Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings August 17
August 17, 2018
By: Mike Johnson
Every week here at FITE, we feature the Top Ten ranked personalities in the world of professional wrestling. Unlike other combat sports, pro wrestling cannot be measured in just wins and losses, especially when the drama and excitement of the genre is specifically based around not just the physical performance, but the excitement level created by its combatants. Thus, our top ten measures the most newsworthy performers in the business, who's momentum drives not just their own career paths but the promotions they compete for.
With WWE's Summerslam just days away as we file this week's FITE Rankings, how could anyone but Brock Lesnar be first? The rampant speculation about the WWE Universal Champion's potential swansong this weekend, his title defense against Roman Reigns, the looming shadow that is Braun Strowman and the expectation that Lesnar will once again step into the Octagon all points to Brock, on what could be his final appearance for the foreseeable future in World Wrestling Entertainment, being the most talked about performer in the professional wrestling world. Not bad for someone who hasn't actually competed in months and may not compete ever again….
2. AJ Styles
For months, we have noted in our FITE Rankings that AJ Styles is the best, most explosive performer in professional wrestling. His match records read like a textbook of in-ring greatness, but until the last several weeks on WWE Smackdown, we had yet to see Styles tested emotionally on screen. In recent weeks, Samoa Joe's rampant use of Styles family has added a deeper, more personal spin on their WWE Championship battle at Summerslam. If Styles emerges from this even stronger, he'll easily capture the number one slot next week. If not, fans are still guaranteed a great battle.
New Japan Pro Wrestling's G1 Climax is considered the most grueling, physically and mentally, in all of professional wrestling. Tanahashi, long considered the Ace of New Japan and one of the most talented in-ring competitors in the world, once again showcased his perfection with a win in the finals over Kota Ibushi. This all but guarantees Tanahashi will once again headline the Wrestle Kingdom event in January but more than that, reminds everyone yet again that they are living in an era where Tanahashi helps to define what greatness in professional wrestling truly is.
4. Samoa Joe
One of the true lapses in modern day professional wrestling is the loss of the true villain, the antagonist whose heart and soul and black and who have nothing better to do than destroy and enrage those around them. While the riots of yesteryear are not likely to resume on a regular basis, Samoa Joe's work these past few weeks on the WWE Smackdown brand is a true testament to the fact that villainy lives on, you just have to seek it out. Joe's personal attack on AJ Styles' family climaxed this week with an alleged letter from the WWE Champion's wife Wendy, enraging Styles as they head into their Summerslam bout. Add in that should Joe emerge triumphant, he will become the first man in history to hold the Ring of Honor, WWE and TNA/Impact titles, it's no secret why fans are enraptured. While Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns has, in the eyes of some, unfairly, gotten the main event slot at WWE's biggest event this summer, it's Joe that has captured the heart and imagination of the audience…and his hands are clenched around that heart, ready to choke it out. Well done.
5. Roman Reigns
While Roman Reigns remains the reliable top WWE talent, he slips this week in the FITE rankings due to the continued lackluster storyline leading into his WWE Universal challenge against Brock Lesnar. With Paul Heyman involved in a predictable double-cross on Monday, leading to Reigns being pepper-sprayed and beaten by Lesnar, the feeling among most fans was, "That was it?" They aren't wrong for feeling that way and even as he appears to be in position to finally score the big title win over "The Beast", Reigns' momentum is stalling badly. Summerslam will tell the tale of whether he can rebound.
6. Joey Janella
In the shadow of Summerslam stands Joey Janela, pro wrestling's last true maverick. This Friday on FITE, he will once again present his own unique brand of professional wrestling with Janela Lost in New York. While he will be headlining against Japanese legend Jinsei Shinzaki, the reality is that the entire event rests of Janela's shoulders. That sort of outside of the box insanity and responsibilities come from a talent that is unique and who truly continues to carve his own niche. This Friday, we'll see him reap the rewards of his organized chaos.
7. Daniel Bryan
As the Clash once famously sang, "Do I Stay or Do I Go Now?" That is the tune that rings inside the ears of Daniel Bryan. With his WWE contract ticking away by the day, Bryan steps into the ring at Summerslam against longtime nemesis The Miz, but the real question is whether this will be the first or the last battle in their rivalr? Does Bryan stay with WWE and continues to make great money or is there still a pull for "The American Dragon" to emerge like a Phoenix from within and see what is out there in the wild, wild west of independent and international professional wrestling? Bryan fought with his heart and soul to return to the ring and now finds himself at the crossroads that will define the final era of his career. Does he stay or does he go? Fans are waiting with baited breath, prepared to sing his song no matter where it takes them….
8. Dean Ambrose
Eight months without being able to do the one thing you love the most in the world is enough to drive a sane man off the edge, but what did it to do to a man who is marketed as being on the "Lunatic Fringe?" Good question and it's one that will be explored in the days to come. Monday Night Raw went off the air with former WWE Champion Dean Ambrose finally returning from the triceps tear as he assisted Seth Rollins in destroying Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, foreshadowing future battles to come. With a fresh look and an intense look in his eye, Ambrose might be the spark to light a new era that might just burn down all in its path.
9. Kota Ibushi
The Japanese stalwart may have come up empty in the finals of the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Classic, but he captured the moral victory. Ibushi once again faced off with his Golden Lovers partner Kenny Omega and again defeated him, but in doing so this time, pinned the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. This sets the stage for future battles and even more importantly, locks in Ibushi as one of the top performers in all of the world. The Golden Lovers battling for the gold? It's bound to happen.
10. Braun Strowman
By virtue of carrying the Money in the Bank briefcase, it is all but foretold that Braun Stroman will one day be the WWE Universal Champion…. or will he? Braun defends the briefcase against a game Kevin Owens at Summerslam this weekend. When that bout is done, one would think a cash-in is on the precipice. If not, the lightning in a bottle that is the Monster Among Men, already hurting due to some poor creative storylines, could truly begin to fade away. It's do or die time for Braun.
Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.