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The PEN15 Mightier (June 12-14) No Way Out Thoughts [plus Rank 'Em Up]
By pen15
Jun 14, 2012 - 6:14:14 PM

June 14 - No Way Out Thoughts

June 12 - Rank 'Em Up

No Way Out thoughts

“Brock is back, let’s have him lose to Cena.”

“Awesome idea, we can let that go for a few shows.”

“No, let’s end it with Brock losing, and then walking away, while Cena continues onto the uninteresting GM.”

“Oh… ok. So, he’ll wrestle one of Johnny’s henchmen for a huge PPV battle?”

“No, he’ll face Johnny in the main event of the entire card.”

“Oh… ok, and Cena rids the WWE of Laurinaitus?”

“No, we’ll book Big Show in an obvious heel turn to save Johnny.”

“Oh… even after Big Show was fired and made to cry on TV by Johnny?”

“That’s right.”

“Oh… ok. So what about the WWE Champion?”

“That’s right! John Cena vs Big Show in a steel cage main event at No Way Out!”

“No, I asked about-“

“Yes, let’s blow John Cena for saving us in our time of need.”

I’ll never join the ranks hating John Cena, but it’s odd how much he’s been put front and center recently. It’s like WWE is depending on him to save the ratings and buyrates for their lack of creativity. His feuds and angles have been putrid since the build up to the Rock at Mania 28.

Coincidentally, there’s no pretending that my devotion to WWE has been lacking recently. Honestly, it feels like for too long their PPVs have come and gone, and I barely think of them as required viewing. I was on vacation while Over the Limit took place, so I guess it’s understandable that I wasn’t caught up in the excitement. But the blame lies squarely on WWE for how poorly they’ve been developing their storylines since WrestleMania, with or without Cena involved. Every angle has been seemingly had the rug pulled out from under it in some way. When things heat up, WWE finds a way to cool it off. Meanwhile, the things that are ACTUALLY working are kept in a lower profile. This is a continuation of WWE’s mistake of thinking Big Johnny is a character worth developing an angle around. It also is their mistake in overrating Cena’s value to shine up a turd. Sorry, he may be their best performer, but he can’t fix a shitty angle on his own.

On a somewhat of a side note, last November I attended a Smackdown house show here in Halifax. I purchased a WWE cup similar to the large collectible ones found at the movie theaters. It has 16 superstars on it. Today, only 7 of them are on the active roster. Of the 5 in the top profile (Rey, Orton, Cena, Taker, HHH), only 1 of them is still working. I think it goes to show how poorly the WWE has been using their talent, and PPVs are suffering due to the poor hype. It’s like they used all their 2012 creativity to make Mania 28 happen, and have been coasting since. Not everything is terrible, but not enough of it makes up for the complete shit I am watching on a weekly basis. Let’s look at the top 3 matches on this card closer, almost with a microscope. There is a bright side to it.

Cena vs Show

Thankfully, Big Show makes a damn interesting heel giant. It’s hard to think of too many giants who have the microphone abilities of Big Show. And while he’s been the dominant bully before, he’s luckily added a new weapon to his arsenal since then: The WMD. It might seem minor, but we should all appreciate any finishing move that can be struck out of nowhere and finish the match. There’s a reason Sweet Chin Music worked so well. Sure, it could be done with a build up, but it was always even more amazing when sudden. Same with the Stunner, and the RKO/Diamond Cutter. The WMD is a legit move that makes so much sense, it’s a shame it wasn’t used before. But there’s no one more perfect to use it than a 7 foot giant.

Now as for the match itself, it’s been surrounded by Big Johnny and now Vinny Mac. And it’s been gimmicked with a steel cage. And it’s with the stipulation that whoever loses, someone will be fired. It will no doubt main event the event, because it is the biggest storyline in WWE today.

But should it be?

It is by default, because it involves Cena. And it involves the owner and GM. But is the story itself all that interesting? It’s basically being sold as the sum of all the parts, but it’s even less than that. Again, the idea of Laurinaitus being fired isn’t interesting because he’s a subpar on air character. John Cena being fired has already been done with the Nexus (and lasted 2-3 weeks).

So what’s the point? A cliffhanger we’ve seen already, or one that is of no interest for me? I’m sure the match will be decent (though not better than Cena vs Brock was), but Cena hasn’t been performing for the in ring purpose for almost a year. He’s been a pure storyteller for the angles surrounding him. And when the angles suck, why should we care? Even if he is the best at it?

