The John Report: WWE Roster Evaluation 2009 (Part 2 of 3): Smackdown

The John Report: WWE Roster Evaluation 2009 (Part 2 of 3): Smackdown

Welcome to the second part of my evaluation of the WWE roster, which will be covering Smackdown. Part one of the evaluation was posted on Monday and it can be read here. I’m not going to go into the grading process again. The higher the letter grade, the better. If there’s a “u” or “uu” beside the letter grade it means that person has a big upside (aka a bright future) while if there’s a “d” or “dd” beside the letter grade it means that person is on the downside of their career. It’s explained in further detail in part one, so if you need a refresher check it out. The Smackdown roster is bigger than the Raw roster, so I don’t want to waste time with a long intro. Let’s get to it.

I think everybody that has watched WWE for the past five years knows what Batista is. He’s a big wrestler that the crowd generally likes that also has a long list of injuries due to the fact that 40 year old men don’t normally look like he does. He’s also known for having relationships with various divas in the company, which makes me respect and admire him that much more. He was on Raw earlier in the year, got hurt and moved back to Smackdown. The reason? To turn heel. The wheels are in motion. I like the idea of him being heel because I grew tired of his babyface act and I think it’s important for top guys to stay fresh. He has good enough promo skills to pull it off and his work in the ring won’t have to change much since he barely sells moves anyway. As a heel monster he can be on offense for 80% of the match, so his matches should improve due to that. The question is, will the fans respond to him as a monster heel the way they should or will they still want to cheer him? It all depends on the booking. Putting him against a very popular babyface like Rey Mysterio is a smart way to start it. I’m definitely intrigued about Batista’s future…if he stays healthy.
Grade: B (d)
Outlook: Due to his age (he’s already a grandpa at 40) and injury history he’s definitely on the decline. Still, though, with his impressive physique and a proven track record he’s going to be in the main event picture because he’s earned Vince McMahon’s trust as a performer.

Beth Phoenix
She’s the power diva in WWE. Most of the time in her WWE career she’s been a heel because physically she’s bigger than the other girls, but I think given the right storyline she would be fine as a face. At least with her they gave her somewhat of a gimmick as the dominating girlfriend of Santino in the Glamarella relationship. Since then, though, she’s been just another woman in WWE. Now that she’s on Smackdown she has some freshness back in her act, so hopefully they use her because she’s good.
Grade: B-
Outlook: I think a face turn is in her horizon. It might be hard at first because she’s bigger than the other girls, but if she has good heels to work against it’ll be fine.

Charlie Haas
He’s barely on the radar despite being a good worker. He’s always been below average on the microphone and in terms of a character, so the chances of him getting a sustained push is unlikely. If they actually had tag teams he’d be somebody that should be in one.
Grade: C-
Outlook: I don’t see much changing for him.

Chris Jericho
To me, Chris Jericho is the only person worthy of an A on WWE’s roster right now. Last year he would have been an A+ because of his excellent work in the ring, on the microphone and having the best feuds as well as matches on a regular basis. This year he’s taken a bit of a back seat to help the tag division. The best part about that is he gets to appear on both shows, which makes Raw a lot more watchable in my opinion. There are a lot of things to like about Chris Jericho, but the thing that stands out the most is his ability to make everybody around him better. Whether it’s a match, an in-ring promo or a backstage segment he’s always making things better. In the past few months alone I can rattle off names of people like JTG, MVP, Christian and Kofi Kingston to name a few who Jericho put over clean. He doesn’t have to put people over clean. It’s not like others in his position like Orton, Cena, HHH or Undertaker lose clean as much as he does. He does it because it’s good for business. I loved his feud with Rey Mysterio earlier in the year. It was one of the two best feuds of 2009 (the other being Punk vs. Hardy) and it was another example of making another person better. I love that he’s comfortable enough in his position to put people over as much as he does. The serious persona he has works perfectly because he believes in what he says. When he says he’s the best in the business it’s not just a heel saying it to get heat. He’s telling the truth: Chris Jericho is the best in the world at what he does.
Grade: A
Outlook: At 39, he’s coming off two great years of being a top heel. I don’t know how much longer he plans on wrestling, but I hope he continues for at least another three or four years. He’s too good to stop now. He’s got some big feuds on the horizon with the Undertaker most likely to end this year and a returning Edge right around WrestleMania. I would love a feud with Christian too although who knows if they’ll be on the same brand. Don’t change a thing with him. He’s too good to change.

