Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings Feb 22
February 22, 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. Seth Rollins
Sixty-five minutes. Need we say anything more? With the shadow of this weekend's Elimination Chamber event looming over all in WWE, Monday Night Raw presented one of the most unique episodes in the 25-plus years of its history with a Gauntlet match that defied all modern-day logic and audience expectations with a two-hour, bell to bell, presentation. In the center of it all was Seth Rollins, who performed a legitimate 65 minutes, defeating Roman Reigns and John Cena, in the process. In this case however, it was not the wins that brought Rollins to the top of the FITE rankings. No, it was the heart that he showed in his performance. It was the emotional roller coaster ride he took the audience on with him. It was the crisp perfection he showed in the ring. There may have seen seven competitors, but Rollins walked out with all attention on him with the sort of performance that not only showcases how great a competitor he is, but how wonderful the art form of professional wrestling can be. On screen, Rollins can claim to "Burn it Down", but, he brought himself and pro wrestling in general up to the next level this week. It was the type of performance that had to make WWE management pause and reconsider Rollins' standing on the WrestleMania lineup. Thus, Rollins sits on the top of the FITE mountaintop.
2. Roman Reigns
No professional wrestler performs alone, not even someone as skilled as Seth Rollins. This week, the WWE Gauntlet opened with all attention on Roman Reigns, who continued to show why he remains the man and the competitor that all things revolve around in WWE. Reigns' battle against Rollins in the first segment of the Raw Gauntlet match just emphasized what the FITE rankings have said for weeks, that "The Big Dog" is the man to watch leading into WrestleMania season. By the end of the Elimination Chamber, we will know, officially, where Reigns stands on the lineup of WWE's "Showcase of the Immortals." Reigns' work this week showcases everything that a top star should be, even one a good portion of the audiences refuses to recognize as their hero. He was the yin to Rollins' yang.
3. John Cena
The other competitor in that amazing first hour of Monday Night Raw this week should not be forgotten, either. John Cena continues to shine during a period where he was "supposed" to be moving on to Hollywood and other outside projects and had himself claimed that the "torch" had been passed on to the next generation of WWE performers. Yet, Cena continues to make a splash weekly within WWE. His matches over the weekend with Roman Reigns on live events followed by an extremely impressive performance against Seth Rollins in the Raw Gauntlet match all but guarantee that he'll be a major cog in the WrestleMania machine. In fact, the only weakness in Cena's work all week was his post-elimination interview where he cited that he lost because he wasn't wrestling full-time. That undercut Rollins on a week where no one could feasibly deny his work. Cena will walk into the Elimination Chamber this Sunday and WrestleMania next month a "made man", yet, he never performs as if he is one – that's the work ethic that keeps John Cena in the FITE rankings' upper echelon.
Only in professional wrestling does one man get celebrated for a length performance and another become lauded for a short one. That itself may perhaps explain the duality and uniqueness of this strange world. Braun Strowman arrived as the final competitor in the Raw Gauntlet and quickly destroyed The Miz to officially become the victor of that match. It was done with a quickness in a fast, vicious, entertaining manner that then saw Strowman return to the ring and wipe out the entire Miztourage to the delight of the audience live. Strowman carries a unique charisma and stomps through WWE like a larger than life superhero that has leapt off the silver screen and into WWE's version of reality. He is a walking maelstrom that keeps the audience entertained and that whipping up that sort of excitement is the type of thing that returns one to the FITE rankings as fans speculate on the type of mayhem Strowman will bring to the Elimination Chamber and beyond.
5. AJ Styles
The reigning and defending WWE champion had another round of strong performances on Smackdown live events, culminating with a victory over Baron Corbin on Tuesday's Smackdown Live broadcast. Even more importantly is that as WWE builds to their final Smackdown-exclusive PPV event, Fastlane next month, Styles is the flagbearer for that brand; the performer the main event is being built around. That only helps to enhance him as he heads into a dream match WrestleMania bout against Shinsuke Nakamura. While Raw talents have impeded Styles' journey to the top of the FITE rankings in recent weeks, that is more an indictment on the Smackdown creative plans than anything Styles has done. His work remains impeccable as he continues to be the star that empowers the Smackdown brand.
