WWE Power Rankings going into Wrestlemania season

Apparently, it’s a good thing I didn’t see the Royal Rumble, because the general consensus from scuttlebutt is that it was pretty much the worst show on the planet, worse than last year’s Wrestlemania, the fans were unhappy all over the internet, and from the sounds of it, the fans at the venue were none too pleased either. Thinking back to the results, the heel(s) won every single match, and piggy backing onto the notion that HHH cronies always benefit, it’s a valid complaint seeing as how the New Age Outlaws took the tag belts, Randy Orton retained the World titles and Batista won the actual Royal Rumble. Hell, even Kevin Nash made a little appearance coin by being a surprise entrant in the Rumble. From the smarky perspective, it makes sense why there’s a lot of unrest amongst “the Universe.”

But I’m not here to talk about the unrest, or Mick Foley’s (IMO worked shoot) Facebook post that is taking the smark interwebs by storm. I’m here to be a little more backhanded and indirect, and I’ve got nothing else to write, so this seemed like as good as anything to write since it’s intriguing to me today.

A while back, I took it upon myself to share what I felt the value of the numerous WWE title belts were, in comparison to previous wrestling belts in history. The end game was to reveal that the belts of the present were pretty low in prestige, and in some cases was less valuable than things that weren’t even belts at all (IE, Money in the Bank briefcase). Anyway, I feel like making some wrestling comparisons again, but I’m going to take a little bit of a different approach. Instead of just talking about belts themselves, going into Wrestlemania, I think the best approach is to go more of like a power ranking system, since the thoughts swirling around in my head don’t all pertain towards belts exclusively.

Daniel Bryan is the best thing going in the WWE right now, and there’s nobody that can really deny it. He’s an incredible worker capable of bringing quality out of absolutely anyone, and he has fan support that hasn’t really been seen since like 1999 The Rock.

I could write a hundred more words about how awesome Daniel Bryan is right now, but it would be nothing that already hasn’t been said, read, or thought by anyone else who watches wrestling. But here’s the thing though – I honestly think that Daniel Bryan is simply too over. For everyone complaining that he didn’t beat Bray Wyatt, or also fight in, and win the Royal Rumble, I have to ask them, what good would either have accomplished? So he wins the Rumble, and wins the World Championship – what next?

The artistic performance the WWE does so well is the art of manipulating fan emotions, to where there’s a fine line of denying them what they want to see until they think it’s time for the payoff to occur, before they grow disenchanted and lose interest. Sometimes they succeed (Mick Foley), sometimes they fail (Hardy Boyz), but in this day and age with zero competition (TNA lol), the WWE can afford to continuously make the gamble repeatedly, and most of the times, people come back on their own accord.

Daniel Bryan is simply put bigger than the World Title right now. There’s absolutely no point in giving him the strap(s), while he’s still constantly able to be monstrously over, have all the fan support, and move merchandise. But ironically, he’s kind of handcuffed the creative team with what options they can really do with him, because a World Title run is ultimately an end game. As long as they can continue to milk the cow without having to kill it to sell, the WWE will attempt to do so, but there’s still a fine line of what they can do with him before people realize they’re being milked.

One of the best/worst things last year was when CM Punk lost the belt to The Rock, but then got over it really quickly, because of his now availability to challenge the Undertaker’s Streak at Wrestlemania 29. And in one of the feud’s introductory promos, CM Punk basically said that there was something more valuable and prestigious than the World Title, which was The Streak. It was the best, because it was 100% accurate, but it was the worst, because with one sentence, CM Punk had completely buried every single belt in the industry’s history.

Whether you agree with my opinion or not, the truth of the matter is that The Streak is a main attraction of every Wrestlemania over the last decade now, and we’re getting close to that time of year when on an episode of RAW, the lights will go out, thunder will crash, gongs will gong, maybe some druids will emerge, fog smoke will emit from the stage, and then the Undertaker will lumber down to the ring while The Universe goes ballistic.

