My favorite part of RAW was not, as many of you might suspect, Seth Rollins vs. Neville. It was not the 6 man tag ‘main event’, nor was it even that awesome tag team skipping their way into our hearts.
No, my favorite part of RAW was just a single moment, seeing Cesaro, Miz and Kevin Owens in the ring together. Just the sight of those three in directors’ chairs made me ridiculously happy - Those are some of my absolute favorite talents in WWE right now.
Which, of course, got me thinking.
What followed was about 30 minutes of conversing, debating and arguing. . . All taking place within my own head, and it resulted in this list you see before you. In a very Bill Simmons type of way, I’ve also created tiers for my list.
Note: I mainly included active talents, although some guys with minor injuries made my list. I also didn’t include female talents or non-wrestlers, both of which could be a part of a future column.
I hope you will enjoy it, but as Victor Borge so eloquently stated, if you don’t, there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
I find very little to be redeeming about Ryback, and I feel badly about that. He’s neither safe nor very talented in the ring, his character needs a whole lot of work, and the worst part about it is that he seems like a nice guy with a sense of humor. Why isn’t Ryback more like Ryan Reeves?
I hate to be harsh, but right now I find him to be a waste of a roster spot and of a title that, right now, means almost as little as the NXT Tag belts.
(If you had to rank the titles in order of importance, wouldn’t it be WWE Title, US belt, NXT Women’s belt [thanks to Sasha et al], tag belts, NXT title, Divas title and then, somewhere at the bottom, Ryback and BAMF’s belts?)
39. The Ascension
Every so often, I go back and read my very early work, in which Konnor and Viktor sit atop my NXT top ten for quite a long period of time. I want to go back in time, to show my younger (albeit by 8-9 months) self what has happened to these two - How completely useless they both are.
How many NXT tag teams would I rather have in The Ascension’s spot? That would be all of them, including a tandem like Sawyer Fulton and Angelo Dawkins, who are really just enhancement talent at this point.
If I had to pick one tag member over the other, it’d be Viktor, just because he looks like Christopher Daniels.
Mental Note - Column on wrestler look-alikes
38. Sin Cara
I was honestly shocked to learn that Sin Cara, aka Hunico, is 37 years old. I give him a lot of credit for moving around the ring the way he does at that “advanced” age, yet it also explains why he screws things up so often.
I get it, we needed Sin Cara to be paired with Kalisto to make the transition to the main roster, but he’s here now. The only thing Kalisto is doing being paired with Sin Cara is wasting time. If WWE insists on keeping Sin Cara around, fine! Make him Kalisto’s manager for a few months, as he starts his singles run. Then he can turn heel on Kalisto, take the mask off, join up with two other masked guys who will appear later in the column, and have a story that actually matters.
(Did I mention that this early part of the column is sponsored by #HeelDC? Well, it is.)
37. Heath Slater
I’ll get some brushback on this one, because a lot of people like Heath Slater and think there’s a role for him somewhere in WWE. That may be true, but it’s certainly not as a wrestler. Heath so infrequently appears on WWE television that it’s not even exciting when he does show up. Again, he’s just there to fill the 3 hours of Monday Night television, and we don’t need that.
36. Mark Henry
The saddest part of Henry’s match with Rusev was that I really liked what they did with his entrance - letting Mark fill the camera with his size, focusing on the “WSM” of his singlet. Maybe that’s something they’ve done for years, but it’s the first time I noticed it, and I was a big fan.
Henry is approaching his 20th year in WWE, and unless you’re either a part-time Phenom or a genetic wonder like Goldust, there’s no business still being a wrestler after that amount of time.
Despite his hilarious and creative renaissance in 2015, Ron Killings is another talent who has passed his ‘time’. He’s 43 years old, and he could have done exactly the same things he’s been doing on the microphone while not taking part in the in-ring action, had he been a manager or other on-screen personality.
We’ve lost Santino, and I’m sad about that, but until he returns, why not R-Truth for GM of RAW?
34. Big Show
Of those in this category, Big Show is my favorite, and it’s not just because of his increased efforts in the ring, though those are, by me anyway, well documented.
