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THE SPECIALISTS
DEPTH PERCEPTION 10/19: Champion Power Rankings and a Depth Chart of Their Contenders

Oct 19, 2008 - 8:30:50 PM
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By Jonathan Bain, PWTorch Specialist

Welcome to week ten of Depth Perception! The big news this week is Lance Cade's release from WWE. I was extremely shocked to see Cade fired as he had beaten Shawn Michaels on Raw a few weeks ago, however, the wellness policy is there for the Superstar's own health and if you fail it, unfortunately you have to take the consequences. Hopefully he can be given another run in WWE in the future. As for this week's Championship Rankings, there were a number of Champions who didn't wrestle this week and a couple who only made extremely minor appearances but there was still a lot to talk about, so let's get onto this week's Rankings!

World Heavyweight Champion - Chris Jericho

I loved how Chris Jericho opened Raw this week, backstage, he told Mike Adamle he didn’t appreciate his treatment of him and said he was going to go over his head to Shane and Stephanie McMahon. Jericho walked out to the ring while Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were hyping the show and complained about the unfair choices of special referees for his match with Batista at Cyber Sunday. He asked Shane and Stephanie to abolish the referee stipulation as soon as possible. Shawn Michaels interrupted and told Jericho that if he's voted in as the referee at Cyber Sunday, he'll make sure it's the worst day of his life. HBK then attacked Jericho, who managed to roll out of the ring and escape up the entrance ramp. Jericho, who had been given the power to name Batista's opponent for the night, made Batista Vs. Shawn Michaels in a Lumberjack match and filled the ringside area with heels from both Raw and ECW. Jericho was angry to see Batista and Michaels survive the attack of the heel lumberjacks and then shake hands with each other after the match. Jericho then came out for his match in the main event and Batista revealed the opponent as CM Punk. Batista also made himself the special referee and cost Jericho the match by powerbombing him and letting CM Punk make the cover. It's never good for a Champion to lose, even if it is in the manner that Jericho lost this week and he could do with a strong performance either on the microphone or in the ring next week on Raw to cancel out this loss. Jericho's plan to have Batista and Michaels beat the hell out of each other failed and overall it wasn’t a good night for him, but Jericho did have a visual pin over CM Punk following the Code Breaker and his promo earlier in the night was very good. As much as it pains me to do so, I'm going to have to drop Jericho a few spaces down in the rankings based on this week's appearances on Raw but I'm sure he'll move back up next week.

Challengers:

Batista: Batista wrestled Shawn Michaels in the hour one main event of Raw in a Lumberjack match. The ring was surrounded by heels who repeatedly attacked both The Animal and HBK and would eventually cause the match to end in DQ by jumping in the ring and attacking both men. Later in the show, Batista was able to pick Chris Jericho's opponent for the night and picked CM Punk. Batista also named himself as the special referee for the match and would cost Jericho the match by stopping the count when Jericho had Punk beat and instead Batista Bombed Jericho and counted the pinfall for CM Punk. I have to say, Batista's jazz hands before the match were funny, even if they weren’t meant to be!

Shawn Michaels: Shawn Michaels interrupted Chris Jericho's promo and told him if he's voted in as the referee for Jericho's match at Cyber Sunday, he'll make sure it's the worst day of his life and attacked the World Champion. Jericho bailed out of the ring as Michaels stared him down intensely. Jericho told HBK that he'd be facing Batista and it was later revealed to be a Lumberjack match with the ring surrounded by heels from both Raw and ECW. The match ended in DQ when the lumberjacks attacked Michaels and Batista but the heels were fought off. In the midst of all the chaos, HBK hit JBL with Sweet Chin Music. Michaels shook Batista's hand before leaving.

WWE Champion – Triple H

Triple H was interviewed backstage on Smackdown by Eve and talked about Vladimir Kozlov and Jeff Hardy's challenge to his WWE Championship at Cyber Sunday. He recited the usual stuff about finding out why he's called The Game and that he is "that damn good". Triple H joined Jim Ross and Tazz at the announce table to commentate on Jeff Hardy Vs. Vladimir Kozlov. Triple H said that he hoped the fans would vote for Kozlov so he could see "what he's got" and said he wanted to face the Russian at his best while he's undefeated. Big talk from The Game. After the match, Triple H went face to face with Kozlov in the ring. Next week on Smackdown Triple H will face The Undertaker! A lot of Champions in WWE this week didn't wrestle and Triple H was one of them. It's difficult to rank the title holders when they don't actual wrestle but I think The Game had a pretty good week, he got to sound tough and put himself over in his backstage interview and also on commentary later in the night. Staring down Kozlov further put Triple H over as a confident Champion who wants to face the best Smackdown has to offer.

