WWE Power Rankings: Week of February 18

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2013

WWE Power Rankings: Week of February 18

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    Weekly power rankings have long been the favorite of sports fans. They rank the top players or teams over a seven-day period and then look at the upcoming week for them.

    Professional wrestling is no different. Fans enjoy looking at the weekly rankings to see where their favorite Superstar landed and arguing the position of a certain wrestler compared to that of another.

    WWE power rankings have been absent from Bleacher Report for a while now and, with WrestleMania 29 only six weeks away, there is no better time to reintroduce them than now. Rankings will be determined based on a Superstar, or tag team's, win-loss record throughout the week, their upward or downward momentum and their overall impact on WWE television.

    These rankings will be compiled based on objectivity and without personal preference.

    Coming off the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, and with news-worthy Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown programs in the books, these are the WWE Power Rankings for the week of February 18, exclusively on Bleacher Report.

20. Kofi Kingston

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    Since losing the Intercontinental Championship to Wade Barrett on New Year’s Eve, Kofi Kingston has lost a ton of momentum.

    He has been a glorified jobber, losing to just about any opponent put in front of him. That streak didn't end Sunday at the Elimination Chamber.

    Squaring off against Dolph Ziggler in a bonus match, Kingston was his typical exciting self, but no high jump or fast-paced assault could change that he still lost and was then dominated by Big E. Langston after the bell sounded.

    He was simply an over mid-card performer who was thrown onto the card at the last minute to make Ziggler look good.

    Kingston deserves better than that. Luckily for him, a returning Superstar would come to his aid Monday night and, perhaps, save the capsizing ship that has been Kingston’s career over the last three months.

    R-Truth saved his former tag team championship partner from a beat down at the hands of Team Rhodes Scholars, reuniting a duo that proved to be an entertaining babyface tag team.

    Whether or not that tandem heads to WrestleMania or not isn't the question at this point; it's whether or not the team will help Kingston rebound after a disappointing start to 2013.

19. Daniel Bryan

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    Daniel Bryan had an eventful Elimination Chamber match this past Sunday, at least early on.

    He started the match with Chris Jericho in an encore of their tremendous one-on-one bout from the previous Monday night’s Raw. Proving once again why they are two of the most talented in-ring performers in the world, they dictated the pace early on before the other four Superstars entered the match.

    Once the larger competitors did arrive, however, Bryan quickly fell victim to the World’s Strongest Slam by Mark Henry and was the first person eliminated from the match.

    The following evening, he once again worked to steal the show, this time in a match against Jack Swagger.

    Bryan defeated Swagger almost three years earlier on Raw, again in a match that stole the show, but his injuries from the Chamber match limited him and he was eventually forced to tap to the Patriot Lock.

    Later in the night, he continued to irritate tag team partner Kane, this time costing him his match with Randy Orton and taking Team Hell No down a path toward its demise.

    With a singles match against Kane on the horizon, either before or at WrestleMania, it looks to be only a matter of time before Bryan is once again tearing up the singles ranks in WWE as one of its elite in-ring performers.

18. Kane

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    “The Big Red Monster’s” tag team with Daniel Bryan continues to disintegrate and it has officially begun to hurt both he and Bryan’s win-loss record.

    At Sunday's Elimination Chamber, Kane was impressive during his time inside the demonic structure, but eventually fell prey to the World’s Strongest Slam by Mark Henry.

    It marked yet another appearance without a victory in the Chamber and eliminated the former WWE and World Champion from heavyweight title contention at WrestleMania.

    On Monday’s Raw, Kane looked solid in his match with Randy Orton, but a distraction from partner Bryan ultimately cost him the bout.

    In the coming weeks, expect to see the last stand of Team Hell No as they lose the WWE Tag Team Championship and split for good, leading to a one-on-one match between the two at WrestleMania.

    It's certainly not a fresh matchup, considering the pair's feud last summer, but it should be an entertaining one based on their performances in several skits during their championship run.

17. Antonio Cesaro

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    The United States Champion had a week that he most certainly would love to forget.

    At Sunday’s Elimination Chamber, Antonio Cesaro picked up a controversial disqualification win over The Miz following an accidental low blow. One night later, he was defeated by the former WWE Champion in a non-title, no disqualification match.

    It was a major setback for a Superstar who was picking up steam and working with some of the sport’s top performers.

