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WrestleRank 2024: MJF, Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes battle for No. 1


Few things spark a bigger debate than ranking the greatest wrestlers of all time: Sammartino or Inoki? Rhodes or Flair? Hogan or Savage? Stone Cold or The Rock? Cena or Punk?

That debate sparked a realization: At ESPN, we like to make annual rankings, but the task had never been applied to professional wrestling.

To begin the process for 2024, we gathered our group of experts and asked a question to help them sort through the superstars thriving across promotions like AEW, NJPW and WWE: Which wrestler will have the best 2024 performance based on drawing power, popularity, skills and roster position?

Expectations are solely for 2024 and are meant to predict potential excellence rather than past performance and career body of work. Injuries and potential to switch promotions — such as Seth Rollins’ knee injury and Mercedes Mone’s free agency — were taken into consideration.

Here is WrestleRank, a projection of the top 60 wrestlers in 2024, with Brandon Caldwell, Mike Coppinger, David Dennis, Arda Ocal, Marc Raimondi and Eddie Maisonet providing analysis.


1. Roman Reigns, WWE

Current undisputed WWE universal champion

He might not call himself the Big Dog anymore, but when it comes to professional wrestling, there is no one bigger right now than Reigns, the Undisputed WWE universal champion, and that doesn’t figure to change in 2024. He’s the top guy on the marquee for WWE, a legitimate draw when it comes to television ratings and ticket sales. Reigns is the latest in a long line of promotion-carrying WWE stars — even if he doesn’t wrestle as much as some fans would like at this juncture — and the face of the best storyline WWE has done in years, The Bloodline.

There’s no improving upon this No. 1 spot for Reigns. Still, he can solidify this ranking in 2024 with more title defenses, lengthening his historic title run and adding compelling story beats with The Bloodline, which is in somewhat of a holding pattern. A WrestleMania 40 match in April with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is being teased. That’s the kind of match that could take Reigns from the most important wrestler of this era to immortality in wrestling history. — Raimondi


2. Cody Rhodes, WWE

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2:04

Cody Rhodes: ‘The Rock is one of the main reasons we’re here today’

Cody Rhodes reflects on his return to WWE and gives Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Roman Reigns their due praise.

Rhodes spent most of 2023 as the biggest babyface in wrestling and telling a near-impossible story in the process. He went from a heroic Royal Rumble winner on his way to ending Roman Reigns’ championship run at WrestleMania to a star recovering from being unable to accomplish that goal. Losses like the one Rhodes faced at Mania can derail careers. But Rhodes was undeterred, using the past year as a redemption story and a chance to develop a bigger connection with the fans.

His 2024 seems destined to finish the story. A huge Rock-sized barrier possibly stands in the way of him finishing that story at WrestleMania. However, even if Dwayne Johnson supplants him against Reigns at Mania, the year can still belong to the American Nightmare. Whether that happens at WrestleMania or SummerSlam or some other time is left to be determined. Still, it’s hard to imagine the year going by without Rhodes being champion and cementing himself as the biggest draw in wrestling — which he already might be. — Dennis


3. MJF, AEW

In a year of ups and downs in AEW, MJF was a stalwart — the consistent figure at the top of the cards, holding the AEW world championship belt. He went from hated heel to engaging, yet extremely flawed babyface during a reign that lasted until Dec. 30, compiling incredible in-ring performances and memorable promos along the way. MJF’s rivals-to-friends-to-rivals storyline with Adam Cole was the best AEW had in 2023. Few wrestlers can combine MJF’s work between the ropes and his abilities on the microphone.

At just 27 years old, MJF is the youngest male wrestler in the top 10. The Long Island, New York, native will be sidelined for the foreseeable future with a bad shoulder injury, so early 2024 is unclear. But if and when he returns, MJF has a readymade storyline with Cole and his new group waiting for him. AEW spent a great deal of 2023 building it and will have to wait a few months to cash in, but that MJF vs. Cole rematch should have an incredible amount of heat around it. — Raimondi


4. Seth Rollins, WWE

Current WWE world heavyweight champion

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Seth Rollins details how he injured his MCL

Seth Rollins talks about the MCL injury he suffered against Jinder Mahal and when he hopes to be back at full strength.

Rollins has been a reliable performer for WWE who is exceptionally over with the fans and delivers high-quality matches weekly. The creation of the world heavyweight championship has aided Rollins just as much as he’s legitimized the new title. Rollins has established himself, year after year, as one of the top stars in all of pro wrestling, between his over-the-top outfits, confidence on the mic and his high-flying style.

