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Thread: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

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    Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Source: Sports Illustrated


    Top 10 Wrestlers of the Year
    By JUSTIN BARRASSO December 29, 2017


    What does it mean to be “Wrestler of the Year”?

    For this top 10 list, the format was based on a combination of work rate, drawing ability, and overall impact on the business in 2017.

    A wrestler’s skill at consistently elevating his opponent was also emphasized. Shawn Michaels is one of the greatest of all-time, and an integral part of his brilliance was his ability to make you believe in the man standing across from him in the ring.

    Here are Sports Illustrated’s Top 10 Wrestlers of 2017, beginning with the notable omissions.

    Notable omissions: Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tetsuya Naito, Christopher Daniels, Trevor Lee, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Brock Lesnar

    Brock Lesnar can still draw a crowd, but his success in 2017 was due primarily to his opponent.

    Lesnar shined in his Survivor Series encounter with AJ Styles, but that was courtesy of Styles. The major blemish on Lesnar’s 2017 was his inability to raise the stock of Braun Strowman in their match at September’s No Mercy pay per view.

    Strowman exited his match with Lesnar looking like less of a monster than he had beforehand. The match went nine minutes, which is a marathon for the 40-year-old Lesnar in 2017, and served only to help one man: himself.


    TOP 10 WRESTLERS OF 2017

    10.) KEITH LEE

    Top three matches of 2017: vs. Ricochet (EVOLVE 80), vs. Tomohiro Ishii (Rev Pro Global Wars UK), vs. Matt Riddle (EVOLVE 94)

    Keith Lee is a modern day mix of Samoa Joe and Bam Bam Bigelow. He transitioned in 2017 from an afterthought in Ring of Honor to a workhorse across the independent scene, delivering moves that most super heavyweights only dream of hitting.

    A closer look at Lee’s work from this year showed a focus on his timing. He is a student of the game, moves exceptionally well, but also redefined his body from the beginning of the year to the end.

    Lee’s most compelling matches of 2017 included two encounters with Zack Sabre Jr., particularly the second battle, which took place this past September at EVOLVE 93. His work with WALTER also confirmed all of his recent hype, and he put together a memorable WrestleMania weekend for EVOLVE with must-see matches against Ricochet and Donovan Dijak. Lee was one of the finalists for the prestigious PWG Battle of Los Angeles indie wrestling tournament, and his tourney matches with Dijak and Rey Fenix were highlights of the weekend.


    9.) CODY RHODES


    Top three matches of 2017: vs. Christopher Daniels (Best in the World), vs. Kazuchika Okada (G1 Special in the USA), vs. Minoru Suzuki (Death Before Dishonor)

    Cody Rhodes wrestled as Stardust at WrestleMania 32 in 2016, then finished out his WWE tenure by dropping consecutive falls to Apollo Crews and even doing a job for Zack Ryder.

    Rhodes then cashed in all of his goodwill chips by touring independents, before finally turning heel and joining the Bullet Club in December of ‘16. He used that momentum to create his most compelling year in wrestling, beginning with a victory over Juice Robinson in the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in January.

    Rhodes took a considerable risk, but he has successfully parlayed his family name and WWE credentials into far greater star magnitude than he ever achieved with the “WWE machine” behind him. He had memorable encounters with Christopher Daniels in Ring of Honor and even Kazuchika Okada in the main event of the AXS TV G1 Climax Special in July. The sky is the limit for Cody in 2018, starting with his date at Wrestle Kingdom 12 with Kota Ibushi.


    8.) MATT RIDDLE

    Top three matches of 2017: vs. WALTER (Progress August show in New York), vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (Rev Pro Uprising), Keith Lee (EVOLVE 94)

    Riddle was the star of the indies in 2017, which is quite an honor.

    There is a rare intangible with Riddle. He commands attention in the ring, and his charisma organically connects with crowds. Riddle’s work also brings with it another level of authenticity. He ended his UFC tenure on a four-fight win streak, but two of those wins were overturned due to his proclivity for marijuana, though that has made him more popular in pro wrestling.

    Riddle also starred in EVOLVE, his home base to craft his art of pro wrestling. It is especially important on the independent wrestling level to make your opponent come off strong, which Daniel Bryan mastered better than most, and Riddle shined in matches during 2017 with a variety of talent, helping elevate Fred Yehi during WrestleMania weekend in Orlando, Keith Lee in their EVOLVE battles, and Tracy Williams, who Riddle fought in Chicago in an “Anything Goes” match, highlighting his ability to adapt to a hardcore-style match.

    Riddle is not selfish and does not eat people up in the ring, but he is also able to protect himself and his own aura. He is a phenomenal ambassador for independent wrestling, and there is a reason his merchandise lines were so long at shows in 2017.


    7.) KEVIN OWENS

    Top three matches of 2017: vs. Roman Reigns (Royal Rumble), vs. AJ Styles (SummerSlam), vs. AJ Styles and Chris Jericho (SmackDown Live)

    Kevin Owens began 2017 as WWE Universal champion and delivered a phenomenal match with Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. That encounter was largely forgotten due to the fact that, just two matches later, AJ Styles and John Cena combined to put together arguably the match of the year.


    Owens was consistently overshadowed by various other storylines that WWE chose to highlight throughout the year, but he constantly delivered compelling work in the ring. That feat is nearly impossible to achieve in WWE, as the weekly television grind overexposes talent to the point where the extraordinary becomes ordinary.