    The question now is whether or not the feud with The Miz over the U.S. Championship continues or if the Swiss Superstar ventures down another path on the road to WrestleMania.

    Superstars like Ryback, Sheamus, Randy Orton, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Chris Jericho, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow—all without clear opposition for the “Show of Shows”—could make for viable competition for Cesaro and his championship.

    As the next six weeks progress, every little interaction he makes with a fellow WWE Superstar could very well indicate just who he squares off with on April 7.

16. Wade Barrett

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    The Intercontinental Champion had a very eventful week, despite having only one match and seeing a rivalry with an NXT stand-out seemingly disappear into thin air.

    On Monday’s Raw, Wade Barrett introduced the trailer for WWE Studios’ Dead Man Down, a motion picture he has a small part in. This drew the interest of Sheamus, who laughed off Barrett’s involvement, both on Monday and Friday night.

    Speaking of Friday, Barrett will compete in the main event of the broadcast, taking on World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio in a bout dubbed as "champion versus champion." He will lose that match.

    The interaction between Barrett and Sheamus indicates the two may eventually have a date with one another at WrestleMania, a match that could very well steal the show. It also suggests that the budding rivalry between the Intercontinental Champion and rookie Bo Dallas has come to a premature conclusion.

    What that means for Dallas remains to be seen, but it is a major step in the right direction, as well as up the card, for Barrett.

15. Dolph Ziggler

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    It is difficult to pin-point another Money in the Bank winner that had as little going for them as Dolph Ziggler does at this moment.

    Two months ago, it appeared as if he and AJ Lee would be the next great power couple to dominate WWE programming. Ziggler had scored a huge upset win over John Cena at TLC, thanks to a heel turn from AJ that few saw coming.

    Since then, however, Ziggler has been soundly defeated by Cena on a number of occasions and has yet to really cement his position as a top star in the industry.

    At Elimination Chamber, he was thrown onto the card at the last minute in an entertaining, fast-paced win over Kofi Kingston. Monday night, he erased that win with a loss to Alberto Del Rio.

    After the match, he attempted to cash in his Money in the Bank contract, but was stopped when Ricardo Rodriguez snatched it out of his hands.

    There is much that can be done to rehabilitate Ziggler’s character after what has been a very inconsistent 2013 thus far, but it all centers around him finally cashing in and capturing the World Heavyweight Championship.

14. Brodus Clay and Tensai

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    Yes, there are a number of talents ranked below Brodus Clay and Tensai who are far more talented than either of these gargantuan competitors, but it is difficult to argue the success they have had over the past seven days.

    On the Elimination Chamber pre-show, they defeated the seasoned Team Rhodes Scholars.

    Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow are more greatly regarded in terms of their spot in the card and their signature wins over the last few months, so for the new dancing duo to pick up such a win should be considered a major occurrence.

    Twenty-four hours later on Raw, Clay and Tensai teamed with Funkadactyl Naomi to defeat Primo, Epico and Rosa Mendes.

    The match was short and sweet, but it continued the streak of victories for the duo.

    With the company seemingly refusing to give up on either man, their pairing is a perfect way for them to remain relevant and a featured act on WWE television with neither man hogging a spot from the more deserving.

    In their first few outings together, Tensai and Clay have proven to be over with the audience.

    More importantly, their pairing adds another team to a fledgling tag team division that has been struck by injuries.

    It is safe to say neither Tensai nor Clay will compete at WrestleMania but, until then, they provide Raw and SmackDown with an over babyface act that can be useful to building up the tag division and playing spoiler from top heel acts.

13. The Miz

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    The former WWE Championship is a difficult star to nail down. On one hand, he won two of the three matches he was involved in this week, the third of which ended with a controversial disqualification.

    Despite his win-loss record, there simply is no sense of momentum, nor is there any upward movement to be impressed by.

    An accidental low blow ruined Miz’s chances at capturing the United States Championship on Sunday night, but a no disqualification win over Antonio Cesaro in a non-title match the following night more than made up for it.

    On Friday night’s SmackDown, Miz continued his mini-roll, defeating the mustache-sporting Cody Rhodes.

    The question remains, however, where The Miz goes from here.

    It appears as though his U.S. title feud with Cesaro may carry over into WrestleMania but does it really matter if the Cleveland native wins the gold when he so soundly defeated the champion on Raw?

