Welcome to the results of the 2016 Theszies / Rec.sport.pro-wrestling Awards.
Anyway. Here, we present the “best” Awards – those Awards which celebrate the greatest things in wrestling during 2016. If you would rather be a Negative Nancy and go read the “worst” Awards, they’re over here.
This year we had 717 voters participating. As always, for next year we encourage all of you wrestling media people to nominate yourselves and your favorites, and try to get your fans out to vote for you. Fair is fair!
As always, thank yous to Justin Henry, Christopher Robin Zimmerman, Herb Kunze and all those who have previously run the Awards and contributed to their legacy; everybody who chipped in to promote the awards; all of you voters, of course; and finally and most importantly an extra-double-sized thanks to mgkdotcom’s Tech Guy, James Young, without whose invaluable assistance these Awards would almost certainly have failed to be anywhere near as successful and user-friendly as they in fact were.
And without further ado…
R. MANNING: I’d like to note up-front that 2016 was, apparently, trying to compensate for how much the year sucked otherwise by giving us an incredible year in wrestling; on a lot of my “best” votes, there were five or six options and if you asked again a day later, you’d get three completely different answers out of me.
DAN MONTEDONA: If Roman being given the keys to the kingdom was the lowpoint, Tetsuya Naito winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship was the loony, anything-can-happen height of the wrestling calendar. It momentarily broke the loop of Tanahashi/Styles/Okada reigns, affirmed the dirtbag heel persona as a pure moneymaker, inspired incredible Spanish-peppered semi-shoot promos, carried great matches to near-iconic status… and he got to throw the belt in the air! From that point on, the once-forgotten Naito finally became the Starlight Genius he always claimed he was. Assen a yo!
C. GUND: 2016 was Tetsuya Naito’s breakout year. He earned my vote for most favorite wrestler last year after his 2015 G1 performances, but wasn’t big enough for the best wrestler vote yet. This year though he strengthened his character even further, had a world title run and a slew of great matches (including my match of the year), has established the hottest stable in Japan right now, and has used his heat to help multiple other workers returning from excursion to instant relevance. Okada is still unquestionably New Japan’s new ace, but after this year Naito may be more valuable to the immediate future/direction of NJPW.
MATRIXMAN: The Face Who Runs the Place truly earned his nickname. A consistent work horse, putting in stellar match after stellar match, Styles is more than deserving of this spot: he had the greatest debut year in WWE history since Kurt Angle.
GRAPTORS: AJ Styles literally transcended wrestling history by coming to the WWE from TNA/NJPW/Indies and becoming a major star in less than a year. One of the greatest debut years in WWE history.
NATHAN KOSMIN: Everybody is going to be arguing over whether AJ Styles or Kenny Omega is the best wrestler in the world, but if they’re the best, why aren’t they the ace of NJPW like Okada is, huh?
KIHANNU: AJ Styles entered the fourth phase (after X-division, TNA main event, and Japan) of his illustrious career, and all wrestling fans should be eternally grateful for that.
CHRISTOPHER BIRD: Kenny Omega wrestled more truly great matches in 2016 than anybody else. He was given a chance to run in the main event scene for New Japan and ended up being more successful than anybody could possibly have hoped, drawing ridiculous amounts of money and cementing himself as a heavyweight contender with junior weight, which in Japan is nearly impossible to manage. There’s many reasons WWE tried to throw a bucket of money at him in January, but mostly it boils down to the fact that while AJ Styles was, by all accounts, having the best single WWE year of anybody in at least a decade if not longer, Kenny Omega was bettering what AJ had done in Japan the two years previous – and by a lot.
|REVIVAL: SCOTT DAWSON AND DASH WILDER||382||92||29||2244|
|DIY: Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa||43||162||115||931|
|Young Bucks: Nick and Matt Jackson||71||85||53||716|
|American Alpha: Chad Gable and Jason Jordan||36||84||127||686|
|New Day: Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston and Big E||44||55||53||491|
LEWITT: I started this year off seeing Gargano and Ciampa and thinking “fuck these guys, they can die in a fire!” There was nothing I cared about other than making fun of their terrible names. But now, at the end of 2016? I love them. I was so invested in their struggles with The Revival, and I was so satisfied to see them win. I can’t believe what a reversal they performed on me, and that really says something about their year.
