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?
In one of the worst nights of Dolph Ziggler’s career (and he’s had a few of those over the years), he entered RAW as the Intercontinental Champion, and left without a job. The Show-Off was put in a title match with Bad News Barrett, and seemed to have retained with an inventive cover. However, he was attacked after the bell by Barrett, and the match became a 2-out-of-3 Falls match, with Barrett won along with the belt. Then, the spiteful Authority took revenge on the members of Team Cena at Survivor Series, firing Ziggler on the spot.
It is fortunate Erick Rowan is a genius, as he will need all the help he can get on the job market after RAW. Placed in a crooked match with former partner Luke Harper, with both members of J&J Security as special referees, the odds were stacked against Big Red from the outset. When he eventually turned his focus on the biased officials, this allowed Harper to knock him down for the victory. By the night’s end, Rowan was a second victim of the Authority’s vengeance, fired for his affiliation to Team Cena.
Big Hungry will find it hard to put food on his plate after Monday, as Ryback was the third man to suffer the Authority’s wrath. First, he was placed in a handicap match with Seth Rollins and Kane, and despite a valiant effort against the odds, Ryback endured two Curb Stomps to plunge him into defeat. Then he was the final superstar to lose his job at the call of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, leaving the roster decidedly smaller with the fall of the Big Guy.
Although John Cena still has a job to look forward to this week, his week could not have been much worse besides that. In spite of RAW being entitled ‘John Cena Appreciation Night’, it started off with him finding out that his title shot at Royal Rumble was now a Triple Threat match, with Seth Rollins added to the mix. Then, he was forced to witness firsthand the consequences of his reluctant decision to bring back the Authority, as the members of his Survivor Series team were all fired, as the confetti rained down on his despair.
The Divas Champion had a poor week, as consecutive losses to potential contenders was certainly not what she was hoping. Nikki Bella had another match with Natalya after last week’s victory, but with Paige at the Canadian’s side the champion suffered defeat on this occasion. This led into a Main Event bout with the British Anti-Diva. Following an extended back-and-forth battle that surpassed many divas matches of 2014, Nikki suffered another clean loss.
The Bulgarian was once again kept out of active competition this week, as his rivalry with Ryback was cut short by the Big Guy’s firing. After mocking the departure of his foe, the United States Champion declared his intention to enter the Royal Rumble match, where he last year made his debut on the main roster. Can anyone stop the undefeated Rusev from taking a spot in the WrestleMania main event?
The golden brothers were unable to add even more gold to their waists on SmackDown. Goldust and Stardust were part of a triple threat match for the Tag Team titles, against the champs the Usos and the Miz & Damien Mizdow. In a strong showing for all teams, it was unfortunately Goldust that suffered the pin that ended the match, as a splash from Jimmy Uso allowed the champions to retain.
The Big Show was the only member of the original Team Cena that likely enjoyed the outcome of RAW’s final segment, but still didn’t have the most successful of weeks. In another bout with rival Roman Reigns, Show was once again disqualified when he blasted the Hound of Justice with the steel steps. Yet, the tables turned with Reigns speared Show, the steps crashing down on his head in the process. Then on SmackDown, Show and Seth Rollins suffered losses in tag team action against Reigns and Dean Ambrose.
The Salsa dancing Fandango returned with a victory on Main Event. His new attitude and fierceness have resulted in a much better winning record, if not a bigger spot on the card to go with it. But, at least he managed to triumph over hip-hop dancing veteran R-Truth with relative ease.
Titus O’Neil has been claiming (on Main Event so I don’t blame you if you’re unaware) that 2015 is going to be his year. Whilst that is still yet to be fulfilled, he took another step in the right direction with a victory over Jack Swagger on Tuesday night. His words of future success might prove unfounded, but for the moment O’Neil is pushing himself gradually up the ladder.
A beneficiary of the Authority’s crooked perspective, Luke Harper was placed opposite former partner Erick Rowan on RAW. Yet, it was more of a handicap match, as both referees for this contest were J&J Security, and thus firmly in the pocket of the Authority. This allowed Harper to pick up the win over his former brethren with a quick count.
With last week’s defeat now a distant memory, Natalya once again pushed herself into a chance at the Butterfly belt with a win over Nikki Bella. The distractions of last week this time punished the Divas Champion, as the addition of Paige in the Canadian’s corner allowed Natalya to score the victory with a quick roll-up.
The former Tag Team Champions were afforded an opportunity to recapture the titles, only to fall short in their quest. Before this, they would enjoy a victory on RAW in a six-person tag alongside Alicia Fox, the Miz getting the victory over both the Usos and Naomi. This led into a Triple Threat match on SmackDown, against the Usos and Gold/Stardust for the belts. In a solid match, the A-Lister and his stunt double were incapacitated on the outside as the Usos retained their titles.
