WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 12.31.12
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 December 31, 2012
3. Team Hell No – for taking care of 3MB in 3-on-2 handicap action:
Being that this week’s RAW was ordered by Vickie Guerrero to be Champion’s Choice, where each champion would have the ability to put his or her title on the line against an opponent of his or her choosing, Daniel Bryan and Kane found themselves in a predicament for their WWE Tag Team Championship Match.
Team Hell No wanted to face the members of The Shield in their match, but those three rebels were already booked in a 3-on-1 handicap match against Ryback. So, they needed to find another group of guys to face and they didn’t need to look far. In just the locker right next door, the members of 3MB were “rehearsing” at such a volume that Bryan and Kane interrupted them and instantly decided to make their title defense against members of the group.
This would not be a handicap match since Jinder Mahal hung out at the ringside area while Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre did the dirty work in the ring. But, Kane and Bryan would need to be aware of Mahal’s presence during this match, as he could easily influence the outcome with some unnoticed interference.
While Mahal was able to get in a shot or two, he was not able to impact the final result of the match. A knee to the face of Bryan on the outside did give 3MB a temporary advantage. But when Bryan and Slater delivered simultaneous crossbodies to each other in the middle of the ring, tags were made to Kane and McIntyre to bring both sides back to even.
Kane quickly tilted the offense in Team Hell No’s favor with a quick right hand followed by a slam and leg drop. Kane sent McIntyre into the corner and drilled him with a closeline against the turnbuckles. That was to be repeated in the opposite corner, except McIntyre got a boot up into Kane’s face. Kane regained control with a closeline, though, and hit the sidewalk slam to cover up for a two-count.
Kane headed up top and hit the flying closeline, which left him looking to finish McIntyre off with a chokeslam. As he set up, Slater entered the ring and was quickly sent right back out by Kane. Mahal hurried around the ring to check on his partner, but Bryan was waiting for him and he leapt off the apron with a knee to Mahal’s face.
In the ring, McIntyre tried to take advantage of a distracted Team Hell No by going for the Future Shock on Kane. Kane reversed and put McIntyre down on the mat with a chokeslam. The tag was then made to Bryan, who went to the top rope for a diving headbutt. Bryan hooked the leg upon connecting on the high-risk maneuver and kept his opponent pinned down for the three-count to retain the tag team titles.
3MB is not on the level of Team Hell No, and Kane and Bryan still did a masterful job working together against the two legal combatants while keeping an eye on Mahal on the outside. They picked up another convincing win and don’t seem to be slowing down one bit in their run as WWE Tag Team Champions.
2. John Cena and The Miz – for teaming up after years of being enemies to take on the brash duo of Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes:
Almost two years ago, John Cena and The Miz were bitter rivals battling it out in the main event of WrestleMania XXVII. Time has passed and now, mere hours before the calendar turned to 2013, these two were able to see each other in a different light.
Miz opened up RAW welcoming Cena as his guest on MizTV to discuss the AJ Lee scandal, but it wasn’t long before they were interrupted rather randomly by Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes. A little back-and-forth banter ensued and eventually led to Cena laying out a challenge that included teaming up with Miz to take on Team Rhodes Scholars in tag action right there and then.
The challenge was accepted by Sandow and Rhodes, who were obviously more capable of working together just as they have since their initial pursuit of the WWE Tag Team Championships. The ability for Cena and Miz to remain on the same page was more in question and they would need to put the past behind them if they hoped to step away as victors.
Fortunately for them, Cena and Miz were able to let bygones be bygones and actually worked fairly well together to pull off a solid victory over Team Rhodes Scholars.
After taking a bit of a licking, Miz was able to break free from Rhodes by throwing him off in a counter to a bulldog. They made tags to their respective partners and Cena came in hot with a couple of shoulder tackles and then the spin-out powerbomb. A “You Can’t See Me Followed,” which signaled the Five Knuckle Shuffle.
