WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 9.9.13
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 September 9, 2013
3. Santino Marella — for making his return to RAW with a victory over Antonio Cesaro:
It has been several months since we last saw Santino Marella, and it was simply a matter of time before the new co-owner of the Battle Arts Academy in Mississauga, Ontario, made his triumphant return. All it took was for RAW to hail from Toronto, Canada, where he interrupted a “We The People” from Zeb Colter and Antonio Cesaro to surprise the crowd.
After power walking his way to the ring in front of an elated reaction from the fans, Marella entered the ring to face a familiar foe that he at a point lost the United States Championship to.
Cesaro dished out some punishment early with a dropkick right at the bell, followed by a couple of uppercuts and a toss out of a gutwrench. Most impressive, though, was when Cesaro took Marella down and swung him around for an incredibly long time.
The move seemed to have no adverse effect on Cesaro, while Marella was visibly disoriented. However, he managed to split out of the way of a short-arm closeline and took Cesaro down with a hip toss. He followed with a diving headbutt before grabbing the Cobra hand sock from his attire. Cesaro kicked the hand before Marella could deliver the move, and he followed with a European uppercut that got him a two-count.
Cesaro picked Marella up off the mat and ripped the puppet off his hand, tossing it into the crowd. He then lifted Marella up for a spinebuster that also netted him a two-count. Cesaro tried one more time for a cover after drilling Marella in the corner with a charging European uppercut, but another two-count followed.
By this point, Cesaro was clearly frustrated and started slapping Marella in the face, even taunting him in a standing position. That proved to be futile, though, when Marella tossed Cesaro down as he went for a punch. Marella hooked the arms and kept the shoulders to the mat for a three-count to pick up a win in his return match.
Cesaro was the aggressor in this match and put up a far better amount of offense. Marella hung in there, though, and got the win against a tough opponent to make an emphatic statement in his first night back on RAW.
2. Randy Orton — for thwarting Goldust’s attempt to earn his brother’s job back:
Randy Orton’s well-protected run as WWE Champion rages on behind the cushioned decision making of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. As the supposed “Best of Business” version of the face of the company, he has been virtually untouchable since essentially stealing the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. And the way RAW has ended over the past few weeks, with Daniel Bryan left lying in the middle of the ring with nobody able to actually help him, the odds are certainly in The Viper’s favor to remain champion beyond his rematch against Bryan at Night of Champions.
Orton’s sole purpose now isn’t just to get the best of Bryan, though. He is also available to make an example out of anybody who dares to cross the boss, Triple H. Last week, Cody Rhodes made the unfortunate mistake of questioning Triple H’s decision making about what is best for business, and he suffered by being placed in a match with Orton that he lost, ultimately costing him his job just before he was set to get married.
Well, that didn’t sit too well with other members of the Rhodes family. Specifically, Dustin Rhodes, better known as Goldust, wanted to wrestle on RAW this week. Should he defeat The Viper, his brother would get his job back. The match was made official and Goldust returned to RAW to face Orton in that match.
There was a lot riding on the line in this bout, and Goldust put up one hell of an effort. It had been some time since he was in a WWE ring, but it had been even longer since he had as good of a match as he did against Orton on Monday.
Unfortunately, the effort did not get the result he was after. He almost pulled it out when he managed to counter an RKO into the Cross Rhodes, but a two-count was the result on the ensuing pin attempt. Goldust took time to argue the count, which found him getting rolled up by Orton. He kicked out of that at two, but Orton ducked a closeline from him and came right back with a successful RKO that kept Goldust pinned to the mat for the three-count.
After the match, Orton poured salt in the wound by standing over Goldust and telling him that his dream of saving his brother’s career had been shattered, just like Bryan’s dream of taking the WWE Title away from him will be shattered at the pay-per-view.
Orton’s night didn’t end on such a high note, when his attempt to get The Big Show into delivering a Knockout Punch to Bryan backfired because his Night of Champions challenger was able to catch him with a running knee to the face instead.
Still, Orton has the right people in his corner, and he has proven over the past few weeks that he’s still a good wrestler even when going it alone. He just needs to stay the course going into Sunday if he wishes to remain WWE Champion, and the face of the company.
1. Daniel Bryan — for finally come out standing at the end of RAW by winning his match against Dean Ambrose and kneeing Randy Orton in the face to close the show:
Daniel Bryan’s luck has been far different than Randy Orton’s since SummerSlam. He has been selected by Triple H as a tool for proving a point, and he’s felt the brunt of several punishing attacks by those willing, and even some unwilling, to stand side-by-side with The Game. Bryan has essentially been fighting a losing battle.
But he refuses to forfeit his rematch for the WWE Championship at Night of Champions, and he will get another opportunity on Sunday to win back the WWE Title. First, there was the matter of this week’s RAW and having to deal with whatever Triple H was going to throw his way six days before the pay-per-view.
Bryan did upstage Orton at the top of the program when Edge, who was returning for a special Cutting Edge segment and was to have Orton as his guest, instead called out Bryan to be his guest. There was a lot of hyping Bryan up, which eventually led to Orton and Triple H coming out. Barbs were traded back-and-forth, and the end result was Bryan being booked in a main event match against Dean Ambrose.
Since Ambrose would clearly have fellow-Shield members Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins in his corner, Triple H gave Bryan his very own corner man in the form of Big Show. The one caveat to that, however, was the man who reluctantly delivered a Knockout Punch to Bryan a week ago on the orders of Triple H would not be able to touch any members of The Shield during the main event matchup. If he did, he would be terminated, according to Stephanie McMahon.
Bryan didn’t really need Show’s help on this occasion, even though the other members of The Shield were not given the same directive to not get involved. In fact, they got plenty involved.
When Bryan got dumped to the outside by Ambrose, Reigns tried to spear Bryan on the outside. He ended up in the steel ring steps instead. Then Rollins leapt off the apron to try and hit Bryan, but he just ended up slamming into the announce table instead. Unfortunately, Bryan was not able to avoid a closeline to the back of the head from Ambrose, who then drilled Bryan into the mat on the outside with a DDT.
Ambrose moved Bryan back into the ring, and he rolled back in himself for a cover that got a two-count. Ambrose yelled at Bryan repeatedly to stay down, but when he lifted him off the mat, Bryan quickly grabbed hold of Ambrose to roll him up for the pinfall.
Bryan’s celebration was short-lived when Orton crashed the party. Bryan held his own initially, but he couldn’t beat the odds when The Shield got involved on Orton’s behalf. He was given an RKO in the ring, and then Triple H and Stephanie came out to order Show to deliver a KO Punch to Bryan.
Show resisted, even with Orton screaming at him, and the stalling allowed Bryan to recover so that he could drill Orton in the face with a running knee. Bryan then grabbed the WWE Title, stood tall over Orton and screamed “Yes!” as RAW came to a close.
That’s a complete 180 from the previous two weeks, when Bryan was left on the mat as the show finished up. Bryan proved his resilience yet again, coming up with the win over Ambrose and surviving a postmatch beatdown to stand tall over Orton when it was all said and done. He’s ready for the rematch at Night of Champions.