We’re down to the nitty gritty here in part 3 of my Ranking of my 40 Favorite WWE talents. Only thirteen superstars remain (well, technically, 13 male wrestlers remain - female talents and other personalities will be saved for another time), and for many of them, the distinction ‘twixt them is very minimal.
If you missed part 2 of this trilogy, check it out here
If you missed part 1, the link is in part 2.
13. Roman Reigns
Yes, friends, I’m ranking Roman Reigns higher than Brock Lesnar. . . Remember, I’m treating Lesnar as his own entity - Were I to combine him with Heyman, this would be a different matter entirely.
Why does Reigns get the nod, albeit a small one? It all has to do, as the title of this tier says, with growth. Roman Reigns is improving each and every time he comes out. Brock. . . As good as he is. . . Is still just Brock. We haven’t seen the ceiling for Roman Reigns yet, and that should make every wrestling fan very excited.
I sincerely hope I never have to go back in time and delete tweets or columns regarding grievous errors or false information, though if I was placed in such a situation, I might also “accidentally” cause all my negative Neville notions to disappear as well. I really didn’t think he had a shot on this main roster, and I seem to be proven wrong on a regular basis.
Will Neville ever win a WWE world title? I still have to say no, but I’m much less confident about my answer after his performance on Monday. He still doesn’t have a character or story that screams main event, but if he keeps wrestling like this, he might not need one.
Super impressive, this man that gravity forgot.
11. Seth Rollins
Like many of the NAIborhood members I’ve been engaged with online, I too have grown very weary of the “weasely Authority champion” Seth Rollins. It was hurting his main event credibility and, understandably so, causing a lot of people to lose interest in the overall product.
Which means that breaking Cena’s nose might be the best thing to ever happen to him.
The champion we saw on RAW Monday night was a completely different Rollins. He seemed. . . legitimate. He had an attitude, a swagger, that had been missing these last months, and in a single promo (and, as I mentioned earlier, an excellent match), he turned my entire opinion on him around. Triple H had this happen to him as well in his initial World title runs, though it took a long program with Mick Foley to get there.
I’m really hoping that WWE continues this momentum for Rollins - A win over Cena at Summer Slam would be huge for The Architect.
And, since Hulk Hogan is being slowly and quietly reinserted into the history books, perhaps Vince won’t need to rely on Cena to get them through this crisis.
Of all WWE talents, Rusev might be the best social media user, especially when it comes to his character. His Twitter feed is great - He can be both hilarious and touching, as he was for his Piper tribute, all while maintaining his gimmick. I’m sure Vince & Co. appreciates his Kayfabe style.
Plus. . . And I know a lot of you thought this was dumb. . .But he gave Summer Rae a fish. . .I never knew Rusev had the propensity for comedy gold, and that vastly increases the future avenues his character can traverse.
I know he could be in danger of being comic relief in the near future, but he’s young enough and talented enough to avoid that particular pitfall. Also, he could become one of the company’s most popular talents if he winds up pulling a Macho Man and coming to Lana’s rescue someday.
I’m high on Rusev. . . I don’t love him yet. . . But it’s close.
9. The Miz
One of my very first columns over there at Number Two Contenders was all about The Miz and how he is Awesome, and while I got a “lot” (or what constituted a lot back when I was lucky to get 20 views a day) of flak for that, it seems that many people are starting to see things my way.
He is The Miz. . . And he is Awesome!
He shined with Sandow, he was the MVP of the Cesaro and Owens segment from RAW, and in many ways (now I’m just looking to start trouble). . .
The Miz is the Roddy Piper of WWE right now. He’s the guy fans love to hate.
Wow. . . That might be the most #HeelDC sentence I’ve ever written, but it’s true. In fact, it’s either him or John Cena. . . Allow me to explain, before you light the torches and find your pitchforks, my dear NAIborhood.
Roddy Piper was the ultimate heel, yet he was also wildly entertaining. Yes, he smashed an actual coconut over Snuka’s head. . . Yes, he did a multitude of other equally heinous acts, but he did so with a sense of humor and a lot of charisma. You boo’d him, but you also loved every minute of it.
