Editorials

WDKW100 Honorable Mentions Part 8

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.

Numerous number crunching errors, order is still good since it is usually moving people ahead not back, 197-174 has arrived! More Southern indie talent leaves. Some WWE wrestlers with limited footage exit and a couple of joshi performers say goodbye. Use #WDKW100 if you want to tweet about results for the RT!

  1. Masaaki Mochizuki (2 ballots, 136 points)

High Voter: Mark (15)

Recommended Matches:
vs. T-Hawk (Dragon Gate, 5/11)

w/CIMA, Dragon Kid, Gamma & Don Fujii vs. Ben-K, Hyo Watanabe, Katsumi Takashima, Shun Skywalker & Yuki Yoshioka (Dragon Gate, 12/1)

  1. Kimber Lee (4 ballots, 136 points)

High Voter: Andrew Shillinglaw (54)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Heidi Lovelace (CHIKARA, 3/19)

vs. Chris Hero (Beyond Wrestling, 7/31)
vs. Mickie James (CHIKARA, 2/6)
w/The Estonian ThunderFrog & Oleg The Usurper vs. Cassandra Miyagi, DASH Chisako & Meiko Satomura (CHIKARA, 9/4)

“Kimber Lee is yet another wrestler I’m more a fan of than most. , vs. Heidi Lovelace, an assortment of CHIKARA talent in singles/tags, Mickie James, Chris Hero, and some of the best matches in K.O.T. With upcoming matches to be released like Deonna P. and Nixon Newell in a street fight, it’s very likely Kimber will be on my list in some form. She’s charming, and actually works very well as an ace whenever she is. She makes everything work.”

  1. Xavier Woods (5 ballots, 136 points)

High Voter: Tom Ray (53)

Recommended Matches:
vs. AJ Styles (WWE, 6/14)

“Has had possibly the best in ring year of his career. Dude has really stepped up when asked to carry his end of tags, but also had that great match with AJ from SD where AJ let him get his shit in and he was on point throughout. His rope walk elbow is one of the neatest spots in wrestling. One of the few WWE main roster guys I’m likely to rate.”

  1. Hiraku Sato (5 ballots, 137 points)

High Voter: GOTNW (57)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Buffalo (Mr. Gannasuke Produce, 1/12)

vs. Shuji Ishikawa (All Japan Pro Wrestling, 1/2)
w/Atsushi Aoki vs. Fuminori Abe & Koji Iwamoto (All Japan Pro Wrestling, 11/12)
vs. Ayuma Honda (K-DOJO, 2/25)
w/Atsushi Aoki vs. Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto (Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, 7/24)

“Outspoken with a penchant for getting people to rip on him for his hair, I really enjoy this guy’s style in the ring a lot. Whether in AJPW or DDT he has a good grasp of how to successfully incorporate matwork and other assorted shootiness into his matches. I could see him sneaking into the back end of my list. Deserves to be nominated at least.”

“I’ve started to like him as well. I really liked the Ayumu Honda match from K Dojo. The tag match on the BJW Sumo Hall show was good and DDT Sumo Hall match wasn’t as bad as I heard it was. But I have to go and watch more of his AJPW stuff.”

  1. Trauma II (2 ballots, 141 points)

High Voter: Dan Rice (24)

Recommended Matches:
w/Trauma I vs. Hechicero & Ultimo Guerrero (Lucha Memes, 6/19)
w/Trauma I & Negro Navarro vs.  El Hijo del Pantera, El Pantera I & El Pantera II (IWRG, 1/10)

“His lower-numbered kid brother is rightfully getting the plaudits, but when they team it’s 50/50 as to which of the two will be better — to a degree it depends on whether the match focuses more on brawling or technical work, except they’re both so versatile that sometimes I pulls out cooler holds than II or II smacks guys down harder than I. As a duo or with their dad, they’ve committed excellent performances against the likes of Virus, Cavernario, Hechicero, Tiger & Puma, and the Panteras, and arguably have a higher floor than most of those just named. Clear top 40 pick.”

  1. Austin Aries (4 ballots, 142 points)

High Voter: Mike W (51)

Recommended Matches:
vs. No Way Jose (NXT, 8/20)

vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT, 6/8)

“Has to have a thread. I think some view him as disappointing in NXT and some don’t. I’ve tended to be impressed by him more than most. Saw him have a very good match with Almas at a house show, and liked him v Jose at Takeover a good bit. Certainly a low level guy, but I can’t honestly say he’s off the radar.”

“Am an Aries apologist. Loved the Nakamura match, loved he No Way Jose match, have loved all of his character work, I’ve genuinely enjoyed him in NXT. Wish I could put him on my ballot, there’s just not enough there.”

  1. Willie Mack (6 ballots, 142 points)

High Voter: Tim Evans (51)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Cage (Lucha Underground, 1/30)

vs. Dragon Azteca Jr. vs. Marty Martinez vs. Mil Muertes (Lucha Underground, 4/9)
vs. Flamita vs. El Torito vs. Fly Warrior vs. Laredo Kid vs. Lince Dorado vs. Septimo Dragon (The Crash, 8/13)

“Having seen a little of his Lucha Underground stuff and a lil’ bit of the lucha he has a good shot at being on my ballot.

