Top 10 Biggest Stories in Pro Wrestling for 2017 | Smark Out Moment

Top 10 Biggest Stories in Pro Wrestling for 2017

Posted by Ben Guest Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Professional wrestling is all about telling stories. So here at SmarkOutMoment, we're having a look at some of the biggest stories of 2017. After an exciting year both in and out of WWE, there have been plenty of headline making stories, both intentional and unintentional.

A few honourable mentions go to the fall of TNA/GFW/Impact/Whatever else they've been called at some point this year, the failure of 205 Live and ROH continuing to grow as a global wrestling promotion. With that said, here are the 10 biggest wrestling stories of 2017:

10. The Shield Reunite

On the 2nd June 2014, Seth Rollins stabbed his Shield brothers in the back, or hit them with a chair... you should know what happened, it was three years ago. This brought to an end what many people believed was on of the greatest stables of all time and was supposed to lead to three of the greatest singles careers of all time. However, three years later all WWE have managed to achieve is to make Dean Ambrose irrelevant, get everyone to hate Roman Reigns and make Seth Rollins boring.

Rollins had the best start and his Money in the Bank and WWE Championship reigns were some of the best in recent memory, whilst Reigns had a slow build to the top, which was mainly slow because anytime he got there, the fans shut it down. And Dean Ambrose... erm... continued to wrestle I guess?

On October 9th of this year the Shield were officially reunited, which may be a sign that WWE have accepted that a nostalgia trip is needed to make fans interested in these three guys once again and may be acting as an acceptance of failure for the past three years, but with a number of problems already occurring, such as injuries to Reigns and now Ambrose, we'll have to see how this turns out.

9. How Vince McMahon Stole Christmas

Say what you like about Vince McMahon, the guy's a genius when it comes to professional wrestling. Disagree? Try explaining professional wrestling to someone who doesn't watch it, without them at some point saying, "you mean, like WWE?" (unless you're in Japan I guess). Anyway, my point here is that Vince will do anything to make WWE a success, from breaking the unwritten rules of the territory system, to letting his employees beat him up on TV and apparently, even airing on Christmas day. This is the latest step in what I believe genuinely shows why WWE is the greatest (wrestling) promotion in the world, because "Live on Monday Night Raw" means live on Monday Night Raw, no matter what that particular Monday means to you.

8. The Jinder Experiment

Had to mention it somewhere didn't I... Another reason Vince has managed to monopolise wrestling is because he knows how to appeal to a market and it turns out the way to appeal to India is Jinder Mahal. Next time you complain about Roman Reigns as WWE Champion, just remember that even though he has had two more reigns than Jinder, he has held the title for less combined time, because 2017, was one big experiment, that ended in Triple H beating Jinder in India... I guess some things never change.

On a serious level, I believe that WWE were right to experiment with Jinder Mahal as champion and I genuinely enjoyed his first... month? Maybe? At the top. The biggest problems were that it lasted too long, seriously a month was enough. And it came from out of nowhere, he came second in a battle royal then a few months later got a shot at the title... like, that's it, that's all that happened. With the right build and a well timed reign, Jinder could have helped popularise WWE in India, won the title, had a tour of India as Champion then lost the title in a space of a month or two and people might have accepted him as a transitional champion, especially if he was a transition between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura that led a feud between those two into WrestleMania.

7. Cena Equals Flair

At the Royal Rumble in January, John Cena beat AJ Styles to win his 16th World Championship, tying Ric Flairs record and making him (in kayfabe) the joint best wrestler of all time and considering that wrestling is almost entirely based in kayfabe, that's a huge deal! John Cena is without doubt one of the greatest wrestlers, or sports entertainers, ever and is probably the biggest company-man WWE has ever had. To go along with this, despite a decade of fans actively hating him, no one will be disagreeing with what I'm saying or with making him a 17-time champion in 2018.

One reason I think this is a major story, apart from it probably putting John Cena on the Mount Rushmore of WWE, is because it neatly ties another loose-end for the ever-spiteful Vince McMahon, because Ric Flair's title's were spread across different companies, but now (or... soon) they can say that John Cena holds the record for the most World Championships, with 17 WWE titles. And they can show those reigns, without having to show footage from any other company, which he hates doing despite having bought them all out anyway.

6. A Change of Styles?

There's a good chance a lot of people didn't like the last three points, so back to something positive, AJ Styles. WWE is known as 'The land of the Giants" because people like AJ Styles, who is 5-foot-11 and 218 lbs, are considered 'small' and are largely ignored, in preference if people like Roman Reigns, who is 6-foot-3 and 265 lbs. NXT and the growth of Indy wrestling have begun to change this perception, but the fact that the three biggest names on Raw right now are Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns, shows that it still exists.

