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2016 PW Awards

2016 PW Awards: Female Wrestler of the Year

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Winner: Sasha Banks

“I really couldn’t rank one of them (Charlotte or Sasha) over the other. They both continue to set the bar higher and higher for the women superstars every single week. And while I’ll continually be puzzled by the reports that Vince is not high on Sasha, and continue to be confused as to why she only wins the titles on Raw, she is easily right there as the best wrestler on the roster. I truly hope that the reports are false, as Sasha could be someone who carries the Women’s division for a LONG, LONG time… (also, can we make her a heel again? KThxBye). – Chris Langevin

“As the dude who counts the votes, I actually had to do a recount when I saw that Sasha ended up beating out Charlotte. It was extremely close, Sasha won by just seven points, 118-111 and Charlotte had 6 first place votes to Sasha’s 4. It really could’ve went either way. While I stand firmly behind Charlotte as the top female wrestler of 2016, we bring in a strong panel for a reason. Maybe they saw something that I didn’t. Again, all I can say is…. it was close. And looking back at their rivalry this year, it was just as back and forth as the votes for these awards as they trickled in. Congrats to the first back to back Fight Booth wrestler of the year, Sasha Banks. You better believe she’ll be in the running for a three-peat when 2017 comes to a close.” – Dave Reno

2. Charlotte Flair

“Is there really any question? She is being positioned as one of, if not, the greatest female wrestler in the history of the WWE. She has had amazing matches every single step of the way, plays the heel better than anyone on the roster, and still is getting better every single week. While I think she still needs to work on her promos a bit (her promo with Ric from a few weeks ago was cringeworthy and not in the way that WWE intended), she is still above everyone else on the roster…(see above).” – Chris Langevin

“Charlotte Flair is her father’s daughter AND occasionally nearing early Chris Jericho levels of petulant AND wrestling’s Cersei Lannister. We should be thankful, y’all. ”  – Mira Waters

“Say what you want about Charlotte. You can say that she’s been pushed too hard. You can say that the fact that she’s a four-time women’s champ already is ridiculous. But you can’t say that she hasn’t been putting on great matches this year, and, especially over the past few months, become one of the better heels on the whole roster, male or female. Some of the other women, such as Kimber Lee and Sexy Star, deserve credit just for what they represented this year. But Charlotte stands above them all.” – Aaron Oster

“This was Charlotte’s year. She proved to us that she’s not only the top female wrestler in the game today, she also proved she may just be the one to carry this division for the next decade. She’s built to last. Her in-ring game is off the charts and continues to progress as we speak. Her promos only got better as the year went on and her performances in big matches spoke volumes. Charlotte was the perfect foil to babyface Sasha this year and you could easily see the two trading places for years to come.” – Dave Reno

“The best in the business, she has the look, the charisma and in ring ability to carry the WWE Women’s division. She’s the best…..period.” – Dan Rose

Feud of the Year: Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks

3. Asuka

“While the Four Horsewomen carried the Women’s Division in NXT for a few years, it seems pretty depleted to me now. Billie Kay, Liv Morgan, etc. are all not up to the level as when Bayley, Sasha, Charlotte, and Becky were blazing trails down in NXT. The one that IS up to that level though, is Asuka. I had the pleasure of seeing Asuka v. Eva Marie at NXT Albany, and holy SHIT does she hit hard live. Her match with Mickie James had a very weird ending to it, but the match itself was very fun to watch. It’s going to be tough to keep Asuka down in NXT with the lack of talent/challengers around her, but I can’t wait to see her square off with the likes of Charlotte and Sasha at the next level.” – Chris Langevin

“One of the best in-ring performers in the WWE and she’s believable, a rarity in 2016.” – Jim LaMotta

