WWE Wrestlers of the Week (07/09/18): Pure Braun, The Undertaker Returns

Dolph Drew

It’s been a topsy-turvy world in WWE this week. We’ve had General Managers cosplay in riot gear, we’ve seen a trio of hounds somehow escape the courts of justice in a police van, and a man who never stops asking ‘what’s up’ found himself as the winner of SmackDown’s main event.

As ever, a superstar needs to win matches, cut excellent promos, and be an all-round badass to make it onto our Wrestlers of the Week list. Let’s jump in and see who made the grade.

 

10. Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar w/Drake Maverick)

Some things make you laugh for all the wrong reasons, and having the 205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick become a part of AoP is one of those. This makes no sense, but I guess the man formerly known as Rockstar Spud might be looking to turn 205 Live into 502 Live.

Maverick took the mic and introduced himself as the purple brand’s GM and the new manager of AoP, saying he would lead his clients to the Raw Tag Team Titles. Akam and Rezar squashed their competition in under two minutes. It was a typical beatdown followed by Supercollider powerbombs. Maverick held AoP’s arms in the air to celebrate the win.

I don’t understand what’s going on in the slightest, and I definitely think this is the wrong role for Drake Maverick. The man already has a full-time job on 205 Live, so why not let a WWE manager who has no client *cough* Paul Heyman *cough* take over the Authors of Pain. But no matter who led them to victory, a win is a win, and so welcome Akam & Rezar back onto Wrestlers of the Week.

 

9. Gran Metalik

The luchador squared off on this week’s 205 Live broadcast in a great match against Tony Nese. Gran Metalik victory was certainly hard-earned.

Much like last week’s bout between Kalisto and Buddy Murphy, Metalik and Nese have great contrasting styles that work so well together. The masked superstar was able to fly around the ring as the bigger competitor looked to showcase his strength and power game. The ending came when Metalik was able to counter Nese’s attempted superplex into a hurricanrana from the middle rope. Sensing the win, the Lucha House Party member went back to the ropes to hit an elbow drop for the 1, 2, 3.

205 Live never fails to deliver great wrestling, and this match was no exception. It’s really nice to see everyone involved in this feud shine despite not being directly involved in the title hunt. Metalik will square off against Buddy Murphy next week, and there’s no doubt in my mind we’re in store for another 205 Live classic.

 

8. R-Truth w/Carmella

Never in a million years did I expect R-Truth to be in the main event of a SmackDown broadcast — let alone coming out as the winner — in 2018. But here we are, just a few days removed from watching R-Truth pin The Miz in the final match on this week’s SD.

The match wasn’t anything spectacular, but Truth proved that age is nothing more than a number. For a man nearing 50 years old, he should not be able to move in the way he does. A particularly odd highlight this week, Truth even managed to get Carmella to join him at ringside to counteract Maryse’s presence, despite claiming for several weeks he wants to pin the “Princess of Staten Island” to get a shot at a championship. The match ended when Daniel Bryan’s music distracted Miz (more on that later, my friends) which gave R-Truth the opening he needed to get the roll-up victory.

Truth was simply on top form. He was funny, good in the ring, and he picked up the win in the main event. What’s more, it looks like he’s turned Carmella face, and the two will pair up for the next Mixed Match Challenge series. Well played, R-Truth. Way to keep yourself relevant.

 

7. The Undertaker

Here’s another name I didn’t think I’d ever be adding to the list. The Undertaker was on fine form cutting a promo with Shawn Michaels to hype the “Dead Man’s” bout with Triple H in Australia.

Shawn Michaels took the mic to tell the world he believes Hunter has a lot more left in the tank than The Undertaker does, and in Melbourne, Triple H will cerebrally assassinate ‘Taker.

Then, the gong sounded. The Undertaker made his way to the ring, and told the Show Stopper that he will put Triple H down again. The Phenom said the only reason Shawn has kept to his word in honouring the stipulation of their Streak vs. Career match was because he knows ‘Taker would put him down, too.

