It's only been a few weeks since SummerSlam, but the landscape of the WWE has shifted and, as it goes, so have the opinions of the WWE on ESPN staff.
Two WWE superstars made major pushes towards the top of the new ESPN WWE Power Rankings, and by a razor-thin margin, Braun Strowman has taken over the top spot for the very first time. Kevin Owens settles for second, for the time being, but with how integral a part each has played on their respective shows of late, there's little use in arguing just how far ahead that pair was when compared to the rest of the top 10.
After a fairly lengthy (for WWE) stretch without a pay-per-view, No Mercy and Hell in a Cell are quickly creeping up on us. As those cards continue to take shape, enjoy our current list of 10 most valuable superstars to the WWE at this particular moment in time.
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.
At this particular moment, Braun Strowman is the WWE's strongest on-screen asset. Whether it's throwing the Big Show through a steel cage, putting Brock Lesnar through (and under) multiple tables or popping up from a suplex, or the absolute wars he's had with Roman Reigns, Strowman makes for can't-miss TV every week. He's been thrust into the spotlight in a Universal championship match against Lesnar at No Mercy, and Strowman has every right to be there. The only question that could linger is 'what's next?' (Tim Fiorvanti)
No, he's no longer the United States Champion, but week in and week out Owens delivers, whether it's a fantastic match, a scathing promo or appearances on commentary to lend his witty sarcasm to a match. Owens' budding rivalry with Shane McMahon has become the premier feud on SmackDown, his night of imagining changes for the show entertained throughout and his scuffle with Mr. McMahon to close out SmackDown was an all-time great segment. In short, Owens can do it all. (Sean Coyle)
Is this John Cena the best John Cena? Maybe. Maybe not. But no matter who Cena is at this moment, his promos are fantastic and his in-ring work is top notch as he continues to bring out the best in each of his opponents. (Andrew Feldman)
He's a little like that .340 hitter who hits only 15 home runs a year. Styles is consistently good, but it's been some time since he's been given a chance to be truly great. Perhaps when his feud with Baron Corbin wraps up (or really takes off), and a viable contender to his United States title emerges, Styles will start to creep back up these rankings. (Matt Wilansky)
It's easy, on occasion, for The Miz to get lost in the shuffle on Raw. It's how he ended up on the SummerSlam kickoff show, without an Intercontinental championship defense in sight. But then you get nights like Monday, when he and Maryse announced on Raw that they were going to have a baby. Even as he got a positive reaction from the crowd, Enzo Amore crashed the party and played the jerk, only for Miz to raise the stakes and run down Amore for all of his flaws and indiscretions. Aggressive, on-edge Miz is the best kind of Miz, and the more we can see that fire, the better off everyone will be. (Fiorvanti)
Reigns has been delivering the fiercest promos of his career over the past few weeks on RAW. His segments with Cena have been gold. Cena has brought out an attitude in Reigns that he haven't seen before. This is the Roman Reigns that fans have been clamoring for all along. Pairing his newfound fury with his unquestionable capabilities in the ring, and Reigns will continue to be a force to be reckoned with on RAW. (Coyle)
No, Lesnar is not on Raw every week, though he has been on a lot in recent weeks, but that makes his appearances more special when he does show up. It says a lot about a superstar when he can stand in the middle of the ring, jump around a bit, not say a word and create compelling television. Granted, having Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece helps, but Lesnar's presence is undeniably electrifying. His upcoming match with Strowman is can't miss. (Coyle)
There's still plenty to be developed, but I like where the WWE champion is headed. While Mahal isn't blowing anyone away in the ring, his passion on the mic makes all of the difference. (Feldman)
They are charismatic and entertaining, but don't you get the feeling they're highly combustible, too? The breakup won't come anytime soon, not with the dwindling tag-team division on Raw sorely needing their star power, but one of these days, Ambrose is going to get his revenge on Rollins. I'm saying it happens at WrestleMania. (Wilansky)
The number of people who've beaten both Cena and Randy Orton on SmackDown in the last 15 years can be counted on one hand; Lesnar, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Ambrose and, as of a week ago, Nakamura. The WWE hasn't just handed him the world since his move to SmackDown, but he's picked up major victories and momentum along the way. Nakamura and Mahal are nearing an interesting crossroads, as neither seems positioned to handle a loss at Hell in a Cell well. (Fiorvanti)