Although I don’t think there’s any chance it would happen, but I’d love to see Daniel Bryan take down The Streak. It’s the only thing worthy of Daniel Bryan today, but at the same time, I can see the WWE’s reluctance of letting a 22-year old record snap at what they might historically believe to be a blip in the industry’s radar. So if I have to make guesses, I’m guessing Undertaker’s opponent this year will be Roman Reigns, if not all three members of the Shield in a handicapped match. Considering they were the ones who put him out of action after last year, it makes sense, and I can predict that with the hints of an eventual breakup of the group, there’s no better last hurrah than a program with The Dead Man.

Other possible opponents: Whomever loses the eventual Lesnar/Batista match I’m predicting will occur, or Bray Wyatt as a possible outside shot.

You know who’s going to get more screen time, acknowledgement and praise than Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow and Antonio Cesaro? An inanimate object.

From now until April, every single RAW, Smackdown, Main Event, and whatever Saturday morning show they have, is going to be showcasing the Wrestlemania XXX sign every single opportunity they can get. And within these shows, Batista will point at the sign fifty times, John Cena will point at it a hundred, and when the Undertaker emerges, he’ll stare at it forcefully a few times. The ringside cameramen will get really good at framing the shot from below, so that whenever a superstar stands on the turnbuckle, the sign is nice and present too.

Michael Cole will inevitably talk about his Wrestlemania victory over Jerry Lawler, Bradshaw will reminisce about Wrestlemanias past, and over and over again, the sign will be on screen.

The sign itself is nothing but a gigantic repeated advertisement, but the way it’s going to be treated over the next three months, it’s way more powerful than any belt within the company.

You know who else is bigger than any belt? CM Punk. I’ll be the first to admit he’s gotten a little too super facey over the last few months, and I cringed when he was doing a backstage segment with Renee Young (♥), and he introduced John Cena like he were Hulk Hogan introducing the Ultimate Warrior, when he was all like “AND MY PARTNER TONIGHT HUSTLE LOYALTY RESPECK JOHN CENAAA” and Cena came on camera all flexing and growling like the Warrior. But even in spite of that uncharacteristic transgression, the fact of the matter is that CM Punk is still bigger than the World Title right now. He simply does not need a belt to get over with the fans, which validates such a claim.

But it’s fairly obvious where CM Punk is headed going into Wrestlemania. If not Corporate Kane, then it’s going to be the COO himself, whom very well might not be able to resist the hype and prestige of performing at Wrestlemania itself again, and with a worker like CM Punk to carry him, Punk vs. HHH might actually be decent.

Coming in at #5 on the Power Rankings, finally, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship(s). Needless to say, I’m not sure if it’s a good thing, or a bad thing, that the World Championship sits this low on my list. In one hand, it’s a compliment to WWE’s creative team for putting so much importance in their brand, characters, identities and storylines that the World Title picture seems bland in contrast, but in the other hand, it’s the fucking World Title.

It seems to me that the World Title exists solely as a crutch to fairly good workers, but guys who simply can’t get over on their own. Case in point with the likely pool of superstars who will be vying for the World Title come Wrestlemania: Randy Orton, John Cena, Batista, Brock Lesnar. Now I still think there’s an outside shot that Daniel Bryan finds his way into the picture, but it would probably be wasted on him, but the point remains that the guys that will be likely vying for the World Title in March aren’t the most popular, the most talented, or are seen as resented for having not paid any dues prior to getting put on the main stage.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter that the World Title is so meaningless these days, due to the strength of all the things that are more powerful than it. But the irony is that despite the fact that the WWE has been willing and capable of bending rules and traditions in the past, it’s practically criminal now that the World Title match is always still last. There is a very good chance that Randy Orton will be expected to follow a possible HHH/Punk and whatever match Undertaker has. Somewhere in his smile-less abode, WMX8 Chris Jericho sighs in relief.

The funny thing is that I’m not the least bit surprised that the New Age Outlaws won the titles again. In a way, the WWE did The Universe a favor by not having it actually on the PPV, because there would be no bigger way to set the wrong tone than to have two old HHH cronies winning gold on television. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that I think the Tag Titles have risen in stock, especially over the course of the last year.

