WWE Monday Night RAW Wrestlers of the Week 1.20.14
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 20, 2014
3. Alberto Del Rio — for getting the “rubber match” victory over Rey Mysterio in a hard-fought bout, before Batista put a damper on his celebration:
With the Royal Rumble fast approaching, Alberto Del Rio has made it perfectly clear that the hype surrounding Batista’s return and participation in that match should be limited due to his own plan to win the 30-man, over-the-top-rope battle royal. Del Rio has tossed some threats toward Batista, and apparently engaged in a social media spat with The Animal.
Meanwhile, he’s also been locking up with a familiar foe, Rey Mysterio, over the past week. Del Rio picked up a win over Mysterio last week on RAW, but he suffered a loss to the master of the 6-1-9 Friday night on Smackdown. In what could be deemed a “rubber match,” although these two have faced each other numerous times before, Del Rio and Mysterio squared off yet again this Monday night.
A hard-fought battle by both men, Mysterio did manage to get Del Rio against the ropes for a 6-1-9 attempt late in the contest. However, Del Rio caught him by the legs and turned it into the catapult that sent Mysterio headfirst into the turnbuckle. Del Rio nailed a kick to the side of Mysterio’s head, but it only mustered a two count on the ensuing cover.
After collecting himself for a few seconds, Del Rio signaled for the cross arm breaker. Mysterio avoided it and, after being lifted onto Del Rio’s shoulders, he hit a hurricurana to put Del Rio against the ropes again. The 6-1-9 was successful this time, and a splash off the top rope hit to get Mysterio a pinning opportunity. Del Rio grabbed the bottom rope to stop the count, though, and Mysterio was a bit discouraged.
Mysterio positioned himself on the middle rope and waited for Del Rio to get up, but he was caught flying off and planted into the mat. Del Rio then grabbed Mysterio’s arm and dropped to his back, forcing Mysterio to tap out from the cross arm breaker.
Del Rio’s celebration was cut short when Batista made his way to the ring and went face-to-face with the man who essentially called him out for weeks. The Animal wasn’t the first to pounce, but he did get the better of the exchange after Del Rio made the first move.
Del Rio has certainly had better moments, but it was obvious he would need to face the music when he started talking smack toward Batista. Now he knows what he’s going up against if an encounter between the two is to take place at the Royal Rumble. Regardless, Del Rio always has some tricks up his sleeve and a 2-1 edge over Mysterio in their recent three-match series to build off.
2. C.M. Punk — for getting a small bit of redemption over those who have wronged him with a singles victory over Billy Gunn, before learning he’ll be the No. 1 entrant in the Royal Rumble:
Always thinking the world is against him, CM Punk has recently developed another conspiracy theory. This time, it’s that The Authority is working against him. It’s not so outlandish, considering The Shield continues to be a thorn in his side and The New Age Outlaws left him high and dry a week ago in six-man tag team action. The latter came seemingly out of nowhere, but Road Dogg and Billy Gunn are Triple H’s buddies, and Punk figured he put two-and-two together.
When Punk called The Shield and Outlaws out on Smackdown, Kane told the five men to stand down and assured Punk that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were not working against him. Instead, they made it a priority for Kane to make sure he got the respect he deserves. Punk called Kane a sellout in response, so Kane ordered The Shield and Outlaws to get him. Punk held them off briefly, but it was just a distraction to allow Kane to get back into the ring and chokeslam Punk.
Kane received an earful from McMahon for that action, as somebody in a managerial role like himself needs to keep his emotions in check. He apologized to McMahon, but she told him to apologize to Punk. Kane did so in the ring moments later, but Punk assaulted him in response. Before Kane could get back into the ring to retaliate, Brad Maddox hit the ramp and ordered Punk to face one member of the Outlaws in a match. That man ended up being Billy Gunn, while Road Dogg sat at the announce table to provide guest commentary.
Road Dogg remained out of the equation until Punk decided to attack him out of nowhere, at which point he became a factor. Punk went back in the ring to meet Gunn, ducking a closeline and retaliating with a kick, a couple of double axe handles and a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Punk mocked Gunn with a crotch chop in the corner, before charging in for a running knee. When Punk went for the running bulldog, Gunn shoved him off and right into Road Dogg, who had hopped onto the apron. Road Dogg fell to the floor, but Gunn took advantage by catching Punk back around with a tilt-a-whirl side slam. It netted him a two count.
Gunn tried to follow with a splash in the corner, but Punk moved away and Gunn hit his head against the steel ring post. Punk headed up top, probably for a flying elbow drop, but Road Dogg pulled Gunn to the outside. Punk stepped down to the mat, and he hit the ropes to deliver a suicide dive to Road Dogg. That allowed Gunn to drop him with a closeline.
Gunn took Punk back in the ring and kicked him in the gut to set up for a Fame Asser. However, Punk moved away from the move and countered right into a Go2Sleep. He covered up and got the three count.
Maddox congratulated him after the match, but Kane quickly swooped in and snatched the microphone. He then informed Punk that while every superstar’s number will be drawn at random at the Royal Rumble, his will not. He will be the No. 1 entrant.
That’s not great news, but certainly not a spot that takes him out of the picture entirely. First entrants have won the Royal Rumble before, and Punk has the credentials to beat the odds. It just becomes another good reason for Punk to suspect a conspiracy is in place, however.
1. The Shield — for standing united in victory over Intercontinental Champion Big E. Langston and WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust:
The story with The Shield lately is that there may be cracks starting to form in their foundation. Roman Reigns seems to be getting a lot of the spotlight, Dean Ambrose is increasingly edgy and Seth Rollins is kind of just stuck in the middle. Making matters worse is the fact that all three men will be in the Royal Rumble, and they are each willing to dispose of anyone — even their own teammates from The Shield — in order to secure a guaranteed WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match at WrestleMania.
Despite this friction, Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins are doing their best to prove they are still on the same page as a group. They went a long way in making that point clear during the first match of the night this week on RAW — a six-man tag team match against Intercontinental Champion Big E. Langston and WWE Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Goldust.
Recently, Reigns has been the one to close out contests for The Shield, delivering his monster spear for positive results. This week, though, he played a part in the setup for Rollins to close things out in The Shield’s favor.
Reigns interrupted a pin to Ambrose after Langston was able to hit a splash on him. He then went for a closeline to Rhodes, but when that was ducked and Rhodes hit the ropes for a Disaster Kick, Reigns leapt at him with a Superman Punch. Goldust turned Reigns around for a punch before hitting the ropes, but Reigns drilled him with a massive spear. Unfortunately for Reigns, he turned around to a brick wall much like himself and was taken down by a splash from Langston.
Langston then held Ambrose up and hit the ropes, but he got caught with a knee to the midsection. Ambrose rolled to his corner for a tag to Rollins, who hit the ropes and stomped Langston’s head into the mat to secure the pinfall.
The Shield then celebrated in the ring and in the crowd, looking like a pretty cohesive unit. Their partnership will be tested come the Royal Rumble, where it’s every man for himself. But to act like a team as they did this week on RAW, there is some optimism that The Shield is not quite nearing its end.