Despite the fact that Survivor Series is now firmly in the rearview mirror, things have certainly heated up in the WWE over the past couple weeks. Top stars like CM Punk, Ryback, John Cena and Dolph Ziggler are all involved in some pretty big storylines, and the continued involvement of The Shield has fans extremely interested.
All of the focus on the main angles has certainly taken away from some of the midcard and undercard superstars, but such is life in the WWE. That means the power rankings are a bit thin this week as only a small number of superstars have competed over the past week, but it has allowed for quite a bit of movement up and down the list as well.
WWE Champion CM Punk has had a stranglehold on the top spot for quite some time, but with many of the wrestlers around getting major pushes right now, he is certainly in jeopardy of falling out of the catbird seat this week.
Here are my power rankings of the top 25 superstars in WWE over the past week. Keep in mind that these rankings are based solely on entertainment value and overall effectiveness rather than kayfabe factors outside of the Superstars' control, such as wins and losses.
Last Week's Ranking: 23
Brodus Clay is essentially little more than a jobber at this point, as his only win in recent memory was the opening elimination match at Survivor Series; however, he was the only superstar eliminated from his team. Clay has a ton of potential, a good look and a gimmick that the fans still seem to enjoy, but it appears as though the writers have all but given up on him.
Things are cyclical in the WWE, so you never know when he might get back to his winning ways. That said, it likely won't happen any time soon. The WWE missed its chance to push Brodus as a permanent fixture in the midcard, and he is now little more than a big guy who gets fed to the up-and-coming heels.
Last Week's Ranking: 21
Justin Gabriel hasn't competed on a major show since Survivor Series, so he drops down the list a bit this week, but he dazzles every time he steps into the ring. Gabriel is never going to be a main-event guy because he lacks the charisma necessary to reach that level, but he's an extremely useful wrestler to have on the roster because he can have a great match with pretty much any midcarder.
Perhaps Gabriel would be best utilized in a tag team with Tyson Kidd, however. He and Kidd have tagged together as International Airstrike on and off for the past several months, but it would make sense to make the team permanent. They're an extremely exciting pairing and they would add even more depth to the burgeoning division.
Last Week's Ranking: 20
While 3MB may still technically be a random conglomeration of jobbers, I applaud the WWE for taking some of the floundering guys on its roster and doing something with them. They're a midcard comedy act at best, they're fairly entertaining and the thought that three guys with no musical talent can form a band is quite funny.
The best part of 3MB, though, is that it offers plenty of versatility. Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre can all act as singles wrestlers or they can team together in a few different combinations. It's a utilitarian group that can help wherever they're needed in the midcard scene. Once the trio becomes entrenched, though, I wouldn't mind seeing McIntyre vying for midcard titles with Slater and Mahal serving primarily as a tag team.
Last Week's Ranking: 18
The likes of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler get a ton of credit for their in-ring prowess, and rightfully so, but Tyson Kidd may be as good or better than any of them. It's tough for fringe fans to grasp that concept, however, because Kidd simply isn't used very often. He shined at Survivor Series as part of the opening five-on-five elimination match, but the WWE hasn't capitalized on that.
He was also stood out back at Money in the Bank and that could have led to a midcard push, but it never happened. Since the WWE doesn't seem very interested in allowing Kidd to go anywhere as a singles star, his tag team with Justin Gabriel should definitely be put on a fast track. Perhaps down the line they could even challenge for the Tag Team Championships.
Last Week's Ranking: NR
There is no denying that The Great Khali is terrible in pretty much every way imaginable, but he has been used quite a bit lately, so he comes in at No. 21 this week. Khali has somehow gotten involved in the budding relationship between Alberto Del Rio and Rose Mendes and he paid for it on Monday as he was defeated by Del Rio. Apparently Khali is friends with Hornswoggle and he fought Del Rio to protect his little buddy.
I understand why the WWE employs Khali as he is popular in India and it's a huge population that the company can take advantage of, but the vast majority of fans know that he's bad. It's not his fault, but he can barely walk to the ring and his only moves are chops. Most of his matches are quick and painless, but there has to be a way to make him at least somewhat interesting.
Last Week's Ranking: NR
Most fans probably forget how over Zack Ryder was a year ago, but he was probably one of the most popular superstars in the entire company. He was pursuing the United States Championship at this time last year and he finally defeated Dolph Ziggler for it at TLC. That should have been the start of a long and fruitful title reign as that is what the fans wanted to see, but he got involved in a storyline with John Cena, Kane and Eve, and his push was destroyed.
That has led to him wrestling mostly on second-rate shows and jobbing when he does appear on RAW or SmackDown. That was the case this week as he lost to Damien Sandow on Monday. I'm not saying that Ryder should be a main-eventer or anything like that, but he worked incredibly hard to get noticed and the fans responded to him, so there is no excuse for him not to be in the midcard title hunt.
