The John Report: WWE Roster Evaluation - Smackdown

Note: This was written before any "trades" were made during the draft lottery period.

This is the second roster evaluation of the spring/summer season. I did the Raw Roster evaluation on June 2. In this edition I'll go over everybody on the Smackdown Roster, including those that were on the Smackdown roster BEFORE this lottery began. It's bolded, so PLEASE don’t ask me why it's the old rosters.

When it's all over I'll show you the order that they appear from best to worst and then a top twenty overall list and then some final analysis. It's a long ride, so sit tight, have fun and enjoy. Here's a look once again at the grading system.

The Grading System
I tried to look at each wrestler's workrate, mic work, charisma, drawing power and importance to the company as a way to grade them. For the people like the valets, managers or announcers I will just give them a grade based on the role that they play. I won’t be covering tag teams. I’ll just deal with the individuals when their names come up.

For a better explanation of my criteria, here's a look at the grading system.

A+ = Workrate, mic work, ring psychology, charisma are exceptional. The closest thing to a perfect wrestler.
A = Excels in all of the key areas that I explained above.
B, B+, A- = High midcard wrestler who needs a little work in some areas in order to improve.
C, C+, B- = Midcarder who has not reached his potential or a wrestler who is unable to improve on some areas due to their size and/or natural talent.
D+, C- = Nearly unwatchable.
D or lower = I would rather watch paint dry.
F = So bad that I’d rather watch Mae Young give me a lap dance.

Simple enough, right? This list of talent that I’ll be evaluating comes from the WWE.com Superstars list. It is current as of June 25, 2005. Remember, the five Smackdown people that moved to Raw (Cena, Angle, Carlito, Big Show, RVD) will be in this evaluation since they were not in the Raw roster evaluation.

Reminder: Before I get people complaining to me about any of my comments, please remember that I respect every person involved in wrestling. It’s a tough, demanding business that requires these performers to sacrifice many other things in their lives. While it may seem like I'm "bashing" somebody, it’s nothing personal. It’s just their work on WWE television.

Here’s the list coming at you in alphabetical order, as seen on Smackdown’s WWE.com page. The writeups for these people will be shorter than those of the Raw Roster due to me wanting to get through this sooner rather than later.

THE SMACKDOWN ROSTER

These are the active Smackdown superstars. They include both male and females.

AKIO
Then: I can't say I see a push in his future. He's good for what is asked of him, though.

Just like I said back October it applies here. He's a good talent who never seems to be on the receiving end of a push. With WWE likely cutting some talent before they move to the USA Network he could be one of the victims of that even though he's a very good in-ring performer.
Grade: C, PG: C (#26 on SD)
Outlook: I don't see his role changing, sadly.

AL SNOW
Then: Moving to Smackdown to train the Tough Enough hopefuls. A role that he's great at.

That's what happened. Now he's training some wrestlers in their minor league system. I thought he was a good announcer, but I think he's more of a trainer than an announcer for the rest of his career in the business.
Grade: C, PG: C+
Outlook: He'll be back on TV when they do the next Tough Enough. Until then, no Head for you.

BIG SHOW
Then: I think he's taking the WWE Title from JBL before the end of 2004. Doesn't mean he's walking into WMXXI with it, but he'll have it. I think by next summer he'll be a heel too.

The title switch didn't happen. How could I have foreseen that JBL would have a ten month title reign? I thought Big Show deserved a short run with the belt. Didn't happen. He got to main event, but he didn't win the belt. Now they've moved him over to Raw probably because he's been a dead character on Smackdown for a while. I hope a heel turn is in his future. He's great as the evil giant. He's also fun as a babyface, but it's hard to get behind a guy that's bigger than everybody. I thought his best year ever was 2003 whereas 2004 was just okay and so far 2005 hasn't been that great. The change should do him good, but his rating goes down a notch a bit from last fall.
Grade: B-, PG: B (#5 on SD)
Outlook: With Big Show on Raw now, he's got a fresh start and hopefully some new feuds that light a fire under his ass the same way the Lesnar feud did in 2003. He needs to recapture that magic somehow.

BILLY KIDMAN
Then: I think that the company will tire of Spike Dudley with the cruiser belt, so Kidman would just replace him there.

There's a lot of speculation about Billy Kidman's future. There's rumors that he may retire soon due to litany of injuries that have slowed him down considerably the last couple of years. I don't know when he's hurt and when he's healthy anymore. He's dropped so far off the radar that he's another name rumored to be axed when WWE decides to make those moves. He's not a bad performer. He's just injury prone and doesn't exude the kind of star power that WWE likes.
Grade: C, PG: B- (#10 on SD)
Outlook: Could be a star of the cruiser division or he could disappear again, which is what he's done for the last year or so. He's very much at a crossroads.

BOOKER T.
Then: I think he'll go back to being the veteran babyface that fans enjoy because of his strong promos, energetic wrestling style and overall likeability.

