More than any month on the wrestling calendar, every fan during February is thinking, hurry up and get over with it. Even if WrestleMania is in April, getting into March is a sweet feeling for a fan. Granted some years the build-up is awful, but more often than not the show still delivers. But we still first have to get through dreaded February.
- It will be based exclusively for the listed month.
- And on how much I enjoyed their promos, segments, and/or matches of that particular month.
- It could also be purely speculative.
- 205 Live
The end of last month was the beginning of the HHH era of 205 Live. I was excited. A month later things are still kicking ass, to the point where 205 is probably my favorite show on a week-to-week basis. It’s amazing how you get rid of Vince, and the shows immediately become better.
It hasn’t quite lived up to the impossible standards set by the CWC, but at this point, that shouldn’t be the goal. An entertaining television show with wrestlers that we now can care about because they have purpose is the true goal. And that goal is being met each week. Drake Maverick has been phenomenal in his role, and his enthusiasm is contagious. He makes me root for these guys harder than I already was.
Speaking of rooting for, is there anyone not rooting for Roderick Strong to win this thing? He was a surprise entrant, and has been knocking the socks off of anyone who stands in his path. (He and Hideo had a very good opening round match.) He winning would be a perfect way to make a new star, and Roddy would be a great new workhorse champion leading the way for this new era. I had him ranked number five last month, and had I not lumped all of 205 into this one category, he may have been number one regardless.
Roddy’s opponent for next week is Cedric Alexander. Before I saw the brackets, I thought this could be the finals. In case you haven’t noticed, Cedric wins all the time. I looked it up, and his last singles loss on television was in August! It would make perfect sense for him to win the championship as well. Something has to give next week and I’m super excited to see it unfold.
2. AJ Styles
Last month: 2
Styles holds steady from last month, and capped off the month with another great match against Cena on Smackdown. Surly there is no chance of him losing the WWE championship at Fastlane despite every week a new challenger getting added to the match?
3. Johnny Gargano/Tommaso Ciampa
Last month: 3
Gargano was cost his job in NXT by the dastardly Ciampa, who is embracing this “blackheart” role to perfection. We know firings don’t last in wrestling, and I’m sure some loophole will allow for the match to happen at Takeover. And I’m sure it will be great.
4. John Cena
Last month: N/R
I’m really enjoying this “desperate” Cena. It’s quite refreshing from the “SuperCena” we’ve been accustomed to for so long. I genuinely have no idea who he will face at WrestleMania and I’m really surprised by the stare down with Nakamura on Smackdown. They wouldn’t? Would they?
5. Smackdown Tag Team Division
Last month: 9
Naturally this applies mostly to New Day and the Usos. However, I really enjoy the nice touch of the Bludgeon Brothers coming out early whenever a team is still in the ring from the previous match, just to let their presence known, and that they’re coming for you.
As for the former, the New Day and Uso faceoff on Smackdown was fantastic. The Usos complete 180 turn is nothing short of remarkable, which is pretty much what they referenced in that promo. Then came the big money.
Big E is awesome. He’s easily the most entertaining of the three guys. Then he pulled an about-face and delivered a kick-ass serious promo that damn near gave me goosebumps. Kofi and Xavier didn’t say anything. They didn’t need to. When he eventually goes out on his own, Big E will be a big-time player.
6. Aleister Black
Last month: 7
The wheels are set in motion, and Black is aiming for the title at Takeover: New Orleans. Sure, he has to get through big Killian Dain, but does anyone not see that happening? Aleister has been an impact player since his debut, and being crowned champion is the only thing left he has to do.
7. Alexa Bliss
Last month: N/R
Alexa got me hook, line, and sinker with her Elimination Chamber promo. I initially was pissed off because why would you have your heel talking in that babyface manner? Then she flipped the switch and made a fool out of me and everyone else. Awesome stuff.
For the first year of the brand split, I found Smackdown’s women’s division much more entertaining than Raw’s. Since the shuffle up, Smackdown’s has been poor at best, while Raw’s has been much better. The common denominator here? Alexa Bliss.
8. Seth Rollins/Finn Balor
Balor got built up during January, while Rollins got built up during February. They’ve been trying to “one up” each other as of late, and I would really like to see a one on one match at Mania. Capitalize on what Summerslam ’16 could have been (although it was still pretty good.) Unfortunately, it seems they are going to be involved with the Miz in some sort of multi-man match. I’m sure it will be a “fatal five way” because for some reason Vince has a huge hard on for them the last year. Regardless I’m still holding out hope for a traditional one on one match between the two.
9. Shinsuke Nakamura
Last month: 1
If you look up “cruise control” in the dictionary, you’ll see Nakamura’s February. Honestly though I’m fine with it. It’s much better than the overplayed angle of the heel challenging him, “If I beat you at February’s PPV then I’m the new number one contender at WrestleMania,” trope that got played over and over again. Keep him on TV enough to still seem important and relevant– basically the opposite of what they do with Brock.
10. Roman Reigns
Last month: N/R
Wait what?!? Yes, it’s true. February was the month of good promos because with one jab against Lesnar, I was interested in their match. Whether it was a shoot or not, I don’t care. It made me relate to Roman for the first time ever. I hate Brock. I hate that he doesn’t have to defend his title at every PPV.
This immediately gave me a flashback to 2012. I had hated Cena with a passion up until that point, much like RR nowadays, but the more I listened to the Cena vs. Rock verbal jabs, I started to side with Cena. Rock was only present part of the time for the build-up, and he would visibly be reading notes off of his hand when he was there! I didn’t totally jump on the Cena bandwagon then, but the ice began to thaw on that idea.
Would I rather have a champion that is around that I hate, or a champion that is never around? Surprisingly I want the one around because that at least creates the illusion that he cares. I get the idea of building mystique for Lesnar, but to me that idea is shot full of holes when he isn’t fulfilling his 30-day title defense clause. Someone get Jack Tunney on the phone!
So yes, I am now officially rooting for Roman Reigns. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go jump off a bridge.
Falling out of the top 10:
Pete Dunne- For some reason I was under the impression that his match with Roddy would be at a Takeover, that and I had too unrealistic expectations for the match to begin with. The match was okay as a result, but nothing to write home about. And of course, that was his only appearance this month, so he had to drop.
Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn- I think these guys are getting lost in the shuffle with the ever-increasing number of participants in the main event for Fastlane. The feud with Shane also seems to be going nowhere at this point.
Victor Parenza (@parenzabooks)