Want to know something sad? This is the first new TJR Power Rankings in four months. What started as a monthly idea has been moved aside whenever any more pressing idea has entered my mind. My apologies for that, I intend to deliver this monthly from here on out. I’m not saying it’ll be posted in the first week of each month or anything, just that I’ll try to make it available monthly. Yeah, I know what Yoda said about trying, but I don’t think that little green bastard was thinking about a monthly professional wrestling column when he was speaking to Luke.
Where was I going with this? Hey, did you, like the other hundreds of millions of people around the world, catch the Super Bowl? I couldn’t have been the only wrestling fan expecting The Undertaker to appear after the lights went out in the Superdome. Just imagine a “GOOOOONG!”, the lights going on, and Taker standing on the 50 yard line, challenging Ray Lewis to a match at Wrestlemania 29. My head would’ve exploded. Of course, it would’ve been even better had Ed Hochuli been refereeing the game. He could’ve gone in for a test of strength with Taker.
Random thoughts aside, this month’s TJR Power Rankings are notable for two reasons: the list is LOADED with WWE wrestlers. So if you’re exclusively a TNA fan, my apologies. It’s Wrestlemania season, what do you expect? And - SPOILER ALERT - this is the first month since May of last year with a someone not named Punk at the top of the list. Who is it? Where will the former champ land? Read on to find out!
OFF THE LIST:
10. Jeff Hardy
TNA fans, here’s your token showing on the rankings. After successfully defending the TNA Heavyweight Championship against Bobby Roode, Austin Aries, and Christopher Daniels last month, he rightly deserves a spot on this list. Is Hardy the best performer in TNA? That’s debatable. He’s certainly the biggest superstar in the company, and has mass appeal. Yet it’s hard to ignore just how damn good Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, and guys like Bully Ray are. Yet Hardy stands atop the company, and therefore belongs on this list.
9. Brock Lesnar
You may find it ridiculous to list someone who hasn’t competed for nearly half a year on this list, but when Brock Lesnar makes a return, it’s heard across the globe. And his F5 on Vince McMahon last week was exactly the kind of moment WWE needed on their post-Rumble Raw. It created intrigue, and is sure to hook viewers into watching the Road to Wrestlemania. Lesnar has a special kind of intensity, and it will be a thrill to see him back in the ring. Sure, the rumor is that he’ll be booked in a rematch with Triple H (like Bret Hart, I’m not a fan), but just having Lesnar involved is good for all of professional wrestling. Welcome back big guy.
8. Chris Jericho
There were some awesome moments during this year’s Royal Rumble match. The Godfather was a nice bit of nostalgia, and Goldust put in a great effort. But the biggest and best surprise was Chris Jericho’s appearance as the #2 entrant in the Rumble. Sure, he hasn’t been away for too long, but his role in the match was impressive. He and Dolph Ziggler were responsible for keeping fans glued to their televisions while some lesser names made their appearances. That he (and Ziggler) lasted so long was icing on the cake. The fans appreciated his work, and it looks like they’re going to get more over the next few months. Jericho has reprised his feud with Ziggler, and that’s something every fan can get behind.
I’d love to list Sheamus higher than number 7. Despite never buying into his babyface character, I think he’s a great in ring performer. I used to think others helped him look good, but truthfully, he makes everyone else look good. His recent feud with Big Show, before losing the World Heavyweight Title, was far better than it had any right to be. Both men brought their A game, and Sheamus proved that he’s as good as anybody in the company. I’m sold on him. Unfortunately, Sheamus isn’t currently in the World Heavyweight Title scene, and therefore I think he’s being underused. Hopefully his fortunes change at The Elimination Chamber.