Cena’s roll came to a screeching halt when Rhodes returned to the ring with a Disaster Kick, but Miz got at him with a Skull Crushing Finale. Sandow ran at Miz with a closeline to try and return the odds in his team’s favor, but Miz ducked the move and Sandow ended up running into Cena instead. Cena lifted Sandow up and put him right back down with an Attitude Adjustment, which closed the match out with a subsequent pinfall.
Now, Cena had some bigger issues to deal with at the end of RAW when he confronted Dolph Ziggler and AJ, and he even announced his participation in the Royal Rumble Match later this month. For the moment, though, it was interesting to watch Cena and Miz bury the hatchet and work together to get over one of the better tag teams in the WWE.
1. Wade Barrett – for making good on an Intercontinental Championship opportunity against Kofi Kingston to claim the title for the second time in his career:
Since returning to WWE programming in September from an elbow injury, Wade Barrett has been looking to make his mark once again. He can no longer hang onto the days as leader of Nexus, nor can he be considered a fixture in the World Heavyweight Championship discussion. Instead, he has been relegated to working his way back up the ladder in hopes of becoming a prominent figure in the WWE.
It’s been a steady few months for Barrett, who has made an impact at the mid-level. He’s been a part of a winning Survivor Series tag team, competed for the United States Championship and most recently failed in a bid to win the Intercontinental Championship against Kofi Kingston at Tables, Ladders and Chairs.
In relation to that last part, Barrett’s ability to be a manipulator would set him up for a rematch against Kingston on this week’s RAW. Seeing how all of the champions were picking relatively easy foes for their “Champion’s Choice” matches, Barrett caught up with Kingston in the back and questioned what his decision would be. In fact, he figured Kingston was simply hung up on picking either Hornswoggle or Little Jimmy. Barrett told Kingston to be a man for once and pick him, which Kingston had no problem doing since he beat Barrett at the TLC pay-per-view and had no problem going out there to do it again.
And just like that, Barrett goaded Kingston into providing him with another crack at the Intercontinental Title. He would look to make the most of it just two weeks after his initial showdown with Kingston.
While this was a fairly even match, Barrett did seem to have some greater success on the offense front, at least early on. He was able to rack up a few more pin attempts and put forth a better offensive showing.
Kingston did make his mark, however, by first hitting Barrett with a springboard crossbody on the floor. Kingston put Barrett back into the ring and covered up for a one-count. Some double knife-edge chops and a well-executed dropkick kept Kingston in control, but he screwed up on a move after hitting the ropes and got stacked up in a pinning combination that he just managed to kick out of at two.
Barrett tried to follow up with the Wasteland, but Kingston elbowed out and countered with the S.O.S. Another cover netted Kingston a two-count this time. Kingston leapt at Barrett in the corner and delivered some right hands to the forehead. Barrett had a good hold of him, though, and got out of that predicament by planting Kingston on the mat with a powerbomb. He stacked the legs for another cover and once again only got the two.
Barrett missed a right hand and almost got nailed with a kick by Kingston, but he dodged the move and came back with a Wasteland that went for another two-count. When Barrett went to pick Kingston up off the mat, he got caught with a small package and kicked out at two. Barrett, who was clearly frustrated at this point, fought right back against Kingston with a hard closeline and vicious kick before moving the action into the corner.
Barrett connected on some stiff kicks to Kingston’s midsection before the referee backed him off. Barrett went back with another kick and some fists before being backed off again. When Barrett looked to go in for a third time, Kingston caught him with a boot to the head from through the ropes and then the high-flier springboarded in with a crossbody attempt. Barrett moved out of the way, though, and capitalized on Kingston’s miss by drilling him with the Bull Hammer. Barrett then covered up, hooked the leg and collected the pinfall to become the new Intercontinental Champion.
Barrett closed out 2012 on a terrific note and utilized both his smarts and his brawn to make that happen. He not only persuaded Kingston into giving him a title shot, but he came out strong in the match and made good on his second opportunity at the title. Now in his second run with the Intercontinental gold, Barrett will look to further build his credentials in 2013.