WWE 2016 Year-in-Review – Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

WWE 2016 Year-in-Review – Triple Threat POV

Posted by Unknown Saturday, December 31, 2016
Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling. This week, Jordan Chaffiotte, Ben Guest, and Cayden Parkhurst give their opinions on some burning questions from this past year in the world of wrestling. This was a jam-packed year for WWE—some great, some now so great. The brand split has effectively doubled the amount of content and given smarks like us plenty to talk about. However, looking back on a year that saw Daniel Bryan's retirement and a dud of a WrestleMania main event, us WWE fans could use some optimism. In this year-end review, we'll be talking about our highlights of 2016 in wrestling, acknowledging the great talent out there, and reminding ourselves of all that we're looking forward to in 2017. We couldn't pick just three categories, so just like WWE, we're effectively doubling our content with two-part questions.

Question 1:
Let's start with something simple: match of the year and feud of the year. Maybe the match comes from the feud, or maybe they're completely unrelated. Whether this is the greatest wrestling match, the best-written feud, or ones that made you lean in and care about the final result, what tops your list as your favorite match and feud to come out of this year?

Chaffiotte: My feud of the year will be obvious to anyone who has read literally anything else I've written: Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair. Yes, it got overdone, and probably would've benefited from a long game. However, even after what should've been their blow-off at Hell in a Cell, we got two more incredible matches. This isn't even just a feud, this is a true rivalry, and their history comes through every single time. Nothing else felt as personal or as historic, and though there are two schools of thought in terms of the Raw Women's Championship, I for one believe that belt means more than it did when it debuted at WrestleMania. I'm happy to let this rest, but these two are tied forever, and that is what a great feud is all about.

At the same time, I can admit that there are issues with some of the booking. So while their ironman match, Sasha's first victory on Raw, and falls-count-anywhere match are all on my list, none make number 1. Instead, that goes to the second meeting of DIY and the Revival. These two had a fantastic match at Brooklyn, and it seemed unlikely that a rematch would add much to the feud, but it did. They topped it in every way possible. The psychology was some of the best I have ever seen in the past few years and it was matched by the technical chops that all four brought into the ring. The last moment, where Gargano and Chiampa had Dash and Dawson each in a submission and all they could do was hold each other's hand to try not to tap, that's going to be iconic.

Guest: This may seem like an odd choice but, to quote Stephen Wago, "this match is pro wrestling". The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler at No Mercy for the Intercontinental Championship was amazing! It had everything that wrestling fans love, hate and love to hate. Several false finishes; Maryse interfering; The Spirit Squad getting involved; Maryse and The Spirit squad got ejected from ringside; and the babyface overcame all of the adversity to win the title and save his career. If anyone ever wants to see what wrestling is all about, show them this match and if you don't have a smile on your face by the end, I don't think you can call yourself a true wrestling fan.

Another potentially odd choice, notice the theme, but Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt was the feud I was most interested in this year. I'm a huge fan of both guys, but they're both made to look exactly the same in every other feud they're in. But this was different, the backstage segments, the mind games, the fact that someone like Bray Wyatt could surely never overcome someone like Randy Orton, yet the mental warfare had me hooked. Had Orton beaten Wyatt and nothing more had come of it then I would have hated this feud as much as every other Bray Wyatt feud, but having Orton deliver the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" line before joining The Wyatt Family made the perfect end to this feud.

Parkhurst: The match of the year is so simple in my opinion, and it doesn't come from the main roster. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover: Dallas. This match had everything you needed for a 5-star legendary match. Two bonafide world-renowned superstars in Sami Zayn and arguably the best wrestler in the world, Shinsuke Nakamura. The debut of Shinsuke took not only NXT, but the entirety of WWE by storm giving us one of the most charismatic superstars I have ever seen, and everyone was under the impression this was the last time we would see Sami, a guy that built WWE's "developmental territory" into what it is today, in an NXT ring. All that added with the energy an NXT live event brings, and you have the perfect setting for something beautiful all you had left was waiting for the boys to deliver. And, boy, did they. This was the first time in my life I had ever heard the "fight forever" chant that resonated through the home of WrestleMania 32, and if they were still fighting today I would be sleep deprived hanging onto every second. The win by Shinsuke catapulted him into the NXT Championship opportunity that he won and still holds today.

