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The Triple H era of WWE Creative is taking over more an more as each show passes. And with it has come the emergence of numerous former NXT Champions that were at different times the centerpieces of the black and golf brand when Triple H was at its helm.
Karrion Kross and Kevin Owens had big returns, Shinsuke Nakamura earned another championship opportunity, Sami Zayn got a lot of backstage camera time and Seth Rollins got another Raw victory. Even non-NXT champs who were pushed in the brand by Trips like Ricochet and Dexter Lumis had significant moments this week as well. And let's not forget about the NXT Women's Champion trio of Bayley, IO SKY and Dakota Kai, who continue to take center stage of the Raw Women's Division.
However that doesn't mean it's just NXT alumni that got a rub on TV this week, as Bobby Lashley continued his hot streak dating back nearly two months now with another solid defense of the United States Championship. It's a run that made us seriously question whether or not Roman Reigns should remain at the top of these Power Rankings.
But that's enough chatter for now. Let's get to it. And for a further breakdown, be sure to read on beyond the table.
NC = No Change from last week
NR = Not Ranked last week
Plus = Moved up from last week
Minus = Moved down from last week
Roman Reigns – Undisputed WWE Universal Champion
Bobby Lashley – United States Champion
The Usos – Undisputed Tag Team Champions
Bianca Belair – Raw Women's Champion
Seth "Freakin'" Rollins
Liv Morgan – SmackDown Women's Champion
Gunther – Intercontinental Champion
Bayley, IYO SKY & Dakota Kai
The Judgment Day
The Viking Raiders
Asuka & Alexa Bliss
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1. Roman Reigns – Undisputed WWE Universal Champion (NC)
Could time finally be running out on the 700+ day championship run for "The Head of the Table" ? Karrion Kross and Scarlett sure seem to think so. You can read a little more into Kross' backstory later in this list as the returning Superstar makes his Power Rankings debut, but he made a shocking return Friday night on SmackDown.
Fresh off a successful defense against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, a triumphant Reigns returned to SmackDown draped in gold to remind everyone of his dominance. Drew McIntyre, who will be challenging the Tribal Chief at Clash at the Castle, came out to confront the champion, but he was soon distracted by Kross' entrance music and Scarlett. Kross then blindsided McIntyre and repeatedly bashed his head into the ring post. Scarlett then brought back her trademark hour glass, turned it over and left it on the apron, signaling to Reigns that Kross is coming for him.
2. Bobby Lashley – United States Champion (+2)
While it's not quite a 700+ day reign, "The All Mighty" is on quite an impressive run himself. After dispatching Theory in short order at SummerSlam, Lashley had his hands full with an emerging Ciampa on Raw. The former NXT Champion hit Lashley with everything he had, and even came out wearing the robe of WWE Hall of Famer and the first-ever United States Champion Harley Race, but it wasn't enough to win the gold.
Lashley withstood the onslaught and eventually caught Ciampa in The Hurt Lock. Ciampa held on longer than most, but ultimately tapped out. It remains to be seen who may be the next challenger, but it's entirely possible we see the wildly popular Lashley be the first person not named Roman Reigns to take the top spot in these rankings.
3. The Usos – Undisputed Tag Team Champions (-1)
While The Usos didn't have a match this week, they were all over SmackDown on Friday. Sami Zayn, who at least in his own mind is an honorary member of The Bloodline, was trying to get time with "The Head of the Table" all episode. But each time, The Usos sent him in the other direction before ultimately telling he needed to capture some gold himself if he was serious about being a part of the group. The Usos are clearly still major players, but without any in-ring action, they drop one spot this week.
4. Bianca Belair – Raw Women's Champion (-1)
Similarly to The Usos, the Raw Women's Champion was all over Raw but did not compete in the ring. It was confirmed that she'll be joining forces with Asuka & Alexa Bliss to take on Bayley, IYO SKY and Dakota Kai at Clash at the Castle, and the two trios fought into the crowd in Cleveland at the beginning of Raw on Monday night. It looks like she could be on a collision with Bayley, but with a Six-Woman Tag Match coming up next month, there could be a slow burn to the one-on-one clash, which would be refreshing.
5. Seth "Freakin'" Rollins (+2)
After defeating Montez Ford last week, "The Visionary" completed his destruction of The Street Profits with a victory over Angelo Dawkins. Both Dawkins and Ford looked good in their singles matches, but they ultimately were no match for Rollins. Riddle is slated to be back next week on Raw to give an update on his medical condition, but it's largely expected that "The Original Bro" will get his shot at Rollins at Clash at the Castle. Will Riddle finally start to get some momentum back? Or will Rollins continue his recent string of dominance?
