Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings August 24
August 24, 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.
1. Roman Reigns
The Big Dog finally captured the WWE Universal Championship, but even that momentous victory wasn't the biggest news of the week for Roman Reigns. After a short but hard-fought title bout at Summerslam, Reigns officially became the kingpin of the Raw brand. The next day, he challenged Finn Balor, who had never actually received a rematch after losing the Universal title years before and defeated him in an entertaining Monday Night Raw main event. Then, the moment everyone expected to happen came as Braun Strowman came to cash in his guaranteed title bout. Instead, The Shield intervened and Reigns was reunited with his original running buddies. Was this a villainous turn? Was this a strategic move designed to neutralize the acidic reaction the vast majority of WWE fans have to Reigns? It will be fascinating to follow where this all leads and that means Reigns is, by far, the most newsworthy wrestler of the week.
2. Ronda Rousey
With her near effortless victory over Alexa Bliss at Summerslam, the former UFC Bantamweight Champion became the WWE Raw Women's Champion, something that was prophesized the very second Rousey walked out in her WWE debut this past January. Rousey is a legitimate crossover celebrity and that moment brought lots of attention from mainstream outlets, giving WWE yet another yield on the Rousey investment. Rousey gave an impassioned speech on Raw paying tribute to those who led to this moment with their own arduous work and sacrifice, then snapped the arm of Stephanie McMahon. In doing so, Rousey officially set WWE on the path to their first all-women's PPV, but more than that, she created shockwaves of excitement with her official ascension as the top female star in the genre.
3. Samoa Joe
While he didn't walk out with the WWE Championship, Joe captured something far more important. He challenged the world to see his greatness and won that challenge. Joe's work inside the ring against AJ Styles in a long, grueling bout was his best effort on the WWE's main roster to date, the phoenix of the Samoa Joe of the past rising into the present. Joe's excellent, evil mic skills, calling out Styles' wife and daughter out as he threatened the family was nothing short of perfect, setting the stage for Styles, ever the hero, to finally lose his cool. Joe's attack on Styles durig Smackdown's Summerslam aftermath episode provided the backdrop for the next stage of this excellent story, kickstarting what should be an excellent series of grudge matches with personal pride and the WWE title equally at stake. After all these years, the era of Samoa Joe in WWE has FINALLY arrived.
After being sidelined for some time with surgical recovery, Charlotte Flair returned to form at Summerslam, winning a bout she was added to at the last moment to capture the Smackdown Women's Championship from Carmella and Becky Lynch. It was easily the best Smackdown women's match on PPV in months, with great timing on the pinfalls and a dramatic story that climaxed not with Flair's great victory but with Becky Lynch's reaction to it. Flair is, bar none, the best female wrestling performer in the world, and she once again proved it with a flawless victory and a brutal brawl that followed it on Smackdown Live.
5. Becky Lynch
For a seemingly endless time period, Becky Lynch has been one of the hardest working professional wrestlers in all of WWE, but rarely, if ever, got the credit or even the promotional attention that she deserved. It appeared that was going to change when she challenged Carmella for the Smackdown Women's title, but in a major swerve, her "best friend" Charlotte Flair was not only added but ended up victorious. In the aftermath, all of the slights, scripted and real, boiled over as Lynch attacked Flair and beat her down, stealing the moment and getting, by far, the biggest reaction up to that point in the Summerslam broadcast. Two nights later, Lynch cut an incredibly passionate, believable interview that not only resonated with the audience in Brooklyn, but was so good, it was likely the best promo segment in months on Smackdown. All of this led to an explosive brawl that wouldn't have been out of place in the legendary wrestling territories of old. Becky didn't get the title, but that period of being overlooked and not getting promotional pushes ended at Summerslam. She's taken control of her own destiny with her work and a new creative direction and that was great enough to land her on the FITE Rankings for the first-time ever.
6. Tommaso Ciampa
Everyone expected Takeover: Brooklyn to be the crowning moment for Johnny Gargano. Instead, Tommaso Ciampa, easily the most hated villain in professional wrestling, once again put on a performance of a lifetime, viciously beating Gargano and surviving all of his heroic comebacks. In the end, Gargano's own attempt at using a weapon Ciampa brought onto the battlefield, a pair of handcuffs, unwittingly allowed Ciampa to score the victory in their Last Man Standing bout. The future is dark for NXT and that's thanks to someone who's work has never shined brighter in Ciampa.
7. AJ Styles
The WWE Champion had, by far, the best in-ring match on a vastly entertaining Summerslam card. He and Samoa Joe brought out the best in each other as they took stiff, physical punishment over the course of a long, extended grueling bout. In the climax of that championship bout, Joe sought to once again disrespect Styles' family, leading to Styles issuing him a massive beatdown with a steel chair. While he technically lost the match, Styles brought himself and Joe to the next level as things are only going to get more physical and personal from here. It's the type of rivalry that rarely comes along in the homogenized world of WWE, and it's something to cherish, just like Styles.
8. Seth Rollins
While he was paying tribute to Marvel's Thanos with his Summerslam ring gear, Seth Rollins ended up being someone who deserved to be paid tribute to. His Intercontinental Championship bout against Dolph Ziggler not only saw Rollins recapture his title but redeem the lackluster Extreme Rules Iron Man match the two had the previous month. Rollins' run during this storyline helped resurrect Ziggler's career and establish Drew McIntyre to a greater degree on the Raw roster. All of that, plus an insane work ethic, leads to someone who truly earns his placement weekly on the FITE rankings.
The things Ricochet does inside the ring and the stratosphere above, should not be humanely possible, yet we watch them play out before our very eyes as if they were a Lucasfilm CGI creation. There's no Hollywood magic involved in the creation of Ricochet and this past Saturday at Takeover: Brooklyn IV, there was nothing but hard work and insane creatively involved in the making of the new NXT North American Champion. Ricochet and Adam Cole took those watching worldwide on a real-life movie fight sequence that brought the drama, the shock and the awes. Talents like this come around rarely. We are lucky to be living in the age of Ricochet.
10. Kairi Sane
Those were legitimate tears of joy for Kairi Sane when she captured the WWE NXT Women's Championship from Shayna Baszler at Takeover. Kairi has been the silent, hard-working performer since the day she made her WWE debut. Even after capturing the first-ever Mae Young Classic, it seemed like she was somewhat overwhelmed in the blinking lights and over the top antics that come with the world of WWE. This past week, she silenced all critics with a performance that was far more emotional and a roller coaster ride that was far more daunting than anyone watching could have expected going in. Those were tears of joy, but they were the crowning career moment of someone who deserved it – and deserves all the glory and success that will soon follow.
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.