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?
At the bottom of the heap this week are the bizarre Rhodes brothers. On Main Event they once again found the Tag Team Champions The Usos too much to handle, suffering another loss to their perennial rivals. And in the Royal Rumble match, along with some dissent between the golden tandem, they were both soon eliminated by Roman Reigns
The Intercontinental Champion had a week to forget as he failed to leave a dent on his upcoming Rumble competitors. On RAW Barrett fell to Dean Ambrose in a non-title match, and then was unable to do the Authority’s bidding by losing to Dolph Ziggler on SmackDown, ensuring the Show-Off would be a participant in the Rumble match. And when it came to the big event himself, despite drawing a late entry number, Barrett once again came up short against Ziggler.
Big Red might be back with a job, but that was the best his week got. Erick Rowan is back in the WWE, but when the Authority made him fight for his place in the Rumble, the sheep was sheared out of contention. Luke Harper defeated him on SmackDown to knock him out of the battle royal. However, Rowan made an impression, beating down Curtis Axel during his entrance and confronting both Harper and Bray Wyatt, but was thrown out by his former Cult Leader.
A less than stylish week for the A-List partnership. On RAW, Miz was defeated by Jey Uso in the lead up to their Tag Team Title match at the upcoming PPV. While they were able to claw back some momentum with a convincing victory over Los Matadores on Main Event, it didn’t serve them well enough at the Royal Rumble. Despite how over Mizdow was with the crowd, they could neither win the titles from the Usos, nor win the Rumble, with the Miz being the first man eliminated by Bubba Ray Dudley.
The Attitude Era’s return was brief and sadly unfulfilling, as Billy Gunn and Road Dogg rocked the microphone, but unfortunately not the ring ropes. Although they helped some other legends decimate the disrespectful Ascension on RAW, but they could not follow that up at the Royal Rumble, as the Outlaws were shot down.
It was a record-breaking week for the Corporate Demon, but Kane was generally unsuccessful. On RAW he was part of the handicap match that fell to John Cena, thanks in part to Sting’s distraction, and allowed the recently fired superstars to return. Then on SmackDown he failed the Authority once again, losing to Daniel Bryan which kept the bearded superstar in the Rumble match. Yet, things seemed to be looking up at the Rumble, as Kane broke Shawn Michaels’ record for all-time eliminations in the event with 42, until he was thrown out by Roman Reigns at the conclusion.
Paige had a mixed week, as her relationship with Natalya spread into tag team action. This worked well on RAW, as they easily overcame Summer Rae and Alicia Fox, Paige getting the definitive submission. However, at the Royal Rumble she was forced to watch from the sidelines as The Bella Twins gave a masterclass in tag team dominance.
After a feud that had been so one-sided, it is perhaps shocking that the combination of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd got the last laugh. They lost to the New Day on RAW in a basic tag team match, and Kidd followed that with a loss to Kofi Kingston on Main Event. However, against all the odds they took the victory in another tag team outing on the Royal Rumble Kickoff show. However, neither could win the battle royal itself, but little victories are pretty much all they can hope for at this moment in time.
Luke Harper likely got some applause from the Authority for his work on SmackDown, preventing his former partner Erick Rowan making the Rumble match. However, Big Red got some measure of revenge in the battle royal, confronting both Harper and Bray Wyatt in a less than cordial family reunion. The presence of the sheep-masked giant led to Harper being dispatched by Wyatt early in the match.
The New Day were not exactly the biggest recipients of the City of Brotherly Love when they entered Philadelphia. Their early week was certainly good for the optimistic trio, defeating Cesaro and Tyson Kidd on RAW, before Kingston going solo in victory over Kidd on Main Event. However, at the Royal Rumble they suffered a rare and popular loss against their rivals, before both having very minimal impact in the battle royal itself.
The Ascension still are yet to win me over with their in-ring ability or gimmick. But the results keep coming for the arrogant, war-painted pair. They were humbled for the first time on RAW when a mixture of the New Age Outlaws and APA took them down a peg with an old-fashioned beating. But, they responded at Royal Rumble with a convincing victory over Billy Gunn and Road Dogg in tag team action, keeping their unbeaten start alive.
The Big Guy was likely hoping for a bigger impact at the Royal Rumble, but was left hungry. At least he has a job again following the efforts of John Cena on RAW, and he was able to defeat Rusev of all people on SmackDown via count out. This allowed him a place in the Rumble itself, but would not last very long before running into the combined efforts of Big Show and Kane.
The shock was not so much that Bryan didn’t win the Royal Rumble, but how short a stint he was afforded. Only recently back from injury, he suffered a defeat on RAW to former rival Bray Wyatt thanks to some distraction by Kane. Bryan responded with victory over his former tag team partner on SmackDown to keep his place in the Rumble. But, this win proved to be for naught, as he was eliminated very early on by Wyatt, practically killing the crowd for the rest of the event, and leaving be wondering what substances the creative team were snorting before the show started?
With Bryan gone, Dolph Ziggler might have been viewed as the final great hope for the audience in Philadelphia, especially when he entered at Number 30. But, this was not to be. He had a great return on SmackDown, defeating Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett to ensure his spot in the Rumble match. Yet, he soon ran into a right hand of the Big Show, that being one of the final kicks to the collective groins of the crowd, as he was dumped over the top rope.
