WWE Power Rankings: Breaking Down WWE's Top 25 Superstars for Week of Sept. 16
The balance of power wasn't shaken up too much at WWE Night of Champions 2012 as WWE Champion CM Punk and World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus retained their respective titles. But there is plenty worth talking about during the aftermath of Sunday's pay-per-view and Monday's edition of Raw.
Night of Champions certainly didn't live up to my expectations, but several stars shined during the event and their new standing in this week's power rankings will reflect that. Night of Champions most definitely suffered from a lack of build, but that didn't stop some wrestlers from putting forth their best effort.
On top of that, Raw was chock full of matches this week and there is no question that some superstars helped themselves, while others fell further down the pecking order. As bigger events like Survivor Series, and even Royal Rumble, approach over the next few months, things figure to change even more moving forward.
Here are my Top 25 superstar power rankings for the week beginning on Sept. 16 based purely on entertainment value and not kayfabe results.
25. Justin Gabriel
Last Week's Ranking: NR
"The Cape Town Werewolf" Justin Gabriel hasn't been seen on WWE programming very much lately as a singles competitor, but he had a match with Wade Barrett on Raw. Gabriel is lacking in terms of mic work and charisma, so I'm not sure he can ever be a top-tier guy, but his wrestling ability is thoroughly impressive.
Gabriel ultimately lost to Barrett on Monday, but he looked strong in doing so and showed off a wide array of aerial maneuvers. I don't consider myself a big Gabriel fan, but I wouldn't mind seeing him in the midcard title picture moving forward.
24. Kofi Kingston & R-Truth
Last Week's Ranking: 24
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth's reign as Tag Team Champions finally came to an end Sunday as the newly-formed team of Kane and Daniel Bryan defeated them for the straps. Kofi and Truth both have their merits and get good reactions from the crowd, but they simply weren't doing enough to get the tag division over.
With that said, hopefully they remain in the tag-team scene in an effort to make it relevant again. With them, Kane and Bryan, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara and The Prime Time Players, there is a solid foundation to build upon. Breaking up Kofi and Truth now would simply stunt that development.
23. Brodus Clay
Last Week's Ranking: 22
There is no question that Brodus Clay has lost a lot of his momentum in recent weeks, but it still appears the WWE is trying to make him a key cog in the midcard. Clay didn't win the United States Championship No. 1 contender battle royal on Sunday, but he may be challenging for that title soon.
Clay beat Heath Slater on Raw, but not before United States Champion Antonio Cesaro tried to cost him the match. Clay's dancing gimmick may be wearing thin on some, but I still enjoy it and would love to see him feud with Cesaro.
22. Santino Marella
Last Week's Ranking: 21
Since losing the United States Championship to Antonio Cesaro at SummerSlam and subsequently falling in his rematch as well, Santino Marella has been in no man's land. He doesn't really have anyone to feud with, but he did have a match against Dolph Ziggler on Raw, which he ultimately lost as well.
I'm glad Santino is out of the title picture, but he definitely still has some worth to the company. Whether you love him or hate him, Santino's comedy act is over with the younger crowd and and he has a place on the weekly shows.
21. Heath Slater
Last Week's Ranking: 17
He may only be a glorified jobber, but I can't help but be entertained by "The One Man Band" Heath Slater. He has won about two matches over the past year, however, Slater's in-ring antics are quite funny and his angle with the legends leading up to Raw 1000 certainly changed my opinion of him.
Slater tried dancing in the middle of the United States Championship No. 1 contender battle royal on Sunday, but was quickly eliminated, and he lost to Brodus Clay on Raw. I realize that Slater is used for comedic purposes more than anything, but I wouldn't mind seeing him in the midcard title picture either.
Last Week's Ranking: NR
After weeks of doing pretty much nothing, Tensai has actually been featured on television a bit as of late, losing to Randy Orton on both SmackDown and Raw over the past week. Tensai was also in the United States Championship No. 1 contender battle royal at Night of Champions, and was the final person eliminated by the winner, Zack Ryder.
