Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings June 20
June 20, 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. Alexa Bliss
WWE’s Money in the Bank PPV always threatens to change the power structure of the company’s rosters as the winners of the MITB Ladder Matches maintain the right to cash in and challenge the established Champion at any point. Bliss not only became a threat that evening but solidified herself as the top female performer for the Raw brand in just a few hours. The Women’s ladder bout was one of several matches that exemplified how great the Money in the Bank show was and by winning a bout with that much talent and excitement involved, Bliss immediately rebounded from the lack of focus she has had in recent months. Then, several matches later, she emerged under the ring to attack Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey, ending their scheduled championship match, assaulting each competitor with the MITB briefcase. Minutes later, Bliss was cashing in her title shot, emerging the new Champion. The power structure was uprooted and destroyed, replaced by Bliss’ new home on top of the pyramid. The next night, Bliss was involved in a frenzied, exciting opening segment with Rousey that told the tale of what to expect this summer – excellent storytelling all focused about WWE’s one “Goddess.” If that isn’t enough to launch Bliss to the top of the FITE rankings, nothing ever will.
2. Johnny Gargano
Over the course of his incredibly well told and executed feud with former best friend Tomasso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano has been the embodiment of all that is great about pro wrestling heroes. This past week at NXT Takeover: Chicago, Gargano was swept up in the emotional turmoil that comes with going to the dark side, brawling all over the Allstate Arena and providing yet another incredible chapter to their war of attrition. Indeed, in a business built around manipulation of emotion, it was Ciampa stealing Gargano’s wedding ring, spitting on it and throwing it away like a piece of trash that enraged Gargano to come back and execute an Air Raid Crash through a table. While Ciampa did eventually win the match, that is fine – the hero’s journey is never an easy path to victory, and Gargano is the hero pro wrestling needs in 2018, never falling, always battling forward.
It was just a matter of time before Braun Strowman ascended to the top of WWE and he did so by ascended to the top of a ladder on Sunday to become the self-proclaimed “Mister Monster in the Bank.” The entire main event of the MITB pay-per-view event saw a bevy of top Raw and Smackdown talents throw everything at Stroman, including an army of ladders, but nothing worked. All strategy fell apart and Strowman smashed everyone, making waves as only he can. Stroman has evolved into the most compelling performer in WWE – the one who moves the needle of fan responses and the one they see as the uncrowned champion. His journey to the Universal Championship officially began this past week and fans can’t wait.
For some time, The FITE Rankings listing for Styles has included some sort of asterisk pointing out that despite his incredible work in the ring, creatively he and his feud with Shinsuke Nakamura had been greatly underserved by WWE’s creative direction. That all changed, finally, with an incredible Last Man Standing match at the Money in the Bank PPV, which absolutely stole the show and showed the level of athletic competition and drama that this rivalry could have showcased all along. Styles, in one of his greatest WWE performances to date, successfully defended the WWE Championship. Without a blink, he was off to Australia to promote WWE’s major event there this October. That’s the type of representative every company hopes for and the type of wrestler every fan lives vicariously through.
5. Ronda Rousey
The real question going into Rousey’s Raw Women’s Championship challenge against Nia Jax at WWE Money in the Bank was not who was going to win, but what was the quality of the performance going to be from the former UFC Bantamweight Champion? It was her first major singles bout in WWE and it was live on PPV without a veteran like Kurt Angle or Triple H there to assist. Whatever worries anyone had immediately dissipated as Jax and Rousey went to war, bringing forth an excellent, believable battle that showed that Rousey was worth every moment and every penny WWE has invested into her thus far. When the match ended without a winner, as pro wrestling matches sometimes do, Rousey channeled the old days of Stone Cold Steve Austin with an incredible attack on referees, Alexa Bliss and even Kurt Angle that had the Raw crowd in Grand Rapids rocking. Although now “suspended” in storyline for 30 days, Rousey shined like the North Star and left everyone wanting more. That is the mark of a great professional wrestler. Whatever test WWE put in front of her, Ronda Rousey aced it.
6. Seth Rollins
Although his WWE Intercontinental Championship reign ended in shocking fashion this past Monday on Raw, Rollins retains his position in the upper echelon of the FITE Rankings. Whether it was his entertaining title loss to Dolph Ziggler, his excellent title bout against Elias at Money in the Bank or the endless procession of great matches and interviews at live events, Rollins has been in the zone. Chasing the Championship, as opposed to holding it, will do nothing to change that. Work ethic is king, and Rollins has it in spaces.
