The Wrestler of the Week award is designed to highlight a wrestler who made the most of his or her opportunities in a given week. While great matches or memorable promos certainly help a wrestler win Wrestler of the Week, the ultimate decision will also include consistency through the week and bonus points for pulling off a task with a higher degree of difficulty.
1/30/14 Wrestler of the Week – Roman Reigns
No matter what happens in the future, no individual wrestler’s performance in the last week will be as memorable as two notable wrestling absences. The first was Daniel Bryan’s absence from the Royal Rumble match while the fans in Pittsburgh chanted endlessly for his entrance. The second was CM Punk’s absence from Raw, which we later learned was the first of many absences since he quit (for real, apparently) the company. In spite of these disappointing absences, there were still several performances worthy of note. The New Age Outlaws turned back the clock and looked better than they had any business looking as they beat the Rhodes Brothers for the Tag Team Titles. On the part of the Royal Rumble that included Daniel Bryan, he and Bray Wyatt tore the house down with what might end up as one of the better matches of 2014. The individual who stood out most, though, was undoubtedly Roman Reigns. He took the next step from his breakout Survivor Series performance and knocked on the door of the main event. Judging by the reaction of the live crowd, it will not be long before he walks through that door permanently.
While Reigns took part in a throwaway ten-man tag match on Smackdown, his Rumble match was the thing that made him stand out. He broke the record for most eliminations in a single Rumble with twelve to best Kane’s eleven from his sinister masked days. He also sowed the seeds of discontent within The Shield as Dean Ambrose tried to eliminate him when his back was turned, only for Reigns to recover and eliminate both Ambrose and Seth Rollins when the opportunity presented itself. He lasted until the very end when it came down to Batista and him for the main event at Wrestlemania. Despite Batista’s positioning as a face, the fans uniformly supported Reigns and expressed dismay when Batista beat him. If the Survivor Series made fans notice Reigns as a dominant force for the first time, the Rumble grew that intrigue into full-throated support.
Reigns failed to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match on Raw, but he did so without sacrificing his heat or credibility. He and The Shield faced John Cena, Sheamus, and Daniel Bryan for collective qualification to the match at the next PPV in which Randy Orton will defend his title. Reigns got in two spears before Bryan cleared him out of the ring with a running knee. It looked like Bryan’s team might win the match cleanly when the Wyatt Family interfered and cost The Shield the match via disqualification. Reigns looked angry as he stood on the announce table and yelled at the end of the show, but the stage has been set for a program with the Wyatt Family. WWE needs to strike while the iron is hot with the Wyatt-Shield showdown. Reigns already appears to be on the verge of outgrowing the group, and with two of the most compelling three-man groups in WWE history on a collision course, it is important to book them together before it is too late.
Good wrestling booking involves teasing something until fans will pay to see the payoff, so there is no rush to push Reigns to the top of the card or put the Title around his waist. In fact, he might be able to gain more fan support if he slowly demonstrates his dominance but does not scale the business’s highest peaks all at once. So far, the booking for Reigns has been on point. On the biggest stages available to him, he has stood out as the biggest star in important matches. If he continues to play that role, he will surge into one of the top spots in the company. He has already moved up significantly from where he started a year ago, and it is weeks like this one that have his future looking so bright.