By Andrew Berg
Wrestler of the Week – Dolph Ziggler
For a guy who supposedly lost some momentum due to concerns about his ability to stay on TV regularly, Ziggler has been working an incredible schedule lately. More than just about anyone else, he is a sure thing to wrestle on both Raw and Smackdown and will often show up on Main Event as well. Thankfully, those opportunities have extended to most PPVs in the recent past. I have long maintained that Ziggler’s biggest value to WWE is in his ability to work an entertaining match on any show and under any circumstances. He certainly lived up to that reputation on Smackdown and Raw. He lost a competitive match with Rusev on an episode of Smackdown that was otherwise mostly a throwaway in the final build to Survivor Series. On Raw, he teamed with John Cena and they took a collective victory lap against Seth Rollins and J&J Security.
The standout performance for Ziggler, though, was clearly at Survivor Series. In the ring, his ability to show the punishment he has received in a match is unparalleled and makes him unique as a wrestler. He took all kinds of punishment from Team Authority and was left as the last man on his team when Big Show knocked Cena out. He managed to overcome Luke Harper and Kane despite his exhaustion and the fans were fully behind him the whole way through. He was isolated with Rollins at the end for an extended period of time (he ended up as the legal man in the match for an incredible 27 minutes). Two times, he had Rollins beat only for HHH to interfere and prevent a pin. When HHH tried to steal the match, Sting emerged and helped Ziggler finish the job. The fact that Sting was involved in the finish only makes Ziggler look better because he was the guy worthy of Sting’s attention. Furthermore, he stood shoulder to shoulder with Cena on Raw, not as his little buddy, but as his equal for the time being. Even when he won the World Heavyweight Title, Ziggler was never quite at the level he is right now, which is pretty thrilling for his fans.
Match of the Week – Team Cena def. Team Authority
A week after Cesaro-Kidd-Ziggler, WWE added another entry to the Match of the Year debate. The thing I liked so much about the Survivor Series main event was how there were so many little stories that combined to make up one larger one. In addition to Ziggler’s resilience, we saw HHH give Mark Henry very bad advice, Big Show turn on his team, Ryback suffer an early defeat, and Rollins serving as a constantly disruptive force. And on top of all of that, we saw the seeds planted for a rivalry between Sting and HHH that could be one of the main events for Wrestlemania next spring. With so much storyline crammed into the match, it might seem hard to include much wrestling. Thanks to Ziggler, Rollins, Harper and others, that was not the case. All around, it was an outstanding match that rose to the difficult level of booking a five-on-five match.
Quote of the Week – Michael Cole
“Can I have your attention please? I have just received an email from the anonymous Raw General Manager.” –Michael Cole, gloriously reintroducing the AGM.
Must See Moments
1. AJ Styles def. Hanson
Styles and Hanson are both in awkward spots on the ROH card. Styles is basically treated as a guest star who is better than even the ROH Champion, which is likely true. Due to his status as the IWGP Champion in New Japan, ROH is lucky to have him around. In order to keep the ROH Champion vibrant, he main stays on the fringes of the main event. Hanson, meanwhile, won the Top Prospect Tournament to start the year and formed a successful tag team with his co-finalist Raymond Rowe. They appeared destined for a pursuit of the ROH Tag Team Titles when Rowe went down with injuries from a motorcycle crash. Since then, Hanson has been left in the lurch. The two men without obvious feuds collided on ROH TV this week and put on a fantastic match. Styles struggled with Hanson’s size and power but eventually used his speed and savvy to overcome him. Styles always puts on a great show and Hanson deserves credit for pushing him to the limit.
2. Dean Ambrose def. Luke Harper on Raw
One night after Ambrose wrestled Bray Wyatt in a match that was a mixed bag at Survivor Series, he completely redeemed himself on Raw. Harper had to defend his newly-won Intercontinental Title against Ambrose as part of Team Authority’s punishment. They wrestled a stiff, impressive match the night after both worked hard at Survivor Series. The match ended when Harper shoved Ambrose into the referee to get himself disqualified, but it definitely left me wanting to see more between the two. On top of that, the post-match attack by Wyatt on Ambrose was straightforward and did more to further their rivalry than ten more rambling dissertations on the nature of evil.
3. Title Changes Everywhere
Harper’s win over Ziggler on last week’s Raw started a flood of title changes across promotions. Taryn Terrell took the TNA Knocksouts Title from Havok and James Storm teamed with Abyss to win the Tag Team Titles from the Wolves on the final episode of TNA Impact on Spike. In WWE, Survivor Series included a Divas Title change (Nikki Bella beating AJ Lee with her sister’s assistance) and a much-deserved Tag Team Title victory for The Miz and Damien Mizdow. Do any of these wins mean a great deal in their promotions? Probably not. I could see James Storm’s Revolution becoming meaningful in TNA if given plenty of support at the main event level, but with TNA off of TV for over a month, it could lose a lot of momentum.