WWE Power Rankings for 5/26/2014: Pre-Payback Edition

Alex Musso@amusso18Featured ColumnistMay 26, 2014

WWE Power Rankings for 5/26/2014: Pre-Payback Edition

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    With Payback less than a week away, there are still a lot of questions that need answering.  So far, there are only four announced matches: Rob Van Dam vs. Bad News Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship, John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt in a Last Man Standing match, Evolution vs. The Shield in a No Holds Barred Six-Man Elimination Tag Team match and, most recently, Cesaro vs. Sheamus for the United States Championship.  

    That's only about half the matches we can expect to see, so this week surely promises to be eventful as more bouts are added to the card. Will Daniel Bryan be stripped of the title or will he be able to compete at Payback? If he's cleared to wrestle, who will he face? Will Sheamus defend the U.S. title?

    We'll get into all that and more in the following slides. Before we do, please read how these rankings work.

    Holding a championship, being a No. 1 Contender or holding a Money in the Bank briefcase counts for much of a wrestler's ranking and are the most heavily weighted components in these rankings. If a wrestler is tied with another wrestler, holding a title will break a tie.

    Wins and losses account for the bulk of the week-to-week movement—wins and losses are, after championships, the most important component of the rankings. The quality of a wrestler's opponents and whether they are ranked or not is considered in the week-to-week movement.  

    "Getting the better" of someone—like beating someone down—as well as "getting got" counts as well, though not as much as wins and losses. Being "over" with the fans is considered but not heavily weighted in the ranking decisions. Pay-per-view performances take on added importance.  

    Only the top 10 wrestlers are ranked. Wrestlers on the "Watch List" were considered for Top 10 status but were ultimately nixed. They are unranked, and their listing is in no particular order.  

    Generally speaking, these rankings do not break kayfabe, though any major non-storyline information (serious injury, WWE Wellness Policy violations, legitimate hirings, firings, contract information, "sabbaticals" etc.) may be taken into consideration, especially if WWE confirms them publicly. Nothing that could be explicitly considered a spoiler is included unless WWE acknowledges it as well.

    All WWE shows, televised or digitally distributed, as well as anything from WWE.com, the WWE App, the WWE Network and any WWE or Superstar social media accounts that don't break kayfabe may be taken into consideration for these rankings.

Watch List

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    It was bound to happen at some point. Paige, the reigning WWE Diva's Champion, was previously undefeated and had beaten Alicia Fox on numerous occasions. Perhaps this was just a fluke or statistical anomaly, but the loss still hurt. Even her win on NXT over Tamina could not keep her in the Top 10, as she was just edged out by Rob Van Dam. A few wins, including one this Sunday at Payback, could put her right back into the countdown.



    Rusev made his one appearance count this week when he interrupted the return of The Union Jacks (3MB). Lana riled up the crowd with a pro-Russian promo and Rusev destroyed Heath Slater, forcing him to tap out. Will Rusev get the opportunity to showcase his skills at Payback?


    Big E

    Big E was seconds away from getting a shot at the Intercontinental Championship, but Rob Van Dam just beat his time in the Beat the Clock Challenge on Raw. His victory over Ryback was all ultimately for naught. Later in the week, he faced Bo Dallas on NXT, with the stipulation that if Bo Dallas lost he'd be barred from NXT. Big E won.

    Big E was looking like he was going to feud with Rusev. Will that be the case going forward?

No. 10: Rob Van Dam

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    Previous Rank: Unranked

    Movement: Outta Nowhere.

    Rob Van Dam was the surprise winner of the Beat the Clock Challenge on this past Monday's Raw and became the new No. 1 contender for Bad News Barrett's Intercontinental Championship. He'll face Barrett for the title at Payback this weekend.

    For his efforts, he was attacked by Barrett on the ramp, who promised he'd retain his title. RVD, surely, would disagree. Can Van Dam win his seventh Intercontinental Championship this Sunday at Payback?

No. 9: Evolution

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    Previous Rank: 10

    Movement: Up 1

    Evolution moves up a spot this week for two reasons: Paige's loss and Batista's much-needed win on SmackDown.  

    Even though they move up a spot, Raw was not particularly kind to them. Seth Rollins was supposed to face Batista in a match where everyone was barred from ringside. But Triple H decided to make himself the special guest ring announcer and Randy Orton the special guest timekeeper. Unbeknownst to him, though, Brad Maddox had made Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns the special guest commentators.  

    As you may have guessed, the match eventually broke down and was called off. The Shield then stood tall in the ring after driving Evolution away.

    On SmackDown, Batista faced off against Dolph Ziggler, who seems to like getting beaten up by the Animal. It was a No Disqualification match and Batista took care of business with a solid win. Evolution needs a good week, capped off with a win. If they lose this Sunday, can Evolution even be considered a threat to The Shield anymore?

