10/30/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Wrestler of the Week – Roman Reigns
Reigns cleanly pinned Bray Wyatt, Kofi Kingston, and Kevin Owens in a 24-hour period and the fans cheered for each victory. Six months ago, that reaction would be unfathomable. Reigns has regained his popularity by following a simple formula: talk less, sell more. In the three wins that brought him #1 contender status, Reigns showed three different ways for him to sell while maintaining his powerhouse status. Against Wyatt, he took big bumps through a variety of foreign objects and fought through the pain. Against Kingston, he overcame a distraction from Big E and a numbers advantage. Against Owens, Dolph Ziggler, and Alberto Del Rio, he had to deal with the hectic pace of the match and some very skilled opponents to refocus himself on the task at hand. That leads him to a surprisingly interesting rekindling of the Seth Rollins rivalry. If Dean Ambrose is used well in the booking, it could quickly go from “surprisingly interesting” to “amazing.”
Match of the Week – Brock Lesnar def. Undertaker
Some matches use weapons and stipulations as a crutch for storytelling. Other matches find a way to use them to elevate good storytelling to another level. The seeds of animus between Lesnar and Undertaker were planted long ago and carefully cultivated by Paul Heyman. When they got in the cell, every chair shot, laceration, or slam on exposed beams felt like the culmination of real hatred. Lesnar deserved to win because the whole rivalry centered on him becoming the unbeatable monster who finally ended Undertaker’s streak. Cashing in that legitimacy against Undertaker himself would render the whole rivalry useless in booking terms. The way he won- by pulling out all of the legal and ethical stops- provided a satisfying conclusion to the story.
Quote of the Week – Zeb Colter
“We are known as MexAmerica.” Colter’s label creates some fluidity for Del Rio. Will he be a purely anti-American heel? A Bret Hart-like patriot who alienates Americans by implication? Or the type of trans-national babyface Colter claimed? Any of those directions are possible.
- Hell in a Cell Delivers
The two matches described above were the highlights of the show, but the rest of the matches fit well around them. HIAC could not be three hours of crazy high spots. The lesser matches featured solid wrestling and good storytelling- Seth Rollins’s decisive victory, and Del Rio’s return- with the kind of emotional lull necessary for the main events to hit their high points.
- Paige Goes Full Heel
After a tag team loss to Team Bella, Paige stopped straddling the fence and fully turned on Team PCB. The timing of the assault was right on many levels. Paige seemed ready to snap after several weeks of teasing disunity. Nikki Bella ran her course as champion and top challenger and is ready to step aside. And the longer fans cheer for Sasha Banks, the more the payoff will mean when she finally emerges as a top contender in the division.
- Focus on WWE
With a good PPV, a fun episode of Raw, and plenty of non-kayfabe news, the wrestling world focused on WWE this week. NXT had a good Samoa Joe win over Tyler Breeze and ROH remained a high level in the ring, but nothing measured up to the big company’s busy week.