Monday, December 26, 2016

The 2016 End of the Year Honorable Mentions List

For the next two weeks, The Wrestling Weekday will look at some of the best wrestlers in the world, the men and women that shaped the industry in 2016.

Tomorrow, the list actually starts to get into wrestlers that earned multiple votes before the Top 10 list starts full speed ahead on Tuesday. All remaining vote getters, the ones that fell short of the Top 10 but received votes from multiple sources, will be revealed next week.

But for now: on with the first list of Honorable Mentions, presented in point order from lowest to highest.

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Sami Zayn did not have a spectacular 2016 clearly as he received only a single 25th point vote. He stands alongside James Ellsworth, an ignominious spot if ever there was one, and Hallowicked, a talent I might have ranked much higher if I was anywhere near to caught up with Chikara in 2016.

I expected The Miz to get a bit more support because of his great work on Smackdown Live in the second half of 2016. He just missed my list and perhaps failed to make a few others as well. Similarly, only I was impressed enough by Baron Corbin's work in 2016. Admittedly he only had a few great weeks in NXT at the beginning of the year and his impressive work since Survivor Series with a huge lull in the middle, but he is decidedly a talent that grew exponentially in the year. He's easily one of the best WWE developmental talents without an indie background ever.

I also was a bit surprised that I was the only person to rank the Cruiserweight Classic winner TJ Perkins at all and that he came in behind Randy Orton in points total. NJPW's Katsuyori Shibata and TNA's Lashley both came ahead of him on my list though, as both showed amazing growth in ring and, in Lashley's case, character-wise in the year.

Andy Sheets gave the only votes for Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, two talents that just barely missed my list. He also gave a vote to Tomohiro Ishii, a man that fell out of the NEVER division in NJPW early in the year but had a few great showings for ROH as their Television champion.

Sami Callihan (or Jeremiah Crane for certain fans) did amazing work on the indies and in Lucha Underground this year, showing why WWE seriously missed the boat with Solomon Crowe. I can see him entering a few more folks radar in 2017.

A bunch of tag team wrestlers got single votes as well. Nick Jackson, Matt JacksonJason Jordan and Chad Gable only received votes from yours truly, while John Morgan Neal gave Heath Slater and Rhyno their only props. Other talents that made their most significant strides as part of a tag team in 2016 also fell in this place, such as Bray Wyatt or Brother Nero, Jeff Hardy.

I thought Rich Swann deserved a place on the list here as well, as he's the man that seems to have lit a fire under the Cruiserweight division as 205 Live kicks off. Dalton Castle and Pentagon Dark (#10 in last year's poll) get similar rankings, I expect for similarly great character work backed by strong in will skills.

Much like Sami Callihan, I felt Cody Rhodes deserved a place on this list. He's electrified audiences in huge ways since his time as Stardust ended and he took to basically every non-WWE wrestling company. He may have lost his last name (a real poor move by WWE in my opinion), but he's showed why he deserved a higher spot on the card than he ever received on the WWE stage.

Kofi Kingston and Big E both made last year's list (at #8 and #5 respectively), but only got one vote this year. Ricochet (a.k.a. Prince Puma) fell similarly, dropping to only receiving a single vote after ranking at #7 last year. Just ahead of them was the final member of The New Day, Xavier Woods, who fell just short of the 2015 list but through increased in ring presence really cemented himself as a strong third member of The New Day in 2016.

Image credit: Lucha Underground.
We close out today's list with a few of the folks that ranked in several folks' Top 10 positions. Lucha Underground's Cage and NJPW's Kushida and Kazuchika Okada all made Andy Sheets' list in the #8, #7, and #6 spots respectively. Joe Crowe named Goldberg as his sixth best wrestler, an impressive feat for a man with two minutes of ring time in 2016. But they were an impressive two minutes, we all must admit. I ranked Finn Balor at #6, higher than I expected most people to do so, but I was shocked to see him make no one else's list. The first WWE Universal Champion dominated NXT in the first half of the year and impressed on Raw for the month he was on television. It still amazes me he didn't get props from anyone other than yours truly. Finally, Jeff Yelton gave a fifth place vote to ROH's Adam Cole, saying “The two-time ROH World Champ has come from being a bland good guy to a great heel. And he can go in the ring. I keep wondering when WWE is gonna call.”

With this list I have revealed all but twenty names that received votes in the 2016 Top 10 Countdown. The ten final Honorable Mentions will be revealed next week, but for now, stay tuned for tomorrow and the reveal of the #10 wrestler in the world today, despite almost all of their acclaim coming from one tiny venue in Southern California.

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