We are just days away from a brand new year! 2017 has been a wild ride and 2018 looks to like it will be as well.
All around, 2017 was a pretty good year for the WWE, there have been some amazing returns, outstanding matches, and intriguing television. There have been some shit moments as well, so I’m here to sort things out and tell you what I liked, loved, and didn’t care for this year from WWE! These are the 2017 WWE Year End Awards as decided by me! Let’s get started!
2017 Match of the Year: John Cena vs AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble- WWE’s best match happened pretty much at the beginning of the year with the 3rd clash of The Phenomenal One and The Face that Runs the place. Styles and Cena have amazing chemistry and each match that they’ve had has managed to carry a high level of excellence. Cena permanently put to bed the notion that he was a shit wrestlers back in 2015 with his incredible US Championship Open Challenge, so seeing him get his due praise is nice as a long time Cena fan and Styles has continued his level of excellence that he grew into in his later TNA days and his time in New Japan, solidifying himself as probably the best in-ring worker of his generation. I honestly wish they had a 4th encounter for the WWE Championship at Mania this past year, but if the 2017 Rumble is the last time these 2 go at it in a major match, then I believe they have given the fans an incredible selection of matches to watch. Honorable Mentions go to New Day vs The Usos from Hell In A Cell, AJ Styles vs Finn Balor at TLC, and Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman at Payback.
2017 Male Superstar of the Year: AJ Styles- When AJ Styles debuted for the WWE back at the 2016 Royal Rumble, hardcore fans were ready with blogs and angry posts about how WWE is ruining AJ and how he’s being wasted; in the nearly 2 years he’s been with the company it’s safe to say those worries were for naught as AJ has been treated like a star for pretty much the entire time he’s been with the company. AJ has been the literal face of Smackdown for the better part of 2 years in a role similar to what The Undertaker and Edge had years ago, making Tuesday nights a much better watch because of it. Not only having the overall match of the year against Cena at the Rumble, he also had arguably the best match at WrestleMania against Shane McMahon of all people (not youngish awesome 2001 Shane that was willing to kill himself against Kurt Angle at King of the Ring 2001, older, all gray everything Shane!), some entertaining matches with Kevin Owens trading back and forth the United States Championship over the Spring and Summer, helping to make Baron Corbin a thing, having another MOTY candidate with Finn Balor at TLC, and getting the best worked match out of Brock Lesnar since the 2015 Royal Rumble, and getting the best matches out of the out of nowhere Champion Jinder Mahal. AJ has crafted quite an impressive 2017 and if the rumbles of a Shinsuke Nakamura Rumble win are to be believed, he may have another MOTY waiting for him in April in New Orleans! Honorable Mentions go to Braun Strowman, Roman Reigns, and Samoa Joe.
2017 Female Superstar of the Year: Alexa Bliss- The women in WWE have had an interesting year to say the least. There were some odd booking decisions like having Bayley’s Raw Women’s Championship win come at a random Raw in Las Vegas instead of at Mania, having Charlotte’s pay per view win streak snapped at Fastlane instead of Mania, another Sasha Banks title win that lead to her losing it right after without properly defending it, but for all the negative I can say there are some big positives for the women. The Mae Young classic was an overwhelming success, the NXT Women continue to shine, and of course the queen bee of the main roster ladies, Alexa Bliss. The woman continues to improve in the ring, although that’s not to say that she’s trash, she just keeps getting better, it’s her character and mic work that really shine. On a roster where so few women stand out or make themselves feel like stars, Bliss has managed to do this for pretty much her entire main roster run so far. Her one reign as Smackdown Women’s Champion and her 2 as Raw Women’s Champion certainly help things in her favor. The terrible “This Is Your Life” segment doesn’t help her, but overall 2017 was a banner year for Alexa! Honorable Mention goes to Naomi, Charlotte, Asuka, and Ember Moon.