6. Alexa Bliss
With all the attention towards the men's Elimination Chamber match, it's easy to forget that the first-ever Women's Chamber match will be held this Sunday as well in Las Vegas. Alexa Bliss will be defending her Raw Women's championship in that bout, allowing her to be the trivia answer to who was the first women's champion inside the structure. This week on Raw, Bliss was the central figure in the main event of Raw, competing in a six-woman tag team bout where all the stories revolved around her – could she survive the Chamber? Could she trust her own partners on Raw? How would her attempt to build an alliance with Mickie James play out? Could she survive the onslaught of five challengers? Wrestling is about building the suspense and interest level of major moments and this match is all about Bliss. That's enough to bring her to prominence here in the FITE rankings.
7. Ruby Riott
Since signing with World Wrestling Entertainment, Riott has had an incredible rise to prominence, going from independent talent to NXT star to centerpiece of Smackdown Live's Riott Squad faction. This week, WWE made it all but official that Riott was victory for her trio during a six-woman tag bout on Smackdown Live, laid down the challenge to face Naomi next week and was announced as the challenger for Charlotte Flair's Smackdown Women's championship at the Fastlane PPV in March. With a unique in-ring style and a chip on her shoulder, Riott's position should never be second guessed. It's just a matter of time before her rise in WWE is the measure by which all who follow her will be judged by, but yet, her journey and legacy have just begun.
8. Jeff Jarrett
The founder of Impact Wrestling hasn't entered a wrestling ring in months yet ends up on the FITE rankings this week. That's the beauty and majesty of the strange place we call professional wrestling. With his announcement of a WWE Hall of Fame induction, Jarrett has seen an extremely volatile and controversial period of his career end up in the last place anyone, perhaps even Jarrett himself, expected – having his career celebrated by World Wrestling Entertainment on the biggest weekend of their calendar year. In many ways, this moment will reinvigorate the third-generation star and bring him back in front of the masses in a major way. So, what does this mean for him beyond WrestleMania weekend? Is he going to trudge forward with Global Force Wrestling? Will he continue to wrestle? Is this a happy ending moment for Jarrett to ride off into the sun? It's impossible to know, but the ripples from the announcement – and how that announcement has brought interest in Jarrett's future back to the forefront after it appeared he had been relegated to the fringes of professional wrestling – are enough to bring Jarrett to the FITE rankings for the first time. Take that, Slapnuts.
Will he, or won't he? If it sounds like a storyline pulled from a soap opera, you would be correct, except this week, the soap in question is WWE's Smackdown Live. In professional wrestling, one does not need to be in the ring competing to make waves. No, it's a very unique genre where a simple storyline twist can turn fans' head and get them speculating. This week on Smackdown, Sami Zayn proclaimed to his longtime frenemy and partner Kevin Owens that when they face off at the WWE Fastlane Fatal Five Way for the WWE champion, Zayn was offering to "lay down" and allow Owens the chance to score an easy victory – and with it, the WWE championship. It was the type of statement that even left the egocentric Owens confused, because the implications were many: Why would Zayn make this offer? Was the offer Zayn's way of setting a trap? If so, for what purpose? Add in Zayn's involvement in multiple matches on Smackdown Live to secure his position here. He helped stir the drink of the broadcast. It's the little things in life, as they say, and this week, it was the little things that bring Zayn to the ninth spot in the FITE rankings. Whether he stays there depends on how the story plays out.
10. Kenny Omega
The continued anticipation and hype for Omega keeps him in the FITE rankings as New Japan hurtles towards its Anniversary show next month, the animosity against Cody Rhodes rises and Omega continues to be one of the most in demand talents in the world. This week, just the announcement he would take part in the "Cruise of Jericho" led to great attention for that Chris Jericho event. Years ago, Omega walked out of a WWE developmental contract to forge his own path. That decision has brought him great riches and great acclaim and now, more than ever, his is poised to cash in all those chips. He won't be at number ten long.
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.