WWE Wrestlers of the Week (12/10/18): Lashley Unleashed, Lynch & Flair Steal It
All things considered, it was a pretty good week for wrestling and storylines in WWE.
Super Show-Down is firmly in our rear-view mirror and just over the horizon looms WWE’s Evolution and Crown Jewel events. The cards are slowly coming into shape, so let’s see who managed to climb to the top of our Wrestlers of the Week list as each superstar looks to build momentum for the events.
Picking up wins, delivering great promos and being an all-round excellent sports entertainer is the best way to take the top spot in this game, but two superstars took the top spot this week by fighting to a draw. Keep reading to find out who.
10. Nikki Cross
Nikki Cross is the gift that keeps on giving. During another one of her bouts of insanity, NXT’s Twisted Sister interrupted The Velveteen Dream and NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa as they were having a war of words.
Nikki hit the ring which put both guys visibly on edge. She then started saying she knew what they did while laughing her little head off. Cross even had the gall to smack the mic out of Ciampa’s hand and kick it away when he reached to pick it back up.
The crowd loved Nikki even though all she did was be a bit of a head case. I can’t rank her too high as she didn’t have a match or cut the world’s best promo, but she’s earned her spot just for adding a touch of humour to NXT and having bigger balls than most to piss off the champion.
9. Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle made his return to Raw this week, but he came back in a way I don’t think any of us were expecting. Sporting a gold body suit and mask, Angle entered a battle royal as The Conquistador and won the damn thing.
Angle chilled for most of this short match, deciding to have a little sit-down outside the ring. When Corbin thought he had eliminated all his opponents, Angle slid back in, hit a few of the ol’ German Suplexes, levelled the Lone Wolf with an Angle Slam, and knocked him out of the ring with a clothesline. The Conquistador then removed his mask to reveal his true identity, much to the delight of the crowd.
Angle played this character really well and left a lot of people with smiles on their faces. The win means he will go on to contend in the WWE World Cup tournament in Saudi Arabia, which admittedly, means absolutely nothing. Still, this was a fun little bout, and it’s great to see the Olympic Gold Medallist back on our screens.
8. The Dogs of War (Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre)
It took a while, but it looks like The Dogs of War have finally got what they wanted; Dean Ambrose has drifted away from The Shield.
The stables went at it again after their match at Super Show-Down, and it honestly proved why these international shows are so pointless; there’s no meaning to the card if matches are going to be repeated throughout the week. It looked like Braun was going to decimate his own teammate Dolph Ziggler at one point before Drew McIntyre stepped in, and I loved how the Scotsman showed zero fear. Drew was eventually able to pick up the win, knocking Dean Ambrose out cold with a Claymore Kick. After the match, Dean went straight to the back, leaving Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins to ponder why in the ring.
I can’t say I was in favour of watching this match again, but I’m being a bit harsh as it was a good bout. McIntyre absolutely stole the show in my opinion, but The Dogs of War are low down on the list because they’re not functioning like the well oiled machine they are and because they’re simply becoming bit-players in The Shield’s break up.
7. Randy Orton
We’re nearing the end of 2018 and we just witnessed Randy Orton Vs. The Big Show main event SmackDown. I mean, it wasn’t terrible by any means, just odd.
So this match was another World Cup qualifying match, and it’s really weird that Show would make his return to try and compete in something so pointless. The match was actually better than I thought it would be; Show may be getting old but he really is in the best shape of his career. The crowd must’ve agreed as the giant was getting a few “You’ve still got it” chants. The Viper got the win after a poke to the eyes and an RKO.
The bout wasn’t really good enough for the main event slot, but it was enjoyable enough and it was strangely nostalgic in its own way. With the amount of old school guys now announced for the World Cup, I think Randy’s next victim could very well be a fellow competitor. Let’s just hope it isn’t John Cena again, eh.
6. Jeff Hardy
I guess Randy Orton didn’t kill Jeff Hardy at Hell in a Cell after all. The Charismatic Enigma came back to SmackDown to face Samoa Joe in a World Cup qualifier.
The match was pretty good, and it was nice to Jeff really go for Joe’s injured knee; one thing that annoys me most in wrestling is when faces don’t take advantage of something they really should take advantage of. The ref called this one off as the Samoan Submission Machine couldn’t keep a vertical base, giving Jeff a much needed win while not making Joe look weak by taking a pinfall.
I don’t have any love for this ridiculous World Cup where all the named competitors are ageing Americans, but I think this tournament gives Jeff something good to do while he doesn’t have a decent feud in the works.
