Raw had a lot more matches than usual, but very few of those bouts caught my eye. Thankfully, SmackDown, 205 Live, and NXT provided me with a great selection of candidates for this edition of WWE Wrestlers of the Week.
Now, I normally have a set of rules that each superstar must adhere to if they want to be on this list, but for those who watched the main event of NXT this week, you’ll know exactly why I decided to tear up the rule book. As for every other WWE wrestler, they had to win their match, cut a good promo, and stay looking strong throughout. Let’s see who climbed to the top of the lofty mountain this week.
10. Jaxson Ryker
He may have one of the dumbest names in NXT, but the man formerly known as Gunner made a pretty good in-ring debut for WWE’s developmental brand.
Ryker dominated his opponent throughout and finished the bout off with a rope-assisted powerbomb. It was very reminiscent of his powerhouse game in TNA Impact, so it’s good to see he’s still playing to his strengths.
It was an impressive win that showed that The Forgotten Sons won’t be forgotten any longer. Ryker is definitely the muscle of the team, and I’m sure he’ll have a bright future in that role.
9. Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura was overlooked at WWE’s Hell in a Cell PPV, but at least he was able to defend his US Title on SmackDown against Rusev.
Considering it was a free TV match, there was nothing wrong with the action even though it clearly wasn’t Nakamura’s or Rusev’s best bout ever. Aiden English was tried to get Rusev pumped up from the ring apron, but the distraction he caused gave the King of Strong Style the opportunity he needed to finish the match with a roll-up. Post-match, English viciously attacked the Bulgarian Brute with the mic to end the segment. God knows where Nakamura went during all this.
The circumstances might’ve been dodgy, but Nakamura still earns a place on WWE Wresters of the Week for his successful title defence. I wanted to rank him higher, but considering the US Champion became nothing more of an afterthought in someone else’s feud (again!), there’s no way to justify putting Shinsuke in a loftier position. What the champ needs right now is a decent feud of his own. Maybe then I can finally put Nakamura in the top spot.
8. Randy Orton
Randy Orton can be a right bully backstage, can’t he? Oh, I’m not on about the willy-touching handshake rumours, I’m talking about the way he shifted his abuse towards a poor SmackDown video editor.
The cheeky little Viper slithered his way into the production room telling the editor to pull up all the footage of Orton decimating Jeff Hardy. He dutifully obeyed as the Apex Predator forced him to watch. Orton said the brutality he directed towards Jeff is nothing compared to what he’ll do to his next victim.
This was vintage Orton. He put some poor bloke all on edge and is getting us hyped for his next feud. I’m looking forward to seeing who Randy will gun for next, so I hope it doesn’t take too long for him to name his target.
7. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns went through a gruelling Hell in a Cell match on Sunday — so gruelling in fact that it had to be called off after a couple of F5s — but he wasn’t given Monday night off as he had to defend his Universal Title in Raw’s main event against Acting GM Baron Corbin.
Just because this really annoyed me, I need to add a little side note before going into the action. Before booking the main event, Corbin booked Reigns in a match at the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia in November where the champ will defend his title against Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar in a triple threat bout. My question is; why on earth would Corbin book a match where the champion has to defend his title against two frigging behemoths when he’s looking to become Universal Champion by the end of the night? I suppose it didn’t matter because he lost, but the logic had me baffled.
The match was, well, it was fine for Raw. It looked like Reigns had the match won via DQ, but Corbin ordered for it to be restarted as a no DQ match. Then things got silly. Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose all got involved, making a right hash of things. Amidst the chaos, the Big Dog was able to land a spear on the Lone Wolf to end the match and retain his title.
Personally, I wasn’t a massive fan of this match, and we’ve already seen Corbin restart matches as no DQ before, so it’s not like this was anything special. It was an adequate match with a convoluted ending, but a successful title defence provides enough grounds for a superstar to join WWE Wrestlers of the Week. It looks like Raw’s main event scene is going to be a complete mess for the next couple of months.
Best wrestling selfie ever? Quite possibly. What makes it even better is the joyous look on the faces of Cesaro & Sheamus were still there at the end of the match.
The bout between Cesaro and Kofi Kingston wasn’t the best they’ve ever put on, but it worked well in the short time frame and there were still a couple of highlights, such as Sheamus taking a selfie and Kofi bouncing off the top rope using his belly-bobs before toppling over on Cesaro. The Swiss Superman went on to win with the Neutraliser.
While it wasn’t the biggest or best match on TV it was still entertaining, and Cesaro has given The Bar a psychological advantage over the SmackDown Tag Team Champions. Will their winning ways continue as we edge closer to the Super Show-Down?
5. Drew McIntyre
Would you look at that; Raw has more than one superstar on our list this week after all. Technically, Drew got punked out to end Raw, but I’ll bend the rules slightly as this list is looking very SmackDown-heavy.
This was the hard-hitting bout I think everyone expected it to be. There was nothing overly flashy, just two big guys laying into each other. Towards the end of the match, Dean flew from the top rope and crashed into the barricade outside after trying to hit a dive on McIntyre. Ambrose rolled back into the ring, but was soon taken out with a Claymore to give McIntyre the victory.
