SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.
The Undertaker: Roman Reigns is “hitting on all cylinders”
Roman Reigns continued his brilliance Friday night on SmackDown.
Since his return to WWE last August, following a nearly six-month absence, Reigns’s presence has stood out as the most compelling part of WWE programming. He has starred in feuds with a range of talent, including Kevin Owens, Daniel Bryan and Cesaro, and he has rebranded his persona as one that is cerebral, egotistical and ruthless. Whether it’s in the ring or on the mike, he keeps finding a way to deliver.
The most recent SmackDown was no different. Reigns laid out an objective to the Usos, demanding that they win the tag team titles in their match against Rey and Dominik Mysterio. Jimmy and Jey fell short in that pursuit, losing the match when the referee missed that Jimmy had his shoulder raised during what was recorded as Dominik’s winning pinfall.
The aftermath featured an apoplectic Reigns demanding that the situation be rectified. He purposely confused Jey and Jimmy, mocking his twin cousins and shining a light on the idea that they are merely interchangeable members of a tag team. This interaction highlighted the layers of their ongoing story line, with Reigns’s obsession with maintaining his status as “The Head of The Table,” while Jey is fighting an internal conflict of whether to stay loyal to his brother Jimmy or remain blindly devoted to Reigns.
When the Mysterios-Usos match was restarted in the SmackDown main event, it ended after interference by Reigns. Reigns beat down both Rey and Dominik Mysterio, sparking interest in a singles match against Rey by refusing to relent in his attack on Dominik.
Reigns’s performance has caught the attention of top stars across the industry, including The Undertaker.
“I’m so proud of where he is,” says Mark Calaway, who had an iconic 30-year run in WWE as The Undertaker. “The night of Survivor Series [in November], I went up to Roman and Jey and said, ‘This is the most compelling story that we’ve done in a while.’ And where he’s been able to take it, it’s so good. It’s not forced. Roman is hitting on all cylinders.”
Dating back to their time together in WCW, Calaway has history working with Paul Heyman. It was Heyman, in fact, who helped play a role in Calaway’s first connecting with WWE before he signed in 1990. And it is Heyman who is playing an integral part in Reigns’s current success.
“Obviously, Paul Heyman is the perfect mouthpiece,” Calaway says. “He’s there whenever it’s needed, and he adds so much. They work so well together.”
Watching Reigns, Calaway notes, it is impossible not to imagine what could be if he himself were a few years younger.
“I think he’s a great heel—coldhearted, calculated,” Calaway says. “There is a compelling backstory and you still feel the tension when Roman appears. Like I said, I’m really proud of him.
“I wish I had the gas in the tank to work a program with him now. It would definitely be something special.”
Aramís signs with MLW, wins Warrior Wrestling’s lucha championship
Major League Wrestling announced last week that Aramís is the newest addition to its roster.
While other stories made bigger waves, this has the potential to be a massive move. The 22-year-old luchador is spectacular, and every single appearance on MLW programming will show why he is the future of the industry.
“This dream began when I was five years old,” Aramís says through a translator. “Then I knew with all certainty when my dad took me to my first training session. When I stepped in the ring, I knew I would never leave. My love, admiration and respect for this has only grown since.”
An 11-year pro—which, yes, means he began wrestling at the age of 11—Aramís flies with grace and power. A student of Konnan, Aramís is grateful for the patience, guidance and lessons he has learned from him.
“Konnan has been a fundamental part of my career, and I will always be grateful to him for believing in me,” Aramís says. “Because of that, AAA has trusted and supported me. Now I have even more of a chance to show my style of fighting. It has even opened the door to my new house, which is MLW.”
Aramís works an exciting style of lucha that should instantly appeal to audiences around the world, and he should instantly connect with a live audience in MLW during its tapings in July. He lit up the crowd last weekend during his appearance for Warrior Wrestling in Chicago, where he became Warrior Wrestling’s first lucha libre champion.
“I am very thankful for the opportunity from Warrior Wrestling,” Aramís says. “I am honored to be the first to hold that championship. I was also very excited to be with all those fans supporting us. I am more than excited to show fans in the United States what I can do and give them the thanks they deserve.”
Aramís also teamed with Arez, another talent with an incredibly bright future, to win the tag team titles for the Chicago-area promotion Galli Lucha Libre. And as the lucha libre style continues to grow in popularity throughout the wrestling business, Aramís is eager to showcase lucha to the world. He will make a significant contribution to the industry with a style and approach as mesmerizing as his, but he also wants to do more, believing that wrestling can inspire people to accomplish more than they have ever imagined.
“I have been inspired by my idols, and that is a goal I want to fulfill—inspire people to achieve their goals,” Aramís says. “I hope they look to me for that inspiration. I am fighting and chasing the goal of making history. If people feel the same way, willing to chase their dreams, because they watch me, that will be the greatest feeling I can ever attain.”
The name Aramís was presented to him by his teacher, El Justiciero, and he believes it suits his personality—and his choice of mask—perfectly.
“That name was waiting for me,” Aramís says. “I feel like it waited for me to take it. And I hope that people love my mask. It is the most precious thing I carry. It allows me to transform into a whole new fighter, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I have received because of it. My mask has accompanied me through every step of my dream, and it will continue to be with me always.”
The list of opponents for Aramís in MLW is full of potential. He would work exceptionally well with performers like Jacob Fatu and Tom Lawlor, or in great clash of styles working a program with Alexander Hammerstone. Initially, his focus will likely be Myron Reed and MLW’s world middleweight championship, as well as serving as a staple for the new Azteca Underground brand.