Last Week's Ranking: 22
The WWE is long past the point of no return when it comes to Tensai's push, but he's still a good talent that can be salvaged to some degree. It looked like he was going to be a main-event heel after he beat the likes of John Cena and CM Punk, but things quickly went south and he has been little more than a midcarder ever since. In fact, Tensai is basically the heel version of Brodus Clay.
He's a big, menacing guy who looks like he should be able to beat anyone, yet he loses pretty much every match. The main reason for his lost push was likely the fact that the fans insisted on chanting "Albert" and the creative team was too lazy to come up with a way to circumvent it. Tensai is a veteran with great size and a ton of experience, though, so he should really be in the midcard title hunt at worst.
Last Week's Ranking: 19
R-Truth may still be the No. 1 contender for the United States Championship, but that hasn't made me care about him in any way, shape or form. I have rarely enjoyed Truth's work over the years, but there is no question that his heel run while teaming with The Miz was fantastic. The WWE abruptly turned him face, however, and he has been absolutely awful ever since thanks to the Lil' Jimmy gimmick.
Truth has toned that down to some degree, but he's extremely boring regardless. He lost to Antonio Cesaro in a lackluster match at Survivor Series, yet he looks like he's going to get another shot. He did beat Cesaro last week on SmackDown, but this feud couldn't seem less important if they tried. The only way to save Truth at this point is for him to revert back to the psychotic heel gimmick that worked so well.
Last Week's Ranking: 17
The Prime Time Players may not be Tag Team Championship material quite yet, but they refine their characters each and every week and have become a fixture in the tag division. It will be interesting to see how the tag-team division sorts out heading into TLC, but it seems likely that Titus O'Neil and Darren Young will be in the mix for a shot at the straps. They definitely lack in the ring, but they have plenty of personality and seem like a legitimate team.
Also, O'Neil in particular looks as though he could have a bright future on his own. He was highly entertaining on commentary last week and continues to show that he can speak pretty well. His wrestling hasn't caught up with his talking yet, but if it does, he has the potential to be something pretty special down the line.
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Alberto Del Rio has officially entered midcard purgatory as there is absolutely nothing for him to do right now. He feuded with Sheamus over the World Heavyweight Championship for several months and then quickly entered into a feud with Randy Orton, but the heat is gone from that angle as well. He now appears focused on wooing Rose Mendes and that led to him having to face The Great Khali on RAW.
Del Rio is in a tough position because he has a ton of in-ring talent, but his mic skills are severely lacking. He doesn't deserve to be in the main event currently, but he also should be facing someone like The Great Khali. He needs an upper-midcard feud with someone besides Orton, and maybe a guy like The Miz would make sense as he appears to be en route to a face turn.
Last Week's Ranking: 12
There is no question that Kofi Kingston has a lot of positive things going for him. He has immeasurable amounts of athleticism, he gets a nice reaction from the crowd and he's the Intercontinental Champion, but we've been saying the same things about Kingston since the day he debuted in WWE. Kofi has always been a face with the same moveset and he almost always has gold around his waste; however, he has yet to take the next step.
It's starting to look like Kingston is nothing more than a transitional titleholder as he is set to face Wade Barrett at TLC and Barrett is the guy who needs to be pushed. That would make Kofi just another ordinary midcarder and there aren't many greater prospects in sight. I understand that turning face or heel isn't always the answer, but unless Kofi adjusts his character at some point, he has already reached his ceiling.
Last Week's Ranking: 13
While Randy Orton is much different than Kofi Kingston in that he has already been to the top of the mountain several times in the WWE as world champion, but they are also quite similar based on the fact that their respective characters are well past their expiration dates. Orton's face gimmick was new and fresh a couple years ago, but he has become a lite version of himself and there isn't anything particularly interesting about him.
He constantly has great matches with the likes of Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler, but there's more to the WWE than that. Orton has awful mic skills and his current character doesn't help hide that flaw. Orton hasn't been firmly in the title scene in over a year and that may be the only thing that can save him. Ideally he and The Miz can feud and that would then lead to a double turn, but I'm not sure the WWE is willing to pull the trigger on such a huge undertaking.
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Antonio Cesaro has limitless potential to be a big star in the WWE, but it's time for the creative team to give him something to grab onto. He has been the United States Champion since SummerSlam and still hasn't engaged in a feud worth talking about. I suppose that his current rivalry with R-Truth is his first feud of note, but there isn't anything special about it as no reasoning has been given as to why these two guys dislike each other.
I understand that ample time needs to be given to the main-event feuds, but Cesaro and Truth should be given at least a bit of mic time to make the fans care. Instead, Cesaro will likely beat Truth yet again at TLC and he'll be left searching for his next meaningless feud. Cesaro is excellent in the ring and has shown some chops on the mic, but he needs a formidable opponent. I'm not sure there is one on the roster right now, but he can't make the U.S. title relevant on his own.
