The debut of my column ranking the five best matches across all of WWE’s weekly programming.
Welcome to the first installment of my weekly column. I will be ranking and offering some of my thoughts on the best action of the week in WWE, that means I will be watching Monday Night Raw, NXT, WWE Main Event, NXT UK, SmackDown, 205 Live, WWE’s monthly Pay-Per-View, NXT TakeOvers, Velocity, Heat, Wrestling Challenge, and Super Astros.
Just kidding about those last four, but damn, WWE has a ton of shows. Thankfully, some are not as long as others, making this not as difficult a task as some might think.
You’ll get a greater understanding of my taste and preferences for wrestling as I progress through these weekly columns, so I apologize in advance if I didn’t show love to your favorite matches of the week. I’m also hoping we’re aligned and you, the readers, are excited I ranked your favorite match of the week #1!
In any case, I’m excited to be doing this, and there’s a lot to get to. The 2nd half of the WWE Draft capped off this week on Raw. The Fiend and Naomi are the two Raw transfers I’m mostly amped for. This could be Naomi’s chance to really ascend and The Fiend has some fresh matchups headed his way, along with the development of his alliance with Alexa Bliss, who was drafted to Raw alongside him.
On the other side, it’s Bianca Belair and the Mysterio family who I think will have a big impact on SmackDown. The Belair vignette shown on this week’s SmackDown exhibiting her many talents and abilities virtually guarantees she’s en route to superstardom. The same can be said for Dominik Mysterio. For those of you reading this that have not watched in some time: yes, that Dominik Mysterio.
The New Day being split up through the draft broke my heart, but life goes on and Big E is going to do big things on his own while Kofi and Woods continue their tag team excellence.
Anyway, let’s get to the matches, some of which were absolute bangers compared to the rest.
These were the five best WWE matches for the week of October 12:
5. NXT: Damian Priest (c) vs. Dexter Lumis for the NXT North American Championship
Priest and Lumis are two awesome performers. Priest is like the Undertaker if Undertaker started wrestling 15 years ago and built his character around the Bronx nightclub scene instead of, well, being an undertaker. He’s an impressive athlete when you consider his size and build and this encounter allowed Lumis to show off some of his own surprising athleticism.
Lumis’s commitment to the thousand-yard-stare is greatly appreciated, staring through the soul of whoever his opponent may be. Priest was no exception. Priest retained his title via Cameron Grimes’ interference he was unaware of – a double foot stomp on the apron from Grimes to Lumis followed by Priest’s sit-out Chokeslam signaled the end of the match.
4. Raw: Kevin Owens vs. Aleister Black in a No-Disqualification Match
Kevin Owens has never met a bump he didn’t like. He excels in WWE-style hardcore outings because of that eagerness to take those harsh landings. Owens and Black’s feud may have reached its conclusion in this match judging by the brutality they inflicted on each other and the result.
Owens was the victor, but not before getting launched over the announcer’s desk and taking a Meteora onto a set of metal folding chairs (see video above), the latter being a truly nasty spot. Owens powerbombed Black onto a table and walked away with his biggest win since defeating Seth Rollins at WrestleMania earlier this year.
3. SmackDown: The New Day vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, & Shinsuke Nakamura
Oh, man. After six glorious and hilarious years, The New Day was finally split up. Kingston and Woods are headed to Raw, while Big E remains on Friday nights. It’s very fitting that they got to close their run against some of their greatest rivals in Cesaro and Sheamus, but very depressing they didn’t get to have their farewell match in front of an actual crowd.
Alas, they still gave it their all one final time. It was not often that the New Day’s three members got to work as a trio, but they delivered a performance only a team with six years of chemistry could. They worked like a machine, their opponents delivered some big moves as well (Nakamura’s middle-rope Snap German Suplex is a thing of beauty) but ultimately “felt the power” of The New Day. May the Power of Positivity forever bless you all.
2. NXT: Candice LeRae vs. Shotzi Blackheart
Don’t doubt Candice LeRae. She has been on a roll since turning heel some months ago and we are fortunate as fans to be getting a rematch of LeRae and Io Shirai’s encounter at TakeOver two weeks ago as a result of LeRae’s victory. Shotzi is legit, too. I believe her fire when she’s in the ring, that kind of energy makes for a sympathetic and valiant babyface, which she is.
Their wrestling acumen was on full display. This was a captivating matchup thanks to their fluid movements paired with some super cool moves. Shotzi blessed the hardcore fans watching with a Tiger Suplex, LeRae tried one-upping her with a beautiful Lionsault, but I lost my mind when Shotzi pulled out the CATTLE MUTILATION. Indi Hartwell’s assist to LeRae was a surprising twist and interesting end to a great match.
1. NXT UK: Ilja Dragunov & Pete Dunne vs. Walter & Alexander Wolfe
Dare I say this was one of the best matches of the year? Perhaps the best match in NXT UK TV history? Pete Dunne returned to action for the first time since March and looked in tremendous shape and picked up where he left off. This match had every right to be as good as it was.
Prior to NXT UK‘s shutdown in March, Ilja Dragunov had become one of the brand’s best, Wolfe was having a career resurgence after joining Imperium, while both Dunne and Walter were world-class already. For as big and intimidating as Walter is, he bumps like hell for smaller guys. Whether you think that’s a detriment to him and his size is up to you, but he’s a great seller regardless, especially in this tag match.
The match featured some ugly, brutal offense, which is the norm for any match these four wrestlers are in. Walter’s thunderous chops sound a lot more horrific in an empty arena, and Dragunov was up for the task of taking and giving with the champion. Walter really just folded these dudes up and it was amazing to watch.
I did not expect this match to go as long as it did, which made every false finish add to the suspense. After nearly 20 minutes of chaos, the unthinkable happened. Dragunov hit Walter with the Russian Torpedo and pinned him dead in the center of the ring. Walter suffered his first loss in NXT after over a year on the roster. An incredibly shocking end to a fantastic match.