The rules are that each spot must be filled and only one person can be in each spot, so no ties can happen, nor can anyone opt out. No matter how difficult it might be, you have to pick.
This edition is going to be 6 lists combined in one, as we'll be ranking both sides of Raw and SmackDown for the three different Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match competitors scheduled to face off at WWE Survivor Series 2016. For the first time ever, there is a match dedicated to the men, another for the women, and another for the tag teams, meaning we'll be comparing around 40 people instead of 5! Each section will be divided up based on the matches themselves.
TEAM SMACKDOWN = American Alpha - vs - Breezango - vs - The Hype Bros - vs - Slater/Rhyno - vs - The Usos
5) RELEASED = The Shining Stars / Heath Slater and Rhyno
The Shining Stars are terrible in every way. I don't need to explain this pick. I'd probably release them even if "released" wasn't an option.
Look, I enjoyed the character of Heath Slater trying to get a contract, and his partnership with Rhyno has had more legs than I originally thought it would, but it ran its course. I've never been the biggest fan of Rhyno like most people who had a big fascination with ECW back in the day, and I value everyone else on this list above these two guys, so I have to release them by default.
4) JOBBER = Sheamus and Cesaro / Breezango
The tag team of Cesaro and Sheamus is not long for this world. It's a partnership based on the idea that they can't be successful as partners. Inevitably, there will come a time where they refuse to keep up the charade and they collapse, no longer being a team. Since the two of them can't get along and it's easy to book them to lose matches due to their petty squabbles, they do the job.
Breezango as they are now can exist as jobbers, but I'd rather see them get a bit of a repackaging in the future. Of course, that would defeat the purpose of the list in this article as they'd be higher up on the totem pole, but I'm okay with them being the comedic jobbers if that is the best spot they can reach.
3) MIDCARD = Enzo Amore & Big Cass / The Hype Bros
Enzo and Cass are super entertaining and I've liked them a lot since their time in NXT. Eventually, they'll be champions, as they deserve those belts somewhere along the line. The nature of the beast with Call the Spot is that you get a lot of great people in the midcard spot because you just can't justify putting them above two other people, even though they're leagues above the bottom two categories. Enzo is the better mouthpiece, but if one person is going to be the reason they lose matches and stay in the midcard rank, it's him, not Cass.
I'm unabashedly a fan of Zack Ryder. I think he has a lot of talent that goes wasted and I was a supporter of his Intercontinental Championship win earlier this year. With Mojo Rawley, that's not exactly the same case. Rawley simply doesn't connect with me on any level and I'd rather see him as a jobber or midcarder in the singles division and see Ryder hook back up with Curt Hawkins so Hawkins can stop doing his dumbass facts gimmick, as that's a win/win. The Hype Bros work okay with each other, though, and on this list, they fall square in the middle of the good and bad sides.
2) UPPER MIDCARD = Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson / The Usos
If we're talking about the version of Gallows and Anderson with all the testicle jokes, then by all means, release them—well, not over The Shining Stars, as they're still better than them. However, if we're talking about the version of The Club that was working with AJ Styles earlier this year, then they have to be in the top two categories. Gallows and Anderson are so much better as enforcers who beat people up rather than trying to talk and have personalities. I don't want them to be funny, I want them to be tough. Give them the upper midcard spot until they fully get back that mystique about them.
For the past few months, I've heard many people say they were tired of The Usos, but I never quite felt that way. I've grown to like them a lot and value them as one of the best tag teams we've had in years. They're veterans now in the division. It's crazy to think about it, but they've been around since May of 2010 and those 6 years are more than some of the great tag teams from back in the day. Their father Rikishi was part of The Headshrinkers only from 1992 until 1995 and he certainly wasn't part of 2 Cool for that long. They still have a few years left on them, too, and I think they'll go down as a Hall of Fame team for sure, so they definitely need to take one of the top two spots. For now, they just aren't as hot as the next duo, though...
1) MAIN EVENT = The New Day / American Alpha
I have loved The New Day since the moment Xavier Woods cut his first promo and started talking about forging a group together. Between the vignettes and the awkward babyface phase to the heel turn and back to being babyfaces, they've been entertaining as all hell to me. There's no way I'd pick any team other than them to be in the main event role here. Not only do they need to keep those tag team titles until they've surpassed Demolition's record, I'd even be okay with them keeping them all the way until WrestleMania, if not longer.
