The guidelines of which the wrestlers are being ranked in terms of how they are seemingly viewed by WWE as well as the way I see their ceiling and futures unfolding. Basically if WWE were honestly ranking their roster, this is how I think it would look.
This was inspired by Wade Keller’s roster breakdown over at PWTorch and many NFL blogs returning who like to use this format. It’s fun and I haven’t seen many full in depth rankings of the entire WWE roster so here’s my first attempt at it.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySplashwater
1. John Cena
The “face of the franchise” for over 9 years now, John Cena still sits on the throne as the top star in WWE. To put that in perspective, Steve Austin was the top star in WWE from 1997-1999 at most and The Rock was the top star from late 1999-2001. Cena has held the spot for more than twice the amount of time Austin and Rock did combined.
Cena’s greatest asset is his ability to make people care for such a sustainable amount of time. The most loved WWE star is still John Cena as he dominates the WWE merchandise sales with no one anywhere close to him. I believe the stat was that Cena sells more than the entire roster combined if you take out Daniel Bryan. Cena is also still the most hated as Cena Sucks chants have not lost steam. He gives you a top heel and a top face regardless of the program so you have interest no matter what. That’s the reason WWE will not risk turning Cena heel or ending his reign for someone who can’t replace him.
I think the future sees Roman Reigns not being able to surpass Cena and John holding the spot for another 3-5 years with other guys holding the title despite Cena always being the fail-safe and most valuable member of the roster. Get used to it.
2. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar is money and WWE is finally trying to get as much as they can out of it. Lesnar beating The Undertaker at Wrestlemania was designed as a publicity stunt of sorts to try to get buzz going for the WWE Network. It may not have worked mainstream in getting WWE numbers up but it certainly added a new aspect to the show.
Brock is arguably the most special athlete WWE has ever had and is finally being showcased as an unbeatable dominant force after being used peculiarly during his first two years returning to WWE. With Paul Heyman, Lesnar provides a special attraction still in his prime that feels unique despite having the expectations and reputation to let you know what you’re getting.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Brock and WWE choose to part ways in 2015 due to both of their scenarios but hopefully Lesnar sticks around. I think he loses the title at Wrestlemania 31, regardless of if it’s Roman Reigns or someone else. As for now, he’s arguably the most important asset WWE has.
3. Triple H
Triple H doesn’t wrestle anymore as he fills the management character role as a heel boss who abuses his power and clashes with the top faces. 2014 has shown a new Triple H in the ring working with fresh talent and helping them elevate themselves to the next level such as Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. The matches all delivered in quality and in making the new core of WWE’s upper card look like legitimate stars.
Hunter should and will only wrestle 3-5 times per year to preserve himself as an attraction and when he does, it should always matter. WWE made a brilliant decision by never pulling the trigger on a HHH/Big Show match last year and wasting a rare Triple H match. I believe Triple H’s current on-screen work in 2014 has been his best since 2001.
4. Daniel Bryan
By this time next year, Bryan could be as high as #1 or as low as #10 in these power rankings as we have no idea what happens when he returns. Rumor has it, Daniel Bryan will be back at the end of the year as he avoids a second surgery. In a heartbreaking turn of events, Bryan had to miss time on the shelf right when he achieved the top spot in wrestling by winning the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania as the crowd went ballistic.
With such fanfare, you’d have to assume Daniel Bryan will be put right into the top tier of WWE. Will he get the title back? That’s hard to tell. WWE already had qualms about Bryan being “the guy” to replace Cena or fill the 1A spot and now he has a big injury risk label attached to him. The biggest thing Bryan has for him is a strong fan support like we’ve never seen in quite some time. I see the fans pushing Bryan back to where he was and trying to force WWE’s hand once again, especially if Roman Reigns gets the title push he is expected to in 2015.
5. Roman Reigns
Speaking of the devil, WWE adores Roman Reigns and he is arguably the top WWE prospect since John Cena, Randy Orton and Batista all debuted. It’s painfully obvious that Reigns is the chosen one and current plans have him dethroning Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania. He doesn’t seem to connect with fans or improve at a pace WWE needs him to on the road to 2015.
