Wrestling Power Rankings: Top 25 WWE, AEW, Impact Wrestlers for Week of Aug. 31

Jonathan Snowden@JESnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterAugust 31, 2020

Wrestling Power Rankings: Top 25 WWE, AEW, Impact Wrestlers for Week of Aug. 31

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    Photo courtesy of WWE.com

    The return of Roman Reigns demonstrates pretty clearly that creating a professional wrestling star isn't especially hard. Just take an other-worldly handsome man, build his body until its a tribute to the gods themselves, attach one of the most iconic talkers in the history of the profession and then put him over your top talent in the main event.

    The rest takes care of itself.

    I kid—sort of. Obviously a Reigns-level talent only comes around once in a blue moon. And, even then, fans are geared to reject him out of spite.

    But fans, despite their best efforts, are malleable. They can be manipulated with very basic tricks that work nearly every time. The truth is, the formula for success in wrestling is pretty obvious and has been well known for decades now.

    Put the talent you want to get over into important matches.

    Have them win. 


    Despite this easily repeatable template, promotions struggle when it comes time to elevate new wrestlers. Hopefully, as Big E makes his climb up the ladder, WWE recalls their successes with Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar and Goldberg and does the only thing that makes sense—start strong and stay strong.

    That technique, surely, would elevate him up in our patented Bleacher Report Power Rankings in a heartbeat.

    Because of the nature of professional wrestling, winning and losing isn't the only thing that factors into the decision making here. Performance in the ring, promos, aesthetics and buzz are also key elements if a wrestler wants to establish themselves at the top of these rankings.

    It's not a list of the best and worst wrestlers. A premium spot doesn't suggest someone is better than the others they are ranked above. This, instead, is a weekly look at what's hot and what's not in the world of pro wrestling, a snapshot of the American scene as it exists at the moment.

    And nothing is hotter than success.

Tepid: 25-21

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    Photo courtesy of WWE.com

    25. Breezango

    Promotion: NXT 

    Last Week: Not Ranked

    Analysis: Neither Tyler Breeze nor Fandango managed to make a giant splash on the WWE's main roster. But, in NXT, their quirky, fun act works much better. 

    The team is placed here after winning the tag team championship over Imperium. While it's not exactly clear what the promotion has in mind for them, they can deliver both solid matches and entertaining skits. What more could you possibly want?

    24. Sami Zayn

    Promotion: SmackDown

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: I'm an unabashed Sami Zayn fan going back to his days as El Generico on the independent circuit. When healthy, he's one of the most exciting and fluid professional wrestlers of his generation. 

    That might sound absurd to WWE fans, who've mostly seen him as a comedy act. Luckily, he's good at that too. He's inserting himself into the AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy battle—and that can only help a feud that was lacking energy and verbal dexterity, two things Sami is certainly not lacking.

    23. Jeff Hardy

    Promotion: SmackDown

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: After angering the internet with a program based on his real-life issues with substance abuse, WWE has rewarded Hardy with the Intercontinental title. Zayne's inclusion (along with his alternate version of the title) will almost surely lead to a Hardy specialty—the ladder match. 

    To me, that looks like a man being set up for success.

    22. Io Shirai

    Promotion: NXT

    Last Week: 17

    Analysis: Shirai is an amazing wrestler—she proved it once again at Takeover against Dakota Kai. That battle continues to rage. Surprisingly, this week the champion was in the background of a tag match focused on Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez. 

    That's not normally where you expect to find the champ. But I'll count any appearance of Shirai as a win for fans serious about women's wrestling.

    21. Shayna Baszler/Nia Jax

    Promotion: RAW

    Last Week: Not Ranked

    Analysis: Feuding tag partners is a WWE trope, so I think we all know how this one ends. It's kind of a shame though—between Baszler's reputation as a shooter and Jax's sheer size, they have the making of a dominant team.

    Their tag title win over Bayley and Sasha Banks was pretty special. Of course, those are two of the best performers in the business. The real test comes later when they attempt to drag something out of one of the ordinary teams in the middle of the pack.

Simmering: 20-16

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    Deonna Purrazzo
    Deonna PurrazzoPhoto courtesy of Impact

    20. Darby Allin

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: Like most undercard acts, AEW has had no coherent plan for Darby Allin's career. After a big moment, he'll be relegated back to purgatory for weeks, an afterthought at best. 

    But Allin isn't willing to accept that. Over and over again, he's filmed his own artsy videos and made it a point to stay in the spotlight, even if he has to climb up a ladder and point it at himself. 

    If he makes it while others fall short, this extra effort will be why.

    19. Adam Cole

    Promotion: NXT

    Last Week: 22 

    Analysis: A week after carrying Pat McAfee to what was arguably the best celebrity match in wrestling history, Cole was rewarded with a shot at the NXT Championship in a four-way Ironman match. 

    I've seen a lot of wrestling in my life, but this will be a new one. The potential to be an incredible cluster is very, very real. But, if anyone can make it work, it's the brain trust backstage at NXT and the amazing performers in the ring. 

