Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Daily DDT Weekly Power Rankings! Starting today, January 2, 2011, and going forward each and every week of the 2011 year, I will be delivering my opinions on the most entertaining wrestlers or wrestling-related acts of the week that was. Each week, I’ll be scouring both WWE and TNA and ranking the top ten acts on television that week. The Power Rankings will encompass a few important, wrestling-related factors:
1) In-ring performance: This includes not only how well a wrestler worked in the ring, but also (gasp) whether he won or lost. Of course, wins and losses are scripted in professional wrestling, but wins and losses should matter in the universe. A clean win is a big boost to a wrestler, while a dirty win is not going to get a wrestler over nearly as much. As a result, I will be judging guys by their workrate and how they impress me in-ring, but I’ll also be considering how their match results should affect their future situations with their belts and feuds.
2) Mic work: Mic work is another critical aspect of building heat, good or bad, and a wrestler’s promo work definitely factors into how much I enjoy watching his/her feud and storyline. Along with mic work, demeanor and attitude (one might generally call this “acting”) also go a long way to selling a story.
3) “Selling” a story: Finally, anything else that can be done to sell a story or a feud will be considered. There are a lot of ways booking teams and wrestlers can do to continue building heat, and anything that can get a good crowd reaction will be considered.
With that in mind, let’s get to the top acts in the industry this week, counting down from #10 to #1.
Cena continued his annoying “overgrown 12-year old” bit this past week on Monday Night Raw, essentially no-selling CM Punk’s angry tirade at Cena’s various indiscretions by making fun of the situation rather than reacting in an honest fashion. Later in the evening, when Cena returned for Punk’s callout, he continually referred to Punk as “CM Sucks,” which is exactly the type of reaction I would expect from a child rather than an adult whom I am to respect. It almost felt as if Cena was diffusing the feud with childish antics instead of being an adult, and I do not watch any show to see a 33-year old man act childish when he is being called out on legitimate concerns.
In addition to the poor job selling the first week of what would have been one of the biggest feuds headlining the Road to Wrestlemania in 2011, Cena’s leg injury at the Tuesday house show will probably hold him out of Raw from a wrestling standpoint for at least the next few weeks. This simply can’t help his stock going forward.
Who would have thought that the Smackdown divas would have been a more entertaining act than John Cena this week? With Cena’s poor performance on the mic, Natalya, Beth Phoenix, and Lay-Cool jumped to the #9 spot with the first solid women’s TV match we’ve seen in months. The divas got ten minutes to do their work in the ring, and while the match itself was pretty basic (Layla in particular stood out for handing out two headlocks as her only offense), it had good action and continued to tell the story of the rivalry between the women involved. This is exactly what WWE has been missing lately and what TNA once utilized to build the best women’s division in wrestling. Both companies could use more of this type of work in their shows.
Morrison had another mediocre week hyping his main event feud with the Miz. Everything he did outside of the ring seemed to fall short, from his introduction of the wager regarding to stipulation to his announcement of the time and stipulation of the match, all the way down to the choice of stipulation. Morrison began the evening making a wager with the Miz regarding choosing the stipulation for their WWE Championship match, but at no point did Morrison appear any more interested in winning than usual. He looked like he was cutting just another backstage promo with some mid-carder, rather than discussing the future of his WWE Championship opportunity. He then followed that up with a completely flat and honestly annoying joke about Alex Riley that was endemic of the problems Morrison had on the mic in his career.
Morrison’s announcement of the WWE title match stipulation as Falls Count Anywhere made no sense either, as it really did not give him any more of an advantage and in fact may logically benefit Miz more than Morrison. Michael Cole attempted to sell it as a devastating choice for the Miz, but no one was buying it. The wheels seem to be turning on Morrison’s main event push, but he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
I list Nexus only because they appear to once again be an important part of Raw despite being completely buried at TLC by Cena, and because the new relationship with CM Punk is likely to drag them upwards in terms of interest just from the new face factor alone. The honest truth is that Nexus needed Punk after a clear and decisive loss as a unit at TLC more than Punk needed Nexus to serve as his muscle. If associating with Punk allows Nexus to return to credibility as a monster heel stable, the Nexus brand may yet be rescued. However, from the way they were handled in the last few months after the Summerslam loss, I doubt that will happen. Essentially, the new management by Punk rescued them from the scrap heap, but the group is still on life support.
