Hey guys, it’s Psyniac. For those of you who don’t know who I am I’ve appeared on a few episodes of the podcast over the last couple of years, was once referred to as “Better Billi” and totally screwed up the outro last time I was on. Unfortunately, my lifestyle here in the UK doesn’t lend itself to appearing on the show very often but I wanted to contribute something to the website so here we are: The Steel Cage Standings! Every month I will take a look at what I call “The Good, The Bad and The NXT”: the top ten and bottom three workers on the main roster right now and a top three of WWE’s developmental show NXT. So, without any further delay….
10. Luke Harper
Luke Harper, often highlighted as the stand-out member of the Wyatt Family in-ring, has already made an impact upon his return. Like we needed any more proof he can handle himself in-ring, he has had entertaining matches with both Ziggler and Ambrose and with his new ring attire and a brand new Intercontinental Championship, things may be looking up for Harper and his creepy eyes.
09. Seth Rollins
There’s a saying that goes “when you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” Seth Rollins’ work as a heel is exactly that. It’s a shame how often people overlook how he does every faucet of the over-confident, slimy heel justice. His smug grin after cheating his way to an under-handed victory is the smuggest of all and this sits perfectly next to hiding behind Triple H, apologising for screwing with Orton and finally delivering a curb-stomp that will take him out of storyline for several weeks and anoint him the Captain of Team Authority. He may be a coward but he’s got a devastating move-set and always gets his win.
08. Rusev & Lana
Whilst I wasn’t sure on the idea of him in Team Authority at first, Rusev getting himself eliminated at Survivor Series because destroying another American pig was more important than the match made a lot of sense. Not only this but it keeps him as strong as ever and you can expect Rusev to keep his handily-won United States Championship all the way to Wrestlemania. Let’s just hope they know how to fill that time in between and it’s not just with Swagger again.
07. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose has taken a bit of a bump recently, dropping from one of the best storylines of the year (if not the best) to a program with Bray Wyatt that has really floundered trying to find it’s footing. The problem is, in wrestling and comedy alike, the wacky character trope works best if there’s a straight-man to play off of and neither of these two really represent that. The storyline isn’t over though and after a pretty decent match ending in a build to a logical TLC match it’ll be interesting to see if the two can really find that strand of story they need to really sucker people in.
06. Randy Orton
I’m guilty of ripping on Randy Orton. In fact, a lot of people are. But I really, really can’t stand him when he’s phoning it in. Remember the infamous night after Wrestlemania 29 when Orton asked Sheamus for his line on air? That’s the total reverse of what Orton gave us in the first half of November. For whatever reason Randy seemed to feel really invested in his feud with Rollins; spitting, snarling, shooting about anger management, fighting to get his hands on the turncoat who had been a thorn in his side for entirely too long. Orton had never been as legitimately over as a face as he was before he was taken out and let’s hope he returns with every bit as fervour.
05. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
Stephanie has gotten a lot of props over the past year as the spoilt brat who was born into a position of power and screams like a banshee any time something goes wrong. However, not enough has been said about Triple H’s character recently. The subtlety at which he has reacted to everything in the past month has been flawless; from his sarcastic acceptance of Vince putting their livelihood on the line to his impassioned speeches, Trips has been on fire. The crowning moment of course came as he tried to keep it together as his dream lay broken in the ring and Stephanie roared and rolled around all over it in tears.
The worst kept secret in professional wrestling history didn’t stop Survivor Series from becoming a historical event. Like many fans these days, I never got the opportunity to see Sting in his prime. This didn’t stop me from sitting on the edge of my seat as The Icon made his way into a WWE ring for the first time to stare down COO Triple H and set up what is sure to be his first match in a clip that will be shown again and again throughout the years to come. Will the match be any good? That’s up for debate. Was this a huge moment decades in the making? Without question. It’s showtime.
03. Damien Mizdow
It’s easy to forget that this his win along side The Miz at Survivor Series is actually Damien Mizdow’s first championship victory. Intentional or not (and come on now, let’s not give WWE that much credit), that should make you hate his tag partner even more because Damien will barely get to touch those belts as he parades around with his toy Tag Team Titles. From week-to-week up until this point the two have been spicing up the gimmick and staying interesting and fresh, more than what can be said about any of the other three teams WWE has right now. Mizdow is another case of something that is happening a lot recently; a character naturally getting over as a face that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. The future certainly looks bright for him but you have to wonder where he goes after this team parts ways.
After the huge pop he received at his home city show earlier in the year, Ryback’s return as a face seemed inevitable. It feels like everyone always wanted to like him more than they did and his time with Curtis Axel and becoming the amusing bully ignorant to his own hypocrisy really helped that. Taking that newer character and combining it with his original “Feed Me More” gimmick was hardly a stroke of genius but not everybody would have been able to find the perfect balance.
