Hello and welcome to The Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, list my Top 10 and Bottom 3 Main Roster stars and Top 3 NXT stars of the WWE every month. Due to other commitments I regretfully missed the month of June but let’s take a hard look at July and see who came out on top and who is still rolling around in the proverbial mud.
With the sad news of Dusty’s passing in the rear-view mirror, it was time we saw Cody’s spaced-out super-villain back on our screens and I personally feel like they’ve handled it well. Using it as a the rocket-boots to push him to the moon, as he himself had tweeted, would have been the wrong thing to do. Instead, Stardust’s character has found it’s niche by verbally tormenting the guy that WWE has been pushing as more of a superhero, Neville. We’re yet to see them go in the ring but these are two guys who give it their all every time that the bell rings. A slow, understated build like this could be an unexpected show-stealer at Summerslam.
09. Prime Time Players
Things haven’t quite panned out for the Prime Time Players as Tag Team Champions but at least whoever is booking the show is trying. Now they’ve had more of a chance to speak; injecting their character, and fun but committed attitude back into segments, things are starting to gel a little better. You can’t say their match with The New Day at Battleground wasn’t a lot of fun. The only struggle is where to go next with their former opponents still feeling like the only real threat to PTP and the division at large.
08. The Wyatt Family
Whether you want to call them The Wyatt Family or just Wyatt and Harper, it’s exciting to see these two great workers back together. For a number of reasons the two never really found success outside of their stable even though they both have basically every tool in their belt and these past two weeks they’ve been given the chance to show it with great in-ring competitions and mic time. Wyatt explained Harper leaving and returning in a way that made all too much sense for something not pre-planned and seeing Bray get a win (albeit not all that clean) over Reigns was a much needed boost to his legitimacy.
07. The New Day
Continuing the trend of teams, The New Day have found themselves as the only really legitimate-feeling group of guys in the WWE right now. It’s typical of the company to find something getting over and dropping everybody else and not planning ahead. I’m by no means bored of The New Day I’m just not sure I want to see them fight the Prime Time Players for eternity. Kofi, Big E and Xavier prove their inventiveness, and usefulness, each week with must-watch promos and usually above average matches. They’re the kind of team that are fun to hate so, in my eyes, they be being used to build some face teams up before going back towards the titles, perhaps.
06. Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins’ character evolved yet again this past month from slimy git to headstrong slimy git as he was challenged by Triple H to slay the returning beast, Brock Lesnar. After having all of his colleagues dismantled he declared Rollins wasn’t afraid of his challenger and he actually managed to put up some decent offence against Lesnar; ducking and waving out of turmoil and looking for the correct moment to strike. The two put on a good show at Battleground and nobody looked that weak coming out of it. Rollins then went on to continue this aggressive strike by standing up to Cena and, as any good heel should, bragged about breaking the United States Champion’s nose the following Thursday afterwards on Smackdown.
05. Kevin Owens
A lot of the internet community is panicking about Owens but I don’t see the problem at all. Sure, I would have liked to see him come out of that feud with Cena with the belt and the STF he tapped out to was pretty loose, but there isn’t many places to go immediately after that. Results are often forgettable, what matters is the excitement you got from the story and matches themselves and Owens vs Cena was exciting every step of the way. Now he’s established as a heel, he’s moving on to do what heels should by helping to make a star out of a face that needs a push. How can you NOT be totally into Owens VS…
Cesaro: the internet darling. He’s been with the company a lot larger than it seems and, according to inside source’s, this what WWE regard as a last chance for him to get a solid face-push before he’s damaged goods (see: Barrett). If that’s to be believed they’re doing a good job of it by talking up how incredible he is and writing WWE.com articles about his insane levels of drive and humility. He still stumbles on the odd word but Cesaro VS Owens is one of the most exciting possible storylines right now and that’s down to the bookers letting the Swiss Superman go out there and create the kinds of matches people want to see. If things carry on this way and he beats Owens, the man who beat Cena in his first match (a fact that will never be taken away, despite the fans crying that he’s been buried) then Cesaro might finally see some light at the end of the tunnel and become the big draw he was always meant to be.
03. John Cena
I’m starting to think of 2015 as the Year of John Cena and even recent events won’t change that. Sure, his promos are still often incredibly blasé and his character hasn’t exactly had a dramatic change. What has, however, is his match quality and his place on the card. Now he isn’t being shoved in our faces as the main event he’s far more tolerable and his bouts have been more often than not been the mid-event show-stealer. This has continued with three great matches with Owens and TWO Match of the Year quality fights with Cesaro. I’m not sure about going into a feud with Rollins but we’ll see what happens to that if John has to take time off for his broken nose. Knowing Cena he’ll be back before you can blink.