I'm glad he went back to being a babyface because that's the role that I've always felt he was more comfortable in. I thought it was horrible that they found no spot for this guy at WrestleMania 21 except for the battle royal that was a DVD exclusive. Considering he main evented a PPV a few months prior that's pretty sad. I think WWE realized that and since WM they pushed him hard by putting him over Kurt Angle in the storyline that involved his wife Sharmell. The greatest angle? No, but it gave Booker some momentum and some fire to add to his character, which had been stagnant. He's not the in-ring worker he once was, but crowds still like him. He'll never be the 1998 WCW Booker T that was great at everything and he knows that. He is good for what is asked of him today, though.
Grade: B, PG: B- (#6 on SD)
Outlook: I think he stays around as an upper midcard babyface for a while. I don't see a major World Title in his future, but he'll hover close enough that people can buy him as a contender.

BUBBA RAY DUDLEY
Then: Maybe another title reign is in their future, but they're mostly going to continue being role players. It's a role that suits the Dudleys fine.

The Dudleys have been out since the end of last year. Injured? No. Just off TV trying to recreate their magic from the past. Obviously they came back at the ECW PPV and came back for TV before that, but they're not regular SD characters still. Due to inactivity, there'll be no rating for Bubba or D'Von.
Grade: NR, PG: C (#23 on SD)
Outlook: I think they'll come back as a babyface tag team that feuds with MNM around Summerslam. Could be fun.

CARLITO CARIBBEAN COOL
Then: I think he'll hold the US title for a few months before losing it and then feuding with John Cena when he returns.

Well, he didn't get that few month title reign because he hurt his shoulder. Thankfully, WWE kept him on TV while he was hurt and allowed his character to flourish in the meantime. I like his character a lot and I think WWE likes it a lot too. They don't book him that strong ever, he usually wins his matches by using tights or holding the ropes and when he loses to the likes of Cena or Big Show it's usually in clean fashion. I think he's got a very bright future and seeing as he's still in his early 20s he's a guy that WWE feels they can build around for the next decade.
Grade: B, PG: NR
Outlook: I think he'll stay around that IC Title level on Raw over the course of the next six months to a year.

CHARLIE HAAS
Then: I see the US title in his future at some point in early 2005. He's got a bright future ahead of him.

When I get asked the following question there is always one name at the top of my list: "Who is the most underused performer in WWE?" My answer is Charlie Haas. The only thing holding this guy back, in my opinion, is the writing team. Did you see his work with Bob Holly against MNM? He was great at Judgment Day, playing the babyface who came in as a house on fire and the fans got into it very much. Since then he's done nothing but fail to make it on to Smackdown. Why? I have no idea. It's sad. He's a good worker. As a character, he needs some work, but he's not inept. He's better than frickin' Heidenreich! His grade reflects more his place on the roster than his skills.
Grade: B-, PG: B- (#14 on SD)
Outlook: I'd love that US title run for this guy. It could really help him get over the way it helped Shelton Benjamin on Raw, even though I think Shelton's the better of the two.

CHAVO GUERRERO
Then: I think he'll be a face for several months as he feuds with Kidman, but I can see him going back to being a heel just because it's the more natural role for him.

Ooooooh Chavo. I love that song. If I wasn't a heterosexual male then maybe I'd really love it, ya know? He's a good performer who does his job well. He's never asked to be anything amazing, but he's the ultimate role player who does his part to the best of his ability. You need guys like Chavo around for the entire show to be better. His feud with Paul London has had the potential to be as good as any cruiserweight feud in WWE, but they never seem willing to pull the trigger on it. Maybe he should strut like Heidenreich.
Grade: B, PG: B- (#7 on SD)
Outlook: Still involved in the cruiser division as one of the top heels. He shines in that role.

D-VON DUDLEY
Then: Teaming with Bubba. Could turn face or stay heel. They work fine in either role, really.

Not much to judge him on since the Dudleys have been out since last year due to being stale. Due to the inactivity, there'll be no rating for Bubba or D'Von.
Grade: NR, PG: C (#24 on SD)
Outlook: A return as a babyface team to feud with MNM seems likely.

DANNY BASHAM
Then: A run with the tag belts? I hope.

They did get a run with the tag belts. What are they doing now? Nothing, really, which is a shame. I like Doug more than Danny for personal reasons (when I had to pick a picture of a wrestler to use in an efed, I chose Doug), but Danny is pretty good too. They're both underused and there's nothing that tells me that will change any time soon. They broke away from JBL's Cabinet to do what? I have no idea.
Grade: C+, PG: C+ (#19 on SD)
Outlook: No clue. Staying as a tag team with Doug is the most likely thing, it would seem.

DAWN MARIE
Then: Getting in catfights and hopefully managing somebody, or some team, sooner or later.

Sadly, they barely used her since I wrote that, only giving her a role in that Gayda/Haas angle. She's pregnant now so she gets no rating because she is off the road now. I wish her the best with her forthcoming child and I will definitely be among the many that is going to miss this fine piece of woman.
Grade: NR, PG: B-
Outlook: On the sidelines. I wouldn't be shocked if she never came back to wrestling.