Mike Mizanin isn’t doing anything nearly as heinous as Piper did, but like Roddy, he’s hilarious and hard to take your eyes off of. Go back and watch MizTV again - Look at his face as he’s watching Owens and Cesaro almost come to blows. He’s the best part of that segment, and he makes every minute of WWE better just for being a part of it.
8. Kevin Owens
Up until the point where he got totally and completely buried (Now I’m in full #HeelDC mode, I can’t help it), Owens was higher on my list, and since we’re in the Top 10 now, all of these guys are ones I adore.
My only hesitation with Owens is that it’s hard to take a guy like him seriously as a “cowardly heel”, and that’s exactly what is happening. Sure, he’s pulling the “trick you into turning your back and then attacking”, but guys like Owens aren’t supposed to back down from a fight, even if it is cleverly done. I don’t love this side of Owens, though I’m sure once he and Cesaro tear the house down at Summer Slam, I’ll be back on the KO bandwagon.
7. Bray Wyatt
If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge Bray Wyatt fan, so we really are just at the point where I’m just listing all of my ‘favorite’ talents. The last time I loved somebody’s ring work so completely, like I do with Bray, was with William Regal. In fact, if this NAI E-fed gets off the ground, or if I cave and buy a PS4 and WWE 2K16, you better believe that the DC Matthews character will be a hybrid of Bray and Regal’s ring style.
I still don’t think Bray ever gets to be a main event player in WWE, but truthfully, I’m OK with that, so long as he remains on the periphery of it, and as long as he continues to have logical reasons for his feuds, rather than just cryptic nonsense. Plus, someday we’re going to get Bray Wyatt vs. Kevin Owens, and my head might explode.
6. Bo Dallas
I love Bo Dallas more than his older brother because his character is so ridiculously corny. I’ve long accepted the fact that I’m drawn much more to the mid-card than the main event, and Dallas is a prime example. I mark out each time his music hits and I fight the urge to jump around the room each time he begins running around, pointing his thumbs in for some inexplicable reason.
It’s not a logical love, but then again, when is love logical?
5. Luke Harper
Harper getting the chance to talk alongside Bray might be my favorite development of the last few months in WWE - He’s holding his own with Wyatt, and that’s amazing in and of itself.
Luke Harper should be the new prototype for big men in professional wrestling - quick and agile, rough and powerful. If he was ten (or even five) years younger, he’d be somebody WWE would be building around, instead of just a really good role player. Regardless, I’m going to be excited for every Luke Harper singles match for as long as they keep letting him have them.
Like Harper, if Cesaro was 10 years younger and even a molecule less Swiss, he’d already have held a couple World Titles in WWE. Regardless, he’s getting a significant singles “push” right now, and no matter how it ends up, that’s a great thing for a wrestling fan.
Here’s my fantasy booking idea for Summer Slam - Make the Owens and Cesaro match 2 out of 3 falls. You have four hours, give them 12.5 percent of that (that’s half an hour, for those who haven’t had to use fractions since 6th grade) and watch them put all other MOTY candidates to shame.
Full disclosure: Somewhere along the line, I miscounted the number of talents I had on my list (it’s summer, I’m not required to remember how to do math for another 2 weeks or so), and so rather than group them together, the top 3 spots in my list go to Kofi, Big E and Xavier, but they have to share them as a unit.
Individually, all three are great - Big E’s got the facial expressions, Kofi has the skipping, and Xavier might just be the best talker in the company not named Paul Heyman. You have to have them all together, though, for it to be perfection personified.
Apparently, according to Xavier Woods, Vince really thought New Day would get over as a babyface stable. Rather than use that as an example of how out of touch Mr. McMahon is, though, I’ll use my own power of positivity to show how that proves how well WWE can make the best out of any situation. However it happened, these three have taken the ball they were given and have skipped away with it, and the tag division, and the wrestling world in general, are better for it.
Right now, in this moment, in this time, New Day is my favorite part of WWE, and if you needed to know why. . .
There it is, folks, my list of favorite talents. I'd love to see yours. Comment below or, since tomorrow is Friday, make your own article. Either way, Be Heard!