4. Bayley

“While it wasn’t as big of a year for Bayley as 2015, 2016 still treated her pretty damn nicely. She didn’t come up victorious as much, but she still put on classic matches with Asuka, made a memorable debut at WWE Battleground, and continues to be that lovely babyface you can’t help but love. I think 2017 is going to be a HUGE year for Bayley (starting with a WWE Women’s Title win at WrestleMania).” – Chris Langevin

5. Sexy Star

“Lucha Underground has been praised for showcasing some of the best talent in the world in ways that American fans have never seen before. The reason why they do such a great job at it is because they don’t pat themselves on the back for every accomplishment that the wrestlers make. They don’t shove it down viewers throats that they are making history. Hence the reason why Sexy Star’s rise in the promotion has been so organic and refreshing to see every week. She is just seen as another incredible talent in the locker room who has been blessed to receive great competition and is challenged with every match. You see her struggles and her ability to triumph with every fan that gets behind her. She doesn’t see herself as an underdog nor does she need a huge story behind her. She just gets in the ring and gets it done. Bravo Sexy Star.” – Candace Kidd

“In the same year, she won the Gift of the Gods championship and then, while it didn’t make my list as the BEST moment of this year, her victory in the Aztec Warfare match to win the LU Championship was HUGE… I actually jumped out of my seat, as it was something I absolutely did not expect to happen. She is one of the few women wrestlers (all being on the LU roster basically…) that still gets in there with the guys and not only holds her own but completely outshines them. She continues to exceed my expectations!” – Chris Langevin 

“Love her, and her in ring abilities are amazing. She’s one of two women wrestlers in Lucha Underground that I really, really dig. Her winning the LU World Title this year is an amazing achievement in pro wrestling.” – Dan Rose

6. Becky Lynch

“She does a lot with less than most. She has a great look, and is skilled, but people seem to look past her at times. She recently lost the title on Smackdown, so 2017 should be an interesting year for her.” – Dan Rose

“Straight fire! Becky had a great year and she really helped keep the Smackdown women’s division relavent. She’s as real as it gets when it comes to any performer on the roster today and I’m excited to see what’s next for our resident ‘Irish Lass Kicker’.” – Dave Reno 

7. Alexa Bliss

“Alexa Bliss is a mean girl who is reliant on her ambition and mostly without misogynistic tropes. Her promos point to weakness in her opponent’s skill or psychology more than they ever point to their looks or dating life. She was ready to come up before a lot of fan favorites even were but I’m so glad they saved her for this moment. I think she’ll be on this list for years and years to come.” – Mira Waters

8. Rosemary

“The Demon Assassin Rosemary closed out 2016 in a wildly chaotic fashion by conquering Jade inside a steel cage to become TNA’s Knockout Champion. Though it can be argued the entire TNA roster exists, to an extent, in the shadow of Broken Matt Hardy, a standout performance from Rosemary this year cannot be overlooked. Her dedication to her character and her role as a part of Decay creates such compelling television, it would be unfair not to credit her as part of the saving grace for the company as of late. Anyone with pre-Rosemary knowledge of Courtney Rush will tell you 2017 can only be bigger, as TNA has yet to capitalize on the history and natural chemistry that already exists between her and former storied opponent Cherry Bomb, currently known in TNA as Allie. As anyone who’s ever chanted “fight forever” at a wrestling show will tell you, seeing two former enemies reignite a barn-burner of a feud will certainly make for must-see TV.” – Lady J

“I was lucky enough to see Rosemary take on Allie in a steel cage match live in Toronto for my birthday present. First off, shout out to Smash Wrestling – awesome promotion. Secondly, Rosemary gives off a certain energy that is second to none. Her transformation from Courtney Rush to her Rosemary character has been a sight to behold. Kudos to Impact Wrestling for pushing her as their champion, that said, she deserves a bigger stage. She’s ready.” – Dave Reno

“Before Hardy became Broken, Rush had helped DECAY become the face of TNA for a while, becoming a more wanted talent then she was even before in short time. Rosemary, the Demon Assassin has quickly become a definite headline star for any indy looking to get faces on it.” – Reid Harris Cooper