DOUG BASHAM
Then: Since they are one of only two real teams on Smackdown they should get a title run. Will it happen? Of course not.

My boy! They did have a run with the tag belts, feuding with Guerrero and Mysterio although it was never a major feud. It was more like they were placeholders to transition the belts onto Mysterio and Guerrero in order to start their feud. Like I said with Danny, it's hard to know where this guy is going. I just hope it's somewhere up the card because he's got all the tools to be a star some day.
Grade: C+, PG: C+ (#18 on SD)
Outlook: Teaming with Doug seems to be the safest bet. I'd love to see him on his own, though.

EDDIE GUERRERO
Then: Unbelievably, there's still more he can do as a face. While I think he's more natural as a heel, due to all the big guys on Smackdown it makes sense for him to be the sympathetic babyface since it's a role he does well. I doubt his role will change much in the near future.

Oops. It's a good oops because heel Eddie Guerrero, to me, is one of my five favorite wrestling characters ever. He's channeling all the pure evilness that was in his WCW characters in the late '90s when he was their best midcard heel. Now it's on a bigger stage, as a top guy in WWE feuding with Rey Mysterio in what I feel has been the best of the 2005 calendar year so far. He's really in a zone right now where he's getting genuine heel heat often by just giving his evil looks. He doesn't have to speak a whole lot. He just gives his looks and the crowd hates him. It's a testament to his greatness because I remember before he turned heel I had people emailing me saying he'd never get booed. Excuse me? This is Eddie. The man is a natural heel. He knows what he's doing and for my money he's doing his act as good as anybody in wrestling right now.
Grade: A-, PG: A- (#2 on SD)
Outlook: I hope a world title is in his future because he certainly deserves another chance with it. I wouldn't be shocked to see a feud with Batista to happen although whether Batista's still champ during that is up in the air.

FUNAKI
Then: Doing what he's doing now: Jobbing.

Funaki! Smackdown Numba One Announca! I love this guy. They gave him a cruiserweight championship reign, which was cool. That's about as high as he's going to go. If he gets released soon it wouldn't be a shock. My dream for the lottery would have been to hype up a pick huge and then it ended up being Funaki. That would be hilarious! But no, it's WWE. No actual good humor allowed. Just bad jokes.
Grade: C, PG: C- (#29 on SD)
Outlook: Not doing more than he's doing now. Either he gets the axe or he continues to lose.

HARDCORE HOLLY
Then: Jobbing for the heels of the month. What else can he do?

He's mostly jobbing for the heels of the month. He did a good job with Charlie Haas as a tag team partner and the fans were actually into him in that role. Then it just stopped with no good reason after MNM beat them a few times. Way to go, WWE. Way to capitalize on momentum.
Grade: C, PG: D (# on SD)
Outlook: He has some value as a veteran leader, but I don't foresee any pushes in his future.

HEIDENREICH
Then: He'll continue to get pushed strong as he jobs to the Undertaker, is a "favorite" in the Royal Rumble (even though everybody knows he'll lose) and I predict his time of crappiness will be done before WMXXI.

He wasn't in the Rumble, instead he lost to the Undertaker to end their craptacular feud of doom. He wasn't in the Rumble, instead he lost to the Undertaker for the 7,164th time to end their craptacular feud of doom. Then he turned babyface, basically becoming the Eugene of Smackdown. It's not a good gimmick. It makes me laugh in the same way that a bad movie makes me laugh because I wonder how anybody could think that is a good thing. On the plus side, he's got that funky walk thing. That rules. Screw the Macarena, this is the greatest dance known to mankind.
Grade: F, PG: F (#33 on SD)
Outlook: I don't see anything big in his future, but as long as he keeps the Heidenreich dance then I'm alright with that.

JOHN "BRADSHAW" LAYFIELD
Then: I think his run as champion is ending soon. From there, he'll probably cement himself as an upper echelon heel.

The days of this guy being an automatic D are over. It used to be just "boring tag wrestler" and stick a D on him. Not anymore. Now he's a bonafide main eventer that has been pushed harder down our throats than any wrestler in the past twelve months. Even more than Batista and Cena since their pushes started at the end of the year mostly. In many ways, he is the most controversial performer in the company. He's got a number of fans who simply despise him because they don't feel he earned his spot while others admire how hard he's worked since he's been given the responsibility of being a main event player. Myself? On one hand, I do respect him for all the work he's put in over the past year to become a better overall performer. On the other hand, I don't think he was the right choice to have a ten month title reign especially after SD attendance figures were very low, buyrates stunk and interest in SD was at all-time lows. So much for listening to fans.

Since he started feuding with Cena he got some of his momentum back and has cut some great promos, even though they are getting repetitive every week. Still, I think he's in that upper-class category now. Is he the best overall performer? No, he's got his limitations, but it'd be pretty hard to find guys who have worked as hard as him to change his persona over the past 15 months. I don't personally like the guy, but he's earned my respect through hard work and dedication.
Grade: B+, PG: B- (#12 on SD)
Outlook: I think he'll hover around the main event scene for a while. I don't think he'll have another title reign in 2005, but he will always be close.