Orton put on one of his better showings of the past few weeks on Raw with the best match on Raw this week in his clean victory over Sheamus. The Viper put on a solid TV main event match that moved a bit slowly for my taste but had some interesting spots and a great finish with the RKO off of Sheamus’ springboard shoulderblock move. I love how Orton has incorporated the Angle Slam into his moveset as of late, as it also brings some new maneuvers for him to work with in matches. The clean win over a credible Sheamus has to bode well for Orton, who currently has no feud but should be in line for a potential WWE Title opportunity at the Miz at the Royal Rumble.
|Dolph Ziggler & Vickie Guerrero||3||–|
The trio of Swagger, Kingston, and Ziggler get the nod for the next three spots thanks to their Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat match which was the best match of the week. Smackdown opened up with the three of them reviewing what happened on TLC, with both Swagger and Kingston calling out the various indiscretions of the match. This helped to sell the importance of the results of the match and how it related to the IC Title, which is important for making sure PPV matches are not forgotten and remain relevant after the show goes off the air. Ziggler and Vickie did a solid job of building heat for their heel characters, with Vickie’s “excuse me” shouts and cocky attitude continually getting over with the fans. Finally, kudos to Kingston and the WWE writing staff for finally getting it right and not attacking Vickie’s supposed weight issues and instead going after her actions as a heel manager; this is the way she should be addressed by babyface characters throughout her time as Ziggler’s manager. Everyone in the opening segment played their part very well.
The match itself was very strong throughout, starting off with the two-on-one assault on the babyface Kingston building sympathy for him for the remainder of the match. There were three very believable near-falls, one for each wrestler involved. Kingston got the late-match edge with the Trouble in Paradise kick, but WWE rightfully kept the belt of Ziggler with the cheating rollup for the win. The crowd was very hot for the match after the onset, particularly for Kingston, which only serves to contribute to the strength of Smackdown’s mid-card. One of the numerous mid-carders needs to be upgraded to the top of the card permanently in 2011 in order to assist in the ailing main-event scene on Smackdown, because there just isn’t enough TV time to showcsae the six or so strong mid-carders on the show now.
No one made more of a jump than Punk after Raw was over. His opening promo was intriguing and brought up some legitimate points about Cena’s on-screen character as it pertains to the “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” gimmick. Some may be uncomfortable with siding too easily with the heel’s point of view, as the babyface has to have a moral or logical leg to stand on in the feud, but I did not have such issues. Punk did stretch some of the points to the extreme and used them accordingly, and I thought the way he framed his argument and the start of the feud was a perfect setup to a mic-heavy, back-and-forth program that could stretch into Wrestlemania. Such a feud could bring Cena’s actions to question and make Cena rethink his character and (in-story) career.
Unfortunately, the only thing that held Punk back from the #1 ranking this week was his tie-in as the new leader of the Nexus. As mentioned before, Nexus needed Punk’s skill and mic work to build heat back as a credible group, but Punk had all the ammunition he needed to unleash a verbal tirade that led to a strong feud with Cena. Bringing in the Nexus gives him muscle and a more intimidating factor, but with the way Cena manhandled the group at TLC (supposedly taking all of them out offscreen on his own), how are we supposed to buy the group as a threat to Cena? All this move does is tie a dying brand to Punk without adding much to Punk’s ability to get to Cena. It is not as strong an addition as it initially appears, and the disappointment from this development (combined with Cena’s injury) held Punk from the #1 spot.
The Miz, right now, really is the reason I watch Monday Night Raw. He still cuts the best heel promos in business right now, and in this week’s Raw he maintained his position as the most entertaining of the week with his heat-heavy match versus Lawler. Miz’ mic work was solid as always, from berating Riley for losing to Morrison to verbally harassing Lawler before and throughout their match. His match with Lawler, while plodding and generally uninteresting, did manage to keep heat on him through his cocky antics. When Miz lost due to Morrison’s interference, he sold the ramifications of it well, and the ensuing beatdown of Lawler was fairly surprising and intense. In short, despite the poor match, Miz held his end of the title feud with Morrison and continued his awesome streak as WWE Champion.