Each week we’ll take a look at which superstars are on the uptick and which superstars are sputtering. 5 up. 5 down. Let’s do it.
This week, Big Cass steps out of Enzo’s shadow and steps up to the plate. The 7 footer finds himself one win away from becoming the WWE Universal champion. That’s a huge leap for someone known as a tag team specialist to this point. He’s the ultimate dark horse heading into next week’s championship Fatal Fourway, but this is a big break for Cass and a potential preview of things to come.
Charlotte is back on top of Raw’s women’s division. Heading into the weekend, a win against Sasha at SummerSlam seemed improbable. But in retrospect, it was inevitable. Charlotte is as talented as she is mean. The women’s championship is perennially hers until someone proves they have what it takes to take it and keep it.
The Prizefighter is on the hunt again. After a big tag team win over Enzo and Cass, Owens clinched a spot in next Monday’s fatal fourway. In the past 14 months, Owens has held the NXT championship, beat John Cena, won the IC title twice, formed an unlikely but entertaining partnership with Chris Jericho and been the most consistently reliable superstar in the ring and on the mic. Will Owens be able to vanquish Rollins, Reigns and Big Cass to become the Universal Champion? I can’t guarantee it, but I would never bet against Kevin Owens.
Miz has been the Intercontinental Champion for 141 days now. Had he lost the title to Apollo Crews at SummerSlam, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised. But he didn’t. Miz, with Maryse by his side, has been on fire since Mania. No moment better exemplifies the vet’s untapped upside like his rant on Talking Smack last night. He refuted Daniel Bryan’s claim that he was ‘soft’ by reminding the audience that he’s never been injured for six months to a year like Bryan and many other superstars. He’s not wrong. Let’s see where this goes.
In less than 48 hours, AJ Styles defeated John Cena and became the #1 contender to Dean Ambrose’s WWE Championship. He won both his matches this week convincingly, cleanly and with his trademark viciousness. The world championship eluded Styles when he fought Roman Reigns for it a couple months ago, but that was before this unparalleled mean streak arrived. The Phenomeonal One is far and away the Superstar of the Year to date. Can he solidify himself as the new face that runs the place and capture the WWE title? I wouldn’t want to be Styles’ next opponent. Unfortunately for Dean Ambrose, he is.
WWE has been searching for a latino superstar to engage that massive demographic of their audience. They’ve also made a never before seen commitment to making stars of unique women. Del Rio and Paige should be huge superstars, but they just can’t get out of their own way. The real life couple were both suspended last week. It doesn’t even matter what the violation was, they’re both proving hard to trust. With Del Rio’s violent outburst in 2014, their involvement in a police matter earlier this year and now this, it’s all but guaranteed that one of them if not both will be gone by the end of the year.
There is no doubt that the Swiss Superman is an exceptional talent in the ring. Unfortunately, it just never seems to click. His Best of Seven series with Sheamus feels meaningless after it was relegated to the SummerSlam pre-show. He lost that match anyway. He wasn’t considered for a spot in the Universal title tournament. He wasn’t even featured on Raw. Cesaro roared back onto the scene the night after Wrestlemania but has done very little since. Cesaro needs a shake up ASAP.
Former NXT stand outs Tyler Breeze, Fandango and The Ascension all made first round exits in Smackdown’s new tag team title tournament. This means they won’t be anywhere near the title scene for quite a while. So who will they do battle with the next few months? Either no one or other losers. The Ascension just doesn’t seem like they’re ever going to work on the main roster. Breezango on the other hand still has a chance to work but they need something to sink their teeth into. Hopefully they find their way.
Rusev’s in-ring work has improved greatly in the past year. He’s got a great look and the perfect manager. But Rusev had a bad week and seems to be heading backwards. He lost to Roman Reigns in a non-title match prior to SummerSlam. His pre-match assault on Reigns at SummerSlam backfired when the Samoan turned the tables and decimated the Bulgarian Brute. Due to the injuries he sustained the night before, he willingly forfeited his opportunity to battle for the Universal title during his match with Big Cass on Raw. It’s time for Rusev to get back on track or he might see that championship gold slip away.
The Boss loss. Not only is she no longer champ, she might have lost her spot in the women’s main event picture and management may be losing faith in her. All eyes are on Charlotte and Bayley for the foreseeable future as they have and will continue to cement themselves as the ultimate bad guy and ultimate underdog. When Sasha returns from yet another injury, it’s hard to see where she’ll fit in any meaningful or useful way. Fans love her. She has it. But she’s one more inconveniently timed injury away from being the Dolph Ziggler of the women’s division.