‘Sup, Lords of Pain? Guess who’s back? For those of you who don’t remember me, my name is Mazza, on-again off-again columnist (Smarks Court, ATTITUDE, CPR Productions) on LoP for the last decade or so and co-host of The Right Side of the Pond on LoP Radio. This time I have returned to column writing with one goal. To produce a weekly staple for the site. Something that you readers will hopefully become invested in and something I can hand over to another writer when I inevitably decide to take a break again. It will be a simple concept. Nothing groundbreaking but something you will hopefully enjoy. We are talking about a column where I will countdown the top ten WWE performers of each week, across all their shows. That top ten will be chosen by a panel of my fellow Lords of Pain columnists who have been extremely kind and offered to help out. I am sure as the weeks go on the concept will be tweaked but you are smart people and will work out what is happening. So without further ado, let’s get on with the debut edition of…
The WWE Power 10
Week Ending 31st August 2018
10. Keith Lee (NXT)
When this guy got his introductory Takeover smile and wave, he just looked like a middle aged sitcom dad. When I saw him standing in the ring, that perception didn’t change. But then he started to wrestle and I got interested. It’s early days in NXT for the big man but there is just something about him that appeals to me. He has a no-nonsense in ring style which definitely jumped out. A touch of Samoa Joe about the guy for sure. And then he has these facial expressions. I am not totally sure what they are trying to convey but on first watch they are calling out to me. He comes across as a likeable and extremely chill badass. I like what I saw in this short cameo and it’s enough to get him a spot on the very first edition of this column. If for nothing else, in a year’s time I can look back at where it all started and call myself a genius or have a “what was I thinking” moment.
9. Dolph Ziggler/Drew McIntyre (Raw)
I like the partnership of Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. I mean it hasn’t moved anywhere meaningful so far but they haven’t totally made a pig’s ear of things as of yet. That could be on the way however. Not only are they inline to become Shield fodder, chances are they could end up the fall guys and become Strowman fodder too. On the flip side it’s a chance to impress in the main event. I am very on-again, off-again when it comes to Ziggler but he seems motivated right now and is delivering some good work. The pair looked good as a team in the Raw main event and hopefully that can continue. I think they need to get some meaningful wins soon or the partnership will become kind of pointless. If it wasn’t for my love for the Revival, I’d be heavily backing Dolph and Drew to end this B Team comedy run with the tag belts.
8. The Undisputed Era (NXT)
Smarmy heel factions seem like they have been around as long as pro-wrestling itself, but I have to say, I am not sure than any of them were as smarmy as the Undisputed Era. They are just a bunch of really dislikable guys, and that is before they actually open their mouths or start wrestling. In the ring they are great at getting the job done by hook or by crook. I love that in a heel. They can hang with the best and beat them clean, and sometimes they will but if they need to reach into that bad guy handbook there will be no hesitation. This week they went up against a guy in Pete Dunne who I will be looking to put on the list every time he is on screen. This week wasn’t about the Bruiserweight though, nor was it about his insanely athletic partner Ricochet. Kyle O’Reilly took a backseat from the exceptional run of tag matches he has been having for UE and left it to Adam Cole and Roderick Strong. The change was as seamless as it was when Strong took over from Bobby Fish. Whatever combination the group put out, they deliver the goods and this week was no exception.
7. Buddy Murphy (205 Live)
At the times I’ve been a viewer of 205 Live, I’ve enjoyed it very much. However it has been a long time since I have watched it. When I stopped, Buddy Murphy was fresh to the brand. I’ve heard a lot of hype about the Aussie since then but in the name of doing this column justice, it’s now time for me to check him out a little closer. The guy definitely has talent. The huge positive with 205 Live is that is gives this talent an outlet, with good basic storylines and time to show what they have. Murphy certainly made the most of it in his main event against Kalisto. I guess this has been a regular occurrence over the last few months based on the reactions I have been seeing. Buddy seems to be bringing a fantastic well rounded game to the table and picked up a big win against the Lucha House Party member, who more than held up his end of the bargain. I look forward to seeing if the Australian can push for a regular place on this list and what kind of competition he will receive from his fellow Cruiserweights such as Austin Aries, Neville and Enzo Amore. Oh.
6. Andrade Cien Almas (SmackDown Live)
Full disclosure. I am a big fan of Almas and Vega. Chances are I will be pushing for their inclusion quite a lot. It’s been clear that El Idolo has lacked direction since his call up from NXT, yet his partnership with Zelina has still managed to turn heads. They are both very good at what they do and that shines through wherever they land on the show (when they land on the show). This week, that was playing pawns in the game pitting Daniel Bryan against The Miz. But Cien didn’t just blend into the background. He put on a very strong TV match with Bryan. While that is to be expected when you consider the talent, that doesn’t always shine through in a throwaway TV bout. Vega got to show off her promo chops too before things kicked off and Almas proved to be a top level wrestler whilst in elite company. Hopefully we can see this feud on a bigger stage at some point down the line but more importantly, hopefully it has Andrade move onto another entertaining TV storyline, just as his recent feud with Rusev was.