CM Punk
Chris Jericho is the best overall performer on Smackdown, but I think CM Punk’s had the best year. In Jericho’s case the character already was great heading into the year. In Punk’s case he had a babyface act that was getting boring. He needed some freshness to him. Then he cashed in Money in the Bank against Jeff Hardy moments after Hardy had won the belt, the crowd booed him a bit then and later in the summer they booed him even more as he acted more heelish by the week. It was one of the best heel turns WWE has done this decade. He’s a very good talker. Anybody that saw his work in ROH knew that before. WWE has really allowed him to show those skills, so I applaud them for that. In ring he’s very good. His offense is very good with the knee strikes as well as the Go to Sleep finisher that has gotten over huge. The question is, are the people in power really behind him? Every few months it always seems like he’s rubbing people the wrong way whether it’s the way that he dresses (he apparently got heat backstage for not following dress code while he champion) or for saying something that the higher ups don’t like. By the way, what does CM stand for? Chicago Made, or so I’m told. (It could mean Chick Magnet, too. Considering he’s been with quite a few different women in wrestling I guess it’s true. Good for him!)
Grade: A- (u)
Outlook: Having just turned 31 his future is bright. He’s gotten better every year of his WWE run and I hope that continues. I think his main event heel run is over for the immediate future. With Batista going heel and Jericho likely going back into singles as we end the year it’s unlikely that he would be pushed over those two. Still, I expect a lot of success in the future of CM Punk.

Curt Hawkins
He’s not on WWE TV, but he still works for the company. He’s down in WWE’s minor leagues, Florida Championship Wrestling. No rating for him due to not being on the active Smackdown roster despite being listed here.
Outlook: At 24 years old he’s still very young in the wrestling business. With the right gimmick he could be given a shot much like his former tag team partner Zach Ryder has done.

David Hart Smith
Smith’s the kind of young, big guy that Vince McMahon likes. With the pedigree of being the son of a former wrestler he’s got good genes for sure. Still, there are times when he appears like he’s unsure of himself in the ring. He needs to build that confidence up. I think being teamed with Tyson Kidd is a good thing for him because it will allow him to grow as a worker. I really wish the Hart Dynasty could have a legit tag feud with somebody. They deserve it.
Grade: C+ (u)
Outlook: In his late 20s, he’s got a lot of time to develop. I think the Hart Dynasty trio stays together through the next year or so. If they break up it would hurt Smith more than it would help. He’s not ready to be in singles yet.

Dolph Ziggler
The name Dolph Ziggler is awful. I’m assuming somebody came up with the name after watching Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights. That movie is great. This name is not. That aside, he’s a performer that I enjoy watching. Of course he’s got that cocky nature to him that all young heels in WWE apparently have to have. With him, like with Jack Swagger on Raw, I tend to believe in it more. It feels like it’s really him. Maybe he’s a better actor than the others, I don’t know. It just seems like his Narcissist-like character (remember Lex Luger in that role?) fits him perfectly. In ring I see him as somebody constantly improving. Working with Rey Mysterio for a few months in the summer definitely helped him. Now he just needs another feud with a veteran babyface to help him get better. He’s got the talent in the ring and out of ring to really become a star, bad name or not.
Grade: B (uu)
Outlook: He’s been very close to the IC title. Hasn’t had it yet. It will probably happen sooner rather than later. A long run with that belt would do him well. I also think he has main event potential in 2-3 years.

Drew McIntyre
He’s only been on WWE TV for a couple of months as of this writing, so it’s hard to give him a full evaluation. I can say as far as first impressions go he’s done a good job making an impact. He’s not huge, but he’s got a body similar to Edge or Triple H back around 1997 before he really bulked up in 1999. I like the double arm DDT into a sitout finisher too. Promo wise he’ll get heat right away due to being a foreigner and he’s clearly a comfortable talker. Being called a future World Champion by Vince McMahon on television is definitely going to lead to some kind of push down the road.
Grade: C+ (uu)
Outlook: I can see a US/IC title run coming soon as well as a main event style push a bit further down the road. This guy’s going to have a lot of opportunities at being a top guy especially since people in power like Vince, HHH and HBK are fans of him already.

