Welcome back to TJR Power Rankings! Before we delve into this month’s top ten, I wanted to write a bit about why this month is far different than February. You’ll notice that half of the list - 5 wrestlers - has been removed from the rankings. That’s due to a number of reasons. Certain guys aren’t performing to their potential (Chris Jericho was terrible on last Monday’s Raw), while others are being held back by their respective promotions (Jeff Hardy). And before you crucify me for leaving out Alberto Del Rio - the World Heavyweight Champion - let me just say that I find his babyface run entirely unconvincing and boring. I’ve also eliminated wrestlers who have yet to make their in-ring return, no matter how exciting their presence(s) may be (Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker). Whatever the case may be, there have only been a couple of true standout performers over the last month, which made filling out this list more difficult than in previous months. Still, the show must go on. Here are March 2013’s TJR Power Rankings:
OFF THE LIST:
Alberto Del Rio
10. Ryback (Last Month: 4)
Let’s give the devil his due: Ryback has had a meteoric rise in the last several months, and despite being removed from the title scene, he’s still hot with live crowds. Although he continues to be limited in the ring, he’s doing very well at hiding his weaknesses. He’s a good power performer, and he still impresses in nearly every match. As of right now, he’s scheduled to do battle with The Shield once again at WrestleMania. Something tells me that will change in the next week, and Mark Henry will be his actual opponent at Mania. And that would be something worth watching, as it will give Ryback yet another opportunity to impress with his brute strength. Let’s hope it happens.
9. Jack Swagger (Last Month: N/A)
I don’t think you can clearly label Jack Swagger’s new gimmick a success OR a failure just yet. Swagger and Zeb Coulter don’t always command the reaction they’d like to from their promos, and there’s always an air of awkwardness after they spout something particularly offensive. Still, I love the gimmick. Swagger is a heel in the vein of Iron Sheik, or a turned Sgt. Slaughter, and it’s a refreshing change from any character he has played in the past. I’m glad the WWE has stuck with Swagger despite his recent DUI. Sure, they’re probably only sticking with him because of the buzz surrounding the character, but it’s still the right move, as the character may be one of the few ways to truly put over Alberto Del Rio as a babyface. Let’s hope Swagger gets a good amount of time to shine at WrestleMania.
8. Daniel Bryan (Last Month: N/A)
It’s no secret that we love Daniel Bryan around these parts. He’s a great worker and a great character. But he was absent from this list last month due to a lack of storyline relevance. This month, we’ve seen more of the same from Bryan. The man is in need of a new storyline. Hopefully, with WrestleMania a stone’s throw away, the WWE will finally move his and Kane’s story forward. In the meantime, fans can expect quality as always from Bryan - like his match with Dolph Ziggler on last weeks Raw proves. Let’s hope Daniel Bryan can move up this list next month.
7. Austin Aries (Last Month: N/A)
While no longer the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Austin Aries remains the best talent currently working in TNA. Credit should be given to TNA booking for keeping Aries relevant - and a show centerpiece - while having Jeff Hardy and Bully Ray battle over the company’s primary title. Along with tag partner Bobby Roode, Austin Aries continues to be the most entertaining performer on each and every episode of Impact. And unlike 90% of TNA’s roster, he’s truly over, and not in danger of being moved down the ladder anytime soon. There’s a reason he’s one half of the tag team champions. He’s in constant need of a title.
6. The Shield (Last Month: N/A)
I’ve always debated listing multiple performers in a single spot. But if there ever was an appropriate time, it’s now. The Shield - Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose - have turned into an excellent faction. A lot of credit should go to WWE creative, along with WWE booking, who have all successfully told the Shield story - the sum is greater than the parts. Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns are all have amazing chemistry, and cover each other’s weaknesses. Ambrose and Rollins had stellar reputations before debuting, and they’re just as good as advertised. The true surprise has been how good Reigns has looked. Thanks to being in a three-man group, Reigns has been able to look strong, while avoiding appearing limited. He’s evolving as a performer, and the sky is the limit.
