My Favorite Wrestler (This Week): Styles, Ospreay, Bayley, more

Welcome to My Favorite Wrestler (This Week), the new weekly column where the Wrestling Observer team chooses exactly what the title says: their favorite wrestler of the week!

Our criteria is based on anything a wrestler has done in a given week. We may make our decision based on their work in the ring or as a promo, because of an entertaining appearance on a podcast or something interesting they said in an interview, for an appearance they made in other media, like John Cena on SNL, for a tweet they sent out or something they posted on Instagram, anything really.

This week’s panel —
Alan Boon (Columnist)
Will Cooling (Columnist)
Joseph Currier (News/website editor)
Mike DellaCamera (Columnist)
Zach Dominello (Columnist)
Paul Fontaine (UFC reporter & ratings expert)
Ryan Frederick (UFC reporter)
Bryan Rose (NJPW/205 Live reporter)

Here’s our picks! Who’s yours?

The Kotatsu table —

By Zach Dominello

What a week to start this column. What with New Japan’s New Beginning, to WWE’s Elimination Chamber match, to the Women’s Championship match on Raw, to the worst thing to happen to TV friendships since Scrubs went off the air, I find myself hard-pressed to choose a favorite wrestler this week.

I was in two minds, well three actually, trying to choose between Tetsuya Naito, Michael Elgin, and Hiromu Takahashi, but then I watched DDT “DRAMATIC NERIMA THE FIGHTER 2017” on DDT Universe, and any doubt I had just disappeared. My favorite wrestler this week is the current DDT Iron Man Heavymetalweight Champion (though knowing that title, it’ll probably change hands, or in this case legs, ten times before I finish this sentence): the Kotatsu table.

Yes, a table currently holds a title in DDT. Watching a table interfere in a match, have a promo cut on it by a wrestler who then beats it down and tries to steal its title, only to be stopped by another wrestler who also tries to steal its title, but then the two wrestlers take each other out and leave the Kotatsu standing tall in the ring, is really quite something. Only in DDT.

Austin Aries —

By Paul Fontaine

My favorite wrestler for this week didn’t even wrestle but that doesn’t matter. It’s Austin Aries, and if you’re not watching him on 205 Live…well, you’re really missing out.

The highlight for me, and what makes him my favorite of the week was simply one comment after a Rich Swann promo (that was also pretty good). Swann was taunting his opponent, Noam Dar, and finished his promo by saying, “I’m dedicating this match to the lovely and talented…Alicia FAAAAAWWWWWWWWWKKKKKKSSSS,” mimicking the way Dar says Alicia Fox’s name.

Aries responded by saying, “What did he say she does?” It doesn’t take much to entertain me, but that was it for me this week!

AJ Styles —

By Bryan Rose

My favorite wrestler this week is none other than AJ Styles. This was the week that I realized just how big of an asset he is to the SmackDown brand. I don’t know one match so far this year of his that was bad — he’s consistently awesome, and he proved to be no different this week in the SmackDown main event.

It was one of the better matches I’ve seen on the show since the brand split, full of spectacular action. And this follows his great performance in the Elimination Chamber from Sunday! Just a tremendous wrestler and is the first person who comes to mind as my favorite wrestler of this week.

Trent Seven —

By Will Cooling

My favorite wrestler this week has to be Trent Seven. I felt the owner of pro wrestling’s finest beard was underserved by the WWE UK Championship tournament due to his elimination at the quarterfinal stage. He deserved better than to be lost in the shuffle. Seven has genuine charisma, with his unique look and mannerisms allowing him to instantly grab peoples’ attention.

Despite being larger than the average UK wrestler, he is able to keep the pace with smaller rivals, combining athleticism and power. Plus, did I mention how great that beard is? So it was reassuring to see him get the chance to showcase what he can do on NXT against his (*cough* tag team *cough*) partner Tyler Bate.