Natalya had been looking very good heading into the Royal Rumble, her alliance with Paige seemingly paying dividends against the Bella Twins. They teamed up on RAW to comfortably defeat Summer Rae and Alicia Fox on RAW, before Natalya stood alone to best her blonde dancing rival on Main Event. But, if you wanted to see a comfortable victory, check out the Royal Rumble divas tag, as Natalya endured a vicious beating on the way to a loss alongside Paige against the Bella Twins.
The Lunatic Fringe was one of the last men standing in the Rumble, but the Authority’s plan work to perfection in ousting the deranged Ambrose. He began his week well with a win over Bad News Barrett, although he wasn’t given the opportunity to take the Intercontinental title in the process. He also drew into the Rumble pretty late, coming in to a great pop and a lot of fire. Nevertheless, when he was confronted with the size and power of Kane and Big Show, he came up short, and Ambrose was eliminated.
The Big Show is always considered a viable threat in the Royal Rumble, due to his immense size and power, and both were greatly employed at the PPV. Show’s week wasn’t off to the greatest start when he failed to help Seth Rollins and Kane defeat John Cena in a handicap match on RAW, thanks to Sting’s timely interference. But it seemed things would get much better at the Rumble, as a mixture of Show and Kane decimated the field, much to the chagrin of the audience. Eventually some miscommunication and animosity led to the pair being thrown out by Reigns, which likely upset the audience even more.
In a performance that definitively demonstrated that Seth Rollins is ready for the big time, it cannot be ignored that results did not go in the favor of Mr. Money in the Bank. On RAW he was pinned by John Cena in a handicap match, failing the Authority’s bidding and ensuring the previously fired superstars could return to action. This led to the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble, and despite an unbelievable performance by the self-professed future of the WWE, it was not to be as Brock Lesnar pinned him following an F5. However, Rollins has shown that the belt eventually is destined for his waist.
The Bella Twins, after weeks of being outgunned by the odd couple of Natalya and Paige, finally received a stroke of fortune this week. It began on SmackDown, where Brie Bella overcame Naomi to set their Royal Rumble opponents on notice. And that momentum appeared to be very useful, as Nikki and Brie utterly dominated their tag team match against their Total Diva rivals, isolating Natalya in particular and using that to get the victory.
The story of John Cena overcoming the odds has been a well WWE has traveled to many times over. It was looked to once more on RAW, as Cena defeated Seth Rollins, Kane and Big Show in a 3-on-1 handicap match, reinstating the recently fired superstars in the process. Obviously some help from Sting was timely, but Cena would ride this wave of momentum into Royal Rumble. However, despite some great efforts, he came up against an unstoppable warrior in the form of Brock Lesnar. The Beast was too much for Cena, who will not be holding the title heading into WrestleMania 31.
The Super Athlete proved a force to be reckoned with in the Royal Rumble. Rusev’s week also began well, as the US Champion quickly dispatched of R-Truth. Things deteriorated on SmackDown, as he couldn’t best the monstrous Ryback, losing by count out though protected his unbeaten record. Rusev then entered the Rumble at the midway stage, in the end eliminating six people with his immense strength. However, he could only finish as runner-up, as Roman Reigns sent him flying over the top rope.
The Tag Team Champions are arguably one of the luckiest people on this list, as they were able to avoid competing in the Rumble match itself. In the end they had a completely unblemished week. Jey Uso bested the Miz on RAW, before the Usos paired up to once again defeat often-time rivals Gold/Stardust on Main Event. These wins served them in good stead as they went onto retain their titles at the Royal Rumble against Miz and Damien Mizdow.
He was the Rumble’s Iron Man, and accounted for the joint most eliminations, but Wyatt couldn’t make himself ‘the one’. The Eater of Worlds began the week in fine form, defeating long-term rival Daniel Bryan, thanks to some assistance by Kane. This then led to a Main Event victory over Jack Swagger, as he steamed into the Rumble. Six men fell by his hand in his near 47-minute stint, including Bryan, as Wyatt went from No. 5 to near the end, where Big Show finally knocked him out and tossed him over the top rope.
After a match of epic proportions, Brock Lesnar came out of the Royal Rumble looking like the most dominant and powerful athlete in wrestling history. Forget the Streak and Summerslam, Lesnar took everything John Cena and Seth Rollins could throw at him and kept on swinging. The match was just brimming with highlights, demonstrating both how strong Lesnar was able to toss around his opponents, and how difficult he was to keep down. Lesnar stood up immediately after suffering two AAs, took a couple of briefcase shots to the head, and climbed out of a wrecked announce table to hit Rollins with an F5 and retain his championship. Lesnar’s performance was undoubtedly the highlight of the night.
Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble, so deserves the No. 1 spot on this ranking. He didn’t have any other matches this week, but he was the victor in the biggest match on the professional wrestling calendar, earning him a main event spot at WrestleMania 31. It’s difficult to revel in this however, due to the ridiculous manner in which the match was booked, and the way that the crowd turned on the young winner. Even being validated by the Rock’s appearance couldn’t get the audience onside, who had been forced to endure a masterclass in how to overcomplicate a match whilst simultaneously kicking every fan in the genitals. Still, this isn’t Reigns’ fault, and hopefully he will continue to look strong heading into WrestleMania.
Do you think anyone should be listed differently?