6. A.J. Styles (+5)
"The Phenomenal One" hasn't been in many high-profile feuds over the last several months, but he's still one of the best in-ring performers in all of WWE. While we're used to seeing his stellar technical wrestling or some of his trademark aerial maneuvers, Styles showed he could get hardcore as well in the main event of Raw this week as he defeated The Miz in a No Disqualification Match. Styles put Ciampa through a table and dispatched of The Miz with the Styles Clash, which may signal the end of this mini program.
To further this belief, Raw ended with security corralling former NXT Superstar Dexter Lumis as Styles looked on confused. While many were hoping to see Johnny Gargano return to the company in his hometown of Cleveland, some may have been let down by getting Lumis instead. The mysteriously creepy brawler was a Triple H creation, so is Lumis now in line for a feud with Styles?
7. Drew McIntyre (-2)
McIntyre still has a match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Roman Reigns awaiting him at Clash at the Castle on September 3, but he's actually fallen a couple of spots in this week's rankings. It looked like the Scotsman was headed for a showdown with the entire Bloodline at the end of SmackDown last Friday, but the segment led to a sneak attack from Karrion Kross as he made his surprise return to WWE. The assault included Kross slamming McIntyre's head into the steel steps at ringside and ultimately laying him out with a blow to the back of the head.
The chase for gold continues, but how will McIntyre respond to the unprovoked attack? And will this new threat make him vulnerable leading into Clash at the Castle?
8. Liv Morgan – SmackDown Women's Champion (-2)
The WWE Universe did not like what Liv Morgan had to say for herself on SmackDown after her questionable "victory" over Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam. Liv tried to play things in the middle and it went terribly, claiming she thought the ref had already counted three and that's why she tapped out while playing up her resilience in the match to that point and giving credit to Ronda for the spirited challenge. If this is an attempt to slowly turn Morgan heel, then it's a nice next step. If it's an attempt to keep her face, then we don't know what the writers for her promo were thinking.
She'll face Rousey's good friend Shayna Baszler at Clash at the Castle, who won a Gauntlet Match to earn the right to challenge for the SmackDown Women's Championship. Baszler is traditionally a heel, so it looks to be the latter, but if the crowd keeps reacting to Liv the way they did on Friday then it won't matter who's supposed to play what role come the Premium Live Event barring a designed double turn.
9. Gunther – SmackDown Women's Champion (-1)
Ludwig Kaiser is doing a great job at hurting the stock of the Intercontinental Champion. While Gunther hasn't seen action in a while and has been rather dominant when he has, Kaiser has now lost twice to No. 1 Contender Shinsuke Nakamura in a month and needed Gunther's help to win a contest with "The King of Strong Style" between those two. Gunther looks bad by association and will face his first real threat to his reign this Friday. If he wants to retain, maybe it'll be best for Gunther to tell Kaiser to stay in the back.
10. Bayley, IYO SKY & Dakota Kai (+4)
There appears to be no slowing down for the new trio on the block in WWE. Bayley, SKY & Kai picked up right where they left off last week, putting the Raw Women's Division and Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair on notice while kicking ass and taking names in the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Tournament. They also secured themselves a big-time match at Clash at the Castle against Belair and the team of Alexa Bliss & Asuka, who SKY & Kai may very well face in the tournament semi-finals to crown the new champions. The Top 10 has been cracked, but we don't think the climb these three women are on has ended.
11. Ciampa (-1)
Perhaps we were a bit too bullish on Ciampa last week, as he came up short on Raw in his bid for the United States Championship against Bobby Lashley. That said, he did put up a good fight and was a worthy challenger to "The All Mighty," so we're just going to drop him one spot for now. The arrival of Dexter Lumis at the end of Raw, seemingly stalking A.J. Styles, may end the rivalry "The Phenominal One" has with Ciampa and The Miz. Especially given Styles defeated Miz in one-on-one action on Monday night.
Miz's loss, combined with Ciampa's, puts the direction for the two for the short term into question. However, there were several hints last night that Ciampa's former partner and rival Johnny Gargano could be coming back to WWE, including Ciampa using the Gargano Escape on Lashley. Perhaps Ciampa pairs with a returning Gargano next week, leading to a program between Miz and the two.
12. Karrion Kross w/ Scarlett (NR)
Of all the creative changes so far in the last two weeks, this one has Triple H's fingerprints on it the most. The unstoppable NXT Champion turned main roster laughing stock is back and looking far more like the former than anything resembling the latter. Kross jumped Drew McIntyre from out of nowhere and brutally laid the No. 1 Contender to Roman Reigns' Undisputed WWE Universal Championship to waste with little effort. Scarlett then put an hourglass in the ring for Reigns and The Usos to stare at in confusion, signifying that Kross is coming for WWE's biggest prize.