    Having held that very title on a number of occasions in the past, would it do anything to help Miz get back to the main event level? Most importantly, do the fans really care if Miz wins the title?

    These are questions that must be, at the very least, addressed in the coming weeks.

12. Chris Jericho

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    Y2J has picked up right where he left off when he departed in 2012.

    Losses are piling up, despite tremendous in-ring efforts against the likes of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and The Shield. That has not hurt him in the eyes of the fans, however, and despite those losses, he remains a hot commodity for WWE.

    Chris Jericho was one of the three final competitors inside the Elimination Chamber on Sunday and he teamed with Ryback and Sheamus in a losing effort on Monday night.

    Such losses on top of others he has suffered since returning at the Royal Rumble would sink a lesser performer.

    Luckily for him and WWE, which has invested greatly in Jericho, he is one of the most talented performers to ever step foot in a ring and can use his multiple talents to remain over with the WWE Universe.

    Regardless of where he finds himself on the card a week from now, a month from now, or on April 7 when WrestleMania emanates from Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Jericho will have the support of the audience and will likely be involved in one of the evening’s greatest bouts.

11. Ryback

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    At one point, there was no single wrestler in North America hotter than Ryback.

    He was the top challenger to CM Punk and fans were solidly behind him. They bout into the dominant challenger, even after he was screwed out of the title at Hell in a Cell. They still supported him after another loss at Survivor Series.

    After TLC’s loss to The Shield, however, his proverbial jets began to cool.

    After another loss at Elimination Chamber, in which he was the Superstar pinned in a six-man tag match, one has to wonder if feeding Ryback more can help him recover from the significant loss of momentum he has experienced over the last three months.

    Another loss to The Shield on Monday’s Raw did nothing to help and now, with no clear direction as WrestleMania approaches, and no certain opponent for the show, there are questions to be asked, such as whether the former Skip Sheffield will play a significant role at all.

    After he walked out on John Cena and Sheamus following the trio’s loss at Elimination Chamber, many have speculated whether or not a heel turn could be in the works.

    That may be exactly what Ryback needs in order to regain the tremendous momentum he had on his side throughout most of 2012.

10. Sheamus

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    “The Celtic Warrior’s” night at Elimination Chamber ended with a vicious spear through the time keeper position, courtesy of The Shield’s Roman Reigns.

    It was a disappointing way to end a six-man tag match that did not go the way many expected it would.

    Twenty-four hours later, Sheamus would once again be on the losing end of a match against The Shield as he teamed, once again, with Ryback and new partner Chris Jericho in defeat.

    He would make up for those losses on Friday’s SmackDown, flattening Damien Sandow with the Brogue Kick to pick up a lengthy, hard-fought win.

    More important than any match result this week, however, was the hinting at a potential WrestleMania foe for the “Great White.” Sheamus laughed off Wade Barrett’s claims to be the star of upcoming WWE Studios release Dead Man Down and engaged in a back-and-forth with the Intercontinental Champion on SmackDown.

    In previous outings against each other, the former WWE and World Heavyweight Champion has shown great chemistry with Barrett and a battle between the two European big men could provide this year’s WrestleMania with a legitimate show-stealing performance.

    While there is plenty of time to change course, a potential Sheamus-Barrett showdown should have fans very excited.

9. Randy Orton

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    “The Viper” was extremely impressive in Sunday’s Elimination Chamber, coming a fluke roll-up away from heading to WrestleMania to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship.

    While the loss was disappointing, it signaled a return to form for Randy Orton, who has appeared somewhat disinterested in what he has been given to do in recent months.

    Inside the Chamber, he was crisp, sharp, and motivated and his performance only helped to enhance the match.

    On Monday’s Raw, Orton kept the momentum going, defeating Kane in a singles match.

    While the involvement of Daniel Bryan tainted the win, it was a fitting way for Orton to put behind him a monotonous 2012, which featured him losing to the “Big Red Monster” at WrestleMania in a match that had little fanfare.

    Friday Night’s SmackDown featured Orton once again falling victim to a roll-up from Swagger, this time with the number one contender’s feet draped over the ropes.

    The fact that Orton interrupted Alberto Del Rio early in the evening and lost in such controversial fashion to Swagger may indicate that he will hang around the World Heavyweight Championship picture on the road to WrestleMania.

