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. Today, I’ll be looking back on April 2016 which has been a really solid month for WWE overall. Sure, WrestleMania has already started to become forgettable but the episodes of Raw that have followed have all been above average and, sometimes, even good. Things are being shaken up in WWE and we have a fresh start. So let’s see how everybody got on.
10. The New Day
Compared to previous years, it has to be said that WrestleMania 32 suffered with having very few interesting entrances. That being said, The New Day probably would’ve outshone anything anyone else threw together because Kofi, Xavier and Big E greeted their adoring ‘Mania audience by climbing out of a falling cereal box dressed as Dragon Ball’s Saiyans. That’s the kind of nutty that can only happen in wrestling and can only be the work of The New Day. In the following weeks, the WWE have made what appears to be a conscious decision to beef up the tag team division with a tournament for the titles, thus adding yet more prestige to the belts that the Power of Positivity has clung onto for so long.
09. Charlotte Flair
Speaking of prestige, let’s move onto some of the best serious stuff to come out of WrestleMania and that’s not only the most entertaining match of the night from Charlotte, Becky and Sasha but also the unveiling of the new WWE Women’s Title. Gone is the #ButterflyBelt and the term “diva” has all but disappeared with it. This placement on the Standings could just as easily be “the Women’s Division” because they all pulled their weight at ‘Mania, as did most of the girls in the pointless tag match and Charlotte’s next opponent Natalya. However, Charlotte Flair gets the extra point for being crowned the first ever Women’s Champion of this era and getting even more heat because of it.
08. Dean Ambrose
Ambrose is one of a few guys on this list that has made the most of a bad situation. His street-fight against Lesnar was one of ‘Mania’s most anticipated matches but failed to deliver for a variety of reasons. Gladly, WWE’s writers are making use of his skills by thrusting a mic (and potted plant) in his hands and sending him out there to mess with Jericho’s Highlight Reel. “The Ambrose Asylum” talk-show is the best use of that monikor and it gets #TheLunaticFriend further away from being Roman’s bro and more into his own story. He may not be in any title contention but Ambrose has stolen the spotlight with his subtle humour and what appears to be a gimmick of “oh, am I pissing you off? I didn’t realise. Oh well”.
07. Baron Corbin
It’s become tradition for me to watch WrestleMania and Summerslam at home with friends and I distinctly remember a lot of confusion about the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal: it’s placement on the card, it’s participants (where did Tatanka come from?!) and… wait, is that Baron Corbin?! Probably the biggest pop at my viewing party was Corbin scoring the win because it was so fresh, particularly compared to the rest of the results that night. Ziggler seems like a good fit for Baron’s first feud because he can make the guy look like a freight train. Corbin has really grown on me more and more, particularly in his final few weeks of NXT, and I’m interested to see how far he can go in WWE.
06. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
On the go-home show for WWE Payback, they finally bothered to show a video package telling the story of Zayn and Owens. It was long overdue but it was great. Whatever the case we’re finally getting Generico VS Steen on the main-roster. Sure, it’s not at ‘Mania but at least the WWE realised this was the right direction and right feud to go with once the Intercontinental Championship was out of the picture. And who’s to say this is where it ends? Chances are we’ll get these guys clashing at The Grandest Stage of Them All next year. After all, “we’re destined to do this forever.”
05. Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
Well, this was a surprise. WrestleMania season was already pretty high with debuts with Styles at Rumble, Zayn appearing a few weeks after Fast Lane, Corbin at the show itself and then Apollo, The Vaudevillains and Enzo & Cass the following night. This is why we didn’t expect to see another pair of newcomers the following week when Anderson and Gallows appeared from nowhere and decimated Uce 1 and Uce 2. They definitely know how to carry themselves and there’s an air of danger wherever they go, which is great because they’re intent on keeping their friendship with super-over babyface AJ Styles intact. As JBL would yell “black helicopters, Maggle!” .This is an interesting storyline and I welcome it.
04. Shane McMahon
He’s not going to do it. Yes, he is. No, he’s not. Yes! No way! Etcetera. Yeah, what a moment at WrestleMania that will live on forever. Let’s just pretend the match didn’t end the way it did. It almost seems like the reigns were given to a different set of drivers the night after ‘Mania and they stubbornly went with their preferred direction. Every week since the pay-per-view Shane has been in control of Raw despite losing to The Undertaker and he’s done a damn good job of it in kayfabe. Out of kayfabe, he’s hugely entertaining and knows how to wake the crowd up. A breath of fresh air.
