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Wrestler of the Year 2017


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#21 Zoo Enthusiast

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 04:54 PM

ZSJ's PWG run this year was awesome. He even made matches with Marty Scurll in them interesting when they were tagging and that's hard to do. Had a great match with DJZ in EVOLVE last week, too. I don't think things like the CWC are great for him.

#22 WingedEagle

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 04:57 PM

Okada is a runaway #1 for me.  I understand the argument against him if you're not high on the Omega matches.  I am, which makes this as easy as any call in recent years.  Especially when you add in the Tiger Mask W, Shibata, Suzuki & Evil title defenses as well as his work in various tag & six man matches at Korakuen on lesser shows.  Those tags were almost never meaningful matches but he almost never mailed them in and always delivered sequences that helped build his next big main event.  That can't be understated.

 

All of that is before you factor in his G1, which beyond the Omega match featured an incredible MOTYC with Kojima along with excellent matches with with Elgin, Suzuki and Evil.  Not to mention what I think is Cody Rhodes's best career match at the G1 Special in the states.  

 

Io Shirai was in the running for #2 on my ballot based on the first 7 months of the year, but hasn't really been put in position to build on that in her work since returning from injury.  Strong work every time out rarely delivering great matches based on how she's been used in tag settings.  Still a possibility to make my top 3, but far from the lock she was over the summer.

 

I can't say I love the thought of a top placing for Omega on my ballot because of those nights where he works in tune with his colorful tights, but between the Okada series, the Ishii series, the G1 matches and Juice defense its tough to leave him off.

 

Walter is right in the mix for a spot in the top 3 and a lock for the top 5.  In-ring feud of the year contender with Riddle, the 16 Carat final with Dragunov, the Starr matches, the tag work with Thatcher -- just an incredibly diverse body of work all over the world.  

 

Reigns has delivered pretty consistently when given an opportunity this year, from the Owens match at the Rumble (KO's best outing since his first couple outings with Cena), the Braun feud and then TV run late in the year.  Then there's the Mania match with Undertaker.  Widely panned and I get it, but I guess I'm the outlier here.  I liked it that night at the end of the marathon that Wrestlemania has become, and I liked it even more on rewatch later in the year.  Call me crazy, I loved it.



#23 Edwin

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 06:22 PM

 

I'm honestly surprised at all the love for Zack Sabre Jr. I thought he was the shits in the CWC but I confess that I haven't followed his work since then. Perhaps that was simply not the right platform for him?

Same here. I never get the ZSJ love. I get he tries to be this grappling wizard, but it comes off really bad. He really doesn't know the basics of grappling and it's glaring obvious when you watch his work. I mean, if that's what your character is based off, then you have to at least show a sign that you know what you're doing. Honestly I feel this is an area where he can learn a thing or two from someone like Shayna Baszler. His strikes also seem relatively weak to me.

 

That kind of reminds me of ROH putting out a promo video of Simon Gotch being this type of grappling wizard and in the same video showing him as a BJJ white belt and doing some white belt level drills. They could have at least brought a black belt on eBay for $20 and put it on him just for the video itself to at least try and make him come across as a legit grappler.



#24 SmartMark15

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 06:48 PM

Then there's the Mania match with Undertaker.  Widely panned and I get it, but I guess I'm the outlier here.  I liked it that night at the end of the marathon that Wrestlemania has become, and I liked it even more on rewatch later in the year.  Call me crazy, I loved it.


I'm in the camp of people who actually thoroughly enjoyed that match when I first saw it (have yet to rewatch). Things like the Undertaker visibly struggling to do his sit up spot or looking lost as Reigns ran circles around him to hit the Spear are top notch moments for me.

#25 WingedEagle

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 07:03 PM

 

Then there's the Mania match with Undertaker.  Widely panned and I get it, but I guess I'm the outlier here.  I liked it that night at the end of the marathon that Wrestlemania has become, and I liked it even more on rewatch later in the year.  Call me crazy, I loved it.


I'm in the camp of people who actually thoroughly enjoyed that match when I first saw it (have yet to rewatch). Things like the Undertaker visibly struggling to do his sit up spot or looking lost as Reigns ran circles around him to hit the Spear are top notch moments for me.

 

 

Yeah, I thought it told an incredibly compelling story that I probably wouldn't have bought had you laid it out on paper in advance.  But Taker's failing efforts to overcome the superstar in his prime along with Roman practically toying with him throughout made for a really special match.  In fact, this performance along with his promo the next night had me beyond convinced that Heel Roman Reigns would've been the hottest thing the company had to offer this year.  But it ended after that 24 hour period.  Even most of the botches in the match really added to what they were doing.



