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.
It’s truly is a new Golden Age of pro wrestling– despite how much people may like to complain on Twitter– with the in-ring workrate better than it’s ever been, and wrestlers across promotions and federations impressing week-in and week-out. True, this time of year on the schedule is generally a high mark, particularly in WWE as they come out of Royal Rumble and with WrestleMania around the corner. But even outside of WWE, the stars of NXT, AEW, and NWA are helping shape this new zenith of the sport.
Men’s Royal Rumble winner Drew McIntyre is still rolling towards his confrontation with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 36 (or is he?! More on that in a bit), getting the monster push as he squashed his latest victims on Monday Night Raw, while the Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch leans further into her slightly tweaked gimmick of being the overly cocky reigning champ as she furthers her feud with Asuka (who got a little shoot happy with her Raw opponent Natalya).
Then there’s the Women’s Royal Rumble winner Charlotte Flair who made an pretty unprecedented return to NXT to confront her potential (likely) WrestleMania opponent, the NXT Women’s Champion, and building heat and putting over younger talent like Bianca Belair.
This week’s episode of NXT also saw the return of The Velveteen Dream, who appeared at the end of the main event to exact revenge on the men who put him on the shelf, The Undisputed Era, but particularly the man who won the North American Championship from him, Roderick Strong.
While just a few channels over on AEW, the #1 Contender for Chris Jericho’s AEW World Championship, Jon Moxley exacted his own biblical revenge on one of Jericho’s Inner Circle partner, Santana, gouging his eye just as they had done to him weeks earlier.
There’s an intensity, electricity, and passion around the sport that hasn’t been felt in a long time.
It’s a new Golden Age. It might even be a better one.
On to the rankings.
The rankings are based off of the past week of performances of both in-ring and promo work, and how that projects going forward.
On the Cusp: Becky Lynch, Asuka, Jon Moxley, Charlotte Flair, Drew McIntyre
10. Angel Garza
The former Cruiserweight Champion answered the call to fill in for the “injured” Andrade, and did so seamlessly. In an unexpected appearance, Garza walked down the Monday Night Raw aisle, flanked by Zelina Vega, and looked like he belonged. He took out Umberto Carrillo, then locked up with Rey Mysterio and soaked every bit of heat the crowd gave him. Oh, and not to mention he was then right back on NXT two nights later to have a great match with the man who ate the pin at Worlds Collide that led to him losing said Cruiserweight Championship.
9. Randy Orton
Sometimes all it takes is a promo for a wrestler to build heat on them. Sometimes, all that promo needs to be is short and sweet, and to the point.
Then there are the few wrestlers who can do all of the above simply with their presence, and Randy Orton is one of those rare few. Whether it’s as the “Next One,” “The Legend Killer,” or “The Viper,” Orton truly does have this business in his veins, and he has the small nuances that separates a mere great wrestler into a living legend. There is often criticism directed at Orton’s interest and effort level. Fair or not, when he’s dialled into an angle, there are few who are better.
The only reason he isn’t higher is because he didn’t have a match.
8. Tommaso Ciampa
The #1 Contender for Adam Cole’s NXT Championship possess an intensity and charisma that is nearly unmatched in an ultra-competitive roster. He seems to be one of the few wrestlers who actually competes every week– perhaps he considers it borrowed time due to his age and recent neck injury– and never shifts down a gear. On this past week’s episode of NXT, he went on a backstage rampage, laying out the Undisputed Era and then having a killer match, despite what looked like a legitimate left knee injury. The Blackheart keeps me coming back to NXT, because I want– nay, need— to see what he’s going to do next in his ceaseless pursuit to regain his “Goldie.”
7. Kevin Owens
The legitimate injury to Samoa Joe is unfortunate, but it also seems to be working in KO’s favour. He got a tonne of sympathy heat this past Raw by having to overcome the odds as he battles against the smarmy heel Seth Rollins. The Samoa-KO tag team was fun, but Owens as the beat-down babyface works so much better for him in this long-term program.
6. Rhea Ripley
He’s young, and talented, and probably has a rocket strapped to her back, but like Angel Garza earlier on this list, the reigning NXT Women’s Champion walked into Raw and looked like a natural fit. The difference here is she went right up to The Queen Charlotte Flair, and held her own and looked like a legitimate threat standing next to the former 10x Women’s Champion, something that does not come easy with Flair. The feud spilled over to NXT, but Ripley still has some work to do as she takes on Bianca Belair at TakeOver: Portland in less than ten days. She’s a fighting champion, folks.
He’s undoubtedly doing the J.O.B. to Brock Lesnar at Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia on 27 February, but the former Prince Puma has earned himself a World title shot, and will be competing in the main event at a PPV. Getting that kind of rub cannot go unnoticed, as he’s sure to put in a fantastic match as his fast-paced, Cruiserweight-style of ring work will contrast well with Lesnar’s power based move-set.
4. “Hangman” Adam Page
This guy hates The Young Bucks right now. Honestly, that alone gets him on this list. But adding the fan interaction, and the Stone Cold Steve Austin gimmick of drinking a ton of beer, combined with his undeniable in-ring ability makes Page if not the best wrestler (that distinction probably still goes to his fellow AEW Tag Team Champion, Kenny Omega) than at least in the conversation. He’s showing personality and depth through subtle character work, and the slow-burn desolation of his relationship with the rest of The Elite is perfect. Adam Page needs to be a World champion soon.
3. Braun Strowman
Depending on the week, it can be utterly confusing as to what WWE bookers think of “The Monster Among Men,” a fact made obvious considering he had never held a singles championship… until this past episode of Friday Night SmackDown. Though it was in a match that probably should’ve been built-up to a PPV, and certainly should’ve been longer, Strowman still won the Intercontinental Championship from Shinsuke Nakamura, and so let’s give the big man the praise he deserves.
2. Thunder Rosa
Well, she just continues to impress. After tearing the house down at Hard Times where she won the NWA Women’s Worlds Championship from Allysin Kay, the two went out the very next night for the Powerrr tapings to have their rematch and, though it didn’t breathe for nearly as long as the PPV match, the two ramped up the pace and stiff work to a level that one can only marvel at. Not to mention now the champ has quickly pivot and focus on her mentor– who is more than likely gunning for her title– and she is getting better and better on the mic.
There’s an argument to be made that she is already a top female competitor, in any of these promotions right now.
The lashes angle just worked, and you have to give the man props for taking those stiff shots, slowing and painfully in the last segment of Dynamite. The segment was perfectly executed, with every important person in Cody’s life making their way to the ring at some point to either encourage or dissuade him from going through with it. You felt his anguish, but also his foolish need to persevere through it, just so he could get the opportunity to rip MJF apart come Revolution.
With the way those welts turned out, it’s no wonder that the Cage Match against Wardlow is booked for two weeks from Wednesday, just to give the man time for his frickin skin to heal.