One of the great things about wrestling today, is that there are dozens of promotions that a consumer can access through the various mediums of technology. Of course, on mainstream television, WWE and TNA can be found, but on the deeper channels, NJPW and ROH are available as well. Through the internet, many promotions in Japan and Mexico are able to be viewed. All of this allows the viewer to gain a thorough, nuanced understanding of the different styles of wrestling each promotion has to offer, and the top stars in each company as well.
Of course, through this viewership, the underwhelming aspects of each promotion are readily able to be seen. The scrub talent, limited production value (at times), and so forth, can all be witnessed to any viewer who tunes in. Thankfully, many of these promotions present more positives than negatives, and new fans are able to be gained quicker than ever before. All of these promotions are the forerunners of the wrestling world, and many of them figure to be producing quality material for the long-term.
Ranked below are the best and worst wrestlers from the top eight promotions in the world.
29 ROH - BEST: Jay Lethal
A true underdog story in the wrestling world, Lethal was a staple in JAPW for the better part of a decade, before rising to prominence in TNA during the mid-2000s. It was there that his main event talent was realized, and he hasn't let his foot off the pedal since. Lethal is truly one of the premier stars in the industry. Despite his smaller build, he has great ring psychology, and can wrestle in a bevy of styles, from technical to high-flyer. The current ROH World Champion, he's slowly making a name for himself worldwide, and will continue to excel for the next decade or so. While it took several mid-card gimmicks to get him over, his full potential is being recognized as we speak, and he's one of the best champions in the world at the current moment.
28 ROH - WORST: Bob Evans
Essentially a no-name Indy performer for the last 25 years, Evans is the epitome of an average talent. Currently signed to ROH, where he combines managing and wrestling, Evans is decidedly mediocre, especially since he's no longer in his prime. Sure, he isn't relied upon by the promotion to provide high-profile matches, but ROH is a place where a generally higher quality of wrestling talent congregates. Evans doesn't fit the bill, and likely won't remain there for the long term. He's never held a reputable title in the Indy circuit, despite being active there since 1992, and in general has had an unspectacular career. Overall, ROH has been wise to keep him in a mitigated role. For filler talent, he can get by, but can't compare to the best that the promotion has to offer.
27 PWG - BEST: Zack Sabre Jr.
Sabre started wrestling in his native United Kingdom for NWA UK Hammerlock around 2007. Since then, he has taken the domestic, and international wrestling worlds by storm and been one of the true rising stars in the sport. Currently wrestling for PWG, where he holds the World Title, Sabre has also spent time in Pro Wrestling NOAH, where he captured one half of the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles. Possessing a stiff, technical style, he brings to mind Indy stars of years past, such as the "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson, and still has plenty of room to grow in his young career. A trip to WWE eventually seems imminent, but for now he'll continue to dominate the Indy scene, and find success wherever he goes.
26 PWG - WORST: Drew Galloway
Well-known from his time spent in WWE as McIntyre, Galloway now wrestles for PWG. He was always patently uninteresting, despite winning the IC Title at one point in his career. Not much has changed in that regard with PWG, and he seems destined for the mid-card in the long run with the promotion. He possesses good size, undoubtedly what drew WWE to him in the first place, but doesn't have the "it" factor necessary to stand out in a business where originality is placed at a premium. It's easy to fall into a rut in the world of wrestling, and Galloway has a decided shtick that's been done countless times before, and better at that. It's unlikely he'll reclaim the minor success of his WWE run, and instead be relegated to Indy work for the rest of his career.
25 Lucha Underground - BEST: AR Fox
Still under the age of 30, Fox is a certified rising star, and already has an impressive resume to his name. Currently working for Lucha Underground, he's made notable pit stops in CZW and Dragon Gate USA, and only continues to improve. He has great ring-presence, a wildly athletic skill set, and can have an entertaining match on a long, or short time limit. The best is still on the horizon for Fox, but if he keeps producing at this rate, there's no telling where it could lead him. Keep an eye out in the next year to see if he goes overseas to Japan, or makes the jump to a larger American promotion. Just about any decision is the right one for him right now.
24 Lucha Underground - WORST: Johnny Mundo
Of course, he's renowned from his time in WWE as John Morrison, and as a member of the MNM tag team, but he's never been particularly original or impressive in any aspect of the business. Years later in Lucha Underground, not much has changed. Despite being extremely athletic, and moving well in the ring, his move set and pacing has always been relatively bland, and nothing is noteworthy about his skills on the microphone. His half glamour, half rock star gimmick has been done countless times in the past, and been done better. Throughout his entire career, it's almost seemed like he's been playing a parody of an entertaining character. Not actively terrible at any one thing, but so derivative and boring that it makes him seem worse than he actually is. With the popularity Lucha Underground has gained, this is a notable downside.
23 Dragon Gate - BEST: CIMA
He's done plenty of cross-promotional matches with American entities such as ROH and PWG, but CIMA really made his name in Japan, specifically for the Dragon Gate roster. Nearing the age of 40 now, he's still one of the best wrestlers in the world, and has maintained his elite quality for his entire career. He's produced classic matches for this span of time, and is considered one of the top Juniors of all-time from any promotion. His style is distinctively and predictably in the Puro camp, but combining aspects of Lucha with a technical base. Truly one of the best of all-time, CIMA can still go, and is worth checking out on any Dragon Gate card one may come across.
