The last month in the WWE has provided a dramatic shift in its landscape. Jinder Mahal came out of nowhere to win the WWE championship, and he's improved by the week. Baron Corbin won the men's Money in the Bank briefcase, and Carmella won, then got stripped of the women's edition. Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles had a memorable in-ring clash.
And that's just on the SmackDown side of things.
When it comes to Raw, things have changed in a big way on Monday nights too. Samoa Joe had a star-making turn at Extreme Rules by winning the No. 1 contendership to Brock Lesnar's Universal title, and he's run forward like a freight train of momentum ever since. So much so, in fact, that he's shockingly unseated longtime No. 1 AJ Styles to assume the top spot in the Power Rankings after a contentious week of debate among the WWE on ESPN panel.
We have a lot of changes to address, so without further ado, let's check out our new set of rankings.
Rankings are based upon the perceived value to the on-screen product of the WWE, and determined by the voting of a panel of WWE on ESPN contributors. Number in parentheses ( ) indicates first-place votes.
It would be hard to find two different performers than Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman, but the two brightest stars of the most recent edition of Monday Night Raw have one thing in common -- they're charismatic bad guys who, when given the chance, have shined in the spotlight. After becoming No. 1 contender to the Universal title at Extreme Rules, Joe has caught fire with wins over Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns over recent weeks. He doesn't seem out of place against Brock Lesnar, and regardless of how things turn out at Great Balls of Fire, Samoa Joe feels as though he's broken through (Tim Fiorvanti)
On Raw, Reigns was choked out by Samoa Joe and then chokeslammed face first into the mat by Braun Strowman. Those beatings might be enough to kill the heat of some wrestlers, but much of the WWE Universe still clamors to see Reigns get destroyed in his upcoming ambulance match against Strowman at Great Balls of Fire. (KC Joyner)
He didn't win the Money in the Bank contract, but Styles is still the best overall performer on either show. He just needs another high profile rivalry to sink his teeth into. We know that Styles vs. Nakamura will happen at some point, beyond what we saw at Money in the Bank, and when it does, it will be monumental. (Sean Coyle)
You could be forgiven if you forgot Mahal was once a jobber dude in 3MB and other failed ideas, with seemingly few prospects. But here he is, the top champion on SmackDown -- and early indications suggest he will be a darn good one. Mahal doesn't have the athleticism or the repertoire of moves of recent rival Randy Orton, but his heel work is getting better by the week, and you can hear it in the loud response from the fans towards the WWE champion. (Matt Wilansky)
Never have I been so happy to see an early return from injury. Monday Night Raw needed Braun. Roman Reigns needed Braun. We all needed Braun. Now we get to sit back and watch the carnage once again, and hopefully we'll continue to see character development for one of the show's brightest rising stars. (Andrew Feldman)
There may be a Madden Curse for NFL players showing up on the cover of that particular video game series, but hopefully Rollins is immune to that sort of thing after getting the cover of WWE 2K18. The honor certainly indicates that he's still one of the top promotional priorities of the WWE. (Joyner)
Owens has the United States Championship feeling like the most important title in the company. He updated his entire persona to reflect its importance and has remained one of, if not the, premier heel in the WWE. (Coyle)
As charismatic as he is, and for as strongly as he connected with the fans, Nakamura was lacking a star-making moment. His match with Dolph Ziggler at Backlash was a lot of fun, and a showcase of some of his abilities, but the energy that's been present throughout his career (and especially so in NXT) was somehow lacking. It all came to focus at Money in the Bank, though, as a standoff and brief clash with AJ Styles in the middle of the ring had fans around the world coming unglued. If WWE doesn't see that this is one of its best rivalries for the future, they're blind. (Fiorvanti)
Hello Big Cass! While I feel awful for Enzo Amore, since this basically puts his career on hold, I'm thrilled to see Cass given the opportunity to shine on the main stage on his own. He still needs to work on his mic skills, but these past few weeks on Raw have been big for him. (Feldman)
He did it. Baron Corbin is Mr. Money in the Bank, and a fine choice to be the man chasing the WWE championship. He is a natural heel and has really come into his own in the ring. He's also become a major piece to the SmackDown Live puzzle. (Coyle)