Monday Night Raw aired live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. And thankfully, there was no mention or live performance by Florida Georgia Line or some other horrid country act to give an only partial representation of the local music scene.
Instead, we were treated to the “here’s where were going with this” episode after an ending that NO ONE saw coming.
So congratulations, Sheamus, you’re now the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and will suddenly be a weekly participant in the WWE’s post-raw power rankings. Here’s a look at who else ranks high on the company’s current hierarchy
5. New Day: New Day did what New Day does best, steal the show — sorry Dolph Ziggler. Then again, even he felt it was necessary to give WWE’s best trio its deserved recognition in a tweet he sent out during Raw’s broadcast:
— Dolph Ziggler (@HEELZiggler) November 24, 2015
New Day owned the Nashville crowd. Unsurprisingly, the topic was country music and why it’s so “booty.” As someone who spent eight years in Tennessee — most of them in Nashville — I thought this segment was, in typical New Day fashion, hilarious. The group also took the heel route by canceling its tag-team open challenge as the Lucha Dragons and Usos argued over who answered first, which led to them getting beat up in the ring. Still, New Day is most likely the first thing that comes across your mind when you think of the tag-team division and it doesn’t look like that’s going to chance any time soon.
4. Dean Ambrose: Dean “Roman Reigns’ BFF” Ambrose didn’t have the heel turn many expected because — once again — WWE is keen on making Reigns its top babyface. Turning his more popular friend heel on him is only going to add to his heat, rather than make him more liked. So Ambrose is pretty much where he left off. He’s a top guy, but he’ll only be pushed so far as to not show up Reigns. He managed to defeat top heel Kevin Owens and advance to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Finals on Sunday, then defeat the team of Owens and fellow NXT standout Tyler Breeze alongside Dolph Ziggler on Monday. So again, top-tier babyface but still being held under a glass ceiling.
3. Sheamus: Sheamus is your new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. And even though I saw it coming, I still feel “meh” at best. I read numerous fans give their analogies on Sheamus after his cash-in at Survivor Series and the consensus feeling is that he’s pretty good at everything but just lacks the “it factor” or proper booking for fans to care.
The heat Sheamus gets is based on his placement in matches as opposed to the likes of a Daniel Bryan — dating back to Bryan’s 18-second burial at WrestleMania 28 — or Ambrose. Fan favorites have been overlooked for a guy who’s had a history of receiving little to no reaction. Then, when he isn’t booked as a monster heel, he’s the ultimate 50-50 guy: a win here and a loss there. That’s why for weeks I’ve left him off this list even knowing that his title reign was imminent.
Like Seth Rollins, he’s had his ups and downs before cashing in and — as Monday was the first indication of — he will probably get his comeuppance every week on Raw even if he retains. The only problem is he’s not Rollins and will not bring the same entertainment value as a cowardly heel.
2. Roman Reigns: Make. Roman. Look. Strong. Man, I still miss CM Punk. But his words podcast comments about how WWE wanted him to work with The Shield — specifically making Reigns look like a standout despite losing — have been proven true with Reigns’ push over the past year. With each passing episode, Reigns looks more and more like the “next John Cena.”
So other than that, he’s a bright-colored shirt away from being the company’s flag bearer for the next decade. The thing is, even in defeat Reigns is still more of the main event storyline’s focus than Sheamus. The lasting image of Survivor Series was him in a pool of confetti and sorrow, which was WWE’s way of saying, “PLEASE LIKE THIS GUY!!!” Then there was Raw’s ending where Reigns basically went one-man wrecking crew on Sheamus, Rusev and King Barrett in a way that even Cena never had. He may be the company’s future, but there’s only one thing more important on WWE television right now.
1. The Authority: Turn on Raw every Monday and there’s about a 90 percent chance the first thing you’ll hear is the sound of Motörhead in the first segment before any other superstar’s theme song. The Authority has been the center focus of the show and will remain so even after Rollins’ title vacancy.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon have their new hand-picked champion in Sheamus and even though he’s not over with fans, the power couple will still be in the spotlight. Just like with Daniel Bryan, Reigns isn’t particularly chasing the champion but rather trying to defeat Triple H’s regime while capturing the title. Therefore, The Authority not only ranks ahead of Reigns, but also its own champion.