Hello and welcome to another edition of The Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, rank the Top 10 and Bottom 3 in WWE and Top 3 of the developmental program NXT. Before we get into it I wanted to remind everyone that earlier this week I posted a video game review of WWF WrestleMania Challenge for the NES so if you want to get nostalgic click here. But now, let’s talk about the month of September 2015 in WWE and see where everybody falls.
10. Roman Reigns
This is another month where my number ten is a bit wishy-washy. Reigns has definitely improved since being kept away from the WWE title and especially in recent months. It’s pretty easy to figure out it was about comfort with him however since he always seems much more tolerable when also in the presence of Ambrose. In recent weeks it seems his feud with the Wyatt Family has started to shrink back down to a one-on-one direction. His last few promos have been pretty good and Bray and himself brawling rather than wrestling has been entertaining. The feud should be over at this point but it doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy what appears to be setting itself up as a Hell in a Cell match.
09. The Cosmic Wasteland
It was too good to be true and Stardust and Mad King Barrett ended before it had really begun. The silver lining of this however was that it seems someone in the back realised the potential of Stardust in a team-based role and found the perfect lackeys for him. The Ascension have been milling around the main roster pretty much since they arrived but somehow it was the perfect fit we never thought of. I love the fact Stardust used Victor as a means to an end in their Night of Champions match and they seem to just click perfectly. They aren’t being given nearly enough TV time to develop however, but hopefully someone realises this and gets it sorted out ASAP.
08. John Cena
John Cena is such a heel, and such a troll. Well, not really but the booking was pretty perfect for Night of Champions. I mean, it was obvious that Rollins would have to defend both titles but the set-up to be against two future Hall-of-Famers, intentional or not, worked out splendidly. In terms of the match itself, Cena and Rollins delivered an incredible throw-back match. Cena is often criticised for his bouts just being a long line of finishing moves (see his Twice in a Lifetime matches with The Rock) but this one was as far away from that as possible. Also, on the final Raw of the month he couldn’t help but laugh at Xavier Woods and sometimes corpsing is endearing.
Let’s be true to ourselves: that Diva’s match at Night of Champions was worthless. I didn’t detest the booking to get there like most people (although that beat-the-clock challenge can die in a fire) because I knew there was no way Nikki wasn’t beating AJ Lee’s record. But the match at the pay-per-view was a incredibly boring and one-sided for a match that was given so much time. Still, Charlotte has the belt and it’s nice to see a new Diva’s Champion. Bonus: she keeps using the phrase “face me like a woman” and this is a very good, positive thing.
06. The Wyatt Family
Cautious. I think we’re all a little cautious about Braun Strowman. He’s been great, no doubt about it. He’s huge, terrifying and his promos are just the right amount of ridiculous. But the way he’s being pushed may result in a glass ceiling pretty quickly. He’s spent the past month decimating guys, often two at once, and a lot of these monster heels lose and lose again after they get toppled the first time. In terms of the rest of the Family, it turns out all they needed to do to make their promos a bit more exciting again was add some creepy background noise because that’s oddly done wonders.
Two weeks ago Paige laid waste to the Diva’s Division and this ridiculous team dynamic with an excellently cut and executed promo. It’s a shame that the momentum of that kind of dropped dead this week when she was forced into a six Diva’s tag match, but whatever. That point hopefully represents the beginning of the end of this whole PCB/Bella/B.A.D nonsense although the last of those three has been bizarrely absent recently.
04. Kevin Owens
It’s a shame that Owens/Cesaro didn’t spiral into something even bigger but at least one of them moved onto something (feels like they left Cesaro at an arena somewhere). Owens is now the Intercontinental Champ and few things are sweeter. Being the great workhorse and mouthpiece he is he really suits the title and hopefully a long reign will make the belt more worthwhile again since he wants to keep it because it’s “more money for his family”. My Ryback fandom comes and goes but Owens has totally dwarfed The Big Guy in every way. He’s the champ we need AND we deserve.
03. Seth Rollins
Last month I talked about the seeds being planted for Rollins’ face turn and this month it seems that they continue. Who knows what the result of the Sting match was supposed to be but whatever the case a roll-up is a pretty clean win. Now he’s being haunted by Kane and they’re both sort of just coming off as fun characters rather than “good guy VS bad guy”. But out of kayfabe, Seth did all he could to protect Sting in his match and that was evident. Post-match he reportedly apologised profusely to the Icon and sat and talked with him for 15 minutes about what the match meant to him. Good guy Rollins indeed.