9. Jade

“Her matches were highlights during an otherwise rocky year for Impact Wrestling.” – Jim LaMotta

10. Kimber Lee

“Princess Kimber Lee rang in 2016 as the Chikara Grand Champion – the first female to hold the main title of a major American wrestling promotion. That alone is enough to put her on our list. Over the course of the past year, she has proved herself again and again, not only as a force to be reckoned with inside of the Wrestle Factory, but outside of it as well. As Princes Kimber Lee, she rescues herself and inspires everyone to stand up for what they believe in. As just Kimber Lee at promotions like AAW and Beyond, she has stood up to monsters like Jessica Havok and Donovan Dijak, proving size is not a limitation. We know now that she rounded out her year saying farewell to the independent scene and heading off for Orlando, and deservedly so. Anyone lucky enough to have seen her live knows, this hard-hitting princess is likely to becoming WWE’s crowning jewel.” – Lady J

11. Ivelisse
12. Nia Jax
13. Allie/Cherry Bomb
14. Heidi Lovelace
15. Veda Scott
16. Leva Bates
17. Mariposa/Cheerleader Melissa
18. Nikki Bella
19. Candice LeRae
20. Taya Valkyrie
21. Gail Kim
22. Mercedes Martinez
23. Natalya
24. Nikki Cross
25. Kelly Klein
26. LuFisto
27. Tessa Blanchard
28. Ember Moon
29. Allysin Kay
30. Shayna Baszler

Next: Male Wrestler of the Year

2016 PW Awards

Fight Booth PW 2016 Awards Recap

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And just like that, our 4th annual Fight Booth PW Awards are officially in the can. We’re forever grateful to everyone who took part in this year’s voting process – it truly means the world to us. It goes without saying that this was a most incredible year for the world of professional wrestling and we fully expect things to get even better in 2017 and beyond. Before then, check out who went home with this year’s hardware and why by clicking through any of the links below:

Tag Team of the Year: The Revival

Ring Announcer of the Year: Melissa Santos

Best Television Announcer: Mauro Ranallo

Face of the Year: Finn Balor & Bayley (tie)

Heel of the Year: Kevin Owens

Faction of the Year: Bullet Club

Best Non-Wrestler: Dario Cueto

Most Improved Wrestler: Alexa Bliss

Event of the Year: Wrestle Kingdom 10

Best Gimmick: ‘Broken’ Matt Hardy

Promotion of the Year: NJPW

MVP (Most Valuable to His/Her Promotion): Matt Hardy

Feud of the Year: Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks

Best Mic Worker: Chris Jericho

Best Moment of the Year: Daniel Bryan’s Retirement Speech

Match of the Year: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn (NXT TakeOver: Dallas)

Female Wrestler of the Year: Sasha Banks

Male Wrestler of the Year: AJ Styles

2015 PW Awards Recap

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2016 PW Awards

2016 PW Awards: Male Wrestler of the Year

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Winner: AJ Styles

“Quite frankly, AJ Styles was the story of 2016, and there was a reason for it. He put on constant great matches and both his on-air and off-air arc was extremely compelling. He was the total package in a year where a lot of unexpected names (Miz, Jericho, even Omega) really took their game to a whole new level. I think there are about six guys you could make a compelling case for at #2, but AJ Styles is a step above any of those six.” – Aaron Oster

“I’ve had problems with AJ Styles in the past… his rhetoric on the indies was often homophobic and I feel very differently than most about the Styles Clash… but he’s been willing to pay his dues at WWE, even though he’s an international hot-shot. I saw nearly everyone on the roster say that he deserved the world title, which to me signals a growth from cool guy McIndie scene to responsible backstage mentor. He elevates any match he’s in while still being able to learn and take from the people he works with. He was a bright spot in a pretty meh year.” – Mira Waters

