WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 3.4.13
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 March 4, 2013
3. Ryback – for defeating a tough opponent, United States Champion Antonio Cesaro, in non-title action:
Two of the strongest superstars in the WWE today are Ryback and United States Champion Antonio Cesaro. These two up-and-comers not only have the look but the moveset, as well, that exhibits their power in every match. They have not been in a meaningful feud to date, but they have locked up on a few occasions between matches on RAW and Smackdown that Ryback has largely come out on top of.
They squared off once again on this week’s episode of Monday Night RAW in another non-title encounter. Cesaro set the stage for this one when he boasted during a taped promo segment about his ability to speak five languages while calling Ryback a Neanderthal.
Regardless of Cesaro’s intelligence, it was all brawn in this one. Ryback took the advantage early on and really delivered some punishment to Cesaro. Cesaro gained some breathing room, however, after drilling Ryback face-first into the steel ring post from the apron before sending him flying into the guardrail with a big boot.
Cesaro held the upperhand for a bit with a stifling attack, but it would not be long before Ryback got back in the game. When Cesaro came shooting off the ropes, Ryback caught him with a few back elbows and a big back body drop. He then hit a spinebuster, which was intended to set up for the Meat Hook.
Unfortunately, Cesaro cut that short by drilling Ryback with a European uppercut. When Cesaro looked to put things away with the Neutralizer, though, Ryback blocked it and countered back with the Shell Shocked. He covered up and collected the pinfall to pick up another win over the United States titleholder.
I think it would be appealing to see Ryback and Cesaro engage in a meaningful feud, especially with the United States Championship in the mix, considering Ryback could use a boost that a title reign would be able to provide. It seemed, however, that the WWE is going in the direction of Mark Henry vs. Ryback, as they shared a cold stare on the ramp following Ryback’s match and before Henry’s demolishing of Zack Ryder. It would not be surprise based on that if we see a Ryback vs. Henry bout at WrestleMania 29, where it would be another test between two powerful superstars.
2. The Miz – for beating Dolph Ziggler with the figure four leg lock in front of his “mentor,” Ric Flair:
The Miz, a former WWE Champion, is at a stage right now where he is constantly on the search to catch fire. The most meaningful thing he’s done as of late is probably developing a relationship with Ric Flair, who we’re being told is Miz’ mentor now. It’s somewhat farfetched, but Miz has embraced being under Flair’s wing and even utilizes the figure four leg lock submission.
Miz had a big match scheduled against Money in the Bank briefcase holder Dolph Ziggler on this week’s show. To go along with the “Old School” theme of RAW, Miz introduced his mentor prior to the match and “The Nature Boy” remained at ringside to try and play neutralizer against Big E. Langston and AJ Lee on the other side.
Miz and Ziggler were both competitive in this one, but it was always destined to come down to some sort of interference by the parties on the outside.
They really started to interject when AJ distracted the referee just before Miz could hit a Skull Crushing Finale. Langston nailed Miz with the referee’s back turned and that brought Flair into the mix. He chopped away at the chest of Langston, which had absolutely no effect on the big man. A dropkick through the ropes from Miz, however, dropped Langston.
By turning his attention away from Ziggler, Miz was opened up to a rollup try that only went for a two-count. Ziggler tried to follow up with a dropkick, but Miz blocked it and countered right into the figure four leg lock. Ziggler tapped to hand Miz the submission victory, which Flair and Miz celebrated plenty following the bell.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Flair was rumored to be coming back as a manager for Ziggler – now it seems he’s joining the other side. He’s having a positive impact on Miz, who could afford to get on a bit of a hot streak if he wishes to get back to where he was when he headlined WrestleMania two years ago.
1. CM Punk – for snatching the four-way main event win to become The Undertaker’s opponent at WrestleMania 29:
CM Punk’s loss in last week’s excellent main event matchup for the WWE Championship against John Cena left him without any plans for WrestleMania. He came out at the top of RAW this week to address the issue and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t even worth appearing at the big show if he wasn’t going to be in the main event.
His tune changed, though, upon recalling the opening to RAW. The Undertaker appeared, eluding to the fact that he would indeed compete at WrestleMania 29. Punk made it clear that his lack of championship and main event match was due to the people – they screwed him and took those things away from him. So, in turn, he would take something from them. And that would be Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak, which currently stands at 20-0.
A few superstars in the back took exception to this. Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus all came out to state their cases for being the guy to take a stab at ending the streak. That’s when Vickie Guerrero came out and booked a four-way main event between those individuals, with the winner earning the right to face Undertaker at WrestleMania.
Punk wasn’t necessarily happy with this decision, but he had no choice if he wanted to be a part of the next best thing to being in the WWE Championship match. It certainly would not be easy with the level of competition he was going up against and winning would surely be the result of being the most opportunistic.
With perhaps the most focus and motivation of all the men involved, Punk really played his cards right. After being dropped with a KO Punch by Show, he was taken out of the equation and was provided the time to regroup while Show, Orton and Sheamus continued to do battle.
Show almost had the match in the bag after delivering chokeslams to Orton and Sheamus. Show covered up on “The Celtic Warrior,” but he only got a two-count. Show looked to follow up with the KO Punch, but Sheamus avoided it and came back with a Brogue Kick. Orton then stormed in and dropped Sheamus with the RKO. Then, staying true to this pattern, Punk finally slid back in and kicked Orton in the side of the head before finishing up with the Go2Sleep. He covered up, got the three-count and earned the right to try his hand at ending the streak.
Undertaker hit the arena again before RAW came to a close and participated in a staredown with Punk that is just the first of what should be several engaging interactions between these two. That should be a fun match at WrestleMania and the build up to it will be just as enjoyable.