JC’s Top Rope Report #8 – The WWE Fall Fantasy Outlook

The end of August is fast approaching. That means the end of summer. While most people don’t like that, it also means the start of football season. And for someone like me, it also means fantasy football time. I don’t know how many people take part in fantasy football leagues. I’m assuming it’s in the millions. I take part in 4 money leagues myself. It’s addicting. This week of the year is usually when the most fantasy drafts take place. I have two on Sunday myself. Everybody is studying up on players, looking at schedules, and checking on injury statuses before drafting certain players. It’s more work than some people think. You have to put some time into it if you want to succeed and win some money in the end.

So what does all of this have to do with my column this week? Well, I decided to look at the WWE’s current roster and use fantasy football terms to identify certain superstars. Now I won’t be doing a whole draft because doing a draft with one person isn’t fun. Basically, what I will be doing is this: Looking at guys I would take with the top overall pick, breakthrough stars, sleepers, busts, etc. I’ll be judging these wrestlers with predictions about how they will perform between the September-December time period. By the end of this time period, you can usually tell who is in line to get a big push come Wrestlemania time. I will also be looking at RAW and Smackdown separately, not as one big WWE Universe. It’s more fun that way.

RAW
#1 Overall Pick: C.M. Punk
I’m sure there could be some debate with this pick. But my Smackdown one will probably cause more of a debate. No C.M. Punk is not the WWE Champion. He’s also lost a bit of steam since his hot streak in July. He’s also not John Cena, the WWE’s Top Dog. But he’s not suppose to be. Despite all of this, Punk is still the best thing going right now on WWE TV. He has the most potential going for him out of anybody on the roster. If handled properly, he could be on the verge of becoming the next big mega-star. Punk has had all of this potential his whole career. It’s just a shame that the WWE has taken so long to tap all of this potential.
Even if he stays away from the WWE Championship picture, Punk will more than likely continue to be the main focus of RAW. His mic work continues to be the best the WWE has seen in years. He can rip anybody he wants to shreds. His in ring work is also great. His two matches with John Cena at Money in the Bank and SummerSlam were top notch. Everything seems to be pointing towards a C.M. Punk/Triple H match down the line. Punk is the anti-authority figure the WWE has been sorely missing since the days of Stone Cold, and Punk and HHH have a unique dynamic between them. There match should be great and the slow build to it should be even better. C.M. Punk is easily the best thing going in the WWE right now and is worthy of RAW’s #1 Overall Pick, and the #1 pick in any type of full WWE Roster Draft.
 
Sleeper Pick: Jack Swagger
I had a tough time coming up with someone for this post. There’s just very few things to like about RAW’s mid-card nowadays. At least there was some storyline developments this week. I’m curious to see where Creative plans on going with the Jack Swagger/Dolph Ziggler/Vickie Guerrero dynamic. It seems like the two will refuse to get along. I like the idea of a heel stable lead by Vickie Guerrero, something similar to the Heenan Family from the 80s/90s. But I don’t think that is happening. At this point, I would much rather see a program between Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler than Dolph Ziggler and Alex Riley. I think all the momentum from Alex Riley’s program with the Miz is down the drain. He’s still a bit too green inside the ring as well.
 
I was very high on Swagger during the whole Michael Cole/Jerry Lawler/Jim Ross angle. WWE, in my opinion, dropped the ball on a potential Swagger face turn. Cole had so much heat that had Swagger turned on Cole and put him in the ankle lock it could have gotten a very good pop. The WWE is lacking a third quality face on RAW behind John Cena and C.M. Punk. Why not give Swagger a try? Having him turn or snap on Vickie may get even more heat than he could have gotten from doing the same thing to Cole. This scenario seems unlikely but it’s something I would give the WWE credit for if they tried.
 
