We here at The Chairshot aren’t the only people that love putting wrestling-related lists together! Daniel Bryan loves lists so much that he enlisted the SmackDown Live Superstars to rank themselves in a Top 10. Criteria included most talented, most athletic skill, and locker room leadership. Bryan & Shane McMahon will use the list to make matches.
Here’s the results of the first list:
10. Tye Dillinger
9. Randy Orton
8. Becky Lynch
7. The Usos
6. The New Day
5. Bobby Roode
3. Shinsuke Nakamura
2. Charlotte Flair
1. AJ Styles
One thing that stands out right away is the lack of rulebreakers. No Kevin Owens. Sami Zayn’s nowhere to be found. Not Jinder Mahal or even a Rusev. Obviously the SD locker room cares more about the third part of the criteria than the first two.
The second thing: It seems to me like it would make more sense to list male competitors, female competitors & tag teams separate. I know it’s uncouth to argue “Separate But Equal” in 2018, but how am I supposed to decide who’s better between Becky Lynch & Randy Orton? It’s not like WWE is going to let them have a match.
The third thing: New Day over Usos? Who won that feud again?
Oh, and Tye Dillinger at 10 is really cute and hilarious. But the dude is never on TV & hasn’t won a match on SD Live since October 3, 2017. Right when Bryan revealed him as number ten was when the list lost any sense of credibility.
You know what else doesn’t help it? Dolph Ziggler or Baron Corbin getting a chance to be in the WWE Championship Match at Fastlane when neither is anywhere to be seen in the Top 10. Rolling out this list and ignoring it for the purpose of ranking contenders in the same night isn’t a good look.
— WWE (@WWE) February 9, 2018
Remember when WCW had a Top 10? You could pick holes through the logic of who was rated where, and sometimes guys that weren’t number one got title shots, but at least they tried to have it make a little bit of sense. It certainly had a purpose, which was to rank the top contenders for the World Championship.
We’re not sure what the purpose of SmackDown’s Top 10 is. It has nothing to do with merit & everything with who you know. Which might be an accurate representation of how some people get their push.
To be fair, SmackDown’s Top 10 may end up being an interesting story device. The babyfaces can get jealous of each other over their spots. It may even facilitate a heel turn. Maybe eventually it will be used to determine who gets a title shot. Right now, it looks like a waste of time & resources. It seems pointless. Unfortunately, these same words can be used to describe SmackDown Live for much of the past year.
When I watch Monday Night Raw lately, I notice the sense of urgency the show has. It’s WrestleMania Season, after all. It’s time to build towards the biggest show of the year. Superstars are jockeying for position in the Elimination Chamber. You’ve got the Lesnars, Cenas & Reigns of the world staking their claim to the top of the card. There’s also guys like Braun Strowman & Elias busting their butts to get there someday.
Not everything on Raw is a hit. They have their fair share of misses. But even the misses have a purpose. The goal is to get talent over & build towards Elimination Chamber & WrestleMania.
SmackDown doesn’t have that same sense of urgency. It’s been missing for awhile now. The brand used to be the Land of Opportunity, and now half of the roster is lucky if they get on TV every couple of weeks. We said at the time of the Superstar Shakeup that SD got the bad end of it, and they haven’t been able to overcome their losses.
— Charlotte Flair (@MsCharlotteWWE) February 6, 2018
Getting Charlotte Flair in exchange for Alexa Bliss was an upgrade in a lot of ways, but a downgrade in some as well. Charlotte is better in the ring & has more credibility. Bliss is better on the microphone and does a better job of building up her opponents. People think Alexa can lose. Charlotte is nearly unbeatable. She isn’t the division-killer Asuka is, but it’s tough to buy the likes of the Riott Squad as legitimate threats.
The Miz was a huge loss for SmackDown on multiple levels. Not only did SmackDown lose their most effective heel talker, but General Manager Daniel Bryan lost a lot of his purpose on the show. He’s been reduced to passive-aggressive melodrama with Shane McMahon that’s either going nowhere or has drug out way too long to be properly effective.
Don’t get me wrong, Bryan is still tremendously over. If or when he does return to active competition, it’ll be a big deal. I’m not convinced that WWE can convince us that Shane McMahon is the proper opponent for Bryan’s comeback. Miz was perfect for the spot. Shane, not so much.
Miz & Alexa’s departure, along with their inability to be replaced, highlights the cancellation of Talking Smack, a tool that was used to give SD talent like them, Baron Corbin, the Usos & countless others more interview time & more chance to get over. Corbin especially benefitted from the extra exposure, and he hasn’t been the same since Talking Smack disappeared. Less opportunity = less success.
This time last year, Corbin seemed destined for big things on SD. Technically he still could be, as he & Dolph Ziggler are facing off this week for a slot in the WWE Championship Fatal 4-Way at Fastlane. It’s unclear what either man did to deserve a chance at the Championship. Especially Ziggler, who’s fresh off of vacating the US Championship. Remember when we thought that could lead to something with Bobby Roode? Nope, apparently throwing belts down and taking vacations gets you opportunities on SmackDown.
If SmackDown management doesn’t care that Dolph Ziggler made them look like fools, why should we? It comes back to a lack of urgency. Nothing on the show matters because nobody acts like it matters.
SmackDown’s Top 10 could create urgency.
Theoretically, rankings systems add legitimacy to sports. College football & basketball largely revolve around rankings. Boxing & UFC championship contenders are decided based on rankings. Heck, even golf has a rankings system that increases importance of events.
Give your rankings some legitimacy. Don’t leave your top contenders out because they aren’t popular in the locker room. If they aren’t seen as worthy of being ranked, why are they getting title shots all the time? It makes management look stupid for booking the matches. Have different rankings for the different championships.
Don’t rank Tye Dillinger #10 just to be cute. Get the guy on TV if you actually want to push him. Don’t present stuff just for the sake of filling time.
It’s really not rocket science. SmackDown Live will matter when the writers present things as if they matter. As long as they don’t, I’m happy the Nashville Predators have games most Tuesday nights.