Monday, January 2, 2017

Samoa Joe: #8 in the Top 10 Wrestlers of 2016

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Last year, Samoa Joe wasn't able to crack even the Top 20 wrestlers of 2016, ending the year in a tie with his perennial rival in the first half of 2016, Finn Balor. But while Finn lost half his year to injury, Samoa Joe put on amazing performances night after night atop the NXT card.

He so dominated the top of the NXT roster that he was the only wrestler in any promotion to fight in the main event of every pay-per-view / special event for the company. His feuds first with Finn Balor and later with Shinsuke Nakamura dominated NXT storytelling for much of the year. While he lost in two title matches at NXT Takeover events, he went completely undefeated on NXT television for the year before his Osaka loss to Shinsuke Nakamura was aired in December.

2016 was easily the Samoan Submission Specialist's best year since the peak of his TNA run in 2008. And he did it while likely wrestling in front of crowds far larger than TNA ever gave him, with crowds ranging up to 15,000 fans for his main event spots at NXT Takeover. He effectively accomplished everything he could on the developmental brand, winning the NXT championship on two occasions, making him the first person to ever hold that belt more than once. He handed Shinsuke Nakamura his first loss as well, even if Nakamura came back to dominate him at the end of the year.

2017 should bring more glory for Samoa Joe as he looks towards a main roster debut. Smart money puts him on Smackdown, perhaps even as soon as the Royal Rumble. A dominating performance there could spell great things for his future with the biggest wrestling company in the world.

Next up, we look toward a long time star that experienced a latter day career renaissance in 2016.

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