JOEY MERCURY
Then: Not on the main roster.

He's the slightly better and more experienced worker in the MNM team. He's a good bumper with a good presence in the ring. Still very raw as a character, but he's certainly been a good addition, along with Nitro, to Smackdown. Their first night was great, as was their first match. Those two guys have a bright future.
Grade: C+, PG: NA
Outlook: I think teaming with Nitro as part of MNM seems to be the right thing for them. The Dudleys as future opponents seems likely.

JOHN CENA
Then: Out of the ring to end 2004, I think he'll be pushed huge in 2005 and we'll see him in a major match at WrestleMania XXI. Wouldn't be shocked to see him with the WWE title too.

Obviously he's a part of Raw now. I think it's fair to think of Cena as the guy to carry WWE in the future as their top babyface wrestler. Batista is hot right now too, but I don't think he has as much longevity as a babyface performer compared to Cena. In terms of promos, Cena is at the top of the list in the entire company. For babyfaces, he blows the rest away. I love that he ditched his regular raps and has stuck to just busting those out on rare occasions. It makes him more "real" and more relatable as a fan. He's as over as anybody on either show in part because of the push he's got, but I believe it's more to do with how he caters to the fans the way an old school wrestler would. Cena's no dummy. He's into the marketing and merchandise of his character. The area where he needs work is in the ring, but I'm optimistic about him in that area. His big brawl with JBL at Judgment Day was very good, better than expected and is a sign that he's willing to work to get better. He still has a way to go, but I think he'll get better on Raw working with top heels like Triple H and Angle. I don't see a heel turn for him. He's the long term babyface champion WWE needs to make everybody a lot of money.
Grade: A-, PG: B+ (#4 on SD)
Outlook: I think he'll be locked in as the top babyface on Raw, probably feuding with Triple H throughout the second half of the year. I think it'll be a very good feud that draws plenty of money and interest into the product.

JOHNNY NITRO
Then: Not on the main roster.

I think it's fair to call him the most successful Tough Enough winner ever even though he's only been a part of Smackdown for a couple months. He's leapfrogged Maven, who is a jobber on Raw these days, Gayda is just filler on SD, Linda Miles is gone, Nidia is gone and Nitro's co-winner of Tough Enough 3 Matt Capptelli hasn't debuted on WWE TV yet. Nitro's got good charisma and he's solid in the ring. I like MNM a lot because they're a true team in a company that really lacks those these days.
Grade: C+, PG: NA
Outlook: Continuing to team with Matthews is likely, as is a future feud with the returning Dudley Boys.

JOSH MATTHEWS
Then: He'll continue to hone his skills on Velocity, which is perfectly fine with me.

With the future of Velocity in question once WWE moves from Spike to USA Network I wonder what his role will be. I think he's pretty good as a play by play announcer with a bright future, but I wonder if he'll be able to develop those skills now.
Grade: C+, PG: B-
Outlook: Working as a backstage interviewer on Smackdown seems to be the most likely gig for him.

JOY GIOVANNI
Then: Not on the main roster.

I watch Smackdown pretty much every week and I couldn't tell you what her job is. She's pretty hot, but what's her role? Physically, she's a solid B+ no doubt, but I don't know what to classify her as.
Grade: C-, PG: NA
Outlook: No idea. I don't even know how to summarize her job. How can I give her an outlook?

JUVENTUD
Then: Not on the main roster.

I watched him in WCW so I know he's a pretty good wrestler who has been very good when he's had his head screwed on right and a shaky individual otherwise. I hope he's on his best behavior in WWE because he's a lot of fun. That said, he's too new in WWE for me to grade right now. No rating.
Grade: NR, PG: NA
Outlook:If all goes well, Mexicools is a stable that helps the tag division as well as the cruiser division while giving us some great matches at the same time. Could be fun.

KENZO SUZUKI
Then: Should be released, but probably won't be. I guess he’ll continue working in tag teams to hide his deficiencies, of which there are many.

Not a fan. He's a poor worker and not very good as a character save for the odd thing. Due to him not being around for a while he's not getting a grade. If he did, think of an F.
Grade: NR, PG: F (#32 on SD)
Outlook: I don't know. Wouldn't be shocked if he got released.

KURT ANGLE
Then: I think he’ll stay as a heel for a while. It’s the more natural role for him, so there’s no point in changing. He’s commented on wanting to feud with Undertaker. Considering the power that the two of them yield, I’d assume that would happen at some point early next year, probably leading to WrestleMania XXI.