Looking back on the year in wrestling there has been several high profile feuds that I've enjoyed. None more so than AJ Styles vs. John Cena. Talk about star power, right? AJ Styles is in that same conversation with Shinsuke for greatest wrestler on the planet, and then you have John Cena who is.. Well.. John Cena. The face of WWE, and a guy who had the best in-ring year of his career in 2016 putting on several incredible matches. Having AJ turn heel on John set up for a set of three beautiful matches. AJ took two of three, catapulting him to a fantastic WWE Championship run that he is still currently on. I can promise you, this feud is not over. I am predicting John Cena wins the Royal Rumble to beat AJ at WrestleMania for title #16. Nonetheless, these guys can do it all from promo work to beautiful in ring action and I think they did it the best this year.

Question 2:
We all know that the greatest booking in the world is nothing without a stellar performance from the wrestlers. In a year that was easily the greatest in history for women's wrestling, the former Divas division deserves a shout out. Splitting this category between the man of the year and woman of the year, who made 2016 their own?

Chaffiotte: Sometimes the obvious answer is obvious because it's true. So no frills or swerves, this year belonged to AJ Styles and Charlotte Flair. Just look at the 2016 that AJ has had: he started as the top guy in New Japan Pro Wrestling, he had a match of the year contender with Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10. Then he got signed by WWE, went right to the main roster and debuted in the Royal Rumble to the biggest pop of the night. And then he became the top guy in WWE, had multiple match-of-the-year contenders, and proved he could spin straw into gold at every turn (yeah I'm looking at you, Elsworth). AJ will end the year as WWE World Heavyweight Champion with rumors of him facing the Undertaker at the Royal Rumble just a year after his debut.

Likewise, Charlotte has proven that she is the queen. It's hard to mention Charlotte without Sasha, but the reality is that Charlotte has already cemented a legacy while Sasha's is yet to be written. At the beginning of 2016, she was the Diva's Champion fighting Becky Lynch in a very good Royal Rumble match. Since then, she has not been without the belt for more than 27 consecutive days. She's already a four-time champ, and it wouldn't be surprising at all if she eclipses her own father's record, and her pay-per-view record is unprecedented. Forbes has called her the greatest females superstar of all time and she proved this year she is more than her last name.

Guest: Obviously this should be AJ Styles, I think everyone knows AJ has been head and shoulders above everyone else this year and I couldn't agree with Jordan more. But to be different, I'm going with Chris Jericho and, by default, his best friend Kevin Owens. I would also like to mention The Miz because he has been incredible this year and has made the Intercontinental Championship just as important as any other title. Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens are the longest reigning Universal Champions of all time. I mean, sure only Kevin Owens is recognised as champion, but when you're best friends, you share the title. JeriKO have been the only thing I've enjoyed about Raw since the brand split and their friendship storyline has been my favourite of the year, I was genuinely happy when Jericho helped Owens retain the title at Roadblock and I don't care how much of a mark it makes me.

Anyone who reads the Power Rankings will know that this was always going to be my choice. Alexa Bliss might have only been on the main roster, or even in most people's minds, for around five months, but she has been the only woman who has been able to keep me interested this year. Sasha Banks and Charlotte are great, but their yearlong feud has grown tiresome and made me care less about them as performers. Alexa Bliss on the other hand, has become one of my favourite superstars, regardless of gender.

Parkhurst: For this, I'm going all NXT. I love my main roster members from KO, Miz, Ziggler, Y2J, AJ, Sasha Banks, etc.. There are a ton of great options here that you really couldn't screw this question up. But if you read my first answer you'd see that I'm a huge Shinsuke Nakamura fan, and he is my 2016 male competitor of the year. Debuting with the greatest match of 2016 with Sami, moving on to an incredible feud with Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship which was feud-of-the-year worthy, and doing all of this with the greatest entrance music in the business? Shinsuke took WWE and 2016 by the balls, and his run is far from over.

Keeping it in NXT, I'll go with a lady that some may see as a dark horse but I think she is rather obvious, and that is Asuka. I have never seen a woman quite like Asuka. The first time I saw her I was legitimately intimidated with the mask and facial expressions and way she carried herself, and it was only a matter of time before she met up with Bayley and took the NXT Women's Championship. She did just that in no time at all, having amazing matches with Bayley, and then defeating Micky James to add the cherry on top of her impressive year. The best part about Asuka is not only that she is my woman of 2016, but that she has done this with a weak women's roster in NXT. Lacking the Sasha, Charlotte, Becky, and Bayley(after beating her) factor she has continued to impress. Once she gets a little more competition (looking at you Ember Moon) she is going to blow the roof off the WWE women's division.

Question 3:
Finally, tag team competition is a completely different animal. Though it's been an up and down year for tag teams, the ups included the longest reigning tag champs ever. We also would be amiss not to acknowledge the great improvements we've seen this year. It could be the unexpected rise of someone who found their voice and became a star, or even someone who proved the best days of their career are not behind them. Who's your "breakout star" and tag team of the year?

