Starting for 2011 I will highlight a Wrestler of Week. This is just a little way to highlight an individual (or tag team as the case may be) that had a particularly banner week in terms of storyline or on-air achievement. In addition to highlighting a Wrestler of Week, two honorable mentions will also be noted. Throughout the year point totals will be tallied. Each week 5 points will go to the actual Wrestler of the Week, 3 points going to the first Honorable Mention and 1 going to the second Honorable Mention. At the end of the year a Wrestler of the Year will be crowned.
Wrestler of the Week
After this week, “The American Dragon” nearly became a made-man in WWE. At the opening of last week’s SmackDown he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase and pinned World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry, who had been knocked out by The Big Show. The crowd and Bryan were euphoric, unfortunately Henry was not medically cleared to compete and the decision was over tuned. But he rebounded and later in the evening he defeated Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett and company golden boy Randy Orton in a fatal four way to earn an actual match against Henry this upcoming Tuesday on a live SmackDown. The pop Bryan got from the crowd during his phantom reign clearly showed the crowd was ready for him to become World Champion and should give the company confidence to push him hard in the near future.
Alongside Bryan, the WWE mid-card is just popping with entertaining villains. The Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes has really come into his own in 2011 and easy candidate for most improved. He finally found the perfect balance between his Dashing persona and his Dr. Doom persona. He added kneepads, dropped the protective facemask and nasally voice delivery and has become altogether more well rounded. He doesn’t look out of place in main events anymore, as was evident on SmackDown and his participation in the fatal four way main event. In addition on Monday Night RAW he destroyed Santino Marella in a much needed squash match to further build credibility in momentum going into 2012.
If Rhodes has any competition for most improved or break out star it is contemporary from the RAW brand, the United States Champion Dolph Ziggler. He has just grown leaps and bounds and has so much confidence in his in-ring character and on the microphone that it’s sickening. He consistently has the best match on free TV every week and this week was no different. On RAW he went toe-to-toe with WWE Champion CM Punk in a nearly four star match that will do nothing but elevate him in the right people’s eyes. Then on SmackDown he teamed with regular tag team partner Jack Swagger in a loss to Sheamus and Zack Ryder. While his team lost he still looked great in defeat and helped further along his burgeoning feud with Ryder, which should lead to a fun U.S. Title match between the two in the very near future.