6. Alberto Del Rio
When Alberto Del Rio defeated The Big Show on Smackdown over a month ago, it was a pleasant surprise. It made the show seem unpredictable and worth watching (provided you don’t pay attention to spoilers throughout the week). And although Del Rio has been a staple top heel for a couple years, as a babyface he seemed fresh. Things were looking up for Del Rio! Then the Rumble happened... Del Rio, with the aid of Ricardo, defeated the Big Show in a last man standing match by duct-taping Show’s boots to the bottom rope. It just felt... cheap. If that’s what WWE wants in a babyface Del Rio, fine. But the audience doesn’t seem to be buying it, and Del Rio has been reportedly receiving lukewarm responses at house shows. Call me traditional, but a face should act like a face. Unless that face was Stone Cold, but I digress...
5. Dolph Ziggler
It’s just a matter of time before Dolph Ziggler is World Heavyweight Champion. And he absolutely deserves that honor. Until then (hopefully it happens at Wrestlemania), he continues to do great work. Ziggler, along with Chris Jericho, carried the Royal Rumble match, and the fact that he gets to continue his feud with Jericho is great news. Both are amazing performers and compliment each other well. It’s the perfect program for Ziggler until his inevitable title reign. As good as he is, let’s hope his reign is a long one.
It’s no secret around these parts that I’m not the biggest Ryback fan. Say what you will about his time in the company, I just think there are better candidates out there for a push. Yet, Ryback has delivered at almost every opportunity. He has a big-match presence, and performs well when the stakes are high. Is he limited? Sure. That’s the reason he was the last entrant in this year’s Royal Rumble match. But it was damn exciting when he and Cena were the final two men in the match. His brutality and strength lend him credibility that not all Superstars have. He can be fun to watch, he just needs some victories over top opponents! Or, take my advice, and turn heel.
3. John Cena
Although the WWE is trying to sell 2013 as the return to greatness of John Cena, in my opinion, 2012 was possibly his best year. He put in a great effort at Wrestlemania 28 (I’d argue that he carried The Rock), and then had my favorite match of the year - at Extreme Rules against Brock Lesnar. After that match, Cena performed well, as expected, with CM Punk. His promos may be lacking as of late, but the man certainly hasn’t lost a step in the ring. He’s better than ever. His effort at Royal Rumble confirmed this. His clean elimination of Ryback tells you exactly how they want to position Cena moving forward (top top top), and his impending rematch with The Rock should be great. As much as many of us may want to see CM Punk headline Wrestlemania 29, Rock vs Cena simply is the bigger marquee match. And don’t worry, it should be excellent... because Cena is at the top of his game.
2. CM Punk
For nearly a year, deciding who would be number 1 on this list was incredibly easy. CM Punk’s reign as WWE Champion was a legendary one. And no one deserved a long title reign as much as he did. Punk proved why he’s been an internet darling for a decade: he’s the best wrestler in the world. On top of that, he’s an entertaining presence in all aspects of professional wrestling. Yet, all good things must come to an end. And if he was going to drop the title to anyone, The Rock certainly wasn’t the worst option. The only disappointing thing about Punk vs Rock was the overbooked finish. But that finish lends itself to a great story for the rematch. Which is why Rock vs Punk 2 at The Elimination Chamber is a must-buy. Where will Punk go after Elimination Chamber? If the Undertaker is his next opponent, then the only direction he’s going in is up.
1. The Rock
After year of being absent from professional wrestling, The Rock is officially back on top of the WWE. Although he’s not exactly “in ring shape” anymore, he still can go, and has proved that with the right opponent - Cena and Punk - he’s more than capable of pulling off an entertaining match. His victory over Punk was a great story, and he’s positioned for a hell of a couple months. More Punk and Cena should be enough to keep wrestling fans thrilled. Those disappointed with The Rock’s newfound position atop the WWE need to realize he’s absolutely the biggest and best name the company has. As I asked before, did you happen to watch the Super Bowl? Rock was featured in a number of commercials because he’s VERY famous. Having him hold the WWE Title is absolutely the right thing for the WWE to do. And who knows if this is his last run or not. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
Thoughts and opinions? Share them with me!
Written by Thomas Avb Briggs