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Fresh angles, impassioned promos, and matches which you'd normally see at a Premium Live Event? We must be dreaming here.
And yet, it's not a dream at all. For those (like us) who watch these shows on a weekly basis, it's easy to see that there's a certain type of energy under the creative direction of Triple H. The performers look motivated and empowered, which can only mean good things for the viewers.
This week's Raw left quite the impression on our Power Rankings, including a brand new name at No. 1.
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
Bobby Lashley – United States Champion
Roman Reigns – Undisputed WWE Universal Champion
Gunther – Intercontinental Champion
Bianca Belair – Raw Women's Champion
The Usos – Undisputed Tag Team Champions
Seth "Freakin'" Rollins
Bayley, IO SKY & Dakota Kai
Liv Morgan – SmackDown Women's Champion
The Judgment Day
The Miz & Ciampa
Karrior Kross w/ Scarlett
The Viking Raiders
Asuka & Alexa Bliss
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1. Bobby Lashley – United States Champion (+1)
Your eyes do not deceive you. We do indeed have a new No. 1 atop the Power Rankings. And it's hard to say Lashley doesn't deserve it, as he's notched huge victories on Raw over the past two weeks. After taking care of Ciampa last week, “The Almighty” outlasted A.J. Styles in their first-ever meeting this week.
It's easy to say a match like this should have been saved for a Premium Live Event, but it's clear that Triple H wants to get eyes back on Raw and the product. And with Roman Reigns only wrestling periodically, the goal should be to give prestige to the U.S. Title. This 22-minute barnburner should do exactly that.
There were nearly some hijinks with The Miz and we had another Dexter Lumis sighting, but fortunately there was a clean ending. And it was a pretty cool one too, as Lashley avoided a “Phenomenal Forearm” before spearing Styles to retain the title. Lashley is on an amazing run and has the crowd behind him, as well.
2. Roman Reigns – Undisputed WWE Universal Champion (-1)
For the first time in the (brief) history of our Power Rankings, Reigns finds himself somewhere other than No. 1. Truth be told, this is as much about the excellence of Bobby Lashley as it is anything Reigns has or hasn't done. Still, we're focused on right now, and Lashley has only upped his game of late while Reigns hasn't wrestled since the Usos assisted him to tame “The Beast” Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
Reigns is still “The Head of the Table” and holds the most valuable prizes in the game. He'll return to SmackDown this Friday in Montreal for a face-to-face meeting with Drew McIntyre in advance of their match at WWE Clash at the Castle in two weeks. It might not be long before we acknowledge him back atop this list. But for now, he's looking up at Lashley.
3. Gunther – Intercontinental Champion, (+6)
Our biggest mover of the week, Gunther retained his Intercontinental Championship last Friday in a thrilling match against Shinsuke Nakamura. Similar to the recent spotlight on Bobby Lashley, the prestige of the Intercontinental Championship was highlighted on SmackDown last Friday, with clips connecting the past to the present. Gunther and Nakamura then got roughly 20 minutes to close out the show. Again, in a world where Roman Reigns isn't wrestling regularly, it's important to make the day-in day-out competitors the centerpiece of the show.
As for the actual showdown, it was as hard hitting as one would expect and perhaps the best match Nakamura has had in recent years. Their styles were very complementary to each other. Gunther showed signs of vulnerability as Nakamura targeted his arm, but he persevered and put him away with a powerbomb. Who's next?
4. Bianca Belair – Raw Women's Champion (NC)
Belair holds firm this week as she did nothing to hurt or help herself in our Power Rankings. Her only appearance on Raw this week came after Asuka & Alexa Bliss were victorious in their first-round matchup of the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Tournament. Belair came out to raise the hands of Asuka & Bliss at the top of the ramp before they were confronted by Bayley, IYO SKY & Dakota Kai, where some words were exchanged before WWE officials restored order.
The two groups will finally meet in the ring at WWE Clash at the Castle in two weeks, which should set the stage for Belair and Bayley down the road. For now, though, it's all about the trios.
5. The Usos – Undisputed Tag Team Champions (-2)
The Usos move down a couple of spots this week despite being a factor on both SmackDown and Raw. While Roman Reigns hasn't been present, they have been doing his bidding by targeting Drew McIntyre. Unfortunately for them, it backfired.
