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We’ve got a change atop our rankings this week- sort of- Hikaru Shida actually gets booked PLUS we see the return of FTR! As a reminder, I base these rankings off the following criteria: in ring ability, quality of promos, quality of booking, star presence, Pro Wrestling Musings statistics and the “eye test.” So what do the rankings look like this week? Let’s find out…


We’ll be going with the same 1 and 1a format this week for the same reason as last week; however, this time it’s the champ that finds himself at the top simply because he reminded all of us why he is widely considered the best wrestler in the world. Moxley has not lost a singles match all year, he’s been part of all the big angles and the most interesting stories and he’s the one who’s made the AEW World Championship as big a deal as it is. This may be recency bias as Moxley is a better promo than he is in the ring, but I just couldn’t help but buy into the hype.


Once again Kenny and Moxley are neck and neck, with Kenny remaining my pick for the best in-ring talent in the world. He’s so good at creating subtle heat for himself: he’s not an overt heel but he just gets the needling statements in mixed with the arrogance that is more annoying because he’s earned it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this time next week Kenny Omega is World Champion.


The Bucks were idle this week aside from helping Top Flight during a beat down, showing once again they are excellent as both face and heel. I don’t know if their next match will be against FTR once again or if another team will enter the fray as number one contender, either way it’s lined up to be a fantastic match if the Bucks are in it.

4) FTR

They returned and their promo was as good as ever. Being a great wrestler is three parts: ability in the ring, character in the ring and character out of the ring. We’ve always known FTR has the first two, but they’re consistently showing their character in their promos is also among the best on earth. If I were just making tag team rankings, it would be the Bucks and FTR at 1 and 1a and their promo this week showed why.


Despite Will Hobbs’ name change being swept under the rug, Team Taz will be the first faction ranked here because they have the most story going on right now. This is something that is liable to change any week- which is a big reason why “quality of booking” is so important in my rankings. But this week the one match and two promos by Team Taz, including a blistering offering by the team’s patriarch and namesake, were all must watch affairs. Powerhouse Hobbs makes even a squash match interesting, Taz is one of the best talkers in the business as Ricky Starks is not far behind. Everything going on with this team is compelling and I want to see every one of them in action right now.


I’m not always sold on Allin’s monochrome vignettes but this week really hit for me. “Survive if I let you,” while not groundbreaking, is a great tag line and it actually works even for Allin who comes from behind in his matches more than anyone in the company. Using that line, Allin can put himself in the rare position of taking most of the offense in a match but still looking dominant, as he can claim it’s all part of the plan. He’s pushing the envelope of what kind of characters we expect from small men vs. big men and I’m here for it.


The Inner Circle has mastered the art of group promos. In MJF and Jericho you have two of the top five promos in the business, you’ve got the wild card of Ortiz running around, Sammy cuts a great promo and the perpetual staring match between Wardlow and Hager is an endless source of entertainment to me. In the ring they’re also great and they proved it once again with a great tag match against SCU. Anything the Inner Circle does is must watch and that is the ultimate goal of a faction.


Pac and Fenix didn’t do anything wrong this week; on the contrary, they dazzled in their match as usual. But I can’t help but feel the story between Triangle, The Family and now Lance Archer is teetering over the edge about to go off the rails. There are more than half a dozen people involved in this story and it could get very messy very quickly. I’m not saying it will, but with the other two big factions in AEW right now firing on all cylinders, Death Triangle has some catching up to do.


I’m starting to tire a little of Kingston’s holier than thou character as it seems to clash directly with the real life badass character he earned. But one thing is undeniable: Kingston is one of the best at creating heat. He is genuinely dislikeable, saying things you know are wrong but speaking with such confidence you just develop an immediate hatred for him. His in ring skills lack and he is still part of that borderline train wreck story I mentioned earlier, but he is so developed as a promo and as a character he has to be recognized.


Flat out- Shida only makes it back in because I combined MJF and the Inner Circle this week as they are officially working as a full stable. At least Shida wrestled this week, and the match was decent if not above average as matches with Shida tend to be. But here’s the million dollar question: what’s the story in the women’s division? Seriously. They’ve hinted at several, including one involving my personal favorite woman in AEW Tay Conti, but nothing ever gets followed through. So my expectations are not high for Abaddon and Shida, mostly because we have no idea who Abaddon is, why she acts the way she does or even if she can cut a promo. I say it every week: Shida is one of the best female wrestlers on the planet but the absolutely horrendous booking of women in AEW cost her every week.


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