ROCKET STRAPS: Using Key Metrics to Rank the Top Ten Wrestlers Prioritized By WWE this week, including Cody, Rock, Reigns, Seth, Bayley, Drew, Judgement Day, more

By Jeff Rush, PWTorch contributor

Cody Rhodes


I first began writing Rocket Straps last September under the premise of providing calculated insight into how WWE views their performers once the passionate discourse has been stripped away and hard indicators are left to serve as the evidence. Some weeks, the proof is clearly in the presentation, while other times, it’s jarring to find a centerpiece champion, for example, sitting outside of the top 10. In either event, we receive confirmation through factors such as television exposure and promotional utilization amongst much more to tell us who, in fact, is the most prioritized talent in a given week.

Then, there are nights like this past Friday. With things neatly wrapping up and another week of Top 10 priority coming into view, the Rock shows up with five minutes remaining to present my accomplished career in astronomy with proof that the earth is actually flat. While it’s possible the theories I’ve been presenting for the past five months are a complete sham, I think it’s just as likely that sometimes, there’s simply no way to quantify the magic and insanity of professional wrestling.

There are no metrics employed here which can irrefutably argue that the Rock is not the most highly prioritized performer in WWE at this time. For several days now, that has clearly felt like the case. Instead, I will go off of the same things I have from the beginning to show you in the face of conventional wisdom, the story that the numbers tell. From there, all you can do is draw your own conclusion.

As always, the information taken into account to accumulate these lists include metrics such as quarter-hour ratings, what performers are featured in the open, closing, and top of the hour segments, who is given time to cut in ring and backstage promos, names promoted in each shows preview, championships, and wins. I also factor in estimated monthly merchandise sales leaders, whose appearances begin with a higher floor than other members of the roster. Additionally, this week, I factored in match results and times each wrestler lasted in their respective Royal Rumble matches.

Priority Top 10

1. Cody Rhodes (1)

I don’t even know that I could argue with anyone laughing at the notion that Cody Rhodes walked out of this past week as the most prioritized performer in WWE. I can tell you, however, that he was used as the selling point for both Raw and Smackdown coming fresh off his victory at the 2024 Royal Rumble. He was given a massive amount of television time both nights to continue telling his story and, during that time, was heavily courted by both shows champions to join them in battle at the biggest show of the year.

Perhaps it’s a joke to declare Cody as a higher priority than the Rock this past week. Or maybe, the evidence employed shows us, even at a time when the fans of WWE are panicking, ranting, and suddenly hate-watching, that signs point to big things for the American Nightmare after all.

2. C.M. Punk (3)

Following his close-second finish in the Royal Rumble 48 hours earlier, Punk was initially advertised for what we all thought would be a segment that saw him declare his focus on Seth Rollins was as sharp as ever. We assumed when we saw he’d be appearing on Raw that he would be the first to throw his name into contention for Elimination Chamber and that his inevitable rise to the main event of WrestleMania was not to be deterred.

When the show kicked off, it was Punk we received, only the message was much different. With a torn triceps derailing him from achieving his goal this year, WWE instead handed him a large portion of the first hour to seemingly address the audience as he saw fit. What we got was raw emotion and heartbreak, wrapped into a clever return angle once Punk’s new nemesis changed the flow of the segment. He would not appear again on Raw, though he was mentioned often. Though a couple came close, no other segment landed as hard as what will presumably be the last for Punk for several months.

3. Roman Reigns (4*)

The championship priority for Cody Rhodes also takes the top honors on the blue brand. Though he was periodically adorned with members of the Bloodline, Roman Reigns qualified for solo positioning this week. That this page in the story had more to do with him than the whole of his group was emphasized by Cody asking for Jimmy, Solo, and Heyman to exit the ring so the most significant promo of the week could commence. That, of course, followed a vicious promo of Reigns doing, centered on Seth Rollins.

Reigns commanded the screen during every appearance, beginning with the very top of the show as he entered the arena. Along with Cody, he was the main selling point heading into the night. As Smackdown came to a close, and Reigns came face to face with the Rock, we got a glimpse of what it may have looked like had the Tribal Chief dominated the company 25 years earlier. With many answers still needed and with gears in motion towards WrestleMania, look for Reigns to once again become a regular presence on Friday nights.

4. Drew McIntyre (NR)

Coming out of Raw each week, it always feels as though Drew McIntyre will be sitting near the top of the priority pile. Yet rarely has he managed to bust through to the top 10, let alone the top 5. I maintain this is simply a matter of other major players earning more time, holding more gold, and being promoted more heavily. Drew has continued to knock everything he’s given straight out of the park, and now that he has unquestionably entered full on heel territory, his quest for the title seems ready to finally carry him towards the top of the rankings for the long haul.

By the time Raw concluded, Drew had not only carved out a brilliant quarter-hour as antagonist to the most sympathetic performer on the show, he also wrapped up with a lengthy, and decisive, victory over another top performer in the form of Sami Zayn. There were no additional points granted for the moonlighting Drew did on social media throughout the week as a master troll, but had there been, he might be sitting in the top spot.

5. Bayley (2)

Her departure from the faction she created seemed telegraphed for at least the past two months. Interestingly enough, her heelish antics persisted all the way up to the beginning of her top-of-the-hour promo this week. In the span of two minutes, though, Bayley turned everything around by stating her awareness of the dismissive treatment she’d been receiving from the rest of Damage CTRL ever since Asuka and Kairi Sane joined. She topped it off by speaking in Japanese to tell the two Mean Girls that she understood everything they’d been saying.

