WWW Editorials

WDKW100 (20-11)

NOTE FROM SAM: Corwo and Brock have been instrumental when going into the official WDKW100. Brock added some additional blurbs and match recs. Corwo helped with SO MANY match recs it is insane. Lovely humans. Deserve a ton of credit and should be followed immediately. Also, Parm has come to assist!

First year ever for the WDKW100! Are you excited? You probably should be because a fabulous countdown is about to unfold. Earlier this year I talked to my We Don’t Know Wrestling co-host at the time, Tanner, about what was going to be happening here. We were saying how it would be cool if we could do something that was like the WKO100, a list I loved watching unfold for years, but make it a bit more inclusive while still maintaining some sort of barrier to entry. The idea being that we cared more about people putting some sort of effort into their list rather than a bunch of people listing some of their favorite wrestlers of the year real quick. I stuck with the idea and had the backing of Trask and Al to get a forum set up for this project (we should be having a 2017 section going up soon to help kick that off but we are likely being attacked by evil bots).

Let’s get down to what this is, the WDKW100 is a fan voted list of the best in-ring pro wrestling performers of 2016. Your ability to gab doesn’t mean much in these parts. Each ballot consisted of 100 pro wrestlers. We used the Pat LaPrade weighted voting system which works as follows:

1- 125 pts
2- 115 pts
3- 110
4- 105
5- 102
6- 99
7- 96
8- 94
9- 92
10- 90

The more points you scored the better you ranked. Ties were broken by who received the most votes and then who ranked highest on an individual ballot. In any other case there was a tie.

Last post before the finale. There is a word for that but I don’t remember it right now so I apologize for that. Not a lot of big things this post. It is the little details in this batch. The order of the remaining NJPW characters. The effect of the WWE Network on some grapplers. THE MATCH not meaning much as far as getting on all the ballots. Yet they come in right next to each other. My number one coming off the board. Are you crazy enough to tweet about the results? Use #WDKW100

  1. Ricochet (29 ballots, 1839 points)

High Voter: Mike W (1)

Recommended Matches:
w/Matt Sydal vs. Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish vs. Rocky Romero & Beretta vs. The Young Bucks (NJPW, 1/4)

w/Dragon Azteca Jr. & Rey Mysterio vs. Son of Havoc & Ivelisse vs. Cortez Castro, Joey Ryan & Mr. Cisco vs. Fenix, Jack Evans & PJ Black (Lucha Underground, 1/10)
w/Dragon Azteca Jr. & Rey Mysterio vs. Jack Evans, Johnny Mundo & PJ Black (Lucha Underground, 1/17)
vs. Dragon Azteca Jr. (Lucha Underground, 1/30)
vs. Rey Mysterio (Lucha Underground, 1/31)
w/Matt Sydal vs. The Young Bucks (PWG, 3/4)
w/Matt Sydal vs. Chris Hero & JT Dunn (PWG, 3/5)
vs. Matanza Cueto (Lucha Underground, 3/5)
vs. Mil Muertes (Lucha Underground, 3/27)
vs. TJ Perkins (EVOLVE, 4/1)
w/Matt Sydal & Rey Mysterio vs. Brian Cage, Chris Hero & Zack Sabre Jr. (WrestleCon, 4/2)
vs. Will Ospreay (EVOLVE, 4/2)
w/Matt Sydal vs. Rocky Romero & Beretta (NJPW, 4/10)
w/Matt Sydal vs. Marty Scurll & Zack Sabre Jr. (RPW, 4/16)
vs. Michael Elgin (RPW, 4/17)
vs. Bobby Fish (NJPW, 5/24)
vs. Will Ospreay (NJPW, 5/27)
vs. Beretta (NJPW, 6/2)
w/Matt Sydal & Satoshi Kojima vs. Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks (NJPW, 7/3)
vs. Sami Callihan (IPW, 7/22)
vs. Mr. 450 (Fight Forever Chile, 8/7)
vs. Pete Dunne (RPW, 8/12)
vs. Dezmond Xavier (AAW, 8/19)
vs. Jeff Cobb (PWG, 9/2)
w/Matt Sydal & Will Ospreay vs. Adam Cole & The Young Bucks (PWG, 9/3)
vs. Will Ospreay (PWG, 9/4)
vs. John Hennigan (PWG, 9/4)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (EVOLVE, 9/11)
w/David Finlay vs. The Young Bucks (NJPW, 10/10)
w/David Finlay vs. ACH & Taiji Ishimori (NJPW, 10/30)
vs. Jonathan Gresham (Beyond Wrestling, 12/11)
vs. Will Ospreay (OTT, 12/17)

