HEAT HEAT HEAT!
AEW POWER RANKINGS POST-1/13
Kenny Omega proves he’s one of the best character workers in the world, PAC proves he’s one of the best worker workers in the world and Darby Allin proves he’s one of the best underdog workers in the world. But where do all three of these men end up on these rankings?? Let’s discuss…
1) KENNY OMEGA
One of the hardest things to get right as a heel is dislikeability. Even some of the best heels of all time were extremely well loved by the fans who were supposed to hate them. But this week Omega and Don Callis absolutely nailed their moment to turn up the total contempt we all have for them. While the Young Bucks may have turned heel (twice) in the last few months, they’re still very well liked. Watching Matt and Nick realize Kenny lied through his teeth to them and seeing how little he actually thinks of them just makes your blood boil. There’s nothing more contemptable than treating old friends like pawns and Kenny did that as well as anyone in the business.
2) YOUNG BUCKS
See entry #1. The Bucks can play both heel and face and bring in the emotion either way. They were once criticized for being spot monkeys and having no stories to tell. Well here’s a story folks, and the brewing tension between them and the Good Brothers is as riveting as any in the world.
3) JON MOXLEY
Nine times out of ten, a babyface deliberately running into a ring where three of the most dangerous men in the world lie in wait makes me absolutely tear my hair out. But Moxley’s character work for the last two years has made that particular decision make more sense for him than anyone else. Mox is a master of physical storytelling and every time he’s on screen I’m glued to my television.
MJF is so good at what he does he will stay as a separate entry from the Inner Circle until further notice. I say it every week: he just gets it. Even during a segment that wasn’t my cup of tea (we’ll talk about that shortly) MJF made it make sense, he made it fun and he made himself hateable as always.
I’ve said it several times so far in these rankings: heat is absolutely crucial to making great heels. Good, genuine heat can make up for many deficiencies in the ring. However, FTR doesn’t have deficiencies in the ring and they generate excellent heat. Everything they do is so smooth and they’re so intolerably arrogant while they do it.
6) DARBY ALLIN
This man should not be doing the things he does. I don’t think human bodies were made to do the things Darby Allin does. But if he insists on destroying his own body for our entertainment, then the least I can do is give him the credit he deserves. Underdog baby faces are hit or miss for me; I’ve said before I don’t buy it when giant muscle heads get beaten up for ten minutes. But when it’s Darby I absolutely buy it and I hang on every single thing he does. His match finishes are innovative, they tell a great story and the matches themselves, while hard to watch on account of the constant cringing at the bumps he takes, are so entertaining.
7) DEATH TRIANGLE
PAC is one of the best wrestlers on earth. By himself he’d be easily in the top three in almost any other company on the planet. Then add on one of the most influential tag teams of the last decade and you get a stable as good as any in the world. PAC pulled a potential match of the night out of a man who dropped out of these rankings specifically because of his deficiencies as a worker. PAC blends effortless athleticism with a brutal strike-based style that is so satisfying to watch. We need him in more matches. Period.
8) INNER CIRCLE
When you do comedy, you’re only as good as your jokes. It sounds obvious, but in wrestling that statement holds even more true than in the world of standup. Unfortunately for the Inner Circle, as funny as Chris Jericho consistently is, their New Year’s resolution segment didn’t hit. It felt cringeworthy at times and was too scripted to make me care. The story of Proud and Powerful being angry that they’re not the designated tag team of the group makes sense but we got no explanation for why the former #1 contenders haven’t gotten near the tag division in months. The Circle may bounce back next week, however, that’s the nature of the stories they tell.
9) TEAM TAZ
Taz is great on commentary, Brian Cage is great in the ring. Sometimes, storytelling doesn’t need to be any more complex than that. Cage beat the holy hell out of Darby Allin for 15 minutes but lost in a believable way. For the first week in two months Team Taz has done something different and it worked!
10) THUNDER ROSA
There hasn’t been a woman in these rankings for over two months which is a scathing indictment of AEW’s booking of its women’s division. And in all fairness, Thunder Rosa’s story with Britt Baker isn’t the best out there by far. But it exists and it resembles many stories I’ve seen in wrestling in the past. Thunder Rosa is undoubtedly one of the top female workers on the planet, so as long as she’s got a story she can stay in these rankings.
OUT OF THE RANKINGS
ORANGE CASSIDY: I feel the same way about Cassidy that I do about the Inner Circle. When Cassidy’s comedy doesn’t hit, he’s far less entertaining. Watching him look on helplessly as Miro absolutely dominated his partner didn’t elicit the same reaction Orange usually gets out of me. I hope a match with either Miro or Kip Sabian is in Cassidy’s future because that’s where he really thrives.