I really liked this. In my opinion Drew vs. Dean was Raw’s biggest highlight. I think I appreciated it more because it’s not something that’s been done to death, unlike the constant barrage of Rollins/Ziggler matches we’ve been getting (seriously, WWE, I know they’re good, but you’ve run their feud into the ground). I would say I’m looking forward to seeing where McIntyre goes from here, but I’m imagining we’ll get more of the same before we flat-out become sick of it.
4. Cedric Alexander
Three words: what a suplex. In my two and a half decades of watching pro wrestling, I have never seen a pair of superstars suplex themselves out of the ring, land on their feet, and then hit a suplex to the floor. But that sort of action shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how talented the Cruiserweight Champion is.
This bout was so close to being match of the week, and I think the fact it was taped before SmackDown to allow for the Mixed Match Challenge meant the crowd had a lot of energy to cheer on the cruiserweights. After nearly 30 minutes, Alexander was able to put Gulak away with the Lumbar Check.
If you don’t already watch 205 Live, I urge you to start doing so and this week’s broadcast would be a great place for you to start. Alexander and Gulak have shown the world what all the cruiserweights are truly capable of. The Soul of 205 Live has been a great ambassador for the purple brand, and it looks like he’ll continue to be so going into the Super Show-Down in Melbourne, Australia.
3. AJ Styles
He may have won controversially against Samoa Joe at Hell in a Cell, but the WWE Champion AJ Styles picked up a decisive win over El Idolo.
Styles and Almas have some of the best in-ring chemistry I’ve seen for a long time. They compliment each other so well that you’d think they’ve been training together for years. The Phenomenal One rolled through Almas to pick up a near-fall, but then flipped into reverse and turned the pin into a Styles Clash for the win. Honestly, it looked really slick and I don’t think my words have done that manoeuvre justice.
Post-match, Samoa Joe rushed the champ, screaming that he’ll never be safe again. Styles managed to fight back, and the Samoan Submission Machine retreated through the crowd.
Spectacular action once again from AJ Styles, and of course, Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas. It looks like Joe is still in the title hunt though, so the Phenomenal One may need to take precaution wandering around the arena from now on.
2. Becky Lynch
At the rate WWE is going, I will never, ever get tired of praising Becky Lynch. Following up on her huge title victory over Charlotte Flair, the Irish Lass Kicker had a coronation crowning.
Our new SmackDown Women’s Champion told Charlotte to get down to the ring to put the title around Becky’s waist. Flair said she wouldn’t do it, and as she turned to leave, Becky straight up called the Queen a bitch.
Charlotte snapped and went after the champion, but Lynch powered through and got the upper hand. She launched Flair into the steps, over the announce table, and back into the ring to lock in the Dis-Arm-Her. Becky was about to leave, but then hit a Bexploder Suplex for good measure. The segment ended with the champ walking off to the back, the belt over her shoulder and her head held high.
Put simply, I loved it. Badass Becky is brimming with potential and the crowd is absolutely buzzing for her. I don’t even see her as a heel; she’s just a woman who’s finally done putting up with everyone’s shit. Congratulations to Becky Lynch for becoming SD Women’s Champion and for putting Charlotte Flair in her place. I’m rooting for you, Becky, and I’m pretty sure 99% of WWE’s fanbase is as well.
1. Pete Dunne/Ricochet
I know, I know; both guys got jumped by Undisputed Era, but the Champion Vs. Champion match between Pete Dunne and Ricochet was so good that it would’ve been a travesty to wrestling to not have these men on top of the list.
For weeks, the tension between the United Kingdom Champion and the North American Champion has been growing, and they finally got the chance to leave it all in the ring.
The match started very technical and Dunne became more and more aggressive as time went on, whereas The One and Only had to resort to using his speed. There were countless highlights from this match, my personal favourite being Dunne’s Kimora lock with the added finger manipulation. It was so painful to watch.
The bout was called off after Adam Cole (BAY BAY!), Roderick Strong, and Kyle O’Reilly attacked the exhausted superstars. UE were chased off by the War Raiders, but the ref had already called for the bell meaning both the Bruiserweight and The One and Only retained their titles.
This clash was a fingertip away from being Match of the Year worthy, and if it hadn’t ended in interference, I think Dunne/Ricochet would’ve been on par with Johnny Gargano’s and Tommaso Ciampa’s first grudge match. As neither man technically lost and they left me so utterly captivated, I’m awarding both men the prestigious honour of being WWE Wrestlers of the Week.
The ending of Hell in a Cell left a lot of WWE fans with a sour taste in their mouths, but putting Raw aside, the weekly TV shows have been very enjoyable overall. With the Dunne/Ricochet storyline, the dawning of a new SD Women’s Champion, and a very personal feud going on between the WWE Champion and his challenger, there’s a lot to look forward to in WWE. Try not to think about the Universal Title scene too much and I think you’ll agree.
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