“Someone who I feel like has gotten so much smarter as a wrestler the past couple of years and only gets better. The infamous match with Ospreay from BOSJ is what immediately will come to mind for some people, but I thought Ricochet was fantastic in general in that tournament. In LU season 2 as Prince Puma he had a ton of fun trios matches and had an awesome match with Rey Mysterio at Ultima Lucha Dos. In AAW he had one of the best flyer vs flyer matches of the year against Dezmond Xavier that had just as much great storytelling as it did breathtaking athleticism. His tag team work in NJPW has been very good all year as well. In PWG he teamed with Sydal for great matches against Death By Elbow and The Young Bucks and had a great run in BOLA. In RevPro he’s done very good stuff with guys like Pete Dunne and Michael Elgin. Possible top 20 guy for me.”

“With all the buzz around A.J., Hero, and Riddle this year, I think Ricochet has been a bit overlooked because he had a great 2016. Consistently put on good to great matches in LU and had several good showings in NJPW. Will Ospreay may have more impressive acrobatics, but when it comes to individual performances, I think Ricochet is the best high flier in the game.”

  1. Will Ospreay (24 ballots, 1871 points)[HIGHEST RANKED 24 BALLOT WRESTLER]

High Voter: John L. Pingel III (3)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Marty Scurll (RPW, 1/16)

vs. Marty Scurll (PROGRESS, 1/24)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (RPW, 2/7)
vs. Pete Dunne (RPW, 2/26)
vs. Shane Strickland (wXw, 3/11)
w/Mike Bailey vs. Marty Scurll & Trevor Lee (wXw, 3/13)
vs. Marty Scurll vs. Eddie Dennis vs. Mark Andrews vs. Mark Haskins vs. Morgan Webster vs. Paul Robinson vs. Rampage Brown vs. Zack Gibson (PROGRESS, 3/27)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (EVOLVE, 4/1)
vs. Marty Scurll (WrestleCon, 4/2)
vs. Ricochet (EVOLVE, 4/2)
w/Marty Scurll & Tommy End vs. Johnny Gargano, Kota Ibushi & TJ Perkins (WWN, 4/2)
vs. KUSHIDA (NJPW, 4/10)
vs. Beretta (NJPW, 5/24)
vs. Ricochet (NJPW, 5/27)
vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (NJPW, 6/7)
vs. Mike Bailey (RPW, 6/12)
vs. KUSHIDA (NJPW, 6/19)
w/YOSHI-HASHI, Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto vs. BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito (NJPW, 7/3)
vs. Pete Dunne (RPW, 7/10)
vs. Titan (NJPW, 7/20)
vs. Mark Haskins (PROGRESS, 7/31)
w/Ryan Smile vs. Jordan Devlin & Marty Scurll (OTT, 8/6)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (PROGRESS, 8/14)
vs. Matt Sydal (NJPW, 8/21)
vs. Shane Strickland (PROGRESS, 8/28)
vs. Fenix (PWG, 9/2)
w/Ricochet & Matt Sydal vs. Adam Cole & The Young Bucks (PWG, 9/3)
vs. Ricochet (PWG, 9/4)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (PWG, 9/4)
w/Gedo, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada vs. Adam Cole, Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks (NJPW, 11/5)
w/Marty Scurll vs. The Young Bucks (ROH, 11/19)
vs. Marty Scurll (ROH, 11/20)
vs. Matt Riddle (PROGRESS, 11/27)
vs. Dragon Lee vs. Marty Scurll (ROH, 12/2)
vs. Dragon Lee vs. KUSHIDA (ROH, 12/4)
vs. Adam Cole (PROGRESS, 12/11)
vs. Ricochet (OTT, 12/17)
vs. Jimmy Havoc (PROGRESS, 12/30)

“Say what you will, but I have Will Ospreay at over 40 ****+ matches this year. All sorts of great matches with Scurll, Ricochet, Sabre, KUSHIDA, etc. Great tag matches with Ryan Smile in OTT. Good showings at BOLA, BOSJ, and 16 Carat. Will make my top five easily.”