Bust: John Morrison
Now I said RAW was lacking a #3 face behind Punk and Cena. If you would have asked me about John Morrison at the beginning of this year, I would have told you he’d be a main eventer by now and on the cusp of winning his first WWE or World Title. There was so much untapped potential in Morrison. He’s very athletic and could perform in the ring. I thought for sure he was going to fight Miz for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. I nice month long main event program would have done wonders for Morrison. Especially main eventing a PPV where he wouldn’t be the main focus. His mic work wasn’t great, but that’s something that can always be worked on.
 
Fast forward to present day, and oh how so much has changed. First there was the “Wrestlemania Debacle,” where Morrison apparently cold-shouldered Trish Stratus and thought she stole Melina’s Wrestlemania spot. Then Morrison was hurt and missed a couple months of action. I would have loved to see a return match been built up between him and R-Truth at SummerSlam, but instead all of their matches took place on RAW. Morrison was pretty much jobbed out the first month of his return. It didn’t help that his girlfriend Melina was apparently a pain in the ass backstage. Now Morrison is stuck with nothing on RAW. He can still be the #3 face on RAW, and he kind of is now by default, but I don’t see that lasting. Even a run with the United States Championship wouldn’t do too much for Morrison at this point. No matter how you cut it, Morrison’s outlook doesn’t look great and I can’t see it changing anytime soon.
 
Breakout Star: R-Truth
Even though his character isn’t as hot as it was at the beginning of the summer, there’s still something to like about R-Truth. His heel turn has made Truth the most relevant he’s been his whole career. While his program with John Cena ended up being a disappointment in the end, it still helped elevate him a bit. His matches recently have been better. He had a good match with Rey Mysterio in the WWE Title Tournament, and he’s had two good matches with John Morrison.
 
Now R-Truth is teamed together with the Miz, and they are both out to find the “conspiracy” in the WWE. These are two guys who were main eventing PPVs in the Spring, now they’re stuck in the mid-card. They’re buried underneath Punk, Cena, and now Alberto del Rio. Truth can learn a lot from Miz. He was WWE Champion for 6 months. Miz learned how to handle himself in the main event scene, and I would say right now is still better than R-Truth. This should motivate Truth to work a little harder to get on the same level as Miz on the mic and in the ring. If their promo on RAW is any indication, then Truth and Miz should make for a good team. And if they win the Tag Titles and can appear on both shows, they should be even more entertaining. I hope R-Truth continues to be his entertaining, out of whack self but improves in other areas to bring his game to the next level.
 
Smackdown
#1 Overall Pick: Mark Henry
Whats that you say? Surprised by this pick? Well let me explain it to you. First of all, I can’t say it enough: Mark Henry’s current push he is getting has been absolutely awesome. It’s something that should have been done years ago. The WWE has lacked a monster heel like Mark Henry for ages. It’s part of the reason people have lacked interest in the current WWE product. The heels aren’t a serious threat anymore. But Mark Henry is being portrayed as one, which is a good thing.
 
As I’ve said, Henry’s push has been handled perfectly. He’s looked like a badass the entire time. Whether it’d be spearing Big Show off the ramp or putting him through the cage, shoving Sheamus through the ringside barrier at SummerSlam, or destroying everyone eliminated in the Battle Royal last week, Henry has made an impact. He’s standing out in the eyes of everyone. Even people who have criticized Henry his entire career are enjoying his recent run. It’s mostly because his actual matches are being kept short and to the point. Henry hasn’t been forced to work a long match in the ring. Now that’s going to have to change if he is going to be in the World Title picture. He will need to be able to work a 15 minute match.
 
Now why take Henry first overall? It’s simple: this megapush will end in a World Title run for Mark Henry. Anything else would be considered a major disappointment. Sooner rather than later, Mark Henry will be the World Champion. The guy’s been with the WWE for 15 years and has never had a World Title run. Last year the WWE rewarded Kane for being a company man, and there’s no reason I can’t see the WWE doing the same thing with Henry. Mark Henry will be World Champion by the end of the fall, and that’s why he’s the #1 pick on Smackdown.
 
