WWE was in my wonderful hometown of Manchester this week for their Raw, SmackDown and 205 Live tapings, and boy those crowds were rowdy.
The hot UK crowd definitely played a part in some of my decisions for this edition of WWE Wrestlers of Week, but the overall theme of winning matches, cutting excellent promos and being an all-round great sports entertainer is still the easiest way to make it to the top spot.
With that said, let’s see who this charming Mancunian put on the Wrestlers of the Week list.
10. Mandy Rose
I think Mandy Rose has to be one of my most unexpected picks ever to make the WWE Wrestlers of the Week list, but she really delivered in a scathing promo on SmackDown.
SD GM Paige announced the competitors for the women’s Survivor Series tag match, and Mandy came out to address why she had been overlooked. Rose then ran down every other superstar picked for the match, and my God, Carmella got well and truly burned here. I think “Your dance breaks are like your title reign, short and meaningless” may be my favourite wrestling insult of 2018. Things kicked off after this with Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose staring each other down to end the segment.
Honestly, I was surprised at how good this segment was. Furthermore, Mandy Rose has added a much needed element to the Survivor Series PPV, which really has been massively overlooked in favour of Evolution and Crown Jewel. Rose may not be in the match, but I have a feeling she’ll still have an important part to play in the outcome.
Elias got the biggest pop of his career in Manchester this week on Raw. The Drifter cut a great promo singing trash to Dolph Ziggler, and a match soon followed.
Despite being just an average match, the crowd made this one feel so much bigger than it was. The UK fans were chanting, “If you all love Elias, clap your hands,” and “Oh Walk With Elias!” It was insane how much love he got. Ziggler failed to put Elias away with the Zig-Zag, and while arguing with the ref, The Drifter was able to put The Show-off down with the Drift Away.
Again, I didn’t think that bout was anything special in terms of in-ring performances, but it just goes to show how much difference a red-hot crowd can make. With a fan reaction as loud as Manchester’s, there’s no way I can exclude Elias from WWE Wrestlers of the Week.
8. The Usos
I suppose you can never go wrong with booking The Usos against The New Day. For the millionth time, the two teams went at it to determine who will captain the SmackDown team of tag stars at Survivor Series.
There was nothing wrong with this match at all, and as you’d expect, The New Day and The Usos certainly delivered. My only problem is that I think I’ve seen enough of this match to last me a life time. The end came when Jimmy Uso hit Kofi Kingston with a powerbomb from the second rope and followed it up with a top rope splash. As the SD Survivor Series captains, Jimmy & Jey then picked Kofi, Xavier Woods & Big E to join the team.
I feel horrible for saying it, especially since I enjoyed the match (and the fun little trombone spot), but I do wish WWE would lay off pairing these two teams together for a while. Still, Jimmy & Jey are continuing their recent streak of dominance, and becoming the captains is a hell of an achievement.
7. Buddy Murphy
If there’s one thing this week’s 205 Live proved, it’s that Manchester really wants Nigel McGuinness to wave. It also proved Buddy Murphy is good in the ring, but then again, we already knew that.
The Cruiserweight Champion went up against Mark Andrews from NXT UK in a decent match. The story here was that Buddy Murphy’s power can neutralise the speed game guys like Andrews rely on. The Welshman managed to hit a few cool moves, but Murphy’s Law eventually put Mark Andrews away for the three count.
Buddy Murphy sent a clear message to Mustafa Ali; at Survivor Series, his speed will be no match for Murphy’s strength. I don’t think the bout between the Juggernaught and Andrews was either man’s best match, but Buddy’s win and powerful statement puts him squarely on WWE Wrestlers of the Week.
6. Becky Lynch
What happens when you put the most popular SmackDown female competitor in the ring against the most popular NXT female competitor? You get a great, if not slightly questionable, match.
So, Nikki Cross has finally made her in-ring main roster debut, and she put on a good showing against the SmackDown Women’s Champion. After some back-and-forth scrapping, Becky was able to lock in the Dis-Arm-Her, forcing Cross to tap out.
I’m really conflicted here. Becky should definitely be running roughshod through the SD women’s division, but was there any need for Nikki Cross to become a sacrificial lamb? The Irish Lass Kicker was on top form, but I can’t help but worry thinking that Cross will go the way Young, Dain & Wolfe have gone.