I'm glad I was wrong because if we got Undertaker/Angle then we wouldn't have had the classic match that was Michaels vs. Angle at WrestleMania 21 and also Vengeance. I'm not a huge fan of Angle on Raw because I always considered him the face of SD, as well as their most valuable performer. Now he's on the show with the stacked roster, so while he makes Raw better it makes Smackdown worse because he's a guy that's irreplaceable to me. I make no bones about it, this guy is probably my favorite wrestler in the business today. I also think he's the best. The only blip on his resume was that tasteless angle they had him do on SD where he stalked Booker T's wife. That was bush league and unnecessary. Other than that, he's been on fire since coming back to wrestle full time last summer and thankfully he's been healthy too.

I'm looking forward to Angle on Raw to see him continue his legendary series with Shawn Michaels (yes, it's already there as far as I'm concerned) and to see some of the great matches he can put on with a younger guy like Shelton Benjamin, who is in many ways an Angle disciple. Yes, I miss him on Smackdown already, but I consider myself an optimist and I'd be foolish not to get excited about a potentially great feud like that one. I think Angle has been the best overall performer in WWE in 2005 without that much doubt, really. Nobody has been in the zone he's been. TV matches, PPV matches, promos, he's done it all. It's amazing considering just three months ago I was writing about how close he was to being done. I'm glad I was wrong.
Grade: A, PG: A- (#1 on SD)
Outlook: I hope he gets another run with a major world title again. He said in interviews that he's proven to McMahon that he's healthy again and I believe him. Hopefully Vince believes in him and rewards him with another title run that he so richly deserves.

MARK JINDRAK
Then: I think they’ll give him a chance to run with the ball a little, getting wins over lower card babyfaces and always being around the main event scene due to his affiliation with Angle.

I don't know about this guy. You hear about his athleticism and his potential, but he never seems to really live up to it. He doesn't energize a crowd and has failed to come across as a character whatsoever. In ring, he's just average. At some point the light has to come on and he has to improve, but it's been what, five years now? I don't know if it'll ever happen for him.

Grade: C-, PG: C (#21 on SD)
Outlook: Not sure about his future. Wouldn't be shocked if he was released.

MATT MORGAN
Then: Not on the main roster.

He's as physically impressive as anybody on the roster, no doubt. However, his stuttering gimmick is a very limited one and something that he needs to dump for the sake of his future. Is anybody ever really going to get over that much because they stutter when they talk? I don't think so. He's okay in the ring and like I said because of physical power he's going to have plenty of chances to impress his size loving boss.
Grade: C, PG: NA
Outlook: He'd make a good bodyguard for somebody like Christian on Smackdown. Maybe a tag wrestler. Too green to succeed on his own.

MELINA
Then: Not on the main roster.

I like everything about her. Her body, her entrance in the ring, her presence on the microphone and the way she seems to just be a natural when the camera is on her. She's easily my second favorite WWE girl now (behind Trish) and one of my favorite reasons to watch Smackdown these days. Not just because she's hot, but because they use her too. That's the best part. She's a manager of a tag team. A classic role for a woman, one that is dead in WWE for the most part. I'm glad she's there, though. Damn, I like this girl.
Grade: B-, PG: NA
Outlook: Continuing to manage MNM. She may make a competent singles wrestler one day, but I'd rather see her just manage.

MICHAEL COLE
Then: He’ll continue to be the voice of Smackdown.

I think the best word to describe MC is adequate. He's not great and he's not bad either. There are times when you may feel either way about him. In general, though, he's about average as an announcer. I respect him for obviously working hard to get better at his craft. He's fine for what is asked of him. That's all.
Grade: C+, PG: C
Outlook: I don't see him moving. He’ll continue to be the voice of Smackdown.

MICHELLE MCCOOL
Then: Not on the main roster.

Another diva search contestant, but one you should admire. She's a wrestling fan, somebody who wants to be in the business. Not somebody who was told to audition because of her modeling agency sent her picture in. She actually WANTS to be there. Not only that, but she wants to improve as a performer and in-ring competitor. I admire her very much for that. You'll also notice her two little friends that have been added to her repertoire. She took the diva plunge as I like to say, succumbing to the masses and adding a pair of…uh…funbags to her arsenal. Whatever helps the career, that's what I always say.
Grade: B-, PG: NA
Outlook: Hopefully her passions remains in order for her to become a competent wrestler and/or quality valet.

MISS JACKIE
Then: Continuing to manage Charlie since there isn't a women's division on Smackdown, which is a good thing considering there are only three women anyway.

Another one whose job description perplexes me. She's been surpassed by Michelle and Melina on the depth chart, it seems. How hard is it to pair her with a male wrestler, like her husband Charlie Haas, and just use her that way? Fans wouldn't mind checking out her body. How hard is it?
Grade: C-, PG: C+
Outlook: Continuing to barely use her just as they have for most of her career.

NUNZIO
Then: Wish I could say that I saw something in his future, but I don't really see it.

In terms of grading people as in-ring competitors go, this guy could be in the top ten overall if he was ever given a chance. That's how good he is. Is he used that way? No, of course not. Not only that, but I would not be shocked if he was one of those people cut because of the new TV deal. It's sad because of how good the Sicilian Shooter could be if only he was used better.
Grade: C, PG: C+ (#17 on SD)
Outlook: Gets released or he just continues to flounder in the Smackdown lower card where he always seems to be.

