WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 4.29.13
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 April 29, 2013
3. Dolph Ziggler – for coming out on top of a Champion vs. Champion Match against United States titleholder Kofi Kingston:
Dolph Ziggler wasn’t fortunate enough to earn the right to name the stipulation at Extreme Rules, where he will defend the World Heavyweight Title in a triple threat match against Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger. His participant in the show-opening triple threat match, Big E. Langston, didn’t get the job done and failed to provide Ziggler with that opportunity.
Ziggler’s night was not a complete loss, however. He would step into the ring himself in a Champion vs. Champion non-title encounter against United States Champion Kofi Kingston. A new daddy and gearing up for the U.S. Title rematch against Antonio Cesaro on The Main Event, Kingston would be a game opponent for the World Heavyweight Champion.
Ziggler may not have benefited from his posse in RAW’s opening bout, but he was helped in this pursuit by AJ Lee and Langston. When he had a leg drop bulldog countered with a Trouble in Paradise from Kingston, perhaps the only reason he wasn’t down for the three-count was because AJ moved Ziggler’s leg onto the bottom rope.
As Kingston argued with the referee over AJ’s involvement, Langston swung around from behind to pull Ziggler out of the ring and wake him up. Langston caught a flying forearm from Kingston off the apron for his troubles, and Kingston rolled the prone body of Ziggler back into the ring.
Kingston ascended the turnbuckles and flew off with a nice crossbody to get another pin attempt on Ziggler. There was an actual kickout at two this time, though, and AJ once again got herself involved to try and buy Ziggler some more time to really get back into it. She stepped into the ring and had to be held back by the referee, who had his back turned when Kingston knocked Langston off the apron but fell victim to a rollup by Ziggler.
The referee turned around in time to make the count on that rollup, but it only went to two before Kingston reversed it and received a two-count himself. Ziggler came at Kingston with a dropkick attempt, but Kingston caught him by the boots and catapulted him into the corner. Kingston threw Ziggler down to the mat and springboarded off the turnbuckles with some move that missed.
Kingston stumbled back up to his feet and provided a prime opportunity for Ziggler to come in at him from behind with the Zig Zag. That was finally enough for Ziggler to keep Kingston down for the three-count. After the match, Langston tried to prove he was still a dominant force by beating down Kingston, adding insult to injury.
Ziggler couldn’t name the stipulation for his Extreme Rules title defense, but he still gained his own little bit of confidence by getting a good fight out of a fellow champion and still coming out on top. Knowing that he has two people to count on if he needs some assistance in Langston and AJ doesn’t hurt, either.
2. Randy Orton – for hitting another of his trademark sudden RKOs to end a tremendous bout against Cody Rhodes:
Randy Orton remains embroiled in the circumstances that arose from the six-man tag team match gone awry from WrestleMania. Orton still has bad thoughts about The Big Show, and now even Mark Henry, while still trying to fight the good fight with Sheamus.
Orton would be trying to fight that fight alone this week on RAW, though, when he stepped aside from that whole situation and battled former Legacy protégé Cody Rhodes. Rhodes hasn’t lit the world on fire since parting ways with Orton, but he’s done all right for himself and remains pretty confidence in his abilities since teaming up with Damien Sandow — and since growing out his mustache. His growth showed Monday night, when he put on a solid performance against The Viper.
After getting a near fall on Orton, Rhodes decided he wanted to go high risk and climbed the turnbuckles. It backfired, though, as Orton was able to stop him up top and bring Rhodes right back down to the mat with a superplex. Orton covered up, but he could only get a two-count out of it.
He stayed on Rhodes with a few short closelines and the snap slam. Orton pulled out a T-Bone suplex, which rolled Rhodes to the apron so he could hit the rope-assisted DDT. Orton pounded the mat and called for an RKO to try and close things out, but Rhodes hit an impressive counter by reversing it into the Cross Rhodes. Rhodes covered up, but Orton somehow managed to kick out at two.