22 Dragon Gate - WORST: Kzy
It's a bit difficult to rate the worst of Dragon Gate, given that most of the talent comes from the same training facility, and performs the same high-flying in-ring style by nature. However, since his debut in 2006, Kzy hasn't stood out in the crop of talent that the promotion has produced over the years. A staple of six-man tag competition, he's won several titles while in Dragon Gate, but never taken his talents elsewhere, and is dependent on others to carry him during matches. Considering that this promotion has produced talent such as the Dragon Kid, CIMA and Naruki Doi, it's pretty evident that Kzy falls at the bottom of that totem pole. He's just not indicative of the elite high-flying talent in Dragon Gate at large.
21 NJPW - BEST: Kazuchika Okada
Currently NJPWs biggest star, Okada is one of the biggest names in all of Japanese wrestling in general. With great in-ring psychology, and a concise athletic style, he's been one of the top draws in all of Japan for the last five years. He also had a stint in TNA where he was subject of poor booking and misuse of his character, but has flourished under the scrutiny that comes with wrestling under the NJPW banner. A four-time IWGP Title-holder, he has consistently produced and wowed audiences. The best part? At age 28, he has every option at his disposal, and would likely be welcome in any of the major promotions throughout the world. There are plenty of new match-ups still available to him, and he could take advantage of that in a multitude of different ways. A top star to keep an eye on in the coming years.
20 NJPW - WORST: Juice Robinson
Robinson used to perform under the name CJ Parker when in WWE developmental territory FCW, as well as NXT, several years ago. Mainly competing in the tag division, he found marginal success there, but was let go from his contract, and now resides in NJPW. There's really nothing special about him, and while he figures to compete in the Juniors division for New Japan, he doesn't possess the talent level of the top aces in the company. Ultimately, he'll likely end up back in the States, working smaller Indy shows for however long his career is able to last. Ultimately, there just isn't much exciting or noteworthy about him. He's a guy that can be thrown in the ring to kill some time, but clearly won't be able to excel and make a name for himself as a main event performer. His talent level doesn't warrant being in New Japan, and he'll be limited as long as he stays there.
19 TNA - BEST: Davey Richards
Richards is a veteran presence on the TNA wrestler, but the 33-year-old has seen and done it all during his time in the wrestling industry. One of the best tag team wrestlers of his era, he's held belts from promotion's all over the world including ROH, PWG, NJPW and of course now, TNA. Maybe not the flashiest talent on the roster, if there's one man on the TNA roster that has to be counted on to deliver a good match every time out, Richards has to be the leader in that category. He's one of the most underrated, and best wrestlers of his era, and still has lots he can accomplish in the squared circle. All in all, an often overlooked superstar, who deserves more credit.
18 TNA - WORST: Matt Hardy
While Matt was always the weak link in the coveted Hardy Boyz tag team of the early-2000s with his brother Jeff, his in-ring skill has decreased over the years. Performing roughly the same move set, only with less efficiency and drive, he's become less interesting, and reliant on the same old tricks that suited a wrestler of much younger age. It doesn't help that Hardy has fallen noticeably out of shape during various points in his post-WWE career, and now is essentially a shell of his former self. He always was more interesting as a tag team wrestler, and when he was carried by Jeff, it wasn't so bad. Now, in TNA, Hardy is at an all-time low, and should really consider hanging up the boots. His legacy is saved partially by the Hardy Boyz, but he's making it increasingly worse the longer he stays in the ring.
17 AAA - BEST: El Texano Jr.
A staple in both AAA and Lucha Underground, Texano is one of the best luchadores in the world right now, and has dominated the Mexican wrestling scene for several years now. Holding the current AAA Mega Championship, the highest ranked title in the promotion, he's bulldozed his way through every major promotion in the country, and now has the option on setting his sights to Japan or the U.S. Still in the prime of his career at age 32, Texano has many options at his disposal, and should be able to remain relevant for a long time. It's unclear whether he plans to make the move to any other promotion, but regardless of the brand he wrestles for, he can still produce great matches at the drop of a hat.
16 AAA - WORST: Pagano
While Mexican wrestling promotions have always boasted their own unique style in just about every facet of a wrestling company, Pagano is the type that makes it less interesting, because his hardcore persona is so widely seen, and performed better, in the States and Japan. He's pretty much a run of the mill talent currently in AAA, a promotion that has been able to lay claim to some of the best the sport has had to offer over the years. Pagano made his debut in 2008, and has only achieved marginal success, and seems to be a placeholder type character in any given promotion he appears in. Since joining AAA this year, he hasn't gained a title, and that is likely to remain the case as along as he is on the roster.
15 WWE - BEST: A.J. Styles
Styles has been at the game so long, that his inclusion here doesn't even need mention. Still, he needs to be, because he's far and away the best wrestler currently on the WWE roster. He's still athletic enough to keep up with the youth, but has the benefit of a veteran's ring psychology, and the experience as a guy who's achieved championship success all over the world, and dominated the American Indy scene for the past 15 years. Simply, he's at the top of his game right now, and there isn't much that's going to stand in his way. He'll likely be racking up a bevy of WWE titles within the next year, coming off of his SummerSlam win against John Cena, in a match that was better than it had any right to be. Overall, Styles is still the man on top of the industry.
14 WWE - WORST: Mark Henry
While "The World's Strongest Man" has been around WWE programming in some form for the last 20 years or so, that doesn't mean he qualifies as one of the better in-ring performers the company has seen in that span. Henry's worn many different gimmicks since his debut, including an acting member of The Nation Of Domination, and "Sexual Chocolate". While he's served his purpose in combination with the talented roster of the time, he's now, with age not on his side, simply more of a liability than he is an asset. In years past he could get away with his lack of in-ring ability, but now there's just no spots in terms of extracurricular roles. Don't be surprised if Henry decides to move on from WWE in the near future. He's certainly put in enough time.
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