WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 1.6.14
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 January 6, 2014
3. Alberto Del Rio — for avenging his previous losses to Sin Cara with a victory, and then playing down all the hype of the return of Batista:
Sin Cara’s recent resurgence has come largely at the expense of his fellow countryman, Alberto Del Rio. A former heavyweight champion, Del Rio has been one of the WWE’s top players for some time. So, it was a bit shocking to see him take some losses to somebody who was well on his way to vanishing from the company not all that long ago. With the Royal Rumble nearing, though, Del Rio wanted to earn some of his credibility back.
He squared off on this week’s RAW against Cara, who still looked pretty strong. He even put Del Rio down with a kick from the apron that set up the perfect opportunity for Cara to head up top and attempt the Senton that has put Del Rio away before. Del Rio moved out of the way this time, though, and immediately followed up with a devastating super kick that put Cara down and out for the three count.
With some redemption for his previous defeats at the hands of Cara, Del Rio turned his attention right to the Royal Rumble. He played down the hype surrounding Batista’s return in the Royal Rumble match, and he claimed he would be the one to toss The Animal out before going on to win it himself.
That’s a bold claim for Del Rio, who is a previous Rumble winner. It’s probably not wise to poke Batista, but Del Rio wants the attention on him and will likely get his wish with some sort of face-to-face with Batista in just a few short weeks.
2. Cody Rhodes and Goldust — for picking up an impressive win over The Real Americans in non-title action:
Cody Rhodes and Goldust don’t appear to have any immediate contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championships they’ve been sporting for just under the past three months, but there are always a number of teams waiting in the wings for that perfect opportunity to earn a title shot. One of those teams remains The Real Americans, who squared off with the Rhodes boys on Monday night in non-title action.
What could have been an audition at a title opportunity for Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro became an impressive win for Rhodes and Goldust instead.
Swagger almost had Rhodes done for when he countered a Disaster Kick with a Patriot Lock and pulled Rhodes back toward the center of the ring when he reached for the ropes. Rhodes still managed to hold on long enough for Goldust to get back in the ring and deliver a boot to Swagger’s face. Goldust returned to the apron, where Rhodes made a slow crawl to get the hot tag to him.
Goldust flew in with a couple of closelines and an uppercut to Swagger. He then nailed a spinebuster and tossed Cesaro into the ring from the apron. Goldust headed up top and delivered a crossbody to both members of The Real Americans. A closeline sent Cesaro to the floor, and Goldust ducked one from Swagger before coming back with a snap slam. Goldust covered up, but he only got a two count when Cesaro rushed back in to break the count at two.
Cesaro looked to send Goldust to the ropes, but Goldust reversed and Rhodes dropped the top rope to send Cesaro crashing to the floor. Swagger snuck in from behind with a rollup on Goldust, who kicked out at two and delivered the Final Cut for the pinfall.
That was an excellent match and another strong showing for the WWE Tag Team Champions. If there was any doubt about their readiness to compete against whatever other duos the WWE can throw at them, Rhodes and Goldust showed they are still at the top of their game.
1. Roman Reigns — for being the member of The Shield to actually defeat CM Punk during the main event:
The Shield has long been one of the most daunting groups in the WWE, but it is starting to develop a few cracks in the foundation as a result of CM Punk’s divide and conquer strategy. While The Shield’s favored game plan is to band together for 3-on-1 attacks, Punk has been able to get them in one-on-one situations that didn’t quite work in the favor of Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins.
Regardless of what Ambrose and Rollins have done against Punk to this point, the much-anticipated showdown between Roman Reigns and Punk was scheduled for this week’s RAW. If anyone in The Shield is ready to break out, it’s Reigns. And the perceived top dog is dealing with some doubt over whether remaining with the group is in his best interest.
That idea was further implanted in the big man’s head during a Piper’s Pit segment on the “Old School” RAW, where Roddy Piper asked Reigns if it was possible Ambrose and Rollins were holding him back. Reigns was in no mood and intimated Piper, failing to actually act on any threat of violence when Punk and the New Age Outlaws came down to protect Piper.
During the main event between Punk and Reigns, there was some activity on the outside between the New Age Outlaws and Rollins and Ambrose, which caught Punk’s attention and led him to delivering a suicide dive to Rollins. When Punk moved back into the ring with a springboard, he caught a vicious Superman Punch to the face from Reigns, who covered up for a two count.
Reigns stood back and stared down Punk in preparation for a spear, which Punk leapt over before rolling up Reigns for a two count. Reigns grabbed Punk, but Punk shrugged him off and hit a kick to Reigns’ head. He then covered for another two count.
Punk lifted Reigns onto his shoulders for the Go2Sleep, but Reigns elbowed his way out of that predicament and backed into the corner. It was there that Punk ran in for the knee to the face and a bulldog try, which Punk had to abandon when Ambrose leapt onto the apron. After knocking Ambrose to the floor, Punk turned around into a spear from Reigns that led to the pinfall.
The Shield looked to do more damage to Punk after the bell, but Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ WWE return put a halt to that.
Still, what Ambrose and Rollins couldn’t do, Reigns did. And while it came with their help, he does need to question whether he could better serve his own interests breaking out on his own after scoring that impactful win over Punk.