WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 7.22.13
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 22, 2013
3. Rob Van Dam – for getting another win in his WWE return, this time over former Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett:
After coming close to snatching the Money in the Bank briefcase at Money in the Bank, Rob Van Dam has performed in a few random matchups on RAW and Smackdown to get back into the WWE groove. That continued on this week’s show, when he went one-on-one with former Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett.
Barrett is no slouch of an opponent and would bring a high level of intensity as he sought to knock down one of the WWE’s most popular stars. Even with a busted mouth, Barrett was able to take the fight to Van Dam and even pick up a few near falls in the process. He just couldn’t get the three count.
After working out of a chinlock, Van Dam delivered boots to Barrett’s face on two occasions out of the corner and then leapt off the top turnbuckle with a thrust kick. Rolling Thunder was next for RVD, who covered up for a two count of his own. He jumped to the top turnbuckle again and delivered a nice somersault that bought him another two count.
Barrett stumbled into the corner and received a couple of shoulder blocks by RVD. When Van Dam tried to get cute by performing a back handspring before going for a third shoulder block, Barrett moved out of the way and caught RVD in the midsection with a kick.
RVD managed to reverse an Irish whip into the opposite corner and caught Barrett with a kick to the face. He then springboarded into another kick that knocked Barrett to the mat and set up for RVD to head up top. Van Dam flew off with the Five Star Frog Splash and covered up, this time for the three count to earn another victory.
Aside from that blip at Money in the Bank, Van Dam has had a solid return to the WWE. His next challenge will be a match against World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio on Smackdown, and it could be his toughest test yet. But Van Dam has proven he’s up to the task and should have another strong performance on Friday night.
2. Alberto Del Rio – for taking advantage of Sheamus’ bum leg to score a pinfall over the Celtic Warrior:
Out of anybody on the WWE roster, it’s hard to argue a superstar could give World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio a tougher run for his money than Sheamus. These two have feuded in the past, and it’s safe to assume there is no love lost between the two. And while Damien Sandow waits in the wings for the prime opportunity to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase, Sheamus could just as easily be an immediate contender to end Del Rio’s title reign.
That is, of course, once the massive bruise on his leg heals up. At Money in the Bank, Sheamus got quite a wound on his thigh when he fell pretty hard on a ladder. One week later, it’s still visible and causing issues for the Celtic Warrior. It would become a target for his opponent on this week’s RAW — Del Rio.
It was almost like a bulls-eye for Del Rio, who focused a great deal of his attack on going after the weakened thigh. Such a strategy would slow Sheamus down and hinder him from hitting some of his highly devastating maneuvers.
One such example was later in the match when, after kicking out of a pin attempt and delivering a rolling senton out of nowhere to Del Rio, Sheamus called for the Brogue Kick. Del Rio moved out of the way before Sheamus could hit it and responded with a sharp kick to the thigh.
Del Rio went for the float over into a cross armbreaker, but Sheamus shoved him into the turnbuckles. Sheamus then lifted Del Rio up in hopes of going for the White Noise, but his leg buckled and Del Rio was able to take advantage by rolling up the Celtic Warrior for the victory.
Against a healthier Sheamus, perhaps the results would have been different. These were the cards Del Rio was dealt, however, and he took full advantage by going after Sheamus’ hurt thigh. It worked and he walked away with a victory over a top contender.
1. Daniel Bryan – for taking on GM Brad Maddox’ gauntlet challenge head-on, including a tremendous battle against Antonio Cesaro:
When RAW general manager Brad Maddox afforded WWE Champion John Cena the opportunity to select the superstar he wished to defend his title against at SummerSlam, the choice was pretty easy. The WWE Universe wanted it and Cena was more than happy to give the title shot to the superstar who deserves it the most — Daniel Bryan.
Bryan has been the hottest thing going in the WWE for some time now. One incredible match after another, Bryan has completely moved past his whole “weak link” phase and is somebody fans can’t wait to watch inside the ring. A chance at the WWE Championship seemed in the cards for Bryan, and the upstanding champion that Cena is recognized that.
Not everybody sees the talent in Bryan, though, and that became perfectly clear at the top of the broadcast this week. In what was a contract signing for the title match, Maddox questioned Bryan’s credentials and forced both champion and challenger to defend the match. In fact, there was even some doubt throughout the night as to whether Maddox truly believed Bryan wasn’t worthy of the championship bout, or if somebody was in Maddox’ ear.
Either way, Maddox wanted to put Bryan to the test on RAW. So, he booked him in a main event that consisted of an undetermined number of matches.
First, Jack Swagger took a stab at knocking Bryan off, but he was unsuccessful. After hitting the Swagger Bomb, he tried to lift Bryan off the mat. Bryan grabbed his arm and applied a Yes Lock instead, and Swagger was forced to tap into submission.
The next opponent for Bryan was a bit obvious. Antonio Cesaro, who just witnessed his partner tap out, was next in line and he gave Bryan a hell of a fight. This was the match of the night and made bother superstars look main event caliber. It was a lengthy, hard fought, back-and-forth battle between two of the most promising superstars in the WWE. Like his partner, though, Cesaro was unable to get the job done against Bryan when an attempt at the Pop-up European Uppercut was masterfully countered by Bryan into a rollup that went for the three count.
One would think that would have been enough to impress Maddox, but he still sent out a third competitor to take on Bryan, and that was Ryback.
For as exhausted as Bryan should have been, he still put on a competitive match against Ryback and countered the power disadvantage he once against faced with his quickness. He had Ryback locked in a Yes Lock late in the contest, which Ryback broke by crawling to the ropes. When Ryback headed outside, Bryan followed with a running knee off the apron. Ryback caught him, though, and powerbombed him to the floor before powerbombing him through a table to cause a disqualification that went in favor of Bryan.
Ryback was going to continue punishing Bryan, but Cena ran out for the save and a Ladder Match between those two was booked for next week.
As for Bryan, that third match didn’t go according to plan, but he still fought hard and got the win to go along with his two previous ones. Vince McMahon showed up in Maddox’ office before the show ended and convinced the GM to book Bryan in a match against Kane next week, so he will have work that night, too, against his former tag team partner.