Rollins faces a tall order to enter the top 3, considering the stars who occupy those spots, and it will become all the more challenging due to his recent injury. Rollins revealed on Monday’s “Raw” that he suffered a torn MCL and partially torn meniscus that doctors said will sideline him. However, Rollins vowed to defend his championship at WrestleMania 40 anyway before being confronted by Gunther, possibly setting the stage for a matchup at the Showcase of the Immortals. — Coppinger


5. Jey Uso, WWE

The YEET movement rolls into 2024 as Uso looks ready for even bigger and better things. Few wrestlers across the globe have more potential dream matches that could land than Uso.

  • Jey vs. Roman

  • Jey vs. Jimmy

  • Jey vs. The Rock?

That last one might be a bit presumptuous, but Uso’s transition to main eventer and solo act also means that titles could be on the horizon post-WrestleMania. Would it be out of line to think he could hold an Intercontinental, United States, or world heavyweight title? Of course not. But watching the continued transformation of Uso will be just as exciting as any title chase he makes. — Maisonet


6. CM Punk, WWE

Punk’s shocking return to WWE seems to have rejuvenated and motivated “The Best in the World” to prove he’s exactly that. After 10-plus years away from a WWE ring, everything old is new again, and Punk is arguably WWE’s top star alongside Roman Reigns. All of this without actually wrestling one match outside of a house-show victory over Dominik Mysterio.

His work in AEW more than justifies this ranking, but he’s almost sure to jump up a few spots with the string of programs he’s headed for in WWE. Punk’s segment with Cody Rhodes on “Raw” was perhaps his best promo work yet since his return, and it could lead to a match at WrestleMania between two of the biggest stars in wrestling. As much as the return of Punk has buoyed WWE, he, too, seems to be enjoying wrestling more than ever before. — Coppinger


7. Will Ospreay, NJPW and AEW

There is arguably no wrestler in the world better in the ring than Ospreay.

He gave just about everyone he faced in 2023 their best match of the year. His two bouts with Kenny Omega were so good that they tied for ESPN’s Match of the Year — with each other. To go along with his work in AEW, Ospreay had incredible performances in New Japan against Yota Tsuji and Shota Umino and in Impact against “Speedball” Mike Bailey.

Ospreay has as much upside as anyone on this list because he’ll be a fixture on American television for the first time in his career in 2024. Late last year, Ospreay announced he had signed a full-time contract with AEW, and he’s expected to start as a regular for the promotion in a few weeks. While his character work and promo skills will be tested more than before, the list of opponents with whom he can tear down the house with is long. — Raimondi


8. Rhea Ripley, WWE

Current women’s world champion

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How being authentic has helped Rhea Ripley resonate with WWE fans

Rhea Ripley explains why being genuine has helped her and other WWE superstars resonate with the audience.

Ripley arguably had the most dominant year of any woman in WWE history. Beyond winning the women’s Royal Rumble in January, Ripley had a show-stealing match at WrestleMania to become WWE women’s world champion and anchored one of the best factions in the company, The Judgment Day. The company “strapped a rocket” to her back, and not only has she thrived, but she’s also elevated the concept of a “dominant, engaging star” to unforeseen heights. Oh, and she’s also on the cover of the WWE 2K24.

Can Ripley reach the highest of highs in 2024? She would merely have to come close to matching what she did in 2023. There’s a potential marquee matchup on the horizon at WrestleMania waiting for her, and the Judgment Day’s buzz hasn’t fallen in the slightest. It’s Mami’s world, and we’re merely the subjects. — Caldwell


9. Mercedes Mone, free agent

The former Sasha Banks had her year cut short in 2023 due to an ankle injury sustained in a New Japan match in May. Before that, she was making waves worldwide, blazing a different trail than the one she walked in WWE. Mone debuted last January in New Japan at WrestleKingdom, won the new IWGP Women’s title from KAIRI and then had a pair of excellent matches in Japan before getting hurt in a bout for the NJPW Strong women’s title in the U.S.

