5/27/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
Wrestler of the Week – Cesaro
While every wrestling fan was excited to see Cesaro’s return with his James Bond/Jason Statham gimmick, he didn’t completely click right away. He didn’t walk into a particularly compelling story and had a tiny bit of ring rust. In the last week, he shook off any remaining rust and turned in a candidate for match of the year. The fourway Intercontinental Title match at Extreme Rules was fantastic and Cesaro was the most impressive participant in it. He failed to win the belt when The Miz stole the pin. Cesaro got the pin back on Miz on Raw to qualify for the Money in the Bank match and then fell victim to Maryse’s interference and an exposed turnbuckle in the Smackdown main event. Cesaro’s greatest strength is what he does between bells, so it has worked very well to build his narrative arc around his in-ring pursuit of the IC Title.
Match of the Week – The Miz def. Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Cesaro
The aforementioned fourway match at Extreme Rules ranks second in my personal MOTY rankings so far (behind Lucha Underground’s brilliant “No Mas” match). All four wrestlers had a chance to show their star qualities. More importantly, the helter skelter four-man affair somehow told a coherent story. There were explanations for the transitions and changes in momentum. There was a lengthy closing stretch with numerous near falls. Miz finally got the win when he stole a pin after Sami Zayn’s Helluva Kick on Cesaro. All four wrestlers came out of the match better than how they entered it.
Must See Wrestling
- Roman Retains; Rollins Returns
Reigns wrestled a much more heelish style in his rematch with AJ Styles and the crowd did not resist the temptation to root for the challenger. Reigns overcame an onslaught from Styles, but Rollins hit him with a Pedigree after the match. In a strange twist, WWE did not embrace the character ambiguity and doubled down on Rollins as a traditional heel and Reigns as a traditional good guy.
- Brand Split is Back
WWE also announced this week that Smackdown will become a live show airing on Tuesdays with its own talent roster. In theory, the separate programming could create more “star” roles for upcoming wrestlers like Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, and Shinsuke Nakamura. In practice, we can only hope that WWE learns from the mistakes of the first brand split, which ultimately relegated Smackdown to JV status and too often revisited uninteresting “brand” feuds.
- Lucha Underground Title Changes
Cage made good on his promise to exact revenge on Chavo Guerrero by beating decisively for the Gift of the Gods Title. He immediately announced that he will challenged Matanza for the LU Title next week. It should be a good match, but Cage is very unlikely to win. The Trios titles also changed hands when the heel trio of Jack Evans, PJ Black, and Johnny Mundo cheated to beat Prince Puma, Rey Mysterio Jr, and Dragon Azteca Jr. It would be hard to find a more athletic group than the new champs, and they are pulling off the role of devilish heels nicely.