American Alpha was such a pleasant surprise. When they were originally teasing Chad Gable wanting to join up with Jason Jordan, I wasn't too receptive of the idea. I saw it as a step back for Jordan, I didn't think Tye Dillinger would succeed on his own, and I had no idea who this Chad Gable guy was but he seemed kind of creepy and weird. Skip forward a bit in time...lo and behold we've got Dillinger doing the best work of his career and Jordan/Gable have become one of the best teams in the entire company. American Alpha just flat out works, so I'm very happy to say I was wrong with my original point of view. They quickly went from a poor man's World's Greatest Tag Team to being massively over with the crowd and putting on amazing matches. Even though they're quite different from The New Day, I still think they're the best suited to be the champions on their brand.
TEAM SMACKDOWN = Alexa Bliss - vs - Becky Lynch - vs - Carmella - vs - Naomi - vs - Nikki Bella
5) RELEASED = Nia Jax / Nikki Bella
Nia Jax just sucks. I have no idea why she's on the main roster instead of still being on NXT, considering the amount of work she needs to improve on. Maybe in the future, she'll get there, but right now, that isn't the case.
If I'm going on pure talent, Nikki Bella isn't the last in line. However, her career is winding down fast. In fact, I thought we wouldn't see her wrestle at all anymore, so when she made her return, I've been viewing it as borrowed time. With that being said, the longevity of the other four women make it a responsibility to give Nikki the boot. She's had the highlights of her career and if she left now, while the division would be hurting without her, it wouldn't tarnish her legacy.
4) JOBBER = Alicia Fox / Carmella
Alicia Fox has already been a jobber for so long, why change it? I dig her a lot more than most people do, but I can't delude myself in thinking she beats out the other three women in any scenario.
I love Carmella, but she has a long way to go. She's gorgeous, she's learning and adapting, and I think there are a lot of up-sides to her, though the other three women are more advanced and it wouldn't be right giving her a spot over them just because I think she's prettier.
3) MIDCARD = Sasha Banks / Naomi
I adore Sasha Banks and I think she's incredibly talented, having had one of the best matches of the entire year with Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and a few other barn-burners to her name. She's fantastic, but she's also been dealing with a lot of iffy booking due to her injuries. If that's going to be a factor going forward and I were in WWE's shoes, I'd be hesitant to want to put too much responsibility on her shoulders. How can you trust someone who could wrestle a random house show match on a pointless circuit and be gone for a few months, missing numerous events? Unless I had some kind of confirmation that she's all good to go and 100% for the future, I'd have to put Sasha Banks a bit on the backburner and focus more on Charlotte and Bayley.
Naomi is one of the most underrated women in WWE history. It's amazing she hasn't won a championship yet and she damn sure better at some point in her career. That being said, Naomi's credibility has to be called into question based on how they've booked her in the past. Alexa and Becky would have to take a step down to be in the midcard while Naomi would be on the same plateau as she's currently being utilized.
2) UPPER MIDCARD = Bayley / Alexa Bliss
Heeeeey we want some Baaaayley...in the upper midcard. This means Charlotte gets the top spot, and I'll talk about her below, but the reason why Bayley isn't chosen over her for the main event is mostly due to how WWE has booked her and how flexible the beloved babyface role can be. I certainly prefer Bayley 10x over Charlotte as I think she's much more entertaining and reliable in the ring. They're about on par with each other as far as mic skills go, but Bayley has something Charlotte doesn't have: likability. With Bayley, she can lose a match and then still stay at the top because she's got the heart for it. If Charlotte loses too many matches, she doesn't look like as strong of a competitor and has much more work to do to counterbalance those losses. Thus, if Bayley is the upper midcarder, she can be in the main event, drop down, drop down a little further, rise back up, and her character isn't hurt at all in the process.
Beyond my massive crush on Alexa, I think she's a great example of how the NXT system can mold someone rather quickly and turn them into a bona fide superstar. She was good as the plucky babyface but she's really come into her own after turning heel and moving to SmackDown. Her stock will continue to rise as she's already reached Upper Midcard status on the blue brand in such a short amount of time, beating out veterans like Natalya and stealing their spotlight.
1) MAIN EVENT = Charlotte / Becky Lynch
If we're going on promo work, Charlotte is really, really bad, but for an overall package, she's a force to be reckoned with. She's tall without being monstrous, attractive without looking like a model who can't fight, and talented in the ring. They've built her up to be the flagbearer of the division and it's hard to go against that, even if I prefer Bayley and Sasha Banks.
There's no question Becky Lynch is the top gal on SmackDown and the woman they want/need to build their division around. She's popular, talented, young, and continues to only get better. Multi-time champion for sure.