5. Bobby Lashley w/Lio Rush
Days after the housiest house show match in history in Australia, Bobby Lashley took on Kevin Owens one more time, but things took a very sharp turn indeed.
The match was fine by Monday Night Raw standards, nothing groundbreaking or special. Owens was getting big cheers from the smarky Chicago crowd, but maybe they knew something we didn’t. After Lashley won the match, the two guys pulled a double-turn and it looks like Lashley is now a heel and Owens is a face.
The Lashley from this week’s Raw reminded me of the dominant force from Impact. I sure he’ll settle into this new role really well, and given that KO pretty much gets cheered everywhere he goes, I think a stint as a babyface will do him some good, too.
4. Tony Nese
After putting on the match of the week with Johnny Gargano last week, I’m thrilled I got a chance to put Tony Nese on the list this time around. Back on his home show of 205 Live, Nese managed to put away the former Cruiserweight Champion, Cedric Alexander.
I could’ve watched these guys wrestle all day. Nese was doing a great job of taunting Alexander and finding answers to the former champ’s biggest moves, whereas Cedric really upped his aggression levels. In the end, the Premier Athlete picked the win by German Suplexing the Soul of 205 Live into the corner, hitting a huge Running Nese, and finishing things off with a picture perfect 450 splash.
Despite being an excellent wrestler, Nese seems to get overlooked a lot on 205 Live. This win could seriously do wonders for his standing in the division and could easily lead to a Cruiserweight Title match with Buddy Murphy if one guy becomes a face further down the line.
3. AJ Styles / The Miz / Daniel Bryan
When a promo goes right, it can be even better than a match in some cases. During a MizTV special, The Miz interviewed the two wrestlers who will square off for the WWE Title at Crown Jewel, AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan.
The WWE Champion and his challenger had some fun at Miz’s expense by mocking his two minute loss to Bryan at Super Show-Down, but it didn’t take too long for the tension to set in. When it looked like Styles and Bryan were about to cross the line, they went back to belittling The Miz only to end up taking more abuse than they dished out. The Awesome One said Bryan’s victory was a lame one-off that sucked the air out of the stadium, and that AJ was the reason the WWE Title has never felt so irrelevant. After this segment, AJ went on to win a decent match against Shelton Benjamin with Daniel Bryan and The Miz on commentary.
MizTV was definitely one of the highlights of WWE’s shows this week. Everyone talked a big game and there’s now so much animosity in the air. It was hard to pick a winner between the three superstars, especially because The Miz had the most passion and Styles won an actual match, so I put everyone on purely for the high entertainment value.
Ricochet had a hell of night fending off the dual challenge of Pete Dunne and Adam Cole to maintain his grip on the NXT North American Championship.
This match was just a thing of beauty. All three men aimed to brutalise each other; Ricochet and Dunne barely even put their differences aside to go after Cole. It looked like Dunne was set to add the NA Title to his CV with a cover on Cole when Ricochet hit a 450 splash on the UK Champion out of nowhere for the 1,2,3.
It’s amazing to think of how many great matches have been contested for North American Title considering it’s only been on the scene for a few months. All three superstars were impressive as hell, but the One & Only Ricochet proved why he is the top guy on the continent. Normally, Ricochet would be numero uno for his performance, but there was one bout this week that stood out just that little bit more.
1. Becky Lynch / Charlotte Flair
What an insane way to kick off SmackDown. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair stole the show before it had really kicked off.
In a rematch for the SmackDown Women’s Title, the two fought long and hard to see who the better woman was. The match was being contested under the rule that if Becky got herself DQ’d she would lose her title, and the Irish Lass Kicker teased us by bending the rules and going to hit Charlotte with the title belt again. The bout ended with a double count out as it looked like the Queen was more interested in inflicting punishment than rolling back into the ring. After the match, Charlotte speared Becky Lynch through the set at the top of the ramp, and they will square off again at Evolution to find a true winner.
I can’t remember the last time WWE kicked off Raw or SmackDown with a match this great, especially since the feud is so personal and it was for the SD Women’s Championship. The ending arguably was a bit screwy, but it was tons better than the ending to their bout in Australia and I loved that post-match spear. Overall, this was my favourite match of the week, and since neither woman technically lost, they’re both my Wrestlers of the Week.
There were quite a few enjoyable segments this week, and I definitely felt like all WWE programmes were worth watching for once. If you can look past the silly things like Nikki challenging for Ronda Rousey’s Raw Women’s Championship and the odd clash going on between Rusev and Aiden English, WWE was a surprising treat.
Join us again next week where we’ll see if WWE can keep us hooked.