Reigns biggest asset is the cool quiet confidence he carries that can help him get by without being a great promo. The thing that hurts him most is that he seems complacent as a character. Despite the attacks over the months from Seth Rollins, Triple H, Kane and Randy Orton, you never see any urgency or emotion from Reigns. How can you connect to that? This isn’t 1995 and you can’t be Diesel if you want to succeed as a babyface in WWE. There needs to be some depth if you have that type of character.
It also hurts that Dean Ambrose gets the biggest pops on the show and Seth Rollins gets the most boos showing that his ex-Shield partners connect with the audience much more in such a short time period after splitting. The thing is Reigns will have all the opportunities and likely will get the title even if he manages to lose crowd support. WWE believes in him and that’s most significant.
One of the most intriguing guys on the roster, I dismissed Rusev as another old school character debuting in WWE that wouldn’t have any legs and I wasn’t sure he had anything special to offer himself. I was wrong. Rusev looks fantastic in the ring and has developed the ability to get crowd heat. His matches have over-delivered and he surely has potential to do more as his character progresses and eventually adapts.
Lana paired with him has helped as she has an “it factor” and just knows how to play her role where she shines bright yet Rusev looks like a monster thanks to her. I’m fully expecting the current plans to have Rusev facing John Cena in the 2nd or 3rd biggest match at Wrestlemania 31.
Any time I see myself doubting Rusev, I’ll have to remember he played the heel in a feud that featured the crowd solely behind a babyface Jack Swagger. It’s more likely to hit the lottery than get Jack Swagger over.
7. Seth Rollins
With The Shield breaking up, many expected Seth Rollins to turn face and Dean Ambrose to be the heel given their independent wrestling resumes. WWE did the opposite and it has worked out perfectly. Seth Rollins has excelled in his role as a heel under Triple H’s wing. Rollins has stood out and out-shined Randy Orton by design. He continues to improve and has a bright future in WWE. Rollins is ranked above Ambrose due to the MITB briefcase and having the reputation of being someone that Triple H loves.
8. Dean Ambrose
Much like Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose has done the same from a babyface point of view. Ambrose has developed a genuine, organic love from the audience that WWE desperately wants Roman Reigns to have. Ambrose has unlimited potential and can easily pass Reigns if there’s a crack left open in the WWE window. The biggest negative to Ambrose is that there’s a bigger climb on the babyface side of the mountain with Cena, Bryan, Roman Reigns and potentially Bray Wyatt all there.
9. Bray Wyatt
If I wrote this three months ago, Bray Wyatt would have clearly been #5 on the list. Wyatt is such a unique performer with an amazing character who the crowd connects with and believes in. It’s weird though because WWE tends to just stop caring about certain performers and allows them to fall down the pecking order and become just another guy. See Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and numerous others for the proof.
The feud with Chris Jericho and rumors of a program with Ziggler centered around the Intercontinental title are not good things for Bray’s future. Best case scenario is he withstands the storm and gets a big push with current act in 2015. I think he can be the top babyface in WWE if you let him and I wish he was as protected as Roman Reigns is in a path to facing Brock Lesnar.
10. Randy Orton
Randy Orton has been pretty stagnant as a character for the last few years and it’s hard to take him seriously in the top one or two angles. Still, Orton is on another level from the guys like Sheamus, Cesaro, Ziggler and that tier of talent as he’s an established main eventer by proxy. Orton has a great spot in WWE and will continue to until he no longer wants it.
You never know what WWE plans to do with Cesaro. The rumors sound accurate about Triple H thinking the guy is a star in the making while Vince looks at him as just a good hand. I think he has all the talent in the world to become the WWE Champion but I would never put money on it. Possibly the most impossible superstar to forecast going forward.
Sheamus will never get back to where he once was as a former WWE Champion in the main event picture. His current role is where I think he’ll stay for the rest of his career and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sheamus is criminally underrated in the ring and will continue to be one of the guys who consistently is relied on to have good matches and help lead the mid-card picture while being respected and presented as a little higher than that.
Kane is a respected veteran who is going to have a good spot as the enforcer of The Authority. He’ll continue to be featured in big matches and will be good for one main event PPV match per year until he retires.
14. Big Show
Same as Kane. Every year around Autumn, Big Show randomly gets pushed and it will happen again this year, rumored this time against Brock Lesnar. Big Show and Kane have too much appreciation from the WWE to just be phased out for good.