Tensai's early wins over CM Punk and John Cena are of no consequence now as he has been thoroughly buried, but he is a monstrous man who could be credible if booked correctly. I'm hopeful he at least continues to be used on Raw and SmackDown moving forward.
19. David Otunga
Last Week's Ranking: 20
If David Otunga never wrestles another WWE match again, I would be fine with that. But as an on-screen character, he certainly has some value to the company. Otunga is too robotic and vanilla in the ring, so I can't ever see him becoming a singles champion. As the official legal counsel of the WWE, he is very entertaining.
Otunga's character fits the prototype of the slimy lawyer perfectly, so I would love to see him continue in that role. Otunga represented Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez as they tried to get Sheamus' Brogue Kick banned, so hopefully he represents other superstars in their legal battles down the line.
18. Prime Time Players
Last Week's Ranking: 19
The Prime Time Players fell off a bit after that lost their manager, A.W., and they leave a lot to be desired in the ring. But there is no doubt Titus O'Neil and Darren Young can be major factors in the tag-team division. Kane and Daniel Bryan usurped their spot as No. 1 contenders for the Tag Team Championships and ultimately won the titles, but O'Neil and Young should remain in the title picture.
It has been so long since the tag division has been relevant, and although The Prime Time Players are far from the best tag team I've ever seen, they have personality and seem like a real team rather than one that is thrown together. Because of that, they should have plenty of success in the WWE.
17. Sin Cara
Last Week's Ranking: 15
As a singles competitor Sin Cara is limited since he can't talk, but he is certainly an exciting luchador, who can do things that nobody else on the roster can. Even so, Sin Cara was a bit sloppy in the Intercontinental Championship fatal four way at Night of Champions and hurt his stock a little because of that.
On the plus side, it appears as though Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio have officially formed a tag team. They defeated Primo and Epico in an exciting affair on Raw and were attacked by The Prime Time Players afterward. Sin Cara has merits on his own, but I am far more interested in him as a tag-team wrestler with Mysterio.
16. Cody Rhodes
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Cody Rhodes seemed to be gaining some momentum in recent weeks as he was feuding with Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, and even beat Mysterio on Raw last week. Also, Rhodes attacked Intercontinental Champion The Miz and looked poised to regain the title. Rhodes lost the fatal four way for the strap at Night of Champions as he was pinned by Miz.
Because of that, I figured that he and Miz would feud, but Ryback crashed The Miz's new talk show on Monday, so I suppose Rhodes isn't in the picture. Rhodes is a guy who many consider to be a future world champion, but his gimmick is lacking right now and he is somewhat of a spare part with nobody to feud against.
15. Antonio Cesaro
Last Week's Ranking: 18
I'm still not sold on Antonio Cesaro as the United States Champion, but he has slowly been improving both in the ring and on the mic. Cesaro was a major star in Ring of Honor, so he has the tools to be a top guy in the WWE. It's just a matter of bringing his "A" game each and every night and finding a way to connect with the fans.
It feels like he is trying to get heat with his five different languages shtick, but it hasn't worked quite yet. Cesaro did look impressive in retaining his title against Zack Ryder at Night of Champions, and may be in line for a very interesting rivalry with Brodus Clay.
14. Zack Ryder
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Zack Ryder's current standing in the WWE is a far cry from late last year when he was the United States Champion. But at least he has bounced back from being Superstars fodder. Ryder has been appearing regularly on both Raw and SmackDown, and even scored a disqualification win over Daniel Bryan. On top of that, he won the U.S. title No. 1 contender battle royal on Sunday.
Ryder fell short in his bid to upset Antonio Cesaro, but he performed well and looked fairly strong. Ryder also lost on Monday against Damien Sandow, but I doubt this is the last we've seen of them. Ryder is over with the crowd regardless of how he's used, so he could really help Sandow's heel persona.
Last Week's Ranking: 14
For a little while, it looked like Ryback was ready to move on from squashing jobbers, but he fell back into that abyss. Now he appears to officially be ready to graduate to bigger and better things as he interrupted The Miz during Miz TV on Raw, and figures to be the next challenger for the Intercontinental Championship.
