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Weekly Brainbuster: Matt’s Power Rankings 12/6/19

Matt crunches the numbers to develop his Brainbuster Power Rankings for this week!

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WWE Kabuki Warriors Kairi Sane Asuka Mike Rome

Matt crunches the numbers to develop his Brainbuster Power Rankings for this week!

Welcome to the ninth edition of the Weekly Brainbuster Power Rankings! We are still feeling the after shocks of Survivor Series and WarGames but, we are on the road to the Royal Rumble! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We are discussing the week of 11/29-12/5! We will be comparing WWE (RAW and SDL), NXT (205 Live, NXT, NXT UK), and AEW! Not much has changed in NJPW, so, the next NJPW update will be after WrestleKingdom in January.

These rankings are very much based on momentum as well as strength of opponent, weighing out “power rankings” based on head to head results. Each week, I will discuss five difference makers in wrestling and, using science, prove why they had the best week in wrestling! Greg DeMarco and I will compare our lists, giving you all two different types of power rankings!

1) WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions The Kabuki Warriors +28 [96 Overall Tag Score]

  • The Kabuki Warriors d. BlissCross, Charlotte & Becky Lynch, and Boss&Smug Connection, “WWE Starrcade”
  • The Kabuki Warriors d. Charlotte [Handicap], WWE RAW

There wasn’t much competition for this spot, and with two marque victories this week, the Kabuki Warriors made the biggest impression for me! They successfully defended the Women’s Tag Team Titles at a show I hold near to my heart, as do many of you. (I plead with WWE, give Starrcade to NXT! Move WarGames to September, and put Starrcade in December! Please!) This is the teams third appearance in my Top 5, and fourth appearance for Asuka overall. (The team also has a Runner Up appearance, as does Asuka, so 6 appearances for Asuka out of 9 articles.. what can I say?)

2) Andrade +14 [32 Overall Score]

  • Andrade d. Eric Young, WWE RAW

This is a tough week to grade with so little happening in the world of wrestling, but, I was and have been thoroughly impressed with Andrade. In July of this year, Andrade had a -74 overall score, and now here he is working his way into the Top 10, trailing by only a few points. Keep an eye on Andrade, I think he will be a United States Champion by early 2020!

3) Kris Statlander +18 [18 Overall Score]

  • Kris Statlander d. Hikura Shida, AEW Dynamite

If you had asked me when AEW became a company who would be my favorite female performer in the company at the end of the year, I’d have probably picked Riho, but it was Kris Statlander who’s impressed me the most. She made her singles debut this week, defeating Hikaru Shida in a great match, and cemented her place as a top contender for the AEW Women’s Championship. The division sorely needed someone new after Nyla Rosa and Britt Baker have failed to captivate audiences. This won’t be the last time Statlander is in the Top 5. If you want to see more of her work, check her out in Stardom!

4) Piper Niven +16 [80 Overall Score]

  • Piper Niven d. Jinny, NXT UK

I do not pick these rankings ahead of time, and seeing Piper Niven here shocked me too. There is a theme this week, and that is joshi performers are being utilized more and more in American wrestling than ever before. This is Piper’s first visit to this list, but she’s been on the Top 10 NXT Women’s list since the beginning. This win should net her an NXT UK Women’s Championship match at Blackpool in January, but we will see.

5) KUSHIDA +16 [86 Overall Score]

  • KUSHIDA d. Cameron Grimes, NXT

Statement win for KUSHIDA here coming back from injury. Both KUSHIDA and Grimes have had excellent years, and both men have mastered the flash pin, so it’s no wonder this match only went 4 minutes. Sometimes short matches are bad, but when you have two guys who try to win as fast as they can wrestle a 4 minute match, it’s entertaining.

Runners Up

  • 6) Killian Dain +23 [23 Overall Score]
  • 7) Jon Moxley +10 [87 Overall Score]

STANDINGS

WWE Men

  • Seth Rollins 188 (-)
  • Roman Reigns 165 (+9)
  • Buddy Murphy 151 (-)
  • WWE Champion Brock Lesnar 139 (-)
  • Braun Strowman 129 (-)
  • Aleister Black 122 (+12)
  • Baron Corbin 85 (-)
  • Ricochet 74 (-)
  • +Universal Champion The Fiend Bray Wyatt 62 (-)
  • +Bobby Lashley 56 (-2)

