WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 6.3.13
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 June 3, 2013
3. Alberto Del Rio – for winning the “rubber match” against Big E. Langston in their fifth encounter:
While World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler has remained on the shelf with a concussion, No. 1 contender Alberto Del Rio and Big E. Langston have been battling it out over the past few weeks. They had four previous matches against each other coming into RAW, and a “rubber match” to break the 2-2 tie was scheduled for Monday night.
This match was important for both combatants. For Del Rio, it was an opportunity get a big win in a series of matches against Ziggler’s “heavy,” building his confidence and gaining the momentum as he prepares to face the returning champion for the title. A win for Langston would help his partner, build his own credibility and maybe even repair a crumbling relationship with AJ Lee that has seen its fair share of miscommunication in Ziggler’s absence.
One thing Del Rio doesn’t need to worry about nearly as much when he faces Ziggler is the power element Langston brings to the table. Langston’s biggest asset is his strength advantage and he exhibited that in this match. After catching a kick to the face from Del Rio and having a cross arm break applied, Langston managed to stand up and lift Del Rio all the way to the apron to force the hold to be broken on a five count.
As impressive a feat as that was, Del Rio moved right back on the attack and caught Langston with a German suplex upon re-entering the ring. Instead of going for the cover, Del Rio slapped on the arm breaker again. Langston tried to use his power to force another break and rolled backward as he did before, but Del Rio was more prepared for that counter this time and grabbed a hold of Langston’s leg to secure a pinning combination that went for the three count.
That was a smart win for Del Rio, who realized that he would need to get a bit creative to put Langston away. With the 3-2 advantage on Langston, Del Rio has the upperhand with Ziggler’s impending return.
2. Daniel Bryan – for looking excellent in two matches on RAW despite coming out the worse for wear in both of them:
Daniel Bryan is convinced that whether he is simply teaming up with Kane as a member of Team Hell No or he is part of a larger contingent, he is the weak link. Kane and others have tried to tell Bryan ad nauseam that it isn’t true, but he believes that to be the case and has set out to prove his value.
In the opening match of RAW, he teamed with Kane and Randy Orton to face The Shield in six-man tag team action. During his time in the ring, he was on fire. He took out all members of The Shield almost single-handedly and really put his team in a good position to snatch a victory.
He almost had the victory when a huge missile dropkick from the top rope connected on Ambrose, but there was a kickout at two and a subsequent No Lock was broken by Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. The interference from Reigns and Rollins prompted Kane and Orton to get involved. After catching Rollins with an RKO, Orton tried to do the same to Reigns. He was pushed off into Bryan, however, and Ambrose was able to plant Bryan face-first into the mat for the pinfall.
Bryan threw a fit over this in the back and insisted he was the weak link. Kane and Orton once against tried to calm him down and get him to realize that the loss was not his fault, but Bryan wasn’t hearing it and set off to get himself a second match for the night where he could prove he deserved some respect. When he ran into Ryback backstage, Bryan found his opponent.
Kane thought he was ridiculous for doing this and even asked Bryan to think about what Ryback did to Kofi Kingston on Smackdown before going out to the ring for a second time. Bryan remained determined to make this match happen, causing a huge fight between Kane that caused “The Big Red Machine” to leave the building.
In a match that easily could have turned out disastrous for Bryan, he actually came off exceptionally well. Nobody can doubt Bryan’s wrestling ability and he put on one of his best performances against the much-stronger Ryback. He kept Ryback’s power advantage in check the entire match, and he utilized his tremendous kicks, ring savvy and submission ability to almost put Ryback away on a few occasions.
It didn’t work out for Bryan the way he had hoped in the end when Ryback sent him crashing through a table in the middle of the ring. John Cena rank down to prevent Ryback from escalating the damage as he had done to Kingston just a few nights earlier. And with that, Bryan was able to at least get the decision via disqualification.
Neither match ended the way Bryan would have hoped, but he looked tremendous in each of them and did manage to score a “W” over Ryback — even if it wasn’t the kind of victory he was looking for. Bryan is still sure to think of himself as the weak link and he will probably continue to distance himself from Kane. But it’s still great to see him taking control in the ring like he has recently, giving himself a chance against almost anybody the WWE has to offer.
1. Ryback – for picking up a win over Daniel Bryan and sending John Cena through a table as his confidence builds just two weeks away from Payback:
Whereas Daniel Bryan may not have achieved the result he would have liked in picking up a disqualification victory, Ryback did exactly as he set out to do against Bryan. Ryback certainly didn’t anticipate Bryan being as game as he was and it showed in the way he was broken down in this match like no opponent had done to him before. But the end result was all Ryback was looking for.
Ryback managed to take control when he noticed Bryan storming in at him with a suicide dive. As Bryan leapt through the ropes, Ryback shoved him away and into the announce table. Ryback pounced; picking Bryan up and slamming him back-first into the steel ring post a few times. He moved Bryan back into the ring and then setup a table, sending Bryan through it with a powerbomb. That ended the bout on a DQ, but Ryback wasn’t finished and went outside to grab another table, which he setup near the barricade.
Ryback wasn’t able to use this table initially, as John Cena ran down to play savior and prevented Ryback from furthering the damage he had done to Bryan. At that point, Ryback backed off and let the main event between Curtis Axel and Cena take place.
It wasn’t too long before Ryback reappeared, however. He just waited for the opportune moment when Cena had his back turned on the outside and wasn’t expecting him.
While Cena was hitting Axel against the apron, Ryback stormed into the picture and nailed Cena from behind. This was completely legal and the match kept going because of a No Disqualification stipulation, and that allowed Axel to simply remain in the ring and pick up another countout victory while Ryback did his dirty work on the outside.
After pounding away on Cena across the back, Ryback lifted him up and ran him right into the table that was still setup against the barricade. Ryback taunted and stood over Cena as the referee counted the champion out and RAW came to a close.
Whether he is delivering it through Kofi Kingston, Bryan or even Cena himself, Ryback has sent a strong message to the WWE Champion heading into their title encounter in 3 Stages of Hell at Payback. Ryback looks like the stronger and smarter superstar right now, leaving Cena in a heap of trouble with just two weeks remaining before putting his title on the line against a very dangerous challenger.