He’s one of my favorites in WWE and has been since his debut over a decade ago. He’s improved a lot in the last four years, going from a good midcard babyface into a fantastic main event level heel. He found the perfect role for him as the Rated R superstar, which is a funny name now considering it’s a PG company. He’s one of the better talkers in the company that’s been able to generate great heel heat or be funny when needed. In ring he’s above average with a number of great matches under his belt. The biggest concern with him is the injuries. Over the years he’s had major surgeries on his neck, pectoral and now a torn Achilles tendon that is as painful as any injury there is. They need to monitor him in the ring, to make sure he works a safer style at house shows and some TV matches because he’s too valuable to be on the shelf. They need loyal, company guys like Edge on TV as much as possible. He’s great for the business. I’m not going to give him a grade due to injury, but if he’s healthy he’s definitely in that B+ or A- range with the possibility of being an A with the right type of push.
Outlook: He just turned 36 with a number of injuries on his odometer at this point. I’m sure that he’s wondering how much longer he can be a regular in WWE. I know he’s not the type that will stick around if he feels his performance in ring is suffering. The feeling is that when he comes back he’ll be a babyface, which is a role we haven’t seen from him in about four years. I’m looking forward to it especially because a feud with the great Chris Jericho is in the works. Feud of the year in 2010? I have high hopes.

Eric Escobar
He’s still new and very green. I haven’t seen enough to really form an opinion of him. I know that WWE has wanted to sign more Latin wrestlers so that they can appeal to that demographic. Whether that means he gets a push or not down the road, I’m not sure. I think being paired with Vickie Guerrero to start is good for him because the fans love to boo her. Long term, though, his in-ring ability is what will matter the most. Like I said though, it’s hard to really form an opinion on a guy who’s only been on TV for a few weeks at this point.
Grade: C (u)
Outlook: He’ll probably feud with some of the more veteran babyfaces on the roster like Finlay in order to improve in ring. I think his push will be slower than somebody like McIntyre.

I believe he’s the oldest active wrestler in WWE at 51 years of age. He’s also key in the development of the divas in terms of their wrestling career. His role in the company is pretty important and as long as he’s in good enough shape to wrestle he’s going to be in the ring. I think he’s better as a heel, but it seems like WWE has most of their younger guys come in as heels, so he’s needed more in the babyface role as basically a trainer for the newer wrestlers.
Grade: C+ (d)
Outlook: I don’t see any kind of push in his future. He’s a midcarder and probably happy to still be performing at his age.

Jim Ross
To me, the best play by play man in the history of the business. Maybe it’s because I felt like I’ve grown up as a wrestling fan with his voice, but I think his passion and talent as an announcer is what makes him so great. Throw in the fact that he served as basically WWE’s GM (he signed the talent) through the boom period a decade ago and you could argue that he’s one of the most valuable employees the company has ever had. Right now he’s out with a third case of Bell’s Pallsy, but he’s expected back soon. His contract is up in December although all indications are that he’s going to stick around for another three or four years as long as his health allows him too. That’s great news for us as fans. There’s nobody better than good ol’ JR.
Grade: B+
Outlook: I love him on Smackdown. Yeah, I miss him on Raw, but apparently the schedule’s better for him on SD because he has his weekends free now to attend college football games. That makes him happy. A happy JR is a great JR. It’s important to keep a valuable employee like him as happy as possible.

Jimmy Wang Yang
Barely a presence on TV these days. He’s a good worker when given a chance, but I don’t see any kind of serious push in his future. Basically he’s a jobber to the new heels that come in.
Grade: C-
Outlook: Losing matches like he always does or maybe getting released.

