The first week of 2017 is in the history books and what a week it was. New champions were crowned, two pay-per-views took place, TNA was sold and Dixie Carter is no longer in charge, and Wrestle Kingdom 11 delivered an instant classic that’s a top contender for “best match ever.” This has been the most action packed and news driven first week to a new year in a long time, and if it’s anything to go by, 2017 is shaping up to be a great year for wrestling fans.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s just dive right in with the weekly recap:
Monday, January 2nd:
Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL
- Seth Rollins defeated Kevin Owens at 15:49
- Karl Anderson defeated Cesaro at 13:53
- Braun Strowman defeated Sami Zayn at 16:56 in a Last Man Standing match
- Xavier Woods defeated Titus O’Neill in 4:11
- Drew Gulak defeated Cedric Alexander
- Roman Reigns defeated Chris Jericho at 14:18
- TJ Perkins submitted Brian Kendrick at 4:38
- Rusev and Jinder Mahal defeated Big Cass
- Bayley defeated Nia Jax at 3:39
Raw scored a 2.09 rating, up from the 1.94 rating from the previous week. The show averaged 3.046 million viewers, up from the 2.855 million average last week.
Tuesday, January 3rd:
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL
- Baron Corbin defeated Dolph Ziggler at 16:43
- Becky Lynch defeated La Luchadora at 4:11
- Carmella defeated Aliyah at 2:55
- American Alpha defeated Breezango at 0:20
- Dean Ambrose defeated The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at 15:33
Smackdown Live scored a 1.78 rating, below the 2.02 from last week. Smackdown averaged 2.596 million viewers, that’s down from the 2.885 million count from last week.
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL
- Tajiri defeated Sean Maluta in 2:55
- Jack Gallagher defeated Tony Nese by DQ in 2:20
- Mustafa Ali beat Noam Dar in 6:30
- Neville defeated TJ Perkins in 11:35
Wednesday, January 4th:
Wrestle Kingdom 11
Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
- Michael Elgin defeated Billy Gunn, Bone Soldier, Cheeseburger, Jushin Thunder Liger, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Tiger Mask IV, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Yoshitatsu, Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiro Saito & Scott Norton [Pre-Show New Japan Rumble]
- Tiger Mask W defeated Tiger The Dark
- RPG Vice (Baretta and Rocky Romero) defeated The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) to win the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles
- Los Ingobernables de Japon (Bushi, Evil, and Sanada) won the NEVER 6-man Tag Team Titles in a gauntlet match over Satoshi Kojima, Ricochet, and David Finlay, Chaos (Will Ospreay, Jado, and Yoshi Hashi), and Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro, and Hangman Page)
- Cody (Rhodes) defeated Juice Robinson
- Adam Cole defeated Kyle O’Reilly to win the ROH Championship
- CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) defeated Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa) & GBH (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship
- Hiromu Takahashi defeated Kushida to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
- Hirooki Goto pinned Katsuyori Shibata to win the NEVER Openweight Championship
- Tetsuya Naito defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
- Kazuchika Okada defeated Kenny Omega to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Los Angeles, California
- Sexy Star defeated Mariposa via pinfall in 6:51
- The Reptile Tribe defeated Paul London’s Rabbit Tribe via pinfall in 7:04
- Johnny Mundo defeated The Mack via pinfall in 8:42
- The Revival defeated Tino Sabatelli and Riddick Moss via pinfall in 10:57
- Tye Dillinger and Buddy Murphy defeated Elias Samson and Bobby Roode via pinfall in 11:18
- Ember Moon defeated Billie Kay and Liv Morgan via pinfall in 8:27
- DIY defeated TM61 via pinfall in about 14:53 to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship
- Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Samoa Joe via pinfall in 18:40 to retain the NXT Championship in a Steel Cage match
This was a special two hour edition of NXT showing the Melbourne live event taped in December 2016.
Thursday, January 5th:
Impact Zone, Orlando, FL
- Moose beat Mike Bennett via split decision to retain the TNA Grand Championship
- Swoggle defeated Rockstar Spud in 1:05
- Decay beat Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett in 3:00
- Sienna beat Allie in 5:05
- Eddie Edwards defeated Lashley and EC3 in a Triple Threat to retain the TNA Title
Impact Wrestling drew 290,000 total viewers.
