Hello and welcome to the Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, go through the past month of WWE TV and rank the situations of the Top 10 and Bottom 3 superstars of the main roster and the Top 3 of NXT to boot. June 2016 saw the official unveiling of some long talked about things such as the Cruiserweight Classic tournament and the reveal that there will be a “brand extension” very soon. It was also the month where the Wyatts returned whilst Roman and Lawler disappeared off TV for suspension. It was also the beginning of two brand new title reigns. It was pretty wacky. Let’s get into it.
10. The Miz
Do I really need to explain this one? Because he’s the Miz and he’s awesome. But no, seriously, Miz’s occasional vignettes whilst filming The Marine V (co-starring The Social Outcasts, no less) were a great piece of heat for his smarmy, self-important character so when he finally returned to Raw it was good to see him put to use. As Corporate Kane rightfully pointed out, The Miz needs to defend his title within a certain period to keep it and we all got excited as we waited to see who it would be against. We were let down but at least Maryse saved us from it with an Emmy-deserving fake injury. Or something.
09. Becky Lynch
Better get the leather coat and face-paint ready because Becky Lynch is just one more betrayal away from being Sting. Paige, Charlotte and Natalya have all taken a cheap shot or two at the Irish Lass Kicker and I’m just happy it’s giving her something to do on TV. This last week of June she was scheduled for a match with Summer Rae but instead decided to jump over the commentary table and attack her former partner who had turned on her the previous week. It’s not exactly original but it’s fun and it’s better than letting her disappear off of the face of the Earth.
08. Sasha Banks
Staying with the Women’s Championship, this month finally saw the return of Sasha Banks; the most over woman on the main roster. It’s strange to think that she’s been there since last July, almost a full year, and it feels as though we’ve barely seen her but even so the pop she received as she strode out on Raw for the first time in months was something else. Good timing, too; Sasha VS Charlotte – the match we’ve all been waiting for and the one that seems most fitting to relieve Flair of her title – may finally be happening this summer.
07. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
It’s been a bit of a drop-off for ol’ Smacktalker Skywalker and his seven foot friend this month. After clashing in an incredibly fun four-way-tag-match for the titles it’s evident that the WWE don’t quite know what they’re doing with most of the remaining teams since Enzo and Cass went on to trade verbal blows with Bo, Axel and Slater as June drew to a close. Still, even despite all of this, they’ve fully connected with the core WWE audience and prove to be must-see watching every week, just to see what Enzo says (and wears) next. Good for them.
06. Kevin Owens (& Sami Zayn)
A slightly bittersweet month for Kevin Owens: so close and yet not quite. Also, does this man just love to fall onto ladders and die?! There’s no denying the devotion Owens has to the business and no questioning the the consistency of his character. We’re all rolling our eyes at him falling back into a singles feud with Sami, a man he has been clashing with for around four months now, but hopefully WWE do the right thing and split these guys up. It means that when we finally see them together again it will be impacted by the growth in their characters and the fact that “absence makes the heart grow stronger”. Owens this month has proven yet again that great things are just on the horizon for him.
05. AJ Styles & The Club
Is it me or does this just seem to make a little more sense? I popped for Styles’ debuting in WWE. I popped hard. Every time his music hit for weeks afterwards I was super happy to see AJ and I mean, to a degree, I still am. But his character of happy-go-lucky babyface was wearing thin pretty quick. It’s cliche to say it but AJ turning heel has given him a chance to better spread his wings and he and The Club had one of the segments this month with Styles asking his friends to apologise for attacking Big Match John. “Man, I’m sorry.”
04. The Wyatt Family
WWE was on a roll with shocks near the end of this month. The night after Wrestlemania I sort of bemoaned the video package that played on Raw announcing an incoming Wyatt Family return but was happy to be swerved by the WWE when it happened that same exact night. Strangely, the trio have gone back to playing heels when things were looking up for them as faces before they left. That being said, there isn’t a team more deserving of getting a win over the current tag team champions. Let’s hope WWE finally pull the trigger this time and let the Wyatt Family actually cause some mayhem by taking the belts and rising to power with them. Sidebar: I can’t wait for Luke Harper to come back and back this team up. Imagine these four guys sharing two belts. They could be in for one hell of a run.