    Owens made everything he did meaningful, cementing himself as a top heel in the business during 2017.


    6.) KAZUCHIKA OKADA

    Top three matches of 2017: vs. Kenny Omega (Wrestle Kingdom 11), vs. Tiger Mask W (45th Anniversary), vs. Katsuyori Shibata (Sakura Genesis)

    Kazuchika Okada remains a mystery to a large part of the North American audience, but that began to change in 2017.

    Okada steered the ship during New Japan’s maiden voyage into the United States for its G1 Special in the USA on AXS TV in July, where he worked with Cody Rhodes. Okada’s work is so finely-tuned and compelling that the match was Rhodes’ best match of the year, where it fell somewhere closer to the tenth best match of Okada’s year.


    Can Okada’s star grow in 2018, particularly in North America? New Japan returns to California in March, likely with Tetsuya Naito as IWGP heavyweight champion. Okada is so closely connected with the IWGP championship, and he is set to break the all-time record for combined days as champion in the next week, so it will be telling to see how Okada responds if he is no longer holding the title.


    5.) BRAUN STROWMAN

    Top three matches of 2017: vs. Roman Reigns (Payback), vs. Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe (SummerSlam), vs. Big Show (Raw cage match)

    Braun Strowman redefined the role of the giant in 2017.

    WWE hit the right notes in the way it booked Strowman throughout the year, but it was not without faults. His undefeated streak by pinfall or submission was snapped with no anticipation or build, at the hands of Roman Reigns at Fastlane in March, and there was the unfathomable sight of Strowman backing away from The Undertaker in their face-to-face encounter on Raw.

    Strowman compensated for the periods of bad booking with a devastating style in the ring. The beauty of Strowman is that his ability to dismantle opponents does not mean he crushes their credibility. Strowman’s dumpster match in April was the highlight of Kalisto’s year.


    Outside of his No Mercy match with Brock Lesnar, which was a complete and utter failure, Strowman added intrigue with an ambulance match with Reigns, which took place after the spot on Raw where he flipped an ambulance, and even withstood a trip inside a garbage truck. WWE’s booking philosophy is built around delivering memorable moments to its fans, and Strowman created more than anyone else in 2017.


    4.) JOHN CENA


    Top three matches in 2017: AJ Styles (Royal Rumble), vs. AJ Styles and. Bray Wyatt (SmackDown Live), vs. Roman Reigns (No Mercy)

    Can WWE draw a house without John Cena?

    Cena remains the biggest draw in the entire industry, which is particularly apparent when he is off the road and WWE draws some dismal attendance numbers at Raw and SmackDown.

    Despite looking past-his-prime at the Survivor Series-which was largely the result of being surrounded by the likes of Finn Balor, Bobby Roode, and Braun Strowman-Cena has played a role in the most memorable matches of 2017, including his Royal Rumble win over AJ Styles, as well as a SmackDown loss to Shinsuke Nakamura and a compelling feud with Roman Reigns.

    Cena is finally as comfortable with the WWE audience as they are with him, which is bereft of irony. Cena has found his greatest connection with the fan base as a part-time talent, the kind he used to mock.


    3.) ROMAN REIGNS

    Top three matches in 2017: vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 33), vs. Braun Strowman (Fast Lane), vs. John Cena (No Mercy)

    I was asked this yesterday: if Roman Reigns did not speak, similar to The Undertaker near the beginning of his WWE tenure, how much more popular would he be?

    Reigns’ work on the mic undoubtedly hurts his overall product, as he sometimes comes off so mellow that he is a minnow in an ocean full of sharks.

    Reigns made the most of his talented bevy of opponents throughout the year, kicking off the year with a classic against Kevin Owens and ending 2017 with a six-man tag that was the best match at the Survivor Series. His match with ‘Taker at WrestleMania, which was by no means a classic, was far more about the story it told than the actual match.

    Reigns also succeeded in a variety of matches. The Fatal 5-Way at Extreme Rules, Fatal 4-Way at SummerSlam, and ambulance match are all part of his 2017 resume, and he even closed out the year with compelling television bouts with Cesaro and even Jason Jordan. To add to all of that, Reigns and Braun Strowman combined to deliver the feud of the year.


    2.) AJ STYLES

    Top three matches of 2017: vs. John Cena (Royal Rumble), vs. Finn Balor (TLC), vs. Brock Lesnar (Survivor Series)

    AJ Styles made chicken salad of his WrestleMania 33 match with Shane McMahon. That alone qualifies him for a top five spot in 2017.

    In what would have been seen as unrealistic just two years ago, Styles effectively replaced Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in the main event during 2017.


    Styles made every match entertaining, whether it was the Money in the Bank ladder match, a two-on-one affair against the Singh Brothers in November, or a match on SmackDown against The Miz in January. Styles started and ended 2017 as WWE champion, but was placed in lackluster feuds throughout the year with McMahon, Baron Corbin, and most recently Jinder Mahal.

    For those who believe pro wrestling matches should be presented like a sporting contest, Styles is a savior. In a world where some wrestlers’ punches look like they wouldn’t break an egg, Styles delivers an extremely realistic style, adds an entertaining bump to every match, but also sells for his opponents so the viewer can suspend disbelief. He brought out the best in John Cena, Braun Strowman, and Finn Balor during 2017, and just missed finishing first on this list.

    1.) KENNY OMEGA


    Top three matches of 2017: vs. Kazuchika Okada (Wrestle Kingdom 11), vs. Juice Robinson (G1 Climax), vs. Tomohiro Ishii (New Japan Cup)

    Kenny Omega is better than AJ Styles.

