WWW Editorials

WDKW100 (60-51)

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.

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.

Coming back from WRESTLEMANIA BABY and we have a total of one wrestler that made the main card for WrestleMania 33. Exceptional stuff really. On a roll in regards to getting a mix of major league, minor league and international talent all in the mix for this batch of professional grapplers. Still not sure what we can learn from the proceedings but whatever. One wrestler gets on 80% of the ballots but gets knocked out this round which is exciting. Use #WDKW100 on Twitter when discussing the results. Heck, show your friends the results too. 

  1. Brian Kendrick (20 ballots, 961 points)

High Voter: Gagne West (20)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Raul Mendoza (WWE, 6/23)
vs. Kota Ibushi (WWE, 8/26)
w/Matt Riddle, Pete Dunne, Sami Callihan & Tommaso Ciampa vs. Tommy End, Jushin Thunder Liger, Cedric Alexander, Jeff Cobb & Chuck Taylor  (PWG, 9/3)
vs. Rich Swann (WWE, 11/29)

“He will probably place for me but it will be in the lower half. I loved the CWC run as it was probably the most engaging thing overall in the tournament. Since he has joined the main roster, his matches have been good and fine but the investment has dwindled which hurts him mightily in my eyes.”

“He’ll make my list but probably pretty low since there’s only 3 matches to base his candidacy on. Granted the over arching story in those matches is one of my favorite things all year in wrestling, but I can’t have him higher than maybe 80.”

“His character development and overall performance in the CWC was ridiculously great, enough to have a strong case for the list. The jump to Raw has damaged his character, but he’s the most interesting wrestler in the cruiserweight division and already has some fun TV matches there.”
  1. Bayley (20 ballots, 973 points)

High Voter: Another Spammer (23)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Nia Jax (NXT, 6/24)
vs. Alexa Bliss (NXT, 6/24)
vs. Asuka (WWE, 4/1)
vs. Asuka (WWE, 8/20)
vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (WWE, 9/25)

“Although much more quiet than 2015, Bayley has still formulated a year, combined with sheer breakthrough talent in nearly everything she does – that allows for her to easily be a shoe-in for a 100 wrestler list. An AWESOME series of matches vs. Nia Jax, Eva Marie is arguably the best carry job of the year, Carmella to an extent the same as the latter, Asuka, and either looking back or going forward till the end of the year her main roster case could be sink or swim for her.”

“Bayley has a really special connection with the audience which sets her apart from any wrestler in the world. I attended the NXT tapings in January & the crowd response for her is among the best & most passionate I’ve ever seen for a wrestler. Bayley excels at selling & garnering sympathy. Those aren’t bad strengths to have. Her offense is terrible. I mean it’s really awful 90% of the time, but she’s so good at getting the crowd behind that it almost doesn’t matter. In some cases, it hasn’t mattered at all. Her facial expressions are typically strong & she has a fire to her comebacks in her body language that is really exciting to watch. The Asuka matches are good, but I have to mention the Nia Jax series which has been outstanding. Just last night on RAW they had another good match with one another. Bayley has shown that she can do really well in a monster vs baby face setting in these matches with her selling & timing. All of their matches this year are worth a look. Finally, it’s likely Bayley will make my list. She’ll probably land close to the last quarter of my list.”

“Bayley is one of those few talents who can get a solid match out of almost anyone (Dana Brooke being the exception). She got a decent match with Carmella, two really good matches with Nia, a good match with Alexa, and while the first Asuka match was just OK, the rematch was one of the best matches this year. Tremendous babyface, tremendous seller, tremendous ring general. Not sure if she’ll make my top 10 but very easily could make the top 20.”
  1. Kento Miyahara (14 ballots, 1029 points)[HIGHEST RANKED 14 BALLOT WRESTLER]

High Voter: Dylan Harris (1)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Takao Omori (AJPW, 3/21)
vs. Kengo Mashimo (AJPW, 4/9)
vs. Jun Akiyama (AJPW, 7/23)
vs. Suwama (AJPW, 11/27)
vs. Takuya Nomura (AJ Phoenix, 8/31)
w/Jake Lee vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi (AJPW, 8/23)
vs. Daisuke Sekimoto (AJPW, 5/25)

“I really enjoyed the Akiyama match but mainly because Akiyama was so awesome in it. His matches are very formulaic for the most part, but there’s no denying his energy and he usually goes full steam in the second half. Top 25, sure.”