Dave Meltzer has reported that this won't change plans for Clash at the Castle, but it appears whoever wins that bout will already have his next challenger lined up. Whether you liked any of Kross' iterations in WWE prior to this or not, he's coming for that title and as one of our guys over on the football side of things likes to say: "We must adjust."
13. The Judgment Day (+4)
The trio of Finn Balor, Rhea Ripley and Damian Priest got the best of their rivals this week. Finn Balor picked up a big win on Rey Mysterio, while Priest and Ripley took advantage of the mistrust growing between Dominik Mysterio and Edge. Priest antagonized Edge by challenging him to a match and drew him from the back and the into the crowd during Balor and the elder Mysterio's contest. This led to Ripley revealing that Dominik, having gone missing after an argument with Edge earlier in the night, wasn't stewing from the dispute and was instead jumped by the group and beaten senseless. This gave Balor the distraction he needed to defeat Rey.
It was a strong use of mind games by the trio that hopefully won't catch up to them when Priest and Edge do face off in two weeks in Toronto.
14. Edge (-1)
Edge drops one spot due to falling for the mind games of The Judgment Day and unintentionally causing tension between The Mysterios and himself due to his ill-placed Spear from last week. He did however make good on his word to come to Rey's side should he be in need, did his best to apologize and make peace with Dominik and will hopefully put Damian Priest in his place on the August 22 edition of Raw.
15. Kevin Owens (NR)
KO is back with a bang on our Power Rankings. Having seemingly had enough of Ezekiel's schtick (and maybe reflecting how the new creative leadership feels about Zeke as well), Owens destroyed his rival by slamming him into the announce table and ring post before nearly breaking him in two with his trademark powerbomb into the side of the ring. This likely puts an end to the two's storyline, which while entertaining was stifling for Owens given it followed his WrestleMania program with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
Later claiming he knows exactly who he is, Owens declared that his assault was a reminder to everyone that Raw is still The Kevin Owens Show. Message received.
16. Shinsuke Nakamura (NR)
Nakamura defeated Lugwig Kaiser again on SmackDown this past Friday, but there was some juice with this matchup, as he officially earned an opportunity for the Intercontinental Championship against Gunther this week. This has been a long build, but it has a chance to be an excellent and hard-hitting match. Can “The King of Strong Style” turn back the clock and deliver a classic for his third IC Title win?
17. The Viking Raiders (-5)
If you were looking for something new from The Viking Raiders this past week, it only sort of happened. They quickly disposed of Jim Mulkey and Tommy Gibson in a squash match before Kofi Kingston attacked them with a kendo stick to avenge Xavier Woods from the previous week. Kingston then took on Erik in a singles match and pulled off a victory with a roll-up. For better or worse, it's clear this rivalry isn't done just yet.
18. Shayna Baszler (NR)
Huge kudos to Raquel Rodriguez for her performance in the Women's Championship Qualifier Gauntlet Match on Friday, but it was ultimately Baszler who walked away with the victory and will challenge Liv Morgan at Clash at the Castle. It's a pretty nifty piece of booking, as the threat of tapping out will remain in Morgan's head after the controversy coming out of her clash with Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam. Baszler's booking has been inconsistent on the main roster compared to her dominant run and persona in NXT, but it will be interesting to see if that changes with Triple H at the helm.
19. The Mysterios (-3)
Rey and Dominik move down a couple of pegs after this week's Raw. The Judgment Day appears to be getting under their skin, as Dominik took Edge's Spear personally from the week before. Later in the show, Rey was on his way to a victory against Finn Balor before Rhea Ripley distracted the legendary luchador by carrying out a bloodied and beaten Dominik. This allowed Balor to hit the 1916 and the Coup de Grace for the victory. The father-son duo need to get back on the same page, and fast.
20. Asuka & Alexa Bliss (NR)
Asuka & Alexa Bliss are set to team with Bianca Belair against the new faction of Bayley, IO SKY, and Dakota Kai at Clash at the Castle, but first they have the Women's Tag Team Championship Tournament to focus on. They'll try to make a statement with a first-round matchup against Nikki A.S.H. and Doudrop next Monday. SKY & Kai await them in the semi-finals if they are victorious, but that's far from a sure thing.
It's easy to imagine some funny business going on in the match with Nikki and Doudrop, perhaps costing them the victory and adding more fuel to the fire. Still, Asuka and Bliss have the accolades to be considered the favorites in the tournament.
On the cusp: Dexter Lumis, Dolph Ziggler, Ricochet, The New Day, Riddle, The Street Profits, Sami Zayn, Omos
Who's NXT: Bron Breakker, Kayden Carter & Kitana Chance, Mandy Rose, Carmelo Hayes, Zoey Stark, Axiom, Creed BrothersAlba Fyre, Solo Sikoa