OUT: IC Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles

WWE Women

  • RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch 189 (-)
  • Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley 170 (-)
  • Charlotte 36 (-15)
  • Natalya 20 (-)
  • Nikki Cross 0 (-)
  • Sasha Banks -1 (-)
  • Lacey Evans -18 (-)
  • Mandy Rose -50 (-)
  • Sonya Deville -72 (-)
  • Carmella -85 (-)

WWE Women Tag Team

  • WWE Womens Tag Team Champions The Kabuki Warriors 96 (+28)
  • Charlotte & Becky Lynch 41 (-15)
  • Charlotte & Natayla 34 (-)
  • Carmella & Dana Brooke 12 (-)
  • Boss & Smug Connection 4 (-15)
  • Bliss/Cross -5 (-15)
  • The IIconics -28 (-)
  • Fire & Desire -110 (-)

WWE Tag Team

  • RAW Tag Team Champions The Viking Raiders 154 (+1)
  • Smackdown Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) 42 (+15)
  • Heavy Machinery 34 (-)
  • Ziggler & Roode 23 (-)
  • The Street Profits 21 (+11)
  • The Revival 16 (-)
  • Cesaro & Nakamura 1 (-15)
  • Ryder & Hawkins -56 (-)
  • The O.C. -104 (-11)

NXT Men

  • +Finn Balor 205 (+14)
  • NXT UK Champion WALTER 165 (-)
  • Tommaso Ciampa 128 (-14)
  • Pete Dunne 138 (-23)
  • Velveteen Dream 122 (-)
  • Matt Riddle 116 (+12)
  • NXT Champion Adam Cole 116 (-)
  • Travis Banks 96 (+14)
  • Joe Coffey 94 (-)
  • Jordan Devlin 90 (-)

OUT: Damian Priest

NXT Women

  • NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler 287 (+5)
  • Toni Storm 129 (-)
  • NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray 124 (-)
  • Rhea Ripley 120 (-)
  • Io Shirai 83 (-)
  • Piper Niven 80 (+16)
  • Jinny 54 (-16)
  • Mia Yim 53 (-)
  • Bianca BelAir 23 (-)
  • Tegan Nox 12 (-)

NXT Tag Team

  • NXT Tag Team Champions The Undisputed Era 69 (-)
  • Imperium 47 (-)
  • NXT UK Tag Team Champions Gallus 37 (-)
  • The Forgotten Sons 32 (+11)
  • Young Grizzled Veterans 28 (-)
  • Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch 0 (-)

AEW Men

  • Jon Moxley 87 (+10)
  • AEW Champion Chris Jericho 80 (-)
  • MJF 33 (+17)
  • Kenny Omega 32 (+17)
  • PAC 32 (-)
  • +Fenix 31 (+15)
  • Adam Page 13 (-17)
  • Cody 30 (-)
  • Darby Allin 16 (-)
  • Luchasaurus 15 (-)

OUT: Shawn Spears

AEW Women

  • AEW Women’s Champion Riho 77 (-)
  • +Kris Statlander 18 (+18)
  • Hikaru Shida 17 (-18)
  • Britt Baker 15 (-)
  • Awesome Kong 14 (-)
  • Nyla Rose 13 (+14)
  • Emi Sakura 2 (-)
  • Shanna -1 (-)
  • Jamie Hayter -16 (-)
  • Leva Bates -64 (-14)

AEW Tag Team

  • AEW Tag Team Champions SCU (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) 86 (-)
  • Ortiz & Santana 30 (+13)
  • Best Friends 17 (+17)
  • Private Party 15 (-)
  • The Lucha Bros 15 (-17)
  • The Young Bucks 14 (-)
  • The Dark Order 14 (-)
  • Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt -61 (-13)


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Cook’s Top 5: Royal Rumble Diesel Pushes

The Royal Rumble is right around the corner, and someone’s Diesel Push might be on the way! Steve Cook looks back at the Top 5, including Diesel himself!

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Shayna Baszler WWE Royal Rumble 2020

The Royal Rumble is right around the corner, and someone’s Diesel Push might be on the way! Steve Cook looks back at the Top 5 such pushes, including the man himself, Diesel!

You guys might have heard about this. The Royal Rumble is coming up on January 31! Thirty men & thirty women will compete in battle royals to determine who will get a title shot at WrestleMania. The winners will certainly receive a boost in attention and esteem, but there are other ways to stand out in a Rumble match.

One way: Eliminate a bunch of people!