#26 joeg

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 07:21 PM

I need to go back and rewatch Taker vs Reigns.... by the time Taker vs Reigns happened I had watched 6 1/2 hours of wrestling (6 of which was bad wrestling) its hard to enjoy any match under those circumstances.



#27 Zoo Enthusiast

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 07:52 PM

I need to go back and rewatch Taker vs Reigns.... by the time Taker vs Reigns happened I had watched 6 1/2 hours of wrestling (6 of which was bad wrestling) its hard to enjoy any match under those circumstances.


Yeah, these posts have me feeling the same way.

#28 Zoo Enthusiast

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 08:14 PM

How has Trevor Lee's non CWF stuff been, I liked him in the 3-way with Low-Ki, although Ki was the standout. I wasn't in love with some of his early workratey CWF defenses (Daniels, Day, Elgin), but he has been on a huge roll during the second half of the year, working very different title matches against a cool variety of wrestlers, loved the ECW brawl with Nick Richards, his little guy v. big guy match against Mecha Mercenary, the Aric Andrews match built around body part selling, his almost Tenryuish performances against Sharpe and in the Battle Royal. Seems like a guy who is doing a wide variety of things very waiell.

 
He's had PWG matches against Keith Lee and Janela that I liked. But his case relies heavily on CWF, where, as you say, he's tremendous.
I’m a big fan of the non-CWF stuff because I love the “Impact wrestling superstar” gimmick. It’s especially good in PWG. I did see him have a pretty mediocre match in person in AAW against Fenix during the Jim Lynam tourney, though.

#29 Quentin Skinner

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 09:04 PM

Trevor this year doesn't have anything non-CWF that I loved as much as the Hero match from 2016. Closest is the Janela match from ASW 13 but the Hero match is a different level. It's a lot of good stuff but the main appeal is the character work that he keeps getting better at.



#30 Laz

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 06:27 AM

Same here. I never get the ZSJ love. I get he tries to be this grappling wizard, but it comes off really bad. He really doesn't know the basics of grappling and it's glaring obvious when you watch his work. I mean, if that's what your character is based off, then you have to at least show a sign that you know what you're doing.

I don't think its so much that he doesn't know what he's doing as much he's stuck in exhibition mode most of the time. He treats chain wrestling like spotmonkeys treat flips, and that kind of "look what I can do" attitude is rampant in this generation of "big" Indy guys. He's the guitarist doing a dozen sweep arpeggios when a hammer-on would've been perfect.

Not that it isn't impressive and a nice change from a card likely filled with moonsaults and weak suplexes.

#31 soup23

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 08:57 AM

I feel like I am being co-opted by Quentin but we have the same top 2 right now in that order.

 

After that things get really hazy for me. I perhaps would give a shout to someone like Takeshita or maybe AJ but am uncertain. I kept hearing the narrative that Trevor Lee's 2017 wasn't up to snuff as his 2016 and while I agree that the Hero match from EPIC is the best match in the past two years outside of CWF, his CWF stuff from 2017 holds up nicely against the 2016 output IMO. I am still a big fan of the Day match even if it cooled slightly on my MOTY year end watch. The second half of the year he has really shined. Between the Aric Andrews, Richards, Otto Scwanz and Mecha defenses and then the masterful performance in the Rumble, he may have enough to snag my #3 spot currently. 



#32 Childs

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 09:19 AM

Same here. I never get the ZSJ love. I get he tries to be this grappling wizard, but it comes off really bad. He really doesn't know the basics of grappling and it's glaring obvious when you watch his work. I mean, if that's what your character is based off, then you have to at least show a sign that you know what you're doing.

I don't think its so much that he doesn't know what he's doing as much he's stuck in exhibition mode most of the time. He treats chain wrestling like spotmonkeys treat flips, and that kind of "look what I can do" attitude is rampant in this generation of "big" Indy guys. He's the guitarist doing a dozen sweep arpeggios when a hammer-on would've been perfect.

Not that it isn't impressive and a nice change from a card likely filled with moonsaults and weak suplexes.

Part of what I liked about him this year was that with him working heel more, his grappling got less exhibitiony. That used to bug me as well. The fact that it might not look authentic to an MMA or BJJ fan is irrelevant to me.

#33 Edwin

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 09:33 AM

 

Same here. I never get the ZSJ love. I get he tries to be this grappling wizard, but it comes off really bad. He really doesn't know the basics of grappling and it's glaring obvious when you watch his work. I mean, if that's what your character is based off, then you have to at least show a sign that you know what you're doing.