Chaffiotte:Confession time: I fought the Revival. Hard. I called them jobbers well into their second reign as NXT tag team champions. Shameful, I know. There has yet to be anything I've been more wrong about in the world of Wrestling, and I can admit it. These guys are the real deal. They could've easily faded away into blandness, there was never anything particularly striking about them. But instead of being defined by that, they stuck to the fundamentals, they brought back old-school heel tactics, and they became the top guys. For two men who are not particularly huge like the Authors of Pain, or as good of smack talkers by the standards of guys like Kevin Owens, they are easily the best monster heels in the company right now. For that, and because I feel I owe them for the months of refusing to buy it, The Revival is the tag team of the year.

On January 1st, 2016, I believed Alexa could hold a title this year and that it would be huge for her. I never imagined it would be the SmackDown Women's Championship. For someone who never had any wrestling training prior to 2013, it's incredible how far she's come. She is easily the best talker in the division and steadily improving in the ring. The reaction of the Performance Center when she was called up to SmackDown was a heart-warming moment for what was otherwise a fairly uninspired draft episode, and showed how respected she is in the locker room. She proved quickly that she was one of the best value picks, coming to play at the six-pack challenge and then holding her own against veteran wrestler Becky Lynch. It's possible she's hit her ceiling, but either way, she shocked everyone this year.

Guest:At the beginning of the year would anyone say that Braun Strowman should be in the running for the US Championship? Probably not. Yet I think he should beat Roman Reigns for the title at WrestleMania, why? Because WWE has actually booked him properly. The guy is a monster heel who should remain undefeated and gradually fight tougher and tougher opponents. I would have 5 or more people eliminate him in the Royal Rumble then have him beat Big Show, Mark Henry, Big Cass or even Rusev at Fastlane before beating Roman at WrestleMania. It's easy enough to say these things and even to give someone with little talent such as The Great Khali this kind of run, but Strowman has been improving so much throughout this year and 2017 may well be his year.

This choice is difficult for me because I've fallen in and out of love with The New Day more times than Big Show has turned heel and face, The Revival are great but I tend not to judge anyone until they're on the main roster and American Alpha have somewhat floundered. So my choice is going to have to be The Wyatt Family. Even though they've been terrible for most of the year, in the past few months they have managed to have my favorite feud of the year, become my current favorite tag team and, with Luke Harper impressing recently, be the only team where all of the members could be genuine World Championship contenders.

Parkhurst: Break-out star is a toss-up between two guys for me, so I'm choosing them both: Baron Corbin and The Miz. I know I know, both of those need some serious explaining so sit back and enjoy the ride: You may be thinking, "What has Baron Corbin even done besides lose a shitty feud with Kalisto?" In which case, you'd be right. But I'm looking at his full picture between NXT where he made his mark with The End of Days finisher, and his "who gives a fu*k?" style promo's and character. He transitioned all of that to the main roster, but delivered better promos. His hate for indie stars and cruiserweights is super entertaining to me, and WWE has always been a "what have you done for me lately?" business. And lately, Baron Corbin has found his way into the WWE Championship picture with a title shot on SmackDown.

With The Miz you may be thinking, "The Miz has main evented WrestleMania against John Cena. The Miz is a multiple time and current Intercontinental Champion. The Miz has been around for years, so how can he be break-out star?". Before The Miz got his mitts on the Intercontinental Championship that belt was slowly going down the drain with zero meaning. Before Miz blew up on Daniel Bryan in what may be the greatest promo of our generation on Talking Smack, everyone was worried SmackDown didn't have enough legit stars. Plain and simple, The Miz is having a career year and should be next in line for a WWE Championship feud. He and Maryse would be my couple of the year if it were an option because they are just too good together on screen. His rivalry with Ziggler was both personal and perfect, and it gave us some incredible matches like the one Ben mentioned earlier. And, he gave Dean a participation award. What a year, am I right?

The tag team scene isn't particularly entertaining to me right now.. There's groups that I could ALMOST say are tag team of the year. American Alpha, but they've hit a wall since their main roster jump. Heel Usos are entertaining, but they haven't won much since their turn thanks to an injury. Enzo and Cass haven't done a lot. I would love to choose DIY here, but they're still decently new even though they've had brilliant matches. The Wyatts and Revival have both been taken. So by default, I'm going with the guys who have beat a long-standing record and kept me entertained for a long long time, and that's New Day. How could you not choose these guys when you look at the rap sheet? Longest reigning tag team champions in history, a high selling cereal, and arguably the best promo in the business. Hard to pick against the bright colored, unicorn horn adorning best friends that know how to beat people up.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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