Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings May 10
May 10, 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 week, we are extending the top ten to include an additional five talents as the rankings were held back to include WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble event.
1. Seth Rollins
On a week where the biggest news of the week was how violently the WWE audience rejected the company's Backlash PPV, Seth Rollins not only steals the show, but the entire week. Rollins' successful Intercontinental Championship defense against the Miz electrified the audience, easily the lone Backlash encounter that took the audience on a legitimate roller-coaster ride emotionally. Rollins then followed that with another strong title defense, this time against Mojo Rawley on Monday Night Raw. Last week, we noted that Rollins deserved the credit for the resurrection of the Intercontinental Championship as an important, viable title. This week, Rollins doubled down on that effort, easily securing his second week in a row atop the FITE Rankings. Burn it down? No, Rollins is building it up.
2. Finn Balor
For what has seemed like years, Finn Balor has been trapped in neutral within World Wrestling Entertainment. It didn't matter what brand he was assigned to or what storyline he was slotted into – Balor, whether he was himself or morphed into his Demon persona, appeared to be treated like the forgotten cousin who arrived unannounced at the family reunion – with puzzling bemusement. Through no fault of his own, Balor was just sitting there, waiting for a true opportunity. This week, building off his recent excellent matches with Seth Rollins, Balor was finally given that. Headlining Monday Night Raw in a Money in the Bank qualifying match, Balor hit his stride in an excellent Triple Threat bout against Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns. His victory not only guaranteed him entrance into WWE's June event, but reminded all watching that Balor remains one of the top talents in the world. If WWE supports that work ethic with a strong creative presentation, Balor will remain in the upper echelon of the FITE rankings for a long time to come.
3. The Miz
The Miz talks a great game. For a certain period of his career, it was the lone asset he had to cling to. That period, however, is long gone. Whether it be his show-stealing effort at the WWE Backlash against Seth Rollins or a very good win over United States Champion Jeff Hardy on Smackdown Live, Miz excels every single time. He's become the workhorse that every company craves, the talent who can hit it out of the park, no matter the scenario they are presented. Miz moneyballs professional wrestling. It's just a matter of time before he excels in the FITE Rankings as well.
With a win on Monday Night Raw against Kevin Owens and the guaranteed entry into Money in the Bank that comes with it, Braun Strowman continues his path as "The Guy" in World Wrestling Entertainment. No matter how he is presented, whether it be as a strongman monster or a silly friend to all children, Strowman appears to be immune as pro wrestling fans continue to be ravenous for all things Strowman. While a bevy of top stars are already set for June's Ladder Match in Chicago, all eyes continue to be on Strowman – with good reason.
5. Nia Jax
The WWE Raw Women's Champion continues to have a strong run since ascending to the throne at WrestleMania 34, but truth be told, her Backlash rematch against Alexa Bliss was one of the many bouts that underperformed and underwhelmed the audience in the process. However, Jax's continued improvement in all areas cannot be ignored. Her post-match interview pushing the idea that one must stand up to bullies, that one must not be ashamed of who they are and that being unique is what makes you special is the type of message that fans of all ages and backgrounds can take to heart. Jax's Championship reign may be in its infancy, but her work continues to ripple beyond these early days.
6. Daniel Bryan
While the bloom is hardly off the rose in the eyes of the audience, WWE's use of Bryan was somewhat troubling this past week. Bryan's first singles bout on a major stage was a short bout against Big Cass. While Bryan was victorious, he was attacked and left laying by the seven-foot star…and then there was no follow-up whatsoever. Instead, Bryan headlined Smackdown Live against Rusev, where he put in an impressive performance, but lost, bringing forth the notion that Bryan is not going to be the centerpiece of the Smackdown brand. WWE has never been known to kill a golden goose, but in this instance, they certainly aren't admitting they have one. Bryan drops this week, holding on thanks to his exquisite in-ring skills. His future in the FITE Rankings will be dependent on whether he gets any momentum going. Meaningless victories, forgotten storylines and strong performances in losses are not conducive to moving upwards.
7. Roman Reigns
Reigns is often described on the FITE rankings as being the most important performer in current-day World Wrestling Entertainment and there's a reason for that – his work ethic, his charisma, his ability to have great matches and his innate skills at enrapturing an audience. Whether they love or hate him, they are invested in Roman Reigns – except this week. Roman had the unfortunate blessing of headlining the Backlash event in New Jersey, closing out an event that over its three-hour run, took a rabid audience and beat them into indifferent submission. Not even a guaranteed strong brawl with rival Samoa Joe could have changed the fate of Roman this week. The match was rejected by the audience, some of who were seen exiting the Prudential Center before the match had even been completed. It was a low moment for "The Big Dog." The next night in New York on Raw, Reigns brought the crowd to their feet – by being double teamed and beaten down by Finn Balor and Sami Zayn. This was not Reigns' week, and he drops accordingly.
8. Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe walked into what many perceived to be a "lame duck" pay-per-view main event against Roman Reigns and unfortunately for Joe, none of his excellent promos and in-ring ability over the weeks leading into Backlash could help The Samoan Submission Machine evade an audience that just didn't want to watch Joe vs. Roman. While there were flourishes of Joe's excellence, especially the beating of Roman outside the ring early, the match will be anything but remembered. The following nights, Joe was nowhere to be seen. This will be the moment where Joe digs down and avenges being placed into the unfortunate scenario he was tasked with at Backlash, or this is the beginning of the end of his run on the FITE Rankings. Time will tell, but if history is any indication, don't bet against Joe…
9. AJ Styles
It is bad enough that most weeks, the WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar doesn't hit the FITE Rankings, but perhaps that can be excused by the fact that most weeks, Lesnar is sitting at home. That isn't the case for the WWE Champion AJ Styles, who most weeks is putting on commendable, historic performances. This week, however, a dark shroud entrapped Styles as his match against Shinsuke Nakamura, already handicapped by WWE's creative plans, failed to hit any benchmarks, the third time in three matches that has happened. On a night where Styles was free and clear to be the definitive performer for WWE, he failed to do so. Thus, he tumbled far lower than the WWE Champion ever should on the FITE rankings.
It may be Rusev Day every day in WWE, but this week, it's Rusev's day to finally hit the FITE Rankings. His win over Daniel Bryan on Smackdown Live came across like a reminder that WWE Creative was finally recognizing all the momentum that the Bulgarian star had created for himself. Like an Aiden English ring introduction, the match was perfectly put together and when it hit its crescendo, it accomplished what all great pieces of entertainment do – it made you believe you were going left, when it really pulled you to the right. The Daniel Bryan show was in full effect when Rusev attacked the sore ribs, playing into the excellent story that WWE's announcers had been telling, allowing Rusev to score the win and attain the golden ticket that allows him entrance into the Money in the Bank ladder match. That performance and the message that came with the victory – that bigger things are finally ahead for Rusev, put him on the board.
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.