Power Ranking the WWE Superstars: The Rock and the Top 20 After the Royal Rumble

Jonathan Snowden@JESnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterJanuary 28, 2013

Power Ranking the WWE Superstars: The Rock and the Top 20 After the Royal Rumble

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    Power ranking athletes in traditional sports is a fairly simple process. After all, there are metrics in place to rate them. It can be something as simple as wins as losses or something as complicated as the baseball stat du jour, a mathematical formula requiring three advanced degrees just to understand the preamble, let alone actually do the equation.

    Pro wrestling is anything but simple. Storyline wins and losses have to count for something. But, since it is scripted entertainment, so does an athlete's performance, both in skits and in the ring. Finally, how the promotion perceives the wrestler and how important their matches are to the card has to be considered and given proper weight.

    Using these three factors, I've ranked the WWE's top 20 superstars coming out of the Royal Rumble, tracking push, wins and losses on Raw, Smackdown and pay-per-view, as well as my own subjective appraisal of their performances.

    We'll continue to track the top 20 over the course of the entire year, following the ebb and flow of a business that is anything but static. Have your own opinion about the WWE's top 20 superstars? Let me know in the comments.

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    Record: 1-4 (Slater 0-3)

    Position on the Card: Openers

    Analysis: The jobbers of the moment, this gimmick has legs until they bring them out to "sing" on Raw one night. That will be the sign things are coming to an end for the modern-day Three Count. They may rarely win, but say this for them—they get a lot of screen time on both Raw and Smackdown.

19. Kofi Kingston

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    Kofi Kingston

    Record: 0-3

    Position on the Card: Opener

    Analysis: Kingston had his regular star turn in the Rumble, using JBL's chair to pogo back to the ring and avoid elimination. It wasn't quite as special as last year's incredible stunt, walking on his hands so his feet never touched down, but it was still pretty remarkable.

    There's no doubt that Kingston is capable of providing some exciting moments. But at this point, his push is non-existent.

18. Great Khali

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    Great Khali

    Record: 2-2

    Position on the Card: Lower Midcard

    Analysis: He may not be dynamite on the stick. In fact he may have gargled razor blades as a child.

    He may be practically immobile in the ring, making the late, great Andre the Giant seem like a dynamo by comparison.

    He may be the ugliest man alive. He's certainly in the running.

    But damn, he is a big, big man. And that keeps him gainfully employed.

17. Kaitlyn

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    Honors: Divas Championship

    Record: 4-0

    Position on the Card: Lower Midcard

    Analysis: Divas champion in an era when the Divas have never meant less. Trish Stratus, Lita and Sable were major attractions for the WWE in the Attitude era and beyond. Kaitlyn is not on that level.

    She's a solid worker and the company seems to be behind her a little bit. But her complete absence from the Rumble shows you exactly how she rates with the boys in the back.

16. Team Rhodes Scholars

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    Rhodes Scholars

    Record: 1-4 (Rhodes: 0-1, Sandow: 0-1)

    Position on the Card: Lower Midcard

    Analysis: After losing again and again to start the new year, I expected the team of Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes to win tag team gold at the Royal Rumble. Instead, they lost yet another match to Team Hell No.

    Dissension in the Royal Rumble between Daniel Bryan and Kane could be good news for this pairing. Team Hell No may finally be breaking up—and the Scholars may reap all the benefits!

15. AJ Lee

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    AJ Lee

    Record: 1-0

    Position on the Card: Lower Midcard

    Analysis: If we gave points for being smoking hot, she'd be right beneath Randy Orton. Wait, did I write that here on Bleacher Report or in my Live Journal?

    Anyway, she hasn't been in the ring much, but AJ is a big part of Dolph Ziggler's crew. She's a major talent, I think, but I'm not sure she isn't already bumping against the glass ceiling for female heel managers.

14. The Miz

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    The Miz

    Record: 2-2

    Position on the Card: Midcard

    Analysis: Not a good month for the Miz. First he completely botches the figure-four leglock. No big deal, normally. But days after being handed the iconic hold by Ric Flair himself? Ugh.

    Miz didn't do anything of note in the Rumble itself and was manhandled by Antonio Cesaro in a match on YouTube before the big show even started. Nowhere to go but up for the former reality star, but he may be seen as a failed experiment in the writer's room.

13. The Shield

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    The Shield

    Record: 0-0

    Position on the Card: Upper Midcard

    Analysis: This stable continues to make their impact felt without ever stepping into the ring. Essentially, on a weekly basis, these guys run down to the ring and beat the living crap out of a babyface. Good work if you can get it.

    Eventually, however, they are going to have to hit the ring and earn their keep. They'll get at least one major PPV run—but by the end of the summer I expect them to be long gone.

12. Antonio Cesaro

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    Antonio Cesaro

    Honors: U.S. Champion

    Record: 2-3

    Position on the Card: Midcard

    Analysis: He's had a decent push, dominating Miz in a feud I expected to be a lot more even. Cesaro has a lot of potential. As Claudio Castagnoli, he was a major presence on the independent scene for years. He's not only strong and charismatic, he's also seasoned, with a look that can really take him places in today's WWE.

    I'd like to see him in a long main event to see if he can really carry his end against some of the company's best. His wins over Miz should allow him to step up to the next tier of competition, where we'll see how far he can go in the very competitive WWE main-event scene.

11. Randy Orton

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    Randy Orton

    Record: 5-1

    Position on the Card: Upper Midcard

    Analysis: Orton gets the response befitting a nine-time WWE champion from the crowd, but right now he's kind of in no man's land. He has no real angle and no direction.

