One thing that becomes clear in the Aftermath of WrestleMania is that this company is in urgent need of some top babyfaces. It makes sense the company as a whole would be a heel factory, with much of the focus being on the companies top star John Cena. On Smackdown, Jack Swagger cashes in Money in the Bank, becoming World Heavyweight Champion defeating an injured Chris Jericho. To give Swagger a credible challenger for Extreme Rules, Randy Orton from Raw needs to be brought in. Jericho calls out how much this doesn’t make sense in a promo that a Raw superstar is competing for Smackdown’s World Title. However, I do have some mercy for this decision when we look at the depth of the Smackdown babyface roster. The top two faces on Smackdown are Rey Mysterio, knee deep in his issues with CM Punk, and Edge, who is already paired with Chris Jericho. After that, the pickings get slim. You’ve got John Morrison, Matt Hardy, and a tweener Kane. They try to alleviate this with the Draft at the end of the month. Kofi Kingston and Christian get moved to Smackdown as well as The Big Show, who is immediately turned face. Then Morrison and Edge are moved off Smackdown so what did we really accomplish? With the retirement of Shawn Michaels and Undertaker being moved to a part time schedule, the pain is being felt already here in April of 2010. They are going to need to level up some guys. Batista is going to be leaving soon to pursue his Hollywood dreams. There are big holes on the top of this roster and some real opportunity to make some big stars for the future. Let’s see what they will do to fill these gaps in the roster.
Raw has a pretty good month overall. In general, the in ring action is better than one would expect. The guest host segments are unobtrusive and even enjoyable at time. The limits on the power of the guest host of Raw aren’t exactly well defined though. David Hasselhoff is allowed to make a match at Extreme Rules for the Smackdown World Heavyweight Championship, plugging Randy Orton into that match, as he has back to back wins over Jack Swagger on the previous two Raws. This month also is when a volcano erupts in Iceland, covering most of Western Europe in a cloud of ash, stranding most of the Raw roster in Europe. It’s an unique show, utilizing who they had available and bringing in The Undertaker to spice things up a bit. This is also the episode of Raw where MacGruber blows up R Truth. On top of the card, heading towards Extreme Rules, we have a rematch between John Cena and Batista who will have a Last Man Standing Match. Last Man Standing is a match type that often delivers in WWE. Then we end the month with the always anticipated Draft. So Raw is a real solid show for this month.
Duct Tape: A Handyman’s Best Friend.
Batista evokes his rematch clause, having lost the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 26 to John Cena. David Otunga blows a chance to be half of the Unified Tag Team Champions with John Cena. Otunga earns the chance to guest host Raw as a condition of winning a challenge on NXT. He books himself in a Unified Tag Team Title Match with John Cena as his partner against ShowMiz. Otunga leaves Cena for dead, giving Batista a chance to attack and declare their rematch at Extreme Rules will be a Last Man Standing Match. The build is largely built around promos and video packages. The go home show was interrupted by the aforementioned volcanic eruption in Iceland but I don’t think it really hurt the match. The match itself was as good or bad as you like the finish. Cena wraps Batista’s legs in duct tape around a ring post to win the Last Man Standing Match. I think it makes a lot of sense if you’re going for a third match between the two. Most of the matches at Extreme Rules was remarkably light on plunder until the main event, which I think was a wise decision. Batista will get another chance at John Cena, winning a Triple Threat Match on the Raw after Extreme Rules involving Randy Orton and Sheamus.
You Wear Your Cowardice Well.
Sheamus’ gimmick seems to be the guy who attacks people from behind. On the Shawn Michaels Retirement episode of Raw, he nails Triple H from behind with a lead pipe to the head. He does the same thing to Kofi Kingston and a random stage hand. At Extreme Rules, Sheamus will face Triple H in a Street Fight. As the show opens, Sheamus does another sneak attack on Triple H, causing nerve damage. There is talk that Triple H won’t be able to make the match later in the night. Triple H guts it out and makes it for the match. Sheamus ultimately gets the better of Triple H in a very good match. It looks like Triple H will be on the shelf for a while after this program. Sheamus doesn’t succeed in getting a title match against John Cena, losing in a Triple Threat Match with Batista and Randy Orton.