2017 Tag Team of the Year: The Usos- Tag team wrestling had a great year in the WWE. The rise of Tyler Breeze and Fandango as a fun comedy act, Sheamus and Cesaro coming into their own as The Bar, the return of the Hardys, and even the boys down in NXT joined in the fun with the Authors of Pain, Sanity, and the now broken up #DIY putting on stellar matches. However 2 teams stood above them all The New Day and The Usos. It was hard to decide between these 2 teams as their feud over the summer made Smackdown TV worth watching, with their Hell in A Cell match nearly being my MOTY, they were that good together. In the end I give the slight edge to Jimmy and Jey as their work as heels has really made them a fantastic act to watch, so much so that they’ve now pretty much become badass babyfaces because of their great work. I’ve always been a fan of the Usos so I am so glad they are getting their chance to shine as a team and as an act. Honorable Mention of course goes to The New Day.
2017 Feud of the Year: Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman- Throw chairs, murdered ambulances, blood, destruction, this feud was highly entertaining to watch and it really solidified how good Roman is and the potential of Braun Strowman. The segments these 2 were apart of are some of the most talked about in the WWE all year, with Braun kicking Roman’s ass and then tipping an ambulance over, Roman nearly killing Braun by putting him in the back of an ambulance and crashing it into a truck, and of course the chair throw seen round the world! These two brought out something special in each other and crafted a really interesting and compelling big bastard feud. Hats off to the hard work from both guys during this program! Honorable Mention has to go to The Usos vs New Day for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships.
2017 Event of the Year: The Royal Rumble- While there have been plenty of good matches over this year, the events have more or less been kind of mixed with some good and some bad, so it was kind of tough for me to pick a show where something really stood out. Then I thought back over the year and remembered how entertained I was at the Royal Rumble. The Universal Title Match between Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns (Chris Jericho in a shark cage in withstanding), the fantastic Cruiserweight Championship match between Neville and Rich Swann, a pretty decent match between Charlotte and Bayley, the MOTY in Cena vs Styles, and of course the Rumble itself, which while not my absolute favorite, was still entertaining in its own way. The Royal Rumble was a pretty fun couple hours of wrestling. Honorable Mention goes to Hell in A Cell, Usos/New Day, the Triple Threat US Title Match, and the main event of Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens all made this a close second in terms of quality for the WWE.
2017 NXT Takeover of the Year: Takeover Houston/War Games- The NXT Takeover specials are often the highlights of WWE’s year, with events such as the First NXT Takeover Brooklyn in 2015, last year’s Takeover Toronto, and Takeover Orlando from earlier this year all being among the best WWE produced events in recent memory. The Takeover event that was scheduled to occur over Survivor Series weekend in Houston was set to join them with the return of the legendary, Dusty Rhodes created, War Games match. The War Games matches were often the highlights of old NWA and WCW events, with the final one (and arguably the worst one) happening nearly 20 years ago in 1998. The match has been something that NXT head Triple H has been trying to get on WWE programming since 2002, with him being a big fan of the match, but instead that year we got the Elimination Chamber match instead, which is a nice substitute. Finally though we got the return of War Games, but with a few wrinkles being thrown in, first it would be the first match to take place without a roof over the double cage, second it would have a rule where if you try to escape the match your team will get disqualified, and finally it featured 3 teams with The teams of Sanity (Eric Young, Killian Dain, and Alexander Wolfe), The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reiley) and the Authors of Pain and their one night only partner Roderick Strong. God damn was this match brutal as all 9 men put on a fantastic showing with table spots, blood, a superplex from the top of the cage, all happening. Killain Dain was easily the MVP of the match, having a breakout performance with his sick Coast to Coast being a major highlight. It was certainly a fantastic close to a fun show.
Other top matches were the Velveteen Dream taking on the undefeated Alesiter Black, probably a sleeper candidate for Match of the Year, the Four Way match to crown a new Women’s Champion with Ember Moon getting the belt over Peyton Royce, Nicki Cross, and Kairi Sane in a really fun match, and Andrede “Cien” Almas winning the NXT Championship from Drew McIntyre (shame about Drew getting hurt but he’ll bounce back). Overall, Takeover: War Games was a late year highlight for WWE. Honorable Mention goes to Takeover: Chicago, the Pete Dunne/Tyler Bate UK Championship match was brilliant, the #DIY breakup was well executed, and the Hideo Itami/Bobby Roode title match may have been Roode’s best match in WWE.
