Hello and welcome to the Steel Cage Standings where I, Psyniac, go through the past month of WWE TV and rank the situations of the Top 10 and Bottom 3 superstars of the main roster and the Top 3 of NXT to boot. We’re on the rocky road to WrestleMania 32 and it’s way less delicious than it sounds. Now we’re clear of Fast Lane, the writing team is in a hurry to make sense of storylines for both the grandest sports entertainment show and the earlier Network special, WWE RoadBlock. But let’s look back over February and see how well everything stacks up.
10. The Dudley Boyz
Whilst the thought hadn’t necessarily crossed my own mind that it had begun, there was a definite likelihood of The Dudley Boyz really treading water as they approach six months back in the WWE. Thus, a heel turn was the correct decision to make with D’von and Bubba Ray declaring that their legacy “won’t be defined by a piece of furniture”. There’s very little to really care about when it comes The Usos; they put on solid matches but, as I said last week, they’re about as charismatic as your local bus driver. It’ll be interesting to see where heel Dudleyz go later in the year but for now they’re likely to pre-show material for WrestleMania.
09. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph has had yet another year of floundering. Let us not forget that terrible Ziggler/Summer/Rusev/Lana storyline. Or maybe let us, come to think of it. Regardless, this month he provided he still has what it takes to put on great matches and even cut a half-decent promo in his slapdash feud with Kevin Owens. Two victories over one of the biggest heels in the company at current is a big deal but I can say with some certainty that it’s not going anywhere and those two victories will amount to very little in the long-run, particularly since The Miz went over Dolph in a totally pointless, two-minute match on the last Raw of the month.
Whilst cracks have appeared in Charlotte’s in-ring performance more and more over her time on the main roster, she’s found at least a little footing in her work as a heel. Example: her match with Brie was an absolute train-wreck. But, following this on Raw, she managed to come off as the total asshole she’s playing by toying with the emotions of Becky and Sasha and pitting the two against each other for #1 contender-ship. She’s annoying and she’s meant to be and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to her dropping the belt to one of the absolute heroines that are Becky and Sasha.
07. AJ Styles
AJ has had a difficult first month in WWE. Facing off against Chris Jericho was a match made in heaven and one of those moments that was truly mind-boggling. Quite rightfully, and to the cheers of fans everywhere, Styles got the first win before Jericho evened the odds. Naturally, the two squared off one last time at Fast Lane and Styles pulled it out of the bag. Then the following night on Raw, instead of AJ being inserted into his next exciting program he wound up tag teaming with Y2J. This seems like a squandered opportunity and, whilst the Tag Team Champions have no real competition otherwise, I would have much preferred to see AJ strike out on his own on his way to the top.
06. Kevin Owens
With the WWE moving the Intercontinental title off of Ambrose so that they could place him more easily into the main event picture, throwing the belt back to Owens was the right decision. In fact, it’s a shame he had to lose it for such a brief time at all but never-mind. As predictable as it is, this should be the guy AJ Styles wants to face. Sadly, what we have at the moment is some sort of Big Show feud for WWE Roadblock and probably some kind of ladder match at ‘Mania. Still, Owens wears the belt well and remains a stable part of WWE’s upper mid-card, as proved by his fantastic match at Fast Lane with The Show-Off.
05. The New Day
Back to the Tag Team Champions, The New Day delivered a mixed bag of hilarity this month. Their segment at Fast Lane with Edge and Christian was long-winded and, as it turned out, totally pointless. Gladly, the trio have found a way to spin their sudden semi-feud with the League of Nations on it’s head with entertaining Twitter videos. However, in terms of the story on Raw, there isn’t much to get excited about regarding Big E, Kofi and Xavier taking on such a poorly built stable nor “Y2AJ” and it’s uncomfortable to see just how out of every other team’s league (no pun intended) these guys still are.
04. Triple H
Triple H securing the belt away from the grubby mitts of Reigns at the Royal Rumble was totally expected and also totally fine, all in all. It was nothing to write home about, which is why he didn’t even appear on the Steel Cage Standings last month. However, his return to Raw two weeks ago is definitely worth talking about. With the crowd so firmly against Roman, Trips fully embraced the cheers and “yes” chants as he beat the living snot out of the company’s golden boy by doing the DX chop as he stood tall. It was totally not what he was there to do and it was utterly hilarious.
03. Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch
Another draw this month, this time between the two women competing for the Diva’s title who did a fine job knocking off Naomi and Tamina at Fast Lane. At this stage, I’ll be happy with either of them winning the title at WrestleMania and it’s definitely looking like they’ll both be getting a shot at it. Becky has had the long-play story of being Charlotte’s former partner and the crowd is totally behind her but they also recognise Sasha’s in-ring superiority. That’s not a knock on Lynch at all. Sasha is just better than pretty much everyone ever. This storyline is simple but effective because it relies on the belt and no catfighting rubbish and I’m more excited to see where this leads than most other stories in the WWE right now.
