Each week, we will break down the current roster and examine who has gone up the WWE hierarchy and who has unfortunately taken a step down the ladder. Factoring in things such as wins and losses, suspensions, injuries, making a name for one's self, being humiliated, and more, who is at the top of the food chain and who needs to make up some ground next week?
The Golden Rhodes brothers cannot seem to catch a break at this point, and 2015 started for them in the same way 2014 left off. In a pair of matches with the Usos, they came up short opposite the new tag team champions. The first of these occurred on Main Event, after some unfortunate miscommunication brought about their loss. This led into SmackDown, when teaming with the equally bizarre Adam Rose did not improve their fortunes.
The leader of the Exotic Express now has recently become comparable to a disco tyrant. After dispatching of his cotton-tailed mascot the Bunny, Adam Rose was the victim of some fraternity ribbing at the hands of Edge and Christian. Leaving in a huff, he danced into SmackDown in a six-man tag team match alongside Goldust and Stardust, but left with a defeat as he lost to The Usos and R-Truth.
Now carrying the ill-fated title of former Tag Team Champions, The Miz & Damien Mizdow had one of the worst Monday nights in their respective lives. Well, considering what Mizdow endured in early 2014, I guess it could be worse. Early on RAW they lost the championships to the Usos, after the Miz was left bemused by a supposed change of heart by Naomi that turned out to be false. Then, when the A-Lister demanded an immediate rematch from guest hosts Edge and Christian, they were placed opposite another tag team, the debuting Ascension. They demolished Mizdow while Miz was knocked to the floor, ending their terrible RAW.
Big Red he may be, but Erick Rowan has enjoyed a lot less success in recent weeks after his shocking return. However, SmackDown witnessed a moment in history, as Rowan was placed opposite his former Cult Leader, Bray Wyatt. Showing little brotherly love to his prior family member, a moment of weakness cost the sheep-masked brawler. He was caught in a quick Sister Abigail for another defeat.
Natalya had been on somewhat of a roll in recent weeks, beating the Bella Twins in various contests. However, in the match that likely meant the most to her, she ended up on the losing end. When she was placed in a singles match with Nikki Bella, the Canadian started out aggressively, but was left fuming even more when Nikki was knocked off the apron into the arms of Tyson Kidd. This brief distraction got her caught with the Torture Rack and a defeat to the Divas Champion.
This week once again witnessed another masterclass in Rusev’s avoiding defeat by either pinfall or submission. The US Champion was placed against two of the favorites for the upcoming Royal Rumble, and lost both matches on technicalities. On RAW this was Dolph Ziggler, who frustrated the Bulgarian with his strategy enough that Rusev pummeled him in the corner until the referee rang the bell. He was chased off the assault by Ryback, but paid him back by costing the Big Guy his match with Big Show on SmackDown. Then in his own match with Roman Reigns, Big Show pulled Reigns out before he could possibly inflict Rusev’s first loss.
John Cena was not in action this week, but the final segment of RAW was left with arguably the worst sufferer of the past seven days. After being called out by Seth Rollins on The Cutting Edge Peep Show, the Architect demonstrated the seriousness of his words by threatening to cripple the retired Edge. Rollins would only release the Hall of Famer if Cena gave him what he wanted most, and Cena obliged by reinstating the Authority heading into the New Year. He was then beaten down by Rollins, Big Show and J&J Security, leaving the Cenation leader in emotional and physical tatters.
After performing an all cylinders down in NXT, Sasha Banks was afforded the opportunity to delight the fans on Main Event, opposite her arch-rival Charlotte. The pair have had quite the battles in developmental that have whetted the appetite for the bright future for the Divas division. Unfortunately for the Boss however, despite another solid match between the pair, she once more ended up on the losing end.
Titus O’Neil claims that 2015 will be his time to shine. Please forgive me if I feel a little skeptical, but he at least started off with a good victory. The powerful athlete faced Justin Gabriel on Main Event, launching the South African from the top rope with the Clash of the Titus.
Another veteran star scored a victory this week to find himself in the middle of this edition of the Power Rankings. R-Truth teamed with the newly crowned Tag Team Champions the Usos to battle a cavalcade of bizarre foes. Battling Goldust, Stardust and Adam Rose, the clear rhythm of Truth’s trio provided a solid victory.
Two superstars that are looking to make 2015 their own in the tag team division are Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. One superstar who had hoped 2014 would have launched him to main event status, another whose relevance reached heights never before enjoyed, they have proven a strong tandem with good chemistry. Cesaro wasn’t so grand on his own, when he endured the strength of the return of Bad News Barrett on RAW, whilst Kidd had his hands full with Nikki Bella. But they were better together on SmackDown, defeating Los Matadores.
Ryback may always desire to be fed more, but he’s gotten quite a hefty portion of Bulgarian Potato in recent weeks. On RAW he chased away the US Champion Rusev from his assault of Dolph Ziggler, before beginning an impassioned speech about why he does what he does for a living. It was an emotional moment that built more for his career than anything previously. But in the battle of the Big Guy and the Big Show, Ryback fell short after a distraction by Rusev saw him caught with WMD and counted out. He was able to recover enough to knock the US champ out with a Meathook Clothesline.
Dean Ambrose was out of actual in-ring action this week, after a number of assaults from Bray Wyatt limiting his matches before their upcoming Ambulance Match. Still, he was meant to have a match with Curtis Axel on SmackDown, but the Lunatic Fringe assaulted him so fervently before the bell rang to leave the son of Mr. Perfect feeling less than adequate.