“Dreams do come true, even for smarky wrestling fans. It was just a year ago that it became clear AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were leaving Japan, and that WWE was going to be the benefactor of that move. When Styles appeared to a thunderous ovation at the Royal Rumble, it was as though all of the wrestling planets had aligned. Whatever your feelings about him personally might be, it is absolutely undeniable that he is the new standard-bearer for WWE. Every opponent he faces comes away better for having wrestled him. If you run down the list of people who faced Styles in 2016, their best matches were with him. Even as a recovering Ambrose fan, I would be remiss to say that putting the WWE World Title on Styles wasn’t the absolute right thing to do. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if it stayed there – for a long, long time. No matter who’s standing across the ring from AJ Styles in 2017, they won’t be nearly as Phenomenal as him.” – Lady J

“There has not been a better one-year span in WWE history. Kurt Angle and a few others are comparable, but AJ’s 2016 can be put up against any of them.” – Matt Addie

“This is the case of someone who has for YEARS been seen as a guy that would thrive in the WWE, decided not to sign. He goes over to NJPW, completely revamps his character and skills, THEN decides to come to WWE and lights the damn place on fire. He pulls off 2 of the best matches I’ve ever seen out of Roman Reigns, then pulls 2 of the best matches I’ve ever seen out of John Cena, then pulls of a GREAT series with Dean Ambrose, wins the WWE Title, all while making me want to slap the smug look off his face. If he would have won at Wrestlemania, his entire year would have been the perfect debut year in WWE.” – Chris Langevin

“When it comes to consistently delivering great matches, AJ is like another HBK in the WWE.” – Jim LaMotta

“The best in the world. Amazing athlete, can work with anyone. I think he’s number one in the world, and it isn’t really that close.” – Dan Rose

2. Shinsuke Nakamura

“I gave him the MVP of his promotion because since the week after WrestleMania when the main roster completely depleted NXT, he was the one person that carried NXT. Which is also why I give him my nod as the #2 wrestler of the year. We all know that Japanese and Chinese wrestlers have the TOUGHEST times in the WWE. We know that if they can’t cut a promo, it’s going to be tough for them to get over. From the moment Shinsuke debuted with the video challenging Sami Zayn to a match at Takeover, he captivated the WWE/NXT audience. Not to mention, much earlier this year, he was lighting it up at Wrestle Kingdom against my #1 wrestler. There are not many people who have had a year like Shinsuke from a great program with Samoa Joe, to his MOTY candidates v. Styles and Zayn, it’s only a matter of time before he’s taking over the main roster.” – Chris Langevin

“This charismatic former New Japan superstar transitioned seamlessly to the America audience, and he has the skills to be as big of a star as the powers that be permit him to be. While it makes sense to allow him to carry the NXT brand for now, make no mistake, Nakamura is undoubtedly a Wrestlemania main event level talent. His matches with Samoa Joe provide an example of what he can bring to the main stage of WWE.” – Jim LaMotta

“I love The king of strong style. His entrances are beyond epic, and his work style is jaw dropping. He will be so special on the WWE roster.” – Dan Rose

3. Kevin Owens

“Kevin Owens will fight your dad on Twitter and he will deserve it.” – Mira Waters

“Listen, he’s simply put, talented. He has the ability to work with anyone, his in ring mic work is epic. His work overall is unbelievable. Kevin Owens is the complete package.” – Dan Rose

4. Kenny Omega

“Wow. What more could we say about Kenny Omega’s 2016. The void left by AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura during the first week of the calendar year was filled and then some by Omega and Naito. Omega put forth match of the year after match of the year performances ending the year as the G1 Climax winner and #1 contender for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. And he didn’t stop there. I have a feeling his first match of 2017 at a little show inside of the Tokyo Dome may end up appearing right at the top of every single year-end list in the business. Couldn’t be more excited to see what’s next for “The Cleaner” in 2017.” – Dave Reno

