AJ Styles is more than just the face that runs the place on SmackDown Live. This week he grabs the No. 1 spot in the ESPN WWE Power Rankings, after a tremendous two-week stretch in which he won the most prestigious championship in the world of wrestling at Backlash and backed it up with two strong showings on SmackDown Live with Dean Ambrose and a returning John Cena.
The top three this week have all tasted the top spot, each has an argument to make when it comes to the top spot and each seems likely to compete for that position for weeks, months and probably years to come.
With an eye toward establishing how the superstars of Raw and SmackDown Live stand after the first SmackDown Live-exclusive pay-per-view and leading into Raw's debut effort in that realm, five ESPN WWE writers -- Brian Campbell, Peter Rosenberg, Arash Markazi, Tim Fiorvanti and Sean Coyle -- each ranked the talents they deem to present the most value to WWE's on-screen product.
Here's our latest top 10.
Order has been restored as the best wrestler in the company now holds the WWE world championship after his win at Backlash. He's involved in arguably the most interesting storyline going with two of the biggest stars in the company heading into No Mercy. (Markazi)
Owens' ability to get over as a classic heel after a long career on the independent scene is everything that is right with pro wrestling at the moment. He's flawless on the microphone, and tells a heck of a story inside the ring. (Campbell)
As he transitions with a face turn that should better suit his character's move set, Rollins is showcasing the full spectrum of his versatility -- making it hard to imagine a scenario in which he would fall out of the top 5 for years to come. (Campbell)
The Miz is in the midst of a career renaissance that has completely rejuvenated his run as Intercontinental champion and made him one of the undeniable top stars of SmackDown Live. At 171 days and counting, the Miz is doing some of the best work of his career and, best of all, he has one of the most intriguing rivalries in wrestling going on with general manager Daniel Bryan. (Fiorvanti)
Despite dropping the WWE world championship to Styles, Ambrose still has a lot to offer. He's one of the more unique performers in the WWE, and chasing the championship will add an interesting element to his journey; it's already added an edge to what he's doing that's been clearly visible in his confrontations with Styles and Cena. Ambrose never really had the chance to chase his most recent championship after cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase the same night he won it. (Coyle)
Despite a little confusion as to her relationship with Dana Brooke, Charlotte is one of the strongest assets that Raw has on its roster. She is one of the best heels in the WWE, and with two strong (and popular) contenders vying for her Raw women's championship Sunday, the match with Bayley and Sasha Banks should stand out as one of the best of the night at Clash of Champions. (Fiorvanti)
It didn't take long for Cena to regain a spot in the top 10, and his recent performances on SmackDown Live certainly merit that appearance. From his SummerSlam classic with Styles to his fiery return against both Styles and Ambrose a couple of weeks ago, Cena has done what seemed impossible in the past few years -- he's getting cheered by a significantly larger portion of the crowd. Ignore the "John Cena sucks" singalong to his entrance theme -- at this point it's almost become a term of endearment. (Fiorvanti)
He might not be "the guy" currently, but he's still a top guy in the main event picture who consistently gives the fans quality matches. Reigns has the look, the athleticism and the ability to generate thunderous responses from the audience. We'll see how his feud with Rusev ends (if it does) at Clash of Champions, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Reigns in a proper WWE Universal championship feud in the near future after his victory against Owens on Raw. (Coyle)
Say what you want about him, but no one is better on the mic than Jericho right now, and no one adds as much comic relief to Raw every single Monday night. His new list will likely grow to include countless "stupid idiots" and grievances that could potentially surpass even his list of 1,004 holds in length. Drink it in man! (Markazi)
Admittedly, The New Day's current feud with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson has been underwhelming, but the trio is still entertaining and all of them can work. Perhaps a title switch to Gallows and Anderson would be the perfect recipe in switching up the routine a bit. Despite any recent shortcomings, they are the most enjoyable team to watch on either brand, and have been for their nearly 400-day reign as tag team champions. (Coyle)
Honorable mention: Becky Lynch, Rusev, Ziggler