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The Rankings Recap 12.29.21: AEW Rankings Discussion On Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, More

December 31, 2021 | Posted by Andrew Cazer
AEW Rankings

AEW’s ranking system has been polarizing for fans and pundits alike since its inception. It has notoriously left out superstars that many felt were deserving with no official explanation indicating why. It’s been implied that strength of schedule has a big say in where a superstar ranks but still at times it appears to be a bit of a crapshoot from week to week.

Since AEW began I have been a firm supporter of their rankings system. While they’re far from perfect they create a nice consistent format for fans to follow and get an idea of who’s ‘up next’ so to speak. I do wish that they had something of a weekly breakdown to give fans more of an understanding of why the rankings are how they are but it’s nice to have that weekly talking point regardless. You know what they say though, if you want something done sometimes you’ve gotta do it yourself. So weekly I’ll take a look at one of AEW’s set of rankings and try to give my interpretation of why certain wrestlers are ranked and who were the snubs.

We will review strength of schedule, overall win loss as well as prime time exposure. A win over a weekly competitor like Chuck Taylor on Dynamite is likely to be more significant than a win over a local talent on Dark. Hopefully we can find some consistency in the rankings but of course, I’m open to the idea that this could further expose the issues in the rankings. We will only focus on one division per week primarily because often week to week there’s little movement so if we’re looking at each division once every three weeks it’ll give us more to discuss.

As the new year approaches AEW will plan to reset their win/loss records as they did last year. Now over two years in existence some superstars are starting to tally quite the overall record. We’re seeing talent like Jungle Boy work over 100 matches yet Sammy Guevara is just at 58. While the win/loss records will reset in the coming days it’s worth noting that AEW’s rankings remained pretty much the same following the reset last year until things began to significantly shake up.

Let’s take a look at the men’s singles rankings for the week of 12/29/21.
Last week there was no official rankings update and it seemed we might not get any update until the new year. That was clearly not the case as they released potentially the final set of rankings for the year just before Dynamite. AEW has released rankings on Friday’s after Rampage so we may see one final set of rankings before the year ends.

There was quite the shakeup in the rankings as Cody Rhodes became the new TNT champion so we have a new champion listed but we also saw two former champions drop off the rankings. Kenny Omega and Miro were both in the top five as of the week of December 15th but likely due to both being off tv for several weeks they both slipped off the rankings.

AEW Rankings [12.29.2021]

Thoughts on Scorpio Sky? He literally grabbed the brass ring. Is he capable of becoming a main event guy? If yes what do you think it would take to get there? :

5. Scorpio Sky 12-1:
Scorpio Sky saw himself slip two spots on the rankings and I think that’s more than fair, Sky hasn’t really don’t much since mid-November when his team lost to The Inner Circle at Full Gear. Despite that he’s been one of the top five ranked superstars so really he’s fortunate to be ranked at all. It’s likely his strong 12-1 singles record has helped maintain that ranking but it’s not really that impressive. Sky is someone worth really questioning how they’re even ranked. Sky hasn’t recorded a singles victory on Dynamite all of 2021. He did win the face of the revolution ladder match but that was all the way in March of 2021. In June he and Ethan page beat Darby in a handicap match but Ethan recorded the pinfall. In their six-man tag match on Rampage with Junior Dos Santos against the Inner Circle, Ethan scored the pinfall over Jericho. Sky did pin Jake Hager in their tag match at Rampage Grandslam but outside of that, he’s been relatively quiet. Initially, I was wondering why Page would get a TNT title shot over Sky, and it’s still questionable but Page has been a bit more relevant over the last few months. Sky’s gonna need to do more for me to think he deserves to be ranked going into 2022.

4. Jungle Boy (17-3):
Jungle Boy has been on quite the run over the last few months. Since suffering a singles loss to Adam Cole on September 29th and a tag team loss to the Elite in an eight-man tag a week later Jungle Boy has not lost. He’s helped defeat The Young Bucks and Adam Cole at Full Gear, he’s beaten Bobby Fish and Isaiah Kassidy over the last few months on Rampage and even had a solid singles match with Bowens which Jungle Boy won. Unlike Scorpio Sky a majority of Jungle Boy’s victories have been on national TV and he’s been very prominently featured over the last few months.

3. Wardlow (16-2):
You could argue Wardlow should’ve been ranked for weeks now if Sky’s been ranked since early November. This is where strength of opponent has to come into play. Wardlow broke back into the top five following his victory over Matt Sydal at Winter is Coming two weeks ago. Since then Wardlow recorded yet another quick singles victory over Shawn Dean. Dean isn’t much but Sydal was a significant victory and Wardlow is winning in quick and impressive fashion. Now that Wardlow is getting legitimate opponents it’s easy to see him move up the rankings and maybe see a title shot sooner than later.

