WWE Power Rankings: Week of March 4

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2013

WWE Power Rankings: Week of March 4

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    The week of March 4 has come and gone, leaving a clearer picture of what WWE fans can expect April 7 at the MetLife Stadium for Wrestlemania 29.

    The show's marquee matches have been announced, and its mid-card has finally begun to take shape. The Rock and John Cena will headline the show in a rematch of their Wrestlemania 28 classic. Triple H will look to get revenge for the suffering Brock Lesnar put him and WWE chairman Vince McMahon through.

    CM Punk will become the latest in a long line of competitors to try to end the undefeated streak of the Undertaker, while Alberto Del Rio will attempt to preserve his title reign against the challenge of anti-immigration, "Real American" Jack Swagger.

    Those matches are four weeks away.

    How did the top superstars in WWE fair this week? Who moved up and down in the WWE Power Rankings? Will there be a new number one for the third consecutive week?

    Find out here.


    Rankings will be determined based on a superstar's, or tag team's, win-loss record throughout the week, their upward or downward momentum and their overall impact on WWE.

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

Rest in Peace, Paul

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    Before we begin this week's power rankings, I personally want to take this time to send my condolences to the family of William Moody, known to wrestling fans around the world as either Percy Pringle or Paul Bearer.

    As a life-long fan of WWE, I grew up watching Paul Bearer lead The Undertaker, Kane, Mankind and Vader to the ring on programs such as Monday Night Raw, Superstars, Challenge, Mania and the Action Zone.

    As physically imposing as The Undertaker was, it was the added element of Moody's Paul Bearer character that helped elevate the character from gimmick to phenomenon.

    Bearer's high-pitched voice as he spoke of "his Undertaker" and ended every promo with "ooooohhh yes!" is as fresh in my mind now as I write this as it was 20-plus years ago when I heard it for the first time.

    One of the most talented managerial performers in the history of the sport, Moody will be missed by his family, his friends and his fans.

    I will forever cherish the years of entertainment I enjoyed because of the Paul Bearer-Undertaker pairing and only wish the young fans of today's WWE Universe could have enjoyed the magic Paul Bearer helped to create.

    Thank you for the memories, Mr. Moody. In the immortal words of your greatest persona, rest in peace.

20. Dolph Ziggler

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    LAST WEEK: 17


    Another week, another string of losses for WWE's resident show off.

    During Monday’s Old School edition of Raw, Ziggler had the misfortune of being paired up with The Miz, who was once again being seconded by two-time Hall of Fame inductee, Ric Flair.

    Rather than making the current holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase look strong, the company seemed far more interested in putting over The Miz so they could spotlight that young, up-and-coming star Flair.

    Friday night, in a match voted on by fans during last week’s Social Media Smackdown, Ziggler squared off with World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio.

    As has been the case every time they have squared off, Ziggler and Del Rio had a tremendous and exciting back-and-forth match that ultimately saw the red-hot champion pick up the submission win with the cross arm bar.

    The losses would typically be a red flag for a Superstar poised to become champion at some point in the near future but, in all reality, they are simply the latest in a long line of losing efforts for one of the most talented performers in the sport.

19. Wade Barrett

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    LAST WEEK: 15


    The current Intercontinental Champion finds himself in an unenviable position heading into Wrestlemania.

    In recent weeks, he has been booked in competitive matches against top WWE talent, but he has lost a majority of those matches. More importantly, with the biggest show of the year just over a month away, it does not appear as though those flirts with the main event stars will pay off with any sort of meaningful spot on the show.

    Back in January at the Royal Rumble, it appeared as though Barrett was on a collision course with breakout NXT performer Bo Dallas.

    Then, after two weeks of teasing that program, it was mysteriously and unceremoniously dropped. Two weeks ago, it appeared as though Wade may find himself sharing the ring with Sheamus at the Showcase of the Immortals.

    That appears to have been thrown by the wayside.

    The former bare knuckle fighter continues to impress between the ropes but remains the victim of inconsistent booking.

    As is the case with 75 percent of the roster, the creative team simply does not have a definitive plan for him.

    Until they do, expect the Intercontinental Champion to remain on the dreaded treadmill, on which he neither moves up or down the pecking order, instead remaining stagnant while his talent is wasted.

18. New Age Outlaws

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    If you guessed that the New Age Outlaws would make an edition of the 2013 WWE Power Rankings, you should probably think about shooting corny infomercials and charging gullible idiots $5.99 an hour to read them their futures.