I don't think its so much that he doesn't know what he's doing as much he's stuck in exhibition mode most of the time. He treats chain wrestling like spotmonkeys treat flips, and that kind of "look what I can do" attitude is rampant in this generation of "big" Indy guys. He's the guitarist doing a dozen sweep arpeggios when a hammer-on would've been perfect.

Not that it isn't impressive and a nice change from a card likely filled with moonsaults and weak suplexes.
 
I wrote a bit on him after having watched his match against Mark Haskins from the WWN Supershow over at DVDVR:

Watching ZSJ vs. Mark Haskins from the WWN Supershow. Man ZSJ's matches are tough to sit through. He seems to pride himself as this complex grappler, but I just don't see it. As I said the last time around, if he's going to pride himself as a grappler, he really should get some tips from Riddle or take a BJJ class at least.
 
I don't mind guys with horrendous business exposing grappling as much as I do in this case as they usually don't build themselves around that, but ZSJ to me seems like he does and it's horrible.
 
I know it sounds like I'm picking on ZSJ and I know someone will bring it up, but I'm really not. If you build yourself on something, try and come off as a genuine and good as possible.
 
He seems to be more focused on cute submission attempts than on effective subs.
 
His strikes are particularly weak looking too. Haskins leg kicks seemed far more effective than his. I also caught that clip of him "killing" Chris Hero from PWG and those "stomps" looked more like he was just caressing Hero's head with his foot than anything else. He still doesn't posses the weakest/fakest striking in wrestling though, that's Michael Elgin's claim by a long shot with his blatant thigh slapping.
 
Another thing that irks me about ZSJ is how many times I've heard people compare his matches to that of MMA fights. That's just wrong on so many levels. If anything, ZSJ reflects the entire opposite.
 
I personally don't find him appealing at all, but I can't say I blame him as he's built a solid fanbase so more power to him.

Edit: Re-reading that post I posted some time ago and your reply, yeah, I guess what I meant to say is his grappling exchanges look more like exhibitions than anything else. He's more focused on being cute than effective and it makes him look really weak and like he has no idea what he's doing realistically.
 
2 years ago the majority of the people who replied to his GWE nomination on here didn't like him either: http://prowrestlingo...0-zack-sabre-jr
 
I'm curious what the sentiment would be from those same people now that its been 2 years and theres a lot more footage of him available now...

#34 concrete1992

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 11:32 AM

What's the consensus on top 10 contender Nick Gage?



#35 soup23

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 12:12 PM

Tremont matches rule. Want to see more of him outside of the scope of death match stuff in GCW ala vs Gresham and vs. Donst in AIW. 



#36 Boss Rock

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 04:40 PM

Controversial pick, but Kenny Omega. Thought the Okada trilogy was the best in-ring feud this year. The first two were indeed padded but featured some of the most amazing stretches of action I've ever seen in a wrestling match. The G-1 match took the best parts of the first two matches while condensing it to 25 minutes and telling a great story of Okada being unable to overcome the injury to his neck suffered earlier in the tournament. I also loved the trilogy with Ishii which hasn't gotten as much love as the Okada matches but were really spectacular in their own right (the Long Beach match in particular). The same criticisms thrown at the Okada matches can be thrown at these ones as well, but there were some truly incredible offensive sequences. He had a great run in the U.S. Heavyweight Championship Tournament, a very good run in the G-1, and a MOTYC with Naito.

 

I get that he's not the most fundamentally-sound guy and often relies on big flashy stuff to get a match over, but I can't think of a better big match wrestler in the world today. Not to mention he managed to elevate much less-good talent like Jay Lethal and Trent Barreta. A friend of mine once described him as a spiritual successor to Kenta Kobashi and I sort of agree. Sounds crazy I know, but hear me out. Offensive dynamo and great seller at times, but prone to excess and a flair for the over-dramatic.

 

My number 2 would be Kazuchika Okada.



#37 EricR

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Posted 18 December 2017 - 10:51 PM

I mostly dislike modern NJPW but ZSJ's two matches against Tanahashi and his Ishii match were excellent. 



#38 cheapshot

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 08:55 AM

1. Tetsuya Naito
2. WALTER
3. Zack Sabre Jr.
4. Roman Reigns
5. Kazuchika Okada
5. Kenny Omega
6. David Starr
8. Timothy Thatcher
9. Johnny Gargano
10. Braun Strowman


#39 El-P

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Posted 19 December 2017 - 09:07 AM

I haven't watch stuff regularly enough (except for taped-in-2016 LU and WWE PPVs), so I'll throw Braun Strowman in there. The big fucking monster killing people and looking like a freak, so cool that the audience would cheer him despite the booking, was the most compelling and fresh thing in WWE this year.



#40 superkix

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Posted 20 December 2017 - 08:32 AM

Probably Hideki Suzuki






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