Power Rankings, Week #1


What happened this week in terms of the best acts in the worlds of WWE and TNA? Let’s take a look at this week’s Power Rankings, the end of Week #1, January 9!

Dropping out of this week’s poll: John Cena (10), Smackdown divas (9), Nexus (7), Jack Swagger (T4)

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Kazarian participated alongside A.J. Styles versus the TNA Tag Team Champions the Motor City Machine Guns and had a solid segment on Jay Lethal after the latter’s match with Abyss. Kazarian looked OK in the match, with one strong spot off a tag from Styles, but I was more interested in the good heel mic work after the Lethal/Abyss match. He played the cocky heel well and hyped the X Division Championship match for Genesis this Sunday. Unfortunately, the title chase for Kazarian did not feel as important as it did for the other challengers like Styles, Matt Morgan, and Mr. Anderson, and this is a major problem for a company that once was built on the X Division.

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A.J. Styles9

Styles moves into the Power Rankings this week not only because of his performance in an excellent (but unfortunately short) tag match with Kazarian versus the TNA Tag Team Champions the Motor City Machine Guns, but because of his solid backstage promo following the match. The exchange between Styles, Ric Flair, and Eric Bischoff highlighted the importance of both the TNA TV Championship and the TNA Tag Team Titles along with the importance of the preceding match. The match itself was awesome, with a particularly solid spot at the end of the match Styles will battle Douglas Williams for the TNA TV Title on Sunday at Genesis in what promises to be another solid match.

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It wasn’t always pretty, but the World Heavyweight Champion Edge retained the title in a grueling Last Man Standing match versus Kane. The match itself was not much to write home about, especially in the early going. The two men went into the stands for your traditional walking and punching routine through the crowd; the lack of spots in the crowd made that part of the match a total waste of time. When the two finally returned to the ring, business picked up with a few strong spots involving the ringside steel steps and the announcer’s table. Kane’s chokeslam through the announcer’s table drew a believable “near-fall” (close to 10-count) and an excellent facial expression from color commentator Matt Striker. Edge’s spear and con-chair-to to the leg of Kane were both convincing and logical given the stipulation of the match. Mostly, I’m just happy to see Edge move on to another feud; the Edge-Kane feud was easily one of the worst of 2010.

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Motor City Machine Guns7

The Guns got in a five-minute spotfest versus Styles and Kazarian on Impact this past Thursday, but the match turned out to be the ring highlight of the night. While this match could have easily been given another ten minutes and been pushed up the card a bit more, the Guns showed enough of their talent to once again display why tag team wrestling can still draw. After their hectic match, they were attacked by their Genesis opponents, Beer Money Inc, which should lead to yet another excellent match from the two teams tonight.

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CM Punk62

John Cena’s injury really derailed the Punk/Nexus angle for this past week’s Raw. Without Cena to rail against, Punk did not have a whole lot of mic time to work with his excellent Cena-related material. Instead, creative booked him in a power struggle versus Wade Barrett, one that ended predictably with Punk betraying Barrett in the steel cage #1 Contender’s match later that evening and costing Barrett a shot at the WWE Championship.

The problem with Punk this week was twofold. On one hand, without Cena, Punk had a listless argument with Barrett over who should control Nexus. The crowd wasn’t into the struggle at all because neither Punk nor Barrett were sympathetic figures to the audience (rarely does this two-heel segment work with little buildup) and because Nexus itself is so emasculated that the group isn’t over with the crowd as a whole. The result is a weak seven-minute promo in which Punk rejects a WWE Championship opportunity to ensure his ownership of Nexus. This is not putting the WWE Title over in the least bit.

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Randy Orton56

Orton gets the bump up from sixth to fifth for his victory over Barrett and Sheamus in the steel cage #1 Contender’s match on Raw, though neither the match nor Orton’s performance was particularly impressive. The match itself was plodding, and I personally did not enjoy the format. There was not enough wrestling and too much struggling at the top of the cage amongst the three wrestlers, and none of them looked strong climbing the cage as slow as they did. In addition, the inclusion of the cage door really detracts from the value of cage matches as a whole. Nevertheless, Orton looked as solid as usual despite the format, getting in his offense and taking the win. He’ll face the WWE Champion the Miz at Royal Rumble.