R. MANNING: Given that the graphic for Best Tag Team is of Tully and Arn, I think it’s appropriate that I gave my #1 slot to the Revival, who’ve pretty much singlehandedly made NXT’s tag team division must-see viewing.
PIPGENGENBACH: The Young Bucks aren’t just wrestlers, they’re a meta-commentary on the state of wrestling. They’re super fun to watch, exciting, their promos are awesome, and they superkick everything. What more can you ask for?
HAZZALC: Scott Dawson has a legitimate argument for wrestler of the year. The Revival are on another level. An unbelievable duo who have not put on a bad match all year.
DIAL N FOR NINJA: I throw Lucha Underground viewing parties and there is no one my friends hate more than Worldwide Underground. They’re just such perfect asshats.
FRED CAPRARA: That “holds onto his partner’s hang for strength and support but also to keep him from tapping” spot at the end of the Revival/DIY 2/3 falls match in Toronto? *Italian chef finger kiss*
SPUNKY MONKEY: I left my girlfriend to focus on the only relationship that mattered to me – Jeri-KO.
MASTERSON: I’ve had to admit to myself that the Young Bucks will never win this award until they go to WWE, and that’s… that’s okay.
CAP’N ANDY: Seriously, this is the best the Miz has ever been, right? It’s not just me? Because he’s out there every week, being so hateable on the mic and so good in the ring that at this point I just take it for granted that he’s going to be the highlight of any given Smackdown or Talking Smack. I’m really hoping he places well this year, just as reassurance that I’m not taking crazy pills every Tuesday or something.
DAN MONTEDONA: Holy cow, I cannot hear anything around me when I’m at a show and Zack Gibson is leaning hard into his Liverpudlian accent. Sweet Jesus, that heat.
C. GUND: A belt toss is starting to become expected now – but the first time Tetsuya Naito threw the IWGP heavyweight championship into the air and let it clatter to the ground after defeating Okada the crowd was shocked. Seriously, if you have New Japan World go back and listen to the sound they make in response. That plus the trolling he did using the belt toward Okada during the multi-man tags on the Best of the Super Juniors tour in the lead-up to their rematch is more than worth this award.
DIAL N FOR NINJA: LU Season 3 had a pretty pokey start, but Johnny Mundo was always a bright spot, upstaging gods and demons by just being the biggest douchebag in the entire world. If we don’t get to see a finished version of Taya’s Mundo documentary, there is no justice. (Meanwhile, Dario Cueto made two guys compete in a best of five series to determine which one of their souls would be corrupted so a god could inhabit their flesh.)
OMEGATHERION 5000: Zack Gibson reached an absolute apex of heel heat this year (although I score him lower than Naito and Charlotte, who have more going on). When absolutely everything he has to say gets drowned out in insane booing, and one of his matches gets delayed while they remove the tonne of toilet paper “streamers” pelted into the ring, you know his act is working.
CHRISTOPHER BIRD: Charlotte Flair got epic levels of heel heat this year for reasons other than “being a woman,” and in main-roster WWE that’s basically a miracle.
FLYNNJA: Shockingly, Becky Lynch is a better Bayley than Bayley.
LEWITT: I was in a room of wrestling fans at Magfest (a music and gaming Festival in Washington DC) and someone asked if there were any faces people like. A roomful of people shouted in unison: “Sami Zayn!” You can’t argue with that.
M. BRADY: Jack Gallagher and his Extraordinary Gentleman schtick are just about the only reason to watch 205 Live. The way he moves his body is so unique and enjoyable, and his slightly condescending attitude is hilarious, but he can still pull out moves like a devastating headbutt that make him a force to be reckoned with.
