AND NOW RETURNING TO THE RING...
AEW POWER RANKINGS POST-3/31
Tonight’s Dynamite was a night of returns. Inner Circle, Kris Statlander and Trent all made their big re-entrances onto the Dynamite scene. Combine that with Christian Cage’s debut and a can’t miss 6-man tag and you’ve got the recipe for a top-tier Dynamite. But with so much happening on this show, where does that leave these power rankings? Let’s find out…
1) KENNY OMEGA
Kenny Omega has a terrific mind for the business. He knows when he needs to let other people tell his story and this week, Don Callis got all the heat for Kenny Omega. All Omega did was go out and have another incredible match. He does that so consistently one wonders how he can top himself every week. Yet here he is, doing it again. No one on earth matches Kenny Omega’s in-ring ability and I’m not sure anyone comes close.
2) JON MOXLEY & EDDIE KINGSTON
“I think [Benoni} has a bright future but not if I KILL HIM on Dynamite.” Yet another memorable line from the best promo in the business. Moxley has grown as much as any wrestler in AEW, both from a character and an in-ring perspective and I’m frankly disappointed I didn’t believe he’d be able to make me care about his feud with Kenny Omega anymore. It remains one of my favorite feuds in AEW and its due to the work Mox and King have put into their characters and promos.
3) DEATH TRIANGLE
I envision a 1980s-style underground gambling ring where the members of AEW bet on how many stars matches involving Death Triangle will get. They always bet too low. The jury is still out, of course, on how great this faction will be as a whole; but you’ll have to show me a faction ever in wrestling history that had a higher average level of in-ring talent. I don’t think one exists.
I generally don’t like messing up my ratings by not having them go 1-10 like normal but I have to make an exception here. Because while Death Triangle- and specifically Rey Fenix- are most likely the best in-ring talent in the world, the Pinnacle and MJF are the best characters in the world. MJF is so good. He just gets it. The Pinnacle’s brawl with the Inner Circle struck the absolute perfect balance between comedy and serious. Every wrestler involved contributed to this, of course, but MJF’s facial reactions and selling put the whole thing onto another level.
A bloody feud between FTR and Santana & Ortiz that encompasses the battle between the Pinnacle and Inner Circle as well as the latter’s feelings of being left behind in AEW? Yes. Give them five hours every week I don’t care. FTR needs to be on TV as much as humanly possible.
6) YOUNG BUCKS
I criticized the Bucks for months for having very wishy-washy characters. I’m not going to say that was the plan the whole time, but now the wishy-washiness is actually an integral part of their characters and it’s a brilliant move. Matt Jackson’s acting during his segment with Don Callis was as good as you will see in wrestling. The Bucks have taken the lemon of uncertain characters and turned it into the lemonade of one of the most compelling feuds in the world.
7) INNER CIRCLE
I didn’t believe the Inner Circle would be back for a few weeks to let the Pinnacle settle into AEW. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. Even now, writing these rankings hours after I saw their return, seeing Chris Jericho and the group standing in the bathroom as MJF commented on the stench puts a bright smile on my face. Many people were skeptical that this group of heels who had been the chief antagonists on TV for AEW’s entire history could believably work as babyfaces. After one ten-minute segment with the Pinnacle I am officially 100% on the Inner Circle bandwagon and I genuinely want to see them put the new group in the dirt.
8) BRITT BAKER
The mark of a great character is the ability to deliver consistently good promos. They don’t all have to be Hard Times, but even the worst should be good enough. Jon Moxley is a perfect example of this. Britt Baker has become a perfect example as well. Every time she comes on my screen I’m excited to hear what she has to say and that is not a quality many wrestlers possess.
9) DARBY ALLIN
Darby’s promo game has really improved since he’s been in AEW. As we’ve seen so many times since Dynamite began, the way you make anyone care about a match they may not feel they want is to give them two characters they do care about. We know Matt Hardy is a great promo. But Darby Allin continues to show he understands how to build character and he’s done a great job building his own. As a result, I now care about his impending match with Hardy for the TNT title even though I really didn’t care this time last week.
10) NIGHTMARE FAMILY
One thing I also hate doing in these rankings is being too reactionary. But I’ll make an exception for this one. QT Marshall has been basically a jobber involved in a weird story with the Bunny for a bit and that’s it. The Nightmare Factory trainees have been more or less the same. But in one instant I realized all of these people actually do have characters. Moreover, they’re characters I care about. QT shocked me when he dropped Arn Anderson, then you had three of his students turning on the Nightmare Family and I found myself thinking “this really makes sense.” Of course certain students would have more loyalty to QT than Cody and Dustin. And of course they’d be just as frustrated as QT about the disrespect he receives. I also want to give a special shoutout to Anthony Ogogo. While WWE has struggled to turn Baron Corbin’s “Gold Glove boxing” history into anything worthwhile, in two seconds AEW did more to build Ogogo than WWE has done in five years with Corbin. Everything about this segment was so excellent that I have to reward it.
OUT OF THE RANKINGS
THUNDER ROSA: It’s off-putting that Thunder Rosa won the biggest women’s match in the history of the company and yet she hasn’t been around for two weeks. The baby face needs to be present and when she’s not, she gets lost in the shuffle very quickly.
MIRO: I was hoping Miro would go on to win the main event this week but there were bigger stories going on with the returns of Trent and Kris Statlander. While AEW did everything they could to keep Miro strong, he was ultimately a sacrifice to what AEW deemed more important stories and that is fairly disappointing.