ORLANDO JORDAN
Then: I think he'll stay on as JBL's ally for a while. A split is likely down the road, but there's no need to rush it. I also wouldn't be shocked to see him at the US title level.

Without a doubt, the worst US Champion ever. I'd say worst any champion ever, but I remember Billy Gunn and Chyna as IC champions. Dark days. Not only has he had zero feuds in his career remotely close to be considered good, but WWE has such little confidence in him that he barely makes it onto Smackdown PPVs even when he's hold such a "prestigious" belt. He's okay as a talker, but he wrestles like he's in the indies still. The Smackdown announcers call him the best athlete. That's fine, show me! Shelton Benjamin shows me on Raw. Jordan doesn't show me shit. Do something, OJ!
Grade: C+, PG: C (#20 on SD)
Outlook: Continuing to suck as US champion seems likely.

PAUL LONDON
Then: I see him winning the cruiser title by WrestleMania XXI. I think he's going to be a big time star the more chances he gets to prove himself.

He is the cruiserweight champion even though I've yet to see him in a match with a "big time" feel in WWE. Another one of those guys who could be doing a lot better if he was only used better by management. Still, for the few minutes he gets on TV every week he's always putting on a good match. You can't teach this kind of athleticism and talent. You either have it or you don't. London clearly has it. I just hope somebody in WWE realizes it soon when they're looking for that next hot act to catch on. This guy can be huge.
Grade: B, PG: B- (#8 on SD)
Outlook: I think he continues to be a part of the cruiser division throughout the year until somebody in WWE sees his true talent and elevates him to the US title division. I'm hoping!

PSICOSIS
Then: Not on the main roster.

Like with Juvi, I watched him in WCW so I know he's a pretty good wrestler. He's too new in WWE for me to grade right now. No rating.
Grade: NR, PG: NA
Outlook: I'd like to see him teaming with Super Crazy as a new tag team while Juvi is focused mainly on the cruiser division.

RENE DUPREE
Then: I think he'll be in the same place where he is now. He's still too young and too green to get a really big push. He has main event potential, but not yet.

They've really slowed down his push, huh? He went from feuding with Cena to teaming with Kenzo to absolutely nothing. He's still very young so there's plenty of time for him to develop. He's a good talker with a good presence in the ring. He's just not very good as a worker at this point. He'll get better, I hope. In five years, he could be a main eventer or a complete flop.
Grade: C, PG: C+ (#15 on SD)
Outlook: I just think he's better off in a tag team rather than being on his own because at this point he's not ready for that sort of thing.

REY MYSTERIO
Then: I think he'll be out of the cruiser division, facing off with the midcard heels just to give him something new. I wouldn't be shocked to see him with US gold one day.

As far as I'm concerned, he's right there with John Cena, Batista and Shawn Michaels as the best babyfaces in WWE. He might be first because there's never a time where you think he could or would go heel. He's the ultimate babyface because he's always the underdog, he does moves that few others can do and he plays to the crowd in a way that isn't patronizing. One of the best things WWE did in the past year or so has been pushing this guy as hard as they have. He's out of the cruiser division, he's in a top level feud with Eddie Guerrero that is my feud of the year and he's looking like he belongs in the main event scene. It's a joy to watch. Nobody deserves it more than Mysterio when you consider how hard he was worked to climb that ladder. In ring, he's among the top five in the whole company. He never has bad matches. How many people can you say that about? Three or four? The man knows how to put on a show and work for the fans. He always has. He's just in his prime now too, which is amazing. The best is yet to come for this guy. Is there a more likable guy in wrestling than Rey Mysterio? I've never met anybody to rip this man. Nor should they.
Grade: A-, PG: B+ (#3 on SD)
Outlook: I would love to see him with the WWE title, but that's probably a reach. As long as he's in top level feuds I'm happy.

ROB VAN DAM
Then: Who knows? He SHOULD be wrestling in the US title region, but he WILL be teaming in some tag team because they have no idea what to really do with him.

He was teaming with Rey when he tore his ACL, so I was right. Now he's on Raw, still rehabbing that knee injury and should be back in a couple months. I wanted him to stay on SD to feud with JBL, but I guess that won't happen now. It'll be interesting to see if he ever gets a big singles push because the crowds have always been behind him, yet management never seems to be. He's somebody to keep an eye on in the future. No rating this time due to being hurt.
Grade: NR, PG: B- (#13 on SD)
Outlook: Once he gets healthy, he'll probably be around the IC title level on Raw. Seems like the right place for him. Would love to see a concerted push for him, though.

SCOTTY 2 HOTTY
Then: Jobbing, jobbing and more jobbing. Why? Because he's short.

