ROCKET STRAPS: Using Key Metrics to Rank the Top Ten Wrestlers Prioritized By WWE this week, including Ripley, Drew, Cody, Rock, Punk, Levesque, more


Another week of curveballs came our way in the ongoing fallout from the Royal Rumble. This week’s Priority Top 10 takes into account not only Raw and Smackdown for the week of 2/5, but also the WrestleMania 40 Press Conference from Las Vegas, which aired on Peacock as an exclusive and ended up being more noteworthy than many PLE’s. Of course, there were no matches held, but the priority implications were off the charts.

Some appearances on the special buoyed the exposure of a couple individuals who may not have ranked on a normal week. Of course, in the case of one such performer, issues stemming from the event forced him into a prominent role the following night on Smackdown, where he now appears to be set for a recurring role in the coming weeks and, perhaps, months.

In the case of the Rock and Roman Reigns, neither appeared on Raw or Smackdown, but their performances at the press conference and all the discussion that preceded and ensued on the two big shows was more than enough to earn them a high spot on the week.

Speaking of the alliance of the now dual-seeming Heads of Table, some partnerships and pairings served to make individual rankings redundant and, thusly, created an abundance of groupings. Things will likely only get more muddied as we continue our march towards WrestleMania, which only makes deciphering priority that much more interesting.

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)

Last week, it felt a bit odd to consider Cody the top priority considering the obvious back seat he had just taken to the returning Rock. I urged patience with the ranking, though, and the payoff came much sooner than anyone could have expected. Monday night saw Rhodes open the show with another loaded promo along with Seth Rollins before closing things out in an advertised main event opposite Shinsuke Nakamura.

Three nights later, he was at the center of the company denying the Rock his opportunity to headline WrestleMania against Roman Reigns and reinserting himself into the spot. By Friday, we were left with nothing more than highlights and discussion, but the one thing that stands abundantly clear beyond all else is that Cody Rhodes is far and away the most prioritized performer in WWE.

2. Drew McIntyre (4)

Amidst all the drama coming out of Vegas, Drew McIntyre managed to sneak his way into the number two spot without even appearing or being mentioned at the press conference. He’s been picking up momentum for months, and the injury to C.M. Punk seems to have launched him into another orbit altogether. His insidious brand of humor knows no bounds, as evidenced by his new tee shirt, depicting himself at the gravesite of Punk’s Mania aspirations. It’s too soon for him to have made a mark on the most recent merchandise charts, but whether it’s with this shirt or another release, that moment can’t be far away.

In the meantime, he continues to star in or ruin main events (we got one of each this week) and insert himself into the most newsworthy segments of every episode of Raw. The Elimination Chamber qualifying match gave him an opportunity to double dip and, as a result, we find him higher on this chart than ever before. Is it possible he can climb even further? Anything can apparently happen in WrestleMania season.

3. The Rock/Roman Reigns (3*) 

Neither man appeared on Raw or Smackdown, yet along with Cody, they have been the talk of the wrestling world. Their appearance at the press conference provided us with the first opportunity to see them as a duo and it appears that’s how they will roll for the next couple months. With the Rock now openly discussing his heel turn on social media and with Paul Heyman speaking on his behalf, it seems as though the Bloodline has landed a new member.

After years of viewing Roman Reigns as a final boss, it’s been fascinating to watch him stand alongside the Rock and instantly take on the appearance of a number 2. Their newly discovered fondness for one another will have it’s limits tested and as soon as perhaps even Mania, we may find them at odds again. In the meantime, it appears we can expect an uptick in exposure of the two, which can only mean good things for the remainder of the Bloodline as well. Watching Solo and especially Jimmy interact with the Rock will be must see TV.

4. Seth Rollins (9)

The popular sentiment as the saga of Cody’s decision has played out has been that Seth Rollins and the World Heavyweight Title are being made to look weak, that Seth is clearly the consolation prize. Further, it was said that Rollins appearance on stage at the press conference made him into a fourth wheel. If you’re Seth, though, what are you supposed to do? His role as World Champion has been caught in the middle here and I feel as though he’s not only done a great job with it, he’s actually managed to get himself in the conversation along with the other three men.

Suddenly, the possibility of a tag team match or a one-on-one with the Rock doesn’t seem all that unrealistic. Further, WWE knows the position they’ve thrust him into. I trust that those who hold Seth’s credibility and future in their hands will find a way to make sure he comes out clean on the other side of all this. In the meantime, his knee injury keeps him with a mic in hand, and the priority points continue to stack.

5. Paul “Triple H” Levesque (NR)

If I were playing Priority bingo, I wouldn’t have called this placement coming any time this year. After appearing on stage at the press conference, though, a beleaguered Paul Levesque found himself being verbally dressed down by an agitated Rock. The only fitting retort came in the form of a show opening promo, confirming not only the main event of WrestleMania as Reigns-Rhodes, but also reasserting Levesque’s authority over the on-air product.