Ryback is somewhat one-dimensional as it doesn't appear as though he'll be given an opportunity to cut promos, but his sheer size and intensity makes him a fan favorite. It may be a bit early to give Ryback the Intercontinental Championship, but it would probably help him a lot more than it does Miz.
12. Alberto Del Rio
Last Week's Ranking: 11
It's not that I hate Alberto Del Rio like many fans seem to, but I couldn't have hated him more as a part of the feud with Sheamus. Del Rio and Sheamus simply didn't have any chemistry from a storyline perspective and it really damaged Del Rio as a top heel, especially since he lost to Sheamus on several occasions and couldn't get the job done.
He lost to Sheamus again on Sunday—hopefully for the final time—and can now move on to something else. There is no obvious feud available to Del Rio right now that would keep him relevant, but being in the World Heavyweight Championship picture didn't help him with the way he was booked. If put in the right situation, though, Del Rio can still shine.
Last Week's Ranking: 12
Like Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus has suffered from being involved in a dead-end feud. Many consider Sheamus a poor World Heavyweight Champion, but I don't think the problem is with Sheamus. He is great in the ring, solid on the mic and has good personality, but he couldn't really showcase any of that while stuck in an angle that fans hated.
Sheamus can finally move on, perhaps to a feud with Wade Barrett. It is far from certain that Barrett will be his next challenger, but the WWE has been very coy with regards to what the plans are for Barrett, and it just seems that Sheamus and Barrett are a perfect match.
10. Rey Mysterio
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Say what you will about Rey Mysterio losing a step or not being anything special on the mic, but he is a guy who goes out there every night, gives it his all in the ring and more often than not, puts on a fantastic show. Mysterio didn't win the Intercontinental Championship fatal four way at Night of Champions, but he was the best in-ring performer in that match and helped keep up the exciting pace.
Mysterio is a valuable midcard guy at this point in his career, but I'm even more excited about his prospects as Sin Cara's tag-team partner. Not only will they help revitalize a division that has been in the doldrums for a very long time, but he can help groom Sin Cara, so that he can one day take Mysterio's spot in the WWE.
9. The Miz
Last Week's Ranking: 7
I'm as big of a Miz fan as anyone, but even I was rooting for him to drop the Intercontinental Championship on Sunday. The IC title was once an extremely prestigious prize in the WWE, but it isn't even given the time of day anymore. Miz is a guy who main evented WrestleMania, and he is most definitely a main-event talent, but the Intercontinental Championship is preventing him from getting back to the pinnacle of the company.
Now that he may be feuding with Ryback, I have hope that he'll be able to move on from the IC title debacle. Also, while the first installment of Miz TV wasn't a smash hit by any means, Miz did well, but the segment was killed by Booker T's lame mic work. Regardless of that, I am highly entertained by Miz every time he is in the ring.
8. Damien Sandow
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Damien Sandow hasn't been as vocal and visible over the past week or two as he was in previous weeks, but he certainly made his presence known on Monday. In typical Sandow fashion, he discussed the virtues of going back to school, and even proceeded to give the live crowd a little vocabulary lesson before getting interrupted by Zack Ryder.
Sandow is very basic in the ring, and many feel like his gimmick isn't main-event caliber. But I see big things in the Intellectual Savior's future. He'll need to get involved in a more high-profile feud to take that next step, but a little rivalry with Ryder would be good for him since he would anger a lot of fans by getting the better of him.
7. Wade Barrett
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Things have gone quite slowly for Wade Barrett since his return two weeks ago, but I am very optimistic that business will soon pick up with regards to the Barrett Barrage. Barrett has squash victories over Yoshi Tatsu and Justin Gabriel over the past couple weeks and cut a five-second promo on SmackDown. But with World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus' feud against Alberto Del Rio seemingly over, there is an opening for Barrett.
Barrett has it all in terms of size, wrestling ability and mic work, so he would be a great rival for Sheamus, especially after that terrible Del Rio angle. I wish the writers would have had Barrett attack Sheamus at Night of Champions, but as long as he does it on SmackDown, all will be well.
