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.
1/9/13 Wrestler of the Week – Dean Ambrose
Many of the highlights of WWE programming over the last week involved one-off spots from retired wrestlers back for Raw Old School. Brock Lesnar also put together an impressive beatdown of Mark Henry, but it was basically his modus operandi rather than a truly unique accomplishment. Some of the best work done during the last week came from Dean Ambrose, who did fantastic work on the mic- both in the ring and on commentary- to advance the slow burn of turmoil within The Shield. On top of that, he wrestled a pair of entertaining matches during a week when well-wrestled matches were at a premium.
Last week’s Smackdown was one of the poorer episodes in recent memory due to an incomplete roster and a disjointed schedule that moved the taping into a busy weekend. Ambrose and Roman Reigns got plenty of airtime. They opened the show with a group promo in which they dismissed rumors that the group’s unity was at risk. When Reigns and Seth Rollins teamed up to face the Usos, Ambrose sat in on commentary. He took an interesting approach in that he acknowledged he and Reigns had problems, but compared them to brothers who work through their differences. It was a more nuanced and intriguing approach than the flat denial I expected. When Ambrose eventually interfered in the match, it was changed to a six-man tag against the Usos and recent Shield-rival CM Punk. Ambrose was central to the match as he broke up an Anaconda Vice on Rollins, failed to tag in Reigns when his team had the advantage, and eventually succumbed to a GTS for the pin.
On Raw, Ambrose got to interact with a couple of his forefathers in the lineage of heels who can work the mic. The Shield first interrupted Rowdy Roddy Piper and tried to cut off his attempts to plant the seeds of discontent. Piper stayed a step ahead, though, as he said that a win by Reigns against Punk in a singles match would elevate him above his teammates who lost to Punk. The tension carried into the main event in which Punk nearly had Reigns beat until Ambrose distracted him. The interference allowed Reigns to hit a spear and pin Punk, but Reigns could not gloat since Ambrose was instrumental in the victory (again, an instance of nuanced storytelling). The Shield dispatched the New Age Outlaws, at ringside in support of Punk, and prepared to deliver a triple powerbomb to Punk. Before they could lift him up, Jake Roberts walked down the aisle for the first time in nearly a decade. Ambrose, whose style is a direct descendent of Roberts’s in promos, was laid out by Punk and the Outlaws. Roberts took his trademark snake out of the bag and draped it across Ambrose, who was so gleeful to take part in the angle that he broke character with a smile throughout the segment.
Roberts’s appearance on WWE TV after years of drug problems and a happy, recent string of sobriety was by far the best moment of the last week. Ambrose was an essential part in that, and he had several additional strengths. He looked good in the ring and he elevated the narrative about problems within The Shield both on the mic and with his behavior in his matches. In a week that had few standout stars, Ambrose was the best thing going.