Mone has not wrestled in eight months and is a free agent. There have been rumors about her eventual landing spot, but whether it’s WWE or AEW, back in Japan or even in TNA, very few would deny she’ll have an impact. Mone is one of the best American women’s wrestlers of all time, and at 31, she has time to grow that legacy. Regardless of where she ends up, Mercedes is money — and you can take that to the bank. — Raimondi


10. Gunther, WWE

Current WWE Intercontinental champion

Gunther had a record-breaking 2023, capturing the longest single Intercontinental championship title reign from the Honky Tonk Man. Gunther is on the doorstep of surpassing Pedro Morales for most days as IC champ overall, less than a month away from Morales’ mark of 617 combined days. Gunther spent all of 2023 as a champion and most of his five-year WWE tenure with a belt around his waist. The man’s ring work is exceptional.

Gunther is deservedly in the top 10, but of anyone on this list, he has the potential to exceed his placement by the end of 2024. You could see him winning a world title, facing the biggest box office attractions and not only belonging, but excelling. — Ocal


11. Kazuchika Okada, NJPW

Current NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion

Pro wrestling in Japan is known for the importance of matches above everything else — interviews and angles are secondary to the stories told between the ropes. No one has been better in the ring — arguably ever, given that context — than Okada. He was the IWGP world heavyweight champion early in 2023, his seventh reign with an NJPW top title, and had excellent performances as part of the NEVER 6-man title team in New Japan for the rest of the year. In 2024, he will become a free agent, leave Japan and showcase his greatness to American fans in either WWE or AEW. — Raimondi


12. Swerve Strickland, AEW

A single match can’t make a superstar, but Strickland’s Texas death match against Hangman Page at AEW Full Gear is as close to a starmaking match as you’ll ever see. Swerve is a main-event star at AEW, primed to be the breakout household name to build the brand around. He’s likely to be holding a world title in 2024 and breaking into the top 10 of this list by next year. — Dennis


13. Adam Cole, AEW

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Co-anchoring one of AEW’s biggest stories in 2023, Cole cemented his status as one of wrestling’s best heels with his long-awaited turn on MJF at World’s Collide. Before being hampered by a broken ankle, Cole not only “main-evented” AEW’s biggest PPV, but also opened it as one of the Ring of Honor tag team champs. Cole can only rise in 2024 once he returns to in-ring activity, where there’s a story with MJF to finish and another Undisputed faction to lead. — Caldwell


14. Randy Orton, WWE

The master of the RKO — perhaps modern-day wrestling’s most popular finisher — made his triumphant return at November’s Survivor Series after a back injury sidelined him for 18 months. Few things make a wrestler more in demand than a hot return, and Orton did so with his remarkable physique intact and his snark during promos on full tilt. His longtime tag team partner Matt Riddle is no longer with the company, and that’s freed Orton to return to singles action, where he’ll face LA Knight, AJ Styles and Roman Reigns for WWE’s top prize at the Royal Rumble. At 43, it seems Orton is primed for another extended main-event run. — Coppinger


15. Bryan Danielson, AEW

Danielson is still one of the best wrestlers on the planet, and some would consider him the absolute best. 2023 saw Danielson in two title matches: an Iron Man against MJF and a TNT title bout with Christian Cage. There were reports of an orbital injury around Halloween, but Danielson returned to the ring ahead of schedule, wearing protection over his left eye. It adds Danielson’s legend, still performing as one of the best wrestlers in history — even if he can only see out of one eye. — Ocal


16. Konosuke Takeshita, AEW and DDT

Takeshita beat Kenny Omega cleanly in a singles match at the AEW All Out pay-per-view event in early September, an accomplishment few have been granted. At the time, it seemed like a monster push for the Japanese rising star was building, with him at the side of hated heel manager Don Callis. But Takeshita had one only more singles match after that in 2023, and he has yet to ascend to the top of the card. While the booking failed him, his attributes — a muscled, 6-foot-2 frame with uncanny speed and explosiveness — and in-ring skills never do. — Raimondi


17. Logan Paul, WWE

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2:06

Logan Paul wins shennanigan-filled match over Rey Mysterio

Logan Paul puts on a show in a wild win over Rey Mysterio at Crown Jewel.

Current WWE United States champion

Paul had just five matches in 2023: the Royal Rumble match, a Wrestlemania match against Seth Rollins, a Money in the Bank ladder match, a great opener at SummerSlam against Ricochet (afterward he flew across the country to corner his brother Jake at his boxing bout), then defeating Rey Mysterio for the US title in November.

