I have not been a wrestling fan very long- about two years in fact. For my entire life I had sneered at professional wrestling, hurling the same kinds of inaccurate jabs and strawman arguments we as fans are so used to hearing. I had my mind changed two years ago, I opened my eyes to a sport I now consider my passion. This week’s Dynamite reminded me why I love pro wrestling so much. And it reminded me why I look forward to doing these rankings (almost) every week. So let’s talk about the show and how the rankings stack up.
1) KENNY OMEGA
There should be an international law mandating Kenny Omega and Rey Fenix wrestle on every show anywhere for the rest of time. Those two men deliver more magic in the ring than Chris Angel and Pen and Teller in the Kingdom of Camelot. Omega is an almost perfect character and he churns out world class matches like it comes as natural as walking. He’s compelling, his stories are dramatic and his matches are legendary. He’s one of the greatest wrestlers that ever lived and he’s the undisputed greatest wrestler on earth right now.
2) JON MOXLEY
While Kenny Omega and Rey Fenix were putting on gazillion-star performances in the ring, Jon Moxley was busy with the small matter of facilitating the first ever crossover between New Japan and AEW. Yes Mox has been IWGP US Champion for months now but after the pandemic shut down travel, Moxley has been unable to get to Japan to defend his title. In his absence, KENTA has treated his US Championship challenger briefcase like it were the title itself. Mox threw the first shot on New Japan Strong, attacking KENTA on the show but there’s very little news there. But when KENTA showed up on AEW… there’s some news there. Oh yeah… Mox is also a world class wrestler and the best promo in the business. That too.
3) DEATH TRIANGLE
I’m sorry, I try not to be too reactionary with these rankings. But after three straight weeks of absolutely brilliant, jaw-dropping matches featuring both PAC and Rey Fenix, I couldn’t possibly overlook these guys any longer. They don’t lack promo skills at all and all three men are among the best wrestlers in the world right now. See my entry on Kenny Omega. Put these guys in matches every week and we’ll all be happy.
4) YOUNG BUCKS
The Young Bucks shouldn’t have to remind us every week that they’re one of the best tag teams in the last 20 years but often they do when they’re booked in matches. The only problem with the Young Bucks now is they don’t know what they want to be. They seemed to turn face a couple weeks ago after being tossed aside by Kenny Omega but they were buddy-buddy with the Good Brothers just a week later. If they can get their characters under control, they’ll rise in these rankings again.
“We’re not bad guys, but sometimes we have to ask ourselves ‘what do bad guys do?’” What a great villain promo. Not over-dramatic, scary and intimidating in equal measure and evil enough to illicit real hatred. What started as a seemingly throwaway feud with an obvious ending between FTR and Jurassic Express is now one of the most compelling things on this show every week.
Unfortunately for MJF, he had a bit part in one of the best wrestling shows in the last two years. But like I say every week, I genuinely enjoy every second MJF is on screen. The man is admirable for his commitment to his gimmick and his understanding of psychology and he’s slowly creating one of the best faction storylines we’ve seen in America since the late 90s.
7) INNER CIRCLE
Yes you heard me right: the Inner Circle storyline is shaping up to be one of the best in this country since the nWo. Why? Because faction storylines are great when each individual has a storyline but the group itself is following one grand plot. The story of Sammy beginning to turn on the group, the ever-present danger that the snake MJF presents, the impending Tag Team Title match at Revolution and the cracks forming between Wardlow and Hagar all under the umbrella of the Inner Circle trying to get back on its feet after Chris Jericho lost his title is a true feat of writing.
8) DARBY ALLIN
Allin is one of the few believable underdog babyfaces in wrestling. He doesn’t have to say much to be heard but now he’s got Sting to say much for him. Darby puts on good matches every time he’s out, he’s telling a different story as champion than Cody Rhodes and Brodie Lee and he’s intensely likeable.
9) THUNDER ROSA
A few weeks ago, I put Thunder Rosa in these rankings because she has a story and she’s a great worker. Well now she’s got a great story where she and Britt Baker can show their character and how great they are in the ring. Their feud is far from over, and with both women lining up to take part in the exciting new Women’s World Title Eliminator, we can be sure we’ll see a lot more of them soon.
10) BRITT BAKER
They say patience pays off. Oh boy has it. Baker went from one of the most confusing and disappointing characters at the beginning of AEW to now one of the most developed and entertaining characters in the whole company. While Rebel’s involvement is sometimes cringey, it’s often funny and tells a story. Baker is a tremendous wrestler and now boasts the best character of any woman in AEW right now. Hopefully the recent monumental jumps in storytelling in the women’s division are evidence we are moving towards the best women’s division the company has ever had.
OUT OF THE RANKINGS
TEAM TAZ: It’s finally too much. Every week for months Team Taz interrupted a promo by some babyface only to get shut down by Sting. I thought they had turned a corner with the beatdown on merch stand workers last week but here we were, once again, with Taz yelling into a camera, Starks basically repeating him and the other three just being there. Get them in the ring now. Because this tired trope needs something to shake it up.