Speaking of Kane, I always knew he had an entertaining side but it had been so long since we saw it. The last time Kane was really genuinely fun was back in his Team Hell No (come on now, it’s still Team Friendship to me, dammit) days with Daniel Bryan so it’s no surprising that his new gimmick is working out well. It’s kind of a rip-off of the whole Joseph Park/Abyss angle, sure but the difference is in just how funny it is seeing Kane turn on a dime or being unintentionally terrifying.
It’s not perfect. A longer time between changes probably would suit it better since now they have something like three more weeks to figure out to incorporate both Corporate (that was entirely unintentional) and Demon Kane into every episode of Raw. I’m still not convinced it’ll be entertaining the whole way but so far I’ve been surprised with what is clearly just a holding feud for now. This reminds me that I am, in fact, a Kaninite.
01. The New Day
This may be the first time those in the number one spot haven’t moved but it remains true that The New Day are the highlight of every show that they’re on. You know you’ve made it when the guys who are running the place are desperately trying to shoe-horn in a moment to interact with you. I’m looking at you, Triple H, and your awful, awful, awful white guy dance moves. Now compare to them to doing Rusev’s introduction ceremony and playing his theme on the trombone… that was pure gold.
Not only that but the guys followed up the likes of Roddy Piper and pals on the new show Table for 3 that showed they’re really living and loving their characters. Xavier challenging for the US title at the end of the month also opens up some pretty interesting possibilities for them down the road and it showed that, whilst he is a fantastic whiner, Woods can really go in-ring too. The New Day VS The Dudley Boyz II is basically the only rematch on the Go To Hell card worth anything although I’m fairly certain it doesn’t end there. The New Day at this point, it seems, can do no wrong.
Three things. Number one: Sheamus is facing Orton again on Saturday. Yes it’s a house show but come on. Number two: THIS guy has the briefcase. Has he even been on Raw since NOC? And number three: this is the third month Sheamus is in “the bad”. I’m done writing about it.
02. Big Show
Weeeeelll… yeah, I get it. Show pinned Lesnar 13 years ago. But that’s just it, it was over a decade ago. If he was relevant and genuinely strong (in kayfabe) now I’d be a little more interested but to me he always be big, New Year’s baby Big Show. His push has come out of nowhere; knocking out the likes of Cesaro and chowing down on faces as the commentary tries to put over he’s a credible threat against the guy who’s about to face Taker for the third time. Yeah, right. Okay.
As someone who never got to see much of WCW, I tried so hard to like Sting in the WWE. Following Mania I heard everyone say his match with Triple H was terrible and I probably wasn’t paying close enough attention because it seemed fine to me? As such, I always intrigued by the idea of him winning the title just to get cashed in on but not five minutes into the match I changed my mind. Of course, what he did for a 56 year old man was impressive. It was also reckless and stupid. It wasn’t fun to watch. Now, because of injury, who even knows if he’s coming back?
Scarcely is a champ returning to their show more memorable than this. The overly ecstatic Bayley super-fan, whom we now know to be Izzy, was always going to get over from her screen-time the last few months and NXT correctly acted upon it; giving the kid an incredible memory and showing just how important Bayley is to that demographic. Back this up with Sasha’s rematch clause, the on-air admission that their previous match was phenomenal and the announcement that WWE’s 10th ever Iron Man match would be an Iron Woman and the hype train is already leaving the station.
02. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa
The smarks are going to throw bricks at me for this but Gargano and Ciampa’s names together sound like chewing bricks. Gladly, their in-ring work is fast, fluid and fun and from checking out clips of them working the indies (am I forgiven yet, smarks?) I can say we’ve got a lot more good stuff coming from these guys. Not only that but they represent another wave of new, incredibly smart signings from the WWE. As a lot of you have said to me recently, NXT is a little weak right now with stars being injured or moving up so it’s time to start introducing the next generation.
01. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan
I probably shouldn’t be but I’m pulling pretty hard for these guys to win the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament because they’re entertaining as hell. Like I said two months ago, they have a tonne of potential and they’re using that screen-time wisely, clicking perfectly. Gable is bringing out a bit more charisma in his otherwise stoney partner and their ring-work compliments each other well. With their cocky try-hard heel attitude they could do wonders in feuds against the likes of Enzo & Cass, the Hype Brothers and maybe even in contention for the Tag Titles with The Vaudevillians.
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, occasionally, candy.