The Year that Was: Wrestling Review of 2016

The year 2016 may go down to many as the worst year in history due to the deaths of many well-known individuals. I mean, we did lose Severus Snape, Prince, Princess Leia, and Muhammad Ali in the same calendar year. That being said, the year that was was pretty entertaining. Allow me to look back and discuss some things that went down in this wrestling review.

TNA

It seems that every year recently we start taking bets on TNA’s demise. This year was no different. Dixie Carter’s company continues to be ridiculed by many for its business practices. She ended up getting hit with lawsuit after lawsuit and even ended up in court. Billy Corgan, former business partner, (still business partner?), was seeking full control but was denied by a judge.

TNA wasn’t all bad however. We saw the dominance and growth of Bobby Lashley. 2016 may have been his best year overall as a pro wrestler. Eli Drake, Drew Galloway, Maria Kanellis-Bennett, and Allie all had breakout years. Jessie Godderz, in a brief feud with Aron Rex, showed he’s capable of more than just Jersey Shore nonsense.

Matt Hardy, though, gave the biggest jolt to TNA with his Broken universe. Fans in the Impact Zone and over social networks fell in love with the kookiness that was Broken Matt and Brother Nero. Whether this leads to more creative control for the older Hardy is currently unknown but at least he has kept TNA from beingĀ obsolete.

WWE

WWE brought back the cruiserweight division after the success of the network’s Cruiserweight Classic tournament. While the division hasn’t been that great since its return, we’ve had some bright spots in the form of Cedric Alexander, Jack Gallagher, and a more nefarious Neville.

TNA’s Knockout Division continues to be a shell of its former self. WWE’s ladies, no longer known as Divas, are shining and main eventing like they have been doing it for years. Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Bayley have wowed fans at one point or another this year. Charlotte and Sasha have played hot potato with the title for months, breaking down barriers with each encounter.


Chris Jericho displayed his range as an entertainer as he was able to get a list on a clipboard over. His friendship with current Universal Champion Kevin Owens is the work of Hollywood buddy cop comedy. Now we are sitting back waiting for the moment when the friendship fizzles and the two face one another, title or not.

AJ Styles–excuse the pun–had a phenomenal year. I’m sure I wasn’t the onlyaj styles one who feared the worst for the former face of TNA. Let’s not forget that R-Truth was a top champ in TNA before he got to Stamford. Not only did AJ avoid doing anything damaging to his character, he continued to prove why he’s one of the best in the world at what he does. Even when saddled with the James Ellsworth fad that overstayed its welcome, Styles shined. His feud with John Cena was compelling enough that it even got the vote for Best Feud of the Year in our Ropey Awards.

Goldberg returned and shocked the world when he decimated Brock Lesnar atĀ Survivor Series. The Undertaker also returned earlier than expected. His Road to WrestleMania is about to begin.

The Miz has showed tremendous growth on Smackdown Live. Every thing he’s done has clicked. The on again/off again feud with Dolph Ziggler took a great turn earlier this year and was main event worthy. His character development has gotten him to the point where he is a legit title contender.

Alexa Bliss is another shining star. Being on Smackdown has given her the platform to shine bright.

It wasn’t just the main roster wowing fans. NXT was the year of Shinsuke Nakamura. From the entrance theme, to the quirky mannerisms, to the in-ring prowess. Nakamura has been feuding with Samoa Joe for the past few months but his most talked about match was during WrestleMania weekend against Sami Zayn. That match is a Match of the Year candidate and winner in some polls.

Sticking with NXT, The Revival, Asuka, Ember Moon, DIY (Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano), Bobby Roode, Sanity, and Tye Dillinger are faces to watch.

Elsewhere

Will Ospreay is an aerial artist that has used 2016 to put his name out there to the masses. Sure, Vader may not have liked his match with Ricochet but the flippy stuff thrills me. Ricochet/Prince Puma is great as well. I’m not slighting him here one bit by starting the paragraph off with Ospreay.

Sexy Star was able to capture the Lucha Underground title to be the first female to accomplish that feat.

Adam Cole bay-bay!

The Young Bucks continued doing Young Bucks things. Did you see the finish to that tag match versus Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay? What about the six-man tag match in PWG? The plethora of superkicks when Adam Cole joined The Bullet Club? Well, I’ll provide visual evidence of two of those.

Are you familiar with Los Ingobernables de Japon led by Tetsuya Naito? The group formed in the latter part of 2015 but they dominated in 2016 for New Japan Pro Wrestling. Naito is a legit candidate for Wrestler of the Year.

I can only think of what 2017 has to offer. It’s got a lot to contend with.

The artist formerly known as the Caribbean Playboy, Shane still loves the ladies of the squared circle (wassup, Ember Moon?). Much to the chagrin of the other guys, he’s also the resident TNA sympathizer.

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