Hello AW Universe,
Welcome to WEEKLY GOODS, a Friday thoughts blog that looks at the best and the worst from the week that was in the world of pro wrestling, looking at WWE, NXT, AEW, and NWA.
This week was a bit of weird one: though a lot happened in the pro wrestling world, at the same time it felt like a bit of a placeholder week on all fronts.
NXT has their TakeOver: Portland event this Sunday, so naturally their go-home show was going to be lacking a little bit of its intensity, though they did still have some solid matches and furthered the storylines heading into the PPV.
Powerrr went a little match-heavy, where its the ringside, studio-style promo work is what really sets their show apart from the other promotions; none of the matches really wowed– Ricky Starks versus Matt Cross left something to be desired particularly. They need to find a bit of a better balance between solid live promos and well-worked matches; the pre-shot stuff and vignettes bog the show down a bit.
Dynamite booked two title matches– one change and one retention— but even then, though they’re still two weeks away from their next PPV, Revolution, it already feels like they’re spinning their tires a bit before they get there. Sure, we had the Dustin Rhodes and Jake Hager match setup, and there was the AEW debut of Jeff Cobb. But the Jon Moxley and Santana “Eye For an Eye” gimmick was ridiculous, and it felt like another Chris Jericho crony for Mox to get through before he gets to the big boss; which is certainly the story they’re wanting to tell, it just feels stale already… probably because The Inner Circle sucks.
But in what feels like a statement from 1998: Monday Night RAW is the best pro wrestling show on television right now. The stars on it are the best in the business, and for the first time in too long, they’re being weird and creative. This past week’s episode felt a little disjointed and strange, but in the same breath it now feels like they’re putting trust into their top talent like Drew McIntyre, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and the Raw Women’s Champion (more on her later). It feels right when RAW is great, so despite a weird week all around, there’s comfort in that.
Also, happy Valentine’s Day! No blue steel cage St. Valentine’s Day Massacre match this week but, hey, it’s pro wrestling, you never really know what you might be getting next week…
Now, to the rankings!
The rankings are based off of the past week of performances of both in-ring and promo work, and how that projects going forward. Yes, these are biased. The Young Bucks will never be on this list.
On the Cusp: Cody, Drew McIntyre, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Everyone on the TakeOver: Portland card, Daniel Bryan
10. Matt Hardy
Look, he didn’t wrestle, but Matt Hardy cut what might’ve been his best promo in his WWE career. Hardy has not kept it a secret that he’s been unhappy with how this latest run has gone, and it’s all but a forgone conclusion that he’ll be showing up sooner or later in AEW.
But, as the consummate pro that he is, Hardy went out on his back. After cutting a promo laced with shoot and work, he put over a feud he won’t be apart of– between Edge and Randy Orton– at a PPV that he surely won’t be on the card for– WrestleMania 36— and, thus, left the company leaving nothing but smiles on the faces of fans.
Bravo, Exalted One.
9. Angel Garza
Two weeks in a row he’s been on the rankings, be he’s also the only wrestler to perform (on tv) twice in three days. Granted, the first match on RAW against Cedric Alexander didn’t tear the house down, and he lost the Cruiserweight #1 Contender’s match on NXT to Lio Rush, but he did great heel work in both and looks to be moving up to the main roster permanently.
8. Kenny Omega & “Hangman” Adam Page
Yeah, yeah. Putting a tag team, particularly one consisting the two best wrestlers on AEW’s roster, together is a cop-out. But, they defended their Tag Team Championship in a great match against Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky, and didn’t let any of the bullshit of Page’s (justified) annoyance with The Young Bucks get in the way of the Tag Team Champions putting in a fantastic title defense.
Page, again, also had a beer with a fan after the match. What a star.
Though she’s lost two title matches to Becky Lynch recently, WWE bookers seem to be rehabbing Asuka’s character after it had fallen off a cliff once her unbeaten streak was ended. Not to mention that the match on RAW was– though not an instant classic– a solid title match.
6. Johnny Gargano
Johnny Wrestling changed up his style for this one, working more of a mat-based offense, while adding in some aggression against Cameron Grimes ahead of his match against Finn Bálor at TakeOver: Portland. Any time seeing this man wrestle is a treat.
5. Adam Cole
It’s not often that you see a heel champion in WWE wrestle in the go-home show to PPV, and if you do then he or she is generally protected in a six-man tag match. Rarely do they actually get booked into a straight non-title singles match, and never do they have a near-15 minute high work-rate match. Well, that’s exactly what Adam Cole did on Wednesday against Kushida, as both made the other look like a million bucks. Not to mention that half of his Undisputed Era stable where absent from the show, and he just straight up won the match. Then had an awesome stare-down with Tommaso Ciampa as the show went off the air.
The women’s division in AEW leaves a lot to be desired, that can’t be argued. And honestly, I always found the Riho championship push a little weird. But on this past episode of Dynamite, she herself– and the commentators– put her over in a way that they had yet to do. Her “never-say-die” heart and passion was on full display, and she actually came off as legitimate in a match that could easily have been booked as a simple squash.
3. Nyla Rose
Only the second AEW Women’s Champion, Rose was one half of the best women’s division match in All Elite Wrestling so far and she put the smaller Riho over without the mismatch coming off as ridiculous or contrived. She gets the bump over Riho for winning the match and securing the championship.
… I’m still wondering what she said to Kenny Omega, though…
2. Nick Aldis
He’s yet to appear in the rankings, and it’s a shame on the writer for doing that. The reigning Worlds Heavyweight Champion is one of the best written heels in pro wrestling right now; he’s arrogant but accomplished, calculated but cowardly. His promo cadence isn’t perfect– it sometimes seems like he’s dropping lines– but he commands the mic and the ring when he’s handed either, and is currently embroiled in a heated rivalry with the “The Villain” Marty Scurll. The former-Magnus has come a long way, and is undoubtedly The National Treasure of the NWA.
1. Becky Lynch
She retained her Raw Women’s Championship in a very competitive against her current rival, then was attacked by future rival, and bitten so hard on the back of the neck that it drew blood and she had to go the hospital. Yeah, she drove herself to the hospital after stealing the ambulance, and that was weird… And she admitted that she was still high on painkillers once she drove herself back to the arena later on during RAW. And why is Shayna Baszler even biting Becky Lynch on the nape so hard that it draws blood? It’s all ridiculous, and we can all poke holes in the storyline here, but my friends, it’s fuckin PRO WRESTLING. We love this insane sport because it’s heightened reality. No, a regular person can’t drive themselves in a stolen ambulance to the hospital and be checked out in less than an hour, and then drive that same stolen ambulance back to the arena. Just like how a regular employee can’t attack their boss frequently and go unpunished for it. Lynch’s character is captivating and crazy and ridiculous and that’s why we love it.
Not to mention that she put on a fantastic match with a talented opponent, defended her championship, and put over the feud with her (likely) next challenger. ALL IN THE SAME NIGHT.
Becky Lynch is the biggest star in pro wrestling.
And one more thing: despite the whole vehicle stealing angle, Becky Lynch is The Rock, not Stone Cold Steve Austin.