As far as storytelling goes, this was incredible. It may seem like WWE bring the whole ‘Taker/Michaels/HHH feud up whenever they need a boost in ratings, but all three men tend to deliver. For putting Michaels in his place and for giving us one of the best Raw promos in recent memory, it is an absolute privilege to put The Undertaker on this list as one of my Wrestlers of the Week.

 

6. Rusev Day (Rusev & Aiden English w/Lana)

I knew it would happen. Go back and check last week’s list if you don’t believe me. Rusev & Aiden English are on the fast track to picking up some tag team silverware.

Rusev & English took on Sanity and The Usos in the second triple threat tag match to determine the No.1 contenders to The New Day’s SD Tag Team Titles. Like last week’s, this was a good, fun match. It seems that the Bulgarian Brute and his cohort are back on the same page, as proven by English’s saves throughout the match. Towards the end, Aiden stopped Rusev from being pinned via Eric Young’s sneaky shenanigans, and Rusev was able to bounce back and pin Young following a Machka Kick.

I really like where this is going. WWE have restored Rusev Day’s crumbling friendship, and Aiden English looks more useful to the Bulgarian than ever before. Next week, they’ll face off against The Bar, and I think Rusev and English will scrape a win. Obviously, they’ll get steamrolled by The New Day at Hell in a Cell, but I will enjoy the success of Rusev Day for as long as I possibly can.

 

5. AJ Styles

I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of hearing Samoa Joe call out for Wendy Styles. The WWE Champion sure is sick of it though, and AJ Styles came out to shut Joe up.

The “Phenomenal One” interrupted Joe’s promo by appearing on screen before rushing down the ramp to attack the “Samoan Submission Machine.” This was a really cool scrap. AJ managed to get the upper hand with a Phenomenal Forearm from the steel steps. He then tried to cave Joe’s head in with a chair, but the former two-time NXT Champ rolled out of the way. Officials separated the superstars, but Styles jumped back in the ring so he could hit a springboard dive to Joe (and a bunch of refs, to boot). SD GM Paige convinced the WWE Champion to leave Samoa Joe alone by pleading to his better nature. AJ Styles walked off, but this fight sure ain’t over.

It was nice to see AJ get one over on the man who’s been causing him so much torment over the last month or so. The good guy in him remembered not to take things too far, but the champ sent a very clear message. And all in the same week he became the 9th man in WWE history to hold the WWE Championship for 300 consecutive days.

 

4. Daniel Bryan w/Brie Bella

I was very reluctant to include Brie Bella’s name anywhere on this list after how terribly botchy her match on Raw was, but when paired up with her hubby, she actually does alright. D-Bry had himself an excellent week, racking up a big win and putting Miz & Maryse in their place.

I want to bypass the dumb empty arena promo by The Miz and the whole going out for an Italian meal in Detroit because it was just, well, nothing. The action really picked up when Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas & Zelina Vega came out to confront Bryan & Brie. WWE’s biggest yes man and “El Idolo” put on an absolute belter of the match. My only criticism is that it should’ve gone a lot longer. D-Bry managed to get the win with a huge running knee, and Brie smacked Zelina with a knee strike of her own after the match.

Later on in the night, Bryan cost Miz his match against R-Truth before locking in the Yes Lock on the “Awesome One.” Almas & Vega saved the It Couple from further humiliation, but they too were caught in Yes Locks from Bryan & Brie. All the while, Miz & Maryse watched on, powerless to help.

This was just a great night for Daniel Bryan. He had an excellent match, got the upper hand over his long-time rival, and he’s winning the mini feud with Almas. A performance certainly worthy of Wrestlers of the Week, methinks.

 

3. Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre

Hmm, I’m not sure how I felt about this one. When Ziggler & McIntyre first started working together, I was chomping at the bit for them to reach the pinnacle of the tag team division. Now they’ve done it, but it’s come at the expense of The Revival.