    18. Dominic and Rey Mysterio

    Promotion: RAW

    Last Week: 21

    Analysis: Both tag matches this week were really good matches, but the bout at Payback stands out as a particularly good piece of business. It's the rare match where every participant looked good and had a chance to shine.

    Dominic looks like a future star—and he should. After all, WWE has invested a lot of resources into the early part of his career to make that the case.

    17. Deonna Purrazzo

    Promotion: Impact

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: The Knockouts champion had fewer than 20 televised matches during her run with NXT, but has made up for lost time by immediately taking control of Impact's Knockouts division. 

    The Virtuoso's first title defense was against former champion Jordynne Grace in an Ironman match at Emergence. It was a fantastic, old-school match that allowed the champion to showcase her technical prowess. This is a wrestler worth keeping an eye on.

    16. Asuka

    Promotion: RAW

    Last Week: 3

    Analysis: Just a week after winning the RAW Women's Championship, Asuka was seemingly an afterthought. She remains one of the best wrestlers in WWE, but it isn't always easy for the promotion to find stories for her that are worthy of her immense talents.

Scorching: 15-11

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    Adam Page costs the Young Bucks a title shot.
    Adam Page costs the Young Bucks a title shot.Photo courtesy of AEW

    15.  FTR

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 16

    Analysis: FTR couldn't quite match the Young Bucks on Dynamite—at least when it came to providing fans with killer in-ring wrestling. But they did manage to win the gauntlet match to claim the number one contendership. 

    If nothing else, that means they'll finally compete with Adam Page and Kenny Omega, advancing that slow-burning story a notch after weeks stuck in neutral.

    14.  MJF

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 14

    Analysis: MJF is doing the election gimmick to predictably diminishing returns. Moxley, meanwhile, continues to ignore that entire motif completely.

    Smart man. It's the AEW version of "wear a gas mask and say the fans stink."   

    13.  Kenny Omega and Adam Page

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 18

    Analysis: Omega was missing in action on Dynamite—but Page did enough damage for three men in his brief appearance on the flagship show. After costing the Young Bucks a chance to win a title shot, he was summarily dismissed from the Elite by the two Jackson brothers.

    How will Kenny respond? Will it impact their big title match with FTR? These are the questions that have AEW fans biting their nails nervously, waiting to see how it all shakes out.

    12. Seth Rollins

    Promotion: RAW

    Last Week: 12

    Analysis: Like Adam Cole with Pat McAfee, Rollins was entrusted with making sure Dominic Mysterio's WWE debut went off with a hitch. They had a surprisingly good match at SummerSlam and continued to hold hands through Payback. It's a great way to ensure Dominic gets an opportunity to truly shine as he's introduced to the very unforgiving WWE Universe.


    11.  Keith Lee

    Promotion: RAW

    Last Week: Not Rated

    Analysis: Lee got an immediate push as he transitioned to the RAW brand after an ineffectual reign as NXT kingpin. On the flagship, he was paired with Randy Orton, on arguably the greatest run of his career artistically, and went over clean in less than ten minutes at Payback. 

    There have been a few hiccups—including an inexplicable choice to wear what appeared to be a tennis skirt out to the ring. But, while his gear may still be a work in progress, Lee most certainly is not. He's ready to rocket to the top right now. Clear the backblast area for launch!

Scalding: 10-6

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    Randy Orton clobbers Drew McIntyre
    Randy Orton clobbers Drew McIntyrePhoto courtesy of WWE.com

    10. Big E

    Promotion: WWE SmackDown

    Last Week: 23

    Analysis: If you have any doubts about Big E's ability to handle a serious storyline, check out his appearance opposite The Miz on Talking Smack. He's as passionate and compelling as ever, all while tackling difficult and sensitive subject matter.

    The man is a born star. Time to take the training wheels off and push this man into the fast lane.

    9. Chris Jericho

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 15

    Analysis: Just last week, I felt like the Orange Cassidy feud had run its course. Its continuation was unwelcome, seemingly taking a feel-good moment and dragging it out until everyone was thoroughly sick of it. 

    If we're honest, that's been pro wrestling's modus operandi for years now.

    But Jericho's appearance as an announcer on Dynamite, along with Cassidy's wild attack to close the show, breathed fresh life into a very dead horse. I'm intrigued, once again, to see what they come up with at All In.

    8. The Fiend

    Promotion: SmackDown

    Last Week: 9

    Analysis: I saw a lot of criticism of the Fiend's title match at Payback. Personally, I enjoyed the hard-hitting action between Bray and Braun Strowman. It didn't have the kind of intricate spots you'd expect from classic technicians, but it didn't really need that. The match was two meaty men slapping meat.

    The Fiend lost his Universal title after less than a week—and doesn't necessarily feel like a good fit to work an extended program with Roman Reigns right now. Perhaps, sans title belt, Fiend, Braun and Alexa Bliss can finish the story they started telling before Reigns' rude interruption?