ShowMiz Was Awesome.
It is very important to The Miz that he gets the recognition he feels like he deserves from Bret Hart, for some reason. The Miz defeats DH Smith in a singles match, which will force Bret to state ShowMiz is the greatest tag team of all time. When Bret finally makes his declaration, he also declares The Mountie to be the greatest Intercontinental Champion of All Time. At Extreme Rules, Miz talks his way into gauntlet match by verbally sparring with Teddy Long, much to the annoyance of Big Show. First, ShowMiz defeat R Truth and John Morrison. Next, they take care of Mark Henry and MVP. However, The Hart Dynasty find ShowMiz to be easy pickings, winning their portion of the gauntlet match, earning a title match the next night on Raw. Tyson Kidd and DH Smith capture the Unified Tag Team Titles on the draft episode of Raw. Big Show has had about enough of Miz’s big mouth and nails him with a stiff punch. Shortly thereafter Big Show gets drafted to Smackdown, turning face in the process. I thought ShowMiz was together longer than they actually were. I think they could have got more out of this team.
The Miz is still heavily featured on NXT but has pulled back on his Smackdown duties from the previous month. Miz is approaching his 20th year in the WWE. One of the reasons, I believe, for his longevity is his willingness to take opportunities like this and make the best out of them. Miz puts a lot of effort into his role as an NXT Pro. The Miz makes Daniel Bryan take his place in a match against Skip Sheffield due to Big Show breaking Miz’s jaw.
Ted DiBiase Jr is going to start getting a bit of a push following The Legacy break up. They haven’t updated his Titantron as of the end of April yet, which is a bit frustrating. To begin the month, Ted Jr comes out with the Million Dollar Championship belt. Previously, Junior stated he didn’t want his father’s hand me downs. I guess he changed his mind. Ted Jr wins a battle royal to net three draft picks for Raw. He doesn’t have anything to do on Extreme Rules. It’s not a giant push but on Raw, beggars can’t be choosers.
The work and storytelling on Smackdown is solid as usual in the month of April in 2010. I feel like they suffer some from the results of the draft. If they are committed to Jack Swagger as a champion, he is going to need challengers. Jericho, even though he is supposed to be banned from Raw for life, gets drafted to the red brand. There is a natural feud between Swagger and Jericho, considering that is who Jack cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase on. Edge stands tall coming out of his feud with Chris Jericho. He gets moved to Raw and turned heel. John Morrison looks like he is being positioned to break out of the mid card after a shocking victory over Swagger on the go home episode of Smackdown going into Extreme Rules. Morrison gets send to Raw along with R Truth who is another possible face contender if they felt like it. Their solution to their babyface problems on Smackdown is to turn Big Show and make him number one contender. You really appreciate how big Jack Swagger is when you see him up close to Big Show and Show isn’t that much taller.
The All American American
It seems Jack Swagger has been handed a double edge sword this month. On one hand, Swagger is getting what may ultimately be the biggest push of his career, made World Heavyweight Champion, and has some of the best matches on Raw and Smackdown this month. On the other, he is given the difficult task of being asked to completely change his character after winning the World Heavyweight Championship. He goes from enthusiastic and kind of nerdy jock to stoic dude who cuts well annunuciated but dull promos. It’s hard enough to get over as a World’s Champion coming off a Money in the Bank cash in, which has proven to be the case repeatedly over the years. Also, Swagger wasn’t exactly positioned as World Title Material so far in 2010. Now he has to do that while getting over this new character which can best be described as a boring jerk. But wait, there is more. After winning the title, Swagger goes to Raw to lose to Randy Orton. He will also lose to The Undertaker on the Volcano edition of Raw and to John Morrison leading into Extreme Rules. It’s hard to complain when he is on almost every show this month. But can you tell me who has ever gotten over as boring Champion that loses all the time? Ultimately, he does prevail over Randy Orton at Extreme Rules. Swagger gets a little revenge on John Morrison, beating him on the draft episode of Raw. Also he wins a Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship against Chris Jericho and Edge, which is the best TV match this month. So it’s not all bad for Jack. But I don’t think he is exactly being set up to succeed.