    And Omega was certainly better than Styles in 2017. The Cleaner is the alpha and the omega when it came to pro wrestling this past year. Omega is otherworldly in the ring, delivering memorable affairs with Minoru Suzuki, Kazuchika Okada, Michael Elgin, and helped Juice Robinson to the finest match of his career.

    Yes, New Japan books six-man tags throughout the year, far more than WWE, to allow the wrestlers to rest and recover. Omega also works far more comedy matches with the Young Bucks in 2017 than AJ Styles ever has in his career, partially because WWE would not allow it and because of different personalities. But Omega’s year resonates most because of his ability to connect with a crowd. Omega was able to do this in 2017 while touring towns in Japan during the grueling G1 Climax round robin, which saw him go the distance for a second straight year, as well as in Toronto, Chicago, and Reseda, California.

    Omega is not working WWE tours that generate 10,000 ticket sales upon their first advertisement. He is grinding in PWG, helping Ring of Honor set new standards of excellence for their Global Wars show in Chicago, while also building anticipation for Wrestle Kingdom 12 all the way in a different continent. Despite the difference in time and travel, wrestling fans in America still care about Omega.

    Unlike Styles and Reigns, who have the WWE wagon entrenched firmly behind them, Omega has created his own buzz in America. Along with some of the best bouts of the year, an ability to enhance his opponent, and a must-see intangible, Kenny Omega is Sports Illustrated’s Wrestler of the Year for 2017.

    Last edited by Jiggy; 12-29-2017 at 09:22 PM.

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Yeah. No list is going to please everyone. Some people are left out who should be in, like Walter and Himrou Takahashi. Some are too low on the list like Okada and some are on the list when they shouldn't like Kevin Owens but oh well.
    Spoiler:


    Milano Forever!

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Sports Illustrated treating John Cena kindly.
    Last edited by Tennessee Nicky; 12-29-2017 at 10:06 PM. Reason: I’m high.
    -------
    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!
    Spoiler:


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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    I know this should probably be treated like the PWI500 where you shouldn't take it so seriously, but there's just so much to pick at this, it's a horrible article:

    For this top 10 list, the format was based on a combination of work rate, drawing ability, and overall impact on the business in 2017.
    How does anyone know the drawing ability of WWE wrestlers anymore? The brand is the draw.

    Notable omissions: Shinsuke Nakamura, Tetsuya Naito
    Nakamura and Naito being talked about in the same sentence is hilarious given how different their years were.

    Brock Lesnar can still draw a crowd, but his success in 2017 was due primarily to his opponent.

    Lesnar shined in his Survivor Series encounter with AJ Styles, but that was courtesy of Styles.
    get the fuck out with the bad opinion that Lesnar/Styles was great because of Styles alone. Lesnar was great that night also.

    10.) KEITH LEE
    Impressed that Lee got into a top 10 for one of these things. I'd go as far to say he's one of the best on the US indies so if you're gonna write an article that spreads the love around different promotions, I can live with this. The match with Ishii is incredible.

    9.) CODY RHODES
    MEMORABLE ENCOUNTERS

    Cody is average af, one of the least over acts in Japan, needs the Bullet Club/BTE to maintain his popularity, has not improved as a wrestler one iota since leaving WWE, was a terrible ROH Champion. He's fantastic at marketing himself and making money, I can't knock him for that, but a top ten wrestler in the world? gimme a break. Feels like a pandering inclusion.

    8.) MATT RIDDLE
    Like Lee, can't hate on this one too much and it is nice to see the article wasn't just about WWE and NJPW. Riddle does some stuff to annoy me in his matches and I'm not as impressed with him this year as I was last year, but he's still one of the only regulars on the US indys that I check out.

    7.) KEVIN OWENS

    Owens was consistently overshadowed by various other storylines that WWE chose to highlight throughout the year, but he constantly delivered compelling work in the ring. That feat is nearly impossible to achieve in WWE, as the weekly television grind overexposes talent to the point where the extraordinary becomes ordinary.
    Owens is terrible and has been one of WWE's worst performers during the last 18 months. When he was on top on Raw as Universal Champion, Raw fucking sucked and SD was great; he gets transferred to Smackdown and booked as a top heel and that show hits the shitter while Raw dramatically improves. No coincidence in my mind.

    6.) KAZUCHIKA OKADA
    This is the placing that seems to be causing the most uproar because if you're a fan of the Okada/Omega series, then Okada has apparently had one of the most amazing years of any wrestler of any year in history. I'm not so blind in my observations and can see where he wasn't even the best wrestler in the company as his G1 exposed, as well as being on the side of the Okada/Omega fence that didn't adore those matches. I do however concede that he had several fantastic matches in the year and New Japan continued to grow with him as champion for the entire year. If I had to make a top 10 list based on the criteria SI put forward of work rate and drawing power, I would have to include Okada in my top 10. But Naito would get in ahead of him.

    5.) BRAUN STROWMAN
    I thought I was the high man on Braun's 2017, but 5th best wrestler in the world is taking the piss considering how badly he ended the year with the Brock match, the TLC match and the Kane stuff. I do think he was one of WWE's best singles wrestlers this year, showed clear improvements in his work and up until the summer was looking like a star in the making from WWE. 5th best in the world is pushing it though.

    4.) JOHN CENA

    Can WWE draw a house without John Cena?