DAN MONTEDONA: Really, it’s Bayley and KUSHIDA but c’mon – nothing was more heartwarming this year than Matt Hardy becoming the biggest thing in American wrestling off the back of B-movie ingenuity and a desire to keep wrestling fun and fresh. Bless that insane, insane man.
NATHAN KOSMIN: Matt Tremont in CZW is absolutely infectious; unabashedly a huge mark for the promotion, who got in there and turned out to be this massively charismatic nutjob. Tremont is one of the few people that the shitty CZW regulars collectively loved. He’s clearly having such a great time even when he’s doing fucked up deathmatches.
GREGORY ROSSBACH: Kazuchika Okada didn’t have as many 4 star matches as Shibata, Ricochet, or Riddle, but he had more high-quality MOTYC contenders than all three.
TENKEN: Sami Zayn had more match of the year contenders in 2016 than most guys have in their entire careers.
GABE McDOWELL: This should be a three-way tie between AJ Styles, Kenny Omega and Shinsuke Nakamura, but Styles should win if we have to pick one. Dude was flawless for basically the entire year. Sure, Omega had the incredible match against Naito (and then Wrestle Kingdom this January), but that was just one match.
FLIPDAWG: Styles is going to win this because he’s wrestled multiple match of the year candidates and been the most visible, but I think Best Worker isn’t just about how many match of the year candidates you’re in, because that’s partially about how you’re booked. Cesaro has been booked as an afterthought for most of the year and still has at least serious one match of the year candidate under his belt (the IC fatal fourway at Payback, which was nuts) plus a couple of others that were great matches (a couple of the Sheamus matches, the Money In The Bank ladder match, etc.). If Cesaro had Styles’ booking he’d be winning this award yet again in a walk. If Cesaro was in the G1 Climax Dave Meltzer would be calling him the best worker in the world. It’s that simple. He just makes every match he’s in better, because he’s basically a flawless wrestler (well, except for the Swiss One Nine).
MOREY JONES: Remember when you were young and Kurt Angle was blowing everybody away by being so good and still basically a rookie? Matt Riddle is doing the exact same thing, except he’s better on every level than Angle was.
|RICOCHET (PRINCE PUMA)||180||141||46||1415|
GRAPTORS: Rey Horus’ “Flipping Pizza DDT” looks like it literally defies gravity. Physics has no hold over him.
ALYSON GRIMM: Io Shirai gets my top spot here for that dive off of Dario’s office alone.
DIAL N FOR NINJA: Ricochet won this last year, and he’s only gotten better, so… yeah. Can I just put Ricochet three times?
R. MANNING: This remains the “Brock Lesnar Award For Being Brock Lesnar And Not Having Retired” this year, but the competition is getting much closer than in past years, particularly given that Ishii (to steal from Seanbaby) has so many muscles that he’s more thumb than man. I’d love to see Lesnar vs. Ishii, except that I fear it would result in the destruction of the entire planet as collateral damage.
FRED CAPRARA: Mil Muertes will hit you hard, a lot, and then you will literally die.
DIAL N FOR NINJA: This might speak more to her level of competition in NXT, but it always seems like Asuka is going to legit murder whomever she’s in the ring with. Even when Mickie James showed up I was like, “No Mickie you’ll die.” Also: Lucha Underground built Matanza up so much over Season 1 that I figured they’d never find a guy who could convincingly play him. Well, they showed me.
MASTERS0N: I would be legitimately scared to wrestle Pete Dunne, and Dunne is like, five foot six on a good day. Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar and Luke Harper and all the other top-tier brawlers are at least giants. Pete Dunne is this small little dude who just wrecks you like Fit Finlay would.
NATHAN KOSMIN: I dunno if it’s the production or what but Mil Muertes is the closest thing I’ve seen to a wrestling bear since actual wrestling bears.
FLIPDAWG: Samoa Joe is legit terrifying. Like, Brock Lesnar is scary too, sure – but Samoa Joe is scarier, because Brock is a genetic abnormality and Joe is just a regular human being who manages to be just as dangerous as Brock is. In conclusion: REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGAAAAAAAAAAALLLLL!
CHRISTOPHER BIRD: You know how Mauro Ranallo and Tom Phillips and other WWE announcers have started calling incredibly stiff kicks and headbutts “Shibata-esque”? Yeah, there’s a reason for that.
SEJANOZ: That smile of Asuka’s leaves me simutaneously aroused and frightened. Now I know how a male praying mantis must feel before mating.
LORD McBASTARD: The Kentucky Gentleman will never not get my vote; the fact that Chuck Taylor wasn’t in the CWC beating up flippy boys is a crime against wrestling.
R. MANNING: Jack Gallagher gets his slot here for having been the first wrestler I’ve ever seen go from “literally who?” to “Austin-level over” with the Raw crowd in all of sixty seconds with his announcing his intention to interfere in a match.
LEON HUGHS: Kenny Omega, and I’m a little offended he isn’t a non write-in answer. Kenny Omega is the best it’s just a fact. This guy is over in NJPW helping to establish the fact that the WWE isn’t the be all, end all. Kenny bumped up himself up to a heavyweight and is still having the same killer matches show after show and -always- being the most entertaining man in the arena. The man is always working too – showing up to CEO, a fighting game tournament, to have actual matches in the tourney and an exhibition with Xavier Woods last year; cross promoting and just getting eyes on the product; interacting with fans; just being a cool guy doing what he loves and making us love what we love that much more. 1,000 years of Kenny Omega please.
NATHAN KOSMIN: People knock Ibushi’s business decisions constantly. As WWE continues to expand their reach further, it’s rad as fuck that someone is out there saying “hey, this isn’t going to fulfill me creatively.” It might be boneheaded to turn down a massive TV contract to go home and be a cosplay anime character in the opener of much smaller shows than a weekly Raw taping, but it’s awesome that he’s pursuing his own vision. Wrestling is art and Kota Ibushi is an artist.
NICKABE9: Everything Chris Jericho has done this year has put a smile on my face. It blows my mind that he steps his game up so much after every one of his returns. He’s reinvented himself so many times and this past year may have been the best work of his career. He is flat-out enjoyable and truly a gift to wrestling fans… so drink it in, maaaaaaan!
BOONDOCK SAINT: Attention, indie promoters: I will go to any show within a remotely reasonable distance that features Chris Hero, because he makes any show a must-see.
JODORISIO: Chris Jericho – wait, why did I have to write in Jericho? Looks like RSPW just made the list.
CHRISTOPHER BIRD: I can’t remember the last time wrestling made me as happy as I was to see AJ Styles nearly crying when the crowd went absolutely insane for his debut at the Royal Rumble, because AJ has been one of the best wrestlers in the world for fifteen goddamn years and a large percentage of wrestling fans simply had no idea how great he is, and then he spent a year teaching everybody how great he is. He deserves this (clap clap clapclapclap).
DAVE MORGAN: I don’t know where Braun came from, but he’s gone from #4 on the Wyatt depth chart to the point where you could conceivably buy him as a B-Show main eventer in, what, maybe six months? I don’t want to see him main event Mania, but he could be a fun challenger at Fastlane or something like that.
OGMEJA: There was real concern that Alexa wasn’t ready for a main roster spot, but man, she improved something fierce. Probably the most complete female performer in WWE right now, considering how much better she is on the stick than most of the Four Horsewomen.
TENKEN: Miz takes this one in a walk, but special mention goes out to Chris Jericho, who found a way to reinvent himself one more time and get me as into him as I was ten years ago.
C. GUND: To illustrate how much room there was for improvement: when the former CJ Parker was first signed full time to New Japan in late 2015, the only thought I had was “Why?” – followed by “they must’ve heard he broke Owens’s nose with a palm strike and figured he might have some strong style potential.” As for how much he’s grown: The other day I realized I would actually be excited to see what Juice Robinson – especially with six months more experience – could do if he got a G1 spot in 2017.
NATHAN KOSMIN: Remember when Cedric Alexander was 20 pounds heavier and the least interesting part of every RoH show? Yeah, me either.
