One of the biggest wrestling related stories of the weekend was the announcement that Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns would be teaming with a mystery partner to take on the Wyatts (Bray, Harper, Stroganoff) at Night of Champions. On this weekend’s NAIborhood podcast (available wherever NAIpod can be found), Doc Manson and I discussed it a bit, though I made the mistake of thinking the 6 man tag was at RAW, not NOC. My bad. Ryback would have made sense, but he won’t be wrestling twice at Night of Champions.
People are still buzzing about the mystery so I thought that today, I’d lay out some of the likeliest, and of course, the unlikeliest options.
One of the most anticipated matches at this year’s Wrestlemania, at least according to the NAIbors I’ve spoken with, is the ladder match for the IC title. Not only is it impressive because it’s received so much TV time, or its, in just a couple of weeks, seemingly revived the multiple-time-dead career of one R-Truth, but it also is going to be, it seems, the Wrestlemania spot for one Daniel Bryan. You know, the guy who won the World Heavyweight Championship at the main event of last year’s Mania.
This got me thinking. How does this rank among others who have won a World title at wrestling’s greatest stage? Specifically, I looked at those who won in the main event match. The results, as expected, were surprising
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?
There can be no surer sign that Daniel Bryan is truly considered a B+ player than his treatment since his return from injury. Although his return to the ring was announced and advertised, the match was scheduled for Smackdown. This begs the question; why would the return of Daniel Bryan, the former World Heavyweight Champion, the champion that never lost his title, the champion that won that honor after beating Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton all in one night at Wrestlemania XXX – why would the return of the crowd favorite be relegated to the B-show?
I’ll be the first to admit that I lack any and all practical experience within the sports entertainment industry. Perhaps then, taking my business acumen into account, it is not a surprise that I find myself baffled by the current state of the WWE. I’m speaking, of course, regarding the creative decisions that resulted in the booking for the 2015 Royal Rumble match. The Road to Wrestlemania is before us, and the main event seems set; Brock Lesnar will defend his WWE World Heavyweight championship against the destined face of the WWE, Roman Reigns.
The Royal Rumble is but a few short days away, and from the look and feel of RAW last night, WWE just noticed. Last night’s show was a reminder that when push comes to shove, we can get a solid three hour wrestling show that has moments of greatness, which is really all we can ever expect.
There wasn’t a single moment that stood out to me (besides, of course, The Ascension getting buried by practically the entire cast of Monday Night War), so rather than reflect on a specific moment, I’d like to look ahead to the Rumble and give you 10 superstars who I could see winning the entire thing, and why they could be the lead car on the Road to Wrestlemania.
That’s right, I promised you 10 superstars. Hopefully I can come up with that many. . .
Like most everyone this past Monday (or, at least, so said Jason Moltov on NAIpod), when I heard that Daniel Bryan was making a major announcement on RAW, I assumed his career was over. We hadn’t heard anything in such a long time that I just figured he was done. While the intro of Edge’s own retirement speech made me skeptical, I still presumed the worst, and rejoiced along with the rest of the world (well, technically 3 or 4 days later – it’s been a weird week) to hear he’s making his in-ring return at the Royal Rumble.
But let’s not get hasty.
As much as I would like to see DB win the Rumble, stomp down the Road To Wrestlemania, win the title again and put the entire last 12 months behind us, I don’t think that’s set in stone.
Doc Manson: Glad to see you, Teach. I’ve asked you here today to discuss an ongoing problem in the WWE product. I’m not sure how to articulate this exactly, some people might say that some superstars, like John Cena or Randy Orton, are overexposed, but that’s not really the problem that I’ve having. I don’t really care if John Cena or Randy Orton are featured on television every week.
The issue is more that, by including this regular stable of recognized stars in the top-level feud, the upwards mobility of the mid-card talent is lessened. How can Cesaro or Ziggler go on to be main event players when they can’t even edge into the race for the heavyweight title?