Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings Feb 8
February 8, 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.
This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone who strongly paid attention to WWE television programming this week. While every other competitor was fighting to gain their position going into the next WWE PPV events, Asuka stood firm on the top of her mountain. She returned to the ring with yet another extremely entertaining performance with a win over Bayley on Monday Night Raw in Des Moines, Iowa, but was also the centerpiece of several storylines for Raw’s Women’s division. Sasha Banks is obsessed with deciphering the riddle to defeating the “Empress of Tomorrow” while Nia Jax has to defeat Asuka at the Elimination Chamber event to secure her own chance at the Women’ championship. Alexa Bliss may hold the gold, but this week, Asuka wears the crown. She’s not only the measuring stick for all female competitors, but she’s the performer all fans are looking towards. This week, she makes history again: Asuka is now not only the first women to topline the FITE Rankings, but the first performer to do so two weeks in a row.
2. Roman Reigns
While a sizable portion of the audience won’t admit this, Roman Reigns remains one of the most important cogs in the WWE machine. This past week alone on Monday Night Raw, WWE invested more than 35 minutes of television time into the “Big Dog” and that investment paid off great dividends for the company. Reigns opened Raw with an entertaining back and forth win over Bray Wyatt to insure his entry into the Elimination Chamber while also stepping in for the injured Jason Jordan to take part in yet another entertaining bout, teaming with Seth Rollins against The Bar. Reigns is the locker room leader in WWE and moves like this continue to showcase why he has that level of political clout – he can be counted to step into any situation for the company and make it a memorable moment. That is the type of work and the type of achievement that keeps Roman near the top of the FITE Rankings.
3. The Miz
The Miz might have maintained last week’s position had WWE booked him into a stronger competitive match on Raw, but there was very little doubt who was going to win when the Intercontinental champion stepped into the squared circle with Apollo Crews. As talented as Crews is, he’s not positioned to be anywhere near the star Miz is and it was only logical who was going to get their arm raised. Still, Miz makes waves in other ways for the company, as I broke this week on PWInsider.com that he had signed a new long-term deal with WWE, guaranteeing lots of important matches and scenes for The Miz in the months and years to come, both in the ring and in WWE outside projects, such as his latest film in The Marine franchise and his forthcoming USA Network reality series. Set to step foot inside The Elimination Chamber, this WrestleMania season may be the biggest in years for The Miz.
4. AJ Styles
The WWE champion wasn’t involved in a physical contest this week, but his appearance and interference in the main event of Smackdown Live set the stage for the headline bout at the Fast Lane PPV next month. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn to determine Styles’ challenger went out the window once Styles became physically involved, leading to the announcement of a Triple Threat match at the PPV. This ripple effect of Styles’ appearance and his continued excellence in matches on tour at Smackdown live events is enough to keep the “Phenomenal One” and his momentum continuing well into WrestleMania season. Everything revolves around AJ Styles and that’s how it’s supposed to work.
5. Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins may have been defending or challenging for the Raw Tag Team championship of late, but the reality is that with Jason Jordan dealing with neck injuries that resulted in a surgery this week, Rollins, not Heath Slater, was a one-man band, handling all the workload inside the ring and still having entertaining matches and moments with The Bar. This week, Roman Reigns stepped in, taking some of the pressure off Rollins, but the former WWE champion nonetheless, let it loose inside the ring as well as behind the scenes with a great impassioned promo on Jordan. As Rollins figures out his role in the weeks to come, his work this week is enough to bring the architect into the top five of the FITE Rankings.
6. Randy Orton
We may as well have subtitled this “When Orton Attacks.” With a surprise series of RKOs out of nowhere on Bobby Roode, Rusev and Aiden English, the third-generation star has injected himself back into the conversation. For many, many months, it has seemed that Orton was destined to languish on the sidelines, not even included on the Raw 25th Anniversary broadcast despite his long tenure with World Wrestling Entertainment. This week, “The Viper” was fast, precise and downright perfect in taking his moment and putting all eyes back on him. While the obvious impression here is that Orton is looking for Roode and the United States championship, don’t count him out of the WWE championship scene. There is a lot of fuel left in the tank of Smackdown’s Apex Predator.
Part of the criteria for the FITE Rankings is the ability to be newsworthy, to make fans stand up and notice, to create a ripple effect with your performances as a professional wrestler. Since migrating to WWE from Ring of Honor, Roderick Strong has been the everyman – the fighter who goes to work to earn a living for the family that inspires him and to defend their honor. While that valor has made him beloved, it hasn’t catapulted him into a position where the audience stands up and takes notice. That was, until this week. Debuting on WWE’s 205 Live as part of the tournament to crown the new Cruiserweight champion, Strong made every bit of his first opportunity on the main WWE roster count. With a fierce, physical back and forth battle with Hideo Itami, the master of the backbreaker scored his biggest win to date and in doing so, may have secured himself a permanent position on 205 Live and the Raw brand. As Strong advances in the tournament, whether he can match or surpass this week’s milestone performance will be the key to his future here on the FITE Rankings.
8. Cody Rhodes
In past editions of the FITE Rankings, we have noted that Rhodes is one of the best self-promoters in the game and has been since leaving WWE to bet on himself with incredible runs in Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling and more. Just this past week, Rhodes created a frenzy of activity by announcing on the “Being the Elite” YouTube series that he would be headlining the ROH Supercard of Honor event this April in New Orleans against Kenny Omega. The rush to purchase tickets led to ROH’s biggest advance ticket sales in the company’s 16-year history with over 3,000 tickets already sold for an event that is still months away. Without even entering the ring, Rhodes turns heads and creates interest. That is the key to what a pro wrestling star is supposed to do and this week, it’s enough to return him to the FITE rankings ahead of ROH’s live events in Atlanta and Concord, NC this weekend.
Since making his way to Monday Night Raw from WWE NXT, Elias has slowly but surely secured his niche among WWE fans. His guitar-playing swagger has been backed by impressive charisma and promo ability, to the point that when he arrives on the scene, fans certainly do want to “Walk with Elias.” The one thing that has eluded him thus far was a major win, and he finally scored that this past Monday during a Triple Threat match when he shoved Braun Strowman from the ring and covered John Cena, winning the bout. This was easily the biggest pinfall win in Elias’ WWE run to date and as the company ramps up their WrestleMania season heading into their flagship week in New Orleans this April, we’ve seen that they consider Elias an important player on their chess board moving forward. If this week is any indication, Elias will be strumming his way up the FITE Rankings in the weeks to come.
10. Charlotte Flair
With all the focus on Asuka and Ronda Rousey in recent weeks, what does the Smackdown Women’s champion do? She takes Liv Morgan to school, carrying Morgan to what was the best match she has had in her short career. It sounds strange to write this about a Flair, but Charlotte is simply putting in the work every week and having strong matches on both television and live tour events, even if the hype and the spotlight is elsewhere right now. If history is any indication, however, Flair’s feud with The Riott Squad will continue and when that’s all said and done, she’ll be strutting into the spotlight in a major way. When she does, she will undoubtedly limousine ride and jet fly her way up the FITE Rankings, but this week, her work ethic alone places her at number ten.
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.