“Right now he’d probably be my highest rated Japanese worker, but that’s not saying that much because I don’t know if I’d have anyone in Japan in my top 15. Still he’s had some real bangers, including the Mashimo matches which I absolutely loved. One of the few guys who seems to bridge the gap between the more traditional style and the modern style of Japanese wrestling in a way that doesn’t maximize the flaws of one or the other.”

“Strong top 10 contender for me. That probably has a lot to do with how high I am om AJPW as a product, and he is unquestionably the core of the company at this point.

The only knock on him is that, for me, he hasn’t always delivered in the big matches. He has a very low floor and has almost exclusively good+ performances in every type of match, singles, tag, trios, etc. That’s what gets him placed so high for me, but his inability to elevate his game dramatically for big matches (unlike some of the guys I have ahead of him, like a Trevor Lee or Ospreay) definitely keeps him out of the “possible #1″ tier for me.”

“Unforeseen circumstances forced AJPW to put the belt on Miyahara sooner than they might’ve hope but he’s done a hell of job filling the shoes they’ve asked him to as Triple Crown champ. From Zeus to Jun Akiyama to Kengo Mashimo to Daisuke Sekimoto to Takao Omori he’s had great singles title matches. His team with Jake Lee has also become one of my favorite teams in Japan to watch.”

“To me the unquestionable MVP of wrestling in terms of to his company, the journey of actual best wrestler might be a little bumpier but he’s still a strong #1 contender in my eyes. In addition to Morten’s list I’d throw in his Omori defense and his singles match vs Takuya Nomura and some NexStream tags. Just a really great wrestler who fits a lot of molds.”

“He will place for me but lower than other commentators in here. I see his TC matches as a collection of moves more often than not and don’t get that enhanced storyline investment narrative that I want from top end candidates on my list.”
  1. Anthony Henry (19 ballots, 1039 points)

High Voter: Sam DiMascio (11)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Sami Callihan (PWX, 2/20)
vs. Owen Knight (WrestleMerica, 3/12)
vs. Drew Gulak (PWX, 3/13)
vs. Jordan Kage vs. Jimmy Rave vs. Ali Shabazz vs. Jason Kincaid (NWA Smoky Mountain, 4/16)
vs. Rob Killjoy (Legacy Pro Wrestling, 4/23)
vs. David Starr (PWX, 4/17)
vs. Lio Rush (Empire Wrestling Entertainment, 8/5)
vs. Gunner Miller vs. Chris Hero vs. Jimmy Rave (Scenic City Invitational, 8/6)
vs. Tony Deppen vs. Ryan Taylor vs. Joey Lynch (CZW, 9/10)
vs. Matt Riddle (PWX, 9/17)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (PWX, 11/19)

“A man that broke out after last year’s Scenic City Invitational and blew the doors off in 2016. Very good-great matches with Jimmy Rave, Rob Killjoy, Sami Callihan, Matt Riddle, Roderick Strong, David Starr and Timmy Lou Retton. Also was arguably the best guy in the SCI 2016 including matches with Lio Rush, Bill Buck, and the finals of the tournament. He’s gotten bookings in more high profile places like Freelance, CZW, and EVOLVE recently so the rise of Anthony Henry seems to be continuing.”

“Obviously you have the SCI matches which he was probably the best wrestler of that weekend. The match against Lio was HOLY SHIT WHAT live then the Billy Buck match was real good followed by the tremendously laid out SCI finals. He had a spree of offense in that match that will likely hold a special place for me for a long time. That’s not looking at things critically admittedly.

His body of work in PWX is super duper. They gave him all the name talents and he delivered. The Sami Callihan match was an utter blast. The Matt Riddle match as well. Also thought the Drew Gulak match was real good.

The dude has a lot of explosiveness with everything he does. That means something to me.”