Challengers:

Jeff Hardy: Not a good week for Jeff Hardy this week. He was defeated by Vladimir Kozlov in the main event of Smackdown. Jeff put up a good fight against Kozlov but was pinned after a head-butt. After the match, Triple H and Kozlov stared each other down in the ring and Jeff seemed like a bit of an afterthought as he sold the head-butt. I think Jeff's momentum is really starting to fade with his losses to Triple H and now Kozlov, he's now becoming second in line to Kozlov and as much as I think Vladimir deserves a chance to shine, I'm disappointed to see it come at Hardy's expense.

Vladimir Kozlov: Kozlov faced his biggest challenge to date this week as he took on Jeff Hardy in the main event of Smackdown. Kozlov remained undefeated when he finished Jeff with his head-butt finisher and looked incredibly strong in doing so. He went face to face with Triple H to close the show. Vladimir has a ton of momentum and a one on one match with Triple H would be very interesting and with enough hype has the potential to be a big Pay-Per-View match.

ECW Champion – Matt Hardy

Matt Hardy once again teamed with Rey Mysterio on Raw and faced the team of Mark Henry and Kane in a rematch from last week. Towards the end of the match, Hardy and Henry fought up the entrance ramp while in the ring, Kane finished Rey Mysterio with a boot to the chest as Rey went for a cross body. On ECW, Matt Hardy didn't actually make an appearance but Theodore Long announced qualifying matches for the chance to be voted in to face Hardy for the ECW Championship at Cyber Sunday. Mark Henry was automatically named as one of the three choices and he was joined by Evan Bourne and Finlay. Not a great week for Matt Hardy, he lost in the tag match on Raw, but at least he wasn’t pinned. Not appearing on ECW is a shame as he didn’t appear on the show a few weeks ago too. The ECW Champion should really make some kind of appearance on ECW each week, no matter how small.

Challengers:

Mark Henry: On Raw Mark Henry was on the winning side when he and Kane defeated Rey Mysterio and Matt Hardy. Henry brawled with Hardy to the back towards the end of the match. Henry, along with Tony Atlas, was also a lumberjack for Shawn Michaels Vs. Batista and was speared by The Animal after the match. Mark Henry walked out to the ring at the start of ECW with Tony Atlas, who said that Henry wanted to be ECW Champion again. General Manager of ECW, Theodore Long came out and said Henry already had a chance at No Mercy and he lost, so instead of giving him another shot, he'd let the fans decide if Henry should get another chance by naming him as one of the three candidates to be voted in to face Matt Hardy at Cyber Sunday. Mark Henry attacked both of the other candidates, Evan Bourne and Finlay, after their qualifying matches. Strong week for Mark Henry, I doubt he'll win the vote for Cyber Sunday but he was dominant on Raw and ECW, despite being speared by Batista.

Evan Bourne: Evan Bourne became one of the three choices to face Matt Hardy at Cyber Sunday by defeating Chavo Guerrero in a very entertaining match on ECW. Before his match with Chavo, Bourne extended his hand to Mark Henry but pulled it away when Henry tried to shake it. After the match, Henry attacked Bourne as payback. A fantastic in-ring performance from Evan Bourne this week, he also showed some guts in punking out Mark Henry, although Henry did get revenge for being embarrassed. I'm pretty sure Bourne will be voted in at Cyber Sunday and I think that, if given enough time, he and Matt Hardy could steal the show.

Finlay: Finlay survived distractions from The Miz and Mike Knox to defeat John Morrison with the help of Cryme Tyme in the main event of ECW and therefore, Finlay qualified to be one of the three choices for Cyber Sunday. Finlay then hit Cryme Tyme with his Shillelagh before being attacked by Mark Henry on the entrance ramp. Strange week for Finlay, I don't really understand why he hit Cryme Tyme, was it a heel turn, was it supposed to be 'funny' or was it just to make sure he doesn’t win the Cyber Sunday vote? I have no idea.