“Ospreay’s kinda fallen off for me compared to say June where he was a clear top 5 guy to me. Still will make my top 15 no problem. Outside of the July KUSHIDA match I can’t think of any other time I’ve been let down by him this year.”

“His BOLA and Wrestlemania weekends alone produced more ****+ matches than many have in a year. Pretty much guaranteed to blow your mind every time he wrestles. Top 5 for me.”

“I can attest to a lot of these points. That WrestleMania weekend was some of the craziest stuff a single worker has done, like, ever. Ospreay continues to impress even when taking it easier on his body in trios and less important matches. PROGRESS, RevPro, NJPW, over in the U.S. (PWG, EVOLVE), you name it. There’s a MOTYC or near MOTYC stuff to discuss always.”

  1. Cedric Alexander (30 ballots, 1886 points)[LOWEST RANKED 30 BALLOT WRESTLER]

High Voter: Francis Adu (5)

Recommended Matches:vs. Michael Elgin (PWX, 1/10)
vs. Jesse Adler (CWF Mid-Atlantic, 2/19)
w/Chip Day vs. The Bravado Brothers (PWX, 2/20)
vs. Tomohiro Ishii (ROH, 2/27)
vs. Colby Corino (PWF, 3/4)
vs. Chris Hero (PWX, 3/13)
vs. Trevor Lee (CWF Mid-Atlantic, 4/30)
vs. Ethan Case (CWF Mid-Atlantic, 4/30)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (PWX, 6/18)
vs. Darius Lockhart (CWF Mid-Atlantic, 6/25)
vs. Kota Ibushi (CWC, 7/14)
vs. Johnny Gargano (EVOLVE, 7/16)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (AAW, 7/23)
vs. Shane Strickland – NOVA Pro (8/12)
vs. Michael Elgin (AAW, 9/1)
w/Johnny Gargano & Drew Gulak vs. Oleg the Usurper, Princes KimberLee & The Estonian ThunderFrog (CHIKARA, 9/2)
vs. Mark Haskins (PWG, 9/3)
w/Chuck Taylor, Jeff Cobb, Tommy End & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Matt Riddle, Pete Dunne, Brian Kendrick, Sami Callihan & Tommaso Ciampa (PWG, 9/4)
w/Noam Dar vs. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa (CWC, 9/14)
vs. Andrade Almas (NXT, 10/13)

“Cedric Alexander is a shoe-in for my list and should be for you too. Between his CWF (Trevor Lee, Chet Sterling, etc), PWX (Chris Hero, Michael Elgin, etc), small ROH/EVOLVE work, King of Trios and misc. matches, matches vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and his CWC/WWE stint which has caused an instant classic with Kota Ibushi, he’s a sure fire most lists type of guy.”

“His CWF and CWC stuff has made me put him on my list. Hope his matches on Raw won’t drag him down.”

“Between the CWF matches against Lockhart, Lee, and Sterling, the CWC match with Ibushi, the PWX stuff against Chris Hero, Ethan Case, Elgin, The Bravado Brother, the three matches with Zack Sabre Jr, and the matches with Riddle, Yehi, and Ciampa in EVOLVE, his resume is definitely good enough for top 25.”

  1. Tomohiro Ishii (22 ballots, 1887 points)[HIGHEST RANKED 22 BALLOT WRESTLER]

High Voter: Mike W (2)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Katsuyori Shibata (NJPW, 1/4)

w/Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazuchika Okada vs. Hirooki Goto, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata (NJPW, 1/30)
vs. Katsuyori Shibata (NJPW, 2/11)
vs. Roderick Strong (NJPW & ROH, 2/19)
vs. Cedric Alexander (ROH, 2/27)
vs. EVIL (NJPW, 3/3)
vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW, 3/4)
vs. EVIL (NJPW, 3/20)
vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW, 5/3)
vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (NJPW, 7/18)
vs. Naomichi Marufuji (NJPW, 7/28)
vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW, 8/3)
vs. Kazuchika Okada (NJPW, 8/6)
vs. SANADA (NJPW, 8/8)
w/YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (NJPW, 11/5)
vs. Chris Hero (NJPW & RPW, 11/10)
vs. Pete Dunne (NJPW & RPW, 11/11)
w/Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI (NJPW, 11/25)
w/Kazuchika Okada vs. Adam Page & Kenny Omega (NJPW, 12/10)

“I shouldn’t like Ishii as much as I do. He’s been putting on the same sort of match for years and years now. His work with Shibata grows more and more outlandish by the day. The 40 year old underdog shtick shouldn’t work now that he’s an established heavy. But somehow, through it all, he draws me in. When I watch Ishii, I forget about how wrestling is “supposed to work”. He makes me believe, and in an era in which wrestling and cynicism become more and more entwined, that means the world to me.” Brock!