BIIGDAWG: This was the year that Matt Hardy finally decided to just go full Master Thespian and play to his strengths: cartoon antics and hanging out with his family. The man brought a real sense of old timey kayfabe back.
CAP’N ANDY: How relieving it is to not have to vote for Cesaro in this category this year, and that he’s finally getting his dues. How sad it is that his successor is so obvious. Sami Zayn deserves to be either holding the US belt or challenging for the WWE championship, not desperately begging for a chance to let Braun Strowman murder him because that’s the only way he can get on TV anymore. If you don’t want to have him fight Owens any more, WWE, send the poor boy to Smackdown and let him shine.
LEWITT: There is no one more underrated than Adien English. He has a great look, a good gimmick, is a good talker and is a phenomenal worker. He makes everyone he is in the ring with look like a million bucks. I can’t understand why they aren’t doing more with him.
OGMEJA: Can we seriously just rename this award “The Cesaro” already? Gulak deserves so much better than going from EVOLVE main eventer to bland enhancement talent. Emma definitely deserves better than being used as a glorified inside joke with these endless vignettes.
AARON MORTON: Starting to wonder if we should put out missing posters for Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel.
JOTMEILPUNTO: Pentagon Jr. may be super over, but not because of how Lucha Underground and AAA constantly used him during 2016 – since they used him terribly. Do they not see the gold nugget they have in hand?
SURIEL1981: Bobby Lashley’s always looked like a star, but now he wrestles and talks like a star as well.
ALYSON GRIMM: Cesaro feels like the perennial winner here, but not enough people have been talking about just how great Nikki Cross is. She wrestles like a rabid wolf and is so unlike anything else we’ve seen in the women’s division.
CHRISTOPHER BIRD: Is it my eyes, when you look at me? / My booking’s lousy, it’s plain to see / you all complain, ’bout Cesaro / but I’m in a joke team, with Fandango / super-good-working, killer on the mic / but going nowhere, cause Vince no like / main event talent, wasted out of hand / please someone send me to New Japan
|BROKEN MATT HARDY (INCL. BROTHER NERO JEFF HARDY)||310||66||48||1844|
|Chris Jericho is obsessed with his List/hates Stupid Idiots||114||117||71||1063|
|Gentleman Jack Gallagher||27||40||41||337|
|Glorious Bobby Roode||22||42||40||316|
|Los Ingovernables De Japon||28||33||17||273|
CAP’N ANDY: What a year for great gimmicks. Huge embarassment of riches in this category. I voted for Jericho, Roode, and Asuka, but honorable mentions are due to AJ Styles, Kendrick, Balor, Slater, Ellsworth, Miz, the New Day, No Way Jose, the Revival, and Tye Dillinger. Any of them would be worthy winners.
BIIGDAWG: Matanza is my version of Kane. I got into wrestling like 2 years ago, and seeing this unstoppable beast just hold the title for a solid YEAR made me super obsessed with him. Plus, he lost it in the most luck-based pin ever, and has gone even more insane. He’s the creature Lucha Underground has wanted the Disiciples to fear forever, and he’s just a brick outhouse of a man.
MATRIXMAN: DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELETE DELET
LORD McBASTARD: Jericho managed to find an amazing second (third? forth?) wind in his career, and bust out a gimmick so strong it proves he is the GOAT.
CHRISTOPHER BIRD: Just as the Bullet Club started to lose steam, along comes Los Ingovernables de Japon to remind everybody that Gedo can book a super-over heel stable more or less at will. (Hell, he’s doing it with Suzuki-gun all over again right now!)