03. The New Day
At first I was shocked that WWE’s creative kept the Tag Team Championship on The New Day at Money in the Bank. The engine was going to run out of steam eventually and they should be commended for making it work as long as they did but clashing with every team on the roster leaves you with very little to do afterwards. Still, letting the New Day hold them a little longer made sense twofold: they’ll soon break the record for longest reign and The Wyatt Family can offer them (and us as viewers) something we’ve never seen before. This may be the first ever “serious” feud The New Day have engaged in and with Xavier looking mighty uneasy in the presence of Bray and company, it’s definitely making for an intriguing build.
02. Seth Rollins
Think quick – how many people can say they have a win over Roman Reigns? Now how many can they say they did it clean? Seth Rollins can – twice depending on if you’re buying into his hype. And why wouldn’t you? WWE right now doesn’t seem to care who is face and who is heel in this story and I’m not all that bothered by it. Should the Shield triple threat be saved for a “bigger” event? Sure, but I can understand their impatience to get it done before something goes wrong. Regardless, Seth put on a really interesting match with Roman and surprised the world by going over clean. I have no doubt he and Dean will be able to carry the feud into Battleground without Roman.
01. Dean Ambrose
If you predicted a Seth Rollins clean win at Money in the Bank you’re probably well in the money but Dean Ambrose walking out champion was just the mind-blowing cherry on the cake. Although he narrowly failed to beat Kane’s quickest cash-in record I don’t think anyone minds. Just the idea that Dean Ambrose actually managed to finally, legitimately get his hands on the WWE title is something else entirely. It kind of felt like a dream.
So far Ambrose has been a fun champion, asking to basically fight whoever wants some and playing up to his particular audience. If nothing else, now that he’s had the belt his character has the legitimacy to get it again and again in the future. But for now he’ll be walking into Battleground to face Rollins and Reigns as “The Dude” and who could’ve seen Dean walking into a Shield triple threat with the championship? I mean, assuming he doesn’t leave it in the taxi outside the arena.
03. Titus O’Neil
He kissed his son on the mouth. I mean, if I couldn’t take him and his entire feud with Rusev seriously already… what? Alrighty.
02. Apollo Crews
Oh God, don’t make me do it. I don’t want to do it. I like Apollo but… what is happening here? Things were starting to look good for him when he was finally given a program, one with an established star like Sheamus no less, but it all kind of fell apart instantly. There was no progression going into Money in the Bank and coming out of it Sheamus has had more of an interesting time of things having a reunion and subsequent breakup with Del Rio. And what of Apollo? I guess he’s just Happy To Be Here.
01. Roman Reigns
I mean, it wasn’t going to be anyone else, was it? Roman Reigns’ entire existence in the WWE is based on two things: his family’s heritage and, more poignantly, his image. This month we learnt that to some degree his image could be fake as the now former WWE champion was suspended under the wellness policy. Whatever the circumstances, it’s frustrating to find out that WWE’s golden boy refused to play the game right when he’s only a few years into his career. The silver lining to this is that the WWE acknowledged it on TV in a way that made Reigns look like a fool. Hopefully from here on out he’ll be treated less like The Man and more like the cocky, cheating, entitled douchebag juggernaut he should’ve been from Day #1.
03. Tye Dillinger
I’m really glad Tye has been given his dues more recently, both online in IWC reactions and by the NXT higher-ups themselves. The guy has put on some great matches with people all the way up the card in the territory and has a very clear, identifiable character to boot. A weird choice it was then to have him go up against the debuting Cien Almas but I have faith in Trips and the rest of the NXT writers to course correct and figure out not to have Dillinger over-shine their new talent.
02. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura is blasting his way through the NXT roster and making a difference and he’s doing it quickly. He’s beat Zayn, he’s beat Aries and now he stands ready to face Finn Bálor. As great as a match as that’s going to be, looking further to the future sees the charismatic, eccentric nutcase Shinsuke potentially facing off against the no-nonsense, inevitable agent of destruction Samoa Joe for the NXT title. Nakamura is the hottest thing in NXT right now and judging from his work ethic and in-ring prowess we’re in for another great few months.
01. The Revival
Safe to say this was a surprise but not in any way a bad one. Whilst they’re still very young titles in the grand scheme of things, NXT’s three championships were yet to have a competitor hold them more than once. That all changed at NXT TakeOver: The End where The Revival shocked everyone by picking up a victory over American Alpha and regaining their belts. As ever the match was of high quality and as fun as Jordan and Gable are, Dash and Dawson are every bit as great to watch. And yes, I know which one Dawson is and which one is Dash.
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 Carmella and, occasionally, candy.