“Kenny started the year making an impact heard round the wrestling worldwide when he took over BULLET CLUB. With that momentum he proceeded to have an amazing year, co-starring with The Bucks in The Elite videos, winning G-1 and heading into the new year as part of the headliner for Wrestle Kingdom. Arguments can be made for who truly had the best year in wrestling, but Omega took this year to go from that cool guy who people enjoyed watching and could make a match with a little girl & a sex doll awesome to the guy who could be the top guy in any company anywhere in the world.” – Reid Harris Cooper

“When you have such high-profiled acts like AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows leave the Bullet Club, and they seem to get STRONGER… that’s huge. It’s all a testament to the year that Kenny Omega had. From the moment they turned on AJ Styles and established Kenny Omega as the new leader, to him capturing the G1 Climax championship, becoming the first non-Japanese wrestler (Canadian) to do so.” – Chris Langevin

5. Chris Jericho

“While not in the theoretical prime of his career, in 2016, Jericho is as good now, if not better than he has ever been. This 26-year pro went step for step with Seth Rollins, a young lion that could be the future of the company, which speaks volumes to his ability. Even more amazing is Jericho’s ability to adapt to the current product and remain fresh instead of a nostalgia act. Props to Chris Jericho, you just made the list!” – Jim LaMotta

“Chris Jericho will not go home and I am so glad. Sometimes alumni hangs around and it takes a spot from a deserving young guy or lends itself to repetitive not-stories and half-assed gimmicks. With Jericho that’s never the case. His improvisation and ability to change character from week to week very often saves the guys he’s paired with or up against from poor planning or lack of writing on creative’s part.” – Mira Waters

“I understand his in ring abilities are not what they once were. I watch wrestling to be entertained, and nobody is more entertaining on a regular basis than Y2J. Disagree? You just made the list, you stupid idiot!” – Dan Rose

6. Matt Hardy

“Matt Hardy made TNA relevant for the first time in my entire life with one of the most inventive gimmicks I’ve ever seen. He’s so committed to it that somehow it doesn’t land as a parody and it works in any promotion he visits.” – Mira Waters

“We’ve never seen anything close to Broken Matt Hardy, Brother Nero, Senor Benjamin and that weird world he’s created.” – Matt Addie

7. Cody Rhodes

“Cody Rhodes is a very lucky man. He was born into a perfect storm, destined to become something great. But even with The American Dream for a father, dashing good looks, and a natural deftness in the ring, it would be foolish to claim Cody’s success in WWE was simply the result of nepotism. If you love your work in the way that Rhodes clearly does, you will always strive for more, to grow and become better. How do you accomplish that when you’re already working for the biggest company in the industry and they’re not writing anything for you? You shock everyone and walk away. With his sights set on conquering some of the biggest names in independent wrestling, Cody traded his regular paycheck and some David Bowie-inspired make-up for challenging himself to think on his feet, and find his own destiny. Kicking off 2017 in Tokyo at Wrestle Kingdom 11, it seems clear that Bullet Club’s newest member is set on turning wrestling fan’s dreams for Rhodes on the indie scene into the American Nightmare. Bring it on, Cody. Bring it on.” – Lady J

“Cody Rhodes? I don’t remember that wrestler. OHHHH… do you mean Cody? Just Cody? *cue eye roll* First off, let me address WWE… Hey… Vince… just let him use the god damn Rhodes name. Don’t hold it against Cody because you guys refused to let him drop the Stardust gimmick. Ever since he left WWE, Cody has shown exactly why he wanted to drop the Stardust gimmick. It’s not him. He makes a GREAT heel when he is just himself, because he has the perfect punchable face. For the foreseeable future, I am VERY much looking forward to his work in ROH and with the Bullet Club, especially after his Final Battle contest with Lethal. He plays the role well, and add that to the Bullet Club’s reputation, and Cody is primed for one hell of a 2017.” – Chris Langevin

“A round of applause for Cody’s decision to leave WWE. He’s made good on his wrestling bucket list thus far, and his barnstorming tour should rage on in 2017.” – Matt Addie