7. Tommaso Ciampa
For a long time, Tomasso Ciampa was one of the most overlooked talents in professional wrestling. Now, he elicits the most legitimate anger of any single pro wrestling on a global scale. Embodying the most villainous elements of brawlers from days gone by and meshing them with a believable, physical style, Ciampa is able to not only incite insanity but to bring the best out of the heroes he faces. His Takeover: Chicago Street Fight with Johnny Gargano was not just an excellent match, it’s a moment in time that will be forever remembered in a time capsule. Just as Roddy Piper sparked the flame that led to the first WrestleMania, Ciampa has sparked something that will lead to greatness yet to unfold…and will be hated forever for it. He’s not the villain pro wrestling wanted, but he’s the villain it needs.
FINALLY! Since the King of Strong Style has made his way to America, fans have been waiting to see him bust out and leave it all on the mat, creating a masterpiece the likes of which only someone the caliber of Shinsuke Nakamura could. For whatever reason, not even at WrestleMania, it hadn’t happened. This past weekend at Money in the Bank, Shinsuke Nakamura returned to form, taking fans on an emotional, physically excruciating roller coaster ride in his Last Man Standing match against WWE Champion AJ Styles. Although Nakamura lost, for the first time in forever, it feels like creatively, the sky is open for the former IWGP and NXT Champion.
9. Punishment Martinez
You always remember your first and for Punishment Martinez, his first major title in the professional wrestling world will always be the Ring of Honor World Television Championship. The bad-ass brawler from New York City shocked ROH observers far and wide when he captured the title at State of the Art in Dallas. For someone with Martinez’s grit and determination, this will only make his strive harder as he heads into the ROH Best in the World PPV against Hangman Page, which you can order, and watch live on FITE. This may be his first time on the FITE rankings, but it won’t be the final time for Punishment Martinez.
10. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler is scorched earth. Ziggler has been pulled up and down too many times. He’s stalled out of the gate. It’s too late. All of these excuses have been used to explain why Ziggler, after so many years in WWE, still has failed to find any momentum. The reality is that some of the criticisms were true and they were all at one root cause – that WWE chose to keep the former World Champion in neutral. Since the decision to pair Ziggler with the intense Drew McIntyre, Ziggler has been revved up and this past Monday, captured the Intercontinental Championship. Could he be poised to regain past glory and exorcize the demons of the past that have prevented him from scoring on every level? Time will tell but this was easily the most newsworthy week for Ziggler in years.
11. Roman Reigns
For many months, we have noted that Roman Reigns is the heart and soul of WWE, whether the audience wanted to embrace him for it or not. This week, at the Money in the Bank PPV, it felt as if Reigns was fighting the entire city of Chicago as much as his actual opponent, Jinder Mahal. What was impressive is that Reigns never lost his poise and that the match didn’t degenerate into trash, but that he and Mahal still put together a meaningful, entertaining battle. There’s a reason why Reigns was placed into the Extreme Rules Multi-man match to determine Brock Lesnar’s next challenger for the WWE Universal Championship. Reigns, as much as he likes to be called “The Big Dog”, is actually old reliable. Nothing phases him. It’s only a matter of time before he’s facing off with Brock Lesnar or Braun Strowman yet again.
12./13. The Velveteen Dream & Ricochet (tied)
It seems unfair to tie these two incredible athletes together, but their success of late has been because they have been married to each other with an incredibly engaging storyline as they try to surpass the other athletically in pursuit of defeating their rival. This past Saturday at NXT Takeover: Chicago, the face-off between the Velveteen Dream and Ricochet was not two athletes from different background looking into a mirror but a battle that allowed audiences to look into the future. It is just a matter of time before these two are headlining major WWE events. The seed of that rivalry sparked in NXT and the first flower bloomed at Takeover. While Ricochet had his hand raised, it’s impossible to look at Velveteen Dream and see anything that young man accomplished as a loss. Like Batman and The Joker, their battles have only just begun.
14. Cody Rhodes
hether it be stealing the show back to back nights for Ring of Honor in Dallas, setting the stage to challenge for the NWA title at All In or headlining New Japan’s biggest event in the United States next month in San Francisco, the son of Dusty Rhodes rides in like a cowboy in the dead of night and steals the scene from everyone he’s in the ring with. This week, his battle against Jonathan Gresham was the stuff of beauty at State of the Art in Dallas. Cody’s charm, work ethic and streak of arrogance has congealed into the perfect presentation. A six shooter with perfect aim and his eye on multiple platforms, Cody will rise upwards soon enough.
15. Bobby Lashley
Since his return to WWE, the former WWE ECW and Impact Wrestling Champion hasn’t been tasked with the best of storylines, but this past week, looked like a brutal beast as he laid a one-sided beating on Sami Zayn and then faced off with Roman Reigns to begin building a rivalry heading into Extreme Rules. All WWE has to do is let Lashley out of the gates and his insane physical prowess will do the rest. Whether the company actually allows that will determine how and when Lashley moves in the FITE rankings.
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 .