    Cena remains the biggest draw in the entire industry, which is particularly apparent when he is off the road and WWE draws some dismal attendance numbers at Raw and SmackDown.

    Despite looking past-his-prime at the Survivor Series-which was largely the result of being surrounded by the likes of Finn Balor, Bobby Roode, and Braun Strowman-Cena has played a role in the most memorable matches of 2017, including his Royal Rumble win over AJ Styles, as well as a SmackDown loss to Shinsuke Nakamura and a compelling feud with Roman Reigns.


    Jesus christ this might be the worst take of the bunch, a part timer is the 4th best in the world. Cena was hardly around this year, and outside of the AJ stuff, what was really that great? I'm not convinced about can WWE draw without Cena arguments either? Pretty sure No Mercy didn't sell out despite Cena Vs Reigns first time ever.

    and he looked past-his-prime at Survivor Series because he couldn't give a shit and phoned in his match. Nothing to do with Balor or Roode.

    3.) ROMAN REIGNS
    I'd agree with Reigns being right up there in a WWE only list, not sure where they get The Undertaker match being one of his best 3 from.

    2.) AJ STYLES
    can't complain too much here, he'd be top 5 for me most likely.

    1.) KENNY OMEGA
    Here we go.

    Kenny Omega is better than AJ Styles.
    Nope.

    And Omega was certainly better than Styles in 2017. The Cleaner is the alpha and the omega when it came to pro wrestling this past year. Omega is otherworldly in the ring, delivering memorable affairs with Minoru Suzuki, Kazuchika Okada, Michael Elgin, and helped Juice Robinson to the finest match of his career.
    I don't remember anything about the Suzuki or Elgin matches other than 100s of knees. Juice helped Omega to one of Omega's best match of the G1 by adding a bit of heart and storytelling to his G1 formula match. Okada matches granted were memorable.

    Omega also works far more comedy matches with the Young Bucks in 2017 than AJ Styles ever has in his career
    Well that's not true, AJ worked comedy stuff in TNA.

    partially because WWE would not allow it and because of different personalities
    WWE certainly would not allow AJ Styles to work any comedy matches against the likes of James Ellsworth for example

    But Omega’s year resonates most because of his ability to connect with a crowd.
    And AJ Styles can't resonate with a crowd?

    Omega is not working WWE tours that generate 10,000 ticket sales upon their first advertisement. He is grinding in PWG
    GRINDING IN PWG. Didn't he work just one BOLA show, couldn't even do the whole weekend.

    helping Ring of Honor set new standards of excellence for their Global Wars show in Chicago


    Correct, and kudos for that. He helped them reach those numbers, not Cody.

    Unlike Styles and Reigns, who have the WWE wagon entrenched firmly behind them, Omega has created his own buzz in America
    Reigns fine, but lets not act like AJ Styles is a WWE made star or that the New Japan wagon hasn't helped out Kenny. AJ excelled in New Japan quicker than Omega did (and Omega still hasn't reached that level) and then signed for WWE when he got the chance.

    The funniest thing about this article is Kenny RT'ing it and saying it's great that websites run these top 10 polls to ignite discussion. Not sure he'd RT an article that discussed the best wrestler in the world that didn't have him in the top 10. Goes without saying, obviously Kenny would not be a top 10 for me.

    Biggest omission was WALTER, and I guess Naito if you don't count the honourable mention.

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    I'd sooner trust my local bartender who knows nothing about wrestling to make a decent wrestling list than Sports Illustrated. Their lists are complete jokes.

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Never saw Cena. How is he in this? Bad Matches all year.
    Spoiler:


    Milano Forever!

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Tbf, Cena got married. I think that kinda #maniamoment earns him that spot alone, as well as he and Nikki establishing themselves as the true power couple of WWE by beating Miz and Maryse.

    There's more to wrestling than just workrate.

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    I just noticed Trevor Lee was in honorable mentions. I like Trevor but he’s not worth a name drop.
    -------
    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!
    Spoiler:


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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Tennessee Nicky View Post
    I just noticed Trevor Lee was in honorable mentions. I like Trevor but he’s not worth a name drop.
    Probably a combination of the author wanting to pay some attention to TNA and pretend he watches CWF Mid Atlantic.

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Unlike Ed, I'd totally have Omega in the top 10, if for nothing else his match with Tomohiro Ishii and his series with Okada. Would I place him as number one? Nah fam. AJ Styles, at 40, can wrestle circles around anyone else they've listed in here and had a ton of great matches in spite of the bad booking he was saddled with. I'm not talking about his five star matches with Cena and Balor or his clinic with Lesnar, I'm talking about him getting good matches out of the likes of Jinder and Shane.

    Naito only being an honorable mention is fucking trash. I know that hating on Cena is very 2007 and I'm usually a Cena apologist, and while I think Cena can put in a great match with just about anyone, him being so high on this list, or on this list at all, is insane. It's insane comparing the year Naito has had to the year Cena had and you are telling me Cena is top 5 and Naito is a mention.

    I'd probably have given Kevin Owens spot to Charlotte.
    Last edited by Jiggy; 12-30-2017 at 10:42 AM.



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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Didn't notice he hadn't even mentioned a female wrestler in the article anywhere. The guy might as well of said, notable omissions = women.

    If I had to do a top 10 based on the criteria of work, drawing ability and impact on the business a rough look at my top 10 would be:

    10) David Starr - I guess this slots in as my 'Keith Lee/Matt Riddle' pick as my favourite US indy wrestler. Obviously his stuff in wXw rules but then he's the one guy drawing me to watch CZW, Beyond and groan, WCPW when it existed.