John Morrison
It’s hard not to like this guy. Although he never officially turned babyface (he just started working against heels when he went to SD), it’s been the right role for him. The fans are into the act. His offense is excellent, he has become very good at selling a beating and the bigger the spotlight he gets the more the crowd wants to see him. Throw in the fact that he’s a home grown product that’s come up from winning the Tough Enough show and he’s somebody that WWE should really market as a star for the future. I have to admit that before this year I wasn’t sure if he could be an elite in ring performer. I always thought he was a very good athlete, but that doesn’t always translate to being great in the ring. Since he’s been on Smackdown he’s had a number of lengthy matches that have all been very good with the most exceptional one being the tilt against Rey Mysterio on Smackdown that was given 25 minutes and rated it ***1/2 while claiming it to be the #2 match of the year in WWE. He is absolutely legit and the most deserving person in WWE to get a push up the ladder in the coming year.
Grade: B+ (uu)
Outlook: If John Morrison doesn’t win the WWE or World Title in 2010 then that’s a mistake on WWE’s part. He deserves it based on the work he’s put in over the years and the high number of quality matches he’s had this year alone. I think he’ll win the Money in the Bank match. From there he’ll go into the main event scene. Honestly, though, I’d love to see him win the Royal Rumble. They need a non-main eventer to win that. It’s been too long since that’s happened.

The better in ring performer of the two Cryme Tyme members is JTG, who has claimed recently that the initials stand for “Just Too Good” although I’ve heard of other variations of it. His offense is unique, his selling of moves is pretty good and his character is obviously established. The team works. It’s just a shame that there’s not a real tag division in order to give them a legit run with the titles that they deserve.
Grade: C+
Outlook: I’m not sure if the team is going to split up anytime soon. If they don’t then they’ll continue to do what they do. If they do split up he’s the better performer of the two although his height is a detractor in the eyes of big man lover, Vince McMahon.

I think Kane is the hardest person for WWE to book. Has he even had a feud this year? Doesn’t seem like it. He is what he is: A reliable, big man veteran that is always going to hover around the upper midcard without holding a World title again (no, ECW doesn’t count). Remember that classic match against Chavo at Mania? Amazing, wasn’t it? I don’t know what else I remember from Kane this year. It’s been the same thing year after year without a whole lot of substance.
Grade: B- (d)
Outlook: A face turn? I don’t know. I guess there’s a chance he could be elevated to the world title picture, but I doubt it. The creative team hasn’t had much for Kane to do for years now. I don’t see it changing.

Kung Fu Naki
Isn’t it a little crazy that Funaki’s been a WWE employee for 11 years now? He’s one of the longest tenured performers in the company. And he’s barely on TV. I miss his “Numba One Announca” gimmick a bit. The Kung Fu thing was fun for maybe a week.
Grade: C- (dd)
Outlook: I guess he’ll still be employed. He always seems to be able to avoid the dreaded future endeavors list.

Hey look, a heel WWE diva that acts like a bitch while having no other character traits? Where have I seen that before? Oh right, every heel WWE diva is like that. She’s trying hard to improve in the ring, so I give her credit for that. She just doesn’t seem like a wrestler. She’s a former dancer that looks like a dancer trying to wrestle, yet she doesn’t have the look or body of a woman’s wrestler. Long term she’d be better off as a valet, I think.
Grade: C
Outlook: They’ll keep her in the ring because they want all the women to wrestle. I don’t really agree with it, but that seems to be what they want them to be.

She’s a beautiful woman that grew up a wrestling fan who is also Greek like me, so I’ll always support her. However, as a performer let’s just say I had higher expectations. Her work in the ring is marginal at best probably because, like with Layla, she just doesn’t look like a wrestler. She looks like a model. Acting wise, she’s hit and miss. I loved dumb Maria. I thought it was hilarious. Now that she apparently isn’t stupid anymore she comes off as vapid. The storyline with Ziggler was weak and the teenage style dialogue sucked. It was probably leading to a heel turn by Maria, but has since ended due to the fact that she’s on the terrible Celebrity Apprentice show.
Grade: C+
Outlook: Due to being on the TV show she might get some kind of push upon return although I really have no idea what they would do with her because in ring she’s not at the same level as the four main women on the show that can actually wrestle.

Matt Hardy
Late last year I wrote a column about twenty ideas I’d like to see WWE do. One of them was for Matt Hardy to turn on his brother. It happened. They feuded for a months and it was underwhelming. I was disappointed. A few months ago, after about six months as a heel, Matt went back to being a babyface. I’m okay with it because the fans like him and he seems to work better in that role. It’s just that we’ve seen it for years now with Hardy as a midcard face without any sign of really moving up the card. He’s good in the ring, solid on the microphone and he’s over with the fans, but that never seems to lead to a sustained push.
Grade: B-
Outlook: He’ll probably be where he’s at now. I’m not sure if Vince McMahon sees him as somebody he wants to push up the card. And I don’t know if he ever will.

