By Andrew Berg
Wrestler of the Week – Luke Harper
Harper stood out as a very solid performer in a week in which WWE struggled to find anything interesting to do on its TV shows. He wrestled the main event on Smackdown- a rematch with Dolph Ziggler with his Intercontinental Title on the line. Harper and Ziggler already have great chemistry together because Ziggler’s bump-and-comeback style complements Harper’s ability to physically dominate a match in a way that doesn’t get boring or predictable. They also hit each other very hard throughout the match, which added to the drama. Ziggler won by countout when he superkicked Harper on the floor, but the ending did not feel like a cop-out. In fact, it felt like Ziggler accomplished something just by beating Harper because he has been made to look so strong lately. Harper served a similar role on Raw when he teamed with Seth Rollins and Kane against Ziggler, John Cena, and Ryback. That match was mostly forgettable, but Harper stood out both in the way he took a delayed vertical suplex from Ryback and how well he controlled the match while he wore down Ziggler.
Harper was always the standout performer in the Wyatt Family. While Erick Rowan has been better than I expected since they were “freed,” it is no surprise that Harper has settled quickly into a semi-main event slot. His program with Ziggler is an opportunity for him to get some experience and exposure against the #2 babyface in the company. So far, he has taken full advantage with excellent matches and one of the few storyline feuds that makes sense right now.
Match of the Week – Adam Cole def. Matt Sydal
Unlike WWE, which has to promote a big PPV event every 3-4 weeks, ROH can focus on a few major events throughout the year. With Final Battle around the corner, the spotlight is on Cole and Sydal as challengers to the ROH World and TV Titles, respectively. Without giving anything away that fans would otherwise buy through PPV, Cole and Sydal wrestled a dynamic, athletic match that Cole won with a variation on his Florida Keys suplex. ROH should dominate this category from week to week for a couple of reasons. First, the company revolves around its in-ring wrestling more than any other American wrestling promotion. Additionally, with fewer PPVs to sell and a smaller roster, they are able to devote 30+ minutes to a TV main event every week. The result is often stellar, and this match fit the bill.
Quote of the Week – Damien Mizdow
[Whips out fake business card, shrugs, waits for Naomi to pretend to take it out of his hand]. –Damien Mizdow, showing that silence can be golden in one of the best bits of his fantastic run.
Must See Moments
1. CM Punk Explains Himself on Colt Cabana’s Podcast
Without a doubt, the top story of the last week was Punk’s two hour monologue about his problems in WWE on The Art of Wrestling. You can read all of my thoughts on the subject here. The short version is that I understand the conflict of personalities between HHH and Punk. Even if I personally favor Punk based on my opinion of his career, it doesn’t make either of them all right or all wrong. The issues Punk raised about medical treatment in WWE were disturbing and I sincerely hope WWE takes a closer look at how it treats wrestlers.
2. Finn Balor def. Tyson Kidd
I recently wrote about how much more magnetic and charismatic Balor has seemed in his brief run on NXT television than tag team partner Hideo Itami. His first singles match continued that theme as he looked fantastic against Kidd, who has enjoyed quite the career resurgence lately. Everything around Balor is working right now- his matches have been uniformly entertaining, the fans absolutely love him, and his miniature program with the Ascension that will likely send that team off to the main roster is a great way to introduce him to the American audience.
3. A New Day Finally Dawns
After a full month of promos, Big E, Xavier Woods, and Kofi Kingston finally wrestled two matches in the last week. I love their mannerisms, their entrance, their music, their ring attire, and their teamwork. The tag division is weak right now and the Dusts have lost so much momentum in the last few months that I’m not sure their impending rivalry will mean what it should. Nonetheless, the opportunity to work with an established tag team that knows how to wrestle great tag matches should be a good way to get the new team ensconced in the division.