The Wrap Up: The Golden Boy
6. Cody Rhodes vs. Chad Gable, WWE Raw
Chad Gable is one of the most underutilized talents on WWE TV, but this was a perfect spot for him to prove himself against Cody Rhodes. Commentary pointed out Rhodes hasn’t lost since returning to WWE, which was a nice touch to make him more credible heading into a clash with 2+year champion Roman Reigns. Gable felt like he was trying to show what he could do given a chance, and Rhodes was a great dancing partner. Predictably, Rhodes won and cut a promo to have a face-to-face with Reigns on SmackDown.
5. Face of the Revolution Ladder Match, AEW Dynamite
It was cool to see this ladder match for free on AEW TV. It featured a lot of rising stars and some we were introduced to for the first time. This was a coming-out party for Komander hitting crazy moves that I’ve only seen from Rey Fenix on AEW’s roster. We already knew how great Konosuke Takeshita was, and he still shined in this match. In the end, I think it was right for Powerhouse Hobbs to win. We haven’t seen much of him since his big victory over Ricky Starks, and his new character is intriguing.
4. Bryan Danielson, AEW Dynamite
While many fans expected MJF to carry the feud on the mic and Bryan Danielson to carry the feud in the ring, both of these guys have shown off how well-rounded they are as professional wrestlers. In the ring on Dynamite, Danielson had most of the talking, and he reminded fans exactly why he has been a part of some of the biggest stories in wrestling in the past decade. We already know he’s an incredible wrestler, but the passion and crowd connection Danielson shows on the mic are top-tier as well. The finish to Dynamite got me excited to see if Danielson really can defeat MJF.
3. NXT Women’s Division, NXT
The NXT Women’s Division continues to be deep and strong with three segments throughout the night. Meiko Satomura had a great match with Zoey Stark, as they continued to build for Satomura versus champion Roxanne Perez. WWE is reportedly high on Sol Ruca, and she looked great defeating Elektra Lopez. Tiffany Stratton defeated Katana Chance while NXT set up a feud between Chance/Kayden Carter and Alba Fyre/Isla Dawn. Despite being a “developmental brand,” NXT has been a model for every other wrestling show on how to book women’s wrestling.
2. Styles Clash, NXT
After a brief hiatus, Nathan Frazier returned to challenge Wes Lee. Both guys have unique fast styles, and Lee’s title reign is proving to be more than just an underdog story: he is a valuable asset to NXT’s roster. WWE did the thing again where a star disappears for a few months, but by the end, I felt silly to forget how good Frazier is. In the main event, Carmelo Hayes and Tyler Bate, and was a clash of two very good wrestlers who carry themselves very differently. These were both great matches, and NXT is full of stars like these guys who can make a match of the night out of nowhere.
1. Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes, WWE SmackDown
WWE did an excellent job this week to get me excited for the main event of WrestleMania. A week ago, I would have fought to say Sami Zayn should have beaten Roman Reigns. Now, I’m not so sure, as Cody Rhodes is turning in excellent work, rivaling Reigns who is doing some of WWE’s best character work ever. These two got pops on a different level than anyone else on the show. There is true tension to their characters, and the result is uncertain: will Rhodes be the one to beat Reigns after 2+ years and finish the story?
Reverse Hipster's Lowlights
3.(Impact) The Design
The Trials for Sami Callihan aren't hitting. It just seems like they are making up things as they go. I wish the trials would be more thought out. The only one that made any sense was Sami cutting off his hair. For Example, Rhyno is the next step, and that seems random. Rhyno isn't like Sami's best friend. I rather see steps that are psychologically complex for Sami but simple for the audience to understand.
2.(SmackDown) Bray Wyatt
Bray's return hasn't gone so well so far. He has been left out of my highlights and lowlights lately because everything is so middle of the road. It never feels like we get enough of Bray to judge whether the segment was good or not. Bray Wyatt needs more promo time, and he also needs to prove himself again. We need to see that he is still a savage in the ring.
Bray is a great story, but he needs to marry that with his in-ring work. At some point, the story has to be backed up with a match. The 6-minute Royal Rumble match fell flat because the match was so short and inconsequential. Bray must show he can still take someone apart with his bare hands in the ring instead of having so many gimmicky matches. I love the Firefly Funhouse match, but other than that, I need Bray to wrestle again. One thing that made Bray great was that he grounded his wild world to fit the narrative against the other stars in the WWE. That's not who Bray is right now. He seems completely off the rails, and his Howdy character looks weak against Bobby on SmackDown. Bray Wyatt and his characters still need to earn their aura in the ring, or they are just making toys and t-shirts.
1.(SmackDown) Liv Loses Again
WWE has just been treating Liv like a Jobber. When they needed to promote Asuka, they had Asuka beat Liv constantly. Now that they are promoting Rhea, they are having Rhea force Liv to tap out. The match between Liv and Rhea was really good because Liv and Rhea are really good. However, the direction of Liv racking up another loss is a concerning trend. It seems like the WWE is ignoring the WWE Universe that loves Liv and throwing back down to the bottom of the totem pole.
Rob’s Winners of the Week
6. AEW Rampage was again a week of good matches with no real function or meaning behind it. At this point, I think AEW would be better off without this show.
5. Impact Wrestling wasn’t a bad show, but it didn’t have any standout highlights for me.
4. WWE Raw took a step back in the right direction this week as WrestleMania season started to take form, and they featured matches for some of their best most underutilized wrestlers.
3. AEW Dynamite was good, but it didn’t quite feel like a go-home show. A lot of matches and segments were not related to promoting AEW Revolution, aside from the big promo between MJF and Bryan Danielson.
2. WWE SmackDown was a great show setting up WrestleMania’s main event, Intercontinental Championship picture, and Sami Zayn’s continued quest against the Bloodline.
1. NXT was A to Z an excellent show. I had a hard time thinking of a single segment that was bad, and they are booking their roster to perfection heading into NXT Stand and Deliver.
Reverse Hipster's Winner of the Week
6th Place SmackDown
SmackDown wasn't a bad show but it had the most lowlights and the highlights weren't big enough to redeem it.
5th Place Impact
The Tag title change was definitely a big highlight but Impact also had the only other lowlight of the week.
4th Place NXT
NXT seems to be in a holding pattern right now. Nothing they are doing is overly amazing. To get in the top three, they need to turn up the heat on their feuds.
3rd Place Rampage
Rampage was surprisingly good this week. Largely due to the fatal four-way tag team match.
2nd Place Raw
Raw had a huge title change with the women's tag team titles that carried a solid Raw show.
1st Place Dynamite
Dynamite once again Dynamite has blown everyone else out of the water with a PPV-level show.