Michelle McCool
What I like about Michelle is her athletic background. You could see she’s an athlete. She’s not a bikini model being told to wrestle. Yes, they found her through the diva search like they found a lot of the other girls, but in her case she looks like a wrestler. I like her bitchy heel character mostly because her “loving life” babyface character failed miserably. In ring she’s fine. She keeps getting better and looks realistic in her moveset. I especially like her big boot. The McUndertaker must have taught her well.
Grade: B
Outlook: Keep her heel. She’s clearly better in that role. I look forward to feuds in the future against good female workers like Beth and my girl Mickie. Could be good.

Mickie James
My favorite diva in WWE by a lot, hence the Mickie James-Canton name that I like to call her. When she debuted in 2005 I wouldn’t say I loved her right away, but as the feud with Trish went on I grew to really, really like her. Her heel character was great. I’d say the best heel WWE diva this decade although I loved heel Trish. For the past couple of years she’s been a babyface. I like her in the role, but I don’t love her like I did that heel character. She’s got the whole energetic, happy, smiling thing down perfectly. However, it’s become a tired act. I miss the skirt, I miss the crazy smile and oh how I miss when she would lick things. A heel turn would be great. In ring wise, it has been a rocky year for her. She’s had some bad matches. I don’t know if it’s been her fault because she’s been there with a lot of green workers, but you could tell it rattled her. On Smackdown things seem fresh again for her. I’m fine with the move.
Grade: B
Outlook: She recently signed a contract to record a country music album, so there are rumors that she might leave WWE soon. I would think that she’d be able to manage both of those things if she wanted to, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. If she’s still there she’ll likely continue in her babyface role although as I said before a heel turn would be welcome.

Mike Knox
He’s a typical WWE big guy although he talks about hurting people. He’s an intelligent big guy. Oh, with a beard too. See, I liked his look. I liked his act. I liked him going undefeated. Then what happens? He starts losing. And when he starts losing he become just another heel big guy in WWE that’s never going anywhere. Why can’t they get behind somebody fresh for once and actually push them? That’s what I’d like to know.
Grade: C
Outlook: He’s lost in the shuffle and we probably won’t see an actual push for him. Of course as a big guy he’ll probably get opportunity after opportunity to prove himself.

Don’t you think it’s wrong that WWE puts untrained models in the ring more than they put an actual trained wrestler like Natalya? It’s bizarre. They use her as a manager for the Hart Dynasty team, which is fine with me because I like the trio together. I just wish they used her more, that’s all.
Grade: B-
Outlook: At some point they need to realize she’s good in the ring and she should be holding one of the titles, right? I think it’ll happen in 2010 at some point.

What’s up? I think it’s fair to say he’s popular with the crowd. His entrance is good. Once his matches start sometimes the crowd tends to go quiet. It’s not really his fault. He works hard, he makes his opponent looks good and I think his offense his fine. The main issue is he’s caught in the abyss known as the WWE midcard scene. He’ll win one week, lose the next two, win the next two, then lose again and he’s caught in a place where he’s not going up the card ever.
Grade: C+
Outlook: He’s in a spot similar to Finlay in that he’ll work with the newer heels in order to get them ready for brighter futures while he continues to languish in the midcard. I don’t see that really changing.

Ranjin Singh
He’s only an on-air character as the “brother” of the Great Khali. He actually works for WWE on the creative team. I don’t know what to say about him. I do like that dance he does during the entrance. That’s something, right?
Grade: C-
Outlook: When Khali’s back from injury I assume he’ll be back on TV too.

Rey Mysterio
I’ve always liked Mysterio since I first saw him in 1996. I remember watching WCW a lot in those days mostly because of him. My buddies and I were in awe of his athleticism. He still has it. Yeah, the multiple knee injuries have taken their toll and he weighs more than ever, but he’s still one of the best in-ring workers in the company. They need to keep putting him against younger wrestlers like Ziggler because he made him better during their feud. I’d like to see him in a feud with a guy like McIntyre too. Rey is the kind of worker that makes people around him better. He sells beatings great, he’s easy to counter holds against and his offense isn’t going to embarrass anybody. What he does works. I also have to give him a lot of credit for not only a match of the year contender with Morrison, but a feud of the year contender with Jericho as well as a couple of matches in that feud that were among the best of the year. Rey has had a really strong year (insert performance enhancing substance joke her). Keep him on SD. It’s where he belongs.
Grade: A-
Outlook: He’ll be used to help Batista turn heel because the crowd’s like Rey. He’s the most sympathetic babyface in WWE. Once that feud is likely over, I expect him to be in a similar position to where he is now as an upper midcarder. I don’t see WWE putting a World Title on him again. Considering how much they botched his title reign the last time (I’ve never seen a champion lose so many non-title matches in my life) that’s probably a god thing. Bottom line is his act works. No need to change it.