The degree to which The Big Guy has improved over the last year, particularly with letting his character shine through his mic work, cannot be overstated and has made for compelling television, even if it was obvious he was going to join Team Cena in the end. The balance I spoke of though was on display perfectly during this month’s last episode of Raw where he handily dealt with Mark Henry in the ring and then took his humour out into the arena to screw with Concessions Kane. Everybody together now…. “stupid!”
01. Dolph Ziggler
It would be so easy for me to make this article biased. I am a true, blue Dolph Ziggler mark. My phone knows the phrase “#THATSMYBOY” from freaking out when he wins. My ringtone was “Here to Show the World” for about a year and a half. His cash-in is still one of my favourite moments of all time. But my own slightly worrying fandom for The Showoff aside, Ziggler ended this month with a bang.
Dolph’s inclusion in Team Cena VS Team Authority was a pretty obvious place to put him. Even back a year ago when Bryan was rallying against Triple H, Dolph was one of those guys that fit into the storyline when they needed to show the heel faction’s dominance so it made sense to do it again here considering he sells like a champ. This meant he would be punished again and, speaking of champ, forced to defend his Intercontinental title multiple times. First, in a PPV-caliber triple threat on Smackdown with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro and then an out-of-nowhere loss to Luke Harper the next Monday. I wanted to believe, as always, it was because he was moving onto better things even though doubt scratched away at the back of my mind.
It seemed like the stars pretty much aligned when it came to matching up the teams and figuring out eliminations at Survivor Series. Ryback and Rusev, check. Rowan and Harper, check. Big Show swerve on Cena, check. That left Ziggler to finally ascend to lofty heights as he became the Sole Survivor after an intense 3-on-1 struggle of selling and Zig-Zags. In Vince’s eyes, Cena will always be #1 and come before everyone but Dolph may have finally made it to the coveted #2 Face spot and that makes him #1 on my list this month.
03. Los Matadores
The WWE tag team division is yet again a total mess with a grand total of, I believe, five concrete tag teams; four of which competed in different variations this month and somehow found themselves in a Fatal Four Way Tag Match for the titles. Goldust and Stardust sadly lost their spark of intrigue quickly and The Uso’s haven’t been able to do anything new with their characters at all in the last six months. But then I have to ask myself when Los Matadores were ever relevant and whether they ever will be. Spoiler: They won’t.
02. Mark Henry
So let me get this straight. Mark Henry is frustrated because he and his best friend The Big Show both failed to beat Rusev. He then turns on the Show because he got annoyed with how he was tagging himself in to matches a certain way. Suddenly, we blow over that feud because Survivor Series is coming up and he’s joining Team Authority alongside the Bulgarian Brute, the root of this problem, without any issue. They could have at least made it a begrudging partnership because Triple H promises Henry a shot at Big Show… who is now also heel. Ugh. How hard can it be to think about something three weeks in advance?
01. John Cena
Look, John Cena can make me laugh sometimes. Very occasionally, when paired up with the right guy he can have half-decent matches. At the end of the day I understand that he’s an important part of the company. This is not me being a Cena-hating smark. I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand what the hell happened to our compelling Survivor Series build. We go from a team standing together behind their Captain to Cena burying his “friends” and leaving them to get repeatedly destroyed by the entire Authority. If that wasn’t worse, Daniel Bryan appeared at the end of the month as temporary general manager, according to Michael Cole, “possibly due to John Cena’s influence”. Give me a break.
03. Tyson Kidd
I’m not really sure what the general consensus is on whether Kidd is an NXT star or WWE star but he’s been fantastic on both. I’ve been a fan of his in-ring skill for a while now but he’s really kicked it up a notch with his ridiculous douchebag gimmick. He has the attire and the attitude to pop any balloon in the NXT like a real heel should. Plus him getting in the way of Natalya’s celebration at Survivor Series? Priceless.
02. Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn is a bonafide star and it seems like his time might finally be coming. Playing the role of ultimate sympathetic underdog, Sami has put his career on the line in yet another title match with Adrian Neville at NXT Takeover R-Evolution next month; the culmination of months of story. Whilst NXT only gives you so much time and so many set-pieces to tell your story with it’s the in-ring finesse of these two that has kept the feud alive and their devotion to winning or retaining the NXT Championship that has elevated it’s importance to new heights.
01. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
I’ll be honest with you: at least 40% of the reason I wanted to start this feature was to tell you all just how much I love Enzo Amore and Big Cass. “Sawft” and “and you can’t teach that” have become household phrases in my flat and it’s wonderful to see the NXT arena come to life with it every week. Full Sail University is a completely different stage to the main roster and I’m worried that this, like a lot of NXT’s fun gimmicks, will not carry over to the main show. But for now; the music, the catchphrases and the characters of Enzo and Big Cass are regularly a highlight of NXT, terrorising the likes of the Legionnaires. Add to this the game-changing backstage segments that are framed as videos Big Cass is filming on his phone and you have the total package: even more-so with their diva-in-training Carmella to round out the group.
Post images via Tumblr.