Oh, you didn’t know?! ESPN’s power rankings are expanding to capture the madmen of the mat, ranking the best in the business in terms of match strength, promo skills, showmanship, and suplexes. Every week, we’re reacting to "Raw" and "Smackdown" to give you our thoughts about some of the best athletes in the world.
And before you head to the comments with the whole “it’s fake!” talk, we realize the outcomes are predetermined in the same way you should realize there’s no way to fake getting press-slammed on top of a ladder. The ribs hurt whether or not the outcome is legit, and we’re showing respect to the athletes/performers who put their bodies on the line every week to entertain millions of “yes!” screaming fans.
This week’s episode of "Raw" saw some brutal bumps in the hard-hitting Tables, Ladders and Chairs match between CM Punk and Ryback, an awesome show of strength and athleticism by Antonio Cesaro, and an introduction to the term “cookie puss” to the wrestling vernacular.
Here’s how ESPN stacks up the champions from the chumps a week before the 20th anniversary show of "Raw" plays out Monday.
1. CM Punk
Last week: 1
He calls himself “The best in the world,” and that’s almost an understatement on how good of a performer CM Punk really is. The two-time and current WWE champion is the perfect heel who drops pipe bombs on the industry to keep fans guessing what’s scripted and what’s flowing straight from the heart.
2. The Rock
Last week: --
The Rock had every fan in Tampa (including ESPN analyst Jon Gruden) eating out of the palm of his hand Monday night on "Raw," and the interaction between Rock and Punk was both intense and hilarious. Their match at this month’s Royal Rumble is already being built up to be a classic. Let’s hope it can live up to the hype.
Last week: 3
The Big Hungry had the best match of his career on "Raw," an old-fashioned slobberknocker of a TLC match that saw some fun new ladder spots, including a sick-looking gorilla slam with Ryback lifting Punk over his head, then spiking him into the ladder. Enough with the Goldberg chants already; this guy has the goods to leave his own mark.
4. Dolph Ziggler
Last week: 5
Dolph Ziggler might have lost his match Monday night to John Cena, but he was definitely the star of their encounter. Ziggler is the closest thing I’ve seen to Mr. Perfect, and he makes everyone whom he steps in the ring with look like a million bucks, even if their name isn’t Ted DiBiase.
5. The Shield
Last week: 7
One of the most intriguing new factions WWE has produced in years, as all three of these newcomers have the look and ability to be huge stars in the business. But whom exactly are these guys working for? CM Punk? The Rock? Somebody else? Only time will tell as the male soap opera continues to unfold.
6. Antonio Cesaro
Last week: 9
When Cesaro lifted the Great Khali and dropped him face-first onto the mat last night, it was one of those moments you knew you were going to see replayed for years to come. This guy has main event written all over him. All he needs is the opportunity.
7. Team Hell No
Last week: 4
Just when I thought the pair might be getting a bit stale, it’s announced that next week Dr. Shelby will be back for another round of therapy. Yes! Yes! Yes!
8. John Cena
Last week: 2
Whoever is writing John Cena’s lines is really doing the former champ a disservice. We used to get this intense, sarcastic Cena who could spit venom in The Rock’s face and come out looking like gold. These days, we get a sixth-grade Cena who seems to have lost his ability to dis opponents with any type of flair. No need to turn him heel if you can just make him cool again.
Last week: 10
The man can’t tan, but he sure loves kicking people in the face. He just looks like he’s having so much fun out in the ring, and why not? He’s one of the most consistent performers currently on the roster.
10. The Big Show
Last week: 6
Finished off Kofi Kingston with one punch Monday night in what might have been the quickest match in "Raw" history. Still hoping for a Big Show versus Shaq celebrity match at "WrestleMania."