John LaRocca looks at the best matches he’s seen in 2017 so far.
Check out our 2016 All Japan Champion Carnival favorite match list.
It was yet another year in pro wrestling where the business was either linear or down. In the US, WWE continued to plod through with mind-boggling booking, but WrestleMania saved buyrates from being alarmingly down over the year. In TNA, they continued their usual business strategy of booking for TV ratings and not really giving a damn about their PPV numbers. ROH left HDNet and went into syndication, but the jury is still out on how they are doing.
Our pro wrestling awards will be WWE heavy because it’s the number one promotion in the US. But Alan keeps us honest with his independent and international choices. Alan, Duan, myself, Big D from Superfriends Universe, Ryan Pike from Tough Talk MMA give us their picks for the awards.
Most Outstanding Wrestler Of The Year
Alan – Daisuke Sekimoto and Akira Tozawa
I’m sitting on the fence and splitting this between two men who’ve had years that were utterly incredible. Daisuke Sekimoto basically played the NWA touring world champion role in the first half of the year as wXw champ defending the belt in three different continents. Invaded All Japan with Yuji Okabayashi and won the All Asia titles in one of several classics with Soya & Sanada. Had a MOTYC in his home promotion of Big Japan when Soya and Hama came to try to take back the belts. Won the Fire Festival in Zero 1 in a great final with the usually average Kohei Sato. Has had countless other ****+ singles and tag matches.
Akira Tozawa shares the spoils by having two amazing half years. The 1st half was all in the US where he became a hero in PWG with an absurd amount of MOTYCs, and was the best guy on the DGUSA shows too. Then in the second half of the year he made his return to Japan and instantly was in the main event picture. His title match with Mochi was incredible.
Duan – Dolph Ziggler
A huge breakout year for Ziggler – always gave it absolutely everything inside the ring regardless of his place on the card. There’s not a more consistent performer on the roster.
Ryan – CM Punk
Consistently delivered great promos and delivered great performances in the ring at the right times.
Big D – Daniel Bryan and CM Punk
Despite the storyline going from fascinating to lame WWE garbage, CM Punk managed to completely reinvigorate his career and for the first time became a super-over top babyface. Bryan had good matches up and down the card with guys of all shapes and sizes from Sin Cara to Mark Henry. He won Money in the Bank. He does tons of jobs and doesn’t even complain about it, then ends the year as World Champ. The cream rises to the top.
GG – Dolph Ziggler
He was my choice last year for who I expected big things from in 2011. And even throughout horrendous booking, I think he was the brightest star. For one, I looked forward most to his matches on every PPV and TV taping. Secondly, his selling has become Mr. Perfect-like, taking athletic bumps, and really selling the hell out of the beating he’s taking. Thirdly, I’m not sure there’s a better athlete in the company and if they don’t turn him loose in 2012, it will boggle my mind.
Pro Wrestling Show Of The Year
In the US, pro wrestling was down because WWE was down. TNA was more putrid than ever, which is a shame because they started 2010 with such high hopes. ROH and Dragon Gate USA continue to put out a product that, for the most part, their audiences like, but their audiences are small and hardcore. And based on what Alan has said, there’s some great stuff in some of the bigger independent organizations.
There’s always good stuff. Sometimes, you just have to dig. Alan, Duan, myself, and Stevie J from Angry Marks have listed our picks for our awards. Also, we have Big D making his return to the site for “One Night Only”, giving his thoughts as well. You can find D at Superfriends Universe.
Most Outstanding Wrestler Of The Year
Alan – Chris Hero
Career year for Metropolis’ finest. He tore it up in NOAH, PWG, ROH, EVOLVE and wXw during the course of the year, having one great match after another. Shined in both singles and tags (as part of the Kings Of Wrestling). His matches with Akira Tozawa, the Briscoes, Martin Stone and Davey Richards were crazy good.
Duan – John Cena
Another brilliant year for Cena. He delivered his best work when needed and remains the best reason to tune into WWE TV.
Ahhhh Sunday. This was quite the day my friends.
Saturday was a late-ish night so I didn’t wake up until 11:30 or so. With only 4 hours until the show, I didn’t bother going into Centr-o so I just chilled at the hotel, had a small workout, listened to some shows and did a little reading. EXCITING STUFF….. or not.
1. 16 Carat Gold SF: Shingo Takagi over Zack Sabre Jr by ELBOW/CHOKE DEATH COMBO.
Holy fuck did this ever rule!!! This is the sleeper match of the weekend. Zack was extremely aggressive here. He came right out of the gates swinging. And of course Shingo was happy to go toe to toe with him. Zack got the advantage by injuring Shingo’s arm (which he sold like Ricky Steamboat in his prime). However Shingo struck back, taking out Zack’s leg and then going to work with some of the most awesome leg attacks I’ve ever seen. He was switching from one leg lock variation to another and it was soooo smooth. I was just in awe. And I think it was this match that saw Shingo do A FIST DROP TO THE KNEE!!!! Awesome! But Zack fought back, like he had been doing all weekend. Shingo once again had to break out a more severe finisher, as that little story continued on. This time it was the elbow/choke combo that I’ve only ever seen him use once before.
2. 16 Carat Gold SF: Drake Younger over Steve Douglas via Drake’s Landing
The second semi final delivered in spades too. If you’ve read my prior reports you know the deal with these guys. The crowd loves one of them and they HATE one of them. Thus we had yet another match with insane heat. Drake was on fire and Douglas probably put in his best performance of the weekend here. The nearfalls were EPIC and when Drake pulled out the win with the Landing the place exploded.