Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Kevin Owens: #9 in the Top Wrestlers of 2016

The first repeat appearance from last year's Top 10 list dropped seven spots from his #2 finish in 2015. But while Kevin Owens didn't have the astronomical rise in 2016 that he had in 2015, he has been one of the most consistent wrestlers on the WWE and later Raw roster in the last year.

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From his dominating run as Intercontinental champion at the beginning of the year to his renewed feud with Sami Zayn to his new BFF relationship with Chris Jericho and his rise to WWE Universal champion, the former Kevin Steen has put on solid matches week in and week out on television and on pay-per-view.

In my opinion however, many of his accomplishments have been mired by the terrible writing typical of Raw. Since the brand split, Smackdown simply became a stronger brand and it takes a ton of star power to overcome the mess that is that broadcast.

But Kevin Owens has always shown an ability to stand out from the pack. He did it in Ring of Honor, to the point the company had no choice but to rehire him and give him the championship. He did it in NXT where he immediately became the top star, albeit in a short run. And he did it on Raw in 2015, taking his first onscreen win against John Cena.

It's hard to separate Owens' championship success from his
partnership with Chris Jericho. Image credit:
Unfortunately, his rise to WWE Universal champion also came with the typical chickenshit heel exploits it seems Raw's writing team requires for all their heel main eventers. While he and his partner in crime Jericho have done their best with the material, it is hard to argue the staleness of the material hurt Kevin Owens's ranking this year. While last year he received multiple first place votes, this year his highest ranking by any contributor was fifth place. Only a consistent showing in the middle of the Top Ten on multiple lists brought him to the Top 10 at all, and then just barely. He didn't even make my personal Top 25, coming in at the 28th spot right behind Xavier Woods.

But the one thing wrestling fans can be sure of is that Kevin Owens will continue to try and make every match he wrestles compelling. Here's hoping in 2017 he's given a lot more to work with than the same stale finishes.

Tomorrow NXT gets their first star on the list, a talent that is anything but a developmental star.

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