It was another busy week in pro wrestling as WWE put on its first post-WrestleMania 33 pay-per-view and NJPW produced multiple big shows. Here are our favorite wrestlers this week. Who's yours?
This week's panel --
- Chris Aiken (ROH and CMLL writer)
- Alan4L (Dr. Keith Presents host and Figure Four Weekly writer)
- Mike DellaCamera (Columnist)
- Zach Dominello (Columnist)
By Zach Dominello
Ugh, I just want to talk about how great Hiromu Takahashi is again, but in lieu of repeating myself, this week my favorite wrestler is Juice “Not CJ Parker” Robinson.
This past week, Juice had the highest profile match of his career when he faced Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental title. Usually, I’m not a big Juice guy, but even I can appreciate how much he’s improved since his NXT days, and how hard he’s worked since coming to New Japan.
He literally started from the bottom, taking on the role of the Young Lions by working opening matches and watching and learning from others at ringside. Slowly, he worked his way up the card and won the crowd over to the point that he’s main eventing with Naito. It’s a credit to him and New Japan’s booking.
Axel Dieter Jr.
With his wXw career coming to an end this past weekend, the pride of Hamburg City is going to go on to show the world what a truly special performer he is. WWE have got themselves an absolute star, and I’d lay money that they don’t even realize the degree yet.
Junior has a passion and a fire that connects with crowds on a real, legitimate level that is just so rare in this day and age. Either as an underdog babyface or a sneering heel, Axel has an ability to project himself and make people truly believe in him.
His big matches at the Markthalle in his hometown of Hamburg are totally must watch and may be the best hidden gems in wrestling this decade. The 2013 Hot & Spicy tag title challenge against the AUTsiders and then the Junior vs. Walter World title match a year later are so special. Watch them and you’ll see why.
This year with his work in PROGRESS as part of the Ringkampf group, he has been able to get more eyes on his work and has certainly turned heads in the process. Junior had so much more to give the European wrestling scene, and it’s a shame he’s leaving, but the worldwide scene is going to feel his presence very soon. He left his mark while we had him, that’s for sure!
By Chris Aiken
My favorite this week is not just one person, but a group of several. This past Sunday in Arena Mexico the mascot tag match stole the show as part of a Kids Day celebration.
Billed as “micro estrellas” on the CMLL card, the special attraction match featured the in-ring debut of Microman as he teamed with El Gallito to face El Perico Zakarias & Mije. The micro estrellas were heavily-promoted leading up to the holiday show, and they more than delivered in their featured role on the card.
With reportedly almost 17,000 people in attendance at Arena Mexico, the Kids Day card was an undeniable success. The most talked about match before and after the show involved the micro estrellas. Besides arguably proving to be a draw for the holiday, the micro estrellas match itself more than lived up to its billing and far exceeded expectations in the ring. In preparation, they apparently rehearsed and practiced ahead of time with the help of Ultimo Guerrero.
Everyone involved should feel they succeeded in not only helping to draw such a large crowd, but also putting on a memorable match that stole the show.
The South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper, Travis Banks & Dahlia Black)
By Mike DellaCamera
I was in Europe for the past few weeks, so I’m a bit behind in the world of wrestling. But the good thing about getting to spend hours cruising through the countryside on trains is that it allows you to catch up on some older wrestling that might have slipped through the cracks.
As a PROGRESS on-demand subscriber (which is highly recommended), I got to watch most of the WrestleMania week stuff that I missed, specifically PROGRESS vs. EVOLVE and PROGRESS: Orlando. The standouts of both shows were, by far, the New Zealanders.
When I first started watching PROGRESS, I was struck by how good TK Cooper was at making me hate him (I think he was featured in this column a while back). In the ring you could tell he was still a bit green, but everything else was very much there. His weaknesses were compensated by the Kiwi Buzzsaw, Travis Banks -- someone who I have yet to see have a bad match.
Those two, combined with Dahlia Black as their third made for a perfect team. Watching the various chapters, you could clearly see them grow and become more comfortable in the ring and as characters. This came to a head WrestleMania weekend with their matches against Catch Point and Shane Strickland & Sami Callihan (maybe my favorite tag match of the whole weekend). Both matches were excellent and, to me, seemed like a team that finally got everything, it all came together.
Unfortunately with the visas of Black and Cooper expiring and them being forced to return to New Zealand, the future of the SPPT is a bit murky. Their last match against the London Riots at PROGRESS Chapter 47: Complicated Simplicity, was a fantastic sendoff for the two. Here’s hoping they can return soon, and that above all else, they always keep it 100.