WINTER IS COMING... AND SO ARE THE FACTIONS!
This week on Dynamite we found out the special tagline attached to the World Championship match, we saw a classic boys night out in Vegas and we experienced the horrendous booking of the women once again. 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 let’s see how things line up!
1) KENNY OMEGA
Omega and Moxley are on a collision course for what appears to be a Game of Thrones themed Dynamite for the World Championship. But after Moxley turned up incapacitated before their contract signing while Omega was still in the ring, the plot of “The Cleaner’s” impending return thickens. Omega, as always plays this off beautifully, cutting a semi-heel promo on Mox. What else is there to say? When Omega is on our screens we have our eyes glued to every little thing he does and that’s what being the best is all about.
1a) JON MOXLEY
Yes I’m making an executive decision to not disrespect Moxley by putting him a full spot below Omega. While Omega is still better in the ring, Moxley’s promos are emotional, intense, verbose and absolutely riveting. While Omega makes a match against a broom interesting, Moxley can make an angle with a puppy feel like the biggest deal in the world. Both Mox and Omega are contributing to the huge fight feel of this angle which is why, to me, they’re basically on the same level.
3) YOUNG BUCKS
The Bucks didn’t do a whole lot of character work this week but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead we got to see more evidence why the Bucks are one of the best tag teams in the world in the ring. They made Top Flight look like a million bucks and put them over afterword with the classy victory celebration. It’ll be very interesting to see if the Bucks continue with the heel turn they’ve hinted at considering commentary and Top Flight put Nick and especially Matt over as generous executives and willing mentors.
Maxwell continues to climb even without being in a match which is just a testament to how effective he is. He is the best comedy promo in wrestling right now but he’s equally adept at getting heat. What can you say? He’s the best heel in America right now.
I’ll use this entry to explain that my rankings have a memory; meaning an entry actually has to work its way out of the rankings, I won’t just drop a team because they’re idle. FTR is still one of the best teams in the world, but since quality of booking is part of my criteria and they’re… not- they drop a spot.
6) DEATH TRIANGLE
Now that they group has returned it seems fitting to combine all three men since it seems their rivalry with Eddie Kingston’s family will involve all three as a team. The Lucha Brothers are introducing thousands of Americans to Mexican lucha libre style and they do it so well and PAC is just a world-class competitor and a brilliant promo. This team makes a lot of sense to me in terms of how they’re booked and their story and I’m just excited to see how they develop.
7) DARBY ALLIN
Unlike Cody, Darby Allin is a perfect TV champion: he absorbs more offense than anyone in the company and he’s so good at getting sympathy for it. His rivalry with Team Taz just became more compelling after Will Hobbs’s heel turn- meaning Allin has yet another massive man to overcome- and his promos are the perfect mix of mysterious and compelling.
8) TEAM TAZ
Like Death Triangle, Team Taz seems to be in a feud as a team so they get ranked as a team. What’s great about this group is the variety: Taz is a top flight talker, Starks is a great technical wrestler, Cage is the athletic big man and now Hobbs is the straight up muscle. Each one of these guys can make a match compelling in a different way and that’s exactly what you want from a stable like this.
9) EDDIE KINGSTON
Kingston drops a few spots here because his booking took a really bad turn this week. In a way, I understand why: Death Triangle started just weeks before the pandemic stopped PAC from being able to participate, Kingston was white hot when he debuted so might as well have him start a stable. But we’ve gone from Penta and Fenix ripping each other’s sacred masks off at the behest of Kingston to suddenly they’re a team again and Kingston looks like a total dope. He’s still a great promo, but now that the Family has lost two of the best in ring competitors in the world, Kingston’s own in ring shortcomings will be on more display.
10) INNER CIRCLE
I went back and forth on this decision and ultimately I allowed Inner Circle into the rankings not because they have one collective story, but because they are all embroiled in intertwining stories. Sammy and Ortiz hate MJF, Jericho and MJF seem to be on track for a possible Jericho retirement angle and Wardlow and Hager have not stopped hinting at the possibility of their car crash match somewhere down the road. The Inner Circle was the first true stable in AEW and they’re still going strong with now six of the best wrestlers in the company and they should be recognized for that.
OUT OF THE RANKINGS
HIKARU SHIDA: I’m so sick of AEW’s terrible booking of women. Shida remains one of the best female wrestlers on the planet but she is booked so terribly that I actually dread whenever she gets on screen. AEW books another company’s championship better and more frequently than their own and now Shida’s next challenger has a mouthpiece more interesting than her. The whole thing is sad and AEW needs to figure out its booking of women for any of them to touch these rankings again.