As AGM continues to grow, I have decided to expand upon my Wrestler of the Week article. The weekly award and analysis will still be in the same place. From now on, I will identify a few of the top moments in WWE and other major American wrestling promotions. I will highlight a match of the week as well as a quote of the week. The goal is to identify the best of what has happened in wrestling in the last week and to provide a snapshot in case you were not able to follow everything in that timeframe.
Wrestler of the Week – Seth Rollins
If you read my Raw review, it was obvious that Rollins was going to win this award. After a promo segment with Dean Ambrose on Smackdown, Rollins worked a pair of crazy matches at Hell in a Cell and on Raw. His fall from the side of the cell as well as the brawl with Ambrose on top of it will be highlights that we see for years to come. The fact that he put his body on the line and continued with a very tough match after that is incredibly impressive. He took chair shots, he was thrown into the cell, and he generally got destroyed by Ambrose. Regardless of how you feel about Bray Wyatt’s insertion in the match or the unclean finish, there’s no doubt that Rollins looked phenomenal in it and the finish fits with his opportunistic character.
I found the performance Rollins gave on Raw even more impressive because he had to be hurting from the night before. Nonetheless, he wrestled one of his best matches in WWE against John Cena and made it clear that he is in the upper-echelon of WWE wrestlers. Kane intervened when Cena put Rollins in the STF, but the protected finishes are just a way to raise fans’ desire to see Rollins lose cleanly. It would not surprise me to see Rollins continue to win matches through interference and tricks until he cashes in his Money in the Bank contract. In fact, I think he has already gained enough credibility that he could be the WWE Champion right now.
Match of the Week – John Cena def. Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell Match to Become #1 Contender
WWE had a big PPV this week while the other promotions were relatively quiet, so many of the awards come down to the big three matches at that show. While I loved Ambrose-Rollins and the Cesaro-Dolph Ziggler matches, my personal favorite was Cena-Orton. Setting aside the questions about their history and the WWE Title narrative, I thought the match told an excellent story about how Orton has a chip on his shoulder about Cena’s fame, yet Cena continues to earn his success. They had creative spots and innovative counters, which is impressive given their long history. Above all, I appreciated how they took their time to sell the effects of the damage they did to one another. They are two old pros who know how to wrestle a main event-caliber match.
Quote of the Week – JBL
“How do you tell Miz and Mizdow apart?” –JBL, comparing Miz’s team to the Usos.
1. Bray Wyatt Returns and Costs Dean Ambrose His Match
For all the talk about Cena-Orton going on last at Hell in a Cell, I was happy to see that Ambrose and Rollins got to close the show. It was not hard to see that a big Wyatt return was imminent. When the lights went out and a lantern with a hologram appeared in the middle of the ring, it was immediately clear that Wyatt had set his sights on Ambrose. Raw did not give much clarity about why Wyatt has focused on Ambrose, but both wrestlers are so good on the mic that I am confident that they will craft a very compelling story.
2. Dolph Ziggler def. Cesaro to Retain the Intercontinental Title
In wrestling, about 99% of 2-out-of-3 Falls Matches go to the third fall. The added drama of the back-and-forth nature is a big part of the reason to have the match. On the other hand, when fans start to expect that something is inevitable, a turn away from that convention can mean more than it would otherwise. Ziggler got the first fall on Cesaro with a roll-up. Despite the fact that Cesaro dominated him through most of the match, he rallied to hit the Zig Zag and win the second fall to sweep Cesaro. Although I love Cesaro and hope that he eventually gets a chance to show his skills in main events, the clean sweep meant a lot for Ziggler. He wrestled Kane and appeared in a main event run-in on Raw the next night, so the win might be the type of stepping stone that Ziggler’s fans have wanted for so long.
3. Jay Briscoe def. Michael Bennett to Retain the ROH World Title
Briscoe’s win over Bennett was solid and enjoyable although it was not on the level of many ROH World Title matches. What is significant about the match is what happened after the final bell. Adam Cole and then Mark Briscoe came to the ring to reignite an old feud between the Briscoes and The Kingdom. Without Matt Hardy in ROH, the odds evened up. That changed quickly, though, when the returning Matt Taven struck Jay with the ROH World Title and revealed himself as part of The Kingdom. With a third talented, young wrestler in the stable, it is clear that The Kingdom will be at the center of the ROH storytelling for the near future. Furthermore, this twist might be just what Taven needs to take the next step in his career.