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Damien Sandow caught an unfortunate break when Cody Rhodes was injured on Main Event during their Tag Team Championship match against Team Hell No, and now he has been left to fend for himself. Rhodes suffered several different injuries, including a torn trapezius muscle, so he will likely be out of commission for the foreseeable future. That has thrust Sandow back into the singles scene where he will attempt to reach the next level.
Sandow is most definitely a future star based on his mic skills alone, but I'm not convinced that the Rhodes injury was necessarily good for his development. Sandow was put in a tag team because there weren't many good feuds available in the midcard and that is still the case. He will face John Cena on Main Event, which will obviously help him in terms of exposure, but I fail to see a manner in which he can be elevated in the near future.
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara haven't actually teamed together over the past week, but they appear to be the first in line for a shot at Team Hell No's Tag Team Championships. Sin Cara lost a singles match to Alberto Del Rio on SmackDown while Mysterio defeated Daniel Bryan on RAW, and they have quite a bit of momentum right now as a unit. If things go the way I expect them to Mysterio and Sin Cara will face Team Hell No and The Prime Time Players for the straps at TLC.
There are no guarantees, but I can definitely see them winning the titles at the upcoming pay-per-view. Kane and Daniel Bryan continue to have issues with each other and the writers may want to break them up so they can feud and have a match at WrestleMania. Mysterio and Sin Cara are the logical successors as they're an exciting team featuring two guys the fans can get behind. Team Hell No has made the tag-team division matter again, but Mysterio and Sin Cara will be the ones to sustain it.
Last Week's Ranking: 15
None of them have wrestled a match in WWE yet, but the triumvirate of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns have captivated the viewing audience. They have already attacked Ryback on three occasions and they took out both Kane and Daniel Bryan on RAW as well. Ambrose referred to the trio as The Shield and denied any involvement with CM Punk and Paul Heyman. He simply said that they are a shield against injustice in the WWE.
Ambrose appears to be the biggest star of the group as his promo skills are obviously fantastic. Rollins has the best in-ring ability, while Reigns is the muscle. All of them bring something important to the table and that makes them a formidable team. I still strongly believe that they are working for Punk and Heyman, but it will be extremely interesting to see how they are utilized in the coming weeks and months.
Last Week's Ranking: 8
As much as I have enjoyed the Big Show vs. Sheamus feuds in terms of its matches, the build hasn't been all that great. Big Show is somewhat underrated on the mic, especially when he is playing the monster heel role, but he has gotten repetitive. All Big Show and Sheamus have been doing over the past couple weeks is yelling at each other and carrying around a chair. Obviously the WWE is trying to build toward their chairs match at TLC, but it has been quite uninspiring.
I'm sure that the match itself will be solid just like their tilts at Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series were, but until that point I probably won't be very interested in the feud. Big Show is fine as World Heavyweight Champion for now, and I do hope that he beats Sheamus once again at TLC, but it would be best for all involved if that led to him transitioning the belt to someone else such as a face Miz.
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Wade Barrett hasn't really wrestled over the past week as he has instead scouted out Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston from the announce table, but he has been extremely entertaining in that regard. Barrett is the total package and it's only a matter of time before he finds himself in world title contention. Barrett is very good on the mic, he has ideal size, a great look and he can really go in the ring as well. His gimmick hasn't been refined quite yet, but I really enjoy the emphasis on his bare-knuckle fighting past.
It obviously isn't ideal for Barrett to win the Intercontinental Championship since he has already held the belt before and it has lost a lot of its luster, but there isn't a clear path to the main event right now. With a heel holding the World Heavyweight Championship, Barrett has to bide his time. If anyone can restore some of the prestige that the IC title has lost it's Barrett, though, and hopefully that is precisely what happens if he beats Kofi at TLC.
Last Week's Ranking: 7
Team Hell No has basically had the same gimmick for the past few months, but I certainly haven't grown bored of them. They aren't featured quite as prominently as they once were; however, they haven't lost their entertainment value because of it. Kane and Daniel Bryan are good for at least one funny segment per week and that was the case on Monday as Bryan used an electoral college map to show that the whole world voted for him to face CM Punk, except Kane ended up winning the vote.
There has been even more dissension than usual between them and that would seem to suggest that they may drop the Tag Team Championships soon. I love Kane and Bryan as a team, but they're both singles competitors, so they can't remain together forever. My hope is that they drop the titles to Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara at one of the next couple pay-per-views, at which point they can have a match at WrestleMania.
