Towards the end of December I’m gonna do my year end awards for comics, wrestling, TV, and movies. For now I’m narrowing down the field in each category. So here we go with wrestling. Where I have a lot of nominees I’ll whittle it down some more making a final choice.
Match of the Year (ring work)
- AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura, Wrestle Kingdom
- Nakamura vs Sami Zayn, NXT Takeover: Dallas
- Zayn vs Kevin Owens, Payback
- Styles vs Roman Reigns, Extreme Rules
- Zayn vs Owens, Battleground
- Styles vs John Cena, Summerslam
- The Revival vs Team DIY, NXT Takeover Toronto
- Five man elimination match, Survivor Series
I’m not gonna opine much here. Obviously it’s subjective. I am going back an rewatching these as I decide. But for an example of what I’m looking for check out the first Zayn/Owens match. No botches, no lulls in the action, the near falls and reversals were all realistic, the back and forth was like a real prizefight, and both guys sold awesomely.
Match of the Year (significance)
- Women’s Title Match (Sasha Banks vs Charlotte vs Becky Lynch), Wrestlemania 32
- The Miz vs Zach Ryder, night after Wrestlemania on RAW
- Styles vs Reigns, Extreme Rules
- Reigns vs Seth Rollins, Money in the Bank
- G1 Tournament Final, New Japan
- Shield Triple Threat, Battleground
- Styles vs Cena, Summerslam
- Styles vs Dean Ambrose, Backlash
- Fatal Four Way Universal Title Match on RAW (Owens wins title)
- Sasha Banks vs Charlotte, Hell in a Cell
The two women’s matches are the most significantly placed women’s matches on a WWE card, ever. Miz vs Ryder wasn’t a great match but it set the table for a great heel run that’s been a bread and butter part of the year’s storytelling. The other matches either crowned major champions or solidified someone’s place at the top of their respective company. It’s no coincidence that Styles name is on there so much. His run this year is easily the most respect Vince has shown to an outside guy, ever, and those big matches are your proof.
Surprise of the Year
- Kevin Owens wins the Universal Title
- Dean Ambrose immediately cashes in Money in the Bank
- Kenny Omega wins the G1 Tournament
- AJ Styles beats John Cena clean at Summerslam
- Goldberg squashes Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series
- Shaquille O’Neal enters the Andre the Giant battle royal at Wrestlemania
- Samoa Joe regains the NXT title from Nakamura at NXT Takeover Toronto
These are all essentially things that no one would have called on January 1, each for it’s own reason. Some are title victories, others are plain victories that flat out were not on the radar a year ago.
Letdown of the Year
- Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose, Wrestlemania 32
- Brock Lesnar vs Randy Orton, Summerslam
- Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler, Summerslam
- Roman Reigns vs Rusev, Summerslam
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs Samoa Joe, NXT Takeover Brooklyn
- The TNA sale attempt
- The WWE tag team division
I could easily nominate Summerslam as a show, that’s how many disappointing matches there were there. I could also easily pencil in Dean Ambrose or Brock Lesnar’s bodies of work as a whole. Both of those guys had several matches that looked a lot better going in than they turned out, and Brock largely mailed in the whole year. But there were a few other things that deserved mention.
The WWE Tag team division has been one big batch of wasted potential lost to the need to make New Day the longest reigning champions on RAW, while the Smackdown side is mostly a collection of also rans. Then there’s the TNA sale that wasn’t; so many fans had their hopes up that Dixie Carter would finally be forced to sell the company to some people who’d run it right, namely Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame. And then the worst happened; she got some money to keep it going and forced Billy out.
I’m gonna pick some winners in other categories but those are more obvious so I’ll just wait to do that. But for now enjoy these and tell me what you think.