The Year That Was – Top Wrestlers of 2016: Part II
With the honorable mentions out of the way, it is time to focus on those who really made 2016 their own (in case you missed out on that, you can check it out here). So here are numbers 10 to 6 of the Top 10 Wrestlers of 2016.
10. The New Day
The New Day is truly a story of how the strong-willed can survive no matter how bad the going gets. Stranded without a gimmick or feud, the WWE banded together Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods in a gimmick that was in no way a popular one (and very stereotypical indeed!). However, it was on the basis of sheer talent that these three performers managed to succeed, winning the hearts of both audiences and the management. Their immense success resulted in The New Day gaining the honour of the longest reigning Tag Champions in the history of the WWE. While some would say 2015 would have been the definitive year for them, as it was then, when they managed to win audiences over, 2016 was when they solidified their legacy in the annals of tag team history. Great matches, close calls, a breakfast cereal, several freebird rule violations and a record breaking championship run summed up the year for The New Day.
9. The Revival (Dash & Dawson)
This has been a great year for tag team wrestling, with several great teams making it big across the world. The WWE of course had the bulk of talent, where one team shone more than the rest this year – The Revival. Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson started the year as reigning NXT Tag Team champions and feuded with American Alpha during the first half of the year, producing a number of good matches. Their feud with DIY during the second half of 2016 resulted in one of the best matches in recent tag team history at NXT Takeover: Toronto. Infact, the WWE recently announced the match as THE MATCH OF THE YEAR in 2016, which speaks loads of the talent that these teams have on offer. The Revival call themselves ‘The Top Guys’, and they truly are, deservedly achieving the status of the only 2-time NXT Tag Team champions. 2017 should see a lot more great matches coming from the team which should be promoted to one of the top two brands.
8. Broken Matt Hardy
Through the years Matt Hardy has generally played second fiddle to his more agile and charismatic brother Jeff. However 2016 saw a very different and unique side to the other Hardy – something that bought him critical and public acclaim like never before. While Hardy won the TNA World Title early on in 2016 from EC3, adding another feat to his already illustrious career, his highlight point for the year however, did not come until May, when he debuted a new persona – of a crazed ‘broken’ man with partly bleached hair, a scruffy look and a strange British accent calling himself ‘Broken Matt’. His relentless feud with his brother Jeff, saw some of the best performances The Hardys have put up in recent years, creating in the process, the ‘Final Deletion’, something TNA can truly be proud of, in an otherwise very shaky year, for the troubled promotion. Matt went on to feud with Tag Champions Decay along with his now ‘Broken and Deleted’ Brother Nero, which culminated with The Broken Hardys winning the Tag Titles for the umpteenth time. This was a new side to The Hardys that has never been seen before, and a much refreshing twist to the usual fare that the wrestling product has to offer.
7. Samoa Joe
Who would have ever thought that we would get to see Samoa Joe wrestle in the WWE. But we did, and boy was it a treat! 2015 saw the Samoan Submission Specialist signing up with the WWE’s developmental brand NXT. While Joe had a few interesting feuds through 2015 and early 2016, he truly shined when he clashed with Sami Zayn for the No. 1 contender’s spot for the NXT Championship, ultimately winning and going on to battle Finn Balor for the title. Balor and Joe’s feud provided us with some of the best NXT moments (and trust me there are SO MANY!) of the year. Joe ultimately won the title and following Balor’s promotion to RAW feuded with the recently arrived Shinsuke Nakamura. This was another exciting face-off with quite a few riveting matches that saw Nakamura win the title only to lose it to Joe and win it back again. Although Joe eventually lost the title he did, in the process, become the only two-time NXT champion in the history of the brand. 2017 looks to be a great year for Joe as he will definitely be looking to taking his legacy up into one of the larger shows of the WWE.
6. Kenny Omega
The biggest story of 2016 from a non-WWE source was of the man they call ‘The Cleaner’. Kenny Omega was a bit part player in the Bullet Club before the high profile departures of AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows propelled him into a leadership role that bought to life, his meteoric rise to success. Going on to lead one of the most ‘over’ wrestling stables since the nWo, Omega successfully transformed himself into a main-event player, defeating NJPW veteran Hiroshi Tanahashi to become the IWGP Intercontinental Champion. By mid-year he dropped the title to Michael Elgin and entered the G1 Climax 2016 competition. Omega then went on to create history by becoming the first gaijin (foreigner) to win the competition since its inception back in 1991. He ended the year as the No.1 contender for Kazuchika Okada’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship, marking a successful end to the year.
So there, you have it. Nos 10 to 06 of The Top 10 wrestlers of 2016. As always, do let us know your thoughts and views through your comments as well as who you think should be the in the Top 5.