Hello and welcome to the Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, go through the past month of WWE TV and rank the Top 5 Raw and Top 5 Smackdown superstars, Top 3 NXT superstars and then scrape the Bottom 3 in WWE from the bottom of the barrel. This month marks the first edition of the ‘Standings since the Draft and, if nothing else, it’s been a long month. With Summerslam and TakeOver Brooklyn II now behind us and all of the new belts, debuts, turns and champions with it; let’s take a look at who topped the rankings in August 2016.
RAW TOP 5:
Whilst it wasn’t the most flawless debut, it’s good to finally have Bayley on the main roster for good. After losing her NXT Women’s Championship rematch with Asuka it seemed like it was time but, then again, it’s felt like it was time on multiple occasions. So, in a non-kayfabe sense, I think we’re pleased that Bayley has finally joined the rest of her division on the main roster. With the women strangely split across both shows, Bayley is a fine addition to Raw’s somewhat lackluster division. Better yet, she’s come with a variety of aspects from her NXT gimmick (wacky waving arm inflatable tube men and hugging Foley) so it doesn’t look like her character will be neutered for Raw.
04. Nia Jax
Slow and steady wins the race and so far so good with Nia Jax’s booking. That being said, it doesn’t really feel like she’s been a part of WWE TV all that long, NXT included, but since coming up to Raw with the Draft she has looked confident, in control and like a total badass. Jax appearing sporadically is the best tact for building her character and reputation. Right now it’s fine for her to tear through randoms because it’ll make when she faces off with a real competitor actually interesting. For now though I’m happy to be terrified of her as she breaks poor jobber-ladies in half.
Much has been said about how Jericho is the master of reinvention; tweaking his character with every return just that little bit to remain interesting. He’s also pretty good at making thrown-together tag-teams actually seem like the done thing (JeriShow, anyone?). His latest series of escapades has seen him pair up with perpetual douchebag Kevin Owens to go on to cheat, lie and generally cause uproar. Oh yeah, and terrorise poor
Keith Phil Steve Tim Tom Phillips backstage. Whether or not Raw are going to go on with this path, especially with the shake up in their main title picture, is up in the air but I could see Jeri-KO running for at least a little bit longer. Separately they’re masters but together these guys have just got… “it”.
02. Brock Lesnar
Controversy is king. What happened in the final moments of Summerslam and whether or not it was supposed to happen, who knew and whatever else are all up for discussion and much discussion there has been. When mainstream media starts reporting on it, you know Vince is happy. After all, they do say that any news is good news. Strangely, they didn’t really capitalise on it in the following week and they worryingly seem to be trying to make this about the McMahon Family (but of course…) BUT whatever the case this is yet another powerful notch in Brock’s career. Whoever beats him, when we finally get there, is going to be the ultimate superstar.
01. Finn Bálor
Despite it all, he still deserves it. The build to Finn VS Seth at Summerslam was underwhelming at the best of times but the two certainly delivered on the night. Hell, even the earlier reveal of the Demon King didn’t take as much away from the event as I had expected. It was cool. What was cooler was realising the barricade powerbomb spot was followed by Bálor popping his dislocated shoulder back in and finishing the match to be crowned the first WWE Universal Champion. What a total dude. Seeing him have to step down due to injury so soon was heartbreaking but now he’s had his hands on the belt it will be very easy, and very logical, for him to return to it next year.
Smackdown Top 5
05. Dolph Ziggler
Whilst his booking has been a bigger dumpster fire than Derek’s Lana podcast, Dolph Ziggler can usually be relied on to turn things around in the ring and he’s continued his consistency into the first title defence of the post-draft WWE World title against Dean Ambrose. The lead up to the PPV was pretty intriguing, with Ziggler screaming some of his best promos in the Lunatic Fringe’s face and blurring the line between the in-ring and real world. Hell, he even managed to bring a little heel out of Dean. With him losing at Summerslam and missing out his chance to enter the Backlash main event, the future remains uncertain for Dolph but at least this month gave him back some intensity and made him a more interesting character.
04. Heath Slater
There’s definitely some comparison to be drawn between current day Heath Slater and Damien Sandow’s Mizdow gimmick leading into WM31. Starting out as a series of jokes, the crowd unexpectedly went full-force into getting behind Slater as he hopped between both Smackdown and Raw asking for a contract and usually winding up being the slapstick comic relief for his efforts. Seems like he might have a decent shot at staying on Smackdown though, with Shane and Bryan offering him a position if he can win the Tag Team Tournament with his new found friend Rhyno. Doesn’t part of you want to see him succeed?
