Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings March 8
March 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.
1. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns remains at the top of the mountain this week. He was the central figure for the live events this past weekend for World Wrestling Entertainment's Raw brand and closed out Monday Night Raw in Milwaukee with an excellent back and forth interview segment, going toe to toe with the master of mic work, Paul Heyman. With Reigns poised to finally face off with WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar as WWE kicks into second gear for their ramp up to WrestleMania, this may be the week that tells the tale of whether Reigns is building a dynasty at the top of the FITE Rankings or if he's about to careen off a cliff downward. He and WWE have had a masterful few weeks from a strategy perspective, turning the tide of fans who just want to detest the former WWE champion. If they can continue that successfully, the Reigns Dynasty may finally be embraced by all.
With this past Monday's Symphony of Destruction match on Monday Night Raw, Braun Strowman reminded everyone that while in-ring wrestling may be the straw that stirs the drink in professional wrestling, it's the over the top characters and outrageous action that brings out the flavor. Whether it was the scene of Strowman holding Elias' car in mid-air to prevent a hasty retreat, Strowman chasing him through the arena like a horror movie monster or the ridiculously over the top burial of Elias under a piano to set up the pinfall, the WWE audience loved the entire spectacle. In a perfect world, that's what make a superstar – the spectacle that comes with their appearances. Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and so many others carried that with them and Braun is well on his way to doing the same. He stands strong at number two this week and his role at WrestleMania will determine what path he takes next in the FITE rankings.
With New Japan Pro Wrestling holding their 46th Anniversary event this past Tuesday, it featured the annual attraction of the IWGP Heavyweight champion facing the Junior Heavyweight champion. The tale of that match is usually that Junior champion puts forth a great fight, but in the end, the Heavyweight champion stands tall. While that was indeed the result this week, the real tale of the bout was what a superior in-ring performer Okada continues to be, having incredible chemistry and timing with Will Ospreay in their first-ever singles encounter. Okada is evergreen in New Japan, forever making it rain, not just with Okada-bucks but with incredible in-ring wrestling. The Anniversary show performance is enough to rocket Okada into the top-tier of the FITE rankings. Rainmaker, indeed!
4. AJ Styles
The WWE champion can have great matches in his sleep, that's how amazing he is in the ring. Styles continues to shepherd the Smackdown brand with live event victories over Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and this past Tuesday, took part in another great four-way bout to headline Smackdown Live. With this Sunday's WWE Fastlane PPV, Styles will have a chance to make a statement going into WrestleMania that he is the performer that sets the bar inside the ring but that he can enter any scenario, including an extremely crowded Six Way match, and be spark that ignites an explosive, entertaining crowd-pleaser. Should WWE finally find Smackdown's footing again and present that brand in stronger fashion, Styles is poised to be the talent in all of WWE.
5. Will Ospreay
The incredibly talented Australian aerial assassin has stunned audiences across the globe with his exploits as one of the top junior heavyweight performers today, but his performance against IWGP Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada may have been Ospreay's defining moment. It was a bout that featured incredible, unique sequences and near-falls that kept the audience in Japan breathless. Although he was defeated, Ospreay's true victory was in rising to the next level before the eyes of all watching around the world. It was the type of performance that will be talked about years from now and in an era where everyone is on to the next big thing, that is the ultimate statement. Here's another statement to remember: Ospreay is the future and the future is now.
6. John Cena
As the "free agent" within WWE, John Cena is sort of the Kermit the Frog of professional wrestling. He pops up everywhere. Whether it's hosting The Today Show, a new comedy hitting theaters next month, changing the course of the WWE Fastlane PPV this weekend, appearing on WWE live events despite having little time to do so or having a short but entertaining bout with Goldust on Monday Night Raw, Cena is in the center of it all. While his story is that he doesn't have a "Road to WrestleMania", Cena is the walking embodiment of WrestleMania. He enters the Fastlane PPV this weekend adding legitimacy and interest to what some might feel is a lame-duck event. That's what an extraordinary talent does.
Another week, another fantastic match against Nia Jax. Asuka continues to excel inside the squared circle and continues to enrapture the WWE audience. Even with the impressive amount of attention towards former UFC star Ronda Rousey in his debut WWE outing, Asuka's push towards her championship opportunity at WrestleMania remains a major selling point of Monday Night Raw and its Women's division. Asuka demands respect and she reminds everyone of that weekly with her incredible drive inside the ring. That work ethic births excitement. Whether "The Empress of Tomorrow" indeed faces Raw champion Alexa Bliss or goes against the tide to create the dream match showdown against Charlotte Flair, she's set to delight fans.
8. Austin Aries
With Impact Wrestling finally back to running live events, its champion returns to the FITE Rankings. This past weekend in Canada, Aries took on several talents, retaining the championship in bouts taped for future broadcasts. Meanwhile, he continues to have excellent matches all over the world and looks to be the centerpiece of a unique Lucha Underground vs. Impact Wrestling event set for April in New Orleans. With incredible timing and finesse, and a chip on his shoulder to match, Aries is one to keep an eye on as Impact builds to its Redemption event next month, which will broadcast right here on FITE.
Last week, we extolled the virtues of Nia Jax breaking through during her incredible performance at the Elimination Chamber PPV. This week, Jax followed through with another fantastic in-ring performance, losing yet against to Asuka. One could feel the tide of Jax's career continuing to rise with the strong amount of respect she received from the Milwaukee audience as she exited the ring on Monday Night Raw. Just as incredible was her ability to bring forth legitimate emotion, tears and all, as she was reminded by Alexa Bliss, in the most passive-aggressive way possible, that she had failed. WWE is setting the stage for Jax to become a more heroic character and Jax's work as that moment is being prepped has been out of this world.
10. Sami Zayn
With his victory on Smackdown Live in a Fatal Four Way this past Tuesday, Sami Zayn not only previewed this Sunday's Six Way match at WWE Fastlane, but he reminded the audience not to overlook him. Always a tremendous talent in the ring, Zayn has been somewhat haphazardly presented since united with longtime frenemy Kevin Owens in WWE storylines. By pinning Owens on Smackdown, Zayn not only made the statement that he's not second in line in that alliance but that he remained a hidden jewel of the WWE roster – one that might finally be unearthed if he can pull out another majestic win (or even a majestic performance) at the Fastlane event on Columbus, Ohio. That performance will determine whether he ascends the FITE rankings or slips back into being overlooked 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.