Rage in a Cage.
Jericho comes out to brag about his WrestleMania win, struggling bad with a rib injury as a result of being speared through the ringside barricade after that match. Edge comes out asking for a rematch. Jericho tells him where to shove it and gets another spear as a result. Then here comes Jack Swagger with his Money in the Bank briefcase. He clocks Edge in the back of the head with the briefcase and asks for a referee to come out because he is cashing in. Edge and Jericho spend a good portion of the month dueling on mic against each other. On the 4/9 Smackdown, they have a very good match against each other. The next week, they are in a Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship. On the volcano edition of Raw, they are opposite of each other in a Six Man Tag. Edge teams with Triple H and Rey Mysterio to face CM Punk, Luke Gallows, and Jericho. As an aside, even at this point Luke Gallows is much better in the ring than he is given credit for. It is announced that at Extreme Rules Chris Jericho and Edge will face each other in a Steel Cage Match. Jericho ,with Wade Barrett at his side, cuts a promo on Edge in a cage to make a point. Edge interrupts and Jericho leave Barrett to take a beating from Edge. The Cage Match was quite good. Edge leaves victorious. Both get drafted to Raw. Edge uses this occasion to spear Randy Orton for some reason, costing The Viper a chance to face WWE Champion John Cena. Edge tries to have an emotional moment on Smackdown, exiting the show after 3 years on the blue brand. Christian interrupts and tells everyone that Edge is a lying sack of crap. And Edge admits he was playing the people all along, blowing all of the good will built up since the Royal Rumble. This promotion needs more faces than heels but whatever. Jericho’s lifetime ban from Raw was only a couple of months. It seems like after this bitter feud, it would be best to keep these two on different shows but that’s not the direction they are going.
Hair vs Pledge.
Speaking of stipulations we don’t follow through on. CM Punk and Rey Mysterio continue their issues from WrestleMania into this month. At Extreme Rules, CM Punk will put up his hair against Rey Mysterio joining the Straight Edge Society. They really get over the importance of CM Punk’s hair as a symbol of purity. Punk wins the match at Extreme Rules thanks to a masked assailant appearing from under the ring to attack Rey. Then they just forget about the stipulation. Rey is supposed to join the Straight Edge Society but they just forget the whole thing. Like it never happened.
Following a lose to John Morrison and R Truth, Shad turns on JTG, breaking up Cryme Tyme. Shad declares Cryme Tyme is over. Its now My Time. I can see why they saw something in Shad. He had size and an intensity that definitely stood out. There is certainly something there with Shad. They will settle their issues with a Strap Match at Extreme Rules. JTG comes out on top.
The IC Title Is Definitely Still A Thing.
Drew McIntyre and Matt Hardy have diminishing returns in a series of TV matches on Smackdown for the Intercontinental Championship. Drew severely and purposely injures Matt Hardy during a tag match on the 4/23 Smackdown. It really doesn’t feel like the company has their heart in this feud. Hardy, Drew, and the title all feel like an afterthought.
Return of the Sleeper.
Dolph Ziggler has perfected The Sleeper and he brings it back. To start the month, Dolph puts out The Great Khali with it. The match was not terrible by Great Khali standards. On the draft episode of Raw, Dolph puts Hornswoggle to sleep. Now that’s heat.
