Sunday, August 20, 2017

WWE Power Rankings

Because I'm stuck at work during Summerslam, and because I haven't written anything in a while, and because I love lists, I'm gonna do an off-the-cuff "power rankings" of the top male superstars in WWE. I'm going to hold off on including anyone from NXT, because while I'm sure Bobby Roode deserves to be ranked, I'm less certain about anyone else, and I don't want to speak about a subject that I don't feel like I have all the information I'd need.

The basic logic for this is what I think of their "championship trajectory" for the next 18 months or so. Current title-holders will be credited for their current titles. For the purposes of these rankings, I'm assuming the following:

- RAW titles > Smackdown titles > 205 Live titles
- Universal Title > Intercontinental Title > RAW Tag Titles
- WWE Title > US Title > Smackdown Tag Titles

Reverse order, because drama.

25. Rusev - This slot was initially Bray Wyatt, but honestly, Wyatt is pretty much nowhere right now. Rusev isn't much better, but he at least is active. I wish Jinder hadn't stolen all of his "evil foreigner" mustard.

24. Breezango - People forget this, but Tyler Breeze and Fandango aren't just jokers. They can put on some great matches. At some point I have to think the WWE will want to get them back in the ring with more frequency, and I think they'll make their way into the title picture as the tag division evolves.

23. Akira Tozawa - I mean he's the Cruiserweight champion now. Can't completely dismiss that, even though the Cruiserweight title isn't terribly important.

22. Sami Zayn - Right now he doesn't feel close, but he's a great performer and is still over with the fans. A brief reign as US champion could be useful for him.

21. The Usos - Somebody's gotta be Smackdown tag champions. You'll see what I think of the New Day later, but the Usos will likely be one of the top two tag teams in Smackdown for a long, long time.

20. Baron Corbin - A week ago, Corbin would've been 5-10 slots higher, but dropping the MITB briefcase is a massive blow. I could see the WWE doing a whole loose cannon/redemption angle, and Corbin not getting another legitimate title shot until Wrestlemania or later.

19. Neville - I don't think Neville will win back his Cruiserweight title tonight, and I don't think he should. He's an excellent performer and makes good heel promos. Time to elevate him to a real title.

18. Randy Orton - It's certainly possible that Orton finds himself in another title match or ten, but the whole Mahal program has sapped so much of his steam. Probably I'm underestimating him, and overestimating the WWE's ability to read their fans, but I think Orton's trending down.

17. Jinder Mahal - If he is a champion for more than 6 hours of the next 18 months, it's a colossal waste of the WWE's title picture. But this is a company that's already given him three months as champion, so clearly he's going to get some more gold.

16. Finn Balor - His only real issue is that the top of the RAW roster is four massive physical specimens. Beating Bray tonight will help (which is a virtual certainty), but he's still going to look overmatched against someone like Lesnar or Strowman. Might be better suited for an IC title reign.

15. The Hardy Boyz - I have zero idea where the Hardys are headed. I feel like they and the company would benefit from shipping one of them over to Smackdown; Jeff could feud with Rollins or Styles going into Survivor Series and give us a match we've never seen to look forward to.

14. Big Cass - I'm not impressed, but he's been obliterating Enzo every week for like two months, and pummeling the Big Show a fair amount as well. It's obvious he's got an upward trajectory.

13. Braun Strowman - Braun is almost certain to hold the Universal Championship sometime over the next six months. How long that title reign is remains to be seen, but if he doesn't win the championship soon, his whole rivalry with Roman Reigns will feel like a waste.

12. The Miz - I'm convinced that the WWE wants The Miz to break Jericho's record number of Intercontinental title reigns. So I expect him to lose it and win it again at least twice over the next 18 months. That puts him about here on the list.

11. Samoa Joe - If I thought his character would settle for the Intercontinental Championship, I'd rate Joe higher. But he seems like a "Universal Title or bust" sort of character, and that's just a harder nut to crack. He's a great heel and a decent in-ring performer, though, so the chance is there.

10. Shinsuke Nakamura - He's very, very over. I'm not sure if he'll win the title from Jinder Mahal tonight, but clearly the WWE title can reasonably be won by an unproven commodity, since Jinder was like 3-41 when he got his title shot.

9. The New Day - It's starting to feel like the New Day needs to split up. I would've done the split up at the post-Wrestlemania "Superstar Shake-up," and immediately thrown them into programs for individual titles. All three are great performers, good on the mic, and believable champions. What are you waiting for??

8. Sheamus & Cesaro - The current tag champions (until like 9:00 PM tonight, according to most predictions), Sheamus and Cesaro actually have been a pretty great tag team in my opinion. They're both solid workers...okay, Sheamus is solid and Cesaro is incredible. If the team ever splits up, I'd put plenty of money on both of them holding gold again.

7. Dean Ambrose - I think he and Seth Rollins will probably win the tag titles at Summerslam, but it seems a trend in the wrong direction for Dean. I'm sure he'll be in the mix for some gold, but I'm really uncertain what WWE Creative has planned for him.

6. Kevin Owens - The prize fighter fights for prizes. He's an incredible mic guy, draws insane heat especially from young fans, and puts on great, GREAT matches. He's gonna be all over the title scene.

5. Seth Rollins - Something feels odd about the whole "Shield reunification" angle he's got going with Dean, and I really don't expect it to last very long. Rollins puts on phenomenal matches, and is a great heel on the mic. Take one guess how I expect Rollins/Ambrose to pan out as a tag team.

4. Brock Lesnar - He's been surprisingly present at RAW over the past couple months, and while I'm still not a fan of his part-time nature, I fully expect him to be in the title hunt whenever he's around.

3. Roman Reigns - I find him pretty boring, but it's obvious that the WWE has no intention of slowing down the Roman train. He'll be fighting for titles for the next ten years.

2. John Cena - He gets plenty of boos, but he's also probably the most popular active wrestler in the WWE. He's a huge name, he still puts on great matches, and when he's in a main event, you buy into it. For a company that's had Jinder Mahal in two main events this year, that's not nothing.

1. A.J. Styles - A.J. Styles should be in every main event on every big four pay-per-view. He's the best entertainer in the company, and there are still so many great matches that we haven't seen out of him yet because he's still pretty fresh to the WWE world. He's over with everyone, and he deserves to be.

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