Friday, January 6th:
One Night Only: Live!
Impact Zone, Orlando, FL
- Lashley defeated Davey Richards
- DJZ beat Trevor Lee, Andrew Everett, and Braxton Sutter in a four-way elimination match to retain the X Division Championship
- Bram beat Robbie E
- Moose beat Mike Bennett in a No Holds Barred match
- Mahabali Shera beat Marshe Rockett
- Rosemary beat Sienna to retain the TNA Knockouts Championship
- James Storm beat Jessie Godderz
- Broken Matt and Jeff Hardy defeated Eli Drake and Tyrus to retain the TNA Tag Titles
- Eddie Edwards defeated EC3 to retain the TNA Championship
MATCH OF THE WEEK:
IWGP Heavweight Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega – Wrestle Kingdom 11
I still need to watch this match with English commentary, but I’ve seen it with the Japanese commentary (which I hate because I don’t speak the language, thus it’s just noise to me) and definitely agree with all the praise this match has gotten.
If you haven’t seen it, go out of your way to do so immediately. It is nothing short of a wrestling masterpiece. It’s the Match of the Week by far, and it’ll be Match of the Month as well. The odds of it not being Match of the Year is pretty slim. It is as close to perfection as a wrestling match can get.
This match was so good that Dave Meltzer gave it six stars. I’m not really a Meltzer fan and don’t put much stock in his “official ratings” like some folks do, but in this case I feel he was spot on.
Apparently folks within WWE creative and management have seen this match and now want WrestleMania to have a “great main event.” We’ll see, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Certainly WWE has a number of folks on the roster that given the opportunity and the time, could deliver a rival MOTY contender, but I wouldn’t look for it.
If you consider yourself a wrestling fan then you absolutely need to see this match. It is a definitive MUST WATCH even if you like to just stay inside a WWE bubble.
WRESTLER OF THE WEEK:
Could there be any other choice this week? When there’s a match that instantly gets billed “best match ever,” then you better believe one of the folks in said match is going to get Wrestler of the Week honors. It almost seems silly to limit it to only one person when it obviously took two people to deliver the above match of the week.
Kenny Omega gets the honor. Okada is no stranger to five star matches, but he also didn’t really raise his stock because he isn’t going to leave Japan. Kenny Omega on the other hand has never been hotter and the Wrestle Kingdom 11 main event makes him the hottest free agent available if he does decide to leave New Japan as he hinted at in a tweet.
Omega had a fantastic 2016, and now 2017 is off to a start like it’s going to be bigger and better for the 33-year-old. Arguably, there is no better wrestler right now than Kenny Omega. AJ Styles is probably his closest competition right now. If WWE wants him, they’re going to have to shell out some money. He’s not going to work more dates for less money than he can make doing his thing elsewhere. That’s what’s possible when someone goes out and makes himself the top wrestler in the world outside of WWE and their machine.
Whatever the future holds for Kenny Omega, we can’t wait to see it.
We are on the road to WrestleMania and our first big stop is Sunday, January 29th. It’s the Royal Rumble, emanating for the first time in 20 years from the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX.
Several matches have already been announced including AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship. Cena is seeking to tie Ric Flair’s record by becoming a 16 time world heavyweight champion. The champion has had John Cena’s number though.
On Smackdown, the two men signed the contract to make their championship match official.
On RAW Monday night, Bayley defeated Nia Jax and in doing so won the opportunity to face Charlotte. So at the Royal Rumble it’ll be Bayley vs. Charlotte for the RAW Women’s Championship.
Previously announced for the Royal Rumble, it’ll be Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. In this match, Chris Jericho will be high above the ring in a shark cage to “guarantee” that he can’t interfere in the match.
As for the Royal Rumble Match itself, coming into this week we knew that both Goldberg and Brock Lesnar were in. This week we saw more names get tossed into the 30-man rumble as Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Big E, Chris Jericho, Braun Strowman, and Baron Corbin all announced that they would be in the match. In the case of Baron Corbin, he is the only confirmed Smackdown superstar in the match thus far.
That’s going to do it for this week’s wrestling wrap-up, the Weekly Wrestling Feature. WWF will return next Saturday to recap the second week of wrestling in 2017 as we continue to near Royal Rumble on the 29th of January.