“Ishii has had a great year. Main evented his first PPV, had multiple motyc during the G1, a great match vs Chris Hero in RevPro and is the one with Yoshi-Hashi who had GOD’s first great match. The Stone Pitbull vs a broom could be 5* if Ishii wanted it to be. I want this man in his mid 40s as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.” Parm!

“Two matches with Shibata that I loved. Two matches with Naito I thought were great. Two matches with EVIL that will probably fly under the radar that I thought were fun hard hitting bouts. G1 which is usually Ishii’s time of the year he did excellent stuff against Okada and Tanahashi. I actually really liked the match against Roderick Strong from Honor Rising too. Ishii will place pretty highly for me.”

“He has an slight chance to be on the bottom ten of my list based on the match vs Naito and his performance in the Okada match, but for now I don’t see it, the Shibata feud was worked in such a boring and uninteresting way that my interest for him fell of a cliff.”

“Probably up there with Naito as second favorite guy in NJ. Enjoyed both Shibata matches, his NJC against Naito and the G1 match against Okada. Top 15 for sure.”

“Might be the most overrated wrestler on the planet. Thought the Shibata stuff was terrible. Psychology doesn’t work for me. I think he works better underneath with good timing comebacks. We’ve gotten a few of those performances, but they’ve been few and far between.”

  1. Sami Callihan (29 ballots, 1905 points)

High Voter: Sam DiMascio (1)

Recommended Matches:
w/Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tommy End & Chris Hero (EVOLVE, 1/22)

vs. Mike Bailey (CZW, 2/13)
vs. Anthony Henry (PWX, 2/20)
vs. Donovan Dijak (Beyond Wrestling, 2/28)
vs. Mark Haskins (SWE, 3/5)
Aztec Warfare Match (Lucha Underground, 4/9)
vs. Roderick Strong (PWG, 5/20)
vs. Mark Haskins – NGW (5/28)
vs. Trent Seven (FCP, 7/8)
vs. Ricochet (IPW, 7/22)
vs. Travis Banks (FCP, 8/12)
vs. Matt Hardy (NEW, 8/27)
vs. Cody Rhodes (PWG, 9/3)
w/Pete Dunne, Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle & Brian Kendrick vs. Cedric Alexander, Chuck Taylor, Jeff Cobb, Tommy End & Jushin Thunder Liger (PWG, 9/4)
vs. Pete Dunne (FCP, 9/23)
vs. Pentagon Jr. (AAW, 10/7)
vs. Cole Radrick (IWA Mid-South, 11/5)
vs. Joe Gacy (CZW, 11/19)
vs. Lio Rush (CZW, 12/10)
vs. Rey Fenix (AAW, 12/30)

“Free from the corporate shackles of WWE, Callihan wrestled the tail end of 2015 and entirety of 2016 with a fire underneath him. He was a man making up for lost time, and it’s hard to say that he didn’t do exactly that. While none of his matches ranked particularly high on my year end list, the Sami Sprint always made for an enjoyable, explosive viewing experience, and if he had a bad match during the year, I sure didn’t see it.” Brock!

“I think Sami has a long list of high quality matches for 2016. For me, his match with Hero was one of the best of the year. I saw him in person have very good matches with Hardcore Holly and Ricochet. I really think Sami’s AAW stuff is what sits him so high for me. I dreaded watching it for the longest time as not being a huge Sami fan, but he won me over this year largely due to his run on top there.”

“Best wrestler named Sami in the world.”

“At some point I want to watch a full fledged case for the guy as he probably will end up being #1 and for that I think he deserves it. In year’s past I always viewed Sami as a guy who had nailed a short format for a match and though he could stretch himself out for the right guy, ie Finlay, his bread and butter was short and sweet.

Admittedly I need to go back and catch up on some of the middle part of the year but he has a couple Mark Haskin matches which are fire. He also has a few Lucha Underground matches that were taped earlier this year that could be good *COUGH* Mil Muertes *COUGH*. Feels like it is Hero and Callihan gunning for #1. Will be interesting to see if this last month can solidify either guy.”

