Weekly Pro Wrestling Rankings May 4
May 4, 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
For years, The Miz has claimed to have been the one responsible for giving the WWE Intercontinental Championship CPR, restoring the luster and aura of what has been one of the most important championships in modern lore. Once Seth Rollins captured the title, he helped bring the belt back to prominence in WWE's main event picture. His successful championship defense against Finn Balor on Raw this week was a spectacular encounter that followed up on the similarly memorable Ladder match at the Greatest Royal Rumble last week. Rollins carries himself as one of the top WWE performers, and with good reason. In doing so, Rollins makes the IC belt mean something truly special. Going into Backlash this weekend – against the Miz, no less – Rollins' star has never shined brighter.
If there is one personality in professional wrestling who knows how to push the buttons of the audience in pursuit of shocking and titillating the audience more than any other, it is Chris Jericho. Just days after returning to WWE at the Greatest Royal Rumble and hours after he posted on social media he was home in Florida, Jericho shockingly returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling. Once again, Jericho attacked Tetsuya Naito, setting the stage for a big showdown with the Japanese star. Bloodying Naito, Jericho creating one of the most gruesome scenes of the year, bringing forth the type of mayhem and violence that is seldom seen in 2018. Pro wrestling is a genre where shock value is an incredibly valuable commodity. Jericho remains the master trader.
3. AJ Styles
The WWE Champion continues to string together incredible in-ring performances, showcasing his brilliance in the ring. The one element that had been missing from his run was the type of grit and danger that comes with a great rivalry. That sort of rivalry helps to define a championship run. In Shinsuke Nakamura, who Styles will face at Backlash this weekend, he has found that dance partner. As their story continues to spike interest, Styles' ability to compel the audience continues to surpass itself.
Roman Reigns remains a central figure for WWE's Raw brand leading into WWE Backlash this weekend. It's not breaking news that a sizable percentage of the WWE audience have rejected Reigns as a top hero. Of late, WWE has handcuffed Reigns with their storylines, including a pair of losses to Brock Lesnar. The result: Reigns has been stalled without the milestone victory he was primed to achieve, making Backlash an even more important event for Reigns. Even with a loss, an exceptional performance from Reigns will protect him from sliding down the FITE Rankings.
6. Samoa Joe
If anyone is primed to overtake the main event scene of WWE, it's Samoa Joe. His intense, fearsome interview delivery over the last several weeks has been tantamount to warning sirens going off – destruction is coming; you are doomed. With his Backlash main event against Roman Reigns this weekend in New Jersey, Joe will have his chance to avenge the fact that for the second year in a row, he was not able to perform at WrestleMania. Like Thanos, Joe is going to make a grand entrance and lay waste to his enemies, except Joe doesn't need an Infinity Gauntlet to enforce his will….
As Shinsuke Nakamura continues to morph into a villain lacking any scruples and morals, his no-disqualification match at Backlash against WWE Champion AJ Styles provides the perfect stage for Nakamura's continued ascension to the dark side. With much of Smackdown's storylines being centered around Nakamura, speculation abounds that he's about to take the ultimate leap with a victory over Styles, insuring Nakamura will continue to rise in the FITE Rankings.
8. Finn Balor
Finn Balor's chase of the WWE Intercontinental Championship in recent months have helped to resurrect the "Demon" as a viable top performer for World Wrestling Entertainment. While always an excellent in-ring combatant, Balor had lacked a consistent focus, floating up and down the Raw roster with an undefined role. His match this past Monday against Seth Rollins proved yet again that not only is Balor extremely popular, extremely underutilized by WWE management. Of all the talents waiting to see the fallout of Backlash, Balor's upward mobility hangs in the balance the most. Luckily for him, he's given WWE all the evidence needed to continue his upward journey to greatness.
9. Daniel Bryan
With WWE holding Daniel Bryan off television this week under the guise of concern for his extremely bruised and battered chest, there was no way that Bryan could have maintained his position at the top of the FITE Rankings. However, after Smackdown went off the air this week, Bryan finally got to enter the squared circle and have one of his personal dream matches, facing former roommate and friend Shinsuke Nakamura in a bout that closed out the television taping. That bout served as a reminder that miracles can happen, even in the scripted world of professional wrestling, considering it wasn't even two months ago that Bryan's career was still considered completed. When Bryan steps into the ring this weekend against Big Cass, the miracles continue to engage the imagination of the global audience that lives and dies vicariously through his exploits in the ring.
10. The Miz
Since moving to the Smackdown brand, Miz has continued to showcase why he is one of the best antagonists in the modern era of professional wrestling. At Backlash this weekend, he will have the chance to regain the one element that has been missing from his arsenal in recent months – the WWE Intercontinental championship. His faceoff with Seth Rollins this weekend will determine whether Miz pivots upward with a big win or great performance or whether the Hollywood A-Lister is about to be relegated to the B-Squad.
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.