“The Ones” took a loss (in a non-title match) to McIntyre & Madcap Moss last Friday. And while they interrupted McIntyre's match with Kevin Owens on Monday, they ended up quite literally taking it on the chin.
They still have all the gold, but it's unclear the next time they'll actually defend it. That leaves them at risk of falling further next week.
6. Drew McIntyre (+1)
“We're wrestlers in a wrestling ring. Let's just freaking wrestle.”
This quote from McIntyre says it all about the positive changes with the product.
McIntyre was the MVP this past week by being front-and-center on both shows despite reports of a back injury. He actually addressed this matter during a great promo on Raw, where he said that his back is hurting from carrying the weight of 20 men for the past three years. McIntyre also stated his intent to be a workhorse if he wins at WWE Clash at the Castle, even teasing some possible future matches.
Kevin Owens was left out of these hypothetical showdowns, which led to some great back-and-forth on the mic and a tremendous match that was sadly interrupted by The Usos. Between this and the tag team victory over The Usos on SmackDown, this was one of McIntyre's best weeks in recent history. He's carrying a lot of momentum into a face-to-face encounter with Roman Reigns this Friday.
7. Seth “Freakin'” Rollins (-2)
After being caught off guard by Riddle this week, a challenge for WWE Clash at the Castle has now been laid down for "The Visionary.” The growing animosity between these two has quickly made this rivalry feel personal, but with Rollins on a roll as of late, will "The Original Bro" get back on track? Or will Rollins make short work of Riddle and get back into the championship picture?
8. Bayley, IYO SKY & Dakota Kai (+2)
The newest trio in WWE has continued to make noise in the Women's division. After trash-talking with their Clash at the Castle opponents (Raw Women's Champion Bianca Belair, Alexa Bliss, & Asuka), Dakota Kai went on to pick up her first singles victory ever on Monday Night Raw. It seems like the potential of what these three women can achieve is limitless.
9. Liv Morgan – SmackDown Women's Champion (-1)
A very interesting story is being told involving the Smackdown Women's Champion. During Liv Morgan and Shayna Baszler's contract signing for their match at Clash at the Castle, “The Queen of Spades” brutalized the injured arm of Morgan. The champion, however, was able to rally by putting her challenger through a table.
The addition of Baszler's good friend Ronda Rousey crashing the contract singing, wreaking havoc and flexing that she can cover her expensive fines was a nice wrinkle. As was Rousey questioning if Baszler still had that “killer instinct.” It will be fascinating to see how this develops as we head into the Premium Live Event.
10. Kevin Owens (+5)
“The Prizefighter” is back! After letting every champion know that they have a KO-sized target on their back Owens then turned his attention to Drew McIntyre. After a hard-hitting wrestling match (yay!) which ended in a DQ finish thanks to interference from The Usos.
After a stunner that downed McIntyre, KO told the Undisputed Tag Team Champions to let “The Tribal Chief” know that he owes him one. You have to wonder when Owens will come to collect.
11. A.J. Styles (-5)
It would seem as though "The Phenomenal One" has a secret admirer in Dexter Lumis, who has been involved from afar when it comes to A.J. Styles. During a competitive United States Championship Match with “The All-Mighty” Bobby Lashley, Lumis made another surprise appearance. And while Styles came up short in his quest to regain the United States Championship for the fourth time, it would seem that his next big feud will come in the form of “The Tortured Artist.”
The question that has yet to be answered, though: Why has Lumis taken notice of Styles? We'll have to wait to see where the larger story goes.
12. The Judgment Day (+1)
The trio of Finn Balor, Rhea Ripley & Damian Priest continue to play mind games with their opposition. “The Eradicator” of the group, Ripley, has shown her ruthlessness with her assaults on Dominik Mysterio over the last few weeks. This week, it was “The Prince” Finn Balor & “The Punishment” Damian Priest who made an example out of Rey Mysterio with a steel chair.
All roads now point towards next week's match between Priest & former leader Edge. Will Edge make good on his promise to end the group? Or with The Judgment Day have the last laugh?