    9) Roman Reigns - Right up there as one of WWE's best wrestlers week in week out, one of the best feuds with Braun, another Wrestlemania main event, memorable moments liking 'retiring' the Undertaker, defeating Cena, reforming the Shield. Hard to tell what sort of impact he has on business though.

    8) Hiroshi Tanahashi - Still the ace in my heart of New Japan even though he's made way for others now. Naito/Tanahashi is the best trilogy of matches in the year for me and I still think you have to give him some credit when it comes to his main events drawing. His match with ZSJ is the only singles match of the year I was disappointed in him by, other than that, still a strong work rate year from him.

    7) Pete Dunne - For better or worse, he was the star of Progress Wrestling for the first half of the year, he made himself a star in the WWE UK brand stuff, one of WWE's best wrestlers pound for pound, arguably the best heel on his day, got more eyes on Britwres than maybe anyone else did. Also has the unfortunate impact on the business by so many of his indy matches not being available for VOD because of his WWE deal.

    6) Johnny Gargano - Ace of NXT, best babyface in the business, can never fault match quality, was apart of WC's MOTY, fans really buy into his story that doesn't feel forced, due for a big 2018.

    5) Asuka - Best female wrestler in the world, NXT title matches always delivered, got called up undefeated and was probably the most anticipated debut of a female I can remember in WWE, growing as a star, a significant reason why womens wrestling is taken more seriously now

    4) Kazuchika Okada - Yeah I can't really deny he's been apart of a strong business year for New Japan and his matches with Omega while I don't like them, are significant matches that helped put more eyeballs on the promotion overseas. Plus I did love about half of his big matches including the final match of Shibata so he's linked to that big story of the year too.

    3) AJ Styles - Still the best wrestler in WWE and even though his 2017 wasn't as good as his 2016 his stature in the company still grew with more championships and a mania match with Shane McMahon

    2) Tetsuya Naito - More consistent than Okada in-ring wise, was in some of the best matches all year, one of the reasons why NJPW is so popular overseas, his WK main event is selling well and I believe LIJ merch is NJPW's best seller.

    1) WALTER - #1 in the world for match quality, wrestled in Evolve and PWG for the first time, stabilized Progress' Atlas division, helped wXw to grow, helped put over the likes of Starr, Dragunov and Thatcher. Career best year.

    Biggest Omission is Tomohiro Ishii who is #2 in the world for work, but is neither a draw nor had any impact on business so I had to cut him. I'll admit I was running out of names towards the end so Omega really wasn't that far away from my top 10 when I have to include drawing power because he's the most over part of the elite and the elite are the hottest act in indy wrestling. Guess he counts as my biggest omission too, I just hate the majority of his matches outside of the Ishii series.

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    I thought there was a different list for women?
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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Man, Ed got worked into a shoot

    But if I had to do one like that it wouldn’t be too far off. I like Starr but Riddle or Lee deserve the ten spot more and Roman’s year was about on average with Braun’s year, imo.
    -------
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    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!
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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by MC 16 View Post
    I thought there was a different list for women?
    Not that I can see.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tennessee Nicky View Post
    Man, Ed got worked into a shoot

    But if I had to do one like that it wouldn’t be too far off. I like Starr but Riddle or Lee deserve the ten spot more and Roman’s year was about on average with Braun’s year, imo.
    I just like to discuss wrestling and hate on Omega If Jiggy's gonna post this, we might as well talk about it.

    I guess I just prefer Starr to Lee and Riddle when it comes to their work. Lee and Riddle are bigger names/stars though because they're the guys that are booked in the marque matches that are expected to draw attention to these indy promotions, so perhaps they could take the edge on impact in the business.

    Braun might of got the nod over Roman if his end of the year was stronger.

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Oh in that case, Asuka should be in this. She has two matches in my top 10 WWE list and my MVP for WWE this year. Shame that they decided to omit her from the list. Cody Rhodes is an unusual choice but I'm not opposed to he being in it. Whilst Omega was the draw for the Global Wars show, he has brought some eyes to Ring of Honor so on impact, I can say it's not a terrible pick. Wouldn't put him in mine but still.



    Naito should be in it. No question about it. Out of what you consider the top 4 in New Japan (Okada, Omega, Tanahashi and Naito), he is the most underrated. Despite arguably being their biggest star, he often doesn't get the plaudits he deserves.
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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed View Post
    Didn't notice he hadn't even mentioned a female wrestler in the article anywhere. The guy might as well of said, notable omissions = women.

    If I had to do a top 10 based on the criteria of work, drawing ability and impact on the business a rough look at my top 10 would be:

    10) David Starr - I guess this slots in as my 'Keith Lee/Matt Riddle' pick as my favourite US indy wrestler. Obviously his stuff in wXw rules but then he's the one guy drawing me to watch CZW, Beyond and groan, WCPW when it existed.

    9) Roman Reigns - Right up there as one of WWE's best wrestlers week in week out, one of the best feuds with Braun, another Wrestlemania main event, memorable moments liking 'retiring' the Undertaker, defeating Cena, reforming the Shield. Hard to tell what sort of impact he has on business though.

    8) Hiroshi Tanahashi - Still the ace in my heart of New Japan even though he's made way for others now. Naito/Tanahashi is the best trilogy of matches in the year for me and I still think you have to give him some credit when it comes to his main events drawing. His match with ZSJ is the only singles match of the year I was disappointed in him by, other than that, still a strong work rate year from him.

