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.
3/20/14 Wrestler of the Week – HHH
As far as I can remember, no one has ever won Wrestler of the Week without wrestling a match before. On top of that, HHH is only arguably a “wrestler” at this point. I decided to include him in the calculation because he functioned less as an authority figure and more as a heel wrestler this week in preparation for his match with Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania. He did so many things to effectively build drama for a match that was already extremely exciting due to the slow build to Bryan’s eventual chance to get retribution on his persecutor. HHH has always been at his best as a heel- due in part to the fact that many fans have the perception that he is a bit of a real life heel behind the scenes- and his work this week called back to his best days in Evolution and in the McMahon-Helmsley era.
While HHH’s most memorable actions came on Raw, he also had a prominent role on Smackdown and effectively sold his anger about Bryan’s Occupy Raw movement the pervious Monday. His early involvement with Bryan seemed cool and detached. He rarely became angry and he insisted that he singled out Bryan for his own good. He even resisted Bryan’s challenge for a match at Wrestlemania until he was baited to accept it. On Smackdown, HHH started to show some of the passion and fire that were necessary to make the feud feel personal and emotionally important on both ends. His promo to lead off the show dealt with Bryan as a legitimate wrestler, but insisted that HHH would “bury” him in their match. He tweaked the fans, who are clearly represented in Bryan’s persona. He also made it clear that he had abandoned the tweener authority figure role he played for several months in the fall and winter.
HHH’s piece on Raw was even more impressive. He looked good in a conversation with Randy Orton and Batista at the start of the show in which they challenged his decision to give Bryan a chance to earn his way into the WWE World Heavyweight Title match at Wrestlemania. As punishment for their insubordination- and in support of his own ego- HHH declared that if wins the match, he will add himself to that title match.
From that point until the end of the show, HHH ran a conciliatory con on Bryan. He feigned a clash with Stephanie McMahon and insisted that he had grown to respect Bryan’s resilience. He appeared to side with Bryan when Stephanie had fake cops put Bryan in handcuffs, but once Bryan was cuffed, he flipped the switch and launched into a brutal beating. The announcers stayed quiet to highlight the gravity of the situation and HHH fumed as he annihilated Bryan. There were many touches that made the beating so effective- HHH tore Bryan’s shirt to shreds, he let Stephanie slap Bryan, and he took his time before delivering the terminal Pedigree to end the segment. HHH also looked to be in better shape than he has been in years, so it is clear that he is taking his Wrestlemania match very seriously.
I do not know how much wrestling HHH has left in his future, but he certainly has a good grip on storytelling, which is a good sign for his future as a leader of the WWE. In this program, even his weaknesses (like his self-promotion and longwindedness) work in his favor because they accentuate the specific heel traits that have made fans hate his relationship with Bryan. Of course, if he cleanly pins Bryan at Wrestlemania to take away the possibility of the culmination of Bryan’s long program, these shows in which HHH was made to look so strong will seem horrible. Since I believe that episodes like these are put together to make Bryan’s win at Wrestlemania more meaningful, I think they have worked well.