Underrated, good worker who's a name from the past. If he survives roster cuts I'd be shocked. One of the true good guys of wrestling, but not somebody that will be pushed anytime soon. If he does get axed as an in-ring competitor I wouldn't be shocked to see him become a trainer.
Grade: C-, PG: C- (#27 on SD)
Outlook: Either released or he continues to be a jobber.

SHANNON MOORE
Then: Losing matches, but doing it with STYLE!

Ah, the prince of punk. He's solid. It's just that he's never going to be used that well anytime soon. Another one of those "wouldn't be shocked if he was released" kind of guys. There's a lot on Smackdown, huh?
Grade: C-, PG: C (#25 on SD)
Outlook: Continuing to be a jobber is probably his future.

SPIKE DUDLEY
Then: I think a feud with Paul London is likely, as well as Chavo Guerrero, who should get a new push as a babyface. Spike's good in his current role.

Man, he was in the top ten before! What a thin roster! That's when his heel act was fun, fresh and exciting. Then once it got old and boring they practically forgot he was still on the roster. He's still a good performer, but the days of him getting a push seem to be long gone.
Grade: C, PG: B- (#9 on SD)
Outlook: Same as he's doing now. Nothing.

STEVE ROMERO
Then: Not on the main roster.

Who? Oh, that dude on Velocity that announces. Right. Like I said: Who?
Grade: D, PG: NR
Outlook: What? You want me to give an outlook for this guy? No idea.

SUPER CRAZY
Then: Not on the main roster.

Like with both Juvi and Psicosis, I've seen his good work in ECW plenty to know that he can really go in the ring. It's going to be fun to see him perform again.
Grade: NR, PG: NA
Outlook: I'd like to see him teaming with Psicosis as a new tag team while Juvi is focused mainly on the cruiser division.

TAZZ
Then: Continuing to work with Cole on Smackdown.

He's more a heel than a face now, so I like that. He makes me laugh and his insights on long matches help because he has the credibility of being a former wrestler. He's really good at explaining holds and why they would hurt. You know, for the stupid people. I think Jerry Lawler's been better in the last year, but Tazz is the better of the two in my opinion.
Grade: B+, PG: B+
Outlook: Remaining as the announcer on Smackdown.

THEODORE LONG
Then: Hopefully he's GM well into 2005 because the constant GM changes isn't good for the show. Once a McMahon wants to come back, he's gone.

I like Long as a GM because the babyface act has some legs to it. I like his strut too, as well as his theme music. I just wish he'd bring back the term Haterade. I love that one, playa.
Grade: B, PG: B+
Outlook: He does a good job as GM, so I see him continuing in that role through the year at least.

TORRIE WILSON
Then: Uh…um…well…I…uh…I'll get back to you on that.

Look at this! She hasn't had a role since the last time I did this in October. This woman never has storylines or angles yet she continues to be employed. They even put her on Smackdown magazine. Hell, I barely remembered she was on Smackdown until I saw her on the superstar page. Use the woman for more than photo shoots! Is it that hard? She's flat out gorgeous, but use her!
Grade: C, PG: D
Outlook: She willl…uh…I don't…um…maybe she can…oh right…she has nice hoote…damn periods. In other words, I don't know what to say because I don't know what she does now.

THE UNDERTAKER
Then: I think he'll be wrestling Kurt Angle at WrestleMania XXI. I think he'll win again because he's a mark for his own streak. Then I think he'll retire…haha, no, just kidding. Why would he?

The Angle thing was wrong. Like I said for Angle, that's alright. Angle had a great match with Michaels while Undertaker had a very good one of his own with Randy Orton that let me know that maybe there is more left in his tank. Since he works the part time schedule it's hard to really evaluate him in comparison to his peers. He has value as a big name, but he hurts that value by going away every few months, coming back and going away again for no apparent reason. I also think that while his gimmick still gets a reaction, it's not as good in 2005 as it was in 1991 because this era doesn't accept cartoony gimmicks as much. In other words, if this gimmick debuted in 2005 it would be laughed at the same way Mordecai was. I liked Undertaker more as a heel, always. Especially in 2002 when he was the heel biker dude that didn't take shit from nobody. So much fun in that role. Now it's like he just goes through the motions, busting out his usual spots and garnering cheap pops from fans that way. I think he has some value, but he needs to be around on a more consistent basis to really show it.
Grade: B, PG: B- (#11 on SD)
Outlook: I think he'll continue to be a babyface, feud with Randy Orton later in the summer and maybe even go up to world title level if he proves he can stick around on a regular schedule.

THE SMACKDOWN RANKINGS

In the case of multiple people being given the same grade I’ll just put them in the order that I see fit.