    7) Pete Dunne - For better or worse, he was the star of Progress Wrestling for the first half of the year, he made himself a star in the WWE UK brand stuff, one of WWE's best wrestlers pound for pound, arguably the best heel on his day, got more eyes on Britwres than maybe anyone else did. Also has the unfortunate impact on the business by so many of his indy matches not being available for VOD because of his WWE deal.

    6) Johnny Gargano - Ace of NXT, best babyface in the business, can never fault match quality, was apart of WC's MOTY, fans really buy into his story that doesn't feel forced, due for a big 2018.

    5) Asuka - Best female wrestler in the world, NXT title matches always delivered, got called up undefeated and was probably the most anticipated debut of a female I can remember in WWE, growing as a star, a significant reason why womens wrestling is taken more seriously now

    4) Kazuchika Okada - Yeah I can't really deny he's been apart of a strong business year for New Japan and his matches with Omega while I don't like them, are significant matches that helped put more eyeballs on the promotion overseas. Plus I did love about half of his big matches including the final match of Shibata so he's linked to that big story of the year too.

    3) AJ Styles - Still the best wrestler in WWE and even though his 2017 wasn't as good as his 2016 his stature in the company still grew with more championships and a mania match with Shane McMahon

    2) Tetsuya Naito - More consistent than Okada in-ring wise, was in some of the best matches all year, one of the reasons why NJPW is so popular overseas, his WK main event is selling well and I believe LIJ merch is NJPW's best seller.

    1) WALTER - #1 in the world for match quality, wrestled in Evolve and PWG for the first time, stabilized Progress' Atlas division, helped wXw to grow, helped put over the likes of Starr, Dragunov and Thatcher. Career best year.

    Biggest Omission is Tomohiro Ishii who is #2 in the world for work, but is neither a draw nor had any impact on business so I had to cut him. I'll admit I was running out of names towards the end so Omega really wasn't that far away from my top 10 when I have to include drawing power because he's the most over part of the elite and the elite are the hottest act in indy wrestling. Guess he counts as my biggest omission too, I just hate the majority of his matches outside of the Ishii series.
    Shoot that in an e-mail to Sports Illustrated.

    I was genuinely unoffended by their list (mostly because I'm assuming this is the first time they've done it and they were clearly trying to bring a little bit of everything into it so had to push some people aside to give international and indie names a chance to shine) but your's is better by a large margin. See if you can get a job writing for them so next years list is better.

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    It goes without saying the list is awful but it's to be expected so I wasn't too worried about it, and Ed made all the points I was going to so good on you there. Just my two cents on some stuff...

    I think you can easily make the case Omega's #1 when it comes to pure drawing ability worldwide although you can put Okada up there as well due to him all over the place. The problem is if you actually look at it, a lot of Okada's worst matches this year were with Omega to me. His G1 was the best of his career imo with my favorite match of the tournament vs Suzuki (~!), great match vs EVIL, the first legitimately good match of his Omega trilogy, Elgin was quite good, vs Kojima was great. He showed something to me as an in-ring worker in G1 he hasn't before and that was a top 5 worker throughout. He's had enough good by sheer volume that I think I would probably put him over Naito although the Naito/Tanahashi series was way better than Okada/Omega's if you ask me. Matches elsewhere vs Cody, Slex, & even when he gets to tag with YOSHI-HASHI he's a much better tag wrestler than Naito or Omega with anyone in their stables. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think when you consider drawing and whatnot Okada & Naito have to be #1 & #2 even though they're both outside of my personal top 10 in-ring. Omega's wrestling is much worse but his drawing is strong so I think he should be considered for the top 10 but a bit lower as well. You can make the same argument for Cody as Omega btw, only Omega can peak higher and despite my problems with those Okada matches Omega busted his ass in them and at WK in particular he put on his best possible performance. But without the power of Bullet Club behind them as well as NJPW in Omega's case, where would Cody/Omega be? I think Cody would be fine because he's such a great self promoter, Omega as the Cleaner was having shit matches and was a blip on the radar in wrestling not a year and a half ago. I think Cody can be up there as a sort of reverse Ishii in that he's strong in one area but lacking in others.

    God it makes me sad there's a list where I have to rank those two above Ishii, who blows all these guys away.

    It's so hard to fairly rank WWE guys in comparison to others because it's so obvious that the brand is the draw as Ed mentioned. That knocks a lot of them off the list really. Like for example Gargano, and I love him, probably my favorite person in NXT, but realistically he's had a handful of standout matches and made no difference to anything business-wise. How can he be in the top 10 realistically compared to someone like Miyahara, who has had a ton of worthwhile matches, actually quite a bit more on sheer volume, and some legit great though I would say Gargano has been a better "pure" worker and carried a promotion for half the year? Even in drawing it can be an esoteric game, NOAH didn't draw well for most of the year but Kotoge with his versatility and general awesomeness kept the crowd alive during the lowest period and business noticeably picked up during his (brief) main event push. He to me has a better case than someone like Gargano or Asuka. AJ and Roman are clear difference makers to their shows as the shows are usually much better from an in-ring and entertainment standpoint when they get opportunities but that's not really "drawing". I guess that's why business relevancy counts.