ALYSON GRIMM: Chris Jericho as Dennis Reynolds and Kevin Owens as Mac are just above my vision of Brian Kendrick as Rickety Cricket, in the back unscrewing the plates from his cruiserweight belt to sell for scrap metal.
|EMBER MOON'S ECLIPSE TOP ROPE CORKSCREW STUNNER||108||34||60||762|
|Kenny Omega's One-Winged Angel one-handed electric chair driver||80||42||29||584|
|The Revival's Shatter Machine flapjack into double knee facebreaker||37||50||31||397|
|The Young Bucks' Meltzer Driver springboard somersault spike piledriver||27||41||39||336|
|AJ Styles' springboard 450 splash||37||24||31||319|
R. MANNING: Goldberg gets my #3 slot for another nostalgia vote, as his spear remains the only one in history that has ever looked anywhere near as devastating as the move is put over as. (Granted, this is because it’s basically a shoot spear tackle, but still.)
SIMON EDWARDS: Zack Sabre Jr’s Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than the Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness for having the greatest name in the history of wrestling, as well as being an awesome looking submission that he makes look excellent and effortless
C. GUND: The Burning Hammer Brian Kendrick gave to Kota Ibushi during their CWC match. It was the only move I saw this year that resulted in me just repeating the name of the move out loud to myself several times, in disbelief of what just happened.
DIAL N FOR NINJA: The Shatter Machine is on my list because it looks awesome and also it is called the Shatter Machine.
FLIPDAWG: I saw Ember Moon’s finisher for the first time in late 2013, when the NXT women were just starting to get going and when she was still wrestling in the indies as Athena and I saw her do the O-Face and I thought “welp, they gonna sign her up, there’s no way.” It took a while, but it was a sure thing.
|11/19: REVIVAL V. DIY (2/3 FALLS NXT TAG TITLE)||204||97||30||1371|
|04/01: Shinsuke Nakamura v. Sami Zayn||136||112||79||1174|
|08/21: AJ Styles v. John Cena||42||50||50||460|
|01/04: AJ Styles v. Shinsuke Nakamura (IWGP IC title)||19||31||48||284|
|08/13: Kenny Omega v. Tetsuya Naito (G1 Climax match)||37||18||17||273|
J.D. SPIRIT: It’s about time tag team wrestling gets some love. The Revival and DIY had two amazing matches this year. The 2/3 falls from NXT Toronto was nearly perfection personified. Arguably the best tag team match ever put on. Had amazing chemistry, the crowd was into it, amazing work rate and a feel good ending. In my opinion, impossible to beat, even by singles matches.
CAP’N ANDY: Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is the best match I’ve ever seen. Not this year; ever. Until further notice, all other matches have to try to live up to Zayn/Nak, the match so superlative that it birthed the FIGHT FOREVER chant, because the only bad thing about it was that our universe’s fundamental laws dictated that eventually it had to stop. So, yeah. That’s got my vote.
DAVE MORGAN: The most divisive match in wrestling history: the Final Deletion. Either you thought it was genius or the worst thing ever put on TV. But it got people talking about TNA again, and that’s a miracle.
BIIGDAWG: Marty Martinez and Killshot’s Weapons of Mass Destruction match was the gimmick match to end all gimmick matches. Both guys got mad respect due to it, and it ended the second-most long running “boy, Marty sure is an ass” feud on the show with a literal sky-high stomp into a table.
|AJ STYLES V. JOHN CENA||130||89||116||1149|
|Revival v. DIY||111||93||70||974|
|Daniel Bryan v. The Miz||67||61||58||634|
|Sasha Banks v. Charlotte Flair||74||67||34||639|
|Kevin Owens v. Sami Zayn||58||57||69||599|
J.D. SPIRIT: You know it’s weird when the top three feuds were a tag team feud in NXT, a women’s feud that went on a little too long, and a feud between a non-wrestler and the best heel in the company right now. I couldn’t give it to Charlotte and Sasha because the hot shotting of the title and the feud dragged out too long, and Miz/Bryan, while interesting, can’t seem to have an end that would be satisfying. So DIY vs Revival get the nod – and I’m not complaining, because they had some amazing matches.
GRAPTORS: Nakamura vs. Joe was the absolute best in title flipping feuds. Both guys came out looking amazing, and it finally made Samoa Joe look like a legitimate WWE star.
