I love ranking stuff. It’s not even for debating purposes. I just like to look at the material all laid out nice and neat. A lot of folks do “power rankings” on their sites. Here’s what I’m going to tell you about mine:
- It will be monthly
- The criteria is based on how much I enjoyed their promos, segments, and/or matches of that particular month.
Now one category doesn’t always outweigh the others, but just know that I’m a “great match guy” meaning that the more matches that knock my socks off, will probably be more enjoyable for me than a bunch of great promos. But not always. The number one on my list will prove that exception.
Also please keep in mind that these are solely based off my enjoyment for that month. I have personal favorites that didn’t make this list because I haven’t cared for their booking lately. Nakamura comes to mind. So don’t ask, “Where is WRESTLER X?”
- Samoa Joe
Joe’s surprise number one contender win was a bit disappointing for me. I would have much rather it be saved for WrestleMania, or at least Summerslam. That being said, from the second this program got off the ground I’ve been captivated. The last three years, any opponent of Brock (minus Goldberg) always seemed beneath him. Sure it makes Lesnar the credible monster, but eventually you need someone to kill that monster, and it didn’t seem like anyone outside of Reigns would be positioned as such. Joe now seems believable as the guy that can also do that. I’m genuinely excited for Great Balls of Fire (never thought I’d write that, for a plethora of reasons) if nothing else but for this battle of the behemoths.
2. AJ Styles
Styles has been at the point for quite a while now, where if he were to squat down and take a shit in the ring, I would be entertained. His month of June may not have been quite as exciting as Joe’s, (aside from his tease with Nakamura at MITB) but he always gets me to look up from my phone or tablet when I hear his name announced. That my friends is the mark of a true great in this day and age.
- Roderick Strong
Those vignettes are the greatest thing that has happened to his career. The talent has always been there, but the charisma, the ability to rise above his equally talented peers (in the more prestigious companies anyway) has always been his downfall. He was always another faceless, emotionless, talented indie guy. I’m not knocking the guy at all. He has been in some of the best wrestling matches I’ve ever seen. But now we see him in a different light. We genuinely feel connected to him like a CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, or AJ Styles. I’m so happy for him and the direction his career appears to be taking.
- Hideo Itami
I’m the biggest Hideo fan in the world. When someone calls him “injury-prone,” I pick them up on my shoulders and give them the Go 2 Sleep right there. Okay that may be a bit of stretch, but I will stoutly defend the former KENTA until the day I die. Has he always looked comfortable since coming to NXT? No I will admit that he hasn’t. But now they are slowing transforming him into that killer that he was in NOAH and I’m stoked to see where it goes. I may not believe in Harvey Dent, but I believe in Hideo Itami.
- Austin Aries
Much like Itami and Styles, Aries is another one of “my guys.” When he lost to Neville for the third consecutive time, they showed him with that strange camera angle on the floor beside the ring. He had an unnerving smile on his face, AND I WANT TO KNOW WHY! He said he was injured and was taking time off. Which is fine, but for some reason I don’t believe it. He had a book come out, and I think he may be off promoting it. He wasn’t specific on what his injuries were, which again makes me question the validity of them. I also feel that Aries has more than proved himself as a well-rounded sports-entertainer and could easily “graduate” the cruiserweights to bigger and better things. So yes this is somewhat of a speculative ranking, but it has my attention which is the whole point in the first place.
Neville’s insertion into the struggling 205 Live show was a like a hand into a custom-made glove. If they would remove him at any point in the near-future, I’m pretty sure the whole show would collapse. I know most people shit on the show already, but I find it an enjoyable one hour wrestling program. A program that I sometimes prefer to a three hour Raw. If you want to know how much I enjoyed Neville last month, or any month this calendar year, go back and read my article about him.
- Akira Tozawa
The whole concept of the Titus Brand is stupid. Why would anyone “sign” with a company that is “run” by a perpetually underachieving wrestler that “claims” he is so successful despite evidence to the contrary, and can take others to the top with him? That may have been the most quotation marks I’ve ever used in a single sentence, but it also shows my disdain for Titus O’Neil. What it has done though is put more Akira Tozawa on my screen. I’m not kidding you when I say that I was as excited for Tozawa to be in the CWC as I was Kota Ibushi. Yes he’s another of my dudes. Tozawa oozes charisma, and although he’s nowhere near Nakamura-like reactions from the crowd, he does seem to be translating to the mainstream American audience which is sometimes difficult for Japanese wrestlers in the WWE. I really enjoyed his feud with Kendrick, and his facial reactions to O’Neill’s constant badgering last month have been very entertaining. I foresee Tozawa moving up this list next month.
- Aleister Black
Possibly the coolest entrance in wrestling in many years, Black may be on to something special. We have yet to hear him talk, and being on NXT you don’t see him every week. I want more.
- Brian Kendrick
I already mentioned that I enjoyed his program with Tozawa, and he currently is keeping me laughing by mocking Jack Gallagher. I mean seriously look at that picture! Kendrick’s late-career resurgence has been pretty remarkable. Granted he’s been on the back-burner a lot of the time since 205 started, but when he shows up he always shines. (Can you believe that’s the fourth cruiserweight on here? I told you I enjoy that show!)
- Baron Corbin
If you would have told me six months ago that I would enjoy anything Corbin does, I would have given you the Go 2 Sleep again. I hated that man. And I can’t even tell you what changed. I always liked his finisher, his entrance is pretty cool, but is he that different? Who knows? I had a hunch he would win MITB, and naturally that’s an enticing new aspect to him as well. Wondering “when and where he’ll cash it in?” There’s not a lot of good heels anymore, but Corbin is one of them.
Just missed the cut:
Asuka- had one of the best women’s matches I’ve ever seen
American Alpha- just because they finally showed back up on TV. I love those guys like most people love the Revival.
Next time I’ll show who is gaining, who is falling, and who is holding steady in their slot. Will anyone new crack the top 10? I’m a pretty harsh critic. So we’ll see.
By Victor Parenza (@parenzabooks)
All photos courtesy of wwe.com