    7. Brodie Lee

    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 11

    Analysis: Dynamite is doing a great job of capturing all of Lee's many facets. He's a great comic actor, a fearsome competitor and an unhinged manipulator—all at the same time.

    It's an act that isn't easy to pull off. But, right now, Lee seems to have hit his stride. 

    6. Randy Orton

    Promotion: RAW

    Last Week: 5

    Analysis: It was an odd week for Orton. He simultaneously destroys WWE champion Drew McIntyre with three separate punt kicks, while also putting over the new kid on the block Keith Lee.

    It's not entirely clear which program WWE intends to pursue. Perhaps Orton has the bandwidth for both? Either way, based on his stellar performances this year, we're in for a real treat.

Notable Omissions

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    Cody Rhodes has a posse.
    Cody Rhodes has a posse.Photo courtesy of AEW

    Eric Young (Impact): Still delivering on Impact. His eventual title match with Eddie Edwards will likely heat him up enough to rejoin the list.     

    AJ Styles (SmackDown): Currently tied to Jeff Hardy and Sami Zayn in a battle for two versions of the Intercontinental championship. Has the potential to leap into the fray near the top of this list whenever he's motivated and WWE has something for him.

    Braun Strowman (SmackDown): Took the pinfall (again) at Payback and seems like he's likely to get comfortable in a spot somewhere below the top for some time to come.

    Cody (AEW): Took the week off. Hopefully returns with renewed vigor and a storyline that positions him to succeed. 

    Young Bucks (AEW): I feel terrible leaving them off the list after they tore it up on Dynamite int he gauntlet match. Not sure who to blame here—hard to blame creative for a team's struggles when they are  creative.

Dropped from the Rankings

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    Karrion Kross
    Karrion KrossPhoto courtesy of WWE.com

    Pat McAfee

    Promotion: NXT

    Last Week: 10

    Reason: Went back to whatever he does when he's not wrestling.

    Sonya Deville

    Promotion: WWE SmackDown

    Last Week: 13

    Reason: Fell short in a loser leaves town match.

    Damian Priest

    Promotion: NXT

    Last Week: 19

    Reason: Waiting for something interesting from creative.

    Mandy Rose

    Promotion:  SmackDown

    Last Week: 20

    Reason: Left without her dance partner after a hot feud.

    Karrion Kross

    Promotion: NXT

    Last Week: 24

    Reason: Vacated NXT Title due to injury.

    Motor City Machine Guns

    Promotion: Impact 

    Last Week: 25

    Reason: A great team looking for a compelling new opponent.

5. Orange Cassidy

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    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 6

    Analysis: Cassidy wasn't all over AEW Dynamite the way Chris Jericho was. And that's fine. Better than fine. It wouldn't suit his character to have to work that hard.

    Instead, he saved his energy until the very end, then went flying across the stage like a lethargic, denim-clad Usain Bolt to attack Le Champion at the announce desk. 

    Wrestling isn't a complicated business. At its heart, it's two people fighting for something. 

    That's it.

    It can be for athletic supremacy, pride or out of anger. But it has to matter. When done well, you believe in the conflict and the characters. And that's the case here.

4. Drew McIntyre

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    Promotion: RAW

    Last Week: 1

    Analysis: After a great match at SummerSlam against Orton, McIntyre was subsequently dismantled by the Apex Predator on RAW. The good news is, his kayfabe injury has been downgraded from a broken skull to a hairline jaw fracture. 

    The real question is how Keith Lee, who beat Orton at Payback to defend McIntyre's honor, fits into the equation. I smell a three-way dance coming.


3. The Golden Role Models

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    Promotion: RAW/SmackDown

    Last Week: 2/4

    Analysis: I ranked Sasha Banks and Bayley together as a tag team this week as they've been focused on defending their championship.

    The duo came up short—but in the process further established themselves as the best workers in all of WWE. They made both Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax look amazing in the ring, bumping and selling like the elite wrestlers they are.

    The character work here is the best of either woman's career. Their relationship ups and downs are better than any reality show and, combined with their ring work, makes them a very special act.

2. Jon Moxley

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    Promotion: AEW

    Last Week: 7

    Analysis: The best and worst thing about Moxley is how disconnected everything he does feels from the rest of the AEW show. When the show is clicking and moving smoothly, it can be distracting to have him come in with a different energy and vibe.

    But, when the angle is bad like MJF's weird political campaign, it's refreshing to see him pretty much entirely no-sell it and do his own thing. Whatever it is he has it works. The man is a star and he's proving it despite the bad material they are saddled with here.

1. Roman Reigns

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    Photo courtesy of WWE.com

    Promotion: SmackDown

    Last Week: 8

    Analysis: There was rampant speculation that Roman Reigns would turn heel upon his return. After all, out in the wild, the fans had already turned him in their hearts. 

    But no one even imagined a pairing that immediately felt perfect—the Big Dog and Paul Heyman. 

    In a single week, Reigns has both broken the internet and taken the WWE Universal title from the Fiend. He's the top wrestler in the world. Everyone else in the race is currently looking at his tail lights as they disappear into the distance.