FLIPDAWG: AJ Styles finally being the man John Cena couldn’t figure out how to beat was insanely compelling. Actually, all of AJ’s feuds this year have been gold – he delivered the goods in feuds with Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose – but the Cena feud was the cream of the crop.
NATHAN KOSMIN: Naito getting revenge for all of NJPW’s promotional missteps that had tanked his babyface run had just enough reality in it to be insanely compelling.
NATHAN KOSMIN SHUT UP TOM
CAP’N ANDY: I know Austin Aries eventually has to get back into the ring, but… does he? Really? Would it really be so wrong if we just stuck a cowboy hat on him and told Vince that JBL got plastic surgery or something?
A BOY NAMED ART: I ranked both Excalibur and Chucky T. over the likes of Corey Graves, because they have a tougher task in bringing structure and story to PWG’s free-flowing match set-ups, yet still manage to make every show fun.
CHRISTOPHER BIRD: Tom Phillips got my #1 vote because he was one-half of the best duo in ages when he teamed with Corey Graves in NXT, and while Graves is fantastic, Phillips had the more difficult job of calling the action and telling the story, and completely nailed it. Tom “No Drama” Phillips. That’s who he is.
OGMEJA: It’s 2017! How the hell is Bill Goldberg the best promo in wrestling? What the hell is happening?
WORM HUT: Seriously, is there any question? The man got a scarf, a potted plant, and a clipboard over this year. If you’re voting for anyone BUT Chris Jericho… well, you know what he’d call you, don’t you?
DAN PALMER: When Daniel Bryan retired, who would have guessed that The Miz could have become a truly inspired heel off the back of it? And that you’d enjoy it?
MASTERSON: Eli Drake was a good promo even when he was dogging it in NXT, and now that he’s finally motivated he’s delivering some of the best mic work I’ve seen in years. Miz gets all the attention (and not unfairly, he’s great) because he’s in WWE, but Eli’s the man.
|BROKEN MATT HARDY VOWS VENGEANCE ON 'BROTHER NERO' JEFF HARDY||124||65||45||905|
|Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho are best friends||93||92||73||887|
|The Miz is determined to make Daniel Bryan eat his words about his wrestling ability||93||84||54||825|
|AJ Styles debuts at the Royal Rumble||75||60||64||683|
|Heath Slater overlooked in the WWE brand draft and spends months trying to get a contract||48||61||74||571|
MATRIXMAN: Slater’s search for roster glory was possibly the most satisfying storyline WWE put out this year with a more than satisfying conclusion with him eventually winning the tag team championship with Rhyno.
DIAL N FOR NINJA: Arguably the best thing to happen in WWE this year was taking women’s wrestling seriously, and creating a belt to reflect it. But the most maddening thing was the Heath Slater angle, because it shows when WWE just actually has an idea and follows through with it, people will care. They just… almost never do that.
A BOY NAMED ART: The Final Deletion isn’t technically included as such in this category (We considered it to be part of the “vengeance” angle that won – MGK )but it gets my vote here because while it’s tough to define by any metric of a regular “match,” it helped bring TNA closer to positive relevance than anything else in the past few years.
GABE McDOWELL: Owens and Jericho are amazing and they should stay friends forever – but Styles showing up at the Rumble was the loudest reaction of the year and was awesome. That’s going to be something that fans remember for a long time.
|WWE (incl. NXT)||310||108||82||2038|
J.D. SPIRIT: NJPW wins hands down by a mile for having amazing matches all year; I just wish it was more readily available for the masses. WCPW is surprising for a little indie promotion out of the UK, and they’re pulling out some great booking and very entertaining matches. I think if they keep it up, they could easily be next years top promotion.
AKIHANNU: Lucha Underground is the freshest brand on the block. Just makes me wonder why it took so long for someone to realize the potential of combining the undeniable awesomeness of Mexican wrestling with American television know-how?
CHUCARLIN: NXT. It is a separate product with separate booking and a very different feel. Stop being stubborn. (This particular vote was tallied about a week before Seth Rollins showed up at Takeover: San Antonio to confront Triple H and Tye Dillinger made his surprise appearance in the Royal Rumble. Our position holds.)