He’s a big dude that’s got the character down pat. In ring he’s marginal. He’s not as bad as some of the big guys in WWE, but he’s clearly not an elite big man type of worker. At least he’s over with the crowd. Whoever came up with “Money money yeah yeah” is a genius. It’s catchy. Can you tell I really don’t know what to write for him? Let’s just move on.
Grade: C
Outlook: A tag title run is not really likely as long as they allow the champs to be on both shows. If they split the belts up maybe they’ll get a win. Other than that he’ll do what he has done for years.

Slam Master J
Terrible gimmick. Marginal wrestler. Why would they break up the Jesse & Festus team that was marginally over to create this lame white rapper character that isn’t fresh at all.
Grade: D
Outlook: Bad comedy and no push.

The Great Khali
He’s out with a knee injury that will keep him on the shelf for a while. He’s one of those guys who if you saw in person you’d be like: “Damn, I didn’t realize he was that big.” Then about thirty seconds later you realize you’re watching an immobile monster that looks out of place almost all the time. Of course due to his size he’ll always be on TV because as mentioned many times Vince loves the big dudes.
Grade: C- (d)
Outlook: When he comes back he’ll be used in the midcard most likely. I think Vince realizes he doesn’t have value as a main eventer. Khali as champion was not a great time.

Theodore Long
Been in the GM role for years now, off and on. I thought he was turning heel after screwing the Undertaker at the Breaking Point PPV in Montreal, but it didn’t happen. Back to the face role he’s been in forever. He’s fine for what they ask him to do.
Grade: C+
Outlook: Same as always although I wouldn’t mind him in the heel role.

Todd Grisham
The Grish has improved. I give him credit for working hard and getting better. I think working with JR is the best possible thing for him because JR makes everybody around him better.
Grade: C+
Outlook: I think it’s important to keep him with JR in order to help him improve. Keep him on Smackdown.

Tony Chimel
Ring announcer and a good one. Been with WWE since 1983 (according to his bio) when he was part of the ring crew. A lifer, that’s for sure. I don’t grade ring announcers, though.

Tyson Kidd
If you asked me for names of ten people in WWE who I think will be stars in the next five years he’d be one of those names. I love his in-ring work. His tag matches haven’t stood out that much because WWE lacks true tag teams, which prevents quality tag matches from happening. However, in singles he’s had great matches against John Morrison on a number of occasions (check it out on youtube) and it gives me great hope for his future. He’s a good athlete that really knows how work. Good offense, great selling and he’s good at getting the crowd to boo him. In terms of promos they almost never let him talk. I hope that changes soon. In his late 20s now, the future’s very bright for Tyson Kidd.
Grade: B- (uu)
Outlook: Keep the Hart Dynasty trio together. It benefits all three of them. I’d love to see the tag belts become separate, so that they can have a nice run as tag champs. I’m looking forward

It’s hard to really rate The Undertaker. There are negatives and positives when it comes to him. On the negative side he’s in his mid 40s now, he’s injury prone and you can’t book around him long term due to the fact that he works about half the year at most. On the positive side he’s still good enough to have a match of the year with Shawn Michaels like he did at WM25, he’s obviously over with the crowd and his veteran leadership is obviously an asset. I still like his matches if he’s not booked against other big guys like Khali or Kane although the Batista feud in 2007 was surprisingly very good. Obviously the big feud they can do in his future is with Chris Jericho, so I really am looking forward to that. I’m not sure about how much time he has left as a regular in-ring performer. Maybe one year, maybe more. I doubt he’s in a rush to stop. He makes a lot of money to wrestle maybe 20-25 days a year. Of course he’s earned the respect through 20 years of service in WWE, but at some point he has to stop, right?
Grade: B (d)
Outlook: He’s definitely a descending talent due to age as well as injury history, but he’s also somebody with value. I’d love to see a feud with Chris Jericho because it’s never been done before. Other than that, I hope they find him a fresh opponent for WrestleMania although if they did a Michaels/Undertaker rematch I know I wouldn’t be complaining about it.

