In life, all that's certain is death, taxes, and AJ Styles in the number one spot in the ESPN WWE Power Rankings.
Styles once again ran away with the top spot in a near-clean sweep, but the landscape of everyone beneath him has changed radically over the last two weeks -- including a brand new superstar at No. 2.
Charlotte Flair has been on fire of late, and regardless of how you feel about the frequent title changes between her and Sasha Banks, the matches these two have had are undeniable across the board. Even without the title in her possession, Flair is absolutely in the conversation as the top heel going right now in the WWE, and the conflict between her and Banks will have at least one more epic chapter with an Iron Man match set for Raw's upcoming Roadblock pay-per-view event. Her spot at No. 2 and Banks' inclusion is certainly no accident, to be sure.
This edition of the Power Rankings, as determined by contributors Peter Rosenberg, Arash Markazi, Brian Campbell, Tim Fiorvanti, Nic Atkin and Sean Coyle, has some big shakeups in store. Not only are there three new faces (including Banks), other than Styles, no one i where they were last time around.
Let's dig in.
The top 10 is shown by rank (with first-place votes received in parentheses), along with how much they've moved up or down from the previous edition of the ESPN WWE Power Rankings.
Even a wardrobe malfunction can't stop AJ Styles. There may have been a hole in his tights Sunday during his TLC victory over Dean Ambrose, but nobody can pick any holes in Styles' game inside the squared circle. He's the undeniable best performer in WWE right now, and in the conversation for best in the world. It will be a long while before anyone knocks him off the top spot, and it's going to take quite an effort. (Atkin)
The daughter of WWE legend Ric Flair is only getting better from week to week -- and that's a scary proposition for the rest of the division. Her promo to close Raw on Dec. 5 was some of her finest heel work to date, fresh off of a classic match one week prior when she lost her Raw women's championship to Banks. Charlotte Flair isn't just having the best 2016 of any other woman in WWE, she's a legitimate contender for any form of mythical MVP award for the company as a whole. (Campbell)
The current WWE Universal champion continues to be the most heavily-featured superstar on Raw. He is in the middle of a feud with United States champion Roman Reigns, he has a separate story with his on-screen "best friend" Chris Jericho, and he's got side stories going with Seth Rollins and even Mick Foley. There's a reason for that -- he's supremely talented, and as versatile as anyone in the company. From comedy and sarcasm to intensity and a fantastic work rate in the ring, Owens can do it all. (Coyle)
"The Lunatic Fringe" was surely elevated from getting to work such a high-profile and entertaining program with AJ Styles, but Ambrose certainly held his own throughout. His performance in their TLC main event in particular was top-notch, and his continued ability to play off of James Ellsworth in recent weeks has been a major part of why this storyline has been so well received. (Campbell)
Jericho remains a focal point on Raw as we shift into the next chapter of the Jericho-KO saga. As that story encounters twists and turns, Jericho continues to perform remarkably well, as evidenced by his fantastic match with Reigns this past Monday. It doesn't matter whether we get comedic Jericho, smug Jericho, serious Jericho or all of the above -- Chris Jericho has the ability to entertain as well as anyone who has ever laced up a pair of boots. (Coyle)
Miz's match at TLC may have been the highlight of his career, or at least his biggest peak since his world title reign more than five years ago. A lot of people are clamoring for Miz to get a chance in the world title picture, and while he's done a lot of good with the Intercontinental championship, questions about future challengers and career opportunities will be answered slowly in the months to come. (Rosenberg)
Banks has been on and off this list at least as many times as she's won and lost the WWE Raw women's championship, but don't be fooled -- she unequivocally deserves this recognition. Now on her third stint with the title, Banks and Flair have run the gauntlet of stipulation matches with a Hell in a Cell, a Falls Count Anywhere match and an upcoming Ironman match at Roadblock. Something tells me Banks finally has a successful pay-per-view title retention, and possibly even throws a pause button on one of the best rivalries of 2016 until a multi-way match at WrestleMania. We'll see. (Fiorvanti)
The Architect is sinking without a trace as a babyface. Thankfully, he finally called out Triple H, some three months after being betrayed by him on Raw (and Triple H has gone three months without a trace himself). Here's hoping that the WWE does not string out Hunter's response until the Royal Rumble -- this feud needs to get going ASAP so that Rollins can get rolling back towards the top where he belongs. With a match against Jericho at Roadblock, it seems somewhat unlikely that we'll see any sign of the Cerebral Assassin or forward momentum for at least the next few weeks. (Atkin)
It feels like we've been here before -- Wyatt rolling on all cylinders, hopes high, and a real path to the very highest ranks of the WWE seems to emerge. It's already different in that Wyatt finally has his first title reign in the WWE, and that there seemingly isn't much in the way of serious external challengers to his current status on SmackDown Live. Here's hoping that The Wyatt Family as a trio continues to roll and impose its will for as long as the story can manage, and that whatever inevitable conflict comes to pass is finally Wyatt's chance to be the breakout star so many believe he can be. (Fiorvanti)
Joining the Wyatt Family is the best thing that could have happened to Orton. After feuding with the Wyatt Family patriarch to middling results, Orton has improbably assimilated himself naturally into a powerful trio of himself, Wyatt and Luke Harper -- and it has breathed new life into his career. With rumors that the trio will take advantage of the same "Freebird" rule that The New Day employs, the potential for Orton and his Wyatt Family brethren to go in any number of directions is real and tangible. (Markazi)