    If the title match is not in his future, however, Orton may once again be forced into a meaningless under-card match.

8. The Big Show

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    Big Show’s third consecutive title match loss to Alberto Del Rio at Sunday’s Elimination Chamber could very well have cooled the momentum he has enjoyed since defeating Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship back in October at Hell in a Cell.

    Instead, a tremendous segment on Wednesday’s Main Event helped remind fans of his dominance.

    He destroyed the likes of the Usos, Brodus Clay and Great Khali in impressive fashion.

    While those Superstars may not be classified as “top competitors” in today’s WWE, beating that many performers in consecutive falls is a feat. It may not result in Big Show competing in a championship match at this year’s WrestleMania, but it should be enough of an indicator that he will perform in some sort of high profile match.

    Perhaps he will meet Ryback in a battle of dominant Superstars.

    Maybe he squares off against Mark Henry in a rehash of the rivalry that produced better-than-expected matches in late-2011.

    Or maybe he appears in some sort of multi-man gimmick match or tag bout. Whatever the case, Show will make his presence felt in the coming weeks and at WrestleMania.

7. Mark Henry

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    “The World’s Strongest Man” may very well be the hottest act in all of professional wrestling as of this writing.

    Since returning from an injury that sidelined him for most of 2012, Mark Henry has exploded back onto the scene, demolishing any Superstar put in front of him.

    Thus far, everyone from Randy Orton to Chris Jericho to Hornswoggle has felt his wrath.

    At Sunday’s Elimination Chamber, Henry was eliminated from number one contender contention when he was pinned following an RKO and Code Breaker from Orton and Jericho, respectively.

    Following the loss, fans gave Henry a standing ovation and were rewarded for their respect when he re-entered the Chamber and destroyed Orton, Jericho, and Jack Swagger with consecutive World’s Strongest Slams.

    On Monday’s Raw, Henry defeated Sin Cara in a fairly one-sided match, only to duck out of the ring when Khali arrived on the scene.

    It was a questionable move by the creative team to have Henry appear somewhat cowardly, especially when his character had been on such a hot streak, gaining fan support and momentum with each appearance.

    While Henry’s potential opponent at WrestleMania has yet to become clear, one can only hope the appearance by Khali on Monday’s Raw was not a preview of the program that will keep the “World’s Strongest Man” busy at the biggest show of the year.

6. John Cena

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    John Cena, like CM Punk, was unsuccessful in his one match this week.

    He came out of the six-man tag loss to The Shield unaffected and moved right into his next meaningful bout: a match against Punk to determine who will challenge The Rock for the WWE title at WrestleMania 29.

    Despite the fact that he lost at the annual February pay-per-view event, Cena has been on a roll as of late, having won both the Royal Rumble match and his short-lived rivalry with Dolph Ziggler.

    After a 2012 that saw the leader of the Cenation not hold the WWE or World Heavyweight Championship for the first time since he ascended to the main event in 2005, Cena appears poised to make sure that this year does not mark a second gold-less one in a row.

    Love him or hate him, Cena still is a highly successful babyface, whose merchandise sales are higher than any other Superstar on the roster.

    His match with The Rock sold more wrestling pay-per-views than any match before it and the rematch will likely do comparable business. With the WWE Championship on the line, the stakes are arguably higher than they were a year ago.

    The question is whether or not the match will live up to the hype that will undoubtedly surround it by the time WrestleMania 29 rolls around on April 7.

    Only time will tell.

5. CM Punk

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    No, CM Punk did not win a match this week.

    At Sunday’s Elimination Chamber, he was defeated by The Rock in the main event. He did not compete on either Raw or Main Event and was simply held to a promo setting up a match for next week’s Raw broadcast.

    But sometimes, a Superstar can come out of a loss looking better than he did going in.

    That is exactly what happened to Punk.

    It took several referee bumps to keep the challenger from once again becoming WWE Champion at Elimination Chamber. He pinned The Rock for what could easily have been a 15 count.

    There is a legitimate argument to be made that he should be champion for the second time in as many months.

    But he is not, and now a showdown with John Cena on Monday’s Raw could very well determine the direction he takes heading into WrestleMania 29. Will he be added to the WWE title match, changing Rock-Cena II to a triple threat match?

