(Tom Toles/The Washington Post)

I’m Henry Olsen, and this is Round 52. Legendary boxing and wrestling announcer Michael Buffer always begins matches with his trademark call, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” The Democrats sure rumbled in Las Vegas, and the Queensbury Rules clearly did not apply.

The Commentary

The debate Wednesday could have been a classic “Batman” TV fight scene, complete with the comic-book sound effects. Elizabeth Warren takes down the Penguin, I mean Mike Bloomberg: “Sock!” Bloomberg calls Bernie Sanders a communist who owns three homes: “Oof!” Amy Klobuchar, the Joker (or so her one-liners would have us believe), repeatedly rips into Pete Buttigieg: “Wha-bam!” Now that was American carnage.

No one knows yet who landed real punches, but the gloves are off and the fighting won’t stop until most of the fighters are sprawled on the canvas. Many Democrats will howl that this will only weaken the party’s bid to unseat President Trump, but get real: A person with enough drive and ambition to think he or she should be the leader of the most powerful nation in history is not meekly going to step aside to serve the common good.

The odds favor Sanders escaping with relatively little damage from the battle. He is the undisputed king of the Democratic left and will retain enough support to survive Super Tuesday. No one else, however, can say the same — including Bloomberg, who entered the evening touted as a potential title contender but exited bloodied and bruised — and that’s why the next two weeks are likely to get progressively more vicious.

Unlike in WWE, these fights won’t be scripted and the outcome is highly uncertain. Expect rapid twists and turns, charges and countercharges, as we get closer to the pivotal South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday. This Tuesday’s debate in Charleston, S.C., ought to be the biggest smackdown yet.

Someone will then finally emerge to take on Sanders for the crown. Perhaps he or she should watch some video of the classic 1980s wrestling heel, the U.S.S.R.’s Nikolai Volkoff, for some tips on how to take on a man who honeymooned in Moscow during the Cold War. I can’t wait. Just take your seat, pass the popcorn and get ready to rumble!

— Henry Olsen

The Ranking

Don’t forget to click on the chart’s yellow highlighted text to see the rest of the Ranking Committee’s annotations.

Position Challenger Change Over Last Ranking
1. Bernie Sanders
2. Mike Bloomberg
3. Pete Buttigieg DOWN 1
4. Joe Biden UP 2
5. Elizabeth Warren
6. Amy Klobuchar DOWN 2

Also receiving votes: Tom Steyer

Last week’s ranking: Round 51 | Bernie is at No. 1. And in second place? A tie.

From the Annotations

If you were hoping that one of the two non-septuagenarians left in the race would save us from the gerontocracy, you were probably dismayed by the sight of the two youngsters acting like actual children, forcing everyone to listen to them sniping at each other over trivia.

Megan McArdle, on Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar

The debate left everyone bleeding from different wounds but all wounded to some degree. Bloomberg is the famed Black Knight of Monty Python fame.

Hugh Hewitt, on Mike Bloomberg

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you for the next ranking. Until then, take your gloves off and stay awhile. The Democrats plan to.

Read more on 2020:

Eugene Robinson: Democrats gave Sanders a free pass

Jennifer Rubin: Some conventional wisdom on the debate we can live without

Greg Sargent: Elizabeth Warren just tore apart a billionaire. Why not Trump?

Henry Olsen: Forget ‘Minnesota nice.’ Amy Klobuchar’s rage is exactly what she needs right now.

Karen Tumulty: Bloomberg’s best debate moment came five minutes before it started. Then things went downhill.