Sleeper: Wade Barrett
Some may question this pick to, but I still have some hope with Wade Barrett. He just showed so much last year as the leader of Nexus that I can’t think that will go over looked. Barrett can handle himself on the mic and with the right guy can put on an entertaining match. Barrett picked up a nice win at SummerSlam over Daniel Bryan in a very good match. I wish the WWE would have kept with a program between the two. Maybe have Barrett challenge Bryan for the Smackdown MITB Briefcase at Night of Champions. The contract surrounds the World Title. It would fit in the theme of the PPV.
 
This past Friday on Smackdown Barrett refused to wrestle a local jobber on Smackdown and walked off, saying he was better than that. He talked about how he was the leader of a group that took out John Cena, Vince McMahon, and various WWE Legends. I’m interested to see if this maybe leads to something. As much as I love Christian, his time in the main event seems like it is coming to the end. Mark Henry’s time is coming, but Wade Barrett may be next in line after that. With Rock/Cena already main eventing Wrestlemania next year, and the potential of a very hot C.M. Punk/HHH match, the WWE can take some risks with their Title matches. Maybe Barrett is involved in the World Title match, such as a Triple Threat with Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton. How do you do that? Win the Royal Rumble. Or maybe Taker, if healthy, takes on The Undertaker. I’ll continue to say it: Wade Barrett has worlds of potential in him, the WWE just needs to find a way to utilize it.
 
Bust: Christian
Let me start off by saying that Christian’s extended main event run has been good. I enjoyed finally seeing Christian at the top. His matches with Randy Orton ranged from good to very great. Their last two matches at Money in the Bank and SummerSlam were both main event quality and had it not been for a red hot Cena/Punk program they could have easily ended both shows. Christian showed that he is more than capable of stepping up his game to the main event level and that he can handle himself perfectly fine at the top.
Now, having said all of this, I find it hard to believe Christian will keep up this momentum once he’s done with Randy Orton. I think after this Tuesday’s live Smackdown, unless something changes, Christian will be done with Randy Orton. Where he goes from there remains a mystery. But the fact of the matter is that any program Christian goes into next will be a step down from Randy Orton and the World Title. Sure potential matches with Sheamus and Daniel Bryan could be good, but they will be a notch down from Randy Orton. While I’m sure Christian will continue to be entertaining as both a character and in ring performer, I think his time in the main event is coming to an end for now.
 
Breakout Star: Cody Rhodes
I’m torn here. I just talked about the world’s of potential Wade Barrett has. But watching Smackdown, the same could be said about Cody Rhodes. It’s nice to see him finally walking around with the Intercontinental Championship. It’s much better than seeing Ezekiel Jackson with it. Cody talked about elevating the IC Title now that he has it, and I would love to see Cody do that. Cody Rhodes has been fantastic since taking his character to a whole new darker level. Cody’s mic work is top notch. He gets his points across in a short, effective matter.
 
Even though Cody is stuck behind Mark Henry just like Wade Barrett, the potential is there for him to get to the next level. If Cody really wants to elevate the Intercontinental Title, he can do it with good matches against the likes of Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, hell maybe even Wade Barrett. Cody just like Wade could be in the World Title match at Wrestlemania. Cody Rhodes interaction with Randy Orton the last two weeks is a good starting point for him. There’s plenty of back story between Rhodes and Orton to play off of. It’s really a toss up between Barrett and Rhodes for me, but if I’m “drafting” Smackdown guys, I’m probably taking Rhodes ahead of Barrett. Having the IC Title around his waste gives him more opportunities in the coming months compared to Barrett. Plus it guarantees him a PPV match at Night of Champions, something Barrett does not have.
 
That’s all from me this week. Hope you guys enjoyed my Fantasy Football spin on the WWE.
 
Until next time,
Justin C
JC’s Top Rope Report
Follow Me on Twitter @JCWonka
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