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WWE Power Rankings: Week of March 25

Erik BeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2013

WWE Power Rankings: Week of March 25

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    Final preparations are underway on the Road to WrestleMania, and this past week, the card for the "Showcase of the Immortals" became crystal clear. It was announced that Wade Barrett would defend his Intercontinental Championship against The Miz while, in eight-person tag action, Brodus Clay, Tensai and the Funkadactyls will meet Team Rhodes Scholars and the Bella Twins.

    The Rock returned to WWE television and had a face-to-face with John Cena that was moderated by a panel of both current and future Hall of Famers. Four days later, "The Great One" told a story and was interrupted by a familiar face.

    The Undertaker got physical for the first time since his return, attacking CM Punk and giving him a slight sampler of what he can expect come April 7 at WrestleMania 29. Triple H discussed his No Holds Barred match with Brock Lesnar, a match in which his career is on the line, before leaving Wade Barrett with something to remember him by.

    Speaking of Barrett, The Miz picked up a big win prior to their match for the Intercontinental champion in just over a week while Chris Jericho and Fandango saw their new-found rivalry become more heated. Team Hell No rolled, Dolph Ziggler cooled down and Antonio Cesaro...yodeled?

    It was a busy week for WWE's top Superstars. Where does their hard work get them in this week's WWE power rankings?

    Find out now!

     

    Rankings are based on win-loss record, performance in promos and backstage segments, upward and downward momentum and the overall impact a performer had on that week's programming. If a superstar does not appear on either Raw, Main Event or SmackDown, in a match, promo or backstage segment, they will not appear in the rankings. Consider it "The Rock rule."

20. Tons of Funk

2 of 21

    LAST WEEK: —

    The newly dubbed "Tons of Funk" (REALLY?) may not have experienced great success in terms of their win-loss record this week, but Brodus Clay and Tensai received good news in the form of an official match on the WrestleMania card.

    Their recent rivalry with Team Rhodes Scholars continued on Main Event when Tons of Funk accompanied Naomi and Cameron to the ring for their match with the Bella Twins who, as one could guess, had Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow in their corner.

    The announced Eight-Person Tag Match may not be an ideal match for either team, but the fact that their work has paid off in the form of a spot on the biggest card of the year should be considered a success for two Superstars who many thought would be dominant monsters but, instead, have settled into their roles as a popular midcard comedy act.

19. Antonio Cesaro

3 of 21

    LAST WEEK: —

    The United States champion's Road to WrestleMania has been as disappointing as any. He has not been used in anything even remotely important and, worse yet, has become fodder for the top Superstars heading into the biggest show of the year.

    And now, he yodels. Yes, yodels.

    A win over Alberto Del Rio on Monday's Raw, via count-out and thanks to distraction from Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter, can hardly be considered impressive. His losses on both Main Event and SmackDown will do little to help right the sinking ship.

    Cesaro is one of the Superstars likely to benefit from the post-WrestleMania period, when the part-time performers are gone and the full-time stars on the main roster once again receive the attention of the creative department.

    Until then, the former Ring of Honor standout will have to continue his solid in-ring work, all the while looking toward WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans and what he can only hope will finally be his time to shine at the "Grandaddy of Them All."

18. Team Rhodes Scholars

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    LAST WEEK: 20

    The talented duo of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow were met with great news for them and their fans this week when it was revealed that they would be competing at WrestleMania. And even though it will be in an Eight-Person Tag Team match, it is welcome news for many who thought the mustache-wearing, second-generation Superstar and the "Intellectual Savior of the Unwashed Masses" would be left off of this year's card.

    Rhodes and Sandow ended their week on a losing note, teaming with Antonio Cesaro in a main event loss to Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus, but what they did prior to that allows them to hold their heads high on a positive note.

    A win over Brodus Clay and Tensai on Raw, followed by a victory by the Bella Twins over the Funkadactyls, which saw Cody become involved late in the match, allowed Rhodes Scholars and Brie and Nikki Bella to escape the week with momentum on their side in their rivalry with Tons of Funk and Naomi and Cameron.

17. Fandango

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    LAST WEEK: 17

    The former Johnny Curtis remains in the same spot he was last week, at No. 17, as he continues to make an impact on WWE television, despite having not wrestled a match yet.