    Will The Undertaker make his presence felt, setting up a battle between the two with the “Dead Man’s” undefeated streak on the line?

    It remains unclear at this point, but whatever the case may be, the self-proclaimed “Best in the World” will be involved in one of WrestleMania’s headline bouts.

4. Jack Swagger

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    Continuing a meteoric push that has accompanied his return to WWE television, Jack Swagger upset five of the top stars in World Wrestling Entertainment inside the Elimination Chamber to earn a World Heavyweight Championship match against Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania 29.

    Swagger’s recent character change, which has seen him championing a movement toward a new America, the so-called “Jack Swagger America,” has added a new dimension to his performance that has been missing in the past.

    The addition of Zeb Colter as his mouthpiece has also paid great dividends because he helps to cover up Swagger’s greatest weakness: his lacking promo skills.

    The Perry, Oklahoma, native’s week did not end on a high note, however, as he was arrested after the SmackDown tapings and charged with driving under the influence, as well as possession of marijuana. 

    Under the WWE’s official Wellness Policy, Swagger could face a 30-day suspension.

3. The Shield

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    There may be no Superstar, tag team or faction who had as dominant a week as The Shield.

    They defeated World Wrestling Entertainment’s answer to the Superfriends—John Cena, Ryback and Sheamus—at Elimination Chamber, shocking every fan who thought it was a given that the babyface trio would leave New Orleans with their arms raised in victory.

    They followed that win up on Monday’s Raw by once again defeating Sheamus and Ryback, who this time partnered with Chris Jericho.

    The Shield has been a tremendous breath of fresh air since arriving on the main roster in November.

    Reminiscent of the Fabulous Freebirds in terms of the three very different styles employed by each of its members, The Shield has had three incredible matches against the top stars in the industry, proving that they are not too inexperienced or too young to rise to the level of their competition.

    With WrestleMania right around the corner, it remains to be seen exactly what role Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Seth Rollins play at the big show, but it is safe to say the grandest stage the sport has to offer will not prove to be too much for the former developmental standouts.

2. The Rock

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    At Elimination Chamber, The Rock successfully retained the WWE Championship by defeating CM Punk in what can best be described as a chaotic main event.

    On Monday night, he celebrated that pay-per-view win by unveiling a new WWE title.

    Now, faced with promotion for not one but two movie releases, and a third shortly thereafter, The Rock will miss the next two Monday Night Raw broadcasts.

    Since returning to WWE earlier this year, The Rock has made appearances on both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown, nearly surpassing the amount of appearances he made in all of 2012.

    While it is difficult to say whether or not his increased schedule in 2013 has helped to sooth any of the hard feelings fans or his fellow WWE Superstars may have for him, at least the current WWE Champion has proven he is willing to put in more work this go-around.

    Now, with a historic WWE Championship bout up-coming against John Cena (or CM Punk, depending on the outcome of their match this Monday night) at WrestleMania, The Rock is set to make history once more.

    Now, with reports suggesting that “The Great One” will appear at the post-Mania pay-per-view Extreme Rules, it appears as though the “Most Electrifying Man in Sports-Entertainment” will not simply be escaping to Hollywood after this year’s sports-entertainment extravaganza.

1. Alberto Del Rio

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    The World Heavyweight Champion had, easily, the best week of any WWE Superstar.

    On Sunday, at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, he defeated The Big Show to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.

    He followed up that win on Monday night by defeating Dolph Ziggler and, on Friday’s SmackDown, defeated current Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett.

    Alberto Del Rio has been on a roll since a babyface turn in December and his World title win in January. The turn, more so than the title reign, has done wonders for Del Rio’s character.

    Prior to the turn, many felt as though aristocratic villain, who spoke only of destiny and being better than everyone else because of his money, had become stale and boring.

    In recent weeks, Del Rio’s portrayal of the plucky babyface, as well as the opening-up of his offensive move set, has proven to be far more successful than the strictly submission-based offense he employed as a heel.

    It has made his matches better and has made it significantly easier for the WWE fans to buy into the character and to invest themselves in the matches.

    With a championship defense against “Real American” Jack Swagger slated for WrestleMania 29, the Mexican Aristocrat appears poised to be one of the headline performers heading into the most popular, and most important, periods of the sports-entertainment year.