5. Samoa Joe (SmackDown Live)
Was Joe even at the SmackDown tapings this week? Probably but for all we know he may have recorded his backstage segment last week and took some extended time at home. Or with Wendy. Hell that would make a great reveal next week. AJ was running around the Scotiabank Arena looking for a guy who actually had his feet up on his sofa back in Georgia. Right, this isn’t a fantasy booking column so let’s get back to the Samoan at hand. Joe’s promo game is on absolute point right now, so much so that he nabbed a place in the top half of the the inaugural LoP Power 10 without having any physical interaction. A slightly psychotic phone call to the wife of a redneck was all it took. Joe’s psychological warfare in pursuit of the WWE title is extremely menacing and is making for some compelling viewing right now. I actually hope it ends successfully. I love AJ but the Phenomenal One hasn’t been a particularly interesting character during this lengthy title reign. With a lot of talent swimming around the top end of that SmackDown Live roster, I think it is about time for a change and Joe is the guy to carry us through the autumn.
4. Braun Strowman (Raw)
It was a really busy Monday night for the Monster Among Men. He came into the week with a lot of controversy surrounding his attempted cash-in that was scuppered by The Shield. His reaction would be to call his shot once more, this time for inside a cell where Dean and Seth won’t be able to interfere. Makes perfect sense. Finding himself in tag action with Roman for the the main event was a bit more of a stretch, however when Ziggler and McIntyre ran their mouth, that’s where we would end up. Braun saw a chance for vengeance however, refusing to come into the ring and then initiating a 3-on-1 beat down. The big debate was whether we had witnessed a heel turn. In the purest sense, at face value, it seemed so but we are talking about a guy who tortured poor KO for weeks just because Kev wanted to be friends. He may just be using Dolph and Drew to even up the numbers game. It’s a case of watch this space, but as this story plays out, Strowman finds himself in an extremely prominent position. With Lesnar thankfully out of our lives and a the Universal title on weekly television, there is a glaring hole for a top heel on Monday nights. Would a full on heel turn really be bad move for Braun? We may well get to see the answer to that play out over the next couple of months.
3. Seth Rollins (Raw)
Get used to seeing The Architect on this list, and not just because ‘Plan is part of the voting committee. Seth is the clear front runner for WWE’s wrestler of 2018. He has been on fire ever since he decided to burn it down. With the Shield reunion happening on last week’s Raw, I was half expecting them to show up on this list as a group. They generally went about their business individually this week though with Rollins being the standout following an exceptional TV bout with Kevin Owens. This is nothing new for anybody who has been paying attention this year. There have been times where Raw has been absolutely dire, yet Rollins has always been a positive to hold onto. With the Intercontinental Championship back around his waist, and his buddies by his side, the end of the year should be just as strong as everything that has come before.
2. Becky Lynch (SmackDown Live)
Talk about a hot button topic right now. I’ve got a lot to say about the Becky Lynch situation. I won’t go into too much detail here however. If you like a bit of podcasting be sure to check out The Right Side of the Pond on LoP Radio where ‘Plan, Maverick and I discuss things with a bit more depth (link at the end of the column). The long and short of things however is that I hold consistent character progression and storytelling in much higher regard than goodies and baddies. I think it’s a very outdated concept and while WWE still does present a lot of their talent on one side or the other, our reaction to that as fans really hasn’t mattered for over two decades. The Lass Kicker is a perfect case in point. I’ve often found her dull and a poor promo. She can go in the ring, but I was less intrigued with her than her fellow (fella?) horsewomen. During her two years on the main roster she hasn’t had one interesting storyline to help change my opinion. Until now. I sympathise with her right now. Circumstance is screwing her over and her competitive, unsympathetic and oh so gifted friend has taken full advantage. It very much reminds me of one of the my favourite storylines and what I believe to be the greatest series of matches in WWE history. Becky is playing Christian to Charlotte’s Orton right now and it has me highly intrigued. That arc will now be remembered as one of the best ever but the initial backlash to it was not too dissimilar to what we have seen now. The important thing is that Becky is in the spotlight. Becky is main eventing TV. Becky is probably the most compelling character on the roster at this moment and the fans getting behind her edgy side. This all means things are looking as good as they ever have for the Lass Kicker.
1. Kevin Owens (Raw)
Is KO in the doghouse? This is a question I was asking myself every week during his feud with Strowman. You could realistically ask the same question at points during that seemingly endless feud with Shane too. Fact is Shania Twain’s number one fan seems to be getting a raw deal quite a lot (pun’s always intended). He also seems to make the absolute best of every bad situation he is in. Even when he was squashed by an 83-year-old Bill Goldberg he tried to make things as entertaining as possible. Are things about to turn the corner though? A genuine TV match of the year contender on home soil against Seth Rollins was followed up with an intriguing Dave Batista-style resignation. I guess the big question is where does he end up? While he won’t be All In and certainly won’t be showing up on Impact, could he head back over to the blue brand? Will he drop weight and try out for 205 Live? Another Stephanie intervention is probably more likely but wherever the chips fall, I just hope he gets out something that matches the considerable effort he puts in.
So there we have it ladies and gents. The first edition of the WWE Power 10 is in the bag. There was very little between the top 3 this week but Kevin Owen just pips the mega-hot Becky Lynch for the very first number one spot. I hope you enjoyed this look back at the best performances of the week. I shall be back again next week and let’s hope we can see some new faces on the list. In the meantime, feel free to leave me your thoughts below or you can hit me up on the Twitter.
You can also check out more in depth thoughts on Braun and Becky from myself and fellow columnists Maverick and ‘Plan on our latest episode of The Right Side of the Pond.
Until next week, peace!
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