    Fandango continued to show two completely different sides of himself this week. On Raw, he was vicious and violent with his attack on Chris Jericho, especially after Y2J had attacked him moments earlier. He showed great intensity, which continues to make one wonder if there is more to the ballroom dancer than simply pronouncing his name correctly.

    On SmackDown, however, he exhibited his showman side, going completely over the top with his entrance and refusing to fight Jericho when he was given the opportunity.

    More importantly than anything he did, or did not do, this week was the fact that the fans seem to be slowly getting behind the character. With a gimmick such as a ballroom dancer, Fandango could have easily been dead in the water and eliminated from television by now, but the performer, himself, has done just enough to keep fans interested.

    Whether or not he can live up to the hype that comes with having your first major match, under the new identity, with someone as decorated and respected as Chris Jericho, at the biggest show the sports-entertainment industry has to offer, is a whole other question.

16. Wade Barrett

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    LAST WEEK: 8

    The current Intercontinental champion is in the unenviable position of being this week's biggest dropper, falling all the way from No. 8 to No. 16.

    Last week, Wade Barrett made a substantial move up the power rankings, thanks in large part to a win in a Triple Threat match on Raw. Not only were his opponents, Chris Jericho and The Miz, top contenders to his title, they were also former WWE champions and defeating them in the same match meant something.

    This week, Wade found himself on the losing end of matches with both men. Monday, he tapped out to the figure four while, four days later, he allowed himself to be distracted by Miz at ringside before walking right into the Code Breaker by Jericho.

    To top it all off, he had his little Barretts assaulted by Triple H prior to the match against Miz, making this past week all the more heartbreaking for the holder of the Intercontinental title.

    Barrett is in a situation where he is clearly important enough to warrant a WrestleMania match, which will see him defend against The Miz, but he has been booked in such a way that no one really expects him to leave East Rutherford with his title intact.

    And that's a shame, because Barrett has wrestled the best matches of his career since returning from the dislocated elbow injury that cost him an appearance at last year's show.

15. Dolph Ziggler

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    LAST WEEK: 11

    World Wrestling Entertainment's resident show off had a rocky week as he prepares for his WWE Tag Team Championship match against Kane and Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania.

    A very good match with Chris Jericho on Raw ended with the Money in the Bank winner tapping out to the Walls of Jericho. Four days later, he would be on the losing end of a mixed-tag match that saw him and AJ take on Daniel Bryan and Divas champion Kaitlyn.

    Ziggler continues to be one of those unique performers who consistently loses but manages to remain over with the audience because of his stellar in-ring abilities. With WrestleMania right around the corner, he may have been better suited by teaming with Big E Langston to take on the Usos or a tag team such as Zack Ryder and Justin Gabriel. It would have shown off their abilities as a duo and presented the tag champions with a real threat to their gold.

    There is still time for that happen. Whether it does or not, Ziggler should look strong heading into WrestleMania. If he continues his losing ways, it will be hard to convince the WWE Universe that he and Big E Langston have any shot at defeating the tag champions, who have held the titles since September.

14. The Miz

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    LAST WEEK: 16

    The former WWE, Intercontinental, US and Tag Team champion rebounded from last week's Triple Threat match loss with a big win over Wade Barrett on Raw, earning himself a shot at the Intercontinental title and a match on the WrestleMania card.

    Four days later, Miz would provide just enough of a distraction while guesting on commentary during Barrett's match with Chris Jericho to cost the champion the match.

    A singles match for one of the company's secondary titles may seem like a step down for a man who was in the main event of WrestleMania just two years ago but, considering the path his career has taken since then, it is a huge accomplishment.

    One year ago, he was nearly left off of the card only to be added to the battle of general managers, as a part of Team Johnny, at the very last minute. Then, he suffered through a losing streak before taking time off of WWE television to shoot The Marine: Homefront. He came back more motivated than he was before and has tried to make the best out of a face turn that has definitely had its ups and downs.

    While nowhere near the main event level he once found himself, the upcoming title match against Wade Barrett may be just the redemption Miz has been looking for.

