1. 10 Superstars and Lots and Lots of Questions
General manager Daniel Bryan read off WWE SmackDown's Top 10 list on Tuesday night. Tye Dillinger came in at No. 10 and AJ Styles nabbed the top spot.
SmackDown didn't immediately make use of these rankings. They were just let go like balloons into the open air. Bryan didn't explain what the numbers meant. No matches came out of it all.
Initially, the unknowns outweigh the intrigue with this.
How did Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who have consistently been in the WWE title mix, get left off completely? Will victories and defeats affect the rankings? And as Rolling Stone columnist Aaron Oster asked, what did The New Day's placement mean?
Aaron Oster @TheAOster
So what's the top 10 list for? Are The New Day the #1 contenders for the tag titles now? #SDLive2018-2-7 01:52:04
SmackDown hasn't yet made any of that clear.
Hopefully, that changes. There is a wealth of potential narrative roads to walk down. Rusev could go on a rampage after being snubbed. Dillinger's next match could put his spot at risk.
And Randy Orton may now be armed with ample motivation.
On Tuesday night, Orton issued RKOs to Bobby Roode, Rusev and Aiden English. His intentions weren't revealed. But if the attack was a result of frustration over his No. 9 spot, there's plenty for WWE to work with.
#TheViper @RandyOrton is giving the gift of RKOs all around on this #RusevDay! #SDLive @REALBobbyRoode @WWEDramaKing @RusevBUL https://t.co/qHcaIlKsiR2018-2-7 02:24:38
A disrespected Orton could demand to rank far higher. Suddenly, he would have an added chip on his shoulder and a goal in front of him.
This is the kind of angle that awaits to be explored with the Top 10 list.
WWE didn't do any exploring in the ranking system's debut, though. Maybe that's just a result of the company moving along slowly with this. But fans have seen the company not follow up on good ideas in the past, and that's what makes the Top 10 list's first moments so worrisome.
We never did find out what happened to the McMahon family lockbox. Goldust promised to reveal a masterpiece at SummerSlam but never did. Will the ranking system avoid a similar fate?
For now, the Top 10 list is an abstract concept with no consequence, and it can be so much more than that.
2. The Ubiquitous Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins and the Raw Tag Team Championship have been inseparable of late.
The Kingslayer has been in the title hunt or held the gold since SummerSlam. On Monday's Raw, he again battled for the belts but not with his new tag partner. Injury forced Jason Jordan out, and Roman Reigns stepped in.
Of the past 10 Raw tag team title bouts, Rollins wrestled in nine of them, per CageMatch.net. He has competed for the belts with three different opponents, winning the gold with both Jordan and Dean Ambrose.
The last time there were two straight Raw tag title matches sans Rollins was last June and July when The Bar faced The Hardy Boyz.
Who would have thought when Rollins swooped and won the WWE title at WrestleMania 31 he would slide back into a tag team specialist role?
3. Throwback Video of the Week: Elias
Thanks to a victory over John Cena and Braun Strowman on Monday night, Elias will enter the Elimination Chamber last. He will not only be in a No. 1 contender's match on pay-per-view, he'll be mixing it up with massive stars such as Cena and Roman Reigns.
That's a reminder of how far Elias has come in a short span. Just six years ago, he was still Logan Shulo, a relatively unknown grappler on the independent scene.
How many fans watching this 2012 promo for International Wrestling Cartel would have guessed Elias would be one of Raw's most promising talents?
The Drifter has made impressive strides since his so-so NXT run, and his persona has evolved in a major way since his days as Shulo.
4. 205 Live Back to Its Core
A tournament to crown a new Cruiserweight Championship is underway, and it's been a boon for 205 Live.
The up-and-down trajectory of the cruiserweight division is pointing upward thanks to exciting matches, great action and clear stakes. An invasion from the United Kingdom division has helped, as has the addition of Roderick Strong.
WWE seems to be recapturing some of the electricity that the Cruiserweight Classic produced. A focus on the title and excellent in-ring showings have been a winning recipe thus far.
What happens after the tourney is over remains to be seen, but for now, 205 Live is far from forgettable fare.
5. The Rock's Leaping Skills Analyzed
The Rock is a terrific athlete, but by all appearances, he is human. So it's not surprising so many wondered how The Great One could make the jump seen in the poster for the upcoming Skyscraper movie. The short answer is he can't.
