WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 3.18.13
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 18, 2013
3. Team Hell No – for defeating Primo and Epico despite a distraction from AJ, who played a role in Daniel Bryan and Kane making a WrestleMania challenge later on:
Team Hell No entered this week’s Monday Night RAW with an empty dance card for WrestleMania. As WWE Tag Team Champions, it seemed like a simple matter of time before Daniel Bryan and Kane locked down some plans for the big show.
Recent issues against the stable consisting of Dolph Ziggler, Big E. Langston and AJ Lee provided Team Hell No their competition. Over the past few weeks, Ziggler has been in matches against both Bryan and Kane, while Langston and AJ have served purposes outside of the ring to both distract and antagonize the champions.
On this week’s show, Bryan and Kane teamed up to face Primo and Epico in non-title action. Primo and Epico are easily beatable for Team Hell No, but they were almost on the losing end of this match when AJ skipped down to the ring just as Kane was looking to put the bout to rest with a chokeslam.
He didn’t hit the move and was instead distracted to the point of being rolled up by Primo, who only received a two-count. The Colons tried to double team Kane, but he caught both of them in goozles. Kane shoved Primo off to be dropkicked all the way to the outside by Bryan, while he connected on that chokeslam he tried earlier to get the pinfall. Team Hell No stepped away winners despite AJ’s effort to screw them over.
AJ was, instead, successful in giving the champions an idea. After Ziggler defeated Kofi Kingston largely because of outside help from Langston and AJ, Team Hell No appeared on the stage to offer up a challenge for a tag team match against Ziggler and Langston. AJ spoke on behalf of her team and said that they would only accept if the tag team titles were put on the line at WrestleMania. Bryan and Kane were fine with that and sealed the deal with a “YES!” chant.
Kane and Bryan are still going strong as the premier tag team in the WWE and they’ve made it clear that they are on the same page. The match against Ziggler and Langston will be tough at WrestleMania, especially with AJ still lurking in their corner. But Team Hell No seems to be taking at least some of the edge away from them going into this match and that could go a long way in keeping them atop the tag team ranks.
2. Alberto Del Rio – for beating Cody Rhodes in a competitive matchup before getting another reason to want to punish Jack Swagger in their World Heavyweight Title Match at WrestleMania:
The countdown continues until Alberto Del Rio can finally get his hands on Jack Swagger. The World Heavyweight Champion will try to retain his title at the pay-per-view and get back at the “Real American” duo of Swagger and Zeb Colter for the propaganda they’ve been spewing.
With the clock ticking as we remain on the Road to WrestleMania, Del Rio kept getting some work in as preparation for his title defense. On RAW, he went one-on-one with Cody Rhodes, who was looking to do better in this match than his tag team partner, Damien Sandow, did in an earlier contest against R-Truth.
Rhodes didn’t run away and get counted out like Sandow, and he was a lot more competitive in his match against the World Heavyweight Champion. But it still was not meant to be for the mustached man, giving Team Rhodes Scholars an 0-2 mark on the night.
Late in the bout, Rhodes did counter nicely out of the cross armbreaker and nailed Del Rio with a back elbow in the corner to set up for a moonsault that got him a close two-count. Rhodes ran at Del Rio off the ropes and was lifted onto the apron, where he received several shots to the back from the champion.
Del Rio hit the backstabber on Rhodes and covered up, but he was only able to get the two-count when Rhodes got to the ropes. Del Rio waited for Rhodes to get to his feet and ran at him in the corner with a knee. Rhode sidestepped him and tried to nail him with a closeline, but Del Rio ducked and countered with a successful cross armbreaker that resulted in Rhodes tapping out.
The champion’s celebration was interrupted by an attack from Swagger. Del Rio seemed to be doing well enough in this brawl with his WrestleMania challenger, but Swagger took exception to Del Rio threatening Colter and sent him over the announce table for doing just that. Perhaps the worst part of all this, however, was Swagger putting the Patriot Lock on Ricardo Rodriguez and breaking his ankle in the process.
Rodriguez’ shrieks of pain were unsettling and concerning for Del Rio, but Swagger’s actions against his personal ring announcer can only serve as motivation. Del Rio didn’t really need any more reason to hurt Swagger at WrestleMania, but another one was just added with this attack.
1. Wade Barrett – for retaining the Intercontinental Championship by winning a triple threat match against Chris Jericho and The Miz:
Wade Barrett is pretty hyped about his role in the new WWE Studios film “Dead Man Down,” but he doesn’t seem to be getting the kind of respect from others that he feels he deserves. He also isn’t getting the respect an Intercontinental Champion should command, which led to a No. 1 Contender Match last week between Chris Jericho and The Miz.
Barrett couldn’t stay out of that match and assaulted both of his possible challengers to cause the referee to throw out the match. What that resulted in was him getting his butt kicked after the bell, and both Jericho and Miz receiving a shot at the Intercontinental Championship this week in triple threat action.
Barrett hasn’t had the greatest success in the ring recently and a title defense against two quality opponents was not the ideal way to get over the hump. But this match served as a way for Barrett to get on the winning end while gaining some of the respect he’s been seeking lately.
The main event matchup became a battle largely between Jericho and Miz toward the end, as Barrett was kept on the outside for a good few minutes in the concluding moments. Jericho and Miz traded several shots and near falls in hopes of winning the Intercontinental Title without even pinning the champion.
But after wearing themselves out with an intense few minutes of action, Barrett finally found an opening to get back into the ring once Miz planted Jericho with a Skull Crushing Finale. While Miz tried to roll Jericho over, Barrett snuck in from behind and rolled up Miz to get the three-count and retain his title.
Barrett may have been an onlooker for those closing moments of the match, but he still walks away a lot less worse for wear and with the Intercontinental Title still in hand. That has to be both a confidence booster and lesson of respect for the champion, who is possibly eyeing another title defense against Miz somewhere down the line.