6. Randy Orton
Last Week's Ranking: 8
I certainly wasn't thrilled with the WWE's decision to have Randy Orton go over Dolph Ziggler at Night of Champions, but Orton has done some good work as of late, regardless of that. Orton's character has gotten a bit stale and his mic work leaves a lot to be desired, but he is definitely one of the best in-ring workers and has had several very good matches with Ziggler over the past month or so.
Orton also has consecutive wins over Tensai on SmackDown and Raw. Orton is set to begin filming a movie soon, but he will apparently continue appearing on WWE programming during that time, so it will be interesting to see who he feuds with next. Orton had a couple matches with Alberto Del Rio prior to his feud with Ziggler, and since Del Rio has nothing going on, perhaps something will come of that.
5. Dolph Ziggler
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Dolph Ziggler can't do anything about the terrible booking decisions that have gone against him over the past couple months, but what he can do is continue to show up every night and put forth the greatest effort he possibly can. Ziggler has certainly been doing that as he consistently wrestles on every Raw, SmackDown and pay-per-view, and often has the best match of the night.
Ziggler lost to Randy Orton at Night of Champions just as he did to Chris Jericho at SummerSlam, and both results were equally senseless. Ziggler scored a win over Santino on Raw, but that isn't going to make anyone view him as a credible future world champion. The hardcore fans realize how great Ziggler is, but casual fans see him losing constantly, so how are they supposed to take him seriously? We can only hope that the creative team realizes the error of its ways soon.
Last Week's Ranking: 4
It wasn't long ago that Kane was about as played out as a wrestler can possibly be. But after two reinventions of himself, he is suddenly one of the most must-see stars in the company. Kane returned with his mask and a monster heel persona last year, but that didn't exactly get over with the fans. Kane has found new life over the past few weeks, as he has been involved in an angle with Daniel Bryan.
They started off as psychotic rivals, but soon found common ground and are now Tag Team Champions after beating Kofi Kingston and R-Truth at Night of Champions. The comedic chemistry between Kane and Bryan is absolutely fantastic, so hopefully they are a pairing that will last for a significant amount of time.
3. Daniel Bryan
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Picking the more entertaining superstar between Kane and Daniel Bryan is like splitting hairs right now, but because of Bryan's superiority in the ring, I have to go with him. Both have been hilarious over the past month, and their new gimmick of yelling "I am the Tag Team Champions" is great as well. Bryan has always been a top-notch wrestler, but the development of his personality has been incredibly impressive to me.
I have no doubt that Bryan will be world champion again one day, as he has a bright future as a singles competitor. But the tag-team division has been stagnant for a long time, so I'm ecstatic to see him and Kane together. Perhaps the team will only last for a few months, but Kane and Bryan are so good together that they may hold the key to making tag-team wrestling mean something again.
2. CM Punk
Last Week's Ranking: 1
WWE Champion CM Punk has been at the top of these power rankings since the inaugural edition, but he has finally been leapfrogged as he lands at No. 2 this week. That isn't an indictment of Punk as he continues to do a great job, but John Cena has just been a little better over the past week. A lot of it stems from Monday's edition of Raw as Punk didn't really address the controversial draw at Night of Champions, while Cena did in an eloquent manner.
Even so, Punk performed very well at Night of Champions and his continued character development intrigues me. One thing I don't particularly like about Punk's heel turn, though, is he's now being made to look lucky against Cena. I would have preferred a win via interference at Night of Champions rather than a draw because Punk came out looking like a loser, even though he wasn't.
1. John Cena
Last Week's Ranking: 3
There is no more important feud in the WWE right now than the one between John Cena and WWE Champion CM Punk, so it's only natural that they occupy the top two spots in these rankings. Truth be told, they are more like No. 1 and 1a, but I put Cena in the catbird seat for argument's sake. You can certainly make a case for either man to be on top, but Punk has been there for several weeks in a row and I feel like Cena did enough to pass him.
From a storyline perspective, though, Cena hasn't been made to look great the past couple days. He idiotically pinned himself at Night of Champions, and then he won on Raw with Punk's foot on the ropes. Cena made a big deal about respect, but he accepted the unfair victory. Cena may say that he didn't see the foot on the ropes, but perhaps he did, so I'm very interested to hear his explanation next week.