The week that was in World Wrestling Entertainment saw tremendous in-ring work from the best Superstars in the industry. Performers such as Daniel Bryan, John Cena, The Shield, Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Antonio Cesaro and Ryback delivered spectacular matches despite a lengthy international tour that wrapped up this past Sunday.
Storylines continued to build as Extreme Rules approaches, despite the lack of several high-profile stars. Gone from television this week were Triple H, The Undertaker and Chris Jericho, two of whom figure to be featured in prominent matches come May 19.
Their absences allowed several Superstars who usually would not be allotted television time the opportunity to perform for the WWE Universe. Talented individuals such as Justin Gabriel and Zack Ryder competed, one with more successful results than the other.
Was either able to crack this week's power rankings? Which Superstar had the best week? Was anyone able to slow down The Shield or did the super-talented trio continue to unleash chaos on WWE?
Find out inside.
As a reminder, the WWE Power Rankings are compiled taking into account a few factors. If a Superstar does not appear on either Raw, Main Event or SmackDown, he or she is eliminated from contention in favor of those who did. Win-loss record is taken into account, as is the quality of a win or loss. (For example: Daniel Bryan losing to CM Punk is likely to rank him above Wade Barrett, who may have won but did so against Zack Ryder). Finally, appearances in promos or backstage segments count if they further or enhance a storyline.
A number of Superstars featured in last week's power rankings have been eliminated from contention this week. They did not appear on Raw, Main Event or SmackDown and, thus, are not eligible. They include:
- Triple H
- The Undertaker
- Chris Jericho
- Wade Barrett
Barrett, surprisingly, was not featured on any of the three shows despite being Intercontinental champion, while Zack Ryder, Ricardo Rodriguez and Zeb Colter had more than one match this week.
R-Truth's "start-and-stop" push continues—he was left off of the three main programs despite defeating Barrett and Antonio Cesaro in recent weeks.
Most importantly, Triple H did not appear despite an upcoming Steel Cage match against Brock Lesnar which, realistically, could be the main event on the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. Expect to see more of the future Hall of Famer in the coming weeks if the company wants to successfully build the third match of a rivalry that has struggled to maintain the fans' interest.
The Undertaker was effectively written off of WWE TV last week when he was put through the SmackDown announce table by The Shield, while Chris Jericho continued touring with his band, Fozzy, this week.
Last Week: N/A
"Long Island Iced Z" makes his return to the WWE Power Rankings despite a week that saw him lose on both Raw and SmackDown.
Those losses came at the hands of Jack Swagger and Fandango, who have been featured performers on WWE television. Swagger is a top contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, while Fandango is a breakout star who has his sights set on a match with Chris Jericho at Extreme Rules.
Ryder remains an interesting case of a Superstar who is over with the audience but has not found himself in the good graces of WWE management. He loses more than he wins, but at least he was on TV this week.
Last Week: N/A
The former World Heavyweight Champion made an appearance on Monday's Raw, competing against Fandango in a dance-off.
Despite having no measurable dancing ability and being carried through the entire competition by the always-lovely Natalya, Khali was declared the winner by the fans in attendance (at least those under the age of 15).
The Punjabi Playboy would pay for the win, however, as he fell victim to a side Russian leg sweep by the ballroom dancer and a top-rope leg drop.
Khali continues to serve as a crowd favorite, even if he is essentially unable to have a coherent wrestling match...or dance-off.
Last Week: 20
"The Intellectual Savior of the Masses" squared off with Randy Orton on Friday's SmackDown.
It did not end well for Mr. Sandow.
Since missing out on an opportunity to compete at WrestleMania, Sandow has been a punching bag for his fellow WWE Superstars. Any momentum he had in the summer of last year, where he proved himself to be a well-rounded performer, has been lost, despite an entertaining chemistry with tag team partner Cody Rhodes.
At a time where WWE is constantly looking for one of its performers to step up and be the next big star, why it would continue to use Sandow in the manner that it is remains a mystery.
Last Week: N/A
The yodeling former US champion continued his losing ways this week, falling to Alberto Del Rio and rival Kofi Kingston in consecutive programs.
Whereas two consecutive losses would be enough to keep most off of this list, the fact that Cesaro lost in two high-quality matches against the likes of Kingston and Del Rio helps his case. One of the performers of the week, Cesaro continued to prove that he has all of the in-ring tools to be a dominant and successful star for the company for years to come.
When he finally does get the full backing of the creative team behind him, expect Cesaro to win not one, but several heavyweight titles.
Last Week: 17
Big E. continued to showcase a dominance that could very well lead him to World or WWE Championship success in the future.
Despite two losses, he was always impressive while inside the squared circle and was destroying both Ricardo Rodriguez and Zeb Colter with great ease prior to the former's fluke win. On SmackDown, he partnered with Dolph Ziggler in a chaotic triple-threat tag team match loss.