So, while the Big Show heel turn and push is helping bring this PPV to a higher level than Over The Limit in terms of interest, it’s still going to pale to the potential of the roster WWE has today.

Punk vs Kane vs Bryan

This has obviously been thrown together at the last minute, but goddamn has it been working. AJ deserves a lot of credit for her acting ability in the middle of these 3, and we are getting awesome work from the wrestlers as expected. In fact, the angle is much more impressive than it has any right of being with the sudden addition of Kane to this pure wrestling angle between great in ring performers. It will no doubt be standard WWE Triple Threat fare in terms of delivering a decent-to-great match, but oddly enough, it’s the story that’s captivating. AJ could side with any of the three competitors to give them the WWE Title. It makes the match a lot more unpredictable, and even more interesting going forward. I’m assuming the future for Punk involves another match with Bryan, but I could be wrong. In any case, this should be an entertaining match, with an even better storyline to go with it. Too bad it’s playing second fiddle to McMahon/Laurinaitus.

Sheamus vs Ziggler

Match of the night. Hands down. I know that most will claim that with Punk and Bryan against each other, there’s no way another match will steal the show. How easily we forget how often Triple Threat matches stick to a blueprint in WWE. It honestly seems that the less WWE gets their hands involved in the feud/match/build, the better the match. There’s no pressure on Sheamus or Ziggler to do anything in their match but wrestle at their best. Cena/Show need to act out their emotions and incorporate non-wrestlers into their storytelling, while the Triple Threat Match has the confines of WWE standards as well as the AJ storyline. Meanwhile, the World Heavyweight Title has zero build up. Unless there’s a screwy finish booked, we are going to get a solid match from 2 of WWE’s top performers. Ziggler will sell Sheamus’ offense like death, while Ziggler himself impresses as usual. I hope that with the suspensions and injuries, WWE lets them have 20 minutes to work and establish themselves. Ziggler can come out looking golden, even in a loss. And while that’s how I would assume they’ll go (riding the Sheamus train a bit longer), I don’t think it’s out of the question to rush a Ziggler win to make up for the lack of stars. Ziggler would be a tremendous heel champion in a Shawn Michaels heel sort of way. BUT, I am truly leaning towards turning him face in the near future.

And on that note, peace out.

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

Rank ‘Em Up

Thanks to the internet, I’ve not purchased a copy of “The Wrestler” or “Pro Wrestling Illustrated” in several years. I enjoyed them in the 90s when I was a teenager, as they showcased a different side of things that my subscriptions to WWF Raw Magazine could never allow. While the pictorials of Sunny and Marlena helped me out in one teenage regard, I was looking for a side of the story that wasn’t as kayfabe oriented.

One of the things I always enjoyed from the dirtsheet style magazines was how they ranked the WWF/WCW/ECW fighters in their divisions. It was almost as kayfabe as the WWF publication, but it still opened up my eyes to how others looked into the world of wrestling, and was a big step into leading me to the Internet Wrestling Community.

Today, I’m going to try to develop my own rankings for the WWE. It’ll be very difficult considering the brand split (or lack of one) and minimal tag team division. It’s also going to be a bit more detailed and divided than the Power 25 on wwe.com. I’m not expecting this to be a regular piece, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while.

Tag Team Championships

Let’s start with the easy one, shall we?

1. Kofi Kingston + R-Truth [champions]
2. Prime Time Players (Titus O’Neil + Darren Young)
3. Epico + Primo
4. Usos
5. Hawkins + Reks

I chose not to include Tyson Kidd + Justin Gabriel or Ezekial Jackson + Great Khali since they haven’t really had any TV appearances as a team. I’m not counting NXT, though I do feel it has been a great training ground for the current tag division. 3 of the teams in the top 5 have lots of NXT experience, and certainly led to their ascent. But until Gabriel/Kidd team up again after the South African’s injury, or Khali/Zeke appear on Smackdown, I can’t accept them for my rankings.

There’s also the recent challengers Swagger/Ziggler missing. That’s because they haven’t been pushed as a team since that PPV loss.

United States Championship

I’ve decided to split the brands for the midcard titles. As the US title is based on the Raw brand, I’ll use only the Raw roster.

1. Santino Marella [US Champion]
2. The Miz
3. Jack Swagger
4. Zack Ryder
5. David Otunga

While I’d say that the Intercontinental Title is a much more valuable title than the US (because the IC champion is of a higher value than the US), the Raw midcard is much more competitive than on Smackdown.