5. Lars Sullivan
Going into the match between Lars Sullivan and Velveteen Dream, Lars had to be considered the sacrifice to build Dream’s momentum going into TakeOver: War Games. Instead, Sullivan came out as the winner.
The Leviathan got off to a great start, throwing Dream around like a ragdoll. Velveteen fought back valiantly, but interference from the NXT Champion, Tommaso Ciampa, spelt the end for Dream as he was soon taken out with the Freak Accident.
I avoid NXT spoilers like the plague, so I have no idea if this match has changed the landscape for the title match taking place at NXT TakeOver: War Games. Even if Lars Sullivan hasn’t been inserted into the match, there’s definitely an argument to be made that the Leviathan deserves another shot at the NXT Championship.
Our fears of eventually seeing Akam & Rezar get buried were finally put to rest on Raw this week, as AOP defeated Seth Rollins in a handicap match to become the new Raw Tag Team Champions.
This bout was really good, and the booking of it made a lot of sense, too. Akam & Rezar mostly dominated the match, but Seth got in more than his fair share of offence. This makes a lot of sense considering the Architect has been one of WWE’s best competitors for years. The ending came when Rezar beautifully turned a Stomp attempt into a powerbomb. One more double team move spelled the end for Rollins’ reign as a Raw Tag Team Champion.
I really liked how both teams showed their strengths in this match without making anyone else look weak. Moving the titles to AOP frees Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose from that commitment, and Akam & Rezar should do great as the new champions. I’m looking forward to seeing them clash with the SmackDown Tag Team Champions, The Bar, at Survivor Series.
3. Rey Mysterio
I don’t think there’s been a week since Rey Mysterio came back that he hasn’t featured on this list. That said he’s been killing it since his return to SmackDown, and if you need further proof of that, check out his match against Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas.
Mysterio and Almas worked excellently together throughout this match. As Lucha style wrestlers, they understood each other’s offence perfectly. To end the bout, Mysterio first hit Almas with a really unique baseball slide DDT to the outside and followed it up with the 619. After the match, Randy Orton came out to RKO Rey, but that did nothing to stop the UK crowd from cheering Mysterio on.
A childhood favourite of mine, it’s impossible to not like Rey Mysterio. Some may argue that he should’ve given Almas the rub here, but if you watch the match, you’ll see that El Idolo manages just fine without the win. With the attack from Orton, it looks like Mysterio will finally be getting a decent storyline going forward, as well.
2. Drew McIntyre
Did Drew McIntyre get the biggest rub of his WWE career this week? I’d say so. The Scottish Psychopath went up against the veteran Kurt Angle, and the ending to this match came as a huge surprise. Well, it did to me, anyway.
While it was nothing compared to Angle’s TNA farewell tour match against Drew Galloway, this was still a very good bout that made great use of in-ring psychology. Drew McIntyre took Kurt to the limit, but the Olympic gold medallist found his second wind after McIntyre berated him for being an embarrassment. Angle locked the bigger man in an Angle Lock, but Drew powered out. Furious, McIntyre hit Kurt with an Angle Slam and then forced the in-ring vet to tap out to the Angle Lock.
The fact McIntyre got the clean win and did it with Kurt Angle’s own finishers tells you just how much WWE believes in the Scotsman. Drew McIntyre has been pushed as one of the most unstoppable monsters in the company, and this win may mean Vince McMahon is finally going to pull the trigger on McIntyre. Just imagine how loud the pop would be if McIntyre took the Universal Title from Brock Lesnar after Survivor Series is done and dusted.
1. Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne added to his legacy as the WWE United Kingdom Champion after he fended off a very game Danny Burch on NXT UK.
As per usual, Dunne’s joint manipulation made me cringe but captivated me so much that I couldn’t look away. Burch took a lot of punishment in this match, but dished out a lot of his own, including whacking Dunne’s face off the steel steps, German Superplexing the champ from the top rope, and hitting his draping DDT. Pete Dunne was unable to put Burch away with the Bitter End, yet all the hand and finger manipulation throughout the match led to Danny tapping out.
By far, this was the best WWE match this week, and it only stands to reason the United Kingdom Champion should reign as our No.1 pick for Wrestler of the Week.
Overall, WWE was fairly decent this week with some sweet gems like Mysterio Vs. Almas, and AOP becoming Raw Tag Team Champions. When all was said and done though, it was the UK Champion who topped the list in a week where the Yanks really should’ve pulled out all the stops.
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