This is a fun little exercise that I’ve partaken in for the second year in a row. The NY 50 is a top 50 tanking of WWE wrestlers across brands (Raw, Smackdown, NXT, 205 Live) based on ring work. All of us who are participating submit our own list and then it gets compiled into one big top 50. It’s all subjective of course, and what I consider to be good or great ring work is different from what everyone else does of course. So how did I got about figuring all of this out? There sure is a lot of material given that there , 12 proper pay per views, seven Takeovers between NXT and NXT UK, two Saudi shows, some other stuff (Network specials like The Shield’s Last Stand and Starrcade), and all of the TV show stuff. How does one put all of that together without going crazy? Here’s what I did:
- A letter grade for each pay per view match, with a corresponding point value
- An overall letter grade for television matches
- Bonus points for a high volume of work (10 or more Raw/Smackdown pay per views, 4 or more NXT Takeovers for NXT people, 10 or more combined pay per views and Takeovers, 40 or more televised matches) and for every five star match (according to me not Dave Meltzer)
Every methodology has it’s shortcomings and for mine it’s that volume or lack thereof can skew the numbers and reward compilers. I chose to accept that because working more matches at a high level should mean more than working fewer matches at a top level. More prep time, less fatigue, etc should result in better performances than someone who is out there every week, every pay per view, and on the road. As a result some NXT people finished lower than you might expect, as did people who missed time for whatever reason like Sasha Banks and Naomi, and those who were in booking limbo for months like Asuka. On the flip side one guy that internet smart fans absolutely hate finished way higher than they would ever put him. Also Brock Lesnar, whose individual matches almost all scored really high grades from me just doesn’t have enough work to make the cut. Unfortunately something had to give.
Alright enough waiting, here we go:
50. Mandy Rose 49. Naomi 48. Rusev 47. Walter 46. Rowan 45. Drew Gulak
44. Tony Nese 43. Heavy Machinery 42. Velveteen Dream 41. The Usos 40. Alexa Bliss
39. Alaister Black 38. Sasha Banks 37. Buddy Murphy 36. Pete Dunne
35. Shinsuke Nakamura 34. Kevin Owens 33. Bianca Belair 32. Asuka
31. Bobby Lashley 30. Nikki Cross 29. Viking Raiders 28. Matt Riddle
27. Johnny Gargano 26. Dolph Ziggler 25. Natalya 24. The Miz 23. Shayna Baszler
22. Braun Strowman 21. Finn Balor 20. Drew McIntyre 19. Andrade 18. Mustafa Ali
17. Adam Cole 16. Bobby Fish/Kyle O’Reilly 15. New Day 14. Io Shirai 13. The Revival
12. Roddy Strong 11. Charlotte Flair 10. Randy Orton 9. Daniel Bryan
8. Roman Reigns 7. Becky Lynch 6. Bayley 5. AJ Styles 4. Baron Corbin 3. Ricochet
2. Seth Rollins 1. Kofi Kingston
Year to Year Changes
If you want to see my full ballot from 2018, start here:
The biggest jump was for Baron Corbin from 48 last year to 4 this year. Corbin of course is the bane of many so called smart fans, to the point where a lot of them would probably throw my whole list out for him being this high. But he went from being a perpetual six man tag and midcard guy in 2018 to a main event heel working a lot of singles matches in 2019, and had a legit excellent stretch on TV during the King of the Ring Tournament. Get mad if you want but the work was done in 2019. Next was Randy Orton from 43 to 10. Orton was in a lot of big matches on pay per view this year and worked the entire year as opposed to missing the middle section like he did in 2018. On the women’s side the biggest jump was for Bayley going from 34 to 6. Bayley had a good start in 2018 but then fell off the PPV map until October and November and was a perpetual tag teamer in the second half of the year. in 2019 she was a singles competitor and as Smackdown women’s champion racked up a ton of pay per matches from June through December.
As for biggest drops Ronda Rousey went from 8th in 2018 to out entirely. Missing the rest of the year after WrestleMania will do that. Buddy Murphy fell from 15 to 37; he almost vanished after WrestleMania until getting a few televised matched during the summer and a match at TLC against Alaister Black to close the year out after going wire to wire challenging for and holding the Cruiserweight Title in 2018. Another noticeable drop was Charlotte Flair going from number one last year to 11 this year. There was nowhere to go but down after a 2018 where she had four separate next level great performances in big pay per view matches in addition to being good to great most of the rest of the year. She had a few moments this year like her match at Summerslam vs Trish Stratus and the handicap match on Raw vs Asuka and Kairi Sane where she showed flashes of what she’s capable of but nothing on the level of any of those 2018 matches.
Now even though he didn’t have the biggest leap in terms of number of spots, the most remarkable jump in 2019 was Kofi Kingston ascending to number one. Kofi was a tag guy only as part of New Day in 2018 but spent the first 10 months of 2019 challenging for, winning, and defending the WWE World Championship then closed the year with two months of stellar performances tagging with Big E again. Sadly this is probably a one time thing; Kofi will likely stay high on the list in 2020 but the big singles matches from 2019 look to be done for now. Ricochet jumped pretty far, all the to number 3 from 17 in 2018 by way of becoming the TV workhorse damn near every week on Raw. Nikki Cross made a similar move going from unranked in 2018 to number 30 in 2019 thanks to a prolific TV match schedule first on Raw then on Smackdown after the draft. The Viking Raiders also went from unranked in 2018 to number 29 in 2019 thanks to winning the NXT tag team titles in January and then the Raw tag belts in October.
So that’s it. We’ll see how my ballot stacks up against the final tally.