“When the WWE overlooked him, Cody had the guts to ask for his release and is proving the writing team wrong, as he’s wrestling stellar matches in almost every major promotion.” – Jim LaMotta

8. Tetsuya Naito

The 2016 MVP of Japanese pro wrestling (and the first since 2011 not named Okada or Tanahashi) you could make an argument for Naito as the most important player for NJPW this past year. Naito forming the Japan version of the Los Ingobernables stable in late 2015 after a short stint in Mexico earlier in the year turned out to be the best move of his career. LIJ got over huge in 2016 as a villainous stable and Naito got over even bigger as their leader. His heel tactics, his total disregard for the IWGP heavyweight and Intercontinental championships during his runs, his incredible matches and his unparalleled swagger brought him to new heights in Japan over the past year. Tetsuya Naito may be the coolest wrestler in the world today.” – Dave Reno

9. Seth Rollins

“The #1 pick in the WWE Brand Split, Seth Rollins had quite the year. After having to miss Wrestlemania because of his knee injury, he came back to a raucous ovation when he planted Roman Reigns at Extreme Rules. From his quick title reign, to his match at Summerslam against Balor, to his eventual showdown with HHH, Seth Rollins continues to set the bar on the Raw brand.” – Chris Langevin

10. The Miz

“The Miz has been this company’s best heel low-key for years and I’m glad he slandered Daniel Bryan and brought back his hot devil wife and they’re Square Enix outfits to make it clear once and for all.” – Mira Waters

“I think his level of in ring ability is top-notch, and his ability to work the mic is great as well. One of the best heels in the business. I think The Miz could be the best sooner rather than later.” – Dan Rose

11. Jay Lethal
12. Chris Hero
13. Pentagon Dark
14. Adam Cole
15. Kazuchika Okada
16. Cedric Alexander
17. Kyle O’Reilly
18. Ricochet
19. Will Ospreay
20. Roman Reigns
21. Samoa Joe
22. Cesaro
23. Son of Havoc/Matt Cross
24. Matt Riddle
25. Sami Zayn
26. Johnny Gargano
27. Zack Sabre Jr.
28. Katsuyori Shibata
29. John Cena
30. Dean Ambrose

Next: Fight Booth PW 2016 Awards Recap

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2016 PW Awards

2016 PW Awards: Top Ten Matches of the Year

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In what was one of the best years ever for professional wrestling our 15 panelists were asked to give us their top ten matches of the year. Here’s what they came up with:

Winner: Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Takeover: Dallas, 4.1.16)

2. AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (Wrestle Kingdom 10, 1.4.16)

3. John Cena vs. AJ Styles (Summerslam, 8.21.16)

4. Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet (BOSJ Day 6, 5.27.16)

 

5. Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito (G1 Climax B Block Finals, 8.13.16)

6. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada (Wrestle Kingdom 10, 1.4.16)

7. The Revival vs. D.I.Y. (NXT Takeover: Toronto, 11.19.16)

8. The Miz vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn (Extreme Rules, 5.22.16)

9. Will Ospreay, Richochet & Matt Sydal vs. The Young Bucks & Adam Cole (PWG BOLA Night 2, 9.3.16)

10. The Addiction vs. The Young Bucks vs. The Motor City Machine Guns ‘Ladder Wars’ (ASE VIII, 9.30.16)

Honorable Mentions: Sexy Star vs. Mariposa ‘No Mas Match’ (Taped – 1.9.16, Air Date – 5.4.16), Kenny Omega vs. Hirooki Goto (G1 Final, 8.4.16), Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch (WM 32, 4.3.16), Hitokiri vs. Pentagon Dark (Air Date – 11.30.16), Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles (Extreme Rules, 5.22.16), Kenny Omega vs. Michael Elgin (Dominion, 6.19.16), Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly (Final Battle, 12.2.16)

Next: Female Wrestler of the Year

image credit – WWE.com

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