    This past Monday night, “Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn reunited to take part in Old School Raw.

    Instead of simply coming to the ring, spouting their old schtick and popping the crowd for a second or two, however, the former WWE Tag Team Champions proved they could still cut it between the ropes as they defeated Primo and Epico.

    With a showdown against Team Rhodes Scholars on the horizon, one has to speculate whether or not the reunion tour for the New Age Outlaws reaches its conclusion this Monday night or if the popular D-Generation X members can breathe new life into a tag team division that has fallen out of favor with management. Again.

    Whatever the case may be, there is something so enjoyable about watching two performers, who still obviously love the business as much as Gunn and James do, entertain millions of fans as only a few can.

17. Cody Rhodes

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    LAST WEEK: 20


    On Wednesday’s WWE Main Event, Cody picked up a win over Zack Ryder.

    The win should mean more than it does but Ryder has been so devalued over the 15 months that, in reality, Rhodes defeated a very popular jobber.

    At this point on the road to Wrestlemania, there is a very large question mark surrounding the statuses of some of WWE’s most talented young performers. Cody is one of those performers.

    For all of his gifts, both in the ring and on the microphone, Rhodes has always been one of those Superstars the company can never make their mind up on in regards to pushing them.

    For months it appeared as though Cody’s tag team with Damien Sandow was poised to capture the WWE Tag Team Championships from Kane and Daniel Bryan.

    Instead, they were soundly defeated on a number of occasions and then, unceremoniously broken up. With no real direction heading into Wrestlemania, one has to wonder if there is even a spot for the second-generation talent.

    In recent weeks, Rhodes has shown interest in current Divas Champion Kaitlyn, and vice versa.

    A potential relationship could breathe new breath into the somewhat stale heel persona of Cody Rhodes, perhaps signaling a babyface turn that could help him move up the ranks far faster than he currently is.

    It was announced earlier this past week that Rhodes would resume his team with Damien Sandow to meet the New Age Outlaws on this Monday’s Raw.

16. Antonio Cesaro

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    LAST WEEK: 14


    Not unlike the Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett, current U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro finds himself in a precarious position.

    He is one of the top young talents in the company, has had a number of quality matches against top stars in the industry and clearly has a bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately, Cesaro has been the victim of uneven, up-and-down booking.

    On Raw, Cesaro was decisively defeated by Ryback.

    Forty-eight hours later, on WWE Main Event, the US Champion attempted to make up for the loss by squaring off against Sin Cara. The Mexican Superstar put up a fight, upsetting the US Champion in a match that may or may not have Wrestlemania implications.

    Antonio Cesaro’s week was not spectacular but it was another steady week of in-ring performances. Cesaro’s skill, nor the title he wears around his waist, is likely to get him onto the Wrestlemania card in any sort of meaningful way.

    If he can continue his solid work, however, there will plenty of Wrestlemania events in the Swiss Superstar’s future.

15. Brodus Clay and Tensai

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    Since forming a team nearly a month ago, Brodus Clay and Tensai have been on a roll.

    Their winning ways continued this past Monday night, on the special Old School edition of the show, when they met Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre. Jinder Mahal accompanied the villains while the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time, the Honky Tonk Man, seconded the funky babyfaces.

    The match was incredibly short and Tensai scored the win for his team when he caught a stunned McIntyre with a roll-up for the win.

    The Tensai-Brodus duo is reminiscent of teams like Too Cool and the APA, who entertained millions first and worried about match quality later.

    Not everyone will enjoy the pairing but it has proven to be a hit with the general audience and, as long as that is the case, expect to see them continue their winning ways.

14. The Miz

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    LAST WEEK: 18


    The up-and-down nature of The Miz’s babyface push ended in the “up” position this week following a major victory over Dolph Ziggler on Monday Night Raw.

    The Cleveland native celebrated the win with Ric Flair in what can best be described as WWE’s latest attempt to sell “the Nature Boy” as his mentor. While the fans in Buffalo seemingly bought into the act more than others, there is still something about the former WWE Champion that has yet to click with the WWE Universe on a grander scale.

    Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Miz is essentially the same character now as he was when he was one of the most hated performers in the sport.

    Flair may provide the emphasis for fans to accept Miz in his role as the “good guy."