CHRISTOPHER BIRD: To quote Chris Sims: “WWE: The Wrestling Promotion That Is On Television ™.”
|WWE SMACKDOWN LIVE||159||112||81||1293|
|WWE Cruiserweight Classic||111||101||76||1010|
|Lucha Underground Weekly TV||134||54||54||940|
|NJPW G1 Climax||64||37||24||479|
OGMEJA: It is stunning that WWE could put on a show as sublime as the Cruiserweight Classic. Just all-around wonderful, made all the more apparent by how Raw completely ruined anyone that ever touched it mere weeks later.
DIAL N FOR NINJA: Lucha Underground did lose a bit of steam at the start of Season 3, but post-Aztec Warfare it had snake men, god possession, and the one episode where three Japanese women kicked the shit out of Pentagon. Not to mention Paul London tripping balls.
CAP’N ANDY: RAW does an hour of talking every week and it’s boring, over-scripted, and drags the entire brand down. SmackDown does it and it’s the best thing on the WWE Network just about every single week. Weird, that.
MASTERSON: It continues to be a never-ending joyful freakout for me that, instead of having to trawl YouTube and DailyMotion for clips from the G1 Climax, I can just go to New Japan World and watch the whole thing on-demand. TECHNOLOGY!
|NJPW WRESTLE KINGDOM 10||140||73||62||1043|
|WWE NXT Takeover: Dallas||127||81||68||1014|
|WWE NXT Takeover: Toronto||73||66||51||665|
|WWE NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II||73||53||55||634|
|PWG Battle of Los Angeles||37||47||27||380|
R. MANNING: It says something when all three of my votes are for Takeovers.
MOREY JONES: Takeovers are great; Wrestle Kingdom is always better. This year Wrestle Kingdom had the best Nakamura match of the year and the best Styles match of the year, the best main event of any card this year, the best undercard of any card this year. It was the best show, period. Even with that awful battle royale to start things off.
CINCY: I noticed that NXT Takeover: Dallas is on the list, but the most bloated WrestleMania ever is not. Hint, Vince: Bigger! and Badder! doesn’t equal Better!
DIAL N FOR NINJA: Dallas was definitely the Takeover to beat this year, since it had Zayn/Nakamura in addition to the usually-excellent Tag and NXT Title matches. Also, LU aired both Aztec Warfare II and III this year, and they were both excellent. Could whoever books the Rumble take a look at these and take some notes?
FLIPDAWG: This was possibly the best Battle of Los Angeles PWG has put on yet. I mean, in one tournament you got Cody Rhodes, Chris Hero, Pete Dunne, Matt Riddle, Tommaso Ciampa, Tommy End, Marty Scurll, Dalton Castle and basically everybody from Lucha Underground who’s great, plus the Young Bucks showing up for another five-star match. Insanely great wrestling, non-stop, with Meltzer literally not giving a single match over the entire weekend less than three and a half stars. Nothing else compared – not even Wrestle Kingdom 10, which at least had some bad matches on it. Crazy.
|WITH SPANDEX (UPROXX)||249||60||35||1495|
|Scott Keith's Blog Of Doom!||44||24||14||320|
|Figure 4 Online/The Wrestling Observer||35||23||17||278|
GRAPTORS: Brandon Stroud is the best professional wrestling writer right now. No one is even close.
DAN MONTEDONA: Thank God for Tights N’ Fights for injecting fun, wit and representation into the lily-white dry-ass podcast game. How2Wrestling still has the greatest power couple in podcasting and a sense of discovery. VRTLPROS is underrated, wily and unpredictable, with a never-ceasing appetite for YouTube trash and great music.
OMEGATHERION: The Getting Networked podcast, now sadly in retirement, was my second-favorite weekly run-down of wrestling talk. Dustin Spencer and Dan Johns did it up right.
CHRISTOPHER BIRD: Obligatory “if it wasn’t for Dave Meltzer and the Observer half of all wrestling media wouldn’t have anything to talk about except their own fantasy booking” comment.