Wrestler of the Week – Seth Rollins
WWE’s 2014 MVP earned the title that he won at Wrestlemania XXXI and he has started his title reign with a flourish. Rollins continues to show a very nuanced understanding of his own character as he worked hard to continue to get boos from fans who are naturally inclined to embrace a winner. His work on Raw against Neville was outstanding. He kept his offense so simple that the fans couldn’t wait for a flurry from Neville to disrupt the aggravating pace that the champion was working. With Brock Lesnar off TV as champion for so long, it feels exciting just to have the champion wrestling again. Rollins doesn’t get credit for all of that delay, but he certainly deserves credit for making the absolute most out of his opportunities.
Match of the Week – Kurt Angle def. Bobby Lashley
The rematch between Angle and Lashley was nearly as good as the first match that saw Angle recapture the TNA World Title. If you listened to the new non-WWE edition of the Going Over podcast, you heard us discuss what appears to be the first long-term plan TNA has had in place in ages. As talented as Angle is, the company knows that it has to build more main eventers around him who can carry the torch when he retires. EC3 seems like a natural choice for that spot.
Quote of the Week – The Internet
“Thank you, AJ,” which was a resounding chorus from seemingly every wrestling fan when AJ Lee announced her early retirement late last week.
Must See Wrestling
- Tyler Breeze def. Hideo Itami in a Two out of Three Falls Match
This match served as the rubber match in the series between Breeze and Itami. While it could have used a bit more time as the blow-off match to their miniature feud, it was a strong ending that helped but Breeze back in the upper-echelon of NXT stars. For his part, Itami continues to develop more of a connection with American fans to ensure that he has what it takes to be taken more seriously than the likes of Funaki and Kensuke Sasaki, who never realized their potential in WWE.
- WWE Tag Team Division Grows from Bottom Up
One problem WWE has had with tag teams in recent years is that the story patterns feel very predictable. There is typically one dominant tag team and a series of challengers that cycle through, one at a time, until one of them take the place as the dominant team. It is a breath of fresh air for WWE to expand its viable challengers in the tag division to five or more at this point. In addition to Champions Kidd and Cesaro and the recuperating Usos, the Prime Time Players, Lucha Dragons, and New Day all feel like possible threats to the Tag Team Titles. With Los Matadores and the Ascension around as punching bags, it feels like the most entertaining tag team environment in several years.
- Lucha Underground Brings Trios to the U.S.
I continue to admire Lucha Underground’s commitment to being different. While some non-WWE companies struggle to find an identity, LU has carved out its own niche and brought lots of mainstays of Mexican professional wrestling to the US airways. This week, Dario Cueto announced a trios tournament, which is a concept that has not been prevalent in America since the days of the Freebirds and the Von Erichs. Time will tell if LU has enough star power to populate such a large tournament, but the track record has been exceptional so far and I can’t wait to watch them try.