Miz is in an odd position with a major losing streak, with a loss to the US Champ to included. Add the losses to even lower on the card Brodus Clay, and Miz is only hanging on to his spot as #2 thanks to being a former WWE Champion.

Swagger uses his former glory to stay included as well. Former US and World Champion keeps credibility as #3. He has the room to move up with the apparent split from Ziggler. Even in a loss to Dolph, Swagger can gain position from merely regaining some singles legitimacy.

Zack Ryder doesn’t have too many key victories at this time, but his US championship run, and title loss that was never really avenged leaves him in the hunt. He’s also very over, no matter how many victories he lacks. It wouldn’t take much to get him to move up in the division.

David Otunga is sadly the best opponent for Santino, but that’s because Santino is not really a threat. Like Otunga. Still, he’s not above the other 4, so he rounds out the top 5.

Something I’ve just noticed is how little credibility the current midcard has on Raw. Each of the 5 stars mentioned have big losses on their records to guys above them on the card. It shows how poorly developed the midcard is. As we are about to see on Smackdown, the only midcarders with positive momentum are those who are angle-less and on debuting winning streaks.

Intercontinental Championship

If the US title is Raw only, then IC is SD only.

1. Christian [Intercontinental Champion]
2. Cody Rhodes
3. Brodus Clay
4. Sin Cara
5. Ryback

Obviously, this is a much different looking division than on Raw. While the champ is a veteran, the other top 4 stars are relative rookies in WWE. Cody Rhodes has the most experience, and is perfect as champ or top IC contender. With big time victories over Booker T, Rey Mysterio, and Big Show over the last year, he’s one of the few midcarders with credibility without being a debuting star on an impressive winning streak. I expect him to take the gold back from Christian, because there’s no doubt that there are more contenders on the face side of Smackdown than heels. Cody makes sense to defend against the other 4.

Rounding out the bottom 3 are stars who are being fed fodder in squash victories. Brodus Clay seems to have the made the biggest impression, most likely due to the quality of opponents he’s defeated. While he took a beating from Big Show, he most recently carved up The Miz, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler en route to victory. He will be given something special to do on Smackdown, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up with an Intercontinental Title shot.

Sin Cara debuted last year, but after returning to injury, it is obvious WWE is showcasing him with style. His victorious ways have been shown on Raw and Smackdown against higher quality opponents than most squashes. He never really went on a roll last year, so expect him to be given something concrete to work with in the near future. Like Brodus, this could be midcard gold.

Ryback is my favorite guy to watch these days. His domination is entertaining on a level I’ve not seen in years. But, while I think he should be higher on rankings, he has yet to win over anyone of importance. It won’t take much to lift him up the ladder, but for now, he’s #5.

WWE/World Championship

With the brand split no longer in place for the main event titles, I figure I’ll do a top 10 of the entire main event division. I’ll exclude Jericho and Orton due to their current suspensions.

1. CM Punk [WWE Champion]
2. John Cena
3. Big Show
4. Sheamus [World Champion]
5. Daniel Bryan
6. Kane
7. Tensai
8. Dolph Ziggler
9. Christian
10. Cody Rhodes

I think most of this speaks for itself. While Cena has been in the main event of most PPVs and Raws over the last year, CM Punk is the one on the roll. Cena has some big time losses, while Punk has been winning on a regular basis. Sure, TV losses to Tensai and others might seem like a bad thing, but they are forgettable next to wins on PPV against Jericho and Bryan, along with the Chamber survival. Plus, he’s the one with big title victories over John Cena in the past year. No question who’s earned the top spot.

Cena on the other hand, it’s been a tough break for him. He gets top billing, but it’s not exactly with a strong win/loss record. He’s been outside of the title hunt for such a long time, yet we still think of him as perennial true champion. That’s not the case. He’s dropped from that spot. Punk has earned it. It doesn’t make Punk the top guy in the company, or rather the face of the company. But it’s like when Macho Man was WWF Champion. Hulk was still the face of the company. Hulk was always within title contention while in the Mega Powers. Same here, as Cena is never too far off from a shot.