With a triple-threat ladder match for the World Heavyweight title on the card for Extreme Rules, expect the massive NXT champion to be involved in some fashion.
Last Week: N/A
The second-generation Superstar left his less serious side in the locker room, paid no attention to his trademark mustache and, instead, showed flashes of why so many believe he should be one of World Wrestling Entertainment's top young stars.
Rhodes' match with Randy Orton on Monday's Raw was proof that the former Intercontinental and Tag Team champion not only has what it takes to hang with the top stars in the industry but also to stand out and be noticed.
Away from the third-rate feud with Brodus Clay and Tensai, Rhodes flourished in his lengthy, high-quality match in front of a worldwide viewing audience.
Whether the performance is rewarded with a substantial push or increase in television time remains a mystery, but Rhodes should feel comfortable knowing he excelled in his opportunity.
Last Week: N/A
Yes, Ricardo Rodriguez made this week's power rankings.
No, it will probably not happen again.
It is hard to argue against his success this week, though, as he defeated Zeb Colter and Big E. Langston on Raw in a match that had more heat than it probably should have. Four nights later, he picked up another win in a triple-threat match, teaming with Alberto Del Rio to defeat Colter and Jack Swagger and Langston and Dolph Ziggler.
Rodriguez, a trained wrestler, has never failed to draw a reaction from the WWE Universe. His ability to connect with them helped his two matches succeed when many lesser performers in his situation may have failed.
Expect the popular sidekick and personal ring announcer to be involved in the triple-threat ladder match at Extreme Rules, whether he is serving as an aid to his friend Del Rio or taking a breathtaking bump off of one of the ladders.
Until then, he can take solace in knowing he beat the monstrous Langston, the wily old vet Colter, former World champion Swagger and current champion Ziggler in the span of a week.
Last Week: 14
Fandango continued his surprising run this week by losing a dance-off in controversial fashion and making up for it with a win over former US champion Zack Ryder.
The artist formerly known as Johnny Curtis saw his rivalry with Chris Jericho placed on the back burner as Jericho resumed his international tour with his band Fozzy. There was mention of Jericho during Monday's dance-off, but that was it.
Fans should expect Fandango to meet Jericho in a rematch of their Wrestlemania match, but whether there will be enough appearances by the first undisputed champion in WWE history may determine just how excited they will be for it.
Last Week: N/A
This is a huge rise for the United States champion, who lost to World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler but proved that he could hang with the champ despite outside interference from Big E. Langston and AJ Lee.
Kofi has had a very disappointing 2013 thus far, having been left off the WrestleMania card for the first time in his career and embarking on a long losing streak. His win over Antonio Cesaro a few weeks back appears to have somewhat reversed his fortunes.
While he does not appear to have any defined direction heading into the upcoming pay-per-view, the fact that Kofi was allowed to look so strong against the current world champion is a good sign for the rest of the year.
Last Week: 10
"The Celtic Warrior" falls a spot following a week that saw him compete in tug-o-war and arm wrestling competitions against Mark Henry. The former World Heavyweight Champion has had an interesting post-Wrestlemania period. He has been involved in a rivalry with Henry with no clear reason outside of a few meaningless backstage attacks by Henry.
Rather than a serious rivalry between two dominant WWE Superstars, it has featured smiling Sheamus out-smarting Henry in useless feats of strength.
At least the matches should be good.
Last Week: 7
"The World's Strongest Man," like top rival Sheamus, takes a fall in our rankings this week due to poor buildup to what should be a hard-hitting, entertaining pay-per-view match between the two at Extreme Rules.
Henry dominated a tug-o-war competition, impressive in his defeat of Brodus Clay and Tensai. He would go on to be out-smarted by Sheamus, then fall for the same sort of thing four nights later on SmackDown when he ate a Brogue Kick following an arm wrestling contest.
There have been a number of instances where Henry has looked absolutely dominant since returning from injury earlier this year. As long as he continues to be put in these situations where he is outsmarted by babyface opposition, the company will never truly be able to capitalize on the rare aura that Henry presents.
Last Week: 8
One of the two top contenders for the World Heavyweight Championship, Swagger defeated Zack Ryder on Monday's Raw but saw that win offset later in the week, when he and manager Zeb Colter were defeated in a triple-threat tag team match on SmackDown.
Swagger has recovered from a solid, if unspectacular, WrestleMania match against Alberto Del Rio and out-of-ring legal troubles to remain in the hunt for the world title. While a loser in Friday's match, neither he nor Colter was pinned for the decision.
While it is unlikely that Swagger captures his second world championship on May 19 at Extreme Rules, his performance between now and then may determine if he is allowed to continue in the main event scene or if he returns to the midcard scene he populated for the last three years.
Last Week: 6
Big Show's inactivity between the ropes this week, coupled with a mediocre promo that did little to make fans anticipate an Extreme Rules match between he and Randy Orton, lands him two spots lower in this week's rankings.