    After all, it was he who helped guide the careers of young Randy Orton and Dave Batista to heavyweight championships. But Flair also may not be enough to help The Miz truly succeed in the role WWE hopes he does.

    If that is the case, it may be best for the former Real World star to return to his villainous ways.

13. Sheamus

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    LAST WEEK: 10


    The “Celtic Warrior” had an uncharacteristically bad week, which began with a Fatal Four-Way loss on Monday’s Old School Raw and continued onto Smackdown with a match against Big Show that ended in a No Contest when The Shield interfered.

    Despite the weak win-loss record, however, Sheamus is riding a wave of momentum that will ultimately lead to a major Six-Man Tag Match at Wrestlemania.

    The former World Heavyweight Champion has been one of the marquee names for WWE since last year’s event and, despite not competing for a top title at this year’s show, will partake in one of the most hyped matches on the card.

    One of the more underrated in-ring performers in the company, look for the “Great White” to put on his work boots in an attempt to steal the show out from underneath some of the all-time greats that populate the rest of the card.

    If he can do that, expect another run with championship gold in the fiery Irish redhead’s near future.

12. The Big Show

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    LAST WEEK: 12


    It was not a great week for the man billed as the “world’s largest athlete” in terms of his win-loss record but, despite disappointing results between the ropes, it is hard to discount the tremendous momentum the former World Heavyweight Champion is enjoying heading into Wrestlemania.

    On Monday’s Raw, Show came out on the losing end of a Fatal Four-Way match to determine The Undertaker’s opponent on April 7 at MetLife Stadium.

    The loss hardly meant anything for Big Show, especially since no one actually believed anyone but CM Punk was leaving with his arm raised in victory.

    In footage aired on the WWE App (did you know you could download it now?), The Shield attacked Big Show and delivered an impressive triple power bomb.Show was left battered and bruised but he would get a measure of revenge on Smackdown.

    In the main event of the Friday night staple, Show fought Sheamus to a No Contest when The Shield attacked.

    For the second week in a row, the 7'0" heavyweight helped two of his top rivals—Sheamus and Randy Orton—fight off the dangerous trio before falling victim to one of their finishers (the RKO).

    Big Show appears poised to join his enemies in a Six-Man Tag Team Match against The Shield at Wrestlemania 29.

    Taking into consideration that Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have been on fire as of late and remain one of the most interesting and exciting acts in WWE today, it could prove to be a show-stealer on a card full of tremendous potential.

11. Randy Orton

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    LAST WEEK: 5


    “The Viper” continued his impressive march to Wrestlemania and an overall impressive 2013 this past week, despite a disappointing outcome to his Monday Night Raw main event.

    Claiming he was older, more experienced than he was the first time he clashed with “the Dead Man,” Randy tossed his name into consideration for a match against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29.

    Booked into a Fatal Four-Way main event match against Sheamus, Big Show and CM Punk, Orton appeared to be on his way to a date with the undefeated Phenom on April 7 when Punk caught him with a stiff kick to the head and finished him with the Go To Sleep.

    Monday may not have gone the way for the former World Heavyweight and WWE Champion had wished it would have but Wednesday's Main Event, he made up for that disappointment by defeating Wade Barrett in an above-average match.

    Most importantly, Orton continued his vendetta against The Shield, rushing to the ring on Friday’s Smackdown to help Sheamus and Big Show thwart the offensive of the trio.

    With his road to Wrestlemania becoming clearer by the show, Randy looks poised to compete in a match that has all of the ingredients necessary to be one of the very best matches on this year’s Wrestlemania card.

10. Jack Swagger

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    LAST WEEK: 3


    Despite not having an official match on this week’s WWE programming, Jack Swagger more-than made an impact and continued to ride tremendous momentum into his World Heavyweight Championship match on April 7.

    The Old School theme of Monday’s Raw presented the “Real American” with the opportunity to take out his frustrations with the current state of the country on some of the legendary competitors synonymous with the United States.

    Sgt. Slaughter, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and “the American Dream” Dusty Rhodes all fell victim to Swagger’s assaults.

    Friday night was not so triumphant for the number one contender.

    As has become a staple of Smackdown since he debuted his new character, Swagger and associate Zeb Colter came to the ring to address the WWE Universe. They would be interrupted by Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez, who produced a video of their own, mocking those posted on YouTube by Swagger and Colter.

    Swagger has proven to be one of the more interesting characters leading into this year’s Wrestlemania and his story with Alberto Del Rio not only makes sense, but is also one of the hottest leading into the “Showcase of the Immortals.”

