AEW released their latest rankings (Aug. 11, 2021). Let’s check out the movers and shakers.
To no surprise, Christian Cage is the new #1. It was announced during Dynamite last week after his win over Blade. Christian only has six wins, but the quality of competition is solid. Mr. Peep churned out victories over Frankie Kazarian, Will Hobbs, Matt Sydal, Angelico, Matt Hardy, and Blade. A date with Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship should be announced soon.
The previous #1 was Jungle Boy. He dropped to #4 after ramping up his tag team record with Luchasaurus. Darby Allin and Orange Cassidy both moved up one spot accordingly.
Kris Statlander and Tay Conti swapped spots with the alien rising to #2 from #4. The super secret rankings panel must have determined Statlander’s victory over Leila Grey was more impressive than Conti defeating Robyn Renegade. Statlander also jumped Red Velvet, who earned victories over Renee Michelle and Skyler Moore.
Velvet is next in line for a title shot. She will have her opportunity to win gold from Dr. Britt Baker DMD on the debut of Rampage this Friday night. Statlander has a chance to cement her status as top contender by competing against Nyla Rose tonight on Dynamite. A win by Statlander could result in a coveted PPV slot against the champ for All Out on September 5.
The tag team division has been shaken all around this week. Jurassic Express emerged as the new #1. Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus unexpectedly moved up from #4 to #1 with wins over D3 & Ryzin and Carlie Bravo & Cyrus.
The Varsity Blonds dropped from the top spot down to #2 after spending the past few weeks in 6-man and 8-man action. Private Party moved up from #3 to #5 with a win over Chuck Taylor & Wheeler Yuta. The Lucha Bros broke in to the top 5 at #4. In a case of ‘what have you done for me lately,’ FTR takes one week off after a strong win over Santana & Ortiz, and they dropped from #3 to #5. At least the Lucha Bros have an arguable case to hop over FTR. Fenix and Pentagon picked up three wins over Jake St. Patrick & Sage Scott, Cezar Bononi & JD Drake, and Matt Sydal & Mike Sydal. Triumphing against the Sydal brothers is not as impressive as beating Santana & Ortiz, but it is nothing to sneeze at either.
The most shocking development is the mysterious absence of The Acclaimed. Max Caster & Anthony Bowens were strongly entrenched at #2 and had been feuding with Brian Pillman Jr. & Griff Garrison for numero uno. The abrupt ouster from the top 5 would seem to lend credence to rumors of backstage issues with Caster and his salacious raps.
While it is interesting to see major changes in the tag team division, I think the larger takeaway is that AEW is doing a poor job at building contenders. Jurassic Express has the inside track to a title shot, and they had zero adversity along the way.
AEW created no reason to get excited for Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus rising up to challenge the cocky champion Young Bucks. Why should I believe Jurassic Express is a serious threat for a title change? Jurassic Express’ last TV win as a duo on Dynamite was back in April against Bear County as part of the Godzilla vs. Kong film promotion. The matchup is fine on paper, and I’m sure it will rock the ring. However, AEW is robbing us of the journey to get emotionally invested in Jurassic Express trying to knock off one of the greatest tag teams of all-time. That storytelling connection is what can elevate an enjoyable match to an epic match. Sadly, AEW isn’t delivering on that aspect. There was the same issue with SCU’s last hurrah.
AEW also dropped the ball in regard to the value of being #1. There are two primary reasons to be ranked at the top. One is to challenge for the title. The other is to be used as a stepping stone in a loss to create momentum for a future contender. The Blonds have been #1 for numerous weeks, and they fell out unceremoniously. Perhaps plans changed with the hushed Max Caster situation, but AEW should have pivoted to having Jurassic Express wrestle the Blonds instead. There is no need to protect Pillman & Garrison from defeat, since they are obviously not the choice to dethrone the Bucks. It’s too late to book the match now, because it feels like going through the motions to justify Jurassic Express as #1.
Do you agree with AEW’s rankings this week? If not, what would you change?