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. And what a month it’s been! Crazy going-ons with the likes of Hogan and Snuka as well as the passing of Piper; a dark cloud is setting on wrestling’s past. Gladly, wrestling’s present has been pretty good! Summerslam, ridiculously a four hour show, was a fun event and NXT is soaring to crazy new heights touring the country and soon the UK. So let’s recap August 2015!
10. Stardust & King Barrett
They just barely made it onto “The Good” because of all of the fun I had watching them (for what, two weeks?) outweighs the sudden dissolution of this promising duo. I was never too much into the “mad king” gimmick for Barrett but it just clicked with Stardust who dubbed him the Cosmic King and adorned him with new ridiculous attire. Backstage promos seemed to show that the two could be a really fun team so it’s a shame Barrett had to leave for the UK straight after Summerslam to shoot some terrible action movie. I doubt it, but let’s hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of these two as a unit.
09. The Wyatt Family
The Raw after Summerslam was definitely full of surprises and The Wyatt Family were at the forefront of that. After a rather disappointing build to the PPV they came swinging out of the gates the following night with the introduction of Braun Strowman. What was so fantastic about this debut was that we never saw it coming. Could the new member be Jack Swagger? Adam Rose? Is Erick Rowan due back? Maybe someone from NXT? How about someone we’ve never seen before who makes Roman look tiny? Yeah, that’ll do it.
08. Dudley Boyz
Staying on surprises, just when the rumours of a Dudley Boyz reunion had died down they hit the scene and they hit it hard, right in their home city. We were all eager for Wyatts VS Dudleyz but honestly this is far better use of them right now; pitting them against The New Day who are far and above any other contender in the tag team division. With the crowd starting to get behind them a returning incredibly-over team was needed and the Dudley Boyz were a perfect fit. It’s surreal to see them returning to the WWE in a way but not at all unwelcome. WASSUP.
07. John Cena
As I said last month I wasn’t all that interested in seeing Cena take on Rollins but the go home show contract signing was one of Cena’s best-cut promos in years. It was a believable rant on how Rollins is a terrible champion by comparison. The two put on an above average bout at Summerslam (although the two have been great all year so this was expected) and whilst the ending could have been better the result was perfect. There’s no way in hell Cena as both US and World Heavyweight champion was going to be interesting so putting him back in the hunt was the right move.
06. The Undertaker
The Undertaker is another character I was anxious about the direction of but, like many, I came around to it. The brawl at the end of July was fantastic and a good start to a build that sold me on not only Lesnar/Taker 2 but an inevitable third match down the line. Undertaker’s intentions were clear but his methods were questionable, which I found interesting. He’s just about walking the fine line of tweeners; not quite heel enough for all the casuals to get upset but clearly not the returning hero to us who watch closely. I’m one of the few people who liked the ending of their Summerslam and it sets up to a finale nicely.
05. Cesaro/Kevin Owens
Don’t make me pick. Since Owens debut he’s been an exciting addition to the roster. Sure, a Cesaro feud is a step-down but so is just about everything after going against Cena three times. His losses don’t even matter that much because of the riveting TV he’s been creating with Cesaro who now seems to be fully established as an Ambrose-level lower-main-event star. The two were second billing at last month’s pay-per-view and lived up to the hype. They then put on an equally exciting match on the last episode of Raw of the month and it sees like Owen’s two wins are good ammunition to make up for those previous losses. He’s the guy Cesaro, “the Professional”, just can’t beat. I’m incredibly into it and you should be too.
04. Sasha Banks
Last month I happily proclaimed “The Women’s Division” as my #1 on the main roster out of jubilation and excitement of what I thought was to come. Like many, I had the wool pulled over my eyes. When the smoke, and our heads, cleared what was left were three arbitrary teams having average matches every week with little to no storyline. Even now as this is beginning to get corrected at least a little bit, it’s still rocky territory. Still, Sasha has been one of the crowning jewels of this entire experience. She hasn’t lost an ounce of charisma and it’s only going to grow with more mic and ring time, which hopefully will be helped by the “we want Sasha” chants at Summerslam.
03. Seth Rollins
You know what every good heel needs? A God damn statue. And Rollins has one… or he would, if not for that pesky Sting. Rollins has been no slouch this month in continuing his storyline with Cena and him coming away with both belts, both he got by dusty wins, was an excellent image. As ever, his character is evolving and starting to butt heads with his former mentors hinting at a future face turn but for now he’s going into Night of Champions with two title matches. If this doesn’t show you what the WWE think of him, and his work rate, then consider the fact he’s going up against Sting in one of these. Rollins is the man.
02. Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman
Let’s thank our lucky stars for three things. First of all, whatever the circumstances, Lesnar’s match with Undertaker wasn’t a mess like their previous fight at Wrestlemania XXX. Secondly, the finish managed to keep Lesnar pretty strong and yet still carry on the storyline with a big, flashing question mark in the air. Thirdly, let’s all thank Paul Heyman for being Paul Heyman. Just when you think someone can’t get any better they outdo themselves. Every week leading into this, and even out of it, Heyman has used that mic in his hand to create a truly special moment.
Brock hasn’t exactly been resting on his laurels either. His face turn has been going incredibly well and he knows had to add all the little touches to make it A+. His cocky, dorky smile is a thing of beauty as a crowd chants “Suplex City” or asks him to pick up someone’s lifeless body for one more F-5. These two will go down as one of the best pairings in wrestling history, without a doubt. The only thing that makes it better is that they’re both clearly enjoying every minute.
01. The New Day
Speaking of enjoying the gimmick! Occasionally, I’m glad to be wrong and this is one of those times. Last month I cautiously said I thought The New Day would be best used to build some new face teams before getting the Tag Team Titles back themselves but every week they were one of, if not the, most entertaining part of Raw and showed that they deserved and needed those belts back ASAP.
This lead right up to the four-way tag match (which was a hell of a lot of fun) and beyond as the next night on Raw Xavier played the slide-trombone whilst Kofi and Big E serenaded New York. That’s the type of sentence I only get to write when I’m talking about wrestling. Whether they’re given the time to switch it up every night or they just take it I’m not sure but they’re doing wonders for keeping the show interesting and this goes doubly so for their feud with the Dudley Boyz who apparently don’t respect tables. Again… only in wrestling. And The New Day are making me love wrestling. AAAAYYYYY WE WANT SOME NEW DAAAAAYY.
Sting actually almost made it into the Top 10 because I’m reasonably interested in the possibility of him holding the WWE title. But at the same time, where can that program go? Will he be part-time? Does it mean he’s dropping to someone like Taker or Cena? I suppose I’m anxious. That and his promo on Raw, as good as it was, was kind of awkward when he opened with how good Triple H is. I get that he’s trying to get into Rollins’ head but there’s better ways to do it rather than “I respect Triple H”. For cheating in your fluster cluck of a Mania match? Okay. Sure. I don’t get it.
I could copy and paste in what I said about Sheamus last month and you wouldn’t even notice. It honestly takes me half a second to remember who has the Money in the Bank briefcase sometimes and it really, really shouldn’t. His matches against Orton have been fine, honestly. It’s just his lack of character and presence. The title picture is stacked right now and there’s so many better choices than Sheamus succeeding with a cash-in.
01. The Lucha Dragons
I want to like them, I really do. Or rather, I want to like Kalisto. He looks like he has serious potential sometimes then he goes and throws it out of the window with a bunch of flippy-shit moves that don’t connect. At the very least he has some energy. For months now Sin Cara has been the most half-assed entertainer I’ve ever witnessed. The tag team division is in dire need of teams and these guys, and Los Matadores, are not it.
03. Bull Dempsey
I wasn’t exactly happy with the “fat guy” gimmick Bull Dempsey suddenly adopted seemingly overnight because meanwhile Owens, of a similar build, was claiming the WWE in the name of Steen. Honestly however, the video packages warmed me to it pretty quickly. They were utterly hilarious on many levels, not least the student-film-esque quality. Bull in a silly face gimmick fills a bit of a gap on the NXT roster and so far it seems as though he fits into that role well.
02. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
I was so ready to scream my lungs out if ‘Zo and Cass hit the main roster this month that I failed to see something important. Plus, the Dudleyz was just as good of a choice. No, these two guys are leading a fantastic new movement in NXT. First it was women, now it appears to be tag teams. The go-home show of NXT showed no less than nine teams in some capacity which is pure insanity. There at the top, however, sits one of the most over teams in WWE right now. These guys are only going to get better with so much competition and vice versa so I welcome our new tag team division overlords.
I’ll let you guys in on a little secret. When I write these articles I let YouTube randomly play superstar music to me. Bayley’s theme suddenly came on and I smiled from ear-to-ear remembering all of those feelings from the past weekend when she finally got her hands on the NXT Women’s Championship in not just one of the best matches of the year but also one of the best story resolutions.
Bayley VS Sasha was one of those matches that at first it seemed obvious where things were going but everything was so perfectly told and sold that I was worried we would have a swerve on our hands or, God forbid, some kind of unplanned finish. It goes to show just how well these girls know their craft that they got out of that totally fine and I’m super excited to see Bayley with this belt, spreading even more joy than she already does. She’s a unique character and one that NXT/WWE really needs right now but Takeover Brooklyn proved she can also be one of the best in-ring workers in the company.
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.
The Steel Cage Standings – September 2015
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.