“I am so proud to represent Mexico in the United States,” Aramís says. “I want to set the example. I will show my struggle in the ring and my desire to overcome the toughest battles. I am so very grateful for this opportunity, and I cannot wait to get in the ring and show the world what I can do.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- The Shingo Takagi era has begun. Takagi crowned himself the new IWGP world heavyweight champion at Dominion, and watching him make the most of this opportunity—beginning with a Kota Ibushi program—will be one of the most compelling stories in the industry.
- There was another title change in Japan over the weekend, as Keiji Mutoh—also known around the globe as The Great Muta—dropped Pro Wrestling NOAH’s GHC heavyweight championship on Sunday to Naomichi Marufuji. The match featured this outstanding moonsault from Mutoh.
- Bayley continues to add value every week to SmackDown, and her heel character is perfect for Bianca Belair to play off.
- Both Usos-Mysterios matches from SmackDown were very good, and this sequence particularly was outstanding.
- Jungle Boy teamed with Christian Cage Friday on Dynamite, defeating Private Party in an entertaining match. He is building momentum ahead of his AEW title match against Kenny Omega on the June 26 edition of Dynamite, which should be appointment viewing.
- Josh Alexander’s brilliance was on display again in his Iron Man match against TJP.
- Kylie Rae was back in action this weekend, defeating Deonna Purrazzo—who is the Impact Knockouts champ—in a successful defense of her Warrior Wrestling women’s title match. Kylie Rae was also on the NWA’s When Shadows Fall card on Sunday, and it was announced on the show that she is now part of the NWA roster.
- Last week was a rare chance to see New Japan great Satoshi Kojima on back-to-back nights, as he was victorious in Impact on Thursday and then again on NJPW Strong on Friday.
- Tama Tonga shared his take on WWE’s decision to release six performers, which included Braun Strowman (who would be a perfect fit in New Japan), Ruby Riott (would be great in AEW) and Aleister Black (who would help Impact redefine itself once the belt is taken off Kenny Omega).
- Matt Cardona made headlines on Sunday with a phenomenal surprise appearance for GCW. Cardona, who starred as Zack Ryder in WWE, is someone that is just so much fun to cheer for and see succeed.
- Mega Ran created an exceptional hip-hop tribute to the Kenny Omega–Kazuchika Okada rivalry.
- Zayn and Kevin Owens were both tweeting on Monday night (while still staying true to their feud) about the Montreal Canadiens, who have been on a Cinderella-like run in the NHL playoffs by winning seven in a row. The NHL playoffs also feature a series pitting the Boston Bruins against the New York Islanders, playing at dueling WrestleMania venues. The Bruins play at the TD Garden, which was the home of WrestleMania XIV, which saw Steve Austin defeat Shawn Michaels to become world champion, while the Islanders are back for one final run at Nassau Coliseum, the host of the Roddy Piper–Mr. T showcase at WrestleMania II.
- Io Shirai made her NXT return on Tuesday night. Following an outstanding run as champion, her chase to regain her NXT title will be a highly anticipated story.
- I will be part of the NXT TakeOver: In Your House preshow panel on Sunday, which has a card highlighted by what looks to be an incredible five-way NXT title match. Later this week I’ll have a story on Todd Pettengill, who played an integral part for WWE on-camera during the early parts of the In Your House era.
Rising star Becca meets Davienne at Limitless Wrestling’s “Fortune Favors the Bold”
Limitless Wrestling will present its Fortune Favors the Bold show on Sunday, and the card stands out for the number of emerging stars performing. Daniel Garcia is back in action, as well as the captivating Alec Price. Another highly touted prospect making a statement every time she steps in the ring is Becca, who meets Davienne in what should be a hard-hitting, inventive match featuring two rising stars in the industry.
Becca is carrying on the legacy of women’s wrestling in New England. She brings an energy and enthusiasm to every one of her matches, with her Vacationland Cup match against Davienne in December standing out as one of her best. The rematch airs Sunday on IWTV, and she believes that Round 2 will be an even more gripping presentation of the craft.
“There is so much at stake for me in this match,” says Becca, who prefers not to share her last name. “Davienne is the top female wrestler in New England. She really is the gatekeeper, and she’s also an amazing person outside the ring. There’s a natural chemistry between us, and I’m so excited for people to see this match.”
Just 23 years old, Becca has only been active in pro wrestling for the past year. Her debut singles match took place in January 2020 for Chaotic Wrestling, where she is now women’s champion. She took a unique path to wrestling, first finding it while in college at Northeastern University in Boston, studying computer engineering and computer science.
Her initial introduction was the Netflix show GLOW, which helped inspire her to learn the craft at the Bell Time Club, a throwback wrestling factory just north of Boston. Given her limited time as a pro, her rapid growth in the ring is especially remarkable. It is the result of her drive and determination at the New England Pro Wrestling Academy, where she continues to train.
“At first, years ago when I didn’t know any better, I thought wrestling wasn’t real,” Becca says. “Now it’s the most real thing I know. The connection in the ring, and what you can create, is magical.”
One element that adds so much excitement to Becca’s work is her creativity, which is noticeable as soon as the bell rings. Her innovative style has brought new flavor to an older, established industry. And her matches allow the chance to further fine-tune her skill set, which features an array of kicks and even a Vader Bomb Senton she refers to as Beck to the Future.
“I’m so focused on what I’m doing,” says Becca, who also carved out a unique character as the leader of the Scrunchie Squad. “I am caught up in making the most of the moment, and I’m just amazed how much people care.”
The match against Davienne is another opportunity to build a connection with viewers before Limitless returns to live crowds.
“I love doing this,” Becca says. “When other people enjoy it, too, that makes me really happy. I feel like we’re in it together. And people aren’t going to want to miss this match.”
Tweet of the Week
The wrestling world needs more CM Punk.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.