The Corporate Demon was back in full force with the return of the Authority to power, and looked to exploit his position at every possible opportunity. Kane changed the stipulations of the Intercontinental Championship match, and then added himself to a handicap match alongside Seth Rollins against Ryback. Despite suffering a Shell-Shock from the Big Guy, Kane still ended the night on the winning side, and in a far superior position with the Authority’s protection behind him.
The New Day this week was completely behind the powerful Big E, although trouble seems to be brewing on the horizon. On RAW, Big E defeated the newly heel Exotic Express conductor Adam Rose. But, post-match all members were assaulted by Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, a team looking to make a big impact in 2015. But, this didn’t stop Big E from once again dominating Rose on SmackDown.
Sin Cara might be a champion down in NXT, but might now be setting his sights on a title on the main roster after a shock victory on SmackDown. The newly crowned Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett was the luchadore’s opponent, but that didn’t seem to intimidate the masked athlete. After a senton bomb, Sin Cara got a huge win, and although he suffered a Bull-Hammer post-match, a title shot might be in his sights.
The controversy they caused among fans and wrestling personalities with their bashing of the Road Warriors and Demolition, The Ascension continued doing what they do best – squashing nobodies. Both on RAW and SmackDown, they took down a pair of local competitors with ease, maintaining their winning start on the main roster.
The curse of the big match once again struck Dean Ambrose on RAW, as the supposed culmination of his feud with Bray Wyatt did not end in the manner he had hoped. A brutal Ambulance Match, that saw both superstars employ every method in their arsenal to keep their opponent down, was a fun way to end their hardcore battles. But, a Sister Abigail against the ambulance for the Lunatic Fringe was all she wrote. Ambrose returned on SmackDown however to renew his animosity with Seth Rollins, as he and former Shield partner Roman Reigns defeated Rollins and the Big Show.
A change of heart from Paige might be the beginning of her resurgence to the top of the Divas division. Siding with fellow Total Diva Natalya in her battles with the Bella Twins, Paige aided her in winning a match against Nikki, hitting a super kick to the Divas Champion post-match for good measure. Then, in an excellent match on Main Event, Paige placed herself into potential title contention when she defeated Nikki cleanly as well.
Alicia Fox partook in one of her numerous turning maneuvers on RAW, mocking Naomi for her release from Total Divas prior to a backstage attack. Fox then teamed with the Miz & Damien Mizdow to success against Naomi and the Usos. These actions led into a grudge match on SmackDown, where Fox employed the ropes to her advantage to score another win over Naomi.
A week that started amazingly for Mr. Money in the Bank turned a little sour by the end. But, the events of RAW are likely to keep Seth Rollins smiling heading into this week’s shows. The return of the Authority by his own boot completed, Rollins was rewarded by being inserted into the Royal Rumble WWE Championship match, a Triple Threat against Brock Lesnar and John Cena. Rollins then defeated Ryback later in the evening alongside Kane. But SmackDown was less successful for him, as he and the Big Show fell to Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose.
The Eater of Worlds will hope that he can smash his way through 29 other competitors at the Royal Rumble in the same manner he dispatched of Dean Ambrose on RAW. In a violent Ambulance Match between the hungry young stars, Bray Wyatt was that little bit stronger and more cunning, as his Sister Abigail rearranged Ambrose’s face against the back of the vehicle. This victory secured his dominance of their feud, and riding that momentum, Wyatt will enter the Royal Rumble match for the first time with domination once again in mind.
The Tag Team Champions were backed into a corner on SmackDown, when they were set to defend their coveted titles against both The Miz & Damien Mizdow and Gold/Stardust. They also had to contend with a loss of momentum coming out of RAW, as they fell in a six-person tag team match against the A-List duo and Alicia Fox. But, that didn’t stop their tuned tandem from performing exceptionally on the blue show, as they retained their championships with a big splash on Goldust.
It was another week of exceptionally good news for the man that revels in the misfortune of others. On RAW, the recently returned Bad News Barrett was thrust into championship action, battling Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship. Barrett appeared to have come up short, until a post-match attack was followed up with Kane announcing the match was actually 2-out-of-3 Falls. Barrett capitalized on this alteration to capture the belt for a remarkable fifth time. However, his week didn’t end fantastically, as he lost a non-title match to Sin Cara on SmackDown, although delivered an after-match Bull-Hammer.
Roman Reigns continues to ride an awesome amount of momentum heading into the Royal Rumble, as the odds-on favorite tears up any opponent that stands in his way. On RAW he picked up a win over Big Show, although only on the technicality that he was smashed in the face with steel steps. Reigns got his own back by spearing the Giant and dropping the steps on his head. Then on SmackDown he confronted both Seth Rollins and Show for their recent actions, and alongside former Shield brother Dean Ambrose, overcame two of the Authority’s favorite sons with a spear to Mr. Money in the Bank.
Do you think anyone should be listed differently?