  1. Michael Elgin (19 ballots, 1039 points)

High Voter: Skylar (9)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Kamaitachi (PWG, 5/20)
vs. Kenny Omega (NJPW, 6/19)
vs. Ultimo Guerrero (CMLL, 7/10)
vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW, 7/24)
vs. Katsuyori Shibata (NJPW, 7/27)
vs. Kenny Omega (NJPW, 7/30)
vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (NJPW, 8/13)
vs. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW, 9/25)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (RPW, 4/17)
vs. David Starr (AWE, 12/27)

“He’s a top 10 guy. Don’t debate this.”

“Returning now to make my case for any nonbelievers. Last year he changed the course of his career. This year he made himself a puro star. His style has melded into NJPW perfectly. He’s the MVP of dozens of tags. He’s been great when put in big spots. His G1 match with Nakajima is the most under appreciated NJPW match of the year. His performance filling in for Tanahashi in NJPW’s first ladder match was a complete blowaway. It could’ve turned into a bad Omega comedy match, and he singlehandidly kept it in “fun car crash” territory instead.”

  1. Pentagon Jr. (18 ballots, 1043 points)

High Voter: Another Spammer (3)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Taya vs. Johnny Mundo vs. King Cuerno vs. Fenix vs. Ivelisse (Lucha Underground, 1/16)
vs. Octagon Jr. vs. Fenix vs. El Hijo del Fantasma (AAA, 3/4)
Aztec Warfare (Lucha Underground, 4/9)
vs. Ray Rowe (AIW, 3/18)
vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. (Lucha Underground, 3/19)
vs. Hitokiri (Lucha Underground, 4/10)
vs. Fenix (Pro Wrestling Oudou, 4/20)
w/Fenix vs. Chris Hero & Tommy End (PWG, 9/3)
w/Fenix vs. The Young Bucks (PWG, 9/4)
vs. Sami Callihan (AAW, 10/7)

“While he didn’t have a ton of great singles matches, he’s had several good performances this year. He and Fenix have had quite a few fun matches together (namely Six to Survive and the Korakuen Hall match) and the triple-threat with Puma and Mil was great. A lot of his indy matches did tend to have a bit too much crowd brawling, but I thought the first Callihan match was quite good.

I do think his booking in LU and AAA have hindered him a bit but he’s a tremendous brawler and can really go when not being booked like a fool. A reliable 3-star match guy who will definitely make my top 50.”

“Will rank for me. I think he’s actually improving as a well-rounded wrestler, he’s just not being able to show that off because he’s been strapped with Callihan in his home promotion. He’s hot as strong as Fenix, but I can see him sneaking into my Top 50. He’s certainly won me over this year, because he’s shown that he has staying power.”

One of the better brawlers in the US indies, exhibits tons of character in his matches. Not a high end guy but will make my list as a bubble guy.”

  1. Dean Ambrose (20 ballots, 1044 points)

High Voter: Fray (20)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Kevin Owens (WWE, 1/24)
vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (WWE, 2/21)
vs. Triple H (WWE, 3/12)
vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Chris Jericho (WWE, 6/19)
vs. AJ Styles (WWE, 9/11)
vs. AJ Styles vs. John Cena (WWE, 10/9)
w/AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton & Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (WWE, 11/20)
vs. AJ Styles (WWE, 12/4)
vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins (WWE, 7/24)

“Dean Ambrose in 2016 was the prime example of why WWE isn’t for everybody. A back alley brawler who cut his teeth in CZW and Puerto Rico doesn’t mesh well with the bright lights and micromanaged weekly TV of WWE, nor does he excel in hokey gimmick matches or force-fed 20 minute promos. But through it all, he managed to make it work in unlikely matchups against Triple H and AJ Styles, making for a few of my favorite sports entertainment bouts of the year. Is he a mess? Yeah, in just about every definition of the word. But so is the whole promotion, so in a way, maybe he fits right in.” Brock!

“Dean Ambrose’s case is very hard to deny when you look at the sheer amount of work he’s put in and good-great-AMAZING matches he’s unleashed. His high end consists of excellent matches vs. AJ Styles, Triple H and Kevin Owens. Sprinkle in the Brock Lesnar WrestleMania match which I liked more than most, the Shield triple threat, a vast resume of underrated TV matches (once again vs. AJ and Owens, etc) as well as whatever else, and you’ve got a potential Top 50 guy in Ambrose.”

