competition as of late and has barely missed a beat in the process. Such domination, and the fan adulation that comes with it, has quickly elevated the undefeated heavyweight into a position where challenging for the WWE Championship is a possibility.
In fact, it boiled down to a 50/50 shot for Ryback to earn a WWE Title Match so quickly in his career when Vince McMahon laid out an ultimatum for CM Punk in the closing moments of last week’s RAW. While AJ Lee may have given Punk free range to select his Hell In A Cell opponent, McMahon was not going to be so patient. After their match, McMahon told Punk that he had one week to decide whether he would face John Cena or Ryback at the pay-per-view. If Punk did not make a decision, he would make one for him.
Punk initially planned to make that announcement on RAW. But what he deemed as disrespect from the WWE Universe made him change course. Instead of telling everybody who he would face when he first came out, Punk decided that he wanted to think it over some more and chose to hold off. McMahon wasn’t a fan of that idea and told Punk that he blew his opportunity to pick his opponent. McMahon was going to make the decision for him during a contract signing at the end of RAW. Punk would face Cena or Ryback, and it would be up to McMahon to decide which superstar.
Punk tried to figure out ways to weasel out of this situation over the course of the night, but one man who had no issue getting some work in was Ryback. When David Otunga and Dolph Ziggler came out to the ring to try and downplay Ryback’s candidacy for a title shot, AJ Lee told them to prove themselves against the man himself in a 2-on-1 handicap match.
Needless to say, they did not. Ryback continued doing his thing and he made quick work of his opposition. Of course, that was made easier when Ziggler came to the realization that it wasn’t worth getting in Ryback’s way and he bailed. It’s a move Ziggler has done a time or two before, and it left Otunga all by his lonesome this time to get finished off with Shell Shocked.
Ryback certainly boosted his chances with that pinfall victory and he had little more to say than “Feed Me Punk” when he was asked by McMahon backstage about his shot at being selected as the challenger to the WWE Championship at Hell In A Cell.
He also had little to say when all the participating parties met in the ring to take part in the contract signing. Punk cut McMahon off and ran his mouth as he typically does, leading to Cena to tell him to shut up. And before McMahon could even get close to naming the man he picked to face Punk at the pay-per-view, Cena hyped up Ryback and stepped out of the ring to let the big man sign the contract. Once Ryback put pen to paper, the match was official and he will step into the Hell in a Cell structure to challenge Punk for the WWE Championship.
Ryback put an exclamation point on the night by slamming Punk’s head into the table and following up with a Shell Shocked that rocked the arena.
It’s hard to fault the WWE for this move, as it’s been some time since a man has been this over with the crowd. I do believe it’s still too soon to move Ryback into this position and that it’s a losing proposition in regard to Ryback’s build, Punk’s status and the way the WWE can go forward in planning toward WrestleMania. But it’s difficult to turn a blind eye toward the attention Ryback is getting right now. He’ll definitely bring the fight to Punk at Hell In A Cell, where it’s anybody’s guess as to who is going to walk away with the WWE Title at the end of a highly-intriguing contest.