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.
AEW Revolution wasn’t a perfect PPV by any means– the opening match between Jake Hager and Dustin Rhodes wasn’t the strongest, and the Women’s division continues to leave something to be desired, but the show moved fluidly and never lulled after the first match, though it lacked those immediately memorable moments. Regardless, a new world champion was crowned, and dissension continued to run deep within The Elite.
This (and more) all spilled over to the fallout episode of Dynamite where we saw a legend re-affirm his status as one of the best promos in the business, and a young wrestler take yet another step to stardom, while setting the stage for further feuds.
On the other side of the Wednesday Night War battle line, NXT upped their ante, booking two of their blood feuds into two separate steel cage matches, with one furthering its grudge, while the other was simply used as a means to (a greater) end,
Friday Night SmackDown had its issues, as the new Universal Champion Goldberg was met with notable boos in Boston, and rather own them and heel off on the crowd, he merely yelled “Who’s Next?” promoting Roman Reigns to confront him and simply declare, “I am.” Thus, becoming probably the weakest and least creative ways to set up a major championship title match at WrestleMania. This is the problem with two world titles: Reigns comes up short against Drew McIntyre in the Royal Rumble, only to earn a title shot anyway? And not even have to compete for it? Well, if that was lazy, then there has to be something else used to describe hot-shotting the Universal Championship off of “The Fiend” only to have him turn around without an apparent regard for the loss, and simply point at the WrestleMania sign in front of a returning John Cena, and therefore setting up their match. I actually don’t mind a Wyatt/Cena rematch, but there are five weeks to WrestleMania, you really had to do it just like this? I get it, Cena likely only has limited dates, and probably can’t take too many bumps, but still, this was weak, especially doing it in the same two hour period as Goldberg/Reigns.
Monday Night RAW continues to be the best pro wrestling show on weekly television, with a rising star catching even more fire, and a vicious veteran furthering some of his best work in years, not mention crowning new Tag Team Champions in The Street Profits, deepening the tension between Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and (likely) eventual challenger Shayna Baszler, and delivering some fantastic in-ring work from the likes of Umberto Carrillo, Angel Garza, Rey Mysterio, and Andrade.
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: The Street Profits, “Hangman” Adam Page, Johnny Gargano, Becky Lynch,
10. Orange Cassidy
I mean, come on. One of the most over members of the AEW roster not only finally wrestled, but he did it on a PPV card, against one of the best workers on said-roster, and looked really good in the match! Hopefully we get more regular “Freshly Squeezed” in-ring action as Best Friends look to be getting themselves involved with Death Triangle.
9. Tegan Nox
Nothing better than furthering a vicious rivalry with your former best friend than setting into a Steel Cage with her and hitting a massive cross-body drop off the top of the cage. She ranks lower because she lost, despite due to interference from Raquel González and kicking the feud down the road, and did that thing that a babyface should never do in a cage match, and that’s just trying to escape. That’s a heel move. Stick it out with your opponent and beat them there.
8. Dakota Kai
All that was stated above, but picked up the ring. Kai is doing all the things that make for a good heel, with chickenshit tactics and using her enforcer to keep racking up wins.
7. Darby Allin
Thankfully, the AEW bookers were kind and spared Allin from doing the J.O.B. for The Lamest Member of the AEW Roster, Sammy Guevara at Revolution and then he was given all the Hope Spots in the main event of the fallout episode of Dynamite. Allin seems to be getting a rocket strapped to his back again, and his performance on Wednesday re-affirmed that.
6. The Velveteen Dream
He looked strong in a gruelling cage match against his fierce rival… or so we all thought. In what appears to have been a grand masterplan by Dream to feign deep interest in Roderick Strong and his family, as he was gunning for Adam Cole and the NXT title this entire time. Dream looks like a million bucks in the ring again, and having him in the NXT title picture heading to TakeOver: Tampa Bay is a great fresh matchup at the top of the card.
5. Randy Orton
There are so many ways to get over in pro wrestling, whether it’s building either babyface or heel heat. The truth is, though, that there are a minuscule few who can do it merely with words, body language, and presence like Randy Orton can. Yes, delivering a viscous RKO to Beth Phoenix was shocking and rare in today’s WWE culture, but that was just the delicious dessert to the hearty meat of what he did leading up to that moment. When Orton cares, very few are batter.
4. Brock Lesnar
Like Orton, the understand is that when Lesnar cares– or is at least mildly intrigued– by an angle and an opponent, then he goes all in and few are better. When was the last time Lesnar looked so weak on weekly television? Eating not one, not two, but three Claymore Kicks in the first ten minutes of RAW. In order to get McIntyre fully over, Lesnar has to help him get there and they’re already on the way to that. Doing business isn’t always fun, but it sure is fun when the person who needs to do it commits to it.
3. Jon Moxley
Only the second-ever AEW World Championship, the former Dean Ambrose seems to be living his best gimmick life now and the crowd is eating it up. How long he lasts as the reigning tweener champ rather than the plucky, chasing-the-gold babyface will be interesting to see, but for now, he gets to bask in championship glory.
2. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
“Hail, Mighty Caesar”; “I’m not here to take the whole AEW pie, just your share”; “a wise man once told me: never turn your back on someone you respect, or someone you’re afraid of” only to turn around and flippantly toss his mic at Cody. Jake “The Snake” Roberts came out of the nowhere and delivered one of the best heel promos people have seen in years. It was weird, creepy, cryptic, and searing; everything that make Roberts great 25 years ago. He cut Cody down, immediately forced him to pivot from his rivalry with MJF, and promised the arrival of yet more talent on Dynamite.
Just absolute perfection.
1. Drew McIntyre
Speaking of perfection. With all the flack that WWE is getting for the booking of vets like Goldberg, Cena, and Undertaker, a new star is is getting the push of a lifetime on RAW. Paul Heyman did the number one thing you do not want to do when trying to put over younger talent: you cut a promo detailing every reason why his push is bullshit and why he doesn’t belong in the title picture and therefore your WrestleMania 36 main event actually sucks. The only reason the head writer of the show does this is because he’s that confident in the younger talent’s potential and star-power. The segment to open RAW was perfect in doing this. McIntyre has spent the last few weeks following his Royal Rumble win by talking, showing off his personality, goofing around, and beating the shit out of the likes of MVP. This week, he didn’t speak a word into a mic and just crushed The Beast in a way that has been unprecedented since the Ruthless Aggression Era (or Goldberg). The hope is that this isn’t now the pinnacle, but merely the first step to a career-defining coronation in Tampa Bay.
Agree with the rankings? Comment below or let’s chat on Twitter: @NicklausGood