Pro Wrestling Power Rankings: Which stars have shined brightest thus far in 2024? (2024)

  • ESPN

Jul 5, 2024, 08:45 AM ET

There's been a significant power shift in the world of pro wrestling in 2024.

Roman Reigns' stranglehold on the Undisputed WWE Championship finally ended at WrestleMania XL when Cody Rhodes emphatically finished the story. In Reigns' absence, The Bloodline has retooled, with Solo Sikoa rising to the Head of the Table alongside new members Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa and Jacob Fatu. Damian Priest finally cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to become World Heavyweight Champion. At the same time, Bayley and Liv Morgan struck championship gold with each offering a change in character.

Over in AEW, Swerve Strickland's star turn has arrived, as he captured the world championship and has done nothing but excel with the company's biggest prize. Mercedes Moné made her AEW debut in 2024 and has had an immediate impact. MJF's return from injury has put the entire industry on notice, while The Young Bucks reminded wrestling fans why they are one of the best tag teams in the world.

The past year has seen an overhaul across nearly every wrestling promotion. Whether it be familiar faces in new places (CM Punk), new faces rising to the occasion (Damian Priest) or injuries opening the door for a shakeup in the pecking order (Rhea Ripley), the business continues to be white hot. So, where do top wrestlers, tag teams and factions stand in ESPN's latest power rankings? Also, who is the favorite to be atop the mountain at the end of the year? Andreas Hale, Brandon Caldwell and Mike Coppinger break it all down.

(Editor's note: ESPN's voting panel consisted of Hale, Caldwell, Coppinger, Bob McClellan, Dan Thompson, James Rizzo, Shane Palma, Brandon Caldwell, Marc Raimondi, Marcus Vanderberg, Arda Ocal, Sach Chandan, Kendall K. Howard and Eddie Maisonet)

Bayley finds a way to No. 1

Hale: Rhea Ripley would have run away with the vote if this poll had been taken three months ago. However, her injury -- a sprained ​​AC joint connecting her collarbone and right shoulder -- left the door open for a new woman to ascend to the No. 1 spot, with Bayley squeezing past Toni Storm to sit atop the rankings. It speaks to Bayley's ability to find new ways to gain momentum and her endearing status as the WWE's perennial underdog.

Interestingly, Bayley's former Damage CTRL stable member, IYO SKY, sat atop our power rankings in November. But Bayley started 2024 on fire when she won the Royal Rumble from the No. 3 spot -- setting a record for time spent in the women's Royal Rumble match at 1:03:03 -- and then her separation from Damage CTRL solidified her long-awaited babyface turn.

Bayley's true superstar talent might be her ring generalship. She capitalized on her Royal Rumble momentum by winning the WWE Women's Championship at WrestleMania XL and securing a successful title defense at Backlash in a triple threat against Naomi and Tiffany Stratton. In both matches, she was crisp, she sold and she made fans believe throughout her matches.

Who could supplant Bayley for No. 1 by the end of the year? AEW's top stars will have a say in the conversation as Mercedes Moné picks up steam as TBS champion. Moreover, Toni Storm continues to shine with her "Timeless" gimmick and Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. made her highly anticipated return to action. But WWE's women's division has been outstanding, with Bianca Belair leading the charge along with a new crop of women -- Tiffany Stratton, Lyra Valkyria, Jade Cargill, Roxanne Perez, Sol Ruca and Lola Vice -- ready to take the next step. But the looming return of Ripley will certainly shake the table and -- outside of Roman Reigns -- is the most anticipated return in pro wrestling. Once she's back, all bets are off.

Women's top ten: Bayley, 43; Toni Storm, 42; Jordynne Grace, 27; Mercedes Mone, 22; Bianca Belair, 19; Liv Morgan, 19; Willow Nightengale, 10; Mayu Iwatani, 7; Roxanne Perez, 6; Rhea Ripley, 5.

How Cody Rhodes became the industry standard

Caldwell: The coronation of Rhodes at WrestleMania XL will live in WWE lore. A triumphant babyface who overcame the odds to win and a wrestler who helped weave together decades of WWE storytelling to wrap his story -- the Rhodes' generational journey toward pro wrestling's biggest prize. The last man standing on the biggest night in wrestling is typically viewed as No. 1 -- and that man on a cold April night in Philadelphia was "The American Nightmare."

Even with one of the more chaotic roads to 'Mania in recent memory, Rhodes stayed the course, endearing himself to fans even more. Even when The Rock hinted he'd return to challenge him for his newly won WWE title, Rhodes stood tall and established himself as one of the WWE's all-time aces. In his first two title defenses, he told a story of respect and resolve with AJ Styles at Backlash. At Money In The Bank, he resumes his feud with The Bloodline, albeit a more dangerous version helmed by Solo Sikoa.