He’s baaaaaack. And he’s… James Bond? The Swiss Superman gimmick has evolved into something patently absurd, in the best possible way. Cesaro returned to Raw in the main event competing handily for a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Gladly, even though he missed out, WWE finally seem to be cashing in on how just how popular Cesaro is by giving him a new entrance and a feud with the new Intercontinental Champion, The Miz. He’s returned to being the badass “Professional” and even taken a few moments to be hilarious by teaming up with The New Day. Back into the Cesaro Section we go, hopefully this time for good.
02. Enzo Amore & Big Cass
Perhaps the most long-awaited NXT to main roster debut of all time has finally occurred and it’s the duo of Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Gladly, they didn’t miss a beat. Every week Enzo has delivered an absolute classic of a promo to whichever “coupla’ haters” they have stood toe-to-toe with before and during the tag team tournament. And the best part is the crowd has been there with them every damn time. With the WWE putting the finals in the hands of two new teams, the future is bright. Ohhhh, Enzo Amore…. Ohhhh, Enzo Amore….
01. AJ Styles
“They don’t want none. That means they want some. Double negatives. I’m a redneck.” Those are the lyrics to Styles’ music, right? What a sigh of relief and great way to revitalise the product. After losing to Jericho in Dallas, the wrestling world let out a giant grumble of displeasure. However, with Shane inexplicably in control of Monday Night Raw, Styles was given the chance to become #1 Contender and won. Face VS sort-of-tweener Face makes for an interesting proposition, especially because one is much loved by “the internet fans” and one represents Vince’s boring standards.
Add in Gallows and Anderson the next week and you’ve got a recipe for intrigue. Sure, AJ is not going to come away with the belt but at least it looks like they want to keep him relevant. Whatever happens, he’s going to have a storyline coming out of Payback and, better yet, getting so close to the title will make him look like a viable champion. He’s surprised me on the microphone, he’s been as solid as to be expected in the ring and he’s over as all hell.
03. The Wyatt Family
Oh dear. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn and that sums up a number of things coming out of WrestleMania. It was hardly the most ground-breaking show but I, myself, was enjoying it right up until the moment Rock and Cena made an even bigger joke out of the Wyatt Family than ever before. On the plus side, Rocky gave Bray his dues and it seemed that he and his Family were due to seemingly make a face-turn and do something a little different. But very quickly both he and Harper have been taken out by injury and I’m back to wondering why I even say the words “well, this could be interesting”.
02. Roman Reigns
Let’s get it straight: Roman was actually kind of intriguing on the Raw After Mania, playing into his true, heel self by judging his potential Payback opponents harshly. However, one week later he cut an identical promo and then following that he seems to be slowly morphing back into the boring superface. He’s not the guy, as evidenced by his match at WrestleMania which let every last breath of air out of the arena. At the very least, he’s not been the focus of every single show so that’s nice.
United States Champion Kalisto and Ryback actually put on a pretty decent match on the WrestleMania pre-show but why it got relegated I don’t know. Although, on the other hand, the storyline going into it was absolutely… well, it was nothing. Now the two are set to clash again at WWE Payback and this time maybe we’ll see the belt move onto a singles competitor, even if it is a rather boring, entirely absent from Raw Ryback. Then, Kalisto’s bland luchador team can be fade into obscurity.
03. American Alpha
NXT just has a way of putting together teams that click and American Alpha is the latest duo to ascend the mountain by beating The Revival for the NXT Tag Team Championship. It’s crazy to think that Gable and Jordan first started their long story together last Summer because it’s been one hell of a ride and a logical one at that. Starting with resistance, then reliance and now recognition as the two walked away champions after great matches with not only Dash & Dawson but now former NXT stars Enzo & Cass.
02. Samoa Joe
I said last week that I was finally coming around to the idea of Samoa Joe in NXT and it seems like perfect timing. He and Bálor put on a hell of a match at NXT TakeOver Dallas. I’ve heard a lot of comments about how Joe getting accidentally busted open ruined the match due to stoppages but it just added another element of reality for me. I didn’t mind the stop and start nature at all because the two waited, their rage brewing. It was good fun. I also said I expected Finn to retain and was right… however, nobody saw Joe coming away with the Championship at a house show a few weeks later. There’s lots of questions here that need answering but it will make Joe all the easier to hate when he returns to NXT with the belt.
01. Shinsuke Nakamura
Match of the year candidate ahoy. With all of us long-time wrestling fans losing our heads at Nakamura debuting at TakeOver Dallas with the perfect music, against a fantastic opponent and putting on an incredibly fun match, I don’t know if I really need to go into that much detail. However, what I will say is that I watched this match with a friend who is quite unfamiliar with wrestling and even he had to good things to say; admitting he enjoyed the match and thought Shinsuke was really fun. God knows where this goes next but every mention of Nakamura on NXT grabs my attention and every match he competes in runs away with my imagination.
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 Becky Lynch and, occasionally, candy.