Intercontinental Champion – Santino Marella

Santino gave a great performance on the microphone this week, which, of course, comes as no surprise. Beth Phoenix accompanied him as he presented the Honk-a-Meter and bragged about his nine weeks as Champion before focusing his attention on the voting for Cyber Sunday. I loved his comment about all three of the choices of opponents for him being "perverted beyond your wildest imagination". Santino then invited Johnny Knoxville to enter the ring and asked him about his interview with The Great Khali. Knoxville insulted Beth Phoenix, so she slammed him. Santino and Beth left. The segment then went on to see Knoxville attacked by Hornswoggle and The Great Khali, while Chris Pontius was attacked by The Boogeyman after dancing with Big Dick Johnson. Strange segment, it would have been better without Big Dick Johnson and The Boogeyman, but it's nowhere near the worst segment I've seen in recent years (Rosie Vs. The Donald). Santino's part of the segment was excellent, his delivery was great and he had lots of funny lines. Fun stuff from Santino this week.

Challengers:

Roddy Piper, Goldust or Honky Tonk Man: Fans will decide the opponent for Santino at Cyber Sunday.

United States Champion – Shelton Benjamin

The Gold Standard didn’t wrestle this week, or even cut a promo. He was shown backstage watching his rival R-Truth's match against MVP on a monitor, but that is the only appearance he made. As a fan of Shelton, I think it was a waste to not have him make a more significant appearance this week but hopefully next week is better for him. As for his position in the Championship Rankings, he didn't do enough to be moved up or down in the rankings.

Challengers:

R-Truth: R-Truth made short work of MVP on Smackdown, defeating him with a scissors kick. Truth has a lot of momentum and he's been pretty entertaining since his debut, I was hoping that he'd receive a United States Championship match against Shelton Benjamin at Cyber Sunday but it doesn’t seem like that will happen. Still, a strong week for R-Truth. On a side note, as a big fan of MVP, I was disappointed to see him lose in such a short match.

World Tag Team Champions – Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase

Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, along with Manu, were lumberjacks for Shawn Michaels Vs. Batista. Team Priceless were among the lumberjacks who attacked HBK and Batista to end the match by DQ. As chaos was breaking out, Manu took a spinebuster from Batista after the match. Unfortunately, that's all the World Tag Team Champions had to do on Raw this week, I'd have liked to have seen more from them but perhaps they can have a stronger showing next week.

Challengers:

CM Punk and Kofi Kingston: CM Punk defeated the World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Jericho, in the main event of Raw, although it was with the help of special referee Batista, who didn’t make the three count when Punk had been hit by Jericho's Code Breaker and instead Batista Bombed Jericho. Punk then made the cover for the win. Not the strongest of wins for CM Punk but a win over the World Champion is a win over the World Champion! The other half of this team, Kofi Kingston wasn’t on the show this week. A side note, Kofi's been slipping in the past couple of months and it's a real shame. Ever since he lost the Intercontinental Championship he's been struggling to build momentum and I hope this feud against Team Priceless can get him back on track.

WWE Tag Team Champions – Carlito and Primo

Carlito and Primo successfully defended their WWE Tag Team Championships against the former Champions, Hawkins and Ryder on Smackdown this week. Primo showed off some exciting offence and finished Curt Hawkins with a missile dropkick. Good win for Carlito and Primo, they've established themselves as a better team than Hawkins and Ryder and I think it's time now for them to move on to facing a different tag team. As the only Champions to win a match this week, Carlito and Primo will take the number one ranking.

Challengers:

Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder: "The most underrated WWE Tag Team Champions of all time", as Tazz called them, Hawkins and Ryder failed to regain their Tag Team titles from Carlito and Primo as Hawkins was pinned by Primo with a missile dropkick. Hawkins and Ryder are in real trouble, they've got absolutely no credibility at all and I can't see how they can get some heat back, not that they actually had any to start with!