15. Chris Jericho
Kind of like Big Show and Kane, expect he doesn’t stick around for the months where he wouldn’t matter. Jericho has not really impressed much in his last few runs but he has a rare love from the WWE fanbase.
16. Mark Henry
Mark is in that Big Show/Kane/Jericho territory above the consistent mid-carders but clearly below the legitimate main eventers. As seen with Rusev, Henry can fill in when you need him and provide a great presence in a big spot.
17. Bad News Barrett
Before his injury, Bad News Barrett was on a role gaining crowd support through an interesting new character and having some very good matches. It was very unfortunate that the injury bug struck him during the best run of his career. However, it may be a blessing as Barrett went out while hot so a return should be big whenever it happens. Also the injury prevents him from suffering from overexposure which is what everyone in his range has suffered through including Barrett in the past. The potential is still there to be a champ but a lot of things need to go right and it has to happen in the next 12-18 months or it never will.
18. The Miz
The Miz will likely be a WWE lifer. I can see following the footsteps of JBL where his tenure gives him a spot for life regardless of what position he plays. His return as a delusional D List Hollywood actor after filming a Walmart bin film has given him new life after a disaster of a face attempt and more importantly, a consistent place on the show. I can see WWE giving him another main event opportunity but I see him staying where is on the roster for a while. Maybe he’ll be a tag team with Damien Sandow or Tyler Breeze going forward.
19. Dolph Ziggler
Ziggler is one of the more interesting wrestlers to break down. Adored by the die-hard wrestling fans for his in ring skill, many want him pushed higher. WWE management doesn’t seem sold on the overselling, poor character work, questionable attitude and inability to play his role according to some pundits with insider information. As a heel, he wrestles for pops and basically works where you can’t help but like him. As a face, his promos make him sound one of the most unbearable self obsessed jerks on the roster. Until he can fix those problems and willingly make changes, don’t expect any more than what he currently is.
20. Luke Harper
The Wyatt Family still has support from the fans despite their position on the show falling by the week. Harper is one of the most unique in ring performers in WWE and he has been a top 5 WWE wrestler this year if we’re going by match performances only.
21. Erick Rowan
You have to pair the tag team together. Rowan does not have near the ceiling that Luke Harper does but Rowan still has the magic of being a Wyatt guy. He should pray that The Wyatt Family never splits as his stock follows Bray Wyatt’s.
22. Rob Van Dam
Part time performer. Still gets love from the crowd. Has a spot in the mid-card whenever he is around. Lost a step (or four) and is basically a lesser version of Chris Jericho at this point.
Same as Rob Van Dam except often injured. Is transitioning into a career as an announcer it would seem. Great worker when healthy and hopefully he has at least one more short run pending health.
24. Rey Mysterio
Same as Christian except likely to never wrestle another WWE match. Wants to be let out of his contract and end his career in Mexico.
Once a rising star with the “Feed Me More” chant, Ryback’s career took a turn for the worse and has been a joke teaming with Curtis Axel in a dead end tag team. His injury and time away from TV could improve his chances of getting another push. If he can get cheers when he returns, maybe WWE gives him another opportunity and the Feed Me More chant gets over again.
26. Big E
Very unique wrestler and person with something to offer. Last year it looked like Big E was on the road to big things then he was given the Intercontinental title before losing all momentum and support from the fans. Still young and fresh enough to turn it around but he needs something new soon.
27. Kofi Kingston
Speaking of needing something new, Kofi Kingston needs a change more than anything. A very talented athlete with something to offer once seemed like a future main eventer during his feud with Randy Orton, Kofi has drowned in mediocrity and he needs the faction with Big E and Xavier Woods very badly.
28. Xavier Woods
He’s tied to Big E and Kofi. If the angle goes through, Xavier Woods can be utilized very well and has a chance to contribute. If not, he probably won’t last long on the roster.
I don’t know how far this can go or if it can succeed as a heel act given the fans love for the Goldust gimmick. It disappoints me because Cody Rhodes has shown signs of being a special talent. His connection with the fans during the MITB match in 2013 and his work against The Shield and The Authority led to me hoping he would become more than he has. I don’t know what the future holds for Cody.
