1/15/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Wrestler of the Week – Dean Ambrose
With two weeks to go until the Royal Rumble, WWE found itself in an awkward position. It had exhausted many of the most exciting story developments that could logically fall in the longer timeframe between TLC and that show. As is often the case, Ambrose played the role of Swiss Army Knife and filled in with two very strong performances on Raw and Smackdown. First, the Authority pitted him against Sheamus at the start of Raw and they wailed on each other until they were both counted out. Kevin Owens jumped him again after the match and it continued their rivalry with the added wrinkle of Sheamus’s involvement. Ambrose cut a typically strong promo on Smackdown in which he challenged Owens to a Last Man Standing match at the Rumble for his Intercontinental Title. Sheamus and Owens teamed up on him until Neville made the save. The two babyfaces teamed together in the main event and got a clean win in a solid match. Ambrose can fit into any slot on the card, but it’s nice to see WWE committing to more nuanced feud between him and Owens, particularly with unforeseen deviations, like the recent injection of Sheamus.j
Match of the Week – Alberto Del Rio def. Kalisto
You can take your pick between the two very good matches between Del Rio and Kalito for the US Title this week. They both featured Kalisto at his high-flying, creative countering best. Del Rio is also a wrestler who tends to develop better chemistry with opponents the more he wrestles them. Like Christian and Randy Orton, he finds slight twists and turns to tweak expectations and keep matches getting better rather than getting stale. I also enjoyed the idea of Kalisto winning the US Title, even if he had it for less than a week. A gimmicky tag team like the Lucha Dragons has a natural ceiling and his personal skill exceeds that limit.
Must See Wrestling
- Carmella Becomes #1 Contender
The main event of NXT’s first show of the year was a women’s battle royal in which the winner got a chance to challenge Bayley. The match included several plausible challengers- like Emma, Asuka, and Eva Marie. Eva Marie hung around outside the ring and eliminated Asuka when she was alone in the ring, but Carmella suddenly returned from falling under the bottom rope to upset Eva Marie. It was a result no one saw coming and it works well. It puts more heat on Eva Marie without pushing her straight to the title feud. Carmella, meanwhile, gets a chance to see if she has what it takes to move up several notches in the ring.
- EC3 Sings a New Song
When Jeff Hardy challenged EC3 for his TNA Title, EC3 said that Hardy would have to work his way back up the rankings. He let him start against an anonymous, masked, caped wrestler with a generic rock entrance song. EC3 spiced it up by improvising hilarious lyrics to the song. As usual, EC3’s charisma was the best thing on the show.
- Donovan Dijak Steps Up
Our website took special notice of Dijak even before he appeared on our podcast. ROH brought him along slowly after his Top Prospect Tournament win, but this week appeared to step out on his own. He turned on Truth Martini after a loss and got a huge ovation to his Feast Your Eyes finisher. ROH has withheld his amazing athleticism while keeping him in sight. The result was a great fan reaction and I suspect that those reactions will continue as he sets out on his own.