No. 8: The Usos

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    Previous Rank: 8

    Movement: None

    The Usos stay put this week at No. 8, though they just missed out moving up a spot over Sheamus. They had a good week, beginning on Raw, where they provided backup to John Cena. Although they were roughed up by Bray Wyatt, it was the opening Cena needed to get a pin over Luke Harper. Raw, then, was basically a wash for them.

    SmackDown was better, though. This time, they had Cena in their corner while facing Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. The Usos got a win via DQ after Bray Wyatt interfered, but a win over the Wyatts is hard to come by under any circumstances. Cena then backed down the Wyatts—not exactly a fairy-tale ending, but a win nevertheless.  

    Will they defend their titles at Payback? If so, who will they face?  

No. 7: Sheamus

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    Previous Rank: 6

    Movement: Down 1

    Sheamus did not have a great week and Cesaro got the best of him on both Raw and SmackDown. In fact, Sheamus lost to Cesaro on Raw after he was distracted by Paul Heyman. Both are tough competitors, but it was a tough loss.

    Then, on SmackDown, he was in the middle of a match with Alberto Del Rio when Cesaro attacked him, giving Sheamus a DQ win. The Celtic Warrior now heads into Payback, where he'll face Cesaro for the U.S. title. Can he defeat the Swiss Superman and hold on to his belt?

No. 6: Cesaro

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    Previous Rank: 7

    Movement: Up 1

    Cesaro had one match this week and made the most of it, defeating Sheamus on Raw. He did benefit from interference from his advocate Paul Heyman, but Cesaro sure isn't complaining.

    The King of Swing then went on to SmackDown and put a nasty beating on Sheamus, giving Sheamus a DQ win. Cesaro has just been announced as the No. 1 contender for the United States Championship at Payback. Can he defeat the Celtic Warrior and win his second U.S. title?

No. 5: Bad News Barrett

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    Previous Rank: 5

    Movement: None

    Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett stays put at No. 5 this week after another week without a match. Had Sheamus not lost to Cesaro on Raw, he may have fallen to No. 6, but with Sheamus' defeat, he holds on to his spot.

    Barrett's only appearance was a beatdown on Rob Van Dam on the ramp after RVD officially became the winner of the Beat the Clock Challenge. He'll now face RVD this Sunday at Payback. Will he be able to retain his title against an opponent who's no stranger to holding the Intercontinental title?

No. 4: The Wyatt Family

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    Previous Rank: 4

    Movement: None

    The Wyatts had a mostly bad week, with one bright spot on Raw. They probably deserved to drop a spot or two, but with several Superstars behind them also having bad weeks, they hold steady in the rankings.

    On Raw, Luke Harper faced John Cena, and after the match looked to be breaking down, Cena got the win after landing an AA. But Bray Wyatt was undeterred, beating down Cena and singing over him as the show closed.

    On SmackDown, Rowan and Harper teamed against The Usos. Bray interfered, costing them the match via disqualification, before they backed down from Cena as SmackDown went off the air.  

    Two losses are not exactly desirable, but Bray Wyatt doesn't seem to care about wins and losses, so long as he destroys John Cena. He'll get his chance on Sunday. Can he defeat Cena in a match neither can afford to lose?

No. 3: Daniel Bryan

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    Previous Rank: 2

    Movement: Down 1

    Daniel Bryan was absent yet again due to his neck injury, and it now appears that he is about to be stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

    Having been absent for several weeks now, it's starting to take a toll on his ranking.  

    Bryan stays near the top because of his title, but if he's stripped, it'll hurt badly. If that happens, what happens to the title? Or is he good to go this Sunday at Payback? We'll find out on Raw on Monday.

No. 2: John Cena

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    Previous Rank: 3

    Movement: Up 1

    John Cena keeps weathering the Wyatt Family storm and continues to get wins when it counts. This week, he defeated Luke Harper on Raw even after Bray Wyatt took out his backup.  

    Now, there's less than a week until he faces Bray Wyatt in a Last Man Standing match.  

    Bray Wyatt is intent on breaking Cena and destroying everything he's worked for. Can Cena beat back the onslaught of The Wyatts this Sunday, or will he stand alone, broken and defeated while watching the remnants of the Cenation crumble around him?

No. 1: The Shield

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    Previous Rank: 1

    Movement: None

    The Shield continues to dominate WWE. Their war with Evolution takes them to Payback, where they'll face Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista in a No Holds Barred Elimination Six-Man Tag Team match.  

    Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns have all been on a roll, individually and as a faction. On Raw, their only appearance this week, Rollins faced off against Batista. No one was supposed to be at ringside, but as it happened, everyone else made sure they had reasons to be in the ring area.  

    The match broke down after Triple H interfered in the contest and the two factions started to exchange blows. Evolution needs this win more than The Shield, but if The Hounds of Justice can emerge victorious this Sunday, they might be close to unstoppable. Can they defeat Evolution again? 


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