5. Bully Ray (Last Month: N/A)
I love the Bully Ray character. Bully Ray could have been like countless other ex WCW, WWE, and ECW stars in TNA. He could have recycled the same character that made him famous, pulled off the same matches night in and night out, and lazily sat back as his paycheck came in. Instead, Bully Ray improved his character as well as his physical appearance. As great as he was in the WWE, I truly believe Bully Ray is doing the best work of his career. He’s been one of the best heels in all professional wrestling over the last two years. It’s refreshing then that TNA rewarded Bully Ray for all of his efforts by giving him their ultimate prize - the World Heavyweight Championship. Sure, his reveal as the leader of Aces and Eights was predictable, and yes, we all wish his storyline didn’t involve Hulk and Brooke Hogan. Still, he deserves to be at the top of TNA.
4. Dolph Ziggler (Last Month: 5)
Even while in lackluster feuds and storylines, Dolph Ziggler continues to be one of the best performers in the WWE, and therefore impossible to keep off TJR Power Rankings. His match with Daniel Bryan this past Raw was one of the best of television matches of the year, and we can’t wait for him to (FINALLY!) cash in his Money in the Bank contract. Ziggler, who has evolved so much as a performer over the past few years, has become the perfect package. He has the look, the skillset, and he can talk. Honestly, we’re ready to see him part from AJ Lee and Big E Langston, because he doesn’t need them. Not only is he ready to ascend to the top of the WWE, but fans are ready to embrace him. Who would we like to see walk out of WrestleMania as the World Heavyweight Champion? Not Jack Swagger or Alberto Del Rio. We want Ziggler.
3. The Rock (Last Month: 1)
I love the Rock, and I typically list the WWE Champion as #1 on this list. Yet this month I chose to list two performers ahead of him. There’s two reasons for this move: 1) The Rock doesn’t perform enough to warrant his position at the top of this list, and 2) the two men above him are just awesome. But don’t misinterpret me, when The Rock is a part of WWE, he’s great. He can still deliver first-class promos, and he’s more than serviceable in the ring. He makes the WWE roster, which at times feels deep, look amateur by comparison, with only a few approaching his level. Although he hasn’t been an everyday-performer, the WWE is better by simply having him in any role. We hope his current involvement in WWE continues past WrestleMania.
2. John Cena (Last Month: 3)
Hey, you know who’s awesome? John Cena. Despite being one of the most polarizing figures in professional wrestling history, he continues to excel as an entertainer. Could his character use a bit of a refresh? Sure. But few are as consistent as Cena, both in and out of the ring. He’s an excellent ambassador for the WWE, and as an in-ring worker, he gets better each and every year. Last year, I rated Rock vs Cena at WrestleMania a 4+ star match. If he can deliver a similar performance this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to list him at the top of these rankings next month.
1. CM Punk (Last Month: 2)
Gone from the number one spot last month, but back already, CM Punk is without a doubt the best professional wrestler in the world. Not only can he have a great match with anybody (we would love to see him go against a broomstick), but he’s the best, most entertaining heel in the business. While it’s a shame that he isn’t in the title picture for WrestleMania 29, the WWE did the right thing by rewarding him with a match against The Undertaker. It should be a sure-fire classic, and for many, it’s the most anticipated match on an already stacked card. It’ll be interesting to see where Punk’s character goes post-WrestleMania. While he excels as a heel, it’s no secret that the WWE lacks credible top babyfaces. With Alberto Del Rio and the Miz flopping, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a slight turn for Punk, if not a new, “tweener” role. Or maybe Punk will be given some long overdue time off. Whatever the WWE decides to do with Punk, I’m sure he’ll continue to be THE reason hardcore fans continue to tune in.
Thoughts and opinions? Share them with me!
Written by Thomas Avb Briggs