    While neither man has the star power to compete with the likes of The Rock, John Cena, Triple H or The Undertaker for room on the marquee, they may very well enter MetLife Stadium with the best story surrounding their match.

9. Triple H

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    LAST WEEK: 6


    “The Game” followed up his impressive, exciting and hellish brawl with Brock Lesnar last week by issuing the challenge everyone expected and knew was coming on Raw. He challenged Lesnar to a bout at Wrestlemania 29, a rematch of their SummerSlam main event from last August. 

    “Are you going to show up and fight? Or are you just gonna sit there and bleed?” he asked in an attempt to goad the former WWE Champion into accepting the match.

    It should be interesting to see how the company follows up on the brawl and “The King of Kings’” challenge this coming Monday, when Brock Lesnar appears on Raw to respond to Triple H.

    After such a brutal brawl two weeks ago, the creative team cannot simply allow the two men to fall into a pattern of promos.

    Those should be reserved for John Cena and The Rock. In a program between two men with such personal animosity between them, intensity is the key to success.

    Hopefully there will be some type of stipulation added to the match to eliminate the boredom that accompanied their first match.

8. The Shield

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    LAST WEEK: 9


    The trifecta of young, talented and dangerous individuals continued to make their presence known this way, laying waste to a giant and targeting two of their most hated rivals.

    A pre-taped promo on Raw in which Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns threaten Big Show for his attack on them the previous Friday night was all fans saw of The Shield on Monday’s  broadcast.

    After the show, in footage aired only on the WWE app, they attacked Big Show following the Fatal Four-Way main event and delivered a high-impact triple power bomb to the gargantuan.

    On Smackdown, they once again targeted the giant, as well as Sheamus, but were met by resistance in the form of Randy Orton. The Shield was sent scurrying by the three former World Heavyweight Champions as a six-man tag between the two appears more and more likely.

    A high profile match against three of WWE’s top performers, on the biggest show of the year, shows the faith that the creative team and, more importantly, management has in the three young stars that make up The Shield.

7. Ryback

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    LAST WEEK: 11


    After a disastrous winter, Ryback appears to be back on the winning track as spring approaches.

    Monday night, he cleanly and decisively defeated Antonio Cesaro in a solid match. More interestingly, on his way to the locker room, he locked eyes with “the World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry in a potential hint of a Wrestlemania clash.

    They would stare each other down once more as Ryback headed to the ring for his match against Damien Sandow.

    More annoyed by Sandow’s offense than affected by it, the former Nexus member easily demolished his competition en route to yet another victory.

    The match between Ryback and Henry, teased by their intense stare-downs this past week, is exactly what Ryback needs to regain momentum in 2013.

    Henry is a dominating force that has tore through anyone put in the ring with him and for “Big Hungry” to compete against, and defeat him, on the biggest stage the sport has to offer, would be an impressive and monumental win.

6. Team Hell No

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    LAST WEEK: 16


    It became evident this week that the creative team does not know what course it wants to take in regards to the current WWE Tag Team Champions.

    Two weeks ago, it appeared as though Kane and Daniel Bryan were on the fast track to Splitsville. Two weeks later and it appears as though the tag champions may remain just that for the foreseeable future.

    On Raw, Bryan and Kane ended their mini-feud with the Prime Time Players on a high note with a victory. They showed teamwork, despite arguing with one another, and picked up a solid tag team win.

    They did the same four days later when they defeated Heath Slater and Drew McIntyre of 3MB.

    With the direction apparently having changed heading into Wrestlemania, it appears as though the tag team titles will be defended by the popular champions. Who their opponents are, on the other hand, is less clear.

    Could it be Team Rhodes Scholars, who have a storied history with Team Hell No? How about the reunited New Age Outlaws, who were impressive in their win over Primo and Epico this week?

    Perhaps Kofi Kingston and R-Truth could provide suitable competition.

    Could they possibly defend in a multi-team match designed to get all teams involved on the show? Only time will tell.

    What appears to be certain is that the breakup of Team Hell No will be put off until after Wrestlemania.

5. Mark Henry

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    LAST WEEK: 4


    “The World’s Strongest Man” treated Zack Ryder and Yoshi Tatsu worse than the jobbers they are when he squared off against them this past week.