13. The Miz & Ciampa (-2)
Last week was a bit of a step back for both The Miz & Ciampa after losing to A.J. Styles and Bobby Lashley, respectively. They got back into the win column this week, though, picking up a victory over the always feisty Mustafa Ali & Cedric Alexander thanks to a massive midair knee strike from Ciampa.
How this team goes forward will be interesting. Are they new challengers for The Usos down the road? It'll be interesting to see how they fit into the grand scheme of things with some new additions to the tag team division.
One thing we have seen: When Ciampa is given the chance to shine in primetime spots, he delivers.
14. Karrion Kross w/ Scarlett (-2)
After his initial return nearly two weeks ago on SmackDown, Karrion Kross made his presence felt again this week with a passionate backstage promo that had some real-life meaning to it. Follow that up with the appearance of Kross' “Angel of Doom” Scarlett (complete with her NXT black-and-white presentation) during Drew McIntyre's in-ring segment and her interaction with The Usos, it all lines up as a sign that Kross is going to be a big-time player on the blue brand.
The question now will be how is Kross involved in the main event at Clash at the Castle? Does he get involved? Will he show up post-match or wait until the following SmackDown? Only time will tell … Tick Tock …
15. The Viking Raiders (+2)
Kofi Kingston thought he was pretty clever attacking The Viking Raiders from behind with a kendo stick on SmackDown last Friday. And for a minute, it looked like maybe the sneak attack would be successful for the second time in a row. However, the vicious duo quickly turned the tables on the former champion thanks to their shields. Kingston was thrown like a dart into one of them before Ivar connected with a splash off the barricade.
After taking out Kingston's teammate Xavier Woods a few weeks ago, The Viking Raiders plan to hold a “Viking Funeral” this Friday. Will The New Day rise again?
16. Theory (NR)
Well, would you look at that? Theory has found his way back on the list. It has been a little while, as the losses have piled up for “Mr. Money in the Bank,” but he showed new motivation and intensity on this week's Raw that ultimately lead to a clean victory over Dolph Ziggler to close out the show. Roman Reigns has a growing list of potential threats for his title, but re-establishing Theory as one of them is a smart idea. We'll see if he can build off this one.
17. Asuka & Alexa Bliss (+3)
Asuka & Bliss move up three spots this week by virtue of their first-round victory over Nikki A.S.H. & Doudrop in the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship Tournament. They showed good chemistry and teamwork, highlighted by the sequence which led to Doudrop tapping out of an armbar from Asuka. Between the tournament and teaming up with Bianca Belair at WWE Clash at the Castle, things are looking up for this duo.
18. Hit Row (NR)
We have seen a number of surprise returns to WWE programming in recent weeks, including Dakota Kai, Karrion Kross, and Dexter Lumis. Now we can add Hit Row to the list after their appearance on SmackDown last week. Led to the ring by B-Fab, Top Dolla and Ashante “Thee” Adonis quickly secured a win in a squash match before getting some time on the mic. Most notably, B-Fab called them “The OG Three.” That's an #IYKYK sort of thing.
Hit Row didn't get a fair shake the first time around, so hopefully that changes with some new voices in the room.
19. Edge (-5)
Edge is actually tied with A.J. Styles for the biggest faller on this week's list. While “The Rated R Superstar” didn't take a loss this past week like Styles did, he was absent from television in advance of his showdown with Damian Priest on Monday in Toronto. The crowd should be red hot for the match and Edge could easily jump on this list a week from now with a hard-fought victory on his home turf.
20. Riddle (NR)
Guess who's back? Riddle was supposed to provide an update on his condition on Monday, but little did Seth "Freakin'" Rollins know that he was going to do it backstage and in person. After announcing that he has been officially cleared, Riddle charged the ring and traded blows before “The Visionary” hightailed it up through the crowd. Riddle showed a renewed intensity and the crowd ate it up.
While the original match was cancelled at SummerSlam, we'll finally see it happen at WWE Clash at the Castle. It should be a doozy.
On the cusp: Raquel Rodriguez, Veer Mahaan, Dexter Lumis, Shayna Baszler, The Mysterios, Shinsuke Nakamura
Who's NXT: Bron Breakker, Zoey Stark, Apollo Crews, Carmelo Hayes, Nikkita Lyons, Tony D'Angelo, Santos Escobar, Mandy Rose