13. Alberto Del Rio

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    LAST WEEK: 10

    The World Heavyweight champion and his top contender continue to trade the advantage heading into WrestleMania.

    Alberto Del Rio allowed his relationship with best friend, and personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez to get in the way of a victory Monday night. During his match with Antonio Cesaro, Del Rio left the ring to fend off Jack Swagger, who was assaulting Rodriguez. In doing so, he took his eye off of the proverbial ball and lost to Cesaro via count-out.

    He responded by brawling with Swagger into the crowd before the No. 1 contender was able to escape.

    On SmackDown, he would catch Swagger off-guard and chase him from the ring, attempting to swat him with one of Rodriguez's crutches to no avail.

    While Alberto's feud with Jack Swagger continued, and he was left standing tall on Friday night, there was simply not enough to warrant him remaining in the top 10, which is dominated this week by Superstars who simply had far better weeks than the World Heavyweight champion. Perhaps with a week remaining until WrestleMania, he will be able to find his way back up there, but with a program that has cooled significantly since its beginning, it seems unlikely at this point.

12. Jack Swagger

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    LAST WEEK: 9

    The No. 1 contender to the World Heavyweight champion continued to torment the World Heavyweight champion, forcing him to allow his emotions to get the best of him by targeting Ricardo Rodriguez. It worked Monday, costing Del Rio a non-title match against Antonio Cesaro.

    Unfortunately, in doing so, Swagger made himself the target of an enraged Del Rio.

    Friday night, he beat down Great Khali and applied the Patriot Lock, forcing the giant to tap out to the hold. With Rodriguez appearing on the stage and distracting him, Swagger would be open to attack by Del Rio, who grabbed one of Rodriguez's crutches and attacked the No. 1 contender with it. 

    For the second time this week, Swagger was forced to retreat.

    Jack Swagger is heading into the biggest match of his career on April 7. His feud with Alberto Del Rio has a decent back story to it, but it is missing something—that something that makes it feel WrestleMania-worthy. The title has taken a backseat to the personal animosity and one has to wonder if it even needed to be a championship match to accomplish the same thing.

11. Team Hell No

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    LAST WEEK: 12

    The WWE Tag Team champions had an eventful week, one in which they achieved victory both as a team and individually.

    A win over the Prime Time Players was accentuated on Wednesday, when Kane defeated Antonio Cesaro on Main Event and again on Friday, when Daniel Bryan teamed with Divas champion Kaitlyn to defeat Dolph Ziggler and AJ.

    Speaking of the former Raw GM, the history between Team Hell No and AJ has allowed the tag champions to unite in a way they have not been able to since winning the tag titles back in September. They have both been targeted by the psychotic AJ and have channeled their efforts into defeating her boyfriend Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston at WrestleMania.

    Whether they can do just that and finally eliminate AJ from their lives for good, remains to be seen.

10. Mark Henry

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    LAST WEEK: 14

    The World's Strongest Man issued a strong warning to anyone who thinks he may be intimidated by Ryback by first, defeating the Usos in a handicap match and, second, breaking a world record for reps in the 225-pound bench press. To top it off, he gave Ryback a little taste of the danger that awaits him at WrestleMania by nearly choking the life out of him with the weights.

    Henry's dominance is key to the match between he and Ryback at WrestleMania in that, when Ryback defeats him, it will look like that much more of a feat. 

    Post-WrestleMania will be interesting for the World's Strongest Man. He is receiving the loudest reactions of his career, and to the dismay of the bookers, they have consisted largely of cheers rather than jeers. Could a babyface turn be in his future? It should not be out of the question, especially considering the rumored heel turns slated for after the big show.

    The bigger question is if Henry has another World or WWE title reign in his future. At 41, he is surrounded by younger wrestlers, but there are few that get the reaction he does and have the aura about them that he does.

9. Ryback

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    LAST WEEK: 7

    While his WrestleMania opponent Mark Henry was able to defeat two Superstars in a handicap match, Ryback one-upped the World's Strongest Man by defeating 3MB in a three-on-one bout. Fast-forward four days and he attempted to do the same again. This time, however, he would be assaulted by Mark Henry and choked mercilessly with a barbell.