2017’s Worst Event: Battleground- Well it’s time to get to some of the negative things that happened throughout the year and there is no better way to start than with what is by far the worst WWE Pay Per View, Battleground. With the exception of the fantastic opener of New Day vs The Usos (I think those two teams can do no wrong with each other) everything else was either really boring or just plain bad. The main lowlights being the awkward finish to the AJ Styles/Kevin Owens match, with that botch pinfall ending, the boring ass continuation of the Baron Corbon and Shinsuke Nakamura feud, that stupid Flag Match, and the match no one wanted to return, the Punjabi Prison Match. With the exception of Randy Orton tossing around the Singh Brothers, nothing in the match was worthwhile, I love me some Great Khali, but I didn’t need to see him make an in ring return. Overall, Battleground is probably the worst WWE Pay Per View we’ve seen in a long while, hopefully it’s not something we’ll see again soon. Dishonorable Mention goes to Clash of Champions, not necessarily a terrible show, but just a pretty meh show, although Rusev Day definitely made it kind of fun.
2017 Worst Male Superstar: Bray Wyatt- This has not been a good year for the Eater of Worlds. While it started off well enough with him finally winning the WWE Championship at the Elimination Chamber, things went downhill rather quickly as his match with Randy Orton at WrestleMania (where he took another L) was probably the worst match on the card, the House of Horrors match was boring, his move to Raw and later feuds with both Seth Rollins and Finn Balor were pointless and went nowhere, with his Balor feud not having a proper ending (although a Mumps infection did save us from the debut of him in drag as Sister Abigail). Although the year does look up with feud with the newly Woken Matt Hardy, it still doesn’t hide the fact that this was probably the year many gave up on Wyatt as a character. The guy can talk and the guy can wrestle, but with no solid momentum behind him, all his promos amounting to nonsense with no meaning, and the constant loses, Wyatt may need a serious reboot to turn things around. Dishonorable Mention goes to Baron Corbin. A nothing feud with Nakamura, losing his Money in the Bank briefcase in the dumbest way, and then losing the US Championship for kind of no reason, Corbin is another guy in need of a reboot fast!
2017 Worst Female Superstar: Bayley- It’s almost amazing how sideways Bayley’s main roster time has gone. Debuting last year with all the momentum in the world, Bayley now finds herself at a crossroads. Her weirdly book win of the Raw Women’s Championship and coming out on top in the Women’s Fatal Four Way at Mania are her only real highlights. The God awful “This Is Your Life” segment with Alexa Bliss, the non-extreme Kendo Stick on a Pole match (also with Bliss) at Extreme Rules, and probably her lowest point, getting booed and then cheered when she went down briefly with injury. The same Bayley that won so many people over with her rise in NXT, from fangirl to Champion, the infectious positive attitude she had, all of that has been critically damaged this year. Like Bray, Bayley has all the talent in the world, the problem is the sorry booking she has. Something has to change in 2018 for Bayley to turn around her career. Dishonorable Mention goes to Dana Brooke, another person who could’ve used more time in NXT, Dana Brooke has improved so little since her call up last year.
Biggest Surprise of the Year: The return of The Hardys- 2016 saw Matt Hardy have a career renaissance with his captivating Broken character and later the entire Broken Universe he crated in TNA/Impact/Global Force/Impact wrestling. From the Final Deletion to Delete or Decay, everything that Matt and Brother Nero (Jeff Hardy) did was highly entertaining and tons of fun and often the best thing on Impact programming. That all changed earlier this year with their departure from TNA and the legal battle that went on against the Anthem Owlmen (#FuckThatOwl). After a whirlwind 24 hours that saw them face The Young Bucks at a Ring of Honor show the previous night, the Hardys made their long awaited return to the shock of everyone at WrestleMania 33 and inserting themselves into the tag team ladder match featuring The Bar (Sheamus and Cesaro), Enzo and Big Cass, and the champions The Good Brothers (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson). The match was as wild and crazy as you would expect and lead to the Hardys capturing the championships (which is also Jeff’s first Mania win). Easily the most fun surprise of the year! Honorable Mention Sami Zayn’s heel turn and alliance with Kevin Owens at Hell in a Cell.
