WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 7.8.13
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 July 8, 2013
3. Chris Jericho – for defeating Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel in non-title action with some help from a ringside distraction:
Chris Jericho faces a tall order at Money in the Bank on Sunday when he steps into the ring for one-on-one action against Ryback. This match came about merely out of circumstance by then-managing supervisor Vickie Guerrero, but the two combatants have something to prove when they go at it on July 14.
Meanwhile, Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel has something to prove when he goes up against The Miz with the title on the line at Money in the Bank. Axel is Paul Heyman’s newest pet project and would like to continue along his winning ways. Miz, a former Intercontinental Titleholder in his own right, would love nothing more than to set Axel back a bit. Miz got an early start on that plan.
Jericho and Axel clashed in singles action on RAW this week, with Miz providing guest commentary at the announce table during the match. There was little doubt that Miz would add a little more than commentary in this situation.
When Axel managed to break free from a Walls of Jericho and rolled to the ring apron, he was charged into by Y2J and sent crashing into the announce table. Miz cracked a smirk when he looked at Axel, who became irate over Miz’ reaction. Heyman held Axel back and pleaded with him to get back into the ring so he wouldn’t get counted out. When Axel did, though, he was met with a Codebreaker from Jericho and kept down for a three count.
A down night for Axel was also a great night for Jericho. He handed Axel his first loss since joining up with Heyman, and gets a little momentum going into his bout against Ryback on Sunday.
2. CM Punk – for pinning Randy Orton in a clash of two elite stars in RAW’s main event matchup:
The Money in the Bank Ladder Match for the WWE Championship briefcase this Sunday, called “Money in the Bank All Stars,” is the most star-studded version of this match in WWE history. Each participant has experience in this format (and at high level competition in the WWE in general), and many have even claimed victory before in previous matches of its type. There is no clear-cut favorite among those involved, which includes CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Christian, Randy Orton, Sheamus and the returning Rob Van Dam.
One man that certainly has a bit of a chip on his shoulder is Punk, a two-time winner in Money in the Bank Ladder Matches and the longest-reigning WWE Champion of the modern era. The self-proclaimed “Best in the World” is never too far away from a title opportunity simply on his own merit, and he has what it takes to get a little extra certainty by claiming the guaranteed contract on Sunday. In hopes of gaining some further momentum, Punk battled Orton in the main event on RAW.
During the broadcast, Orton was sure to bring up the fact that he beat Punk at WrestleMania XVII two years ago. Punk, likewise, touted himself as being the “Best in the World,” a moniker Orton never seemed to agree belonged to Punk.
Words aside, this match was destined to be a good one. It did not disappoint. Punk and Orton are evenly matched, and they found it equally difficult to put their opponent away. But one man would have his hand raised when it was all said and done, and that ended up being Punk.
After hitting the trademark Macho Man flying elbow, Punk signaled for the Go2Sleep and lifted Orton onto his shoulders. Orton squirmed out and shoved Punk to the ring apron, where he was able to deliver the rope-assisted DDT. Then Orton called for the RKO, but he was countered with an attempt at a backslide by Punk. Orton blocked and reversed with a snap slam, and he hooked the leg for a two count.
Orton stomped on Punk before lifting him off the mat and sending him into the corner. There, Orton hit a series of headbutts and fists to the midsection. The Viper followed with some mounted punches, but Punk escaped before he could reach 10 and pulled Orton’s foot out to send his head crashing into the top turnbuckle.
Punk ran in for a high knee to Orton’s chin, which set up another attempt at the Go2Sleep. Orton got out of this one by elbowing Punk across the chin, but an RKO was countered by a kick to the face by Punk. After Orton stumbled back to his feet, Punk once again went for the Go2Sleep and connected this time to pick up the pinfall.
That was a hard-fought main event where the winner was truly going to deserve it. It’s tough to challenge Punk’s credentials heading into Money in the Bank, and his win over Orton on RAW just solidifies his strong standing going into the pay-per-view.
1. Daniel Bryan – for picking up a win over Sheamus in the evening’s opening bound and ending the show with the Money in the Bank briefcase in his hand:
One of the most memorable moments of Daniel Bryan’s career is not a positive one. He entered WrestleMania XVIII as the World Heavyweight Champion, yet it took a mere 18 seconds for him to surrender the title after eating a Brogue Kick in front of the packed crowd in Miami, Fla. It was certainly a low point in the WWE career for Bryan.
We’ve come a long way since that moment over one year ago, though. Over the past few months, Bryan has really elevated his game to become perhaps the most awe-inspiring performer on the WWE roster today. He has racked up some high-profile victories as of late and heads into Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view as one of the favorites to snatch the briefcase in the WWE Championship edition of the ladder match, deemed the “Money in the Bank All Stars” match.
This week’s RAW presented that one final grab at momentum for the participants in that bout, and Bryan opened up the in-ring portion of the evening’s festivities against his former rival, Sheamus. In a match that lasted a whole lot longer than 18 seconds and resulted with the other man having his hand raised, Bryan proved that moment on April 1, 2012, was long behind him.
While Sheamus is also one of the WWE’s most consistent performers between the ropes, he wasn’t able to get the victory over Bryan on this night. It boiled down to a battle of submissions in the closing moments, when Bryan first tried to apply the Yes Lock after failing to put Sheamus away on a crucifix pin attempt. Sheamus countered out of the hold by offering up a submission of his own in the form of a Texas Cloverleaf. Claiming to know a counter to every submission, Bryan made good on that by lifting himself up and rolling through to get a pinning combination on Sheamus that lasted to the three count.
Sheamus was beside himself by the loss, but he still did the honorable thing by shaking Bryan’s hand. Meanwhile, it’s clear to see Bryan is past that whole “weak link” phase in the way he celebrated the win, and he made his presence felt following the main event between CM Punk and Randy Orton. Bryan not only took out Punk and Orton, but he set up a ladder in the middle of the ring so he could grab hold of the Money in the Bank briefcase hanging above it just as RAW came to a close.
Bryan hopes to repeat that moment on Sunday, when he will look to go through Kane, Christian, Rob Van Dam, Punk, Orton and Sheamus in hopes of capturing a shot at the WWE Championship at any point of his choosing.