The launch of the WWE Network this past week has given fans access to decades of pro wrestling content to pore over, but this week has also been notable for several unmissable matches showcasing what the WWE has to offer in the here and now.
The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view last Sunday offered up both an entertaining Chamber match and a faceoff between The Shield and the Wyatt Family that would have perhaps been a lock for match of the week in any normal week.
The build to The Shield vs. the Wyatts was executed perfectly, with continued faceoffs with very little contact until the week of Elimination Chamber. Even before the match began, the sheer sight of the two stables about to go at it had the crowd chanting "this is awesome," and what followed certainly lived up to the hype.
All six men were given the opportunity to stake their claim as part of the future of the WWE, and it would be difficult to argue that any of them stuck out as a weak link. Each competitor had a part to play and played it to perfection.
Special credit has to go to Seth Rollins, the sometimes overlooked "Architect" of The Shield who showed what he can do when given the spotlight. Whilst Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose may have more clearly defined roles when The Shield go their separate ways, Rollins continues to impress on a weekly basis, quietly quashing worries that he might fall by the wayside.
The Chamber match itself from the pay-per-view was also an entertaining contest, although perhaps not quite on the same level as the six-man earlier in the night.
Match of the Week for the Week of Feb. 21: Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn at NXT Arrival
If there was ever an opening match for the inaugural live NXT broadcast that would sell an audience at home on what makes NXT so special, this would be it.
Very good showing from the NXT crew, overall. All three big matches delivered, especially Zayn vs Cesaro. #NXTArRIVAL— LARIATOOOOO!!! (@SenorLARIATO) February 28, 2014
This fourth encounter between the pair in NXT was a treat for fans whether they've been following the careers of Cesaro and Zayn for weeks, months or years. Both men gave it their all in a match that met the high expectations set by their excellent 2-out-of-3 Falls match last year.
The wave of momentum that Cesaro is riding at the moment only added to the excitement to see him face off once again with Zayn, one of the brightest stars of the WWE's developmental system. Going into the match as the underdog, Zayn gave everything he had to earn the respect of the Swiss Superman, and no doubt the audience old and new enjoyed the show on the WWE Network.
What sets this bout a hair ahead of the match between The Shield and the Wyatt Family was the focus in its storytelling. By its nature, the six-man tag match was wild and raucous—and that is by no means a complaint—but the singles match won out on the basis of it being so clear in its narrative, as well as having a range of hugely entertaining spots.
Particularly impressive was how fresh the matchup managed to feel, and a big part of that was the way that it was accepted that both men were hugely familiar with the other's move set. Cesaro countering Zayn's through-the-ropes DDT with a sickening uppercut is a prime example of how the match made the most of the history between the two whilst still offering something new.
Cesaro was made to look like the rising star on the main roster that he is, and Zayn was allowed to thrive in his spot as the underdog. It was compelling stuff throughout and more evidence (should you need it) that both Cesaro and Zayn will be big figures in the WWE in years to come.
What was your favourite match on WWE programming this week? Leave your thoughts in the comments.