Despite this, in the last two years AJ Styles has (almost) single handedly shown that the 'little' guys can draw a croud as well as anyone. This has been proven by three moments, increasing in significance. At Money in the Bank WWE teased an AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura feud, which seems like it may have some promise in the near future. Then, just days before TLC, Bray Wyatt got injured, or ill or something, and couldn't compete against Finn Balor, so it was AJ Styles who was drafted in to put on a classic. And finally, at Survivor Series, AJ managed to pull the best match out of Brock Lesnar since WrestleMania 31, showing that WWE has enough faith in him, to want him to at least look like a challenge to The Beast.


5. Bullet Club Takeover

After all that talk of WWE monopolising the world of wrestling... Indy wrestling has been growing and growing in recent years, to the point that New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom has grown to be one of the shows that many wrestling fans look forward to every year and is often the host of some of the best matches of the year, The British Indy scene has caught WWE's attention and The Bullet Club... well they've become one of the biggest brands in wrestling.

The Bullet Club have become a major force in wrestling. Their original leader and creator Finn Balor became the first ever Universal Champion. His successor and other original members AJ Styles and Gallows and Anderson then followed him. But it's what has happened since then that is really noteworthy.

In 2017, The Bullet Club have been arguably the biggest brand in wrestling. Kenny Omega, Cody, The Young Bucks and the other members have taken the Indy scene by storm, even setting up there own event and getting a deal with Hot Topic. The Young Bucks have stated that they won't sign for WWE and all members of The Bullet Club have been able to demand massive appearance fee's wherever they have been.

The Bullet Club are the perfect example of how to make a name for yourself in wrestling outside of WWE, with a special mention to Cody Rhodes, who has managed to leave WWE and show the world that he can make himself a huge star, I hope this gives other wrestlers the faith to believe that they don't need WWE to make it big, and helps other promotions continue to grow, and maybe one day challenge WWE in some way.

4. New Streak on the block

WWE rarely invests in a long-term storyline for a character. Brock Lesnar has been built as a monster, Roman Reigns is getting pushed as Brock's successor and Jinder Mahal... happened. But for me, the biggest story in WWE right now is Asuka's undefeated streak. Asuka is undefeated throughout her time in NXT and has continued onto the main roster. The streak started in 2015 and has continued into 2018, which itself is unbelievable and I think shows WWE are still willing to put a huge investment into one person.

They've also been very smart in choosing Asuka to build this streak around. An extremely talented, proven and charismatic performer, who the fans instantly got behind and have supported ever since. Asuka's booking in WWE might be the biggest success of recent years and if they continue to book her as well as they have to this point, she may be one of the biggest names in WWE's history.

3. How Matt Broke Wrestling

As well as everything I said about The Bullet Club, Matt Hardyhas managed to come back to WWE and carry over a massive fanbase. Matt Hardy's 'broken' character took the wrestling world by storm and helped evolve the way wrestling was seen, with inventive vignettes and matches like the Final Deletion. Not only did he make TNA a must-watch show, which is a huge achievement in itself, he managed to take it across a majority of indy shows and then came back to WWE, in his original character and had everyone asking when he was going to become broken.

Matt Hardy has since brought the the 'broken' or 'woken' character to WWE and it will be interesting to see how much freedom he is given in the role. I think this is a huge change in how people can grab the worlds attention and force a company as big as WWE to hire them and use the character that they built.

2. #GiveWomenAChance

The women's revolution or evolution has felt very gimmicky at times, but I think this year has made a big step, women seem to have been given big roles without them making a big deal about them being given that role and both Women's Championships have felt like important titles at times. There is still a long way to go, but women's wrestling has come a long way, see the section about Asuka and people like Charlotte, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Ember Moon and Kairi Sane have helped push women to the top of the card, because of pure wrestling, or sports entertainment.

Things like Money in the Bank and the Royal Rumble are also big steps, but I feel like we have taken a big step towards a point where women are given spots without it being a big deal that they're in a bigger spot, because it's just where they belong, not where they 'should' be.

1. Okada vs Omega

What was the biggest thing in wrestling this year? Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 11. What was the second biggest thing in wrestling this year? Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega at Dominion. Third biggest? Yeah... their match in the G1 Climax. Okada vs Omega has been the biggest story in all of wrestling and the fact that they have a win each and a time-limit draw, means that they have the potential to put on one of the biggest matches of all time at some point in the future. This feud has gripped a majority of the wrestling world and even though not everyone agrees with the ridiculous ratings given by certain journalists, a fourth match would make a must-watch event.

Wrestle Kingdom 11: Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega

What are your thoughts on these stories? What have been your favourite and least favourite stories in wrestling for 2017 and what are you looking forward to for next year? Let us know in the comments below.

Ben Guest is a history student at De Montfort University in the United Kingdom. Outside of professional wrestling, he is also a fan of Liverpool FC.


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