The draft brings some fresh faces to Smackdown. They are very excited about Kelly Kelly coming over to Smackdown. I don’t share their enthusiasm. We have a Chavo Guerrero sighting. He cuts a brief promo and gets chokeslammed by Kane. Cody Rhodes re-emerges from obscurity of The Legacy feud. Kofi Kingston has some potential to be a top face on this show. We know his day is coming but it won’t be for some time yet. Chris Masters cuts a promo that’s not half bad. MVP comes over to Smackdown. He has really cooled off since his feud with The Miz. They can probably get him hot again if they play their cards right.
This month they decided to spice things up for this competition. That means doing some challenges to test the rookies. The one that actually may matter to professional wrestling or sports entertainment is where they have the rookies ad lib a promo based off a one word topic. The others are silly nonsense from Nickelodeon game shows. Keg toss, obstacles courses, selling programs, and playing American Gladiators. These segments are grim death and kill the live crowd deader than fried chicken. To make matters worse, Wade Barrett wins a challenge and is supposed to get his own entrance music. It never happens which makes that the third failed stipulation of the month. One of the good things they do are some packages where the pros talk about what they are seeing from a given rookie. They are sit down interview style, very much in the vain of the DVDs produced at the time. The pros speak in a way that seems out of character, the way they give their real thoughts in a DVD special. This really works and is the sort of thing that advances these characters, showing their strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve been reluctant to say they are burying Daniel Bryan. I still think they are telling an underdog story, putting Bryan behind the 8 ball and giving him something to battle back from after this whole thing is over. It seems clear he is throwing all of the competitions, where as some of the other guys are putting in serious effort. Daniel Bryan is still losing all of his matches. He’s not exactly looking strong in many of them either. He has a match with William Regal that could have been a good showcase for him if they had given it some time. The problem is, if you have only seen WWE programming and never saw a second of his work in Ring of Honor, you would be wondering what is the big deal about this guy? Why is the internet so hyped about him of all people?
Something else that happens this month is the rookies making appearances on Raw and Smackdown. David Otunga guest hosts Raw, booking himself in a Unified Tag Team Title Match. Otunga also gets a one on one match against John Cena per the request of David Hasselhoff. Darren Young comes close to joining the Straight Edge Society then changes his mind. Young teams with Punk and Gallows the next week to try to make it up to them even though he still won’t join. Wade Barrett takes a beating from Edge to build the match between Jericho and Edge in a Steel Cage. The in ring action is starting to plateau a little bit. The biggest moment is Heath Slater getting an upset win over Chris Jericho leading up to Extreme Rules. Slater also has a pretty decent match against Kane in which he is not so lucky. I don’t think any of the NXT matches will make the recommend list this month. I still think they are doing a better job getting over these eight people than most of the lower or mid card talent on the main roster.
- John Cena vs Batista. Last Man Standing Match. Extreme Rules 2010.
- Chris Jericho vs Edge. Steel Cage Match. Extreme Rules 2010.
- Jack Swagger vs Chris Jericho vs Edge. Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship. 4/16 Smackdown.
- Edge vs Chris Jericho. 4/9 Smackdown.
- Jack Swagger vs The Undertaker. 4/19 Raw.
- CM Punk vs Rey Mysterio. Hair vs Pledge Match. Extreme Rules 2010.
- Triple H vs Sheamus. Street Fight. Extreme Rules 2010.
- Jack Swagger vs John Morrison. 4/9 Smackdown
- Jack Swagger vs Randy Orton. 4/5 Raw.
- Jack Swagger vs John Morrison. 4/23 Smackdown.
- Randy Orton vs Batista. 4/12 Raw.
- Randy Orton vs Jack Swagger. Extreme Rules 2010.
- Jack Swagger vs John Morrison. 4/26 Raw.
- Drew McIntyre vs Matt Hardy. 4/9 Smackdown.
- John Cena vs David Otunga. 4/12 Raw.