The giant is coming off a 2012 that saw him deliver some of his most inspired work in the later half of the year. Despite no longer being involved in the title picture, he has continued to work hard in the first half of 2013.
Big Show has shown fine chemistry with Orton in the past. A match between the two, while not the most anticipated, should provide quality to an Extreme Rules card that is shaping up to be a fun one, at the very least.
Last Week: 13
Orton defeated both members of Team Rhodes Scholars this week and saw his rivalry with Big Show furthered on SmackDown.
Raw's match with Rhodes is a candidate for Match of the Week. The former members of the Legacy trio set the tone for a very good night of in-ring action of Raw. Orton would fend off the challenge of his younger, determined opponent and caught him with an RKO for the win.
Four nights later, he finished off Damien Sandow in the same manner.
Next up for Orton is Big Show in a match that will continue their story from WrestleMania, where Show was displeased with Orton tagging himself into the six-man tag against The Shield and took out his frustrations by knocking Randy and Sheamus out afterward.
The rivalry is not the heel turn so many Orton fans are awaiting with great anticipation, but it is a feud that makes sense and one that will give both men something to do at the next pay-per-view.
Last Week: 4
The World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler defeated Kofi Kingston in a tremendous match on Monday's Raw. The two longtime rivals added the latest chapter to their storied feud by providing fresh takes to their match and never allowing their latest rematch to feel stale or repetitive.
Four days later, Ziggler continued his program with Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger as he teamed with Big E. Langston in a losing effort during SmackDown's triple-threat tag match. Falling victim to Del Rio's cross arm breaker, Dolph had no choice but to tap out and preserve his body for the upcoming Ladder Match on May 19 at Extreme Rules.
Last Week: 9
Team Hell No is on a crash course with The Shield, their tag team titles at the center of their issues.
Kane and Daniel Bryan did not have a great week in terms of win-loss records, but they were featured performers on both Raw and SmackDown and are featured in a program with the hottest act in the sport.
Monday, they teamed with WWE champion John Cena in six-man tag team action. Four days later, they would rely on singles experience as Bryan squared off with Ryback and Kane took on Dean Ambrose.
Bryan would help carry Ryback to the best match of the monster's singles career despite a loss, while Kane would suffer a defeat to Ambrose.
The losses are a setback for the champions, but the fact that they are involved in one of the most high-profile programs in the sport more than makes up for it.
Last Week: 11
Alberto Del Rio had his best week since WrestleMania. He defeated Antonio Cesaro in a quality bout on Raw and teamed with Ricardo Rodriguez to defeat the teams of Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter and Dolph Ziggler and Big E. Langston.
Del Rio continues to enjoy success in 2013, a year that saw him make a successful babyface turn and enjoy a months-long world title reign. While a win in the Extreme Rules ladder match is unlikely, Del Rio should remain one of the prominent stars of Friday Night SmackDown.
Last Week: 3
"The Champ" fought through tremendous heel pain in order to appear in Raw's main event. Teaming with Team Hell No in a battle against The Shield, Cena's involvement in the match was limited, but he still managed to be close to victory for his team before a stampeding Roman Reigns caught him with the high-impact Spear for the win.
Cena's rivalry with Ryback also continued on Raw as "Big Hungry" was unwilling to take the risk associated with an injured Cena and walked out on the match. Cena, proving to be the opposite of his Extreme Rules opponent, filled in for him despite the potentially serious injury.
With only two weeks left until Extreme Rules, the feud between Cena and Ryback should take a step up in terms of intensity come this Monday's Raw.
Last Week: 5
Ryback was originally scheduled to team with John Cena to take on The Shield in Monday's main event. Instead, he walked out on the match, returning in time to watch as Cena grabbed onto his ankle in pain moments after losing the six-man tag team main event.
On SmackDown, Ryback addressed the audience before turning his attention to Daniel Bryan in the night's opening contest.
The match would prove to be Ryback's best as a singles performer, as Bryan bumped all over the squared circle in an attempt to make the dominating Superstar even more intimidating. Ryback took a beating of his own but overcame it, finishing off the former World champion with Shell Shocked.
Ryback is on a roll heading into Extreme Rules and has proven to be a quality villain. While it seems unlikely that the company will take the WWE title off of John Cena this soon after WrestleMania, a Ryback title win would only do more to further the character.
Last Week: 1
Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins—known collectively as The Shield—make WWE Power Rankings history. They become the first Superstars to ever repeat as top dogs.
They continued their monumental run this week, defeating Team Hell No and John Cena in a six-man tag match on Raw. More importantly, they did so by cleanly pinning Cena, something that happens quite infrequently.
Four days later, they had reason to celebrate once again.
In the main event of SmackDown, Dean Ambrose pinned Kane before the trio left the Big Red Monster lying.
The Shield may have the tag team titles in their sights. But, as they have proven in the six months of their main roster stay, they are not against attacking any Superstar (regardless of their stature) at any time.
And that makes the three former developmental standouts very, very dangerous.