To say it out loud like that makes it sound like the whole thing was a bit too insider. Even newer viewers know enough to get that Triple H and the Rock have a history and that things between them are suddenly getting very interesting. On air segments complete with a ring entrance by Paul Levesque are now this generations Mr. McMahon appearance. When Triple H shows up, you can expect big things to happen, and it feels like we might be seeing a lot more of him in the weeks to come.

6. Becky Lynch (NR)

It’s been suggested for months that Becky Lynch will be the one to challenge Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania. When she failed to earn that spot at the Royal Rumble, you figured the next logical step was for her to enter the Elimination Chamber. Following a 12-minute feature match against Shayna Baszler on this past week’s Raw, we’ve now had that confirmed.

It felt, therefore, a bit excessive to have her appear on stage alongside Ripley at the Mania Press Conference, almost like a weigh in for a match that has yet to be announced. Yet the company wanted to trot out all of it’s biggest stars, and when it comes not only to the women’s division, but the Raw roster as a whole, few names take priority over the Man. That matchup in Philadelphia continues to feel inevitable, but then, we’ve still got two months to go.

7. Bayley/Damage CTRL (10)

Another instance of separation creating redundancy came from the saga of Damage CTRL and Bayley. To rank them individually this week would serve little purpose as they are connected through and though. Where the Kabuki Warriors defended their tag titles in a nice 10 minute match on Raw against Chance and Carter, Bayley cut an extended in-ring promo where she was joined by Dakota Kai.

Essentially, all the women in this group arrived at the same place in the Priority order via slightly different routes. At the end of the day, their paths remain intermingled. Suddenly, the idea of a match pitting the Kabuki Warriors against Bayley and Kai doesn’t seem that unlikely. Whether Kai remains opposed to the rest of Damage CTRL for the longhair, however, remains to be seen.

8. Rhea Ripley (NR)

For the first time since we began tracking priority nearly six months ago, the Judgement Day as a group found themselves within a hair of being left off of not only the Priority Top 10, but the Raw Top 10 altogether. Not too long ago, the faction was viewed as the most dominant group in the entire company. Now, with the majority of focus going to Cody, Seth, and Drew, Judgement Day is finding themselves relegated to backstage segments and glorified squash matches featuring JD McDonough.

On the bright side, the group’s fortunes are also largely tied to Rhea Ripley, who continues to be portrayed as one of the very biggest stars in WWE. She was involved this past week in a beatdown at the hands of Nia Jax as a way of building towards their match at Elimination Chamber, where Ripley will undoubtedly be cast in an otherworldly light as she’s received by her home country. Also, it was Ripley’s promo at the Press Conference that paved the way for Becky Lynch’s interruption. Ripley continues to shine, and little by little, it’s happening more as a solo act.

9. Sami Zayn (NR)

We got our first empty arena sit-down with Sami on Raw this past week, and it was enough detail to let us know that we’re not simply witnessing the latest losing streak storyline. Sami acknowledged his fall from grace, having headlined Night One of WrestleMania last year. While he claims to not yet have a spot, big things are clearly brewing.

Then he dropped another match in the main event of Smackdown. That it came at the hands of Randy Orton, should tell us that there’s more to come from this had luck story. With a couple months to go, Zayn honestly doesn’t feel much more lost in the shuffle than the Judgement Day. Perhaps there’s a way for him to get back in the fold with his old nemesis’, maybe even in a way that finds him pursuing Damian Priest’s Money In The Bank contract?

10. C.M. Punk (2)

I wrote a couple weeks ago that Punk appeared to be making his way off of television for the foreseeable future. Then, this week we got a lengthy video package centered on his surgery and recovery. A few days later, he was wearing a suit as a member of the press conference panel, and talking incessantly about punching his boss, and other folks, in the face as a response to perceived and actual slights.

The exposure was enough to place Punk in the upper echelon of televised talent this past week. Let’s not forget the amount of air time his name is also receiving at the hands of one of the company’s biggest heels in Drew McIntyre. WWE appears to be focused on getting all they can out of the C.M. Punk signing and, for his part, Punk appears obliged. By the time he’s finally ready to get in the ring with McIntyre later this year, he won’t be all that forgotten at all.

Raw Top 10 2/5/24

1. Cody Rhodes (2, 1, 1)

2. Seth Rollins (5, 7, 4)

3. Becky Lynch (NR, NR, 10)

4. Drew McIntyre (3, 9, 8)

5. Jey Uso (8, 5, NR)

6. Rhea Ripley (NR, NR, 5)

7. Shayna Baszler (NR)

8. Gunther/Imperium (6, 3, 2)

9. Shinsuke Nakamura (NR)

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

Smackdown Top 10 2/9/24 

1. Paul “Triple H” Levesque (NR)

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

3. Drew McIntyre (NR)

4. The Rock/Bloodline (1*, 3*, 2*)

5. Randy Orton (NR, 5, 1)

6. Bianca Belair (NR, 6, NR)

7. Sami Zayn (NR)

8. L.A. Knight (NR, 4, 3)

9. Logan Paul (2, NR, 6)

10. Bron Breakker (NR)

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