In the middle of 1990’s Great American Bash (or honestly it might have been a Clash of the Champions, this journey to get through all the NWA / WCW PPV’s makes everything blend together), there was an entire segment of the show devoted to revealing the “updated” top 10 rankings for the World Heavyweight Title and the World Tag Team Titles. Back in the day, professional wrestling was not quite sports entertainment, especially when it came to the NWA - There was still an underlying sense of legitimacy when it came to contending for a championship.
25 years and a whole lot of breaking kayfabe later, there’s nothing quite resembling a ranking system in WWE. Sure, there’s the “Top 25”, or whatever they have up there on WWE.com, but that doesn’t count. Storylines have trumped competition (along with everything else), and the titles are really just a means to an end.
I miss the old days. I miss where wrestlers fought to move up the ranking ladder, where a guy like Stan Hansen could become enraged at being ranked sixth and immediately set his sights on the talents above him; that’s all the storyline you needed. I also miss the days where you could actually have a TOP TEN rankings for tag teams. When was the last time you could confidently say WWE had ten tag teams that all qualified as contenders for the Giant Pennies of Fame?
So, having this soapbox as I do, I decided to craft my own rankings. Rather than my NXT top ten, which ranks potential for WWE success, this is actually done in terms of vying for the World Heavyweight Championship and Tag Titles. There will be elements of kayfabe in here, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?
A couple notes beforehand:
I decided to do a Top 5 for tag teams, as a listing of 10 teams would have to include Shoot Nation, an NXT team that hasn’t even made its on screen debut yet.
While in the past, the Intercontinental and United States titleholders were deemed the number one contenders, there’s really no way that works in today’s WWE. For one thing, there’s two of them, so they would wind up being number two contenders. . .
(Cheap Plug: Doc Manson and I are at it again, to some extent, over at Number Two Contenders. Hope you take the time to come check us out.)
While Bad News Barrett and Rusev will automatically make it into our top ten rankings, they are not guaranteed any specific spot. The same goes for Seth Rollins - the MITB briefcase earns him a place among our rankings, but it could be anywhere. Given his abysmal winning percentage in 2015, it’ll likely be pretty low.
Speaking of which, I have gone ahead and calculated the winning percentage for talents this year, which is where I have decided to officially start the rankings. I’ve decided to only count PPVs or “televised events” (Smackdown, RAW, Superstars and Main Event). While, in the future, I may weigh these events differently, along with the quality of opponent, for our initial rankings, we’ll stick to just a simple win-loss record, while also, non-scientifically, consider the competition and the overall “hype” of each talent.
Are we all set? Any questions? No? Good. On with the countdown!
Being the former champs earns them a place in our countdown, even if they seem to no longer be a tag team. They’re a closer knit group than the Dust Brothers, and are also wrestling at .500 for 2015 (3 wins, 3 losses), so that’s a good thing.
The Dusts, in case you’re curious, have only won a single match this year. Dustin, save your brother before he’s lost for good!!!
Full disclosure - I only included them in the rankings to use the name somebody mentioned on Twitter. If it was you, make sure to take credit in the comments below.
We’ve only seen a single match with this tandem, but that’s enough to include them. Such is the state of tag wrestling, my friends.
Konnor and Viktor are undefeated in 2015 (the only team to be so other than the aforementioned ZyBack), but since the majority of those matches took place against either Los Matadores or actual, bona fide jobbers, they don’t count for much. Still, they’ve gone from being complete jokes to just slightly dumb, so that’s something, I guess.
I’m still on board the New Day bandwagon, even if the crowds seem to be faltering a bit. I hope we continue to see growing signs of frustration and being “messed with by ‘The Man’”, though I imagine it’s going to take a while.
Still, with 5 wins and 2 losses, that’s the highest win percentage next to The Ascension and ZyBack. They deserve this ranking.
They may be the Masters of the Universe or the Brass Ring Club, but they’ll always be KiddAro to me.
While their win / loss record doesn’t show it on the surface, this team has wins over the current champions, both in singles matches and as a duo. Plus. . . Come on, it’s Tyson Kidd and Cesaro! How could they not be amazing?
Alright, there are the rankings for the tandems. On to the singles stars.
Champion: Brock Lesnar
You’d laugh me off of the message boards if I ranked him officially, but its worth mentioning that Fandango is undefeated in 2015. 5 wins, 0 losses. His character is still going nowhere, but how crazy would it be if he wound up shocking Barrett for the IC title or something?
Ok, ok, back to reality.
He might be going nowhere right now, but Harper is .500 right now, a former IC champion, and one of the few men on the WWE roster that wouldn’t look small compared to Brock Lesnar. Just. . . Just change that damn shirt!
He’s 3 and 1 since being re-hired by WWE and while he might be being moved to the tag team division for a while, he’s yet another guy who can stand up physically to the champ.
I don’t know what’s stranger - That John Cena has only wrestled 3 matches on TV / PPV in 2015 or that he’s only won one of them. I know the eye injury is an issue, but this is as positive a sign as I’ve seen since he got his gluteus maximus handed to him at Summer Slam.
Oh, how the IC title has fallen. What was once a number one contendership barely registers these days. While I’m a fan of the BNZ thing, it’s not doing a whole lot in making him look like a serious contender, especially when you consider he’s only wrestling .500 this year.
Ambrose has had, for the most part, higher profile matches in 2015 and has a far better winning percentage (71% to Barrett’s 50), so he gets a nod over the champion. I really think a Lesnar vs. Ambrose feud would be fascinating - Dean would offer a different kind of challenge that Lesnar has had before, so perhaps someday we’ll see it.
The briefcase does come in handy here, along with him really and truly being THE next top talent in WWE. He’s only won 2 matches in 2015 (giving him a dreadful winning percentage of 20%), which hurts him, but at the same time, all of these matches have been ‘main event’ contests, which is a plus.
The beauty of being Mr. Money in the Bank is that you don’t even need to be a ranked talent to contend for the title, so this shouldn’t bother Seth so much. I suppose he has enough to worry about right now.
The US title, at this point, has more significance than the Intercontinental belt, though only by a slim margin. Rusev earns this spot in the rankings because while he and his manager talk FAR too much for my liking, when Rusev wrestles, he is dominant. He’s won two thirds of the matches he’s wrestled and has only lost one by countout.
Like some other talents on this list, Rusev also earns bonus points for sheer size. I can’t be the only one who salivates over a matchup between the Russian and Brock Lesnar.
Outside of Fandango, Wyatt is the only undefeated talent who has wrestled more than 2 televised matches. Unlike the dancing fool, however, each and every one of Bray’s wins has been big. This is truly shaping up to be the year of Bray Wyatt, and I for one couldn’t be happier.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. I’m hoping that if Reigns does win the WHC, Bray Wyatt spends the summer stalking him. I think that feud could be really good, both for Bray and for Roman.
Despite most other talents having a 2 week head start, Bryan has wrestled 9 TV / PPV matches in less than a calendar month, and more importantly, he has won 8 of them. While most of the IWC keeps bemoaning his fate, winning nearly 90 percent of your matches isn’t exactly being buried, is it?
Bryan might not wind up winning at Fast Lane, but he’s done everything you’d hope a talent to do in order to be a top contender.
He won the Royal Rumble, he’s won 90% of his matches and he’s the heir apparent to the World Heavyweight Championship. As much as fans might detest it, The Roman Empire IS the big story right now.