    He's a tremendous performer, but too unpredictable to be trusted with one of the true top spots. When, or rather if, he earns back that trust, he will easily be able to jump right back into the main-event mix.

10. Ryback

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    Record: 1-1

    Position on the Card: Upper Midcard

    Analysis: How long can his career be sustained simply by having a catchphrase the crowd likes to chant? That's a question that may be answered as the year goes on.

    WWE is running into the same problems with Ryback that WCW had with the Goldberg character. Eventually, you can't just squash every one in sight. You have to be capable of telling a story that is something more than "Me big, me smash." The jury is still out on whether Ryback can do that.

9. Sheamus

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    Record: 4-1-1

    Position on the Card: Upper Midcard

    Analysis: His push has cooled off, but as you can see by his record, they are still keeping him strong. I expect him to stay that way, perhaps winning a minor feud while waiting in the wings for a big name if one comes free for him to tangle with.

8. Team Hell No

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    Daniel Bryan/Kane

    Honors: Tag Team Championship

    Record: 5-1 (Kane: 1-0, Bryan: 1-0)

    Position on the Card: Midcard

    Analysis: One of the best acts in the entire WWE, it looks like this team is about to fall apart at the seams. Bryan eliminated Kane at the Royal Rumble. Kane, in turn, refused to help Daniel when he had the chance.

    I have to admit—there is a part of me that wants to see this act stay together a bit longer. They are really, really funny together. But Bryan is the world's best in-ring worker and is still in his prime. He needs to be right in there building his legend before it is too late.

7. Dolph Ziggler

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    Dolph Ziggler

    Honors: Money in the Bank

    Record: 2-3

    Position on the Card: Upper Midcard

    Analysis: It feels like this should be Ziggler's time to shine. He's ever improving in the ring. He's developed his character to the point he's one of the more compelling interviews in the promotion, especially with AJ Lee and "Big E" Langston at his side.

    And yet, there seems to be a limit to how hard the WWE will push him. I think Ziggler has main event talent. Vince McMahon and company appear not to agree.

6. Wade Barrett

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    Wade Barrett

    Honors: Intercontinental Title

    Record: 3-1-1

    Position on the Card: Upper midcard

    Analysis: When Wade Barrett got his initial main event push, after winning the 2010 NXT competition, he wasn't quite ready for the bright lights. Now? Now he's ready to take a run at the top.

    Barrett has the size and charisma to be special and his work in the ring has advanced to the point he's capable of high-level matches. He may feud with up-and-comer Bo Dallas for a bit, but soon enough there will be a babyface who needs a heel to dance with.

5. Big Show

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    Big Show

    Record: 2-4

    Position on the Card: Main Event

    Analysis: By ending the Last Man Standing match the way they did, with Rodriguez taping Show's feet to the ropes so he couldn't get to his feet, the WWE may be trying to draw out Show's feud with Alberto Del Rio one more Pay Per View cycle.

    Traditionally wrestling promoters would go with a cage match in this situation to keep Rodriguez from interfering. Of course, in traditional wrestling, it's the heel who wins by cheating, not the babyface. So who the heck knows what's going to happen?

    Show has done a good job here getting Del Rio over. I think he has at least one more big match in him before sliding back down the card.

4. CM Punk

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    CM Punk

    Record: 2-1

    Position on the Card: Main Event

    Analysis: Wow. After more than a year on top, or at least a year as champion, CM Punk lost in the middle of the ring to the People's Elbow.

    Is this just a roadblock on the path to a WrestleMania rematch with Rock, or perhaps a three-way dance with the Brahma Bull and John Cena? Raw will tell us a lot about where we can expect to find Punk for the next few months.

    If he's pushed aside into a feud with Sheamus or a guy like the Miz, we probably won't be seeing Punk as a regular main eventer again for quite some time, if ever.

3. John Cena

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    John Cena

    Record: 2-0

    Position on the Card: Main Event

    Analysis: I guess Cena wasn't kidding when he said he was going to make 2013 his best year ever. He's in the kind of superhero mode that even Hulk Hogan would have rejected for being "too unrealistic." No man can beat Cena. Heck, even half the roster couldn't beat him down collectively when he entered the Royal Rumble.

    Storyline Cena has never been better. Cena the performer, however, isn't having his best year, causing him to slip below Del Rio in these rankings. His promo on Raw leading into the Rumble was genuinely awful and the finish of the Rumble match didn't look and feel quite right.

    The good news for Cena fans is that it appears he'll have plenty of opportunities to redeem himself as he main events yet another WrestleMania.

2. Alberto Del Rio

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    Alberto Del Rio

    Honors: World championship

    Record: 4-0

    Position on the Card: Main Event

    Analysis: Del Rio is a natural babyface and I think his turn has been a great success. It's really a shame that he wrestled for so long under a mask as Dos Caras Jr. He's got a very expressive face and uses it well to tell a story in and out of the ring.

    Off to a blistering start so far in 2013, when he's finally done with the Big Show, there are several promising heels I think he could work well with, most notably Antonio Cesaro and Wade Barrett, who are both ready for a run at the gold.

1. The Rock

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    The Rock

    Record: 1-0

    Position on the Card: Main Event

    Analysis: One shot, one kill. The Rock has been in the ring a single time in 2013, but he knocked the ball out of the park in a fantastic match.

    He also went word for word with CM Punk before the match, something few men would have been able to pull off. Heading into WrestleMania, The Rock is back in his spot. Cena and others were just keeping it warm for one of the most electrifying performers in wrestling history.