Vickie Guerrero
Excuse me! She got fired in the spring because she apparently wanted to spend the summer with her daughters and now that they’re back at school she came back to WWE to work TV. The relationship with “boyfriend” Eric Escobar hasn’t added much to the show although the fans love to boo her because she is a great heel, so it could help him long term. I wouldn’t be shocked if they put her in a GM type role again, either.
Grade: C+
Outlook: Continuing to manage Escobar or maybe going back to being a GM.


Here are the rankings. I’ve broken it up into male characters and then female characters. There won’t be any ties. If two or more people have the same grade I’ll choose one over the other based on who I think is that much better. Note: Just because a wrestler has more upside than somebody else doesn’t make that person better. The upside/downside aspect is more for showing who is on their way up and who is on their way down.

Here are the 27 male performers with the two announcers plus the GM included:

1. Chris Jericho A
2. CM Punk A-
3. Rey Mysterio A-
4. John Morrison B+ (uu)
5. Jim Ross B+
6. Undertaker B (d)
7. Batista B (d)
8. Dolph Ziggler B (uu)
9. Tyson Kidd B- (uu)
10. Kane B- (d)
11. Matt Hardy B-
12. Drew McIntyre C+ (uu)
13. R-Truth C+
14. Finlay C+ (d)
15. Theodore Long C+
16. David Hart Smith C+ (u)
17. Todd Grisham C+
18. JTG C+
19. Mike Knox C
20. Shad C
21. Eric Escobar C (u)
22. The Great Khali C- (d)
23. Charlie Haas C-
24. Jimmy Wang Yang C-
25. Kung Fu Naki C- (dd)
26. Ranjin Singh C-
27. Slam Master J D

No Rating
Curt Hawkins (Not on Smackdown)
Edge (Injury)
Tony Chimel (Announcer)

The top three have won me over with the best combination of matches and feuds in the company in 2009. They are consistently the best on a weekly basis. There’s no question that Jericho is number one…Morrison’s right on the cusp of being in that A- range. He just needs a defining feud more than anything…Undertaker and Batista are tough to grade based on their injury history, but I think each guy still has value as established main eventers…I really think Ziggler and Kidd are going to be main event level talents in a few years. I like Kidd more, but I don’t think his singles run will be for another year at the earliest…The announcers on this show are much better than the Raw counterparts in part because they don’t have to cater to guest hosts every week. Plus, JR makes every wrestler sound better just by talking up their background as much as he does…After going through the two main rosters there’s no question to me that Smackdown’s the better of the two. They’ve got a good mix of vets working with younger guys and with a top guy like Edge coming back in a few months it will make the show better. I almost don’t want a draft lottery in 2010 because I want to see this group grow together.

Here are the seven women on the roster:

1. Mickie James B
2. Michelle McCool B
3. Beth Phoenix B-
4. Natalya B-
5. Vickie Guerrero C+
6. Maria C+
7. Layla C

I’ll admit to some bias in ranking Mickie ahead of Michelle. They’re about even although I think overall Mickie’s the talent with more depth…Beth and Natalya are right there too. They just need the right story…Please don’t book Vickie in a match ever. That’s not too much to ask, is it?


That’s it for this part. The ECW part was going to be posted on Monday, but I don’t think there’s any way that I’ll be able to have it done by then. I’m moving it to Thursday November 5th. Also in that part will be an examination of the roster with some things I learned after writing about all the on screen performers in WWE.

I appreciate any feedback you may have. Who do you think was ranked correctly? Who was rated poorly? Who was I too nice to, or too critical of? Let me know. You can contact me via email at, join the hundreds of my friends on Facebook at where I’m sure some discussion will be going on and you can also shoot me a Tweet at if you’re into Twitter. I will most likely be running some type of feedback column on this once I’m done all three parts, so keep that in mind too.

Part 1: Raw
Part 3: ECW and a Final Analysis coming on Thursday November 5th.

Smell ya later,
John Canton –
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