Rhodes lost his cool with the referee and wasted some time arguing before getting re-focused for a Disaster Kick attempt. When he springboarded off the ropes, however, Orton caught him with the RKO, and that turned out to be enough to get the three-count.
After the match, Matt Strike came out to earn his paycheck and asked Orton if he still felt haunted by Big Show’s betrayal at WrestleMania. Orton said he never felt so focused and extreme, before dropping Rhodes with another RKO.
Orton seemed to imply with that statement that we’re headed toward something at Extreme Rules, which takes place in his neck of the woods in St. Louis, Missouri. Even in a tough fight against Rhodes, he does seem as focused as ever and seems geared toward keeping that going against Show.
1. Alberto Del Rio (and Ricardo Rodriguez) – for defeating former-United States Champion Antonio Cesaro before naming the stipulation for the World Heavyweight Title Match at Elimination Chamber:
The World Heavyweight Title Match at Extreme Rules is slightly more crowded than any of the involved parties would like, which makes gaining any kind of advantage a serious opportunity. That’s why the opening match to this week’s Monday Night RAW was a fairly big deal despite the humor that played out during it.
The show started with a triple threat match with representatives of each of the members of the triple threat title match on May 19 — Ricardo Rodriguez for Alberto Del Rio, Zeb Colter for Jack Swagger and Big E. Langston for Jack Swagger. A win would provide the superstar represented by the victor with the chance to name the stipulation for the World Heavyweight Championship Match at Extreme Rules.
Langston seemed to have the clear-cut advantage based on his overwhelming size and power. For a while, he manhandled both Rodriguez and Colter while shrugging off any kind of attack by his opposition. When the actual wrestlers got involved, however, Langston wound up outside the ring when he took both Swagger and himself out with a closeline over the top rope.
Left alone in the ring with Rodriguez, Colter hoped to steal a victory by covering up Del Rio’s ring announcer, who had just been laid out with a belly-to-belly suplex. AJ Lee blocked the referee from making a three-count, however, and her interference allowed Rodriguez to snag a rollup of his own on Colter that counted for the pinfall. With that win, Del Rio earned the right to pick the stipulation for Extreme Rules.
He wouldn’t announce his choice right away, though. Del Rio had some in-ring work to do himself later in the night, and he would wait to take care of that piece of business before dealing with this one. And his match would be no easy task, as he went one-on-one with the former United States Champion, Antonio Cesaro.
Cesaro had plenty to prove in this match, as he wanted to get back on the winning track before getting his U.S. Title rematch against Kofi Kingston on The Main Event. It showed with how close Del Rio and he truly were on Monday night.
There were plenty of near falls over the course of the bout, including one where Cesaro drilled Del Rio with a European uppercut as he came off the top rope. Cesaro just missed the three-count and tried to follow up with a charge into the corner, but he went shoulder-first into the steel post when Del Rio sidestepped him. Del Rio drilled him with a kick right to the chin, but he too only came up with a two-count.
After a moment of disappointment, Del Rio called for the cross arm breaker. As he swung over Cesaro’s arm, however, he was countered with a rollup. Del Rio got out of the pinning predicament by actually locking on the arm breaker. When he realized he wasn’t going to be able to reach the ropes, Cesaro was forced to tap out and hand over a well-earned victory to Del Rio.
Following the win, Del Rio felt it was the opportune moment to announce the stipulation for the World Heavyweight Title Match at Extreme Rules — a Ladder Match.
That’s an interesting choice, but one that all three participants are capable of thriving in. Ladder Matches are always fun and it will only be that much more considering there is no clear-cut favorite to walk away with the title on May 19 (although it is hard to image the WWE taking the belt of Ziggler so quickly after his monumental win the night after WrestleMania). Del Rio is definitely preparing himself well for that and gained a lot of momentum with his, and Rodriguez’, victory on RAW.