02. Shane McMahon
Here comes the money indeed. AJ Styles’ debut may have been more unrealistic of a dream but Shane’s return this month was at least as, if not more, shocking. The internet was swiftly ablaze with what it all meant and Shane-o declared his intent to take control of Monday Night Raw by defeating The Undertaker at WrestleMania. The storyline may have come out of left-field but in certain respects it makes sense and there’s enough excitement there that it will without a doubt be one of the most looked forward to matches of the card, if only for curiosity’s sake.
With Shane having such a history of reckless abandon and his stint at WrestleMania 32 taking place instead Hell in a Cell this could go many, many ways. Place your bets now on just how far these two guys will go despite being possibly told otherwise. With The Streak being done and dusted, it’s entirely possible that Shane will beat ‘Taker and go onto oust The Authority once more. And if he doesn’t? Well, add this to the pile of stories that never went anywhere.
01. Dean Ambrose
Shane may have been the most mind-blowing person on this list but Ambrose inches it out again this month, stealing it from under someone else’s nose, as he often does. The reason for this is because of his consistent quality. Whenever there’s a lull in production, WWE thrusts Ambrose forward like a snarling, drooling guard dog and he jumps at the chance to prove his worth. Yet time and time again the company pass up on him being “The Guy” and February 2016 was yet more proof that he absolutely should be.
Ambrose was framed on the lead up to Fast Lane as the most interesting and, more importantly, most sympathetic character in the triple threat for #1 contender-ship and yet he still lost due to the total no-selling of Roman Reigns. With their main man still getting booed despite this (or in spite of this?), Ambrose is taking the lead on the episodes of Raw that Reigns is missing and progressing the story of both his WrestleMania feud with Brock and his Roadblock with Triple H for the title. In the last Raw of the month, he stood toe-to-toe with the champ, looked totally viable and cut one hell of an entertaining promo. Ambrose has been #1 on the Standings before and he will be again.
03. The Wyatt Family
Christ almighty, what a mess. In what appeared to be a build-up to Wyatt VS Brock, the Family started their annual tradition of going into WrestleMania strong and it was all looking a little bit interesting again but it appears to have been dropped in a very quick hurry. At FastLane, The Wyatt Family lost to a combination of Ryback, Big Show and Kane; a group that would disband practically immediately afterwards. Now, hurtling towards the biggest show of the year, they’re cutting yet more yawn-worthy cryptic promos and have no clear direction.
02. The League of Nations
Speaking of floundering stables… although these guys were basically never on the up and up. The League of Nations have achieved all but squat since forming starting with a total lack of menace or integrity. Sure, they recently beat the current United States Champion but when they have so little presence it doesn’t feel like there was any actual intent to it. What a waste of decent competitors.
01. Roman Reigns
I’m at the risk of sounding like a stuck record here but I’m pretty sure that counts for just about every single one of you reading this. If your babyface challenger is getting booed right up until the moment you take him off-screen then you’re probably doing it wrong. It remains to be seen how bad Reigns’ nose injury is and how many episodes of Raw he’ll miss before ‘Mania but A. all the cities they’re visiting won’t be kind to him if he is there and B. they’re running out of time to change their terrible decisions. Smash cut to Vince with his fingers in his ears yelling “I can’t hear you”.
03. Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn is back in NXT and he’s here to stay. Rightfully placed back at the top of the card, Zayn has had some great encounters with Corbin and Joe. In fact, these have made the latter star actually interesting to me for the first time since joining the company, and that’s partly down to just how badly I want Sami to succeed. Whilst the continuous DQ finishes aren’t the most original idea in the world, it’s all about the slow build to Sami Zayn’s NXT TakeOver Dallas opponent and that reveal is almost here.
Carmella earned her title shot in January and put on a fun match with Women’s Champion Bayley this month which resulted in the two really bringing their off-camera friendship to the forefront. This then naturally coincided with Eva Marie’s hunger for the belt and the two squared off with her and Nia Jax in what has been a really fun feud. Bayley has done a great job down in NXT assisting in creating another batch of (mostly) interesting, new female stars and, as they say on the show, the future is now.
01. American Alpha
There’s something to be said about hype. It burns out. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan, however, have proved they are not just a passing trend. Now under the pseudonym American Alpha, the two have continued to dominate the tag team division of NXT with incredible matches and they become more and more charismatic by the day. It’s only a matter of time before they get their hands on the belts and when I start thinking about what these guys do in the main roster a year from now I get giddy. So believe the hype.
You can find Psyniac on Twitter at Raw is Psyniac where he tweets about Raw 18 hours after it’s aired, how much he loves Finn Bálor and, occasionally, candy.