7/8/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Wrestler of the Week – John Cena
Another week, another brilliant Cena match. As I wrote in the Raw Review, his match against Cesaro in the main event of Raw seemed specifically designed to undermine the criticisms that have been levied against Cena over the years. Not creative? The match was basically 30 minutes of counter wrestling, much of which was seen for the first time ever in this match. Not athletic enough? Cena and Cesaro both showed a type of functional strength that is every bit as impressive as the most fluid Mexican luchador. Doesn’t sell enough or make his opponents look good? Whether it was a show or a fact, Cena looked absolutely drained by the end of the match. It would be crazy if he survived that intense workout without verging on exhaustion. If Cena’s US Open Challenge was designed to reframe the stereotypes about him, it has been a resounding success.
Match of the Week – Kazuchika Okada def. AJ Styles to Become IWGP Heavyweight Champion
Most fans of Japanese wrestling thought that Okada would be Hiroshi Tanahashi at NJPW’s January Wrestle Kingdom show. While the two wrestlers put on a fantastic match, it was not quite Okada’s coronation as the “ace” of the company and Tanahashi came out on top. Fast forward six months and Okada has firmly assumed that mantle. The victory over Styles- including one of the most heart-pounding, frantic closing sequences you will ever see- cements him as the top star in the biggest wrestling promotion outside of the US. Okada will be back in the States to work with ROH in August, which should produce numerous more outstanding matches.
Quote of the Week – Paul Heyman
“Thou shall not intentionally provoke The Beast.” Heyman’s 11th Commandment instantly became a catchphrase and helps to lay the groundwork for what is looking like a memorable angle between Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins.
Must See Wrestling
- Adam Cole and AJ Styles Rule ROH
As if the Styles match at NJPW’s Dominion was not enough, his match against Cole on ROH was almost as good. It was Cole’s first televised singles match since he had major reconstructive surgery on his arm and he showed very little ring rust. Styles must feel like he’s looking in a mirror when he sees Cole, a younger wrestler who shares his jack-of-all-trades offense and his penchant for ring psychology.
- New Champions in TNA and NXT
Oddly enough, both the TNA and NXT Titles changed hands last week in abnormal settings. TNA’s odd taping schedule forced EC3’s triumph over Kurt Angle off of PPV and onto Impact, while Finn Balor ended the Kevin Owens reign at Beast in the East from Japan. Although the event was better in NXT, I like the prospect of EC3 as champion more for the company- he’s a charismatic, homegrown heel who can draw tons of heat. Theatrics aside, Balor’s persona is a work in progress, but his career to date indicates that he will succeed.
- Ultima Lucha Takes Shape
We knew the night that Dario Cueto introduced the concept of Ultima Lucha that the two main events would likely be Prince Puma vs. Mil Muertes and Johnny Mundo vs. Alberto El Patron. With a few more weeks of build, it now looks like we’ll also see some version of Texano vs. Chavo Guerrero, Drago vs. Hernandez, a Trios Title match, and a unique opportunity for those with Aztec Medallions. Even if those matches fill out the card, it’s an exciting endpoint to the fantastic first year of Lucha Underground.