It’s known by us geeks as the Diesel push. One individual, typically a large one, runs over the competition in a short amount of time and helps get rid of some of the deadwood in the ring. An important part of any Royal Rumble.

Here are the top 5 recipients of the Diesel Push! (There are six listed)

5. Great Khali (2007)

Khali always got things done in short order. This is why it doesn’t surprise me that 7 eliminations in 3:45 is the craziest stat in Royal Rumble history. The man knew what his job was, and he didn’t waste any time. He was also self-aware enough to know that his stamina wasn’t the best, he had a good number at 28, so if he threw everybody out as quickly as possible, he had a pretty good chance.

The downfall in Khali’s strategy? Undertaker was number 30. Tough break, kid. It probably looked really good to Khali when Miz pre-teaming with John Morrison came out at 29, and hopefully 30 would be somebody in that same category, but nah, it was Undertaker.

4. CM Punk (2011)

We all know that CM Punk’s push in WWE became bigger during 2011. We don’t know if that was originally intended or not, but things seemed to be picking up for him at the Rumble. At the time, Punk had taken control of The Nexus from Wade Barrett, so he had plenty of backup to support him during matches like thus one. Which he needed, since he drew #1. Fortunately, many of his Nexus minions also drew low numbers, so he was able to last thirty-five minutes and eliminate seven people.

The difference between this & most Diesel pushes: Punk was already a bit of a star at this point. He became a bigger one later in the year. The Rumble probably didn’t have much to do with it, but it didn’t hurt either.

3. Shayna Baszler & Bianca Belair (2020)

The 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble saw a pair of dominant women. Shayna Baszler was rewarded a little earlier. She got a Raw Women’s Championship match against Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. The less said other than that sentence, the better.

Bianca Belair eliminated the same number of women that Baszler did, which was eight if you’re scoring at home, or even if you’re alone. It took some time, but as I write this here & now, Belair is finally getting to show her skills on main roster TV. Completely outclassed Bayley on an obstacle course, proving to be a superior athlete. Doesn’t always translate to pro wrestling, but I won’t deny Bianca’s athletic ability.

Two Diesel pushes in one match is a bit much, but I see what they were going for here.

2. Roman Reigns (2014)

The Shield had been picking up momentum throughout 2013, and it seemed like they were on the verge of big things. Maybe a face turn, maybe the group splitting up, probably both because that’s usually what happens when members of a group start getting over. The 2014 Royal Rumble provided a good opportunity to make the Shield members into stars on their own. Seth Rollins entered second & lasted over forty-eight minutes. Dean Ambrose had a solid showing at over thirty-three minutes.

However, it was the Big Dog that stood out from the pack. Roman Reigns entered fifteenth and was the last person eliminated by the winner, Batista. Prior to that, he set a Royal Rumble record, eliminating twelve people. Including Rollins & Ambrose! The record lasted until the Greatest Royal Rumble match, where Braun Strowman eliminated thirteen people. There were fifty people in that match though, so it wasn’t quite as dominant.

Reigns’ performance was somewhat overshadowed by the lack of Daniel Bryan and the match ending up being CM Punk’s last, but it was still an important part of his push to the main event.

1. Diesel (1994)

It’s a tough call between the original recipient of the Diesel Push and the Big Dog. Why do we go with Diesel? For me, it’s where both men started from. Reigns was already seen as a viable future star in the eyes of many fans. We tend to forget it now since the fans turned on Reigns once he got the push, but the man got over pretty well with the smart fans as a Shield member, even with the other two members having more indy cred. You could tell Roman was going places.

Diesel? Well, he was tall and had good hair. He was barely even a wrestler though! Diesel came into the WWF as Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard, and spent most of his time prior to the 1994 Rumble backing up the Boy Toy. To be honest, most of us that had seen Diesel’s run in WCW as Vinnie Vegas were happier to see him in the bodyguard role than as a wrestler. He wasn’t seen as a future main eventer or world champion or anything like that, until the Rumble match.

After the Diesel push, Kevin Nash was ready to shine.


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Rob: Has Pro Wrestling Become Too Soft?

The Undertaker took the online wrestling community by storm with his comments on the current product, and Rob offers some perspective!

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The Undertaker WWE WrestleMania Boneyard Match

The Undertaker took the online wrestling community by storm with his comments on the current product, and Rob offers some perspective!

So……the Undertaker had some things to say about how the kids today just aren’t doing it the way they did back in his day, and that it’s hurting the product.  In short he said it was harder to watch now because it was soft, and the guys weren’t real enough men – they spend too much time trying to look good and do things like play video games instead of packing heat.  Uhh………yeah………ok, Mr Callaway.