TEAM SMACKDOWN = AJ Styles - vs - Bray Wyatt - vs - Dean Ambrose - vs - Randy Orton - vs - Shane McMahon
5) RELEASED = Braun Strowman / Shane McMahon
I don't want to give any of these guys a pink slip. I think they all have their benefits, which makes this extremely hard. By sheer process of elimination, I ended up with Braun Strowman as the last one in my ranking. I think he's got a lot of positives to him and he's improving every day, but the other four guys have already progressed to a point where if anybody had to go, Strowman is the one that would make the smallest gap in the roster.
When this was Baron Corbin in the mix, I actually demoted Bray Wyatt to this spot because I wanted Corbin up higher as a jobber (higher than that, ideally, but given the list specifications, that was the highest he could go). However, with Shane McMahon replacing Baron Corbin, Wyatt now gets a bump. Shane McMahon is easily the person I would release from an in-ring capacity out of this list. He shouldn't be taking up a spot on Team SmackDown anyway. I like seeing Shane as an on-screen character but I can't place him higher up than anybody else when it comes to actually wrestling.
4) JOBBER = Roman Reigns / Bray Wyatt
This was another extremely tough call, as nobody should be demoted to jobber status or released. However, all things considered, the fans just don't seem to be willing to give Roman Reigns a break and they continue to boo him and not want him to be something. I don't understand why that's the case, as I can't see what's so offensively bad about him, but with that being the case, why not downgrade him for a little while and job him out so people can shut up about him being "shoved down everyone's throats" for a bit? Maybe this could even work out well in the long run as people would sympathize with him and start thinking it's cool again to root for him because it would be going against the grain.
With Bray Wyatt, he's had so many chances, but he's never quite gotten out of the same cycle he repeats over and over again. If WWE had pulled the trigger on him a while back, his credibility might be better, but right now, he's just a glorified jobber anyway, so what's new? They do the same thing with him all the time where he cuts a bunch of nonsense promos against his new target and then loses to him, then picks a new person to feud with. I'm over it and I no longer have faith that he's going to continually improve, because he hasn't taken any steps forward in the past few years. I don't dislike Bray, but the other three guys have more to offer.
3) MIDCARD = Chris Jericho / Randy Orton
Look, I absolutely love what Chris Jericho is doing right now. In the grand scheme of things, whatever negative stuff happens, he's still one of my top 10 (maybe top 5) favorite wrestlers of all time, and lately the past few months, he's been solid gold. He's the most consistently entertaining performer on the roster right now, and it sucks to give him a midcard spot, but at the same time, I know he'd be just as entertaining working with midcarders as he is working as a main eventer. He could keep the same shtick and in the meantime, help teach some of the younger talent. From time to time, Jericho dips down into the midcard to wrestle people like Neville, so he'd be at home anywhere on the roster.
Randy Orton is on the downward slope of his career. He's not going to be going at the same pace that he did in 2007, so it's okay for him to take a backseat. Why not have him wrestle some of the midcard guys who are on their way up? A feud with someone like Apollo Crews and those folk could do them wonders and also give Orton something fresh to work with instead of wasting the last few years of his career fighting John Cena and Big Show.
2) UPPER MIDCARD = Seth Rollins / Dean Ambrose
A long time ago, when The Shield was still a solid trifecta, we had numerous discussions about how Seth Rollins would probably be the one who stayed in the upper midcard range if anybody were to fail. Since then, he's had more success than anybody, so we were clearly wrong. Despite that, I still think he could be a great upper midcarder for however long of a time that would be.
Dean Ambrose is a great character, but he struggled a bit as World Champion. Whether that's booking or his own doing has yet to be seen, although I'm starting to think that despite how big of a fan of him as I am, he's better off chasing the championships than actually winning them. If that's the case, Upper Midcard suits him perfectly, as he can dip down to do something interesting, then get boosted back up to challenge for the belts, maybe even win them now and again, but not be the perpetual top of the card.
1) MAIN EVENT = Kevin Owens / AJ Styles
Since his debut in NXT, Kevin Owens has been someone I've been extremely high on. He's constantly putting on great matches, cutting great promos, and defying expectations of what he can do. Nuff said, he's a main eventer and he deserves to stay there.
I thought AJ Styles would be past his prime when he came into WWE, but he's been killing it this year. The guy is just on fire and has been entertaining as both a babyface and a heel. After having so many good matches and succeeding on so many levels, I say reward him for his efforts and keep him as a top dog.