    I know this is going to be controversial, but I don't see Braun as any kind of great worker or wrestler of the year. He's a great tv character but in-ring I think people let booking cloud their vision way too much on a lot of people. When he wasn't wrestling in a match with Roman Reigns he's essentially been a wet fart in the ring but he's booked to be such a great character, how can he not be super cool and over and fun to watch when he's wrecking ambulances and looking like a mega badass all the time? I think people credit that to him though too much instead of great booking. Similarly to the opposite of how people used to say Sheamus wasn't great even though he was he was just booked so crappy all the time it was hard to be invested in him. That shouldn't affect his in-ring judgments though. Same for Braun. His matches are not great at all and now that they've started to screw him up he's come way down in everyone's rankings.

    British Strong Style ruined themselves for me and I can't in good conscience put any of them in the top ten, and there have been others with much better years anyway but Dunne is my favorite of the bunch and if you're going to put Gargano in there Dunne's WWE work is among the best in the company just in terms of an average, just not enough volume.

    Anyway, for me my top 10, encapsulating wrestling and drawing and effect on wrestling would likely look like:

    (Notable Omissions would be Roman Reigns, along with Risa Sera and realistically Pete Dunne...and Ishii because he can't catch a break even from me)

    10. Kenny Omega - I put him in the top 10 because of his drawing purely as I think he is the #1 star worldwide, even among WWE fans who don't watch anything else he is well known and selling out Chicago so fast based on him alone was as legit of a case for one man drawing as I can remember. He HAS had great matches with Ishii, vs Elgin (Long Beach) was quite good as well as his Juice matches, all over ****. (I had the best Okada match at ***3/4 in the G1) but there's so many more times he's not just below average as a wrestler but embarrassing to watch while performing which is something that always stands out for me when looking at bad wrestlers, and if not he is too over-reliant on spamming his signature knee strikes without worrying about any greater psychology, I just cannot co-sign him as a standout performer, but you also cannot deny his impact on the business this year. It sucks but he has to be here.

    9. Hiroshi Tanahashi - I have long since said he doesn't get enough respect in the West for his popularity and drawing ability. As well as his in-ring accomplishments. His G1 and trilogy with Naito were not only top notch, he played the biggest role in those matches being great. His match vs. Ibushi was in my top 3 for NJPW alone this year, he has been great and played a big and underrated role in elevating people. Respect the man, Ed. Good job. His yearly rest and being forced to work with Billy Gunn in one of the worst matches of the year and a general lack of stuff outside of the NJPW ring keep him from being higher.

    8. AJ Styles - As mentioned the face that runs the place is the man who can have a great match with basically anyone not named show killer Kevin Owens. Now granted it's Jinder and he's awful, but the difference between the two at the top on Smackdown is startling. I think his impact is felt most on shows when he's not on. Because he alone usually can elevate it to being watchable, pretty much every Smackdown I've seen where he doesn't wrestle has been downright terrible. Plus, although his year in and of itself has not been as strong as many others due to bad booking, he had my #1 WWE match of the year vs. Lesnar (disagree with Ed a bit. Lesnar did his job don't get me wrong, but I thought AJ was CLEARLY the one who made that match, both on offense and doing his damndest to make Lesnar actually give a crap for once which he didn't he hasn't done in any of his other matches since Goldberg and look incredible in the process. Without a couple of noticeable instances of sloppiness I think that could have been an overall MOTYC but just came a bit short) and if you can point me to someone else who can have a great match with Shane McMahon and good one with Jinder I would love to see that person because I'm not sure he exists. He had to make my list even though as I said it was a down year realistically for him and nobody makes a business difference in WWE.

    7. Shotaro Ashino - I know nobody watches Wrestle-1 so I'll try to keep this brief. But he really has made a difference as the Ace and is a great wrestler who everyone should check out for his matches against a bunch of rookies for the most part (and he's only 3 years in.). His matches against Jiro Kuroshio and Daiki Inaba were great and under his leadership W-1 has improved to doing over 1,000 people in Korakuen and their big show in Yokohama was over 1800. Not great numbers for sure still but from where they were and where they would be without him, he deserves a mention, in addition to being a top 10 in-ring performer in the world in 2017. Simple is best.

    6. Hideki Suzuki - I guess I'm a little different than Ed because I have to give someone love when they're as strong on the list as a pure in-ring worker. As a draw he's a rare case of someone who has been both great and bad, but smart observers of BJW know the downturn was a fault of the promotion and lack of depth than him or his title reign. His original title shot vs Sekimoto, in addition to being a great match was also the first time BJW did a higher number than NJPW at Korakuen. His second match and first defenses against Okabayashi (my #1 MOTY overall) as well as another great one vs. lame duck Kamitani were similarly successful, but after blowing through his opponent at BJW's biggest show of the year things seem to stall for the Big Boss of Puroresu. Still the in-ring work remained so strong he has to he up there. He's the rare case of a performer who makes any random tag or Trios match as great as it could be, elevating everyone around him at the same time. In terms of pure star ratings he isn't as strong as others but in terms of actually wrestling great, he blows away everyone from my perspective. Unfortunately a lack of impact and houses going south by the end of his reign, whether his fault or not holds him back from getting higher on my list. Could have been a strong #1 contender.