No, Big Show gets such a “lofty” position because the post-wrestling place for him is so perfect, I’m surprised WWE hasn’t acted on it by now.
Make him an announcer. Let him take Byron Saxton’s place, who currently isn’t doing much of anything for the betterment of WWE commentary. Let Michael Cole call the match, which he’s proven he still remembers how to do, and let JBL and Big Show tell the stories around him.
If that doesn’t work, and I can imagine Paul Wight might not want to do all this traveling just for an announcer gig, then put him in NXT! He lives in Florida anyways, if I remember right, so move Corey Graves to the main roster (long overdue) and have Big Show join. . . . Whomever else NXT uses as commentary. Heck, let Big Show call it himself?
How hilarious would it have been if Kevin Owens came out to join the announce team, tried starting stuff with Big Show, who just glared at him, then Owens starting picking on Saxton instead?
33. Curtis Axel
I’m not sure if it was a one-time thing, an act of Photoshop hijinks, or a quick idea that got even more rapidly squashed that resulted in that picture floating around of Axel in jorts (jean-shorts, for those playing at home), but obviously WWE has nothing for young Mister Hennig right now.
That’s probably for the best, as would be releasing Axel, and every other name on this tier of the list. Axel could find himself work right now - As I’ve written about before (though I’m glad Cesaro didn’t read it), it’s a REALLY good time to be a free agent wrestler. Lucha Underground, Global Force, Japan, there’s definitely work to be had.
Axel is probably more like Ted Dibiase Jr (Is he even still wrestling? Note: No, he’s not, he’s involved in random businesses you’ve never heard of) than David Hart Smith (currently a tag team champion in Japan with the former Lance / Vance Archer / Hoyt), but whatever he finds, it’ll be better than what he’s doing in WWE.
32. Zack Ryder
This is the one I could be wrong on. Scary as it might be, Hype Bros might get a somewhat legitimate shot as a tag team, both in NXT and in WWE. Plus, he’s not getting TOTALLY run over in his last few RAW appearances, so perhaps he might be salvageable.
Still, there’s no argument in my mind that Ryder could do far better for himself on the indie circuit, and I hope he finds his way there in some form or fashion soon.
31. Dolph Ziggler
We’re getting to the tricky parts now - Where I actually start to like the people on the list. Actually, I like most of the talents on the WWE roster, but now we’re getting into the ones I am “fans” of.
I enjoy Ziggler’s ring work, although he’s far better as a heel, and am looking forward to his in-ring return, but let’s face it - Dolph is a main event talent in pretty much any other promotion he goes to, and he’s a mid-card stalwart if he stays in WWE.
Truthfully, I imagine he’s out of wrestling altogether in the next 2-3 years, hosting a podcast, doing standup, maybe even dating a Kardashian.
30. King BOOOOOOOM
Alas, poor Barrett. . . We knew him, NAIborhood, a fellow of infinite potential, of most excellent physique. At some point, we’re going to learn about the egregious act he committed against Clan McMahon that caused him to be booked as he has been these last years.
Until then, much like Ziggler, Wade could be battling Prince Puma or . . . who is going to be the ‘main event’ talent in GFW, anyway?. . . but instead will continue to be Ruler and King of the Jobbers.
Whoa, the fallen Corre.
29. Jack Swagger
Absence has made my heart grow fonder for Mr. Swagger - I know that if he was on my TV more often, he’d plummet down this list. Just looking at him for an extended period of time makes me want to punch him right in his dopey face.
And that’s what bugs me the most - He is the personification of every 80’s college movie villain - How did WWE not take advantage of that? Where was his Chris Nowinski style letter jacket? The Real American schtick was good, it’s true, but you had a golden opportunity, WWE, and you BLEW IT!
Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger . . . Geez, take EVERY guy from this tier of my list, put them in a “Cocky Jock” stable (Hey, if Submission Sorority can get through Standards and Practices, so can my idea) and let them have some fun. Spirit Squad meets Mean Street Posse meets Varsity Club.
Good God, that’s a fun idea. I can’t even write any more, I’m too excited about that. We’ll have to make this a 2 parter and cover the remaining talents tomorrow.
Until then, BE HEARD!