02. Brock Lesnar
Man, I love Lesnar. How can you not love Lesnar? Lesnar is fun. His imminent return was always on the horizon but now it’s hard to remember the months he was away. The best part about Lesnar’s organic face-turn has been the fact his character really hasn’t changed. He’s kicked ass, taken names and smashed up J&J’s cadillac, except now he gets to soak up even more cheers as he wreaks havoc. Where we go from here is a little questionable, I had my reservations about a rematch with ‘Taker and still do, but I’m already more interested after their insane brawl on Raw where they shouted to each other: “I’ll kill you” and “you’re going to have to”. Whatever happens, be it Undertaker getting his revenge or Lesnar handing the Dead Man another loss and he moves onto his last couple of opponents before retirement, it’s going to be a fun build and fun match because Lesnar is fun.
01. The Women’s Division
In my last Steel Cage Standings (May 2015) I pointed out the bad shape of the Diva’s Division: that stories were a mess, turns didn’t make sense, matches were rushed and how it was always the same names and any that appeared outside of that were usually gone very quickly. It’s a testament to how much something can change so fast. Sure, the story right now is a bit non-existent because of the arbitrary teams and turns go hand-in-hand with that but the debut of Charlotte, Sasha and Becky have meant that the matches are must-see segments, usually more than once per episode of Raw.
The best part about the sudden debut of these three stars is that they didn’t eclipse the current talent. We now have twelve women competing for air-time and most of them are above average performers. I’m so happy to see people like Alicia and Naomi being used rather than forgotten about and the broader range means Paige and The Bella Twins haven’t been the only women on TV. It’s really turned the division into just that – a division. And a really, really good one. RIP boring diva’s era. I’m all in on exciting, exhilarating women’s wrestling.
I don’t know if I would say Sheamus has been doing “bad” work as such but it’s treading water at it’s worse. He’s still a fine enough heel but there isn’t a single spark of interest in his, for some reason, continuing feud with Randy Orton. Sure, the match at Battleground was actually pretty entertaining but it’s hard to care about the outcome. Not only that but Sheamus having the Money in the Bank briefcase is a very forgettable fact and it could be used to elevate a star in a storyline that isn’t desperately cold.
02. King Barrett
Who even knows what’s happening here. I, like many, thought his story with R-Truth was over but it’s gone on and on. Even after their pre-show match as a “fight for the crown” I’m still not convinced that we’ve seen the last of this. Remind me to never have faith in Barrett’s booking again. He’s doing what he can with the King gimmick but it’s hard to be interested in it at all. I don’t know what else to say that isn’t repeating myself at this point. A shame.
01. Lana, Dolph Ziggler, Rusev & Summer Rae
First of all I’d like to point out that Rusev is the shining star in this turd of a story: he’s had some great (usually unrelated) matches and has been surprisingly funny week after week. It’s aggravating then that’s he’s been mired with this confusing, generic feud. Ziggler isn’t even on TV right now, selling an injury (and filming a movie) so it’s fallen to Lana to pick up the pieces. Of course she’s very capable – when she’s not handed garbage. What happened to the powerful, intimidating strong woman we used to see? And how can we get her back?
03. Jason Jordan & Chad Gable
I’m not ashamed to say this is one of my favourite current storylines in WWE. Jason Jordan being constantly berated by Chad Gable about a tag-team opportunity before he finally caved and gave him a shot to two great success. They definitely have the potential to go places, especially with Chad bringing out some more charisma from Jordan. I’m ready, willing and Gable to keep a close eye on this team.
02. The Vaudevillians
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one surprised that the Vaudevillians won a #1 Contendership against Blake & Murphy, especially with the Brooklyn show on the horizon which would have been perfect for Amore & Cass. Admittedly those two have been in contention for the belts for far too long so it’s been a breath of fresh air to see a new team take on the challenge. The face-turn of the Vaudevillians has been pretty well received, as it should, and if they don’t win the titles in the future it’ll be interesting to see where else they go with this new alignment.
01. Finn Bálor
It was pretty clear that Bálor’s return “home” to Japan would result in him winning the NXT Championship from Owens at Beast in the East but nobody could quite predict just how good the match would be (thanks also in part to interesting commentary and a respectful crowd). Owens disrespecting the traditions of Japanese wrestling events beforehand made it all the sweeter when Finn pinned him for the three-count to raucous applause. He’s absolutely the best fit as a champion right now being the most complete package of NXT and I’m sure he’s got dozens upon dozens of confrontations like that ahead of him. Long live the demon.
You can find Psyniac on Twitter at Raw is Psyniac where he tweets about Raw 18 hours after it’s aired, how much he loves Finn Bálor and makes too many Simpsons references.