Novelist James Smythe was among those who analyzed The Rock's leap:
James Smythe @jpsmythe
I’ve mocked up some parabolas for The Rock’s SKYSCRAPER jump. Red is assuming he jumped up a bit first; green assuming he ran forward and somehow didn’t lose momentum; yellow for a sort of squat-thrust thing. Whichever you choose, rest in peace The Rock, as you are dead now. https://t.co/cAytzrWMRW2018-2-2 22:59:36
The visual is great, but the physics spell doom for the action movie star and former WWE champion. Audience members are just going to have to suspend disbelief when The Rock goes vaulting in impossible ways during the movie.
And they say wrestling is fake.
6. Golden Crusade
The National Wrestling Alliance's quest to revive the prestige and buzz around its World Heavyweight Championship continues. Champion Nick Aldis is set to go on a world tour where he will defend his crown several times in a 60-day span.
A match with Tommy Dreamer awaits. Trips to both Asia and the United Kingdom are on the docket.
This strategy is a throwback to the title's glory days when men such as Ric Flair and Harley Race traversed the country to take on the biggest names each territory had to offer. A return to this is a simple and beautiful move. Aldis will be a part of some fresh matches and build momentum along his journey.
More and more, the NWA has given fans reason to start talking about its world titleholder again.
7. Will Bliss Survive the Elimination Chamber?
It's easy to doubt Alexa Bliss' chances of keeping the Raw Women's Championship in her grasp. She's set to enter the Elimination Chamber against five hungry challengers on February 25.
However, a look back at the results of past Elimination Chamber matches available at WWE.com reveals the champ has often done well in these disadvantageous bouts.
Fifteen of the previous clashes in Satan's Prison have been for a championship that was not vacant at the time. In seven of those bouts, the champion retained. In fact, five out of the last six champs to enter the Elimination Chamber came out with their titles still in their possession.
That pattern bodes well for Bliss and her loyal fans.
8. Best of the Owens vs. Zayn Saga
Owens and Zayn are fun to watch as friends, but they are stellar as enemies. Few wrestlers in history have had the kind of chemistry they share. They are made for each other, Zayn's Batman to Owens' Joker.
On Tuesday's SmackDown, they delivered another strong performance as rivals.
Their on-again, off-again feud has been producing hits for a long time. They were Kevin Steen and El Generico when all this began. And these five bouts are some of their finest against each other:
- Kevin Steen vs. El Generico: ROH Final Battle 2010 (Mask vs. Career)
- Kevin Steen vs. El Generico: ROH Final Battle 2012 (Ladder)
- Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: NXT TakeOver: Rival
- Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: Payback 2016
- Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: Battleground 2016
Owens vs. Zayn is a battle that should one day grace a WrestleMania stage. It's one WWE has to return to for years to come.
There's a magic to their war, one that has inspired many a "fight forever!" chant.
9. Payoff for The Showoff
Dolph Ziggler relinquished the United States Championship and vanished into the darkness. He told fans they didn't deserve him and went on a sabbatical that lasted until the Royal Rumble.
That was the start of a potentially intriguing narrative.
Now Ziggler is set to face Baron Corbin on SmackDown next week. Will WWE properly follow up on The Showoff's exit? This can't be a case where he shows up and the previous chapter is glossed over. The audience needs to hear him explain himself and see him go after something bigger than the U.S. title.
HE’S BAAAAAACCCCCCKKKK! @HEELZiggler returns to action against @BaronCorbinWWE NEXT WEEK on #SDLive! https://t.co/b1ORMpdtQP2018-2-7 02:43:35
If there aren't big changes in his character and motivation, then what was the point of him storming off?
10. Big E on Show Business
Big E remains one of the must-follow WWE Superstars on Twitter. He fired off more evidence of that on Monday.
The New Day member mused on the entertainment business in what was both a joke and a motivational thought:
I’m rarely one for inspirational tweets but to those who don’t think they’re good enough to make it in entertainment, show biz is littered with successful talentless people. Like, tons. Give it a shot!2018-2-5 05:45:54
His advice holds true for other fields, too: Self-doubt never did anyone any good.
"Give it a shot!" is a quality mantra to live by.