    Ryback can hold his head high knowing that he got under Henry's skin enough to make him resort to such an action. He demonstrated that his strength was, at the very least, similar to Henry's and that he will not let Henry's nickname scare him.

    WrestleMania 29 will be the most important show of Ryback's career to date. Not as a member of Nexus nor as the indestructible man-beast has he been faced with the pressure that comes with performing at the big show.

    If he disallows the moment to get the best of him, performs at the level that will be expected of him in his match with Mark Henry and delivers the moment of him overcoming the challenge of his larger opponent, then do not be surprised if he finally captures the heavyweight title that eluded him in late 2012.

8. The Shield

14 of 21

    LAST WEEK: 15

    The Shield continues to be a part of the best story being told leading into WrestleMania.

    The trio continued to target the trio of Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show this week but were met with resistance. On Friday's SmackDown, they attempted to attack after their WrestleMania opposition but were stunned when Orton, Show and Sheamus jumped the guardrail and took the fight to them in the stands.

    In recent weeks, The Shield has lost the element of intimidation and surprise that helped make them such an unpredictable part of the show. Their rivals, three former World Heavyweight champions, are no longer afraid and are, instead, willing to band together and fight back.

    The Shield faces its toughest task to date at WrestleMania. Not only are they standing opposite three highly-decorated Superstars, they are doing it on the biggest stage the sport has to offer. The WrestleMania stage has proven to be the downfall of those not prepared for the hype, the glitz and glamour.

    They also are faced with opponents who, for the first time since they debuted last November, have more momentum heading into a match than The Shield.

    Can The Shield achieve the same success it has thus far in the WWE when the group is not the dominating force in the match? Will all of the sneak attacks and brutal beatdowns come back to haunt them? If it leaves East Rutherford victorious, what is next for the group?

    These are the questions that need answers—answers that will come on April 7.

7. Chris Jericho

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    LAST WEEK: 13

    Y2J rebounds from a disappointing last week to jump six spots in the WWE power rankings, thanks in large part to victories over two of the most talented young stars in the industry. Dolph Ziggler and Wade Barrett both fell victim to Chris Jericho's trademark maneuvers, but it was another young performer who continued to get under the skin of the first Undisputed champion.

    In just over a week at WrestleMania, Jericho will meet newcomer Fandango in a match no one could have predicted would have happened just a month ago. In recent weeks, however, Fandango has unleashed fury on Jericho and Y2J has dished it right back, most notably this past Monday on Raw.

    Jericho has long been considered to be one of the best in-ring performers of his generation, and on April 7, inside MetLife Stadium, he will have another opportunity to prove why. Fandango, formerly Johnny Curtis, has proven on a number of occasions that he is a very solid professional wrestler. But he will be stepping into unknown territory, competing in his very first WrestleMania.

    The success of the bout will hinge on the match Jericho lays out with his younger opponent. Chris has been under this sort of pressure before and, for the most part, has delivered.

    Will that be the case this year?

6. Triple H

16 of 21

    LAST WEEK: 1

    "The Game" continues to do his best to get over a feud that fans simply have not been all that enthralled about.

    On Monday, he reiterated his threat to do bodily harm to Brock Lesnar come WrestleMania, and he played up the career stipulation in their match. Paul Heyman added to the hype on SmackDown by delivering an equally as passionate promo, though doing so in a more subdued manner than Triple H.

    The company has struggled to get the feud between Triple H and Brock Lesnar over in the manner it had hoped it would be. Even going back as far as SummerSlam, the story it was telling simply failed to click with the majority of WWE fans. The reason for the lackluster approach to the match by the WWE Universe remains a mystery.

    Perhaps the brawl between "The King of Kings" and Lesnar would have been better served happening closer to WrestleMania. Since Triple H bloodied his rival nearly a month ago, everything after it has been somewhat disappointing as the former WWE champions have chosen to talk rather than continue the display of aggression and intensity they had early in the program.

    Whatever the case may be, the company has a lot of work to on Monday's Raw to get the audience even the slightest about a match that, by all accounts, has the potential to steal the show at this year's WrestleMania.

5. CM Punk

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    LAST WEEK: 3

    "The Best in the World" continued to taunt The Undertaker heading into their match at WrestleMania, tossing the urn, formerly belonging to the late-Paul Bearer, to the ground in a sign of great disrespect.