Two years ago, the tag team scene was barren, and I said that the Tag titles were essentially a means of rewarding a hard worker with a belt of some sort, even if it meant that they were storyline-combined with someone else. But I do give some credit to the WWE for giving a lot of credence to the division over the course of the last year, and I’ll be the first to admit that tag team wrestling is fun to watch with some of the particular teams the Usos bringing back some tandem offense, matching attire and more “traditional” tag team style.

As for the Outlaws, I’m predicting them as obvious transitional champions, as it’s in spite of the gray modus operandi of the business these days, it’s still tricky to pull off babyface vs. babyface title matches, and I’m guessing the Outlaws are the perfect sleazeball team to keep the titles warm for either the Usos, or god forbid whatever poor Primo and Epico are forced to do now.

In this instance, it’s not the question of this being low, it’s the surprisingly high ranking of the unloved women’s division’s title belt. As far as individual belts go, I think it’s safe to say that no one individual has risen the stock of a title like AJ has done for the Divas Championship. Sure, the competition pool is pretty shallow, but I think it’s also safe to say that with that in mind, AJ has done more with so little than she may have been expected to, and when the title eventually does change hands it will have a lot of equity built into it.

Personally, I can admire those with good talent and technical ability; with that in mind, it’s a no-brainer that Natalya is the most sound diva on the roster. But I’m a huge fan of those who can sell well, and in that case, AJ is easily the diva that can make another diva look like they’re swinging baseball bats in the ring. This is especially critical in the diva’s division, where any one of the girls are capable of performing a dropkick, but nobody but AJ can take it and make it look like they were hit by the Clothesline from Hell.

As far as the current diva pool goes, it’s pretty much the Funkadactyls before they’ve pretty much run out of face divas, and I fear that with the next season of Total Divas on the near horizon a title switch would be an easy way to help promote it.

I can live with Big E Langston with the Intercontinental Title, and it’s nice to at least seen that it’s been defended a few times. It would be nice to see it treated like a Television title of some sort, so that it’s defended more often, because I’m fairly certain that the World Title has been up for grabs more than the Intercontinental title has been. But for what it’s worth, the IC belt still has a little value to its name currently, but any time they’re using Big E Langston in tag matches, they’re essentially forfeiting opportunities to build him up as a fighting champion against individuals in singles.

I’m only putting JBL in this to put emphasis on how worthless the United States title has become. But while I’m on the topic of JBL, I have to say that I absolutely adore him as a commentator. Nobody has entertained me on commentary like this since Bobby the Brain. He sneaks so much dark humor into his commentary, and I love how he makes snide remarks about smarky things like the obvious switching of Sin Caras back to Hunico, identifiable by the giant tattoos.

But he’s also easily smarter than Cole or Matthews, like doing some excellent damage control at putting guys like Kofi Kingston over when Matthews kept trying to emphasize how magnanimous of an upset Kofi beating Orton was.

Okay, now this is really how low I think the United States championship has been reduced to. A Los Super Astros main eventer is worth more than the US title.

Now I like Dean Ambrose, as well as the other members of the Shield in general, but it goes without saying that Ambrose has absolutely murdered all of the prestige and value that the United States championship once had. Which is a damn shame, because Antonio Cesaro has a fine run with the belt, wrestling in singles matches on just about every show and doing shit like Equalizing Khali and Brodus Clay and making himself look awesome, thus giving meaning to the United States champion.

But the belt being on Ambrose has been the worst thing to happen to the title since David Flair. I honestly can’t remember if Ambrose has actually defended the title since winning it from Kofi Kingston almost a year ago, but the point is that by not defending it, or by never having any worthwhile singles matches, the belt loses value every time it shows up on screen partially rammed down the front of Ambrose’s pants, and thrown aside like a piece of trash. Even utilizing it as an illegal weapon in a match would remind people of its existence.

Instead, the United States championship is nothing but an ornament that’s quickly forgotten about in the grand scheme of Shield group activities and six-man tag matches. How many times has the Shield been repelled from a gang attack, where they all go into the crowd and Ambrose has left the belt with the ring crew? At least throw it in the trash so that Hacksaw Jim Duggan can resurrect it or something, but it needs to get off of Ambrose, and there’s probably no salvation in sight until the inevitable breakup of the group, to whether it’s Seth Rollins who takes it, or probably some oaf like Sheamus.

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