It's hard to believe, but we're already a couple of weeks removed from WrestleMania 34. The Raw and SmackDown rosters have gone through dramatic transformations, courtesy of the Superstar Shakeup, and the rest of 2018 seems full of potential with a blank canvas to work with moving forward.
Since the last edition of the ESPN WWE Power Rankings, a lot has happened. Not only were there seismic shifts at WrestleMania and in the Superstar Shakeup, but Daniel Bryan improbably returned to in-ring action and promptly picked up right where he left off in terms of both fan support and in-ring acumen. Ronda Rousey shocked the world with what might've been the match of the night at WrestleMania, in what was her first career match of any kind.
There's one more potentially transformative event on the horizon, as the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia next Friday promises to shake things up a little bit further, but one glimpse into the current landscapes of Raw and SmackDown show there's already a pecking order coming together on each show.
Without further ado, here's how the top 10 of our latest ESPN WWE Power Rankings played out:
Rankings are based upon the perceived value of a superstar to the on-screen product of WWE, which is determined by the voting of a panel of WWE on ESPN contributors. Number in parentheses ( ) indicates first-place votes.
The best in-ring performer in the WWE came out of WrestleMania with the WWE championship belt still around his waist. The match with Shinsuke Nakamura was more good than great, but Nakamura's heel turn following that match and in the weeks since should add a new and intriguing dynamic to a rivalry that appears to be far from over. (Sean Coyle)
I mean, Nicholas was a close contender for this spot, but it's clear to see just how over Strowman is with the live crowds. A five-star match isn't the type of thing that's going to define him as a star, and in all reality, positioning him for where he'll go next is probably going to be the biggest challenge for WWE. He is truly the unbeatable monster they wanted him to be, so now it's a question of who can step up to challenge Strowman in a legitimate feud. No matter who it is, all eyes are on Braun, and he deserves it. (Andrew Feldman)
For anyone thinking Daniel Bryan was going to take his time and ease back into action upon the news of his in-ring return, think again. His WrestleMania match against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn offered a clear sign that he's as sharp as ever in the ring, and Bryan followed that up with matches against, and then alongside, Styles that teased a future rivalry for the ages. A future grudge match with The Miz awaits, although Big Cass abruptly threw himself in the way on Tuesday. The current makeup of the SmackDown roster offers a long list of dream opponents moving forward for Bryan, but that'll all come in due time. (Tim Fiorvanti)
It might seem strange to compare Rousey to Braun Strowman, but as of right now, Ronda is similarly being positioned as the one person in the Raw women's division that nobody wants to mess with. She is going to have to take a step back to develop her character and become a bit more natural on the microphone, which is part of her ongoing development of her skill set. But there's no denying she is engaging, and the WrestleMania match proved she has what it takes to make it in this world. (Feldman)
It's so good to see Rollins getting the push he deserves. Rollins is a five-tool player, and he can cut a promo or tell a story in the ring equally well. Most of all, he's able to go out and thrill the audience every time he steps into the ring. Rollins will add plenty of cachet to the Intercontinental championship, but it shouldn't be long before he's also a fixture in the Universal title picture. (Matt Wilansky)
Despite all odds, The Miz avoided getting lost in the shuffle on Monday Night Raw and ultimately continued to elevate the Intercontinental championship during his eighth career run with the title. After a year away, Miz returns to a much different SmackDown, but one that's primed for Miz to step up once again. After rebuilding his name through a series of angry promos and confrontations with Bryan while Bryan was still not cleared for in-ring action, Miz will have to face the music upon his return -- and that should make for a highly personal rivalry that should be one of the highlights of the year on SmackDown. (Fiorvanti)
Lesnar may be at a career crossroads right now, but he's still the straw that stirs the drink of this company. His return match against Roman Reigns at the Greatest Royal Rumble, inside of a steel cage, should be telling in terms of his own future, the future of Roman Reigns and the direction things are heading in on Raw. (K.C. Joyner)
Reigns' WrestleMania 34 loss to Brock Lesnar wasn't the brightest of moments in his career, but Reigns is, and will remain, a main-event superstar for the foreseeable future. It was his fourth straight WrestleMania main event, after all; only Hulk Hogan accomplished that feat before him. That speaks to Reigns' consistent ability to perform at an elite level, despite the frequent negativity thrown his way by portions of the WWE fan base. (Coyle)
Flair's show-stealing match against Asuka at WrestleMania 34 was so incredible that this time next year, no one is going to remember that Flair lost her SmackDown women's title belt two days later. They will instead be thinking about the prospect of Flair headlining WrestleMania 35. (Joyner)
Playing up her real-life struggles with self-worth and body image in her storyline and paying it off at WrestleMania against Alexa Bliss was a brilliant move. Jax winning the women's Raw championship was proof that perseverance pays off, and it's tough not to be happy for her. Now it's time to see what she can do as champ. (Wilansky)