The new dominant trio on the block (inc. Braun Strowman) demanded competition from Acting GM Baron Corbin, and on the list of demands coming from Ziggler & McIntyre was a shot at the Raw Tag Team Titles. Corbin said Dash & Dawson were next in line, so Dolph & Drew took them out backstage.

The B-Team ended up having to defend their championships against a duo they did not expect to face, and a fun match ended with this generation’s Shawn Michaels and Diesel lifting up the red and silver straps following a Zig-Zag Claymore.

A part of me really enjoyed what went down. The Show-off and Scottish Psychopath have really amplified their aggression, and the results speak for themselves. It was massively unexpected because we all thought this would be The Revival’s time to shine, but that is probably the only downside to the crowning of our new Tag Champs. I have no problem with Ziggler & McIntyre holding the titles, but damn, it doesn’t half hurt to see Dash & Dawson get pushed further down the queue. Still, it was a job well done. They became champions in the most dastardly way possible, and of course, the night for Ziggler & McIntyre didn’t end there.

 

2. Velveteen Dream

Velveteen picked up a massive win against Johnny Gargano this week on NXT. Last week, Dream called Johnny Wrestling out for being a failure, and it’s hard to dispute the facts.

This was by far the best match across all four brands in WWE. Watching Johnny wrestle (see what I did there?) with his conscience made for incredible storytelling. Dream played on Johnny’s fears of losing over and over, and he managed to bait the NXT favourite into charging head first into a trap. With Dream screaming that Gargano was a failure, Johnny Wrestling looked to finish Dream off with a running knee à la his DIY days, but Velveteen scooped Gargano up into a Dream Valley Driver for the win.

This was an absolutely massive win for the young superstar. WWE and NXT definitely have a lot of confidence in Dream or they wouldn’t have had him beat the golden boy of NXT clean as a whistle. I can’t wait for next week; just imagine the promo Dream’s gonna cut and how fired up the crowd is gonna be.

 

1. Braun Strowman

There were some doubts last week as to whether Braun Strowman had really turned heel, but on the last Raw broadcast, he more than proved he’s become one of the bad guys.

The show kicked off with a giant brawl between seemingly everyone on Raw and The Shield. Reigns, Rollins, & Ambrose were carted off by the police, and Braun told Baron Corbin to find him some competition.

In his infinite wisdom, the Acting Raw GM booked Braun against Corbin’s never-ending opponent, Finn Bálor. The match was pretty good. Bálor’s aim was to neutralise the bigger man’s size by wearing him down with sleeper holds and even a triangle hold. Braun was just too damn big though, and one Powerslam was enough to put the Irishman away. Post-match, Braun and his new buddies, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre, set Bálor up for a Cerberus Bomb. But before they could hit it, the police van from earlier in the night made another appearance, and out came The Shield.

The entire heel side of the Raw roster charged at the trio with Kevin Owens bizarrely coming across as the most eager to help Braun Strowman. It was a complete rehash of the opening segment but with the “Hounds of Justice” coming off even worse. Strowman stood tall to close the show, flanked by Ziggler & McIntyre.

Booking Strowman as a heel to get Roman Reigns cheered is absolutely baffling. That said, the “Monster Among Men” has set himself up nicely as the leader of the new dominant heel faction that all the other bad guys on Raw are willing to follow. A win over the inaugural Universal Champion and the sheer decimation of The Shield puts Braun once again at the top of our list. I’m sorry, guys, but if Strowman is being booked as the most destructive force in WWE, it’s going to take something stupendous to knock him off the top spot.

And there we have it. The “Monster Among Men,” Braun Strowman, has topped Wrestlers of the Week yet again. Can anyone knock this behemoth from the No.1 spot? Come back again next week to see if Roman Reigns and his brothers finally get the upper hand.

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