“People are too hard on Ambrose. His character work in the build up to the Lesnar feud was phenomenal. I didn’t fancy the match itself all that much but I’m not going to ignore how invested I was going into the thing. Loved the Owens matches, the AJ matches have been maybe the best of Ambrose’s career post-Shield and the mic work opposite Cena has been through the roof.”

“Ambrose’s issue is he has a brawler gimmick while also having awful offense. However, the LMS match with Owens at the Rumble was really good, the Styles feud has churned out some good matches with the Backlash match being my pick as the best. I’m also not that down on the SummerSlam match with Ziggler even though it was a match no one cared about and I’m not big on Ziggler. If the Jericho feud and Lesnar WM match didn’t happen, he’d probably be in the middle of the list but I’d probably not have him higher than 85th or so.”

“While he didn’t always deliver in the ring and occasionally fell too much into shtick, Ambrose continues to be one of WWE’s best promos and characters. Sure he’s still irreverent, but being on SDL has allowed him to portray an intelligent, calculating, and occasionally vengeful warrior of justice. Had some rather mediocre matches as his offensive output isn’t very good, but when motivated and/or working with the right guy, he can deliver big (LMS match with Owens, Styles series, and Roman/Seth matches).”

  1. Barbaro Cavernario (19 ballots, 1072 points)

High Voter: Skylar (6)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Titan (NJPW & CMLL, 1/22)
vs. Mascara Dorada (CMLL, 3/28)
w/Misterioso II & Polvora vs. Rey Cometa, Stuka Jr. & Titan (CMLL, 5/20)
vs. Rey Cometa (CMLL, 6/10)
vs. Rey Cometa (CMLL, 7/1)
w/Dragon Rojo Jr. & Rey Escorpion vs. Mascara Dorada, Rey Cometa & Titan (CMLL, 7/8)
w/Felino & Negro Casas vs. Atlantis, Caristico & Mascara Dorada (CMLL, 9/2)
vs. Volador Jr. (CMLL, 9/30)
vs. Volador Jr. (CMLL, 10/7)
w/Felino & Negro Casas vs. Angel de Oro, Dragon Lee & Volador Jr. (CMLL, 11/18)

“Cavernario has had a hell of a year. The Rey Cometa feud produced some high quality stuff, he had a great title match with Mascara Dorada and in recent weeks he had a great couple of matches with Volador Jr. He’s also done nice work outside of CMLL, namely in CaraLucha where he was in a excellent tag match where it was him and Hechicero vs Black Terry and Bestia 666. He also had a great, bloody brawl with Black Terry after that match that is probably one of the best hidden gems in lucha this year.”

“The most consistent and versatile guy in lucha right now. The Rey Cometa title match and the Black Terry brawl on consecutive days are the best illustration of this: in the current movesy CMLL style, he’s better than anyone at integrating his big spots without rendering his selling meaningless. And then when it’s time to beat the crap out of a guy three times his age, he not only does so without killing the guy, he takes all kind of punishment to make it plausible that Grandpa Terry might beat him through force of will. Also very effective in a supporting role in six-mans, like in the 1/29 match where he does really fun work with Dragon Lee that doesn’t impede the Mistico showcase or the Casas-Volador angle. Top ten lock, could see him as high as #2.”

“I’ve seen every match said in this thread and I really have to agree that this guy is among the top wrestlers in the world and has such a unique style that fits In and can fit in pretty much anywhere on any show, any place on the card, any style, he really makes the best of it. A very strong year and I have to say there’s a very good chance he winds up Inn my top 10.”

  1. Hiroshi Tanahashi (23 ballots, 1081 points)[LOWEST RANKED 23 BALLOT WRESTLER]

High Voter: Tom Ray (6)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Kazuchika Okada (NJPW, 1/4)
w/Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW, 1/30)
vs. Kenny Omega (NJPW, 2/14)
vs. SANADA(NJPW, 7/18)
vs. Bad Luck Fale (NJPW, 7/28)
vs. Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW, 8/3)
vs. Naomichi Marufuji (NJPW, 8/6)
vs. SANADA (NJPW, 11/5)

“For what feels like the 5th straight year, everyone had written Tanahashi off, and again he ends the year as one of the greatest wrestlers alive. Hiroshi Tanahashi has arguably the most ****3/4 star matches in 2016 when alls said and done. Once again, Tanahashi was a top candidate for MVP of the G1, having the best match of the tournament with nearly everyone. He’s had what i consider two ***** matches with Kazuchika Okada. He’s had the incredible matches with Kenny Omega at New Beginning and the equally incredible match with Tomohiro Ishii at the G1. Put the Naomichi Marufuji match up there too. All are ****3/4+ matches from me. Add to that, he got the best tournament match of the G1 out of guys like Makabe & Tonga & Tenzan & Sanada.”