Last Week's Ranking: 5
The Miz appeared to be well on his way to a full face turn, but that has stalled to some degree over the past week. Miz walked out on CM Punk's Survivor Series team, joined Mick Foley's team and began to garner a face reaction, but he has yet to take the next step. Miz acted as the heel during his Miz TV segment with John Cena on SmackDown and he didn't even appear on RAW, so it looks like the WWE is waiting for the perfect time to pull the trigger on his turn.
As I mentioned previously, the best way to do it would be a feud with Randy Orton. Miz and Orton didn't show very good teamwork at Survivor Series and they obviously have some issues with each other based on past encounters. The feud could start with Miz as the heel and Orton as the face, but end with a double turn. Miz is great as a heel, but it's time for a change and the same can be said for Orton. If Miz does officially turn, then a World Heavyweight Championship win could be in his future.
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Fans have a lot of complaints about Sheamus and some of them are fair. There was a long stretch where he was built up as too much of a dominant force and that caused a lot of people to turn on him. Also, his face character tends to be a bit too happy-go-lucky at times. With that said, Sheamus has a lot of positives as well. He largely gets very favorable face reactions from the crowd and I consider him to be one of the best all-around in-ring workers in the company.
Guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan get more credit because they're smaller and more technically sound, but Sheamus has really improved as a wrestler. Because of his size he has shown the ability to pull off great matches with diminutive opponents like Bryan as well as giants like Big Show. Many of my favorite matches this year have involved Sheamus and that alone has earned him a lofty spot on this list. With that said, I'd like to see him leave the world title picture for a little while so he can explore some other feuds moving forward.
Last Week's Ranking: 4
I'm still not a big fan of Ryback, but the cheers get louder and louder in his favor with each passing week. The fact that he barely spoke was understandable since the WWE was basically trying to build an unstoppable machine, but I'm glad that he finally got some mic time on Monday. He out-shined Vickie Guerrero (not that that's saying much) and didn't embarrass himself, so it should be considered a success. The real challenge now is keeping his feud with CM Punk fresh.
Ryback will face Punk once again for the WWE Championship at TLC in a TLC match, but it seems pretty obvious that Punk will win. Ryback most definitely isn't going to face The Rock at Royal Rumble and it wouldn't make sense to end Punk's reign only for him to regain the title before Royal Rumble either, so the result is predictable. The WWE has done a good job of coming up with some surprise endings the past couple pay-per-views, though. If nothing else, hopefully Ryback is allowed to have a longer match with Punk at TLC than they did at Hell in a Cell.
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Despite the fact that CM Punk and Ryback are feuding over the WWE Championship, John Cena continues to steal the spotlight to some degree. His storyline with A.J. Lee has gotten a ton of attention and it almost feels like he's the focal point. That isn't a surprise since he is the face of the company, but it rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Even so, his feud with Dolph Ziggler feels very fresh and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Cena was given the win over Ziggler on RAW in a match that really shouldn't have been given away on free television, but I suppose the WWE wanted to play up Cena's injury. Cena appeared to tweak his knee in the match and it's likely that the announcers will hammer home the fact that he is at a disadvantage. Cena and A.J. would appear to be somewhat of an item right now as well and that will get plenty of attention moving forward.
Last Week's Ranking: 2
I was very close to putting Dolph Ziggler into the top spot this week, but decided to hold off. He has been absolutely spectacular over the past couple weeks and he finally started to get booked properly. He was the sole survivor at Survivor Series and he scored wins over both The Miz and Randy Orton, but then he was forced to lose to John Cena on RAW. I suppose that I was naive to think that Ziggler would be given the win over Cena at TLC without having to take a loss himself.
Even so, Ziggler is clearly moving up the totem pole right now and it seems to be leading toward him cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Not only is Ziggler feuding with the face of the company, but he has ditched Vickie Guerrero, he is cutting some excellent promos and he performs in the ring each and every night. He reminds me very much of Shawn Michaels when he went off on his own and ascended to the main-event scene and he has the potential to have a comparable career.
Last Week's Ranking: 1
CM Punk has been the reigning, defending WWE Champion for over a year and he has been the reigning, defending holder of the top spot in my power rankings for the past couple months as well. Punk wasn't as big of a part of RAW as usual this week, but he did main-event the show by defeating Kane. I'm extremely interested in his current storyline due to the involvement of The Shield as well. It looked as if they might attack him on RAW, but they went after Kane, Daniel Bryan and Ryback instead. This allowed Punk to stand tall yet again.
Punk has looked legitimately surprised when The Shield has appeared, so I'm led to believe that Punk doesn't know anything about it and the whole thing has been orchestrated by Paul Heyman. Regardless of that, Punk should be the main focus moving forward. He figures to beat Ryback at TLC and then that will set up a match with The Rock at Royal Rumble. The promos between them promise to be fantastic and the fact that Punk will have been champion for well over 400 days will make the match seem even more special. As things currently stand, nobody has done enough to knock Punk from his perch.