Welcome to yet another edition of TJR Power Rankings! It’s been awhile (April), I know, but I hope you’ll enjoy this month’s top 10 professional wrestlers. As always, this is a subjective list comprised of WWE and TNA performers...
Wait a sec... There are no TNA wrestlers in the top 10 this month??? Shocking, I know. While guys like Austin Aries and Bobby Roode continue to entertain, it just feels like the entire company has taken GIANT steps backwards in recent months. It’s sad, because just a year ago, when Aries won the World Title, things were looking pretty great for Dixie Carter and Co. Hopefully the lead up to Bound for Glory changes things, but TNA simply isn’t looking good right now.
OFF THE LIST:
10. Dolph Ziggler
I want so badly to have Dolph Ziggler higher (or is it lower) in these rankings. He continues to perform at a high level, and I’d venture to say that most fans love being able to cheer for him now that he’s a babyface. But since losing the World Heavyweight Title to Alberto Del Rio, he hasn’t been given enough time to shine. His current feud with Big E and AJ Lee is a necessary one. It, in theory, will complete his turn. Yet the WWE seems to be botching the story. I can’t be the only one who feels like AJ and Kaitlyn have been given a more prominent spot in this story than Dolph Ziggler and Big E. It’s unfortunate, because both men are deserving of a push. Come on WWE, Raw is three hours! Just take away a little time from the Bellas and give it to Ziggler.
Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Christian. The very first article I wrote for TJR was a plea to see him given a push after Edge’s career ending neck injury. Honestly, he’s turned in better performance earlier in his career. Still, seeing the WWE surprise everyone by putting him in a title feud with Alberto Del Rio has been pleasing to say the least. He’s someone who reached his peak a couple of years ago, but still able to perform well, and help elevate others. I once argued that at his best, in the correct role, Christian could be as valuable as Chris Jericho. I still believe that, but understand that he must be elevated himself after a long absence. Pulling off victories against Randy Orton and RVD, and then battling for the World Heavyweight Title should accomplish exactly that. It’s nice to see him being given an important role once again.
8. Cody Rhodes
Damien Sandow my have won the Smackdown Money in the Bank briefcase, but Cody Rhodes has benefitted the most since that match thus far. He’s always been likable, it’s so refreshing to finally be allowed to cheer him on. Everything’s starting to click. He’s excelled at his character for years, he’s turning in good work in the ring, and he’s in one of the most entertaining feuds in all of wrestling right now. The story of the deterioration of his friendship with Damien Sandow is being handled smartly, and should lead to the elevation of both men. This is what happens when WWE’s roster gets deep - the cream always rises to the top.
7. Alberto Del Rio
In the past, Alberto Del Rio suffered what I like to call “Sheamus-itis”. Basically, he was a good performer stuck in a boring babyface role. He’s a darn good heel, and no matter how hard WWE wanted people to accept him as a face, it always just felt awkward. Now that he’s back to being his villainous self, everything just feels so much more... comfortable. And after his attack on Ricardo on last week’s Raw, he’s more dastardly than ever. His current feud with Christian may be moving a bit slow, and feel a little too much like a placeholder for something better in the future, but you can almost guarantee yourself that the two will deliver a fun match at SummerSlam.
Surprised to see Rob Van Dam so high on this list? So am I. No, he’s not a current belt wearing champion, and no, he won’t be fighting for a title at SummerSlam. But he’s delivered in every single match since his return, and he’s getting loud ovations from the crowd. Personally, I found his time in TNA to be pretty close to disastrous. He looked bored, sloppy, and close to retirement. That’s all changed since returning to the WWE. He’s clearly aged, and can’t move as well as he did before, but he’s been excellent at masking that weakness. Not only has he been able to roll through his greatest hits of moves in nearly every match, but he’s made others look good in his matches. Look for him to continue excelling in whatever role the WWE gives him.
5. Brock Lesnar
While Brock Lesnar hasn’t been in a match in some time, he’s been a wrecking ball in the WWE for the last month. Not only is his match with CM Punk set to be a classic thanks to the story that the WWE has built, but he’s also allowed his “beast” persona grow. During his feud with Triple H, Lesnar felt like a one-note character. He’s certainly still the same monster heel he was then, but small flourishes like his recent interview on Smackdown and telling Paul Heyman to “say something stupid” have somehow allowed his character to stay fresh. He’s had to take on John Cena and Triple H since his return, and he’s done fine. But don’t expect CM Punk to allow his SummerSlam match to simply be “fine”. This should be a classic.
4. Randy Orton
In this week’s The Smacking of WWE Smackdown, Andrew Johnson had this to say about Randy Orton:
“Randy’s a better wrestler than RVD, period, but he has the same problem with getting lazy and just going through his move-set until it’s time for the finish. It’s annoying because I know he’s better than what he usually gives us, and it’s frustrating as hell.”
I completely agree. The physical gifts Orton have been given are tremendous, yet it feels like he often phones in his performances. Since winning the Raw Money in the Bank briefcase, Orton has been delivering on all fronts. Perhaps it’s because the WWE is displaying more trust in him? Regardless of what lit a fire underneath him, it’s awesome to see Randy Orton back to being a standout performer.
3. John Cena
Sure, there are plenty of naysayers out there, but they’re wrong. John Cena is a very good champion, and more than capable of having a good match/feud with just about anyone. Add someone of Daniel Bryan’s calibur to the table, and you have yourself a possible classic. On Raw a week ago, Cena delivered an excellent, serious promo touting the importance of defeating Bryan. Hardcore fans tend to cringe when he gives silly promos, but often over look his serious ones, in which he helps elevate others. Although Daniel Bryan will clearly be the better “wrestler” in their match at SummerSlam, in the end, he’ll have been elevated simply by being in the ring with Cena. The guy just understands how to make moments feel BIG, and you should expect more of that excellence moving forward.
2. Daniel Bryan
Who would’ve guessed, two years ago, that Daniel Bryan would be in his current position. He’s arguably the hottest act in the WWE, set to face John Cena at the “second” biggest pay per view of the year, and he’s even engaged to a gorgeous WWE diva. Yes, Daniel Bryan is basically winning at life right now. And you know what? He deserves his time in the spotlight. He’s an amazing in ring performer, and seemingly gives it his all every night. He’s also shockingly good on the mic. And although some have pointed at his height as a limiting factor, he’s actually used it to his benefit, creating the ultimate underdog babyface. Will he win at SummerSlam? I don’t think it really matters at this point. Daniel Bryan is an unstoppable force moving forward.
1. CM Punk
I know, I know. You love Daniel Bryan, and expected to see him in the top spot this month. Honestly, he would’ve been... had CM Punk not been doing such amazing work with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. While I think it’s fair to say that Daniel Bryan is the best in ring performer in the WWE right now, I wholeheartedly believe that CM Punk remains the all around best in the world. He’s a great in-ring performer, and perhaps an even better out of ring entertainer. Most importantly, he’s a master storyteller. The underdog story he and Lesnar are telling are worth the price of SummerSlam alone. Everything else is simply icing on the cake.