Respected by the fan base. Has done a great job in his year back as an active wrestler. Who knows how long he can still go but he deserves a spot on the roster until proven otherwise.
31. Jimmy Uso
Losing momentum but The Usos have had a hell of a year becoming one of the first true tag teams to be given the ball in quite some time. Dating Naomi.
32. Jey Uso
Same as Jimmy with a lack of Naomi. Hence the lower spot.
33. Bo Dallas
Started off undefeated then lost to R-Truth and was off of RAW for a few weeks. Lost the first match in his feud with Jack Swagger. Things don’t look good in terms of moving up the card for Bo. Maybe he’ll gather enough momentum to get a mid-card title run next year but I think that’s his ceiling with current gimmick.
34. Jack Swagger
For the first time in his career, Jack Swagger got over with the crowd playing the patriotic hero character vs. Rusev. Once the feud ended, so did interest in Jack. Good hand and solid lower tier mid-carder to have but August was and will be the peak of his career. People in WWE like and continue to give him opportunities but they never pan out. No matter where you go, you are what you are, player.
35. Damien Sandow
Actually doing some fantastic work as the impersonator of WWE and is amazing as Miz’s stunt double. Experts has said that this type of character is one that cracks Vince up and he probably loves it. I’m hopeful Sandow will get another chance of a push in 2015 and should have a role on the show for a while due to his comedy work lately turning chicken shit into chicken salad.
36. Heath Slater
Fun at times. AMAZING jobber. I mean this as a compliment. Heath Slater should be this generation’s Brooklyn Brawler.
37. Tyson Kidd
Has in ring talent but not a lot of personality. Sent to NXT to showcase his skill in hopes of another call-up and opportunity on the main roster.
Hard working utility player who is appreciated and respected by WWE. Fills a void whenever WWE needs someone in a lower mid-card position. Should be in that vicinity for a few more years and it wouldn’t shock me if we start to see him in more pre-show panel scenarios going forward.
39. Darren Young
Rumored to be in a bunny costume as part of an entourage that’s on TV once every few weeks in complete filler, which would be a big break for him. That’s all you need to know.
40. Curtis Axel
The definition of bland. Flopping with Paul Heyman is likely his last chance at anything noteworthy. At best, he’ll be in a 2nd tier tag team like Rybaxel.
Imagine telling a new fan that less than two years ago, Fandango was seen as the guy who was getting mainstream media attention for WWE. Due to his music, Fandango was a hot commodity and of course, WWE made the Fandango fad the most uncool thing on the show thus killing any chance he had. The blame likely has fallen on Fandango’s shoulders and it’s the reason he’s done nothing since then. I think he’s talented but I see him going back to NXT or continuing to be a full fledged jobber.
42. The Great Khali
Terrible but WWE likes him in comedy segments. Tall and foreign means he has a spot.
43. Titus O’Neill
WWE has put him in some noteworthy segments involving celebrities and he’s gotten the opportunity to cut promos at times. Clearly someone in power sees something in him but not everyone is sold, let alone the audience. Just an afterthought. Doubtful he’ll ever get a real push.
44. Sin Cara
The act failed with Mistico playing the original Sin Cara. Hunico does a good job with it but has no chance to achieve success as a singles act. Could be an interesting tag team with Kalisto if they are called up together from NXT.
45. Justin Gabriel
Similar to Tyson Kidd but a decent high flying wrestler. If you remember he’s on the roster without looking at a list, you’re a bigger fan than me.
46. David Otunga
Did he ever exist? Not explained why he has been away from WWE for such a long time. Doesn’t seem like he’ll return any time soon.
47. Zack Ryder
A very sad story as Zack Ryder somehow made himself relevant and WWE went out of their way to kill his chances. Hopefully he continues to collect a paycheck as a reward for getting himself over a few years ago through an innovative way as he’ll likely never be pushed again.
48. Adam Rose
Atrocious gimmick and is not good at anything speficially. Lucky for him, Triple H likes him and Santino left. Currently slotted in the bad comedy spot when needed to fill time or promote something. If Santino returns as he plans to, Rose may be partying with a pink slip.
Terrible gimmick. Would be surprised if still on roster by year’s end.
Same as Primo except not as good.
Divas and managers will be power ranked in a future post.