Jesse and Festus: Jesse and Festus defeated Ryan Braddock and Kenny Dykstra when Festus pinned Kenny after a flapjack. I can't believe Kenny was booked to take the pinfall loss here instead of Ryan Braddock! I'm not sure what's in store for Jesse and Festus with Carlito and Primo as the WWE Tag Team Champions, I can't imagine those two teams starting a rivalry but perhaps a one-off title match could be interesting. Backstage, Festus gave Maria a flower as congratulations on her win.

Women's Champion – Beth Phoenix

The Glamazon accompanied Santino to the ring for his promo on Johnny Knoxville. When Knoxville insinuated that Beth had male genitalia, she slapped him then powerslammed him, but she botched the move. Santino laughed at Knoxville and then left with Beth. It's unfortunate that Beth botched her slam but it's not like it was a segment to be taken seriously anyway, so it's not the end of the world. Hopefully next week The Glamazon gets a bigger role on the show.

Challengers:

Kelly Kelly: Kelly Kelly had a good week, she teamed with Cryme Tyme on Raw to defeat the team of Jillian Hall, The Miz and John Morrison when Shad pinned Morrison. I don't mind Kelly and Jillian becoming a part of the Cryme Tyme and Miz and Morrison rivalry as it gives both Diva's something to do. I also wouldn’t mind if Kelly were placed into the Women's Championship picture against Beth Phoenix right now. I think it's time for a fresh challenger for The Glamazon and I believe Kelly would do a good job.

Diva's Champion – Michelle McCool

Five Smackdown Divas competed for the right to challenge Michelle McCool in the Diva's Las Vegas fuzzy-dice-on-a-pole match this week on Smackdown. Maria came out the victor over Maryse, Natalya Neidhart, Brie Bella and Victoria. Backstage, Michelle McCool patronised Maria by pinching her cheek when saying it'd be an honour to defend her title against her. Perhaps a sign of an eventual heel turn from Michelle with her displaying an over-confident attitude towards her title defence against the popular Maria. I think McCool works pretty well as a babyface and I'm not sure if she should turn heel at the moment but of course, there's no guarantee she'll turn at all. As for her Championship Ranking, she didn't do enough to move off the bottom spot this week but beating Maria would definitely help her move up the rankings.

Challengers:

Maria: Maria won the Diva's Las Vegas match in which the Diva who took the fuzzy dice down from a pole on the turnbuckle would be the number one contender for the Diva's Championship. Maria told Michelle backstage that she was excited to face her but Michelle patronised her. Festus then gave Maria a flower to congratulate her on her win. I like Maria a lot, I think she's improved a lot in the ring over the years but I'd rather have seen someone else win this match, just because Maria hasn't really been put over as a strong challenger on Smackdown. With that said, I'm sure Maria will work hard to put on a good match with Michelle when they have their Championship match.

Brie Bella: Sadly, for me, Brie didn't win the Diva's Las Vegas match on Smackdown.

Maryse: On Smackdown, Maryse entered General Manager Vickie Guerrero's office to ask why she had to compete for a Diva's Championship opportunity seeing as she beat Michelle McCool on ECW two weeks ago and she had a great point. Vickie made a comment about putting fuzzy dice on a pole being the perfect way to find an opponent for Michelle McCool and told Maryse to leave. Maryse was unsuccessful in the Diva's Las Vegas match but had looked like she was going to win until Maria stopped her. Two weeks ago when Maryse pinned Michelle on ECW, I thought for sure she'd get a title shot to continue their rivalry and I think she should have. It's like R-Truth with Shelton Benjamin, he's pinned Shelton twice now and still hasn't been given a title shot. Pinning the Champion is a big deal and should be rewarded with a title opportunity.

Championship Rankings Week Ten

Rank 1. WWE Tag Team Champions Carlito and Primo (Up 3 Positions)
Rank 2. WWE Champion Triple H (Up 3 Positions)
Rank 3. Intercontinental Champion Santino Marella (Up 4 Positions)
Rank 4. Women's Champion Beth Phoenix (Down 3 Positions)
Rank 5. World Tag Team Champions Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase (Down 3 Positions)
Rank 6. ECW Champion Matt Hardy (No Change)
Rank 7. World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho (Down 4 Positions)
Rank 8. United States Champion Shelton Benjamin (No Change)
Rank 9. Diva's Champion Michelle McCool (No Change)


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