Sure there are a couple holes in the logic behind the new program if you’re willing to hold it up to a microscope, but at the end of the day, WWE viewers are the winners here, as we’ll get to see a babyface version of Bayley like we’ve never seen before go to war with her former friends. On that note, it’s worth mentioning that Dakota Kai was not present for the falling out, giving everyone something to ponder int he weeks ahead. As she gears up for a championship match at WrestleMania, it seems as though Bayley will be relied on going forward to carry the most significant portions of the show not involving the Bloodline. I’m here for it.

6. Logan Paul (NR)

The official preview for Smackdown advertised that Paul would “journey” to the show following his match at the Royal Rumble. That simple choice of words offered no indication that the U.S. Champion’s presence would loom over much of the first hour of the episode. After kicking things off with a lengthy in-ring promo turned debate with Kevin Owens, Paul took a seat at the commentary table and proceeded to narrate throughout the opening match. By the end of the night, Paul’s mark on the show would place second only to the Reigns.

You have to wonder as things pick up en route to Philadelphia in April, if this is just the beginning of a Friday night program dominated by it’s two frequently absent champions. And speaking of absences, the long rumored program between Paul and L.A. Knight appears at this point to be just that, as three quarters of the Royal Rumble main event were all given the night off. There’s still plenty of time for new developments, but it doesn’t seem Paul’s program with Kevin Owens will be wrapping up any time soon.

7. The Rock (NR)

When you’re at the level of the Rock, it doesn’t take much more than a surprise appearance at the close of the show, followed by a face off free of banter to rack up those priority points. Word on social media late Friday afternoon was that the Rock had flown in to Birmingham, but seeing as he’s now a prominent senior official with the company, that really could have meant anything.

Though his on-screen time was brief, the Rock gained serious ground on this weeks chart by not only being featured in the final shot of the episode, but also by having that segment be the highest rated one of the evening. Further consideration was granted by his best-selling merchandise and this appearance being his first in over a month. Any time the Rock appears on screen between now and April, expect it will be enough to land him near the top of this list.

8. Judgement Day (NR)

The most dominant faction on Monday nights continued to stake their claim with a by-the-numbers disposal of legitimate tag title threat, DIY. The solid defense by Priest and Balor was emphasized by their post match promo, which carried a vibe similar to that of Hall and Nash after taking down the American Males on an episode of Nitro before grabbing the mic and attending to more important things.

In this instance, the matter at hand was Judgement Day’s ongoing saga with R-Truth, the man who has helped the brand’s premiere heels routinely turn in one of the most well-received segments each week. The pairing has boosted the groups merchandise sales, both legitimately and in storylines but appears to have possibly reached its conclusion. Then again, with only JD getting in shots on Truth, perhaps those calling the shots realize they can carry this thing out at least for a few more weeks.

9. Seth Rollins (NR)

When the World Heavyweight Champion came out to confront Cody Rhodes, no one could’ve expected how profound his appearance would be. By urging the Royal Rumble winner to consider going after his title instead of Roman Reigns’, Rollins changed what everyone assumed would be the course of the company through Elimination Chamber and into WrestleMania.

He may not be capable of performing any time soon, but the champion of the Raw brand continues to get his face all over the show, from previews, to backstage appearances, to major talking segments at the top of the hour. A week ago, the concern was whether or not Rollins would even be making it to Philadelphia himself, and perhaps that should still be seen as the pressing issue it is. For now, though, regardless of who he ends up facing, it seems as though Seth will not be taking any time away from Raw as things begin to heat up.

10. Damage CTRL (6)

I mentioned above that the missing piece to the puzzle of Damage CTRL is Dakota Kai. If we truly believe that everything we see on TV these days means something, then you have to think that Kai will appear torn at first before ultimately siding with the rest of the group. In the meantime, every other member is beyond capable of keeping the faction feeling like the major factor they are in the ring. Kai, however, will provide not only a mouthpiece, but eventually, a major foil for a post-Mania Bayley.

The points they racked up this week came from not only their appearance in the top-of-the-hour segment and the storyline developments that came with it, but also the fact that the group holds gold, and as such, is currently double-dipping on WWE programming. Unless Bayley is to play a role in costing the Kabuki Warriors the tag tiles in the coming weeks, expect a whole lot more of the champs on the Priority list.

Raw Top 10 1/29/24

1. C.M. Punk (2, NR, 2)

2. Cody Rhodes (1, 1, 1)

3. Drew McIntyre (9, 8, 8)

4. Judgement Day (8*, 3, 6)

5. Seth Rollins (7, 4, 3)

6. Gunther (3, 2*, NR)

7. Bayley (NR)

8. Jey Uso (5, NR, NR)

9. Sami Zayn (NR)

10. R-Truth (NR, NR, 10)

Smackdown Top 10 2/2/24

1. Roman Reigns (3*, 2*, 1*)

2. Logan Paul (NR, 6, 9)

3. Cody Rhodes (NR)

4. The Rock (NR)

5. Bayley (1, 8*, 3*)

6. Kevin Owens (7, 7, 10)

7. Damage CTRL (2, 8*, 3*)

8. Tiffany Stratton (NR)

9. Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate (NR, 5, NR)

10. Michin (NR)

Thanks so much for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or drop a line via email at or on Twitter/X @jeffsjeffsyall.

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