The NXT Women’s Champion enjoyed her second performance on WWE television a great deal more than her first, as Charlotte and Sasha Banks took their epic rivalry into Main Event. Although not given as much time to wow the audience as their battles on NXT, they still told a good story that will hopefully heighten the expectation for their eventual debuts on the main roster. But, as has been the case for the past month, Charlotte secured the victory over her rival with Natural Selection.
The Intercontinental Champion, who has been featured pretty exclusively in the upper reaches of the Power Rankings in the past few weeks, was sparsely around in the latest episodes on TV. His only bout of the week was in a Champion vs. Champion match opposite Rusev, a superstar that has proven an unconquerable obstacle. And although Ziggler secured a win in the record books, you wouldn’t know it from the way he ended the match after a vicious assault by the Bulgarian. Beaten until the referee called for his disqualification victory, he will be hoping for greater fortune in the Royal Rumble.
Luke Harper earned a hard-fought victory on RAW, in a clash between two powerful and versatile heavyweights. Placed in a match with Jack Swagger, both held little back in a contest that reiterated Harper’s strength and athletic capabilities. Escaping the Real American’s Patriot Lock, he then connected with a discus clothesline to secure his win.
A highly-anticipated debut heading into the New Year was of the most dominant pairing in NXT history, the powerful Ascension. Konnor and Viktor entered RAW with a different attire to that seen down in developmental, with face paint and armor similar to that of the Road Warriors or Demolition. These similarities have possibly impacted the effect of their debut, as well as facing an already beaten team in the Miz and Damien Mizdow. Dominating Mizdow was followed by their usual squashing of local competitors, and here’s hoping they prove a success on the main roster.
The Divas Champion picked up a much-needed win on RAW, as she was able to put Natalya in her place after the Canadian defeated sister Brie last week. Nikki Bella took advantage of being caught in the arms of Natalya’s husband Tyson Kidd, and the jealous rage that distracted her was enough to allow Nikki to pick up a quick victory with the Rack Attack. Whether she will have to deal with the Queen of Harts with the title on the line will wait to be seen.
Seth Rollins may not have earned a victory on RAW like he would have hoped in his match with Roman Reigns, but he has able to enjoy a feeling of triumph by the night’s end. Rollins put on a typically great performance against his former Shield cohort, but had a defeat placed in his record when the Big Show came out to demolish the Hound of Justice. Rollins’ night wasn’t over however, as he was the guest on the Cutting Edge Peep Show, demonstrating a darker side than he has ever shown. Knocking out Christian and holding Edge’s head across his Money in the Bank briefcase, he forced John Cena to reinstate the Authority into power, before taking out the Cenation leader and celebrating with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon.
Few superstars could climb so high up this list with only a ten minute promo to their credit. But, at a time when it seemed as though he could be leaving the squared circle for good, Daniel Bryan unleashed the news every fan wanted to hear when he announced he was returning at the Royal Rumble. The crowd at RAW exploded in ‘YES’ chants in celebration of this moment, after nearly a year on the sidelines. The former WWE Champion will likely head into the battle royal as a hefty favorite, but one thing for certain is Bryan made one of the biggest impressions this week.
The Big Show has had his giant hands full with Roman Reigns in recent weeks, looking to bring a full stop to his return before it is allowed to blossom. The World’s Largest Athlete got one over on both Reigns and another rival John Cena on RAW, first dropping an announce table on top of the Samoan and then helping bring about the return of the Authority. On SmackDown, Show picked up a victory over Ryback, knocking him out to the outside and ending the bout in a count-out. However, Friday ended badly for him as he was trapped under the announce table by Reigns.
The Eater of Worlds continues to show little remorse or lack of aggression in the build up to this week’s Ambulance Match with Dean Ambrose. Bray Wyatt’s battles with the Lunatic Fringe have taken PG level violence to its very limits, but on SmackDown he was faced with another familiar prospect. He battled a man that he once guided through life in the sizable form of Erick Rowan, and through a mixture of his power and manipulation, was able to score a momentum-building victory over Big Red.
In a week chocked full of returns and debuts, one man that is ready to retake the WWE by storm and deliver a dose of bad news is Bad News Barrett. The Brit was given a rough ride in his first match back, taken on Cesaro, a difficult prospect no matter how badly he has been booked in recent weeks. But, one swift hit with the Bullhammer Elbow ensured that Barrett returned with success, and here’s to being hopeful that he can stay healthy, and the Bad News this year is reserved only for his opponents.
Roman Reigns sits in second position after a pair of victories, albeit through technicalities. On RAW, he faced a former Shield brother in the form of Seth Rollins, and after a solid match Reigns was taken out by the Big Show. This gave him a disqualification triumph, not that it offered him much solace from being stuck underneath an announce table. This situation was pretty much reversed on SmackDown. Big Show again interfered to hand Reigns a DQ victory over Rusev in the main event, but Reigns was able to trap the giant under the table to end the night on a high note.
Another pair of Samoans rightly sit atop the rankings this week after three strong victories, including a few more pounds of metal supporting their waists. On RAW, thanks to some useful head games by Jimmy Uso’s wife Naomi, they defeated The Miz and Damien Mizdow to become Tag Team Champions for a second time, splashing the A-Lister into defeat. The new champions then pulled out a pair of wins over Gold/Stardust on Main Event and SmackDown. The SmackDown match had the added presence of Adam Rose, but the results were the same, as the new champs entered the New Year in the best way possible.
Do you think anyone should be listed differently?