Wrestler of the Week – Daniel Bryan
Remember four weeks ago when WWE fans were going into shock at the thought of Roman Reigns wrestling in the main event? All it has taken is a simple, steady program with the best wrestler in WWE to make him look like the impressive specimen he was in The Shield. Bryan and Reigns had two strong shows in the last week. First, they wrestled side-by-side for over an hour of TV time in an interminable tag team turmoil match on Smackdown. Their relationship ran the gamut of emotions in that match, and it only became more tense on Raw. The bad blood became too much for them to handle when Reigns attacked Big Show and got Bryan disqualified in their match. Their pull-apart brawl was more intense than the garden variety because they invested the time and effort to explain how they got to that point. Reigns gets some credit for stepping up his game, but Bryan is the one whose charisma and ring work have rescued WWE’s main event picture.
Match of the Week – Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn to Become NXT Champion
All signs pointed to Owens and Zayn doing something special and memorable at NXT Takeover: Rival. They have had enough history together to develop tremendous chemistry, their past matches have been fantastic, and the build to the match was on point. The only real question was whether they could adapt their past success into a WWE style and do something creative on the first try. They answered that question in the affirmative in a match that saw Owens largely dominate Zayn. He used his wide array of offensive moves, from mat-based holds to crazy slams to shocking acrobatics, to stay in control through almost the whole match. Zayn fought back and put together the occasional rally, but it always fell short of slowing down Owens. Eventually, the referee had to stop the match because Zayn could no longer defend himself. The glassy-eyed look Zayn gave made the stoppage feel warranted and even necessary. The result places Owens in an elevated and enviable position atop NXT, but it also gives Zayn the opportunity to play the underdog once again.
Quote of the Week – Steve Corino
“SUUUUUUUPPPPEERRRRRRKIIIIIIIIICK,” Corino, testing his vocal chords during the match between AJ Styles and the Young Bucks and ACH, Cedric Alexander, and Matt Sydal.
Must See Wrestling
- Finn Balor def. Adrian Neville
In addition to the Owens-Zayn classic, there were two other outstanding matches at Takeover. The finals of the #1 Contender tournament pitted Adrian Neville against Finn Balor. Neville has already demonstrated that he is one of WWE’s most gifted workers and Balor is earning a reputation as someone who can really step up in big matches. Balor won to earn his first title shot, but Neville came away looking plenty strong.
- Sasha Banks def. Charlotte, Bailey, and Becky Lynch to Become NXT Women’s Champion
The women’s match had a high hurdle to clear after that match, but they were every bit as entertaining. Bailey came out of nowhere to steal the show for much of the match. Becky Lynch continued to show that she knows how to work very well. Most importantly, Sasha Banks’s long quest for the title finally paid off when she pinned Charlotte cleanly in the middle of the ring. It was the outcome many expected, but not in the way most expected.
- Stardust Spurns the Rhodes Family
In about 90 seconds of screen time, Dusty Rhodes not only put the Stardust rebellion on an entertaining track, he created about two months’ worth of storyline material. It looked like Dusty set his sons on the right path when he reminded Stardust that nothing is more important than family. After Goldust ate a pin at the hands of Kofi Kingston, Stardust hit him with Cross-Rhodes. Dusty pleaded with him, but Stardust responded that Cody is dead because he was crushed under the weight of the Rhodes family failures. They took a bizarre and abstract story and translated it into something personal and meaningful more quickly than I ever imagined possible.