    5. Kento Miyahara - It's funny because I actually think it's been kind of a down year for him in comparison to last year's epic title reign and really hadn't even considered him before diving deep. But his in-ring actually sneakily was incredibly strong once again, and in addition his great stuff often comes against unproven or undermanned talent such as Bodyguard who is old as hell, and Jake Lee, who Kento successfully elevated before his injury. His matches against Shuji Ishikawa and Suwama were among the best of the year in its own right and his importance to AJPW can't be understated. They've reached even greater heights in 2017 largely due to his influence, although I can't move him higher when he's largely been in the background for 4 months out of the year and still trying to find himself. Still he jumped up over Ashino for me due to having a legit great match teaming with Yoshitatsu at the very end. Elevating him is a legendary accomplishment and appears to have a shot at it. He has to be top 5 for that alone.

    4. Zack Sabre Jr. - I was sleeping on ZSJ but when I guest hosted on the Psychology is Dead Show talking about Aces and top stars in wrestling, not that I'd ever plug it or anything although feel free to click the link I just posted and check it out, we had a conversation off the air about wrestler of the year and he brought up that he had Zack at #1 in the ring and at first I was shaking my head but after diving deeper into it his in-ring volume is staggering and in addition the variety of talents and places he's been is crazy. He is a star and a name in every place he's been, with MOTYCs in particular in America vs. Chuck Taylor and Timothy Thatcher. It is a little bit confusing as to why his name has gone under the radar in comparison to last year when this year effectively blows away his lackluster 2016. Whether on the indies in PWG or EVOLVE (among others, I just watched him have a damn good match with Amazing Red yesterday), in RevPro and Progress, Japan (where despite being cursed with being in awful SZKG and not getting as much out of Tanahashi in his big shot, he finished 6th in my overall G1 rankings) , or Australia he's a global champion in wrestling and deserves a ton of credit, even with a handful of truly top tier matches.

    3. WALTER - Ed pretty much summarized him well but he has truly been a force and someone I consider one of the best wrestlers in the world. #2 overall behind Hideki Suzuki. But his drawing ability is also fun to see as he grows bigger and bigger in name value. I hope he doesn't end up going to WWE and becoming Kassius Ohno's jobber tag partner (or worse like WALTER's own extremely talented former partner who is stuck in Buttfuck, Florida currently and doing nothing of note) but if he keeps things up he and people like Thatcher are helping grow WXW into a premier company worldwide. I'm not really a huge fan of the direction BritWres has taken but that company and in particular WALTER give me hope yet as he branches out. 100% agree with Ed, and think in-ring he is a great choice, but just objectively I can't deny the 2 NJPW guys on a global scale as NJPW has grown in a way no foreign company ever really has before in the West.

    2. Kazuchika Okada - The chosen one by NJPW and I realize I kinda blew the lead on him at the top of this list. Still, he's done pretty much everything NJPW wants out of him as the Ace, as I mentioned not only having a career in-ring year but representing the company well wherever he went and maintaining a star presence about him. He's a deserving star even if far from my favorite and In my dream world I hope he is never IWGP World Champion again.

    1. Tetsuya Naito - He's had a very consistent in-ring year and I love the first two Tanahashi matches, though I have to admit his G1 was a tad disappointing to me, though I will give him a bit of slack as he and Goto were both talked about as heavily injured during the tournament. He let me down in a couple of matches and the Fale match was awful, seemed to need superior in-ring performers to reach the next level, unlike Okada who has the aforementioned matches where he carried Cody, Suzuki, & Slex. But his importance locally is gigantic and with that said it gives him an edge in my book to Okada, although again in Okada's defense. Although Naito's merch is super hot you have to take into account the Japanese mindset that merch is often bought due to factions, and CHAOS is ice cold in comparison to the red hot LIJ. Still this isn't about philosophy or what-ifs, the numbers show he is super over and very important to the company, almost becoming a cult of personality with his rabid fanbase. Combined with his very good in-ring year he takes my number 1.
    Last edited by Zero; 12-30-2017 at 04:54 PM.
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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Not sure why people are all over this list to be honest. Since when were SI the last word on pro wrestling?

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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    I thought I was the only one who didn't like Braun as an in-ring performer. Other then his performance in the Summer Slam match, he hasn't interested me at all match-wise. He needs time to improve in that department. He has shown promise and incredible shows of athleticism such as the kip up but nothing else really. His tv segments however are always watchable, like the tipping of the ambulance (who wouldn't love that though?), his Ishii-no sell of Brock's german suplex which popped me and his return from his supposed 6 month long hiatus. His promos aren't too bad either, if on a WWE only list, he would probably be in my top 10 for sure.


    And that Slex match was great, did not expect that level of match at all. I heard Dave praise it but I thought that was his normal ultra praise and then I watched it. Perhaps it was my lack of expectations that made it seem better then it actually was but I thought it was a good performance from both men. Made me love Okada much more then I already do. The match itself was not MOTYC or anything but good.
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    Re: Sports Illustrated top 10 wrestlers of 2017

    Quote Originally Posted by Postman Dave View Post
    Not sure why people are all over this list to be honest. Since when were SI the last word on pro wrestling?

    Sent from my E5823 using Tapatalk
    I was just giving Ed a hard time and I applaud his attempt to try a go of this, and agree with Raiz that he needs to email that.

    But I do agree that Sports Illustration trying create this illusion like they know what they are watching and having noticeable errors in it is far fetched even for Sports Illustrated, and it’s really not well respected enough at this point to give too much of a damn.
    -------
    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    What the fuck is happening to you guys? I once got a blowjob where she used her teeth a little bit too much and I ended up with a bloody dick, I still enjoyed the blowjob up to the point I started bleeding. I can honestly say that I have never had anything I would call a bad blowjob, that wasn't a great experience but up until I started gushing blood I was having a great time!
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