Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings Feb 15
February 15, 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
Roman returns to the top of the FITE Rankings following another strong week on WWE's Monday Night Raw, where he scored a nice victory over Sheamus with a vicious-looking spear in mid-air as The Celtic Warrior was attempting a move from the top rope. The performance, while entertaining, was hardly surprising given Reigns' importance to the Raw brand as it heads towards WrestleMania. With next week's Elimination Chamber PPV in sight, Reigns remains the nucleus standing steadfast against six other opponents. Everyone involved has reason to want to beat "The Big Dog" and that importance, as much as the win against Sheamus, slides Reigns back into the top spot of our rankings. The WrestleMania main event against Brock Lesnar is his to lose, as is the top spot in the FITE Rankings. That said, Reigns' assist in ascending to the top of the mountain this week should be credited to the fact that Asuka was not involved in a major televised match or moment. As we head into WrestleMania season, she may very well be Reigns' top opposition for the primary spot in the FITE Rankings, and that's a battle he cannot win with a spear.
2. John Cena
Some weeks, you can't see him and then, there are weeks like this for John Cena. Cena worked main event level matches all weekend against Roman Reigns and then kicked off his journey towards WrestleMania with a big win over The Miz on Raw. While that segment reinforced Cena's dominance leading into the Elimination Chamber, perhaps the most newsworthy thing coming out his appearance on Raw was a throwaway line about WrestleMania and how the event can "see a dead man come back to life." As rumors of a Cena-Undertaker confrontation continue to swirl, WWE's MVP knew exactly what buttons to push to create speculation, enticing the audience with something they think they might be getting, but aren't sure of yet. If anyone in professional wrestling gets to walk in and call his own shots, it's Cena, who continues to put in far more work ethic than he's probably given credit for. Cena may have skated to the number two spot this week in the FITE rankings, but he earned it.
3. The Miz
The WWE Intercontinental champion remains solid at number three this week with strong performances all through WWE's live events and this past Monday's Raw. In a strong opening segment, The Miz challenged John Cena and then attacked him to set up the opening match of the broadcast. Although Cena captured the win, insuring that Miz would be forced to enter the Elimination Chamber as the first entrant into the demonic structure, Miz remained the victory morally. He had a competitive bout with one of WWE's most important personalities and kicked out of maneuvers that historically, should have led to his pinfall loss. The silver lining in having to enter the Chamber first is that Miz will have more than enough time to help craft a memorable main event at the PPV and make sure the narrative of the show will be centered, at least partially around him. Miz will set the tone for the last major Raw event before WrestleMania, yet another opportunity he is sure to excel at.
4. Seth Rollins
What a difference a week makes. Last week, Rollins was mired in a Tag Team championship feud that, while entertaining, was hardly the type of momentum he needed to crack the FITE rankings. This week, Rollins shook up the system by demanding to be added to the Fatal Four Way that would determine the final Elimination Chamber competitor next week. In doing so, he brought the level of action of this week's Raw main event up in a way that was unquantifiable. By becoming one of the winners, Rollins changed the entire makeup of the Chamber match and added new speculation and possibilities for fans looking forward to the Chamber match. That sort of ripple effect is just the thing that makes one take notice in the FITE Rankings. Rollins may want to "burn it down" but he's building upward mobility.
In a fair, just world, Asuka would have remained the top competitor in the FITE rankings, but the world isn't fair. Although she did compete on the Raw taping in California this week, she was not part of the global broadcast. With WWE choosing not to spotlight "The Empress of Tomorrow", her momentum stalled, although it was due to no fault of her own. WWE did remind viewers of Asuka's importance with an excellent video package spotlighting her undefeated streak and Nia Jax's attack on Bayley and Sasha Banks was designed to showcase what a dangerous obstacle she will be for Asuka to overcome at the Elimination Chamber PPV, there was no way to prevent Asuka from tumbling down the ratings this week.
6. Jay Lethal
Perhaps the athlete most closest identified with Ring of Honor, Lethal took part in a match that was as hotly contested as any main event level bout promoted by ROH. His match against Jonathan Gresham at "Honor Reigns Supreme" in Concord, NC was a textbook example of how to take an audience on the uniquely sublime roller coaster ride that is professional wrestling, using physicality, timing and athletics as the hallmarks of a tremendous viewing experience. Lethal captivated the audience and played on their emotions. With his win over Gresham, Lethal continues his march towards his ROH championship match against Dalton Castle at the ROH Anniversary PPV next month, but also reinforces his importance overall as a top fighter for Ring of Honor as well.
WWE's everywoman finally makes her debut in the FITE rankings following a strong win over her longtime frenemy Sasha Banks. With each competitor having been recently defeated by Asuka, their match on Raw features echoes of their legendary NXT Takeover: Brooklyn encounter centered around the story that each wanted to show the other that they were the better women en route to the first Women's Elimination Chamber match. While Bayley scored the win, she also served to remind all watching that she's been extremely underutilized by WWE's brain trust and that if anyone exemplified the athletics and the magic of the current day women's division, it may very well be the San Jose, California native. Bayley remains one of those talents you cannot help to get behind, wanting to watch her battle her way to the top. This week, she officially begins her battle to reach the top of our rankings.
While WWE's creative direction for the former World champion has been, to say the least, maddening, one can make the argument this week that Ziggler had the chance to make some real waves on the Smackdown brand, which surely needs it. With rumblings that Ziggler has perhaps been locked into a new long-term deal by WWE, his return to the blue brand and his win over Sami Zayn fast-tracks him, appropriately enough, to the main event of next month's WWE Fastlane PPV. In the span of a week, Ziggler has leapt out of purgatory and into Smackdown Live's storylines in a major way. While history has not been kind to the idea that WWE will consistently feature him, Ziggler's work inside the ring and the level of interest in his status is enough to bring him to the FITE rankings.
As we have explained many times, a big part of what creates your position in the rankings is how newsworthy a competitor is over the course of the week. Over the past week, Kenny Omega has been announced as teaming with his old Golden Lovers partner Kota Ibushi for the first time in years, including their first-ever teaming in the United States. He's been announced for major matches as part of New Japan Pro Wrestling's Honor Rises events. He kickstarted a new level of interest in this year's WrestleCon in New Orleans by announcing he would be there and competing there. It takes an extremely unique individual to drive fan attention and fan the flames of speculation on a week where he wasn't even competing in the ring, but Omega did it, once again embodying the creative spirit of professional wrestling.
10. Jonathan Gresham
In pro wrestling, all it takes is one impressive performance inside the ring to make an audience snap to attention and realize how talented a professional wrestler truly can be. This past Friday at Ring of Honor's Honor Reigns Supreme, the globally traveled Gresham went move for move with Jay Lethal, showing how perfect "The Octopus" is when it comes to the unique technical finesse that professional wrestling, as an art form, calls for. Gresham has never been the type of talent that is going to go out and cut promos on the microphone to make you sit up and take notice. He's the quiet one who shows up and does his job. The level of discipline that he brings to professional wrestling when he hits the mat is never in question, but this week, he not only hung in there with the former ROH champion, but he helped craft one of the best Ring of Honor matches in recent memory. If Gresham is given the time and spotlight to paint masterpieces this level at inside the squared circle, the sky is the limit for him. This week was the best argument yet as to why he should be afforded those opportunities.
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.