In our regular Monday column, we look back at this week in wrestling to discuss who we think has had a Phenom of a week and who will have been waking up this Monday morning wishing they could rest in peace?
Whether you agree with it or not, WWE are clearly setting up Drew McIntyre to knock off a revolving cast of heel challengers as his reign goes on. This could be by design or it could be to keep him looking strong until crowds return and he gets to receive the adulation he deserves.
Either way, Dolph Ziggler is this month’s challenger as he will face McIntyre at ‘Extreme Rules: The Horror Show’.
Many will be less than impressed with the calibre of the opposition this month but it does lean into long term storyline continuity which is something many cry out for regularly.
The real reason Ziggler is in the winners section though is that this move to Raw represents one hell of a promotion for him. From lackey and midcarding on SmackDown to the Raw main event in one fell swoop. Nice work if you can get it.
Randy Orton and Edge
These guys seem like weekly fixtures in this column and for good reason. What a promo exchange that was on Raw this week. Again. Bringing back their Rated-R Superstar and Legend Killer personas as some kind of Megazord versions of themselves to further this feud is just wonderful for long-time fans. These two are just so, so good at making a grudge feel deeply personal. We can’t wait for Edge to get back already.
A 1vs1 PPV title shot for the original Scottish Psychopath. Go Nikki!
He’s getting over! His creepy stalker character is resonating with TV audiences and he is getting to work with the top faction on the brand and more than holding his own. The former Samuel Shaw has tweaked his Impact Wrestling gimmick and created something genuinely unique.
It’s a matter of when not if on a babyface turn for this faction. The audience are DYING to cheer them and when they get official permission to do so, these guys are going to rocket to even higher highs. Just pro-wrestling at its most wonderful.
Absolutely all the praise for the booking of the triple threat main event between Keith Lee, Finn Balor and Johnny Gargano. Lee is the future not only of NXT but of WWE and the match against Adam Cole for both of the brand’s male singles titles feels as big as anything in yellow and gold in the last 12 months. The anticipation is going to be massive and if the idea is to counter programme the finale of AEW’s Fyter Fest then bravo chaps; mission accomplished.
The Dark Order
It’s nice to finally be able to put these guys in the winners column. The penny has finally dropped that this is a midcard act. There is no shame in that of course but it helps immensely when they are not being pushed as a main event act, only to be found wanting. If Brodie Lee wants that main event spot many of us think he deserves, he is going to get chance to properly build to it and hopefully shake off the massive Vince McMahon parody shaped mis-step that was his introduction to the promotion.
This storyline with Colt Cabana is genuinely interesting and it will be interesting to see how it develops. One of AEW’s many strengths as a promotion is how it weaves different performers and acts together on the shows in organic and believable ways. This is a great example of that.
Brian Cage and Taz
With each passing week, this looks like an inspired pairing. Cage is never going to trouble the higher echelons of Meltzer’s star-o-meter but Taz covers his mic-based weaknesses superbly and really makes Cage look like an enormous threat. It is simple really. If an act in wrestling acts like a threat and we are told time and again that they ARE a threat then the audience buys it and treats them as such.
This feels like a moment for OC. I will make no bones about it, I once thought Cassidy was an affront to everything I liked about wrestling. I was very wrong. He is going to beat Jericho next week because that’s what Jericho does when the time is right. He is going to beat him and he is going to move up a notch in the AEW pecking order. He fully deserves it and his whole schtick is an absolute triumph.
AEW’s Operational Team
Credit has to go to how AEW have dealt with the challenges of producing programming during this pandemic. This week seemed to present the first true challenge from direct infection to talent. From what we can see, AEW took decisive, transparent action that had all the hallmarks of being carried out in accordance to pre-planned protocols. The success of these protocols will be measured in the coming weeks but so far, they look to have done a fantastic job.
Her push has seemingly completely and utterly stalled. Which is a shame as she had significant potential and never came close to getting a chance to show it.
Miz & Morrison
Does John Morrison regret his decision to come back to WWE yet? Probably not. But being one half of a comedy jobber tag team wasn’t what he would have had in mind. As for The Miz…A marquee WrestleMania match against Shane McMahon must feel like a lifetime ago!
WWE’s Operational Team
What an absolute mess their taping schedule is. We have given WWE strong praise for their ability to keep the show going on in a seemingly safe manner. However, now COVID-19 has made its presence felt in their Performance Center bubble, the organisation of this looks to have completely fallen apart. We are getting enough insight into what’s going on to conclude that they need to make drastic changes to their procedures to protect their ability to produce content as per their contractual obligations and most importantly, protect the health of their performers and staff.