Now look, we can talk about the ring work – I for one think that there are way too many matches that look more like a gymnastics floor routine than what’s supposed to be a fight, from the indies all the way up to the WWE.  If he wants to stick to that than I think he’s worth listening to.  But that’s not what he focused on.  No, he spoke about how guys used to carry guns and knives in their bags, and that guys ‘handled stuff’ back in the day, and weren’t so occupied with grooming or playing video games with each other.  And that the changed behavior over the last few years has made the overall wrestling product harder to enjoy.  Help me out here but I don’t see how playing video games with each other and paying more attention to how you look, smell, etc makes for a worse wrestling product.  The ring action, sure.  The promos, which I didn’t see mentioned in the quotes I saw, sure.  Whether or not you do your hair…..really?  Does he not remember the many male wrestlers of days gone by who were sold to women fans as good looking men they’d want to go home with?  The Von Erich boys, the Rock on Roll Express, Ravishing Rick Rude, the Fantastics, Magnum TA?  Does he not remember commentary damn near yelling out loud ‘HEY LADIES, AREN”T THESE DUDES HOT?’ when those guys and many others were in the ring?  Does he not remember guys like ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin, who was a proverbial man’s man but also had his valet (his real life wife Precious) spraying his hair while he was cutting promos?

But I got another question:

What kind of locker room does he think should exist? 

One where guys are dropping dead before the age of 50 or are concussed into oblivion?  Or one where they can work longer and not look pathetic if they so chose, or move on early if they want?

One where guys like Darren Young and Jake Atlas have to stay in the closet or where they can be out and accepted, where a guy like Randy Orton with his own checkered history will come up to them and say ‘if anyone gives you any crap, let me know?’

One where guys mostly keep each other out of trouble by doing things like……playing video games together or one where they’re out closing down the bar every night, getting into it with the police, etc.?

One where the men engage in all kinds of trifling behavior towards the women on the roster or one where they get along well enough for there to be genuine friendships where people look out for each other and even form some lasting romantic relationships?

And lastly in regards to guys carrying knives and guns instead of video games, do you want a locker room where guys work things out in a more civilized manner or one like where Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death?

Now he’s not the only one who says this kind of stuff.  A lot of guys from his generation have offered similar sentiments and there are a lot of podcasters who pine for the days when things felt more real and what not.  Well if we’re gonna keep it 100 a lot of those gave off more gravitas and sounded more real because they were legit living hard, messed up lives.  Drug problems.  Alcoholism.  Multiple marriages and divorces.  Bad relationships with their children.  Broken homes and childhoods that they were still traumatized over.  Failed careers in other professions.  I don’t know about you but I think it’s a plus that more of the guys seem to be living and working in such a way that they’re able to avoid those things.  I’ll take hearing Kofi and Xavier talk about their kids on the New Day Pod than a bunch of stories about how they were out boozing and cheating on their spouses in between shows.  The latter can be romanticized by guys who tell good stories and all, but the reality is a lot more grim (for good reference take a look at the ESPN documentary on Ric Flair).

And this goes beyond pro wrestling.  A lot of those old guys in our lives who say the same kind of things have suffered the same fates as their counterparts in the wrestling business.  It’s not healthy, full stop.  Just because you can’t relate with the guys who aren’t living and playing like you did 10, 20 years ago doesn’t mean that they’re doing it wrong.  As for the guys being ‘too pretty’ now…..it’s a lot easier to get opportunities to do things outside of wrestling if you look good, are well groomed, etc.  Acting gigs, TV gigs, magazine covers….you think Xavier Woods would have gotten a hosting job on the relaunched G4 network if he looked and groomed himself like Abdullah the Butcher?  Do you honestly think New Day would be more popular if they looked and acted more like what you consider to be real men?  I don’t see it.  And in an entertainment industry where women have to look damn near perfect just to get an interview I don’t think that men choosing to look as good as they possibly can is a negative.  And let’s not pretend that any of New Day can’t put their ring work alongside any guys from any era.  The video games, the gear colors and everything else don’t mean a damn thing as far as their abilities go.

Look man, time stops for no one.  Things change, and in this case I think they’ve changed for the better.  That he can’t see a trail several miles long of broken families, broken bodies, and premature death behind the ‘right way’ that he speaks of is kinda sad.


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