AEW Rampage Highlights: Bobby Fish & Adam Cole vs. Best Friends, More | 411MANIA

2. Adam Cole (6-0):
Adam Cole doesn’t have the most wins overall but his strength of schedule is likely what has propelled him right into the top 2. Last week he picked up a victory over Orange Cassidy who was just ranked a few weeks ago. All of Cole’s six singles victories have come over worthwhile opponents and only one was not on national tv. His win last week makes him a reasonable championship contender but I do wish he could’ve eased his way in a bit. This would feel less drastic if Cole was in the top five a week ago but it’s really not a major issue and is understandable. Cole’s beaten Kazarian, Jungle Boy, John Silver, Anthony Greene Wheeler Yuta and now Orange Cassidy. Cole’s only losses have come by way of multi-person tag matches where he was not the superstar pinned. It would make sense for Cole to be a potential TNT Championship contender sooner than later if not a world championship contender.

1. Bryan Danielson (13-0-2):
Danielson has yet to be defeated in singles action in AEW and holds time limit draws with both the current and former AEW World champions. He’s been the number one contender since defeating Miro by referee’s decision in roughly twenty minutes at Full Gear. Since then Danielson has defeated Evil Uno, Colt Cabana, Alan Angels and John Silver. His victories over the members of the dark order really solidified him as one of AEW’s top superstars. He has since gone the distance with the world champion in Hangman Page and is in line for a championship match next week. It’s likely time for Danielson to put up or shut up but out of everyone on this ranking Danielson is far and away the best choice for #1 in the current AEW Rankings.

The Snubs:

Every week there will be snubs in the top 5 for AEW’s Rankings. So long as Scorpio Sky is ranked without any significant television wins I’ll likely have a few superstars that could easily slot into the top 5 as legitimate championship contenders. Let’s get to them.

AEW Full Gear 2021 Results: CM Punk Beats Eddie Kingston In Heated Match

CM Punk (8-0):
Punk is far and away the guy who should be ranked and isn’t. I get it he hasn’t really beaten a ton of top names but it’s hard to argue the strength of Punk’s schedule is what’s limiting him. Punk just beat Eddie Kingston at Full Gear a former #1 contender himself. He has wins over a slew of future AEW top stars in Lee Moriarty, Daniel Garcia, Powerhouse Hobbs and DARBY FREAKIN ALLIN. If that isn’t enough to get ranked I’m not sure what Punk has to do. He doesn’t work weekly like Danielson but he has yet to lose a match and is easily the biggest snub on these rankings. It’s a travesty that Scorpio Sky who has hardly worked since November can be ranked while Punk who has wins over Kingston and Lee Moriarty since then is not. It seems Punk is angling for a title shot soon so this could be rectified but not including Punk in the top 5 quickly makes one question it’s validity.

MJF (11-3):
MJF doesn’t wrestle a whole lot on TV or in general. They keep his matches few and far between to make them feel special and it works. That said it can make sense why he may not always be in the rankings though I really think he makes a good argument to unseat Scorpio. MJF beat Darby Allin at Full Gear and since then has won the Dynamite Diamond Ring for a third year in a row. In doing so he defeated Dante Martin one of AEW’s bright upcoming stars but it’s fair to note he didn’t exactly win this match all on his own. If the outside interference comes into play then I’m inclined to agree with MJF’s exclusion but I do think he has a much better case than Scorpio Sky to be ranked at the moment.

Keep an eye on:

These wrestlers aren’t necessarily snubs but they’re right on the cusp of breaking back into the top five.
Miro – Miro remained ranked for weeks after losing to Bryan Danielson at Full Gear despite not wrestling since then. He just came off the rankings on Friday the 17th of December. While he hasn’t done much he also hasn’t lost much so it won’t take a lot to bring Miro back into the fold as a top contender if they wish.

Malakai Black – Black was on a run before he ran into the brick wall that is Cody Rhodes. It’s ok because to me it’d set up the opportunity of Black vs. Cody down the line for the title but we may see Black go more of a tag team direction. Regardless of where he goes he’s still been on an impressive run and it won’t take much to see him ranked.

Andrade El Idolo – Andrade is another victim of Cody Rhodes but again it likely sets up a potentially great title match down the line. Outside of his no dq loss to Cody Andrade has been on quite the run as a singles competitor. If he can string together a few impressive singles wins he can easily slot into the top five.

Kenny Omega – Omega is similar to Miro, he hasn’t done anything to get knocked off the rankings besides take a break. I imagine when he returns it’ll be a pretty quick return to glory for the former champion.

Darby Allin – Darby is easily one of AEW’s best ‘home grown’ stars. So much so that he can lose to CM Punk and MJF in back-to-back PPV appearances and still hardly lose a step. Darby has consistently been a top guy in AEW and a few victories over the right guys and all of a sudden we’re looking at Darby back in the top five.

HOOK – He’s only won two matches but soon enough. He’s poised to make a run at the rankings. This is mostly a joke don’t roast me or I’ll SEND HOOK.

Of course like anyone else I could’ve snubbed a superstar or two, if you think there’s someone I should look at in the coming weeks that AEW has overlooked for the rankings let me know in the comments. Otherwise give your thoughts on the current rankings and who you think is on the cusp of breaking through.