“Top 100? Definitely. Top 50? Most certainly. Top 10? Ehhhhhh.

He always shines when given the opportunity, but injuries have really hampered him this year. I don’t deny how great his big matches have been, but when compared to Naito, Elgin, Ospreay, AJ Styles, Zayn, and others I can’t justify putting him ahead of those guys. His ceiling is still a bit higher than most of them, but he’s not delivered as many ****+ matches as consistently as them IMO. I’ll have to wait for the SANADA match and the Road to the Tokyo Dome shows before I say for sure, but he may not even make my top ten.”

“Can’t wait for this topic to really get heated.

Anyway, Tana will make my top 100. That’s basically a lock for me. Beyond that, it will totally depend on his next 2 months. I found his most lauded matches pretty boring (vs Okada at WK, vs Omega, vs Ishii) but I enjoyed a lot of his other programs more than most. The Marufuji match is really great, and the G1 draw with Okada was my second favorite match of the tournament.

He does all of the little things well, he’s super versatile, he has a ton of matches, and he did get saddled with Yoshitatsu for a lot of tags this year, so I credit him for that. I still won gift him a top 50 spot just because he was the 5th or 6th best guy in NJPW this year though.”

“Pretty much the same case as Okada, although I like Tanahashi a lot more, for example he at least tried to save the WK main event of being a complete mess. Anyways, he won’t make my list because I don’t like his single matches at all and haven’t watched enough tags (and tbh, making a case for someone like Tanahashi based on midcard tags is kinda lame).”

  1. Jeff Cobb (27 ballots, 1081 points)[LOWEST RANKED 27 BALLOT WRESTLER]

High Voter: Another Spammer (8)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Cage (Lucha Underground, 1/17)
vs. Son of Havoc (Lucha Underground, 3/19)
vs. Prince Puma (Lucha Underground, 3/20)
vs. Adam Thornstowe (Supreme Pro Wrestling, 4/17)
vs. Chris Hero (PWG, 5/20)
Aztec Warfare (Lucha Underground, 4/9)
vs. Trevor Lee (PWG, 7/29)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (RPW, 8/12)
vs. Ricochet (PWG, 9/2)
w/Tommy End, Jushin Thunder Liger, Cedric Alexander & Chuck Taylor vs. Brian Kendrick, Matt Riddle, Pete Dunne, Sami Callihan & Tommaso Ciampa (PWG, 9/3)
vs. Kongo Kong (AAW, 11/4)
w/Matt Riddle vs. The Young Bucks (PWG, 12/16)

“Finally stoked to see Jeff Cobb get some run on the big stage this year. End of 2015 had some really good Matanza stuff, and he’s now added to it with some fantastic showcase matches. He has to be seen live, folks. I can’t emphasize it enough. An absolutely incredible athlete and someone who can throw bombs, be a great base, or work the mat, which I think he’s a Top 5 mat worker. Initially, I’d have him in my Top 25, but his year has been a long time coming and he’s perhaps the breakout wrestler of 2016.”

“I may be in the minority, but I’ve really enjoyed Cobb’s work in LU. I will certainly agree he should have dropped the title by now, but he had one of the best “debuts” this year in Aztec Warfare and had great matches with Mil (Graver Consequences being one of my picks for MOTY), Cage, and Puma. Haven’t seen a ton of his indy work, but love his various slams and suplexes.”

“Cobb will make my list but in the place where he’s pushed the hardest I haven’t really enjoyed his work as much as I would’ve hoped. I loved the initial debut but after that there isn’t much I can point to. I didn’t care for the Muertes feud although I know some people dug those matches. My favorite Cobb match this year is actually against Zack Sabre Jr where Cobb does an amazing job dominating Zack on the mat and forcing Zack to find another way to win.”

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