“I’ve become a bit of a Sami fan this year. Great sprint wrestler and a fun brawler.”

  1. Tracy Williams (27 ballots, 1917 points)

High Voter: Dan Rice (5)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Matt Riddle (EVOLVE, 1/24)

vs. Chris Hero (EVOLVE, 3/19)
w/Drew Gulak vs. TJ Perkins & Fred Yehi (EVOLVE, 5/6)
vs. Drew Gulak (EVOLVE, 5/7)
vs. Timothy Thatcher (EVOLVE, 6/11)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (EVOLVE, 10/15)
vs. Chris Hero (EVOLVE, 11/12)

“The thing with Hot Sauce is that he’s surrounded by flashier workers in EVOLVE, though not necessarily better ones. While he lacks the suicidal column-diving and memetic, snapback-ladden charm of his contemporaries, his no-nonsense brand of technical wrestling interested me more in 2016 than most of the things that Gabe threw together. He takes more cues from puroresu than he probably should, but it’s less egregious than it is elsewhere in indie wrestling.” Brock!

” I think his year is right up there with Riddle’s. Obviously you have all the Catch Point stuff, but I also think he was the MVP of AIW (A promotion I’m admittedly apt to overrate.) with his tag matches and standout singles vs Michael Elgin and Shigehiro Irie.”

“At the beginning of the year he felt like a top five contender. Not sure I could seriously see him at that level still, but he’s still on the cusp of being a tip top tier guy with just a couple of months to go. I don’t think he has quite the personality of even a Gulak, but he’s got much more than Thatcher, and I actually think he’s the guy most like Riddle of the grapple fucking bunch in that he works a sort of BattleArts-ish style. Any time he’s been in there with an elite worker this year he’s delivered, and at times has felt like the superior talent in those settings which is especially impressive. Definitely comes across as a guy who wants to hit the next level which I think has motivated him to tighten up his striking and basing among other things.”

  1. The Miz (30 ballots, 1954 points)

High Voter: Andrew Shillinglaw & Charles Dulaney (3)

Recommended Matches:
vs. AJ Styles (WWE, 2/2)

vs. Zack Ryder vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Stardust vs. Sin Cara (WWE, 4/3)
vs. Zack Ryder (WWE, 4/4)
vs. AJ Styles (WWE, 4/19)
vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn (WWE, 5/22)
vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE, 9/11)
vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE, 9/20)
vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE, 10/9)
vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE, 11/15)
vs. Sami Zayn (WWE, 11/20)
vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE, 12/4)
vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper (WWE, 12/13)

“This has been a complete turnaround year for The Miz, Smackdown’s need for top heels has given The Miz a chance to shine, bringing great promos and Various good matches against Ziggler, Miz and AJ Styles. Who would have guessed the man who ruined Zack Ryder’s Intercontinental Title run would do a better job with the belt than Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose ect?” Parm!

“The Miz has had the best year of his career, spanning multiple roles and environments. He’s had good-great matches with AJ Styles, Chris Jericho, Zack Ryder, Sami Zayn, Cesaro and Apollo Crews. His high end is once again (a common thread in WWE top worker tiers) out of this world, with MOTYCs at Extreme Rules, vs. Dolph Ziggler in multiple scenarios including close to ***** at Backlash, plus even more misc. things in the mix.”

“I’d have to agree with Miz having his career best year; I’d say the Ziggler matches and that 4 way from Payback can really only be rivaled by his Bryan match from NOC 2010 in terms of his best ever match, not to mention just knocking it out of the park with his promo work and being the most relevant IC Champion in years. A big winner of the brand split era.

He’ll make my ballot (if i do one) but I think what will prevent a high ranking is I can’t remember a damn thing he did before Wrestlemania and the Maryse return, and he had that early summer period where he had short programs with Young and Crews (or Creed as far as the angle was concerned) which weren’t good so he hasn’t been the most consistent.”

“Let’s see:
a real athlete vs. a rat in human form
Maryse vs creepy tumblr stans
carrying Dolph Ziggler vs getting carried by HARASHIMA
classic heel offence vs. Marufuji level Superkicks

Yeah Miz wins this one.”

