Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings March 15
March 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. AJ Styles
For weeks, WWE champion AJ Styles has been bubbling up and down the FITE rankings, his insane work ethic overachieving weekly on WWE Smackdown live events. Unfortunately for Styles, his WWE-crafted storylines were not hitting the same high mark as his in-ring exploits, allowing him to be lapped by his Raw counterparts. This past Sunday at the 2018 WWE Fastlane PPV, all that changed as Styles was the nucleus of a truly remarkable Six Way main event, where he faced and defeated five top stars, including John Cena. Even more impressive than the way was the nonstop action and pacing of the bout, which saw endless near falls and countless storylines converge. While the other competitors certainly earned their praise in Columbus, Ohio, Styles was the straw that stirred the drink and in doing so, finally makes it to the top of the mountain on the FITE rankings. As WWE continues its journey to WrestleMania, Styles' position will become increasingly hard to defend, phenomenal work ethic or not.
As the WrestleMania lineup continues to take shape, one of the real questions of the last several weeks would be where Braun Strowman would fit into the main event picture for World Wrestling Entertainment's flagship event. This week, with the top matches all seemingly locked in place, the "Monster Among Men" did what he does best, by smashing his way onto the WrestleMania card in the most unpredictable way possible. Having dispatched Elias, Strowman proceeded to invade the Tag Team Battle Royal that headlined Monday Night Raw in Detroit, forming his own one man wrecking crew by eliminating five tag teams. That sort of feat echoes the greatness of Andre the Giant generations ago and placed Strowman into a Raw Tag Team championship match against the Bar. Who will be his partner in New Orleans? Does he even need one? What will happen next? That sort of speculation, a direct ripple effect of Strowman's antics, is exactly what defines a talent's importance in our rankings.
3. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns drops down to number three this week, most because WWE didn't position him to be the most impressive talent on their roster, allowing Styles and Braun to surpass him in terms of garnering fan attention and newsworthiness. Reigns remains the man on the Raw brand and his pointed remarks towards Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar and even WWE owner Vince McMahon certainly created waves. The storyline "suspension", however, took Reigns out of the ring and removed him from Raw in Detroit after the first segment. As the cat and mouse game of whether Brock Lesnar shows up before WrestleMania continues to play out, there's only so much one man can do to build interest in a feud with someone who isn't there. While the out of the box strategy is unique, it isn't enough to keep Reigns' reign at the top the FITE rankings intact. remains at the top of the mountain this week.
4. John Cena
Over the past several weeks, the storyline for John Cena has been how he will find his magic ticket to WrestleMania. Attempts on the Raw and Smackdown brand to secure Cena's passage to the promised land have proved to be fruitless, so he did what desperate men do; he cut one of the best interviews of his life on Monday Night Raw. Cena called out The Undertaker, claiming the Deadman was hiding, embarrassed, unable to personally overcome his WrestleMania loss to Roman Reigns last year and by doing so, he was depriving everyone of the greatness of Cena vs. Undertaker on WWE's grandest stage. The sheer intensity and antagonistic nature of Cena's delivery were enough to blow the roof off the building in Detroit and make pro wrestling fans across the globe raise an eyebrow. Was Cena teasing a villainous turn? Was Undertaker going to return? While the jury is out on the former, it's just a matter of time for the latter and that interest level brings Cena up this week in the FITE rankings. Not bad for someone who just a few months ago, was allegedly Hollywood bound to make movies.
Asuka had quite the full week. Not only did she deliver in the ring with yet another entertaining match on Monday Night Raw against Mickie James, but she officially made her decision as to what championship she would be gunning for at WrestleMania. When Asuka crossed over into enemy territory by declaring she was going after Charlottes Smackdown Women's championship, the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble winner changed the face of WrestleMania. By providing fans with a legitimate, first-time dream match, Asuka reinforced the current golden age of the WWE Women's division. Her appearance on Smackdown this week helped to confirm WWE's investment in building the match and in doing so, helped reinforce Asuka's standing in the FITE rankings. Pro wrestling is all about creating attention for your storyline and Asuka did that in spades this week.
WWE's 205 Live brand is amid a renaissance, its credibility rising with each passing week. As the tournament to crown the new Cruiserweight champion continues to unfold, North Carolina's Cedric Alexander has stood out, leaving it all in the ring physically and pulling fans emotionally into his every match. This past Tuesday, Alexander had a slice of serendipity as he squared off with former Ring of Honor rival Roderick Strong in the semi-final round. In securing the victory in yet another classic display, Alexander guaranteed his WrestleMania debut. Portraying that classic babyface wrestling hero in every sense of the word, Alexander gets to carve his name in WWE's annual time capsule next month. This week, he debuts in the FITE rankings, a just reward for such a hard-working individual who has created a true grass-roots following with his consistent, remarkable performances.
In professional wrestling, it is as important to be hated as it is to be revered and of late, one can make an excellent case for the idea that the Internet wants to chase Sami Callihan with pitchforks and torches. After legitimately bashing in Eddie Edwards' face with a baseball bat in a planned stunt gone wrong, Callihan has played up a sneering, raw, demented attitude towards all, on screen and online. In doing so, he has churned up some angry, guttural responses from fans and even from veterans of the wrestling world. In a genre where the ends justifying the means is not just a way of life, but a cliché, Callihan has taken a horrifying incident that never should have happened and subverted it into attention for himself. In this game, that's a positive, even if it's a positive out of something that never should have taken place. The announcement of Callihan vs. Edwards in an I Quit match for Impact Wrestling vs. Lucha Underground at WrestleCon in New Orleans only ups the attention even more.
8. Matt Hardy
The long, winding road of Woken Matt Hardy to WWE broadcasts is equal parts custody battle, legal showdown and magic. The sheer fact that this coming Monday, Matt Hardy's "Broken Universe" will be imported onto Monday Night Raw for his showdown with Bray Wyatt at the Hardy Compound in North Carolina is staggering. While WWE has yet to match the deep, insightful characterization of Hardy's persona from Impact Wrestling, Monday will be the best bet Hardy has to take a complete swing for a home run. The increased interest, excitement and speculation over how much of the greatest of "Final Deletion" will be permitted on Raw – and what this means for Hardy's future as a solo star – has been infectious. Will history repeat itself? Not even Vanguard-1 has the analytics to predict that yet, but anything that attracts excitement in professional wrestling is a positive for the FITE rankings.
The 2018 Men's Royal Rumble winner opened WWE Fastlane with an impressive and entertaining victory over Rusev. The bout spotlighted Nakamura's charisma and his eclectic ring style in a way conducive to making the audience fall in love with him, something that WWE has sometimes failed to do on a regular basis with the former IWGP and NXT champion. Nakamura's faceoff with AJ Styles was very good, but for Nakamura to rise in the FITE rankings as WrestleMania looms ever closer, WWE will have to continue to showcase in the same strong style fashion.
10. Nia Jax
As WWE foreshadowed last week, Jax is poised for the biggest promotional push of her career as her "best friend" Alexa Bliss revealed her true colors this past Monday on Raw, showing that she was manipulating Jax to do her dirty deeds. Jax learned this right after thoroughly trouncing an opponent on Monday Night Raw and her reaction to the Bliss revelation showed a continuing exposure to a deeper characterization to Jax. International viewers watched her face change from disbelief to heartbreak to sheer horror to raging anger in the space of one segment. Jax's destruction of Bliss' locker room previewed what appears to be their WrestleMania showdown, an important bout on the most important show of the year for professional wrestling. If she can maintain the level of performance that she seems to have unlocked of late, the sky is the limit for Nia Jax going forward.
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.