Welcome to My Favorite Wrestler (This Week). Each week, the Wrestling Observer team chooses, you guessed it, their favorite wrestler of the week.
Fastlane was a drag, NJPW’s 45th anniversary show was great, the Hardys have joined ROH, and Rick Rude’s going into the WWE Hall of Fame. It was another week of ups and downs in pro wrestling. Here are our favorite wrestlers this week. Who’s yours?
This week’s panel —
Alan Boon (Columnist)
Zach Dominello (Columnist)
Ryan Frederick (UFC reporter)
Arya Witner (NXT reporter)
By Zach Dominello
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My favorite wrestler this week is one of my favorite wrestlers in general, Tomoaki Honma.
On March 3rd, Honma took a routine draping DDT and had to be carried out of the ring as he was, in the words of NJPW medical trainer Takeshi Misawa, quadriplegic. Fortunately, he’s since regained some movement in his legs and can grip objects, and is reportedly making progress.
It’s a terrible reminder of just how quickly things can go wrong, and not just for wrestlers in the ring, but for all of us. Sometimes fans like you and me get too caught up in our opinions about booking decisions, who should be getting pushed, or who’s not being utilized, that we sometimes take for granted just how dangerous pro wrestling really is. It’s important to appreciate the good things in wrestling, and in life in general, which is basically the whole point of this column.
Speaking of good things, in typical, amazing Honma fashion, Misawa also said that Honma apologized for making fans worry, and is basically in good spirits and keeping positive. I’m pretty sure if I was in the hospital and could barely move, positive would not describe my mode. I guess that’s the power of kokeshi.
Also huge props to last week’s My Favorite Wrestler Satoshi Kojima for his awesome Honma tribute during his match at New Japan’s 45th anniversary show.
Here’s to a full and speedy recovery. Kokeshi is happy!
By Arya Witner
Sometimes it’s hard to pick one person as the best of the week, but this week it took me four seconds to realize it is your reigning, defending, undisputed Cruiserweight Champion of the world: Neville.
The cruiserweight division returned in September, and with very few exceptions the matches and segments have been forgettable and played in front of dead crowds. Neville returned in December, doing great heel promos and showing more personality than he has in the four years he has been under contract.
This week Neville managed to have two great matches, one with Jack Gallagher and one with Rich Swann, both of which took crowds accustomed to sitting on their hands and made them incredibly excited and were arguably the two best matches on their respective shows.
Now after the division seems to have finally gained some traction, we are going to get Neville vs. Austin Aries, which should be even better.
By Ryan Frederick
I can remember the days of being in middle school during the Monday Night Wars, and every Tuesday everyone was talking about what happened on Raw and Nitro. Goldberg was one of my favorite wrestlers during that period, and here we are in 2017, and he is the new WWE Universal Champion.
It’s a crazy world we live in, isn’t it? I know fans are upset that it was a 21-second squash of Kevin Owens, but it played perfectly into the stories of both mens’ WrestleMania future. It also brought back memories of when Goldberg used to squash random opponents on his way up the WCW ladder.
For those memories alone, and for Goldberg being champion and heading into the WrestleMania main event for what could be his last career match, I’m going with him as my favorite wrestler this week.
By Alan Boon
My favorite wrestler this week is Kevin Owens. The world of wrestling is unique — one where the loser in any contest plays as big a part as the winner, and never more so than when a competitor is requested to be a part of a momentous loss.
We can argue the merits — or lack of — of the Goldberg title win, and the 21-second match that brought it, but for a professional wrestler to engage in such career-threatening fantasy with the aplomb with which Owens approaches everything he does is notable.
He regained his heat the next night — as much as that is possible on a show on which everything seems intent on leaving everyone involved a lukewarm nothing (unless they are a part-timer from a previous era) — and will play a big part in WWE going forward.
But for this week, if you’ll excuse my rather business-exposing indulgence, Owens’ professionalism and sheer joy in anything he does wins him the award for me.