actually, the “latest” tier list from samshboards is as follows. Note that this list is actually 6 months old, and the smash community has had several major tournaments (TG6, MELEE-FC, and more) that have at least somewhat changed many players’ views about several characters (let’s just say ice climbers are likely to rise next time we re-do things). Here’s the “current” list.
As for the other questions
The layout is designed to be simple. A for basic attacks, B for specials, L/R for block and such. If you’re having any trouble with the basics smash actually has a pretty good tutorial video that you can view on the game itself. However, one basic thing might help you more than anything else - don’t think of it directly as a fighter, think of it (initially at least) as a platform game, like mario 3 or some such. It makes the controls easier to adjust to initially (which was why I picked up the first smash brothers so fast).
For a lot of the more specialized names and such, I reccomend that you check the compendium of knowledge topic thing here - http://www.smashboards.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=42749
Also, for a pretty good explanation of some of the details with this, you can look up the video opera article about smash brothers at http://www.video-opera.com/features/f0011.php If you have any questions about any particular tactic I can give you details, but to go into everything would be a waste of my time and your time with the two links avaiable.
I’m definitely willing to help answer anyone’s questions.