Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings May 23
May 23, 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. Seth Rollins
Another week, another series of strong performances from the reigning WWE Intercontinental Champion. Rollins interjected himself on Raw when Jinder Mahal attacked Roman Reigns, setting the stage for a tag bout that saw Rollins curb stomp Kevin Owens for the victory. When Mahal attacked the heroes with a steel cage after the bout, the stage was set for a showdown this coming Monday. Add in continuously strong performances on the tail end of WWE's European tour and it's easy to see why Rollins leapfrogs everyone all over again to regain his position at the top of the FITE rankings.
2. Roman Reigns
If there is even a glimmer of a doubt that World Wrestling Entertainment still sees "The Big Dog" as the stallion they want to lead the chariot as the company charts its court towards new TV rights deals with FOX and NBC Universal, this week should have ended them. WWE invested almost the entire first hour of Monday Night Raw on Reigns, plotting a scene where he confronts Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon, has an entertaining battle with Kevin Owens and then a surprise tag team bout against Owens and Jinder Mahal. The fate of the WWE Universal Championship revolves around Roman Reigns, who remains the reliable, strong performer that the audience doesn't want to admit they have embraced, but they have.
3. AJ Styles
The WWE Champion continues the build to his Last Man Standing match against Shinsuke Nakamura at Money in the Bank with yet another strong week of in-ring performances to close out the WWE European tour. On Smackdown Live, Styles was involved in segments meant to build his antagonist, Nakamura, to prime the audience and increase their interest in the Chicago showdown. It was a week designed to prepare for a bigger delivery down the line, but another strong week of in-ring material from one of the all-time best wrestlers anywhere in the world today.
Another week, another strong showing for Braun Strowman. At Raw in Albany, NY, Strowman was pitted against Finn Balor, looking strong in all aspects of the entertaining main event before powerslamming the international star for the win. Strowman remains one of the top talents for the Raw brand, moving merchandise and getting the largest reactions of anyone at the live events presented by WWE's red brand as it closed out its European tour.
5. Daniel Bryan
For fans who have been waiting for Bryan to be allowed to put together the type of mat classics that precede his reputation, this was the week they were in luck. After several strong showings against the Miz to tease what their eventual televised confrontation will feature, Bryan headlined Smackdown Live, defeating United States Champion Jeff Hardy in a legitimate dream bout to advance towards a Money in the Bank Ladder Match. After the bout, Bryan had a showdown with Samoa Joe, teasing their first singles encounter since October 2006. While Joe and Bryan are worlds away from the talents they were in Ring of Honor a lifetime ago, the legitimacy they carry into the ring with them is matched only by the anticipation fans have for the showdown. Bryan is poised to sit at the top of the Smackdown roster, if he's given the ball by WWE's creative team. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but another strong in-ring performance from Bryan is all but guaranteed.
6. Ronda Rousey
With Stephanie McMahon stirring the pot in a contract signing segment for her WWE Raw Women's Championship challenge, Ronda Rousey had little to say, but what she did spoke volumes. After Nia Jax declared that Rousey couldn't submit her, the former UFC Bantamweight Champion declared she was taking the title and Jax's arm. Rousey's intensity speaks for itself, even if the logic of Rousey gaining a title shot without ever competing in a singles bout is stretched paper-thin.
7. Kevin Owens
The former WWE Champion leaps upwards several spots this week based on his excellent promo on Roman Reigns during the opening segment of Monday Night Raw, followed by Owens performing in two strong bouts, one right after the other. The nucleus of the entire first hour of Raw from an in-ring standpoint, Owens was the glue that kept everything held together, showing once again why he's one of the most underutilized utility players in professional wrestling. Need something done and done right? Place Owens into the scenario.
In recent weeks, WWE has been working overtime to establish the on-screen friendship between Ronda Rousey and third-generation star Natalya, creating an alliance that will undoubtedly lead to a showdown that the audience has become invested in down the line. In helping to set up for the future, Natalya forced Dana Brooke to submit, allowing the Canadian star to win a Triple Threat bout that officially entered her into the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder bout in Chicago. Natalya has done an outstanding job after being slotted into the role of the smiling, babyface best friend and will certainly look strong leading into Chicago in the weeks to come.
9. Nia Jax
The WWE Raw Women's Champion did an impressive job during this week's contract signing with Ronda Rousey on Monday Night Raw. Jax, who has continued to improve all aspects of her game, was believable as the Champion who has been prodded and tormented by those who judge her and has had enough. The Rousey bout will be the biggest test of Jax as a performer in the ring but her storyline against Rousey has already begun to mirror that in one of those surreal directions that always seem to emerge in the world of professional wrestling. If Jax can maintain her intensity, no matter whether she is the Champion or not by the end of June, she will have "leveled up" yet again as an asset for WWE.
10. Hideo Itami
FINALLY! For a talent as world renowned as Hideo Itami, his time in World Wrestling Entertainment has been spent, for several reasons, on the sidelines watching others leapfrog him. This week, on 205 Live, Itami pulled out the best in-ring performance of his career in many, many moons, defeating Akira Tozawa. With the spotlight shining brightly down upon him, Itami is poised to finally find his niche in WWE and all the success that comes with it. Whether he disappears from the FITE Rankings or moves upward revolves around whether Itami can maintain the level of intensity and work ethic that he brought with furious anger this week.
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 .