The Year That Was – Top Wrestlers of 2017: Part III
We finally come to the Top 5 wrestlers of 2017, and it is a refreshing fact that for a change the top two wrestlers in the world are not from the WWE. This fact by itself showcases how the pro-wrestling industry has evolved over the years, providing a larger variety of programs and content apart from the WWE, to audiences worldwide. With other promotions like NJPW and RoH rightfully gaining traction from global audiences, 2018 seems set to deliver another year exciting and entertaining year of wrestling!
Here are No. 05 to 01 of our Top 10 Wrestlers of 2017!
#5 The USOs (Jimmy and Jey)
The Usos have been THE hottest tag teams of this year, having pulled one of the greatest comeback of all time, raising the bar for the entire WWE tag team division. Having revamped their gimmick the previous year, The Usos have dominated the entire Smackdown tag division all year. When The New Day were drafted to Smackdown they began one of the greatest tag team feuds in recent history, with The Usos resulting in some of the MOST entertaining tag team matches of the year – including one EPIC Hell-in-a-Cell Tag team match. When everyone would have thought The Usos were already past their heyday in the business, the brothers pulled out a complete turnover appearing with a makeover that is so much more over with audiences, resulting in them ending the year as a record three-time and reigning SmackDown Tag Champions – and deservedly so!
Nobody is ready for Asuka! The former undefeated NXT Women’s Champion ended her record-breaking 510-day reign as champion only on the back of an injury and subsequent call-up to the main roster. As a part of her reign, she has delivered some of the very best women matches of the year against the likes of Ember Moon and Nikki Cross, ensuring that there was no one to topple her off the top at NXT. During her time at NXT Asuka cemented her legacy as one of the most menacing and dominating champions the WWE has seen in recent times. Since her debut on RAW, Asuka has continued her undefeated streak, playing a very important role in winning the RAW Women’s Survivor Series match.
Having continued her unbeaten run into the new year, Asuka aims to win the Royal Rumble and challenge the RAW Women’s Champion, Alexa Bliss for the title at Wrestlemania.
#3 AJ Styles
It can be said without any doubt that AJ Styles is the best performer in the WWE today. Styles continued to build upon his phenomenal form from last year beginning the year as WWE Champion. His loss at the hands of Bray Wyatt at Elimination Chamber resulted in a very entertaining feud with Shane McMahon which culminated at Wrestlemania, with a subsequent face turn for Styles. After a good performance at the Money in the Bank match, AJ set his sights on Kevin Owens US title, which he won from Owens at a live event. Styles would then go on to lose the title to Owens and win it again, becoming a 2-time US Champion in the process. Styles would go on to hold the title for 75 days before dropping it to Baron Corbin and beginning a feud with then WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. Styles would then go on to win the WWE title from Mahal in one of Mahal’s best matches so far to become a 2-time WWE Champion.
While Styles ended the year as champion, he did deliver two exceptional matches during the year – one with Finn Balor at TLC and the other at Survivor Series against Brock Lesnar. With only a few more years left under his belt, Styles can be expected to deliver many more exciting performances this year, retaining the honour of being the best wrestler in the WWE today.
#2 Kazuchika Okada
If there is one person who can truly be called the most legitimate world champion in the pro-wrestling industry today, it is Kazuchika Okada. Okada is in his fourth reign as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and is a fighting champion in the truest essence of the phrase. The man has delivered match after match showcasing in-ring brilliance like no other. His matches with Kenny Omega at WrestleKingdom II and Dominion were without any contention the best matches of 2017. Okada has not only put in brilliant performances this year but is also in the midst of a record-breaking title reign. His current reign of 560+ days is the longest in the history of New Japan. He has also broken Hiroshi Tanahashi’s record of 1,358 combined days as champion.
Okada has taken on opponent after opponent this year, including the likes of Kenny Omega, Cody and Katsuyori Shibata to name a few, successfully defending his title and proving that he is truly one of the greatest pro-wrestlers in the history of NJPW and in the world today.
#1 Kenny Omega
There is only one man alive, who kept Kazuchika Okada from reaching the apex of our Top 10 list, and that man is Kenny Omega. The leader of the Bullet Club, The Cleaner, IWGP US Heavyweight Champion – call him whatever you will, Omega is an athlete of the first order, and possibly the best wrestler on the planet. Delivering a mind-numbing three ‘match of the year’ contenders this year alone, Omega has proved that there is no one at par with him, at this stage of his career. Two bouts with Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11 and Dominion, and one with Tetsuya Naito at G1 Climax, Omega has been the wrestler to watch out for all year. Losing to Okada twice for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship early on during the year, Omega turned his attention to the new IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship defeating Michael Elgin, Jay Lethal and Tomohiro Ishii in an 8-man tournament to become the first ever IWGP US Heavyweight Champion. Omega also managed to appear in the second final of the G1 Climax, in as many years, only to lose to Naito, but delivering one of the best matches in the history of the business in the process. Omega then started a very exciting feud with WWE alumni Chris Jericho slated to culminate at WrestleKingdom 12 in a No DQ match for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship.
Omega has been the most entertaining performer and athlete this year, in the ring and on the mic, cementing his position at the top of our list of Top 10 wrestlers from 2017. Will he retain his position in 2018, or will some other talented competitor wrestle the top spot from him, we shall have to wait and see. However, all of this just makes one thing clear, we are in for an amazing year of wrestling in 2018!