Obviously the WWE imposes limitations on what is and isn’t possible, but Seven seized the chance to remind people that he’s every bit as good as the WWE UK title tournament’s final four.

Will Ospreay —

By Alan Boon

My favorite wrestler this week — and for many of the weeks over the past two years — is Will Ospreay. There are times when I can’t believe it’s the same guy I didn’t get the first time I saw him but he never fails to impress with his timing, athleticism, innovation, and sheer talent.

This week, in the space of 36 hours (and with a flight from Osaka to London in between) he fought in three completely different matches. The first, against Katsuyori Shibata, on New Japan’s New Beginning in Osaka, was a hard-hitting grudge match, the culmination of weeks of them going at each other with all the brutality usually associated with Shibata. The second, also part of a feud, was the opener at WCPW’s True Destiny iPPV, where he and Ricochet had to come up with a completely different type of match to the one they’d usually have because the top rope broke in the first few minutes.

And finally, about an hour later, he pulled double-duty to win the WCPW Tag Team titles with Scotty Wainwright, in a car crash of a ladder match, with stunts and bumps aplenty. He’s got something special, alright, and we’re only just finding out how special.

Bayley —

By Joseph Currier

Monday night wasn’t the right time for Bayley to win her first Raw Women’s Championship, but none of that really mattered to me as it happened. Bayley’s title win represented the best of professional wrestling. And while the timing could’ve been better, the moment was perfect in a way that WWE rarely ever manages to achieve.

Bayley’s promotion to the main roster had been neither an overwhelming success nor a failure up until Monday night. She was a valuable part of the Raw women’s division, though often was secondary to Charlotte and Sasha Banks’ title feud.

I’m of the belief that Bayley can be a star above anyone else in the women’s division. While Banks and Becky Lynch have a real connection with the audience, Bayley’s character and her genuine personality allow her to stand above everyone else. Whether she can truly be the star that she was in NXT remains to be seen, but her Raw main event against Charlotte was the most obvious example since her promotion that Bayley is translating with the WWE audience.

The actual match was secondary to the moment, but Charlotte and Bayley put on a great showing that is a legitimate contender for the best WWE main roster women’s match ever. The finish in particular was excellent and used outside interference to elevate what was already a stellar match.

Bayley may not hold the title for long. And we’ll see if WWE can recapture the atmosphere from Monday night when she wins the title again, whether that’s at WrestleMania, SummerSlam, or some other destination. But Monday night was perfect, and Bayley is an obvious choice for my favorite wrestler this week.

Chris Jericho —

By Mike DellaCamera

My favorite wrestler this week is one who didn’t even wrestle and that wrestler is Chris Jericho.

After being a part of one of, if not, THE best segments in the last 5-10 years of Raw, Jericho continues to prove that there has never been anyone like him. The amount of characters he has played is equal parts astonishing and impressive. From a cruiserweight in the halcyon days of WCW, to the top-knot wearing troll version of Jericho, the iconic Y2J version, the suit wearing “Best in the World at What he Does,” and (my personal favorite, and the most recent edition) the devastated best friend.

We all knew what was coming Monday, it wasn’t exactly the most shocking turn of all time, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t absolutely crushing. When Jericho dropped the over-the-top shtick and told Kevin Owens that working with him was the best time of his life, and then called him his brother? My grinch heart grew three full sizes. And when he saw his name on the list? That same grinch heart shattered into a million tiny pieces.

Luke Harper —

By Ryan Frederick

My favorite wrestler this week is Luke Harper. Harper is finally getting some good momentum behind him from the fans and turned in his best singles performance against Randy Orton on Sunday at Elimination Chamber.

While he didn’t wrestle on SmackDown this week, he let his presence be felt when he attacked new WWE Champion Bray Wyatt (who was also a contender for my pick this week), laying him out with a superkick, prior to Wyatt’s triple threat match on Tuesday. It’s nice to see Harper get that push as he’s an excellent worker, and I hope it’s a sign of big things to come with him.

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