Monday, March 7, 2016

Fave Five 2/29/16-3/6/16

1) Zack Sabre Jr.: Obviously, I wasn't able to see PWG's All-Star Weekend events but the biggest news of the week came out of it. Roderick Strong had been PWG Champion for 449 days, making him the second longest reigning champion in company history. He was also only the second man, behind Adam Cole, to hold it for a full calendar year. That all changed this weekend as Zack Sabre Jr. dethroned him to win the title for the first time. Sabre and Strong had two classics last year with the first being for the PWG Title as Sabre came extremely close to winning the strap. Sabre won the rematch, taking place in Evolve and took home the very important rubber match and becoming champion. If their first two matches were any indication, this third one was excellent.

2) Fenix: It was a tremendous week if you were interested in seeing some truly great matches early in the year. It's too tough to really call for a best match of the week, so I'm putting the guys who won both of my favorites this week in the next two spots. First up is Fenix from Lucha Underground. Fenix has been spectacular this season and pretty much since I first laid eyes on his work. On the season premiere, he lost his Gift of the Gods Championship to King Cuerno in a great match. This week, he got a shot to regain it in only the third Ladder match in LU history. It turned out to be the best Ladder match in their history, filled with a mix of great spots and psychology. Fenix was able to retrieve the title and become the first two time champion in Lucha Underground history. This win puts him in line for a shot at the Lucha Underground Title and his arch rival, Mil Muertes.

3) Tetsuya Naito: Outside of that Ladder match, the best thing this week was Tetsuya Naito's match with Tomohiro Ishii. Both guys are among my five favorite guys in New Japan Pro Wrestling and they had a fantastic match for the NEVER Openweight Title back in 2014 so I had good feelings about this. Currently, the New Japan Cup Tournament is taking place. This was a second round bout and proved to be the match of the tournament. Naito won after countering a brainbuster into Destino, advancing to the Semi-Finals against Michael Elgin. Naito also defeated YOSHI-HASHI in a better than expected first round match this week. Oddly enough, Naito reportedly stated that he won't be going after any titles at Invasion Attack if he wins the New Japan Cup.

4) Finn Balor: In yet another really strong match this week, NXT Champion Finn Balor defeated Neville. It was a battle of two of the seven NXT Champions in history. These two had a fantastic match at TakeOver: Rival last year and this one was nearly just as good. It started a bit slow like that one but once it got going, things clicked masterfully. Each guy had the other well scouted and countered one another very well. Finn finally kept him down after the Coup de Grace and Bloody Sunday. Adding onto Finn's solid week was when I saw him live at NXT Cleveland. He retained his NXT Championship in a really fun Fatal Four Way against Apollo Crews, Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin. Finn also proved to be a swell guy, giving my girlfriend a hug in the front row at my request.

5) Dean Ambrose: The Triple H/Roman Reigns program has been pretty lackluster. So far, Reigns is 0-2 in interesting WrestleMania builds. On the flip side, Dean Ambrose is now in a rivalry with Triple H as well and it is going spectacularly better. Dean may have taken a beating to close out Raw but he got what he wanted. A WWE Title shot at the upcoming Roadblock special. Then, on Smackdown, Ambrose continued to be a focal point, opening the show with a promo and defeating his old rival Kevin Owens in a non-title main event match.