Every appearance and every match carries more weight. Whether you like him or not, his work gets noticed. He uses screen time out of WWE to shine attention on what will be next for him in WWE — like calling out Mysterio after defeating Dillon Danis in a boxing fight this past October. Paul will be a world champion one day, and it will be a net positive for WWE and pro wrestling. — Ocal


18. Adam Page, AEW

A defining moment for Page — and this is someone who once chased a wrestler while riding a horse through a stadium — came during a November Texas death match against Swerve Strickland. The brutal affair’s most memorable sequence was when Page, after stapling his son’s fingerpainting art to Strickland’s face and ripping it off, grabbed Swerve’s head and laid down on the mat, allowing Swerve’s blood to drip into his mouth, drinking Swerve’s blood like a wrestling vampire and seemingly relishing it.

It was one of those uncomfortable moments in wrestling that fans will not forget (even as they are repulsed by it). It shows you the lengths that performers like him will go to in order to tell a story in the ring. — Ocal


19. Becky Lynch, WWE

Lynch continued to up her game in 2023. Whether it was a show-stealing feud with Trish Stratus or her surprising run as NXT champion, Lynch was putting on wrestling clinics. But now it’s time for The Man to retake her spot as the main event superstar she is with a probable WrestleMania (and beyond) feud with Rhea Ripley. The match can steal the show at Mania and be the feud of 2024, with Lynch primed to have the best year of her career. — Dennis


20. Samoa Joe, AEW

Current AEW world champion

Joe was one of AEW’s aces in 2023, keeping things together while everything seemed chaotic beyond the surface. He ended the year as the seventh man to hold the AEW world title after a historic reign as ROH television champ. Joe is in the middle of a career renaissance with a bevy of challengers looking to take him down and an internal fire in him that hasn’t slowed since he made clear he wanted to be champion. 2024 is set up to be another banner year for one of the best of his generation. — Caldwell


21. LA Knight, WWE

At age 41, Knight’s combo of in-ring work, on-the-mic skills and his trademark “Yeah” catchphrase, has boosted him to the top of the card. It wasn’t long ago that Knight was toiling as the manager of the Maximum Male Models without a glimmer of hope to appear at WrestleMania. Now, he’s one of the biggest faces in the entire company and as he continues his torrid run toward a marquee placement on the biggest stage, a title could be in his future. — Coppinger


22. Jay White, AEW

2023 was certainly a roller-coaster ride for White. He joined AEW from New Japan Pro Wrestling in April, and fans expected big things upon his arrival. Many felt he could easily hold the organization’s top title. His ranking on this list would be higher had he attained that, but then, at AEW Full Gear in November, it seemed as if all the momentum for White came to a screeching halt, leaving fans to utter three words: “Poor Jay White.” — Ocal

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23. Giulia, Stardom

Current Stardom strong women’s champion

Few women wrestlers can match Giulia’s “it” factor, physical charisma and intensity. She was the World of Stardom champion when 2023 began, had a sickeningly hard-hitting match (her M.O.) in the spring with chief rival Tam Nakano and ended the year as the NJPW Strong women’s champion. Giulia has been the face of Stardom, especially for Western fans, over the last few years. In 2024, she will leave Japan and seems likely bound for WWE, where she’ll get to show the rest of the world her undeniable star power. — Raimondi


24. Jon Moxley, AEW

Moxley started this year in NJPW before making his 2024 AEW debut on Collision on Jan. 20. His run with Blackpool Combat Club has been a fun ride, but a shake-up could put the crew in a new light with fresh storytelling led by Moxley’s vibrant persona. Moxley has never been a physically dominating wrestler, but few can match his ability to make a big match feel dangerous, dramatic and chaotic. That ability is more valuable than any physique, and it’s why Moxley might find himself ranked even higher in 2024. — Maisonet


25. Solo Sikoa, WWE

Sikoa was always lurking in 2023. Even though Roman Reigns and Jey Uso dominated the Bloodline story, Sikoa remained dominant and an underlying threat to ultimately dethrone the Tribal Chief. Sikoa was one-fourth of a classic tag match with Roman against the Usos and reached his apex at Crown Jewel when he pinned John Cena clean. Sikoa is playing the supporting role for the major WrestleMania stories so far, but when the dust settles, it seems like he’ll be primed for a few singles titles in 2024 to raise his stock and prepare him for shots at world title gold in 2025. — Dennis


26. Adam Copeland, AEW

Copeland says he wouldn’t still be in the ring if he wasn’t having fun. After his surprise AEW debut last October, the “Rated R Superstar” hasn’t slowed down, injecting himself into one of the company’s best feuds with forever friend/foe Christian Cage. The question is, where does he go from here? Titles are no major matter for him, but creating new memories and stacking on a loaded career is. Where he pivots next could detail how AEW looks as a whole throughout the rest of the year. — Caldwell


