Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings Jan 24
January 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. The Miz
Last week, The Miz returned to World Wrestling Entertainment and declared he would regain the Intercontinental championship from Roman Reigns. At the Monday Night Raw 25th Anniversary event, he did just that, competing in the most newsworthy and most quality match on the broadcast. Following his win, Miz then traveled from Brooklyn to Manhattan where he surprised fans at the Manhattan Center by declaring he was going to walk out of the Royal Rumble this weekend the winner and headline WrestleMania as Intercontinental champion. Should he do so, he will be the first person to accomplish that feat since The Ultimate Warrior in 1990. Pro wrestling is about entertaining and exciting the masses and this week, even with the hype of The Royal Rumble and Raw’s anniversary, it was the Miz who was the king of the realm. Fittingly, he sits on the throne that is the top of the FITE rankings.
2. Roman Reigns
With the loss of the Intercontinental championship to The Miz in Brooklyn, Reigns slips down a bit, but this likely will only be a slight aberration as 2018 kicks off. All signs are that Roman is poised for a major promotional push leading into WrestleMania this April in New Orleans and as a WWE personality, Roman cultivates the most divisive following of any performer of the current era. He’s going to have every move, every match, every interview dissected and every move he makes is going to resonate within the entire wrestling business. That’s power and strength that is far more important than wins or losses, especially when it was his match that was easily the most revered on the most hyped and anticipated Raw broadcast in years. What he does at the Royal Rumble will be of keen interest to all who follow professional wrestling.
With the Royal Rumble this weekend, the entire scenario for the WWE Universal championship has been built around one premise: BRAUN SMASH! Universal champion Brock Lesnar has been the unwitting victim week after week while Kane, still a respected veteran, has been odd man out in the road to this Triple Threat Match. When Braun shows up, fans take notice, and that’s a big deal in the world of professional wrestling, where the worst nightmare of any performer is for the audience to just not care. The audience cares and wants to see Strowman crowned champion – if that happens at the Rumble remains to be seen, but when fans are that invested in you and WWE storylines dictate you wreck everyone in your sight, these are all positives for the FITE rankings. Sunday will tell the tale of whether Braun’s ascension continues as WrestleMania season officially begins.
4. AJ Styles
With the Royal Rumble this Sunday, Styles, the reigning and defending WWE champion will walk into a handicap match situation against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, but if the last week is any indication, the match will be extremely entertaining. Styles has continued to have strong performances in the ring, he drops slightly in the FITE rankings through no fault of his own. He had well received matches at the WWE live events this past week but was not in action last week on Smackdown and was relegated to a small, non-wrestling role at the Raw Anniversary event. This week’s Smackdown saw him lose in what amounted to a preview of Sunday’s handicap match as Styles, playing the hero in peril, lost to his challengers. Undoubtedly, the hero’s journey will see Styles prevail and the WWE champion will bring another impressive performance at the Rumble event.
Expect Styles to springboard Styles upwards in the FITE rankings faster than you can say “Phenomenal”, but this week, he has tumbled just a little.
With Ring of Honor having held their first TV taping of 2018 over the weekend, The Peacock once again got to shine as he fought and defeated Punishment Martinez in a bout that will soon air on ROH TV here on FITE. As the challengers begin to line up for Castle, Ring of Honor has begun to build the nucleus of the company around him, a surefire sign that they are behind their most eclectic personality as champion. With Jay Lethal set to challenge Castle at the ROH Anniversary Show March 9th on FITE and Marty Scurll in fast pursuit, Castle’s journey as ROH kingpin has kicked off in a major way. Inform the Boys: Castle will be the one to watch in Ring of Honor in the weeks and months to come every week here on FITE.
The “Empress of Tomorrow” is the top attraction within the women’s Royal Rumble this Sunday in Philadelphia. There may be surprises and other crowd favorites, but when you distill the match down, it’s all Asuka. That was made crystal clear on the Raw 25th Anniversary event as Asuka attacked all her team mates in an eight-woman tag team match and threw them all over the top rope. The message was clear – Asuka is going to be the catalyst in the Rumble match this weekend. Whether she is the victor or the obstacle that the final victor most overcome, Asuka’s explosive consistency inside the ring and underrated personality will be the straw that stirs the drink of the first-ever Women’s Rumble match and beyond leading into WrestleMania season.
7. Bobby Roode
Since migrating from WWE NXT to Smackdown, fans have been waiting for Bobby Roode to match his past “Glorious” accomplishments with a big moment on WWE’s blue brand. This past week on Smackdown, Roode finally achieved that goal, burning through the tournament to crown a new WWE United States champion. In defeating Jinder Mahal to earn the gold, Roode finally secured his first signature moment. After all, when WWE invests an entire episode of TV to build you, that expenditure means they expect important things out of that talent. This week, he was defending that championship and teaming with New Day in a high profile televised bout on Smackdown Live. Roode is in the mix and with the likely return of Dolph Ziggler on the horizon as well as The Royal Rumble days away, he is also on the precipice of what’s been predicted for him for years – a top position on the WWE roster. With his ring skills and his presentation, it’s just a matter of time before this workhorse is hitting the top five in the FITE rankings as well.
8. John Hennigan
In professional wrestling, the journeyman is often celebrated in a romantic sense – the talent who travels globally, who moves from place to place, defined not by their location but by work ethic. It’s harder to find someone who works as hard in so many places as John Hennigan. Whether he is wrestling as Johnny Impact for, naturally, Impact Wrestling, the soon to be returning Lucha Underground as Johnny Mundo or appearing this past week for PCW Ultra as Johnny Ultra in an excellent tag team dream match, teaming with Sami Callihan against Japanese legend The Great Muta and Penta 0M or countless, independent appearances. As the relentless Hennigan continues to beat his own drum and takes to the air with his high impact performances, fans are sure to follow.
9. Zack Sabre Jr.
Perhaps the most brash and technically superior ring technician of the 21st century, Zack Sabre Jr. continues to produce an incredible series of matches every week in the ring. Sabre and Suzukigun mentor Minoru Suzuki made international headlines this week, capturing the Revolution Pro Tag Team championships in Great Britain. That title win came just days after Sabre once again proved to be the highlight of the EVOLVE promotion, taking part in two spectacularly physical matches in New York City at EVOLVE 98 and EVOLVE 99 against European star WALTER at EVOLVE 98 and Darby Allin, both of which have been extremely popular among FITE viewers. The EVOLVE champion continues to make waves with his incredible ring proficiency, which is overshadowed only by his sneering arrogance.
10. Brock Lesnar
At the risk of running afoul of one of the most dangerous and sinister performers in the history of professional wrestling, Lesnar debuts, finally in the FITE rankings at this low ranking, despite being the WWE Universal champion going into the Royal Rumble. Had he performed of late, perhaps his debut would be higher, but our rankings are about the most newsworthy talents. His work in the ring is never in question, but when his WWE deal allows him to abscond with the Universal championship and disappear for long stretches of time, it’s hard to justify a higher ranking. However, this week changed for several reasons. One, Lesnar just appearing on Raw creates interest and over the last several weeks, he has been intimately involved in scenarios designed to make it appear his run with the Universal belt is in deep jeopardy at the hands of Braun Strowman – or possibly even Kane. With talk of Lesnar’s WWE contract coming ever closer to expiring this Spring at the same time UFC’s Dana White publicly states his expectation that “The Beast” will one day to return to the Octagon, interest and speculation into not just this weekend’s Triple Threat match, but Brock’s future has boiled over – bringing Brock into the FITE ratings. Paul Heyman’s favorite client’s performances are never in question, but his future may be.
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.