AEW POWER RANKINGS POST-12/16
After a week off of the rankings, I may as well have missed a year. In the last two weeks, Kenny Omega and Don Callis have basically started a partnership between the two biggest non-WWE promotions in the country, the Young Bucks have single handedly raised several teams from “just there” to Dynamite talent and Cody is having a kid. Yes the world of wrestling moves at a mile a minute but how does that affect power rankings designed to put it all in perspective? Let’s find out…
1) KENNY OMEGA
There are in ring stars, there are global superstars, and then there are people who change the business altogether. For over a decade it’s been understood Kenny Omega is maybe the best athlete on the planet and one of if not the best in ring technician there is. Since he joined Bullet Club in Japan, he’s been a global name to anyone even tangentially related to wrestling. But now after inspiring Tony Khan to star AEW and then jumpstarting the biggest wrestling crossover since the late 90s, Kenny Omega will go down with the names of men who completely changed the business. Omega can have duds in matches for the next year (which he won’t) and his impact on the business will never be forgotten.
2) YOUNG BUCKS
For so many, and probably many of you reading this, when AEW started there was a very common pessimistic view that “The Elite”- Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes- would use it is a vehicle for backstage politics rather than to grow a great wrestling company. Well we’ve already discussed Kenny, but the Bucks are doing the same thing on a smaller scale. Look at the teams who were at the top of the division when Dynamite started: SCU, Lucha Bros, Dark Order, Bucks, Kenny and Hangman, Jericho and Hager. Now look at the teams who have taken center stage in the last few months: FTR, Best Friends, The Acclaimed, Top Flight, TH2.The Bucks are helping build the next generation of tag team wrestlers and they’re teams of all different kinds. The Bucks deserve credit not only for being one of the best teams in the world- which they are- but also for creating the next generation of the world’s best teams.
3) JON MOXLEY
Mox has done nothing wrong and he is still the second best singles wrestler on the planet in my opinion. He’s been away since losing the World Title to Omega and hasn’t been here while Omega and the Bucks have changed AEW and the wrestling business. But when he comes back he may very well do the same…
4) INNER CIRCLE
Let it not go unnoticed that, while the Young Bucks have introduced many of the teams who are on the ascendant, Chris Jericho has also put the next generation over time and time again. And now the Inner Circle will get another chance to do that against Top Flight this week. Jericho’s group has mastered storytelling within a faction and every week it keeps me more and more engaged.
It’s easy to see where FTR get the inspiration for their latest storyline. It’s long been a point of discussion that Vince McMahon abhors tag team wrestling and has hurt countless great teams because of that. FTR was forced out of WWE and were humiliated on their way out the door. Now, their insistence that they are the ones to restore respect to the AEW tag team division hits both as a kayfabe story and as a real reflection of FTR’s journey in wrestling. These are always the best stories, and as FTR continues to play more into it I expect them to climb even higher on these rankings.
6) DEATH TRIANGLE
Great characters. Great wrestlers. That’s what a faction is about and that’s exactly what Death Triangle is all about. The prospect of seeing Fenix vs Omega on Christmas Eve actually has me smiling like the Cheshire Cat at my computer. Pac is one of the most underrated promos in wrestling and the more he gets to work with Kenny Omega the better. Somehow, Death Triangle is involved in two storylines simultaneously, both are compelling and that’s what being a great faction is about.
7) DARBY ALLIN
The parallels between Darby Allin and Sting are obvious and I’m not just talking about the face paint. For 18 months in 1996 and ’97, Sting got mega-over by sitting in the rafters and looking intimidating. I found myself, on this episode of Dynamite, liking Darby Allin more than I did last week just by seeing him make eye contact with Sting from the nose bleeds. Allin possesses the rare quality of being likeable even if he’s not doing anything, and that is not a quality that should be wasted.
8) TEAM TAZ
Team Taz is the most inconsistent entry on this list. And it’s the one stable you wouldn’t expect to be. Taz is maybe the most consistently great promo in AEW, Brian Cage can have great matches with broken vertebrae, Will Hobbs is the hottest up and coming talent in the company and Ricky Starks is just consistent across the board. Unfortunately, the stories Team Taz are a part of are wildly inconsistent. When they hit, they hit. But, like this week, when the whole team is made to look like a bunch of fools by basically begging Sting to come back out to the ring in the exact same fashion he had the previous two weeks, the group stops working. Not to say this will continue, but this is a weekly ranking and so I have to go by what I see this week.
9) ORANGE CASSIDY
Last rankings I said “less is more with Orange Cassidy” and that continues to be true. The reality is every time Orange Cassidy is on my screen I enjoy it. He’s created a brilliant gimmick: he basically cannot move out of these rankings because the less I see him the more I like him. In a business that has always been defined by larger than life muscle heads and stage performances too over-the-top for traditional theater, Orange Cassidy has mastered the art of subtlety, a skill I wish more wrestlers would take on today.
10) BEST FRIENDS
I’ve separated Best Friends from Orange Cassidy because they’re involved in different stories for the most part. While they do intertwine, their characters are far different and I enjoy Best Friends for a different reason than I enjoy Orange Cassidy. Best Friends are a more traditional tag team but they’re good at what they do. They’re smooth in the ring, they’re both solid promos and they are very reliable tag wrestlers in any feud. This should be admired and appreciated in a time where tag team wrestling quality varies wildly all over the world.
OUT OF THE RANKINGS
EDDIE KINGSTON: Kingston’s booking has been a mess as of late with weird brawls and nonsensical promos defining him and the Family. Even Kingston’s single promos, which you can almost always count on to be the best promos of the night, can only go about 30 seconds before one of the ten thousand wrestlers involved in this story get involved. Kingston would be most effective as a manager for one single wrestler, a Jake Roberts type whose venomous words help add extra heat to any wrestler. In this junk yard of a feud involving the Family, Kingston’s unique skills have gotten lost.