My goodness, it's been a while since I've done one of these rankings. Matter of fact, it's been a while since I've written anything at all. Every time I came up with an idea, I figured I'd save it for the podcast. However, in celebration of the launch of DDTpod.com, let's get back on the horse, shall we?
If you've perused the archives, you know how this works, although I'm tweaking it a bit. Rather than judging based on potential or overall performance, this is now a completely biased and subjective list. This is MY top ten. I encourage you to stop by the forums or, perhaps, write an article yourself in which you give us your own personal rankings.
Finn Balor is not included in this list and neither is Bayley. If you're a podcast listener, you know why this is. I enjoy Bayley's work, though the underdog gimmick is wearing a bit thin with me. As for Balor. . . Oh, Finn, you are floundering right now. He needs the Balor Club far more than NXT or WWE does.
Number Ten - The Vaudevillains
Aiden English and Simon Gotch have been part of my top ten rankings since the beginning of my writing career, and that is NOT a good thing. That means it's been almost two full years with them in NXT, and they still don't seem to be any closer to the main roster than they were previously. While the WWE tag division could use some young blood, there are other teams who are going to get there before them.
Number Nine - Baron Corbin
Baron and I have a rocky history. I liked him a lot when he first made his debut but immediately realized what NXT was doing - accentuating his strengths and hiding his many weaknesses. My enjoyment quickly turned to utter disdain for Mr. "Tall and Terrible", and it would have remained that way forever had he not told Apollo Crews (not on this list until they give him something to do besides "Smiling African American") to go back to Ring of Honor.
Since then, Corbin has found his place in the wrestling world, as the "Anti-Indie" guy, and it really works for him.
Number Eight - Santana Garrett
Remember when we all worried about the future of the NXT women's division once Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch all got called up to the main roster? How we worried that it would just be "Bayley and Friends?" Or maybe that was just me.
Either way, NXT has a very talented crop of young female wrestlers all just waiting for their chance to shine. I could have picked Billie Kay or Peyton Royce to take this spot, but Miss Garrett has been on TV more frequently and has impressed me each time with her in-ring chops. I don't think she'll wind up being the female member of the Wyatt Family (as her Twitter feed creepily alluded to some months ago), but I do think she's going to have a successful career in WWE.
Number Seven - Enzo and Cass
I debated leaving these two off of the rankings, since the writing is so evidently on the wall that they'll be joining WWE following Wrestlemania. The only reason they stayed is because of the significant improvements they have made, both in the ring and on the mic. I know you're saying, "DC, Enzo is a microphone maestro!", and you're not wrong. But they didn't kick it into high gear until they got very serious with The Revival, and that's when I began taking them seriously as main roster candidates.
Here's the thing, though - Carmella needs to stay in NXT.
Unless they are going to make her solely a manager / valet, I don't think she's ready to be part of the Diva's Division. Keep her at Full Sail for a few months, let her only be a wrestler, THEN bring her up sometime in late summer. Sending Carmella to WWE before that only hurts her in the long run.
Number Six - Samoa Joe
The number one contender and, seemingly, obvious next NXT champion certainly impressed with his marathon performance in that two out of three falls match against Sami Zayn (not ranked because he's already a main roster guy). NXT would benefit from Samoa Joe being the dominant champion for much of 2016, building up new stars just by deciding to step into the ring with them. NXT is going to need some time to get the next level of main event singles stars ready for prime time. Joe helps with that.
Number Five - Tye Dillinger
The Perfect 10 is Number 5 for me, even though I know what's coming. There's going to be a problem in NXT in the near future - With all of the new talents coming in at an almost alarming rate (How long until Bobby Roode and Eric Young sign with WWE - two weeks? Maybe three?), guys like Dillinger, who have been in the developmental system for YEARS now, are going to get pushed back down the totem pole.
It's a shame. This guy finally finds a gimmick that works and is likely not going to get to capitalize on it because Shinsuke Nakamura, Austin Aries (both not listed until they have their first match) and others will be in the way. I get why it's inevitable, but I'm sad for the Perfect 10.
Number Four - Eva Marie and Nia Jax
Hate on it all you want, folks, but these two are doing an excellent job filling the void left in the women's division. Dana Brooke and Emma weren't going to cut it as main event level heels, but between Nia's intimidating look and Eva's star power (I don't want to hear it- She is a STAR), they've made things very interesting for Bayley and friends.
Plus, they have planted the seeds for a split at some point, with Nia Jax becoming a face to replace Bayley or another female not yet mentioned who will probably be WWE bound by the end of the year.
Deal with it - Eva and Nia are great.
Number Three - The Revival
Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson (he's the bald one) might not be the flashiest tag team as they walk to the ring or when they pick up a mic, but between those ropes, they are everything you should like about tag team wrestling. Go back and watch some of their matches. Notice how they actually do all of the things you're supposed to do as a tag team - Cutting the ring in half to isolate an opponent, working over a single body part, latching on to it when making a tag, to keep the fresh partner from getting involved. Their new name is appropriate. They could be part of a REVIVAL of tag team wrestling in WWE, and I can't wait.
I want one of their jackets personalized just for me. Make it happen, NAIborhood!
Number Two - Asuka
Do I really need to say anything here? She might not win the NXT Women's title at Takeover (Still not sure Bayley gets the call-up yet), but it's only a matter of time before she wins it. We could see 2016 being the year that the NXT Champions (Joe and Asuka, along with whomever the tag champs might be) absolutely dominate the competition, waiting for challengers worth fighting. I'd be very OK with this notion.
Number One - American Alpha
Could there have been another choice? I don't think so. I might take umbrage with the recent formulaic pattern of their tag matches but without question, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are my favorite wrestlers in NXT, and among my favorites in the world right now. Jordan's suplexes might just be better than Brock Lesnar's and truthfully, I don't think there's anything that Chad Gable can't do.
Oddly, though, I don't need them winning the tag titles at Takeover. I want this Alpha / Revival feud to last a good long time, well into the summer. These guys are going to set the world on fire if they get the chance, and I can't wait to see it.
So there you have it, folks, the first NXT Top Ten of the DDTpod Era. Comment below and let me know how wrong I am.
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.