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Kofi Kingston4T4

Kingston had another strong showing on Smackdown this past Friday, beating Dolph Ziggler (twice, technically) for the Intercontinental Championship. Kingston’s match with Ziggler was entertaining but too short for the caliber of match these two can provide. However, the win was convincing and helped to put over both men as strong competitors, though the effect of the match was lessened given the fact that we have seen both men battle countless times throughout 2010. WWE creative took the right approach in booking the rematch clause immediately, as it added tension between Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero and flowed smoothly into the next part of Ziggler’s story while blowing off the Kingston/Ziggler feud quickly with no loopholes.

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Dolph Ziggler & Vickie Guerrero33

Ziggler of course had a good evening on Smackdown despite the loss to Kingston for his Intercontinental Title. Ziggler later on was inserted into a Triple Threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship between Drew McIntyre, Big Show, and Cody Rhodes. Of course, given the announcement, it was fairly certain that Ziggler was going to win the match, but the way in which the match was won was entertaining. Without assistance from Vickie Guerrero, Ziggler was booked to win using guile, tricking Rhodes into going after the Big Show while the big man was recovering from a series of finishing moves. When Rhodes turned his back, Ziggler hit him with the Zig-Zag for the pinfall victory.

The creative victory gave Ziggler a trial at the main event level, and an Edge-Ziggler feud has some natural intrigue with the previous Edge-Vickie Guerrero relatioship. While no one wants to be reminded of that angle necessarily, it is something that can be played on to some degree for as long as this feud lasts. This will go a long way to showing whether Ziggler can be someone on whom the WWE can count in its future main event scene, especially on the talent-light Smackdown brand.

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John Morrison28

The Miz versus Morrison title match delivered more than it could have ever promised, with the two performers putting in an early 2011 Match of the Year candidate in a spectacular Falls Count Anywhere match for the WWE Championship. Last week, I mentioned that Morrison did not look interested in the feud in all but a few instances during the buildup to the match, but this week he erased that with an intense look in his eyes throughout the match. Morrison sold all of the necessary moves in the ring and really shined in some key spots, including the running knee to Alex Riley at the ringside guardrail. My only complaint in the match was that Morrison’s three Starship Pain spots looked very artificial and not realistic, but each of them were done well, particularly the spot through the table which led to the eventual match finish.

Essentially, Morrison’s in-ring performance shot him up the Power Rankings, and the performance in a close loss was crucial to getting the fans to believe in Morrison as a credible main event performer. Next week is going to be crucial for Morrison; will he fade away from the title picture as WWE builds up Miz-Orton, or will he remain in the fold and even nudge himself back into the title match at the Royal Rumble. After last Monday’s spectacle, the crowd should be hungry for more of a potentially strong Miz-Morrison feud, and WWE should give it to them. It’s a shame this match was not highlighted at Royal Rumble.

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The Miz11

The Miz remains the most interesting character in WWE, and his performance with Morrison in the WWE Title match on Monday only served to elevate both men. The (mostly) clean victory by Miz was important in lending him credibility as a heel champion. The table spot was the exact sort of thing that could lead to a mostly clean pinfall for a heel like Miz, who is being booked to barely escape with his title in each match, over a face without burying the latter. Miz’ in-ring work paled in comparison to the more athletic Morrison, but it told a solid story and still made him look like he was fighting believably. Miz got enough offense to make the match appear very close, and the kickout after Morrison’s Starship Pain gave Miz some credentials.

Essentially, Miz is continuing to play his role. His upcoming feud with Randy Orton will be interesting to watch. Will the writing team seal the deal and give Miz a clean win over Orton, or will he continue to barely escape? After Monday’s win, it’s unlikely they would take the title away from him to put it on Orton again, and there is still a decent chance that Miz will retain the gold into Wrestlemania, which would be the best outcome for everyone involved.