“To bounce off of Case’s point, I think Miz has had a good year, but to me personally, there’s not enough there in terms of in-ring for me to justify putting him any higher than, say, 80. That’s not me downplaying the year he’s had at all, because again, there’s no denying he’s been really good. Wrestling is just great and there are a lot of guys I’d put above him even if Miz is more consistent on a week-to-week basis. People won’t like this, but someone like Nakamura, who’s not very consistent but has tremendous matches once every few months, will place higher (not TOO much higher, but higher) on my ballot as I feel his handful of matches are still better than Miz’s solid TV and good PPV matches. All the same, I have no problem with him placing in the top half of someone’s ballot, it all depends on what you value in your wrestling.

If promos, character-work and everything else was part of this, he’d probably place in my top half. He’s been one of the best in the world in that regard.”

“Miz is going to be very high for me. Not top 25 but no way he’s not top 40. The guy has been consistently the best guy on the main roster for me aside Styles and he’s probably gonna be my highest ranked through and through WWE guy.”

“Guessing Miz will be one of the most polarizing of the year. It’s very difficult for me to parse out the incredible character and promo work from his in-ring product, more than anyone else this year (besides maybe Matt Hardy.) Not to say his work in-ring hasn’t been very very good, but I do think the string of constant Maryse interference hurt him, despite her being an A++++ addition out of the ring in every other context.

In the end, the rest of his year will decide whether he makes my top 40 or not. I fear he gets saddled with a meh program that his character can’t save, and it makes his in ring work seem a little more empty.”
  1. Katsuyori Shibata (25 ballots, 1984 points)[HIGHEST RANKED 25 BALLOT WRESTLER]

High Voter: Cam Donahue (2)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW, 1/4)

w/Hirooki Goto & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW, 1/30)
vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW, 2/11)
w/Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks (NJPW & ROH, 2/19)
vs. Satoshi Kojima (NJPW, 3/19)
vs. Yuji Nagata (NJPW, 5/3)
vs. Yuji Nagata (NJPW, 6/19)
vs. Tomoaki Honma (NJPW, 7/22)
vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (NJPW, 7/24)
vs. Michael Elgin (NJPW, 7/27)
vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW, 7/30)
vs. Kenny Omega (NJPW, 8/4)
vs. EVIL (NJPW, 8/13)
w/Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. Go Shiozaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya & Maybach Taniguchi (NJPW, 8/14)
vs. Kyle O’Reilly (ROH, 8/27)
vs. Bobby Fish (NJPW, 9/17)
vs. Kyle O’Reilly (NJPW, 10/10)
vs. Go Shiozaki (NOAH, 10/23)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (RPW & NJPW, 11/10)
vs. Chris Hero (RPW & NJPW, 11/11)
vs. EVIL (NJPW, 11/15)

“Shibata’s worst quality is his inconsistency. Even in the space of one week he can go from looking like the best wrestler in the world to a hackneyed joke. While his matches with Ishii at the beginning of the year garnered mixed reviews to say the least, as 2016 rolled on, he managed to string together a few matches I loved with opponents ranging from well-past-their-prime puro stars to overrated shooters to NOAH invaders. Even if he’s clichéd and formulaic 70% of the time, that remaining 30% is something else.” Brock!

“I’m forever behind on wrestling but I hope he doesn’t wrestle like Ishii all the time since that’s my least favourite version of Shibata. Tenzan, Nagata and Nakajima matches were fun.”

“My top New Japan guy for the year. More consistent that anyone else on the roster. Made me care about the New Japan dads long after I had written them off. Possibly the #2 brawler in the world behind Chris Hero and I am fired the fuck up about their match next month. My god.”

“Probably has put in most of my favorite NJ matches. I think the only other guy that comes close is Ishii. Really loved his match against Kojima, more so than the slobberknockers with Ishii. The other NJ dad match-ups were fun, thought his G1 match against Naito was great, the tag matches with KUSHIDA against Nagata/Liger from April. I thought his match against Shiozaki from 10/23 in NOAH was a fun tease for what’s to come. Haven’t seen any of his stuff outside of Japan though. Top 5 for sure.”

“Best brawler in the world today. And unlike Ishii, whose matches tend to devolve too much into chop-fests, Shibata’s matches often have a perfect blend of mat wrestling, submissions, and feats of strong style. Incredibly consistent this year, he delivered a great match with Ishii at WK10 and regularly had good matches with the likes of Elgin, Omega, Nakajima, Naito, and O’Reilly. His involvement in the Team NOAH vs. Team NJPW matc at the G-1 Finals was also highly entertaining. Not sure where he’ll rate, but it will be high.”