Big Show is at #3 without any big victories. It’s all about momentum. Plus, it’s been on Raw. He’s been on a hell of a roll as a beast. Big Show has had heel turns before where he returns to being a bully. Thankfully, this time is on a higher level due to it being against John Cena. Show was tremendous as the heel ECW champ, plus when he took the WWE Title from Brock in 2002. This isn’t all too different, but it’s on a bigger playing field. That’s why, even without a title involved, or a victory over Cena, he’s still higher up the card than the World Champion on Smackdown.

Sheamus has been impressive as World champion. Unfortunately for him, it’s been in the shadow of other talents. Not just because he’s on Smackdown and playing second fiddle to Raw, but because he’s under Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan in terms of relevancy. Unlike on Raw where Punk is #1 behind top star Cena, Sheamus hasn’t been equally pushed as the WWE Champion. Starting with a weak title victory at WrestleMania, and then looking like the much less interesting than the man he defeated for the gold. Since, he’s been doing much better, and has earned a spot at #4. Sadly, his competition can’t say the same, and in return it brings his star power down.

Daniel Bryan was so ****ing impressive as World Champion that the crowd turned against Sheamus when the Irishman took the title. It was odd. Sheamus isn’t John Cena. He hasn’t been overpushed for too long, or shoved down our throats. In fact, credit must be given to WWE for keeping Sheamus credible and interesting without overbooking him. But while they spent so much time working with Sheamus, and grooming him as top dog, Daniel Bryan stole the show with a masterful heel performance as champion. It was so masterful that he has since been moved to contend with the WWE Title on Raw against CM Punk. And he’s looked great doing it. He earned this spot, and I hope it continues.

At No Way Out, we’ll see CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan… vs Kane? Of course, it was out of nowhere. But Kane is exactly the type of opponent both the indy darlings need. CM Punk has not had a big victory over an opponent much larger than he is, and Bryan’s entire World Title run was based off working against giants. Kane has been well used since returning against Cena. While he’s not steam rolled over everyone, he’s been kept at a tremendous level with great competition. He might end up being the fall guy, but he will do it with gusto.

Tensai lost for the first time last week on Raw, after victories over Cena and Punk in the last 2 months. He’s a victim of WWE’s post-Mania debut pushes. Only so many guys can be interesting with only squash matches. He was in the same position as Ryback, Brodus, and now Sin Cara in terms of being without any direction other than winning over scrubs. To break up the tedium, he was pushed as a main event threat, and earned TV victories over the top 2 guys on Raw. Since then, it seems WWE sees the error in their ways. Giving him a new gimmick that hampers his abilities, and pushing him over the Raw stronghold without any real build up only left fans confused. Intrigued, but not interested. He’s since lost to Cena, and is again without direction. Thankfully there’s enough propulsion in his push to give him a real shot at WWE gold. We’ll see if WWE follows through.

Dolph Ziggler is included by default really. It’s hard to figure out where he’s going right now. WWE has a tough job figuring out who to push and when. The problem is that when they push so many guys simultaneously, someone is bound to fall through the cracks who deserves more. Dolph is in his unenviable position. He’s been a prospect and future star for so long that it’s time to question whether or not it’ll ever happen. I will therefore have to keep that out of my mind, and simply judge his placement in terms of momentum and win/loss record. He may have been named the #1 contender to the World Title, but this is soon after losing to Christian on Smackdown. It’s up in the air for Ziggler.

It was shocking to see Christian return at Over the Limit. It was also shocking to see him win the Intercontinental Championship from Cody Rhodes. Not because he’s not good enough, but because I expected better booking. I’ve defended the Christian heel turn in 2011 knowing it would do wonders for his development at a top star. I must admit that I was wrong. Almost exactly 365 days later, Christian is back as a face, and lower down the card then he was. It’s a shame, as he had the ability to be as good a heel as Daniel Bryan has been. Every Daniel Bryan fan must realize that Christian has a slight advantage in the charisma and size categories, and if the host of the Peep show would have been given the same push as Bryan did against giants and Sheamus in late 2011/2012, he’d have done just as well in my opinion. The other side of the coin is that Christian is much older, and is possibly looking to finish his career soon. In that case, I understand the reasoning to let him put over some younger stars. I just feel it was shocking to see him so low when he left so high. He’s still a great IC champion, and hopefully can work with some of the top talent on Smackdown still with main event appearances. He’s earned that much.

Cody Rhodes fits in the #10 spot by default, as #1 contender to the Intercontinental Championship. It’s too early to really consider him a real threat in a main event position, but it’s obvious that he’s got a lot of factors working for him.

And on that note, peace out.

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

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