7 Rivalries to Care About in WWE the Week of June 23, 2019

Nah dawg, let me dial it up.

Hey, look at us! We made it through another week of WWE TV. Sure, there was a tug of war match in a wrestling ring, and okay fine, yes, there was an awful lot of Shane McMahon. But let’s be optimists, okay? NXT was cool, and Drew Gulak is Cruiserweight Champion now!

Since I looked at friendships last week, I thought: what if I looked at the opposite of friendship this week? And hey, I found some stuff to be excited about!

1. Kofi Kingston and Samoa Joe

After Kofi very valiantly defended the WWE Championship against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens one after the other on Monday’s Raw, he was attacked by Samoa Joe. After that very okay feud with Ziggler, Samoa Joe, the scariest, meanest guy on the roster, is exactly the kind of heel Kofi Kingston should be working with. Kingston, who radiates so much goodness that even my smart mark heart can’t help but cheer him on, is likewise the perfect babyface to work with Samoa Joe. It’s just a solid pairing that will hopefully remind all of us what a big deal this title is supposed to be.

2. Seth Rollins and Will Ospreay

Okay, fine, so technically this isn’t in WWE. What are you going to do about it? Call the wrestling journalism police? Go ahead and try. They don’t exist. Who cares if this Seth Rollins Will Ospreay beef isn’t inside the world of WWE kayfabe? It’s incredibly entertaining. For those of you who don’t keep up with wrestling outside of WWE, Will Ospreay is New Japan’s Junior Heavyweight Champion, a former competitive ballroom dancer, and just as big a dork as Seth Rollins is. They have been fighting on Twitter since Sunday afternoon’s Stomping Grounds event over which one of them works for a better company and is the best wrestler in the world. It’s one of the dumbest things you could possibly argue about, so I am delighted.

Obviously, neither of them is the best wrestler in the world. (That’s Meiko Satomura.) But watching these two major stars act so childishly encapsulates so much of what makes wrestling great.

3. Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Bálor

Speaking of New Japan, two former New Japan wrestlers who have been a little sidelined by WWE of late look like they are angling for an angle together. I don’t think it would be super controversial of me to say that Nakamura has been more than a little bit checked out in recent months/years/everything he’s done in WWE since that Sami Zayn match. But you know what? If I was as charismatic and loveable as Shinsuke Nakamura, I would never try at anything ever again in my life. I’m marginally charismatic and loveable now, and I half-ass almost everything I do. Cut the guy some slack! Anyways, he’s back, and I’m excited for him to feud with Bálor. Look at Nakamura confronting Bálor on Smackdown this week! There are some potent vibes there.

4. R-Truth and Drake Maverick

The 24/7 Championship is legitimately the hottest angle in WWE right now. Not to be all “I told you so” about it, but… I did say it was a great idea. Last weekend, R-Truth crashed Drake Maverick’s wedding with a referee to pin him for the belt. Maverick lost his shot to regain it on Monday’s Raw, and was left dejected on the floor on Tuesday night after an attempt to be emotionally honest with R-Truth also failed to get him the 24/7 Championship back. Goofy nonsense like this with weddings and tears and characters being incredibly emotionally immature— that’s what WWE does better than anyone else.

5. Tony Nese and Drew Gulak

I loved the Cruiserweight Championship triple threat match at Stomping Grounds on Sunday. I love having my favorite WWE talent Drew Gulak as a champion. One of the most exciting things about Drew Gulak as Cruiserweight Champion is the continuation of his long feud with his former friend and ally Tony Nese. The Drew Gulak who first got traction with WWE viewers was a comedic, buffoonish Powerpoint enthusiast, and it was turning on his friend Tony Nese that marked the shift into this much meaner character. Nese pointed out on this week’s 205 Live that Drew Gulak won his title by pinning Akira Tozawa, not Tony Nese. That can only mean more Gulak and Nese in the near future.

6. Bayley and Nikki Cross

You know what I love to see? Two Shimmer alums wrestling on basic cable. It doesn’t really matter to me that Nikki Cross used to be crazy and suddenly isn’t. (The Undertaker stopped being a zombie and was a cool biker guy for like… a WHILE. It’s wrestling. Who cares.) After being off TV for so long, it’s so cool and exciting to see Nikki Cross getting used so much! Plus, after her win over Bayley on this week’s Smackdown, might she be the next in line for a title shot? Please?

7. Io Shirai and Shayna Baszler The World

This week’s episode of NXT was pretty good, but the main event, a cage match between Io Shirai and Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship, was very good. This was Shirai’s third attempt at capturing the title from Baszler, and after a grueling cage match with repeated interference from Shayna’s horse girl henchwomen, was unsuccessful for a third time. Even with the help of Candice LeRae, wrestling’s most supportive friend! Baszler and Shirai have fantastic chemistry, and Shirai really brings out the best in the champ. I was spoiled on the outcome, but I was still horrified when Shirai lost.

Io Shirai didn’t just lose the match, she lost it, attacking Candice LeRae in the ring after the match was over and insisting to the camera “I don’t need friends.” Frustrated heel Io Shirai who hates absolutely everyone? Candice Lerae’s first actual angle in NXT being a potential feud with Io fucking Shirai? Is it my birthday or something? NXT, thank you.