“My gripe with Shibata has always been his fighting spirit spots, but, in his match vs Hero, he probably had my favorite performance of fighting spirit ever. If he tweaks his selling style a bit to what he did vs Hero more, he probably becomes one of the five best wrestlers on Earth.”

  1. Dash Wilder (27 ballots, 1988 points)[HIGHEST RANKED 27 WRESTLER]

High Voter: SLL (4)

Recommended Matches:
w/Scott Dawson vs. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan (NXT, 4/1)

w/Scott Dawson vs. Jeff Parker & Matt Lee (NXT, 4/2)
w/Scott Dawson vs. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan (NXT, 6/8)
w/Scott Dawson vs. Chad Gable & Jason Jordan (NXT, 6/24)
w/Scott Dawson vs. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa (NXT, 8/20)
w/Scott Dawson vs. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa (NXT, 11/19)

“While not as great in my eyes as his partner, Wilder does more than hold up his end of the team. He acts as the beefy base for his team, the foundation underneath the ornate monument that is Dawson. Without him, the team doesn’t work as well as it does, and considering that I found them to be the best thing going in WWE in 2016, it’d be hard to exclude him from my list.” Brock!

“The Revival would be very high on my list, with dawson just beating out Wilder by 1 spot. An incredible year by them, they’ve helped turn nxt tag team title matches from something I was never interested in into the most anticipated part of any Takeover show.”

  1. Tommaso Ciampa (29 ballots, 2058 points)

High Voter: VilinskiKonjic (6)

Recommended Matches:
w/Johnny Gargano vs. Chip Day & Murder-1 (UIW, 1/9)

vs. Chip Day (AWE, 1/10)
w/Johnny Gargano vs. Chris Hero & Drew Gulak (AAW, 2/19)
w/Zack Sabre Jr. vs. El Ligero & Nathan Cruz (PROGRESS, 3/27)
vs. Johnny Gargano (CWC, 6/23)
vs. Matt Riddle (Beyond Wrestling, 7/17)
w/Johnny Gargano vs. Andrew Everett & Trevor Lee (AAW, 7/23)
w/Johnny Gargano vs. Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson (NXT, 8/20)
vs. Dalton Castle (PWG, 9/3)
w/Matt Riddle, Pete Dunne, Sami Callihan & Brian Kendrick vs. Tommy End, Jeff Cobb, Cedric Alexander, Jushin Thunder Liger & Chuck Taylor (PWG, 9/4)
w/Johnny Gargano vs. Cedric Alexander & Noam Dar (CWC, 9/14)
w/Johnny Gargano vs. Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson (NXT, 11/19)
w/Johnny Gargano vs. Akira Tozawa & Tajiri (NXT, 12/3)
w/Johnny Gargano vs. Nick Miller & Shane Thorne (NXT, 12/8)

“Ciampa really opened my eyes in 2015, evolving from the worst guy in PWG openers to one of my favorite guys to watch on the US indies. If anything, he continued that evolution in 2016, bringing Johnny Gargano along with him to have a few of my favorite matches of the year. He’s prone to theatrics, but sometimes in the bright-lights-and-fireworks world of WWE, that’s what you need, and he navigates that shallow and fickle world better than most.” Brock!

“Dude has had a crazy year. Early on he was one of my favorite wrestlers on Earth to watch live as his performances v. Chip Day and Martin Stone at AWE were great in completely different reasons. Then on the indies he seemed to turn the comedy up more which at times felt absurd and at other times seemed to work probably because he never really lost his edge completely. Meanwhile in WWE he turns into a brilliant tag wrestler with Gargano, even if he does feel a bit overshadowed on the team. One of those guys who’s strikes almost always make me forget wrestling is a work for a second or two which is a rare trait. Has had a lot of awfully good matches this year in a bunch of different settings. He’ll be an easy pick for my ballot but hard to say where.”

“His match with Gargano against The Revival from TakeOver is quite possibly my favorite NXT match of all-time, no doubt it’s in the top 5. Not to mention the amazing match he had against Gargano in the CWC. One of the absolute stiffest guys working today. He’s a guy who feels like a legit badass to me. And then at the same time he can go and do comedy stuff really well, his “last” (not really) match at AAW with Gargano against Lee & Everett was one of my favorite matches I’ve seen live all year.”


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