Biggest Disappointment: The Cruiserweight Division- All of it, just all of it. The Cruiserweight Classic was a huge success last summer, providing some of the best WWE matches of the year, so once it was announced that the Cruiserweights were returning with a new Championship and a new weekly show, 205 Live, folks got hyped. But then things quickly lost steam as the show became stale and repetitive. Things picked up a lot when Neville became King of the Cruiserweights and the focal point of the entire division, having stand out matches against Rich Swann, Jack Gallagher, and a series of high quality contests against Austin Aries. But come October Neville was fed up and gone, Austin left back in June, and recently one of the few bright characters one show, Rich Swann, was rightly suspended indefinitely for Domestic Abuse charges and his career in WWE is more than likely over. Enzo as champion has brought some interest to the show and division, as he is an actual wrestler who shows personality, but aside him no one else really shines or make a person interested to watch the show. The 205 roster is extremely talented and the moves they pull off are amazing, but there is no real hook or thing to draw you to the show aside Enzo. Maybe more interactions with the other maybes of the roster would do them some good, I could dig Cedric Alexander challenging Roman for the IC Title soon, but something needs to change or 205 Live and the Cruiserweight division will die in 2018.
NXT Superstar to watch for 2018: The Velveteen Dream- Patrick Clark, the standout from the most recent season of Tough Enough, has transformed into one of the best characters in the whole of WWE, The Velveteen Dream. Being a mix of Prince and Goldust, Dream has had an amazing year developing his character in NXT, all paying off in his breakout performance at Takeover War Games against Aleister Black, having a fantastic match that you could not turn away from. If booked right, WWE may have found a great replacement for Goldust, who may be on his last run as a wrestler, and I think Dream can become a star. I would say by this time next year he’ll either fully join the conversation for next NXT Champion or already be in the title hunt. The sky is the limit for this guy!
Story to Watch: The curious case of Daniel Bryan- In early 2016 Daniel Bryan was forced to retire from in-ring competition due to years of damage to his body and specifically his brain and the concussions he has suffered. However for nearly that same amount of time Bryan has been seeing doctors all over the country, trying to get cleared to compete in ring and his has been getting cleared from all the doctors, except WWE’s head doctor. Bryan has made his intentions to wrestle again very clear, with the support of his wife Brie Bella, and additional confirmation from his sister in law Nicki Bella, Bryan will wrestle again in 2018, but will it be with the WWE or with another company. Ring of Honor, the company were he gained his first taste of wrestling stardom, is willing to welcome him back with open arms, a host of big time opponents, and a potential supercard to come back, the Bullet Club lead Chicago show that will happen in 2018. New Japan would also be a welcome spot for Bryan to go to and a dream match with Kenny Omega (if Omega does not go to WWE), and of course dozens of other feds all over the world. Bryan could also return to WWE, likely with a part time/reduced schedule as WWE would not want to let a money maker like Bryan walk away and make some other company a huge amount of money. Wherever he goes or he makes an in-ring comeback, Daniel Bryan will be the most talked about wrestler in 2018.
3 Big Predictions for 2018:
1. Kevin Owens will win the WWE Championship at some point in the year.
2. Bobby Lashley will make his WWE return, likely having a major program with Roman Reigns or AJ Styles.
3. Brock Lesnar will not leave WWE and sign another short term (but highly paid) contract.
So those are my thoughts on the year that was in WWE and some recognition for the good and bad that happened in the fed this year. 2017 was a pretty alright year for the biggest wrestling company in the world, and 2018 is on track to be even better. Thank you to the men and women who worked hard entertaining us this year, and I wish them continued health, wealth, and success!
Thank you to everyone who joined me in this blog journey during my first year, this has been really fun to do and I looked forward to doing this again in 2018! I appreciate the support and I’ll be back and better than ever in the new year!
Until the next time be safe, be cool, and have a wonderful New Year!! See you later!