03. Bray Wyatt
Stay with me here. Bray Wyatt’s career has surely been one of the biggest missed opportunities in the WWE over the last few years. And whilst there’s a lot of bad things we can say about the Smackdown Draft roster, at least it makes some space for Bray to finally grow a little more. He’s been featured multiple times as a contender for the World title and it looks as though he’ll be facing off against Orton next, who is definitely one of the more established stars that Wyatt has faced and had a chance of going over on. I’m not 100% hopeful, because we know what happens when it seems like Bray has a chance, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t what the writers should be doing.
02. The Miz
In ring, The Miz is a man of consistency and since adopting his Hollywood shmuck character he’s been a pretty stable part of each show. Apparently, he feels as though this (at least the former) has gone unnoticed as of late as he went on a tirade in Smackdown’s “Talkin’ Smack” post-show. Starting with how he’s never been off TV hurt, he launched into Bryan’s injury woes causing the General Manager to storm off. Work or not, it was an incredible display of intensity and, pulling it all back around to the belt, has made the Intercontinental Championship more prestigious as a result and making The Miz an even more hate-able scumbag.
01. AJ Styles
Few man have done what AJ Styles have done; become the face of a decently large federation in TNA, jump ship to NJPW to hone your craft further and finally make it to WWE when they’re practically begging for you. From one of the greatest Royal Rumble moments of all time to WrestleMania 32 to the heel-turn to the present day, it’s been a fun and incredibly surreal ride. AJ very much fits into the WWE and he’s carved himself a place. This weekend, he put his mark on things by doing something else that not everybody gets to do and that’s beat (up) John Cena clean. Styles is now rightfully #1 Contender for Ambrose’s title. Who’d have thought we’d actually have a good shot of seeing Mr TNA hold a WWE belt?
03. Curtis Axel
Gotta suck to be The Axe Man right now. He’s drafted last and dubbed “Mr Irrelevant” which is prime for at the very least a comedy gimmick. Perhaps a comedy gimmick that gets over. Sadly, Axel has been entirely forgotten about in favour of the (much more suited) Heath Slater “free agent” character. Time for another repackage or time to let it go?
02. Gallows & Anderson
I’m going to get some heat for this but this month Gallows & Anderson have been off. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great at what they do. What they do however, is not dress up as doctor’s for three weeks straight. The first time was kind of amusing I’ll admit but when they showed up on Raw in their doctor’s coats again the next week I was already totally off the boat. Luckily it seems that they’re ditching the entire thing and going full serious mode which is needed after their really stupid DQ win at Summerslam.
01. Roman Reigns & Rusev
These two are tying for first place. WWE really know how to drop the ball with Rusev, don’t they? On the lead up to this month’s PPV, Rusev defended his woman’s honour against the man who just came back from a drug suspension which is a little iffy especially considering he lost this match clean. Then at Summerslam itself the poor guy had the snot kicked out of him, the match never started and Reigns walked off looking like a total dickhead, devaluing the United States Championship in the process. With the Finn Bálor injury shaking up the next night on Raw, what I can only assume was the next step in this feud was put on hold as Reigns went back into contention for the main belt of the show as, apparently, a face. This is not how a face behaves. My brain hurts.
03. Ember Moon
NXT’s Women’s Division right now is at an awkward time. We can definitely see the progression in wrestlers such as Billie Kay, Liv Morgan and so on but after it was so stacked it’s definitely strange to see Asuka standing tall with basically zero competition. Chances are the newly-debuting Ember Moon rises to this challenge soon. She certainly seems capable, has a great look and that stunner off the top rope was a thing of beauty.
02. Bobby Roode
What happens when you take a very, very good, established talent like Bobby Roode, turn his gimmick up to 11, give him insanely OTT music and then get him over even further on Twitter with (Match of the Year candidates) Gargano and Ciampa’s #GloriousBombs? You get one hell of a debut, that’s what. NXT TakeOver Brooklyn II’s crowd was kind of all over the place but hearing 15,000 people sing “GLORIOUS” as Bobby Roode made his way to the ring via an elevated platform was… well, you know. It’s crazy to think this guy has barely been on NXT TV and he’s already incredibly over. Probably too over. Poor Cien… I guess.
01. Shinsuke Nakamura
Who didn’t love Nakamura stealing Joe’s nose on the build to Brooklyn II? C’mon. Admittedly, I don’t think Nakamura/Joe really got off the ground. It wasn’t bad at all but it wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. Again however, the hype was real and the NXT team showed their understanding of how to handle their roster. If Shinsuke debuted on Raw he would be irrelevant already, competing in fatal four ways for a mid-card belt or referencing “choppy choppy pee pee”. NXT has him coming out to a live violinist to win the NXT Championship and continuing his undefeated streak. These kinds of things will carry him to success on Raw or Smackdown. For now, Nakamura is champ and here to stay.
You can find Psyniac on Twitter at Raw is Psyniac where he tweets about Raw and Smackdown 18 hours after they’ve aired, how much he loves Carmella and, occasionally, candy.