    This time, his actions would not go unpunished.

    The lights when out and, when they came back on, The Undertaker exploded with a flurry of hard rights and lefts about the body of Punk. Before the punishment could continue, Punk escaped and headed up the ramp, where he joined Paul Heyman, who had possession of the urn.

    For the first time during the legendary streak, an opponent of The Undertaker is using mind games against him. Punk has gotten to "The Dead Man" and forced him to react emotionally, as seen on Monday with the beating Undertaker administered.

    CM Punk will undoubtedly attempt to use those emotions against Undertaker, to find an opening and exploit it during their bout at the "Showcase of the Immortals." If he can do that successfully, he will have a tremendous opportunity to do what no other man has been able to do: end the undefeated streak at WrestleMania.

4. The Undertaker

18 of 21

    LAST WEEK: 4

    While CM Punk may very well have the mental edge over The Undertaker as they prepare to clash at WrestleMania, The Phenom exhibited the fury and rage he will attack the Straight Edge Superstar with on April 7 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

    It is very possible that showing Punk the quick nature of his striking abilities may have been a mistake this close to their match, but Undertaker will undoubtedly have a few tricks up his proverbial sleeve for CM Punk by the time they take to the ring at WrestleMania.

    The build-up to their match has been somewhat lackluster, but each man has a very loud, vocal and loyal fanbase, and the crowd will be more than lively for the match. The Undertaker's streak has become one of the most prestigious things in professional wrestling. What the build to the match may lack will be made up for with a loud, possibly split crowd that will be very into every near-fall or submission attempt.

    Expect The Undertaker to, again, deliver in a big way.

3. Sheamus, Randy Orton and Big Show

19 of 21

    LAST WEEK: 2

    The trio of former World Heavyweight champions made it very clear to The Shield, and WWE fans everywhere, that they are united and they will not hesitate to bring the fight to the dangerous, devious and cerebral trio of one-time developmental talents.

    Friday night, in the final moments of SmackDown, Orton, Sheamus and Show took the fight to their WrestleMania opposition. They jumped over the guardrail and made their way into the stands, brawling with Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns and ultimately forcing them to retreat.

    Since joining forces, the trio has been unstoppable, despite not always getting along. In consecutive weeks, they have been impressive in six-man tag matches and have held their own against The Shield on a handful of occasions.

    Their biggest test as a unit will come at Wrestlemania, when pressure to remain on the same page and vanquish The Shield once and for all will be at its highest.

2. John Cena

20 of 21

    LAST WEEK: 6

    With The Rock returning to Raw, the road to the epic rematch between John Cena and the current WWE champion commenced.

    Answering questions from a panel of Hall of Famers, Cena showed a fire that has been missing from him in the past. More importantly, he showed signs of cracking. In his eight years of main event action, he has always managed to hold it together, no matter how badly the fans booed him or how many times he lost. Monday night, it became clear that the loss to The Rock did more to unnerve him than he has allowed anyone to see.

    There has been a ton of speculation over the years about a John Cena heel turn. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.

    But there may be no better time, with no better story to do the deed with, than at WrestleMania.

1. The Rock

21 of 21

    LAST WEEK: —

    The Rock returned to WWE television this week and wasted little time making an impact.

    Monday night, he stayed focused, stayed on track with his promos and went a very long way in selling his rematch against John Cena. For the first time in his current stint with WWE, he returned to form and was able to stay entertaining while making fans want to see the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania. His verbal showdown with Cena on Raw went a long way in making up for the nonexistent storyline development in the revisiting of their rivalry here in 2013.

    Friday night, Rock continued to entertain fans, returning to Hershey, Pa. for the first time in over a decade. He was electrifying, funny and he kept the audience captivated with the latest chapter in "Storytime With The Rock." His interaction with John Laurinaitis added a new layer to his story with John Cena and created questions about whether or not we would see Big Johnny again.

    With a week to go until WrestleMania, expect to see Rock and John Cena get physical with one another, just as they did this past Monday. The man left standing at the end of Raw will go a long way in determining who leaves East Rutherford with the WWE title around their waist.

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