- Sheamus vs Kofi Kingston. 4/12 Raw.
Once every four months or so I’m going to reexamine my GWWE list from 2017 and examine who from the last few months is on the rise, going down, or remaining the same as my original rankings.
On the Rise.
Undertaker. Ranked 15th.
Between the WrestleMania match with Shawn Michaels and coming off the bench cold to have a good match with Jack Swagger while the Raw roster was stuck in Europe, his willingness to put over Chris Jericho in Elimination Chamber, I can find a spot or two higher than 15th for The Man from the Darkside.
The Miz. Ranked 46th.
He is such a workhorse for this company. Miz is still with the company today in a fairly prominent role which is amazing. Based on what I have seen so far and how far we have to go, I have to believe The Miz will only go higher.
The Big Show. Ranked 70th.
Maybe I was a little hard on The Big Show the first time around. I liked his team with The Miz a lot. We’ll see how much he can go up from 70.
Batista. Ranked 36th.
I love this heel version of Batista. We didn’t get to have him for long enough. A lot is going to be happening between 2010 and 2020. And Batista is pretty much finishing up his run soon in 2010. Maybe he will crack the Top 30 or get lost in the shuffle. It’s hard to believe I won’t rank him better this time.
Jack Swagger. Michelle McCool. Sheamus. John Morrison. Heath Slater. Previously unranked.
The story is the same for all of these. I previously had them unranked. I like what I am seeing so far. They are on the radar as of now.
John Cena. 4th. Shawn Michaels. 8th. Chris Jericho. 12th. Rey Mysterio. 20th. Daniel Bryan. 21st. CM Punk. 23rd. Randy Orton. 24th. William Regal 29th. Edge. 30th. Christian. 43rd. Kane. 52nd. Zack Ryder. 100th.
For all of these, the song remains the same. Either the people in front of them are too much to overcome based on what I have seen or I see no reason to down rank them based on what I have seen is far. John Cena has Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, and Stone Cold Steve Austin ahead of him. I would need to see something exceptional for him to move ahead of Austin. Not to say it won’t happen but that’s a large mountain to climb. Same thing with several of these other guys.
R Truth. Unranked.
Truth is going to have a very long run in this company. It seems I have to give him consideration based on that. I’ve always said with this project, how you play your role is at least as important as the role you’re given. This isn’t the top 100 pushes in WWE history. Or top 100 stars in WWE history. I ranked Barry Horowitz last time because he was a great enhancement talent. In that role, he was excellent. Truth may have not had World Title runs or main evented WrestleMania. But he has had a job for over 15 years. There is a reason he is kept on this roster and I’m determined to find out what it is.
On the Way Down.
Dolph Ziggler. 28th.
I think I overrated Dolph Ziggler. I like the sleeper storyline. That he had a decent match with The Great Khali will be taken into consideration. But seeing that this character hasn’t evolved at all in 12 years, it’s soured me a bit on Dolph.
Triple H. 38th.
There are two different characters with Triple H at this point in 2010. DX Triple H, who is a beloved face but doesn’t have the aggressive tendencies to be a top guy. And The Game, who does have that aggressive streak in him. The problem is they try to get The Game over as a face here and it’s not working. One of the reasons I had him so low was he just wasn’t that good of a babyface and its confirmed here.
Matt Hardy. 40th.
It’s easy to remember his high spots and big career moments. We tend to forget periods of time like this where he was just irrelevant. Matt has had long stretches of doing nothing in this company and this is one of those times.
Cody Rhodes. 61st.
What the hell was I thinking? I don’t know if anyone will fall further than Cody Rhodes. He will barely be on the bubble going forward.
Shelton Benjamin. 69th. Wade Barrett. 84th.
They are both personal favorites that I overrated and found a spot for. Looking forward to all the people coming up in the 2010s, it’s going to be hard to justify either of these guys at their current position.
That’s all for April. As always, commentary and conversation is appreciated.