1. Kurt Angle (A)
2. Rey Mysterio (A-)
3. Eddie Guerrero (A-)
4. John Cena (A-)
5. JBL (B+)
6. Tazz (B+)
7. Carlito (B)
8. The Undertaker (B)
9. Booker T. (B)
10. Chavo Guerrero (B)
11. Paul London (B)
12. Theodore Long (B)
13. Big Show (B-)
14. Charlie Haas (B-)
15. Melina (B-)
16. Michelle McCool (B-)
17. Johnny Nitro (C+)
18. Joey Mercury (C+)
19. Doug Basham (C+)
20. Danny Basham (C+)
21. Orlando Jordan (C+)
22. Michael Cole (C+)
23. Josh Matthews (C+)
24. Hardcore Holly (C)
25. Rene Dupree (C)
26. Funaki (C)
27. Akio (C)
28. Nunzio (C)
29. Matt Morgan (C)
30. Spike Dudley (C)
31. Torrie Wilson (C)
32. Billy Kidman (C)
33. Al Snow (C)
34. Scotty 2 Hotty (C-)
35. Shannon Moore (C-)
36. Miss Jackie (C-)
37. Mark Jindrak (C-)
38. Joy Giovanni (C-)
39. Steve Romero (D)
40. Heidenreich (F)

Comments: Angle at the top spot shouldn't be a shocker since he has been the best this year…Mysterio jumps over Guerrero by one spot from October while Cena remains in third in a very tight race…JBL jumped from #12 to #5, which is the most significant jump on the chart…JBL jumped up 19 spots from #31 to #12, showing that a push is really helpful sometimes…The problem with the Smackdown roster is this. If you fired everybody from #23 on down tomorrow would anybody really notice? Half of the roster is barely used at all. It's not a good sign…Heidenreich retains his worst overall claim. No Kenzo Suzuki to fight with this time.

SMACKDOWN ROSTER FINAL THOUGHTS
Obviously the roster is different now that the lottery is done. I think losing both Angle and Cena was huge for Smackdown, but also losing Carlito is going to hurt. In all, four of the five draft picks are ranked 1, 4, 7 and 13 in my list. RVD is the other one, and I'd guess that if he was healthy he'd be in that top fifteen too. Amazing how "random" the lottery was, huh? Look at all the names on the bottom that could have been picked, but never were. Gotta love WWE treating their fans like dummies.

The roster has improved since the last evaluation in October, which makes sense because there was such a overhaul on Smackdown after WrestleMania 20. JBL has really grown into his role, becoming a top five performer and actually entertaining me on a semi-regular basis. I think Cena has the chance to be a first overall performer one day only if he becomes a lot better in the ring. Plus, it's not like the Angles and Guerreros of the world can wrestle forever. Somebody's going to have to step up eventually. In my dream scenario, a guy like Paul London would be a top five performer while a guy like Doug Basham would be given a chance to shine on his own to see if he could crack into the top ten one day.

The Raw roster is obviously stronger from top to bottom. Especially the bottom. As I said in the comments section, the bottom of Smackdown's roster is really underutilized to the point where I don't foresee any of the names in that bottom half getting a substantial push at any point in the near future. What a shame.

THE TOP TWENTY
This is a combination of both rosters. Ties will be broken by my own personal judgment on who is superior.

1. Kurt Angle (A)
2. Shawn Michaels (A)
3. Triple H (A)
4. Rey Mysterio (A-)
5. Eddie Guerrero (A-)
6. Chris Benoit (A-)
7. John Cena (A-)
8. Shelton Benjamin (A-)
9. Trish Stratus (A-)
10. Edge (A-)
11. Batista (B+)
12. JBL (B+)
13. Christian (B+)
14. Chris Jericho (B+)
15. Jim Ross (B+)
16. Randy Orton (B+)
17. Tazz (B+)
18. Carlito (B)
19. The Undertaker (B)
20. Eric Bischoff (B)

Comments: Twelve from Raw and eight from Smackdown. In the top 16 it's 11 from Raw and 5 from Smackdown, which shows how much better the Raw roster is…Picking Angle first overall was easy because I think he's outshined both Michaels and HHH even though they all have the same grade…Remember that Stratus, Ross, Tazz and Bischoff are graded under a different set of rules from the others. It doesn't mean I want to see them in 20 minute matches. Just means that for what is asked of them, they excel at it.

OVERALL FINAL THOUGHTS
Much like in October 2004, Raw is the superior show in many areas. Better main event, better midcard and the show is consistently better. Every once in a while things on Smackdown look great, but then too often they revert back to their ways of the spring of 200 4 when things were at all-time lows. Hopefully the roster changes will benefit both brands in the long run. That's what we can hope for, but I think the reality is that Raw will end up being the better of the two again. That's the flagship show and that's how it always will be.


I will do another evaluation of the talent in December, probably during the last two weeks of the calendar year.

So what did you think? Liked it? Hated it? Let me know. Don’t be afraid to holla at me, playa.

Lastly, here are some links to the previous evaluations:
Raw Roster Evaluation - 06/02/05

Raw Roster Evaluation - 10/6/04
Smackdown Roster Evaluation - 10/14/04

Raw Roster Evaluation - 02/29/04
Smackdown Roster Evaluation - 03/22/04

Thanks for reading.

Smell ya later,
John C. - oratoryjohn@gmail.com