Becoming the man was always Rhodes' goal. Once upon a time, he looked up at other men occupying the top spot in wrestling, including Reigns. Now, Rhodes is one of the most beloved faces of his generation, something which seemed far-fetched when he returned in 2023 at WrestleMania 38.

Who could supplant Rhodes for No. 1 by the end of the year?

Rhodes may have been the story for the first half of 2024, but the name who could supplant him to close out the year is the man who has set almost every match-of-the-year list on fire every time he steps in the ring: Will Ospreay.

Despite a setback coming at the hands of Swerve Strickland, Ospreay has made it his mission to redefine what it means to be the best wrestler in the world. The only thing missing from his banner year is winning the AEW world title, which feels like a matter of when, not if.

Men's top ten: Cody Rhodes, 61; Will Ospreay, 48; Swerve Strickland, 18; Gunther, 15; Drew McIntyre, 14; Jon Moxley, 11; Bryan Danielson, 10; Damian Priest, 6; Kazuchika Okada, 5; MJF, 4.

Best tag team: The Young Bucks gain control their way

Caldwell: AEW's executive vice presidents needed a pivot.

When it came to how they presented themselves in AEW, Matt and Nick Jackson stuck to being one of the best tag teams in the world -- independent darlings who became global sensations. Being simply Matt and Nick worked until it didn't.

Once they were tabbed as Sting's final opponents in January 2024, the once colorful Bucks looked like smarmy '80s TV villains, wrestling in vests, donning thick mustaches and preferred people to call them by their full names. Instead of shying away from their executive vice president status, Matthew and Nicholas Jackson boldly decided to lean into it, reshaping the mold of on-screen authority figures and turning it up beyond belief.

Every antic thus far in 2024 has been a success, from their constant meddling in TV production to the re-establishment of Jack Perry, the assault of Tony Khan on an episode of "Dynamite," and their meme-worthy moments during Anarchy In The Arena in May's Double or Nothing PPV. When the Bucks recaptured the AEW tag titles in April, it defined them as AEW's top tag team and made them the most vilified heels in the company.

Who could supplant The Young Bucks for No. 1 by the end of the year?

For the last four years, the Young Bucks, FTR, and The Usos have rotated the title of the best tag team in the world. However, while FTR seems firmly entrenched as the Bucks' 1A in AEW, Finn Balor and JD McDonagh are the current best case for No. 1 overall.

Since McDonagh became a permanent member of Judgement Day, the group has further established itself as a critical component of every Monday Night Raw. Regaining the tag titles gives them a boost and should any potential coup occur in Judgement Day, Balor and McDonagh figure to be right in the mix to have a say in who truly has control on Mondays.

Tag team top ten: The Young Bucks, 65; FTR, 39; Finn Balor and JD McDonagh, 25; Nathan Frazer and Axiom, 9; A-Town Down Under, 8; Bianca Belair and Jade Cargill, 8; DIY, 8; The Street Profits, 7; House of Black, 6; The Acclaimed, 6.

Best faction: Why The Bloodline are still No. 1

Hale: The Bloodline started 2024 with Roman Reigns, The Rock, Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa and is currently led by Sikoa with newcomers Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa and Jacob Fatu. Regardless of the iteration, The Bloodline has been the most dominant force in professional wrestling. Heading into WrestleMania, The Rock and Reigns were undeniable and took down eventual Undisputed Champion Cody Rhodes on Night 1. Questions could've been raised concerning Reigns and Rock taking an indefinite hiatus following the Showcase of the Immortals. However, those concerns were quelled once Sikoa muscled his way into the Head of the Table (along with a more defined speaking role) and recruited new family members to the stable.

The addition of Fatu has made this stable arguably more frightening than the previous version. The Bloodline has become a hybrid of the early NWO and the Four Horsem*n. No matter who is in the group, their power is indisputable.

Who could supplant The Bloodline for No. 1 by the end of the year?

The Bloodline will likely reign supreme by the end of the year. However, the question will be which version of the faction as a Bloodline Civil War is almost certain to occur later this year. Roman Reigns' pending return will kick off a family feud and he will likely be joined by original members The Usos and possibly Sami Zayn in what may end up being the best feud of the year.

Faction top ten: The Bloodline, 59; The Judgment Day, 48; The Elite, 38; Blackpool Combat Club, 24; Don Callis Family, 8; Wyatt Sicks, 6; Bang Bang Gang, 5; Damage CTRL, 5; House of Black, 5; Los Ingobernables de Japon, 3.

Pro Wrestling Power Rankings: Which stars have shined brightest thus far in 2024? (2024)
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