27. Kevin Owens, WWE

There’s a case to be made that there’s not a better worker in the business than Owens, as he continually puts his body on the line and is capable of delivering a seering promo at any moment. Owens starts his 2024 campaign with a Royal Rumble United States title match against Logan Paul. Owens vs. Paul will be an excellent match, because K.O. is a guaranteed elevator of moments, opponents and drama. That’s why we love him. — Maisonet


28. Christian Cage, AEW

Current TNT champion

Cage already had a storied two-decades-long wrestling career under his belt before signing with AEW in 2021. But coming into 2024, a case can be made that “The Patriarch” is one of the top heels in all of wrestling. Cage, now 50, is everything we love in an antagonist. He’s petty, malicious, unpredictable, mischievous and downright ruthless on the mic for any promo opportunity. He’s the “role model” we all love to hate. — Maisonet


29. Carmelo Hayes, WWE

Hayes might be the best pound-for-pound wrestler in WWE. He was in his bag in 2023 with a remarkable NXT championship reign after beating Bron Breakker in a barnburner of a match. His series with Ilja Dragunov proved that Hayes can be brutal and high-flying. This next year, it looks like it will be his turn to have a blood feud with Trick Williams and eventually take his place among greats on the main roster. — Dennis


30. Damian Priest, WWE

Current Money in the Bank briefcase holder, WWE undisputed tag team champion

Priest’s elevation from being “a guy” to one of the faces of “Monday Night Raw” isn’t lost on him, or his Judgment Day contemporaries. As long as he’s held the Money in the Bank briefcase, he’s been a constant in the title picture, cash in or not. If Rhea Ripley is the faction’s most radiant star, Priest is the glue, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s holding the new “big gold” on “Raw.” — Caldwell


The next 30: Which stars could make the top 30 in 2025?

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Best moments in Royal Rumble history

Check out some of the best moments from WWE’s Royal Rumble including Stone Cold Steve Austin winning it three times and John Cena making a shocking return in 2008.

Our list is composed of the top 60 wrestlers in the world, in honor of the two Royal Rumble matches that take place every January. From rising stars to longtime legends, here’s 31-60, with the current champions in italics.

  • 31. Dominik Mysterio, WWE

  • 32. Sami Zayn, WWE

  • 33. Jimmy Uso, WWE

  • 34. Drew McIntyre, WWE

  • 35. Jade Cargill, WWE

  • 36. Bianca Belair, WWE

  • 37. Ricky Starks, AEW (current AEW World Tag Team Champion)

  • 38. Tetsuya Naito, NJPW (current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion)

  • 39. Hijo Del Vikingo, AAA and AEW (current AAA Mega Champion)

  • 40. Orange Cassidy, AEW (current AEW International Champion)

  • 41. Darby Allin, AEW

  • 42. Iyo Sky, WWE (current WWE Women’s Champion)

  • 43. Trick Williams, WWE

  • 44. Bayley, WWE

  • 45. Kenny Omega, AEW

  • 46. Zack Sabre Jr., NJPW (current NJPW World Television Champion)

  • 47. Bron Breakker, WWE

  • 48. Toni Storm, AEW

  • 49. Claudio Castagnoli, AEW

  • 50. Grayson Waller, WWE

  • 51. Ilja Dragunov, WWE (current NXT Champion)

  • 52. AJ Styles, WWE

  • 53. Eddie Kingston, AEW (current AEW Continental Champion)

  • 54. Santos Escobar, WWE

  • 55. Brock Lesnar, WWE

  • 56. Asuka, WWE

  • 57. Dax Harwood, AEW

  • 58. Austin Theory, WWE

  • 59. Chris Jericho, AEW

  • 60. Montez Ford, WWE

Note: ESPN’s WrestleRank panel, which included reporters, editors, producers and analysts — along with external industry experts and insiders — consisted of Brandon Caldwell, Mike Coppinger, David Dennis, Arda Ocal, Marc Raimondi, Eddie Maisonet, Andrew Feldman, TK Trinidad, Cam Hawkins, Andreas Hale, Kendall Howard, Miller Safrit, Chandler MacKenzie, Andrew Davis, Cheyenne Leeman, Bob McClellan, Greg Wyshynski, Sach Chandan, Terrance Williams and Victor Lopez.



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