    Destroying them with ease, Henry continued to assert his dominance over the WWE roster and stake his claim as the most dangerous athlete in the company.

    He appeared to get some competition to that claim, however, in the form of Ryback.

    The two beasts stared each other down on Monday night and again on Friday as they passed one another in the backstage area. A potential clash between the two of them could produce one of the greatest displays of strength in WWE history.

    Henry has been one of the most entertaining performers in WWE this year due to the way in which he has been booked. Unlike other heels, he is not treated as a coward or expected to win only after interference from others.

    He simply walks to the ring, dominates and leaves.

    He is a throwback to the great monster baddies of the past and will provide tremendous competition to Ryback, a man the company clearly sees as one of its future breakout stars.

4. The Rock

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    The WWE Champion returned to Raw this week after two weeks away from World Wrestling Entertainment. He made his first appearance back count in a point, counterpoint segment with number one contender John Cena.

    Unlike his promos a year ago, which focused on poking fun at Cena and calling out his choice in t-shirt color, this week’s promo made their rematch at Wrestlemania 29 feel like the epic clash is should be.

    The Rock was serious, focused and the promo benefited because of it.

    His quoting Lance Armstrong was funny without being over-the-top and his line about knowing he could beat Cena was golden.

    As the weeks progress and The Rock engages in verbal confrontations with Cena, he should revisit this past week’s interview segment, realize what worked so well, and add it to his unique manner of electrifying the audience.

    If he can do that, the build-up to this years’ rematch may exceed that of last year’s.

3. John Cena

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    LAST WEEK: 1


    On Monday’s Raw, John Cena followed up his Match of the Year candidate from a week before with a promo that reminded fans of what the ten-time WWE Champion is capable of when he drops the poop jokes and laughing off of threats.

    Cena was on point Monday night and, in one well-thought-out promo, explained why the rematch against The Rock means so much to him and laid the groundwork for the story they will attempt to tell in the weeks that follow.

    Cena has produced some of his finest work in recent weeks and he will have to continue to do so to win over an audience that has criticized WWE for producing the same Wrestlemania main event two years in a row.

    Luckily, said main event features two of the most talented performers in WWE history.

    Look for the disappointment fans are openly expressing now to be erased on April 7 when Wrestlemania 29 leaves the pay-per-view airwaves.

2. Alberto Del Rio

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    LAST WEEK: 8


    The World Heavyweight Champion has been the most consistent performer of 2013 thus far, and he continued that consistency this past week with two very impressive wins over two young stars.

    Wade Barrett was first up on Monday night and the Intercontinental Champion provided stiff competition for the current heavyweight titleholder.

    But, as Del Rio has done on numerous occasions this year, he forced the former bare knuckle fighter to tap out to the cross arm bar. Four days later, he would utilize that submission finisher to defeat Dolph Ziggler in a show-stealing performance on Smackdown.

    Del Rio also targeted Wrestlemania 29 opponent Jack Swagger on two different occasions. He showed great aggression in a backstage attack of the “Real American” following Swagger’s beat-down of WWE legends.

    Then, on Smackdown, he showed his comedic side in a mockery of Swagger and Zeb Colter’s YouTube video posts.

    With one of the better stories heading into Wrestlemania, and a hot streak since winning the World Championship back in January, Del Rio will continue to figure prominently into WWE storylines and programming. 

    His babyface turn in December has done wonders for him. Who could have expected he would enjoy this much success, though?

1. CM Punk

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    LAST WEEK: 2


    By defeating Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus in a Fatal Four-Way match on Raw, CM Punk cashed his ticket to Wrestlemania and earned his spot in one of the marquee matches on the show.

    His opposition inside MetLife Stadium?

    The Undertaker, who carries an undefeated streak and serious doubt regarding his health into the biggest event of the year.

    Punk’s sheer determination to be the best wrestler on the planet, coupled with his determination to have the best match on any given show, has been evident in recent weeks in matches with The Rock, John Cena, Orton, Show and Sheamus.

    That sheer determination, when combined with the “Dead Man’s” will to have the most memorable contest at Wrestlemania each year, should be enough to overcome any injuries caused by decades of wear and tear on the Undertaker’s body.

    The quality of the build-up, with only four weeks to go until Wrestlemania, is the biggest question surrounding CM Punk’s match at this year’s event.

    Considering his microphone skills and the presence that Undertaker carries with him, as well as the legacy of the streak, the shortened time to tell their story should not hamper the build.