Mack versus Cage from Ultimo Lucha was one of the most pure fun bouts I saw in 2016. I was told it had no psychology though it had an ending that played off last year’s season finale which was good stuff. Mack also looked good in the Battle of the Bulls matches. Probably because he works super well in a sprint/spotfest/hossfest situation. Seriously, I know the brother is probably pissing leaves but so is AR Fox and he seems to show up everywhere. Hope we see him pop up more places or more footage of him gets out in 2017.”

“A very fun big man. Great agility, great facial expressions and has some natural charisma to him.”

  1. Brock Lesnar (6 ballots, 145 points)

High Voter: Mike W (36)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Sheamus (WWE, 1/8)
vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns (WWE, 2/21)
vs. Goldberg (WWE, 11/20)

“Although he’s worked less than 10 matches this year, there’s a case that could be made to have him wherever the heck you do if so. He has some of the best house show and/or unique matches this year vs. all four League of Nations members as well as Luke Harper. He’s had good-great matches at Fastlane, WrestleMania and SummerSlam. He won’t be making my list though.”

  1. Yoshihisa Uto (4 ballots, 146 points)

High Voter: GOTNW (23)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Yuji Okabayashi (Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, 12/6)

w/Takuya Nomura & Kazumi Kikuta vs. Jake Lee, Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi (D-Rize, 11/29)
w/Yuji Okabayashi vs. Jun Akiyama & Daichi Hashimoto (Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, 4/29)
w/Hideki Suzuki & Takuya Nomura vs. Daichi Hashimoto, Hideyoshi Kamitani & Kazumi Kikuta (Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, 11/6)
w/Hideyoshi Kamitani vs. Daichi Hashimoto & Daisuke Sekimoto (Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, 4/9)

“A good wrestler providing an alternative to the Sekimoto “I am strong man with chop and lariat uaaaaaaa” template BJ’s Strong Division was built on. Yadda yadda I have to thirty more threads to make. Not like I’m gonna actually think about where to rank anyone until January.”

“He’ll make my list. He’s really grown on me these last couple of months. Loved his singles match against Okabayashi from the 12/6 show and he really stood out in that 2/3 Falls match from the 11/29 D-RIZE show.”
  1. Ryota Hama (5 ballots, 149 points)

High Voter: Brock Jahnke (58)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Yuji Okabayashi (Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, 1/24)

w/Yoshihisa Uto vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi (Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, 9/9)
w/Akebono vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi (Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, 10/14)

“I’m hungry.”

“His match against Okabayashi from 1/24 is easily in my top 20 favorites matches from Japan this year. Other than that…well, he’s getting better. And he’s super cute. I just want to squeeze his cheeks.”

“I just watched that Okabayshi match. That was fantastic, really made Hama look like a killer. Enjoyed some of the SMOP tags I’ve seen too. That said I’m not sure I’ll find a place for him.”

“Easy 90’s guy. Enjoyable anytime, anywhere. Okabayashi match is still one of the most impressive matches of the year in part to how it was worked with Strong BJ lad vs. a larger than life opponent.”

  1. Oney Lorcan (5 ballots, 152 points)

High Voter: Devon Hales (47)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Kalisto (WWE, 11/15)

vs. Cedric Alexander (CWC, 8/26)

“Has worked 4 of the 6 NXT shows I’ve attended this year, all against different opponents, all of them dark matches, all of them radically different. In live setting it’s almost incredible how much tighter and well timed his work is than virtually everyone else in NXT (Roddy would be the one exception on this weekends shows). A very explosive wrestler who comes across as the heir to Cesaro which may not be the best thing to be in the WWE. Seems to have a better understanding of how to integrated traditional wrestling psychology into his matches and still get them over than most guys today. Have seen him work entire matches built around headlocks to massive reactions, and more workrate/heavy shot affairs. Matches with Ced, Almas, Murphy, Clark and Roddy have all ranged from good to greatish. Feels like a guy I’d have to include at this point.”

“Currently the top candidate for most underrated/underpushed for me, and that’s based on the small amount of work I’ve been able to see from him this year, taped and live. He likely won’t make my ballot due to volume, but he is sort of already going down as an all time missed opportunity for the fed.”
  1. Arisa Nakajima (3 ballots, 153 points)

High Voter: Dylan Harris (30)

Recommended Matches:
w/Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Nanae Takahashi & Yoshiko (JWP, 7/24)

vs. Mayumi Ozaki (JWP, 4/3)
vs. Ryo Mizunami (SEAdLINNNING, 9/28)

“I haven’t watched as much matches of her as I’d want to, but what I did watch was very interesting. Her tag with Tsukasa Fujimoto is my favorite non-Revival team in the world right now and has produced some great and quite underrated matches (vs Yoshiko & Takahashi being the standout). She also has some good singles to complete her case, specially the one vs Ryo Mizunami. Arisa will finish very highly for me.”

“Best non-Stardom wrestler not named Meiko Satomura.”

“I’ll probably find a spot for her too. The match against Ozaki from April is one of my favorite joshi matches of 2016.”

“To me, Arisa, Nanae, Meiko and Ryo Mizunami have all been better than anybody in Stardom this year. For Arisa, the Best Friends’ tags are the highpoint, the JWP title win over Ozaki was quite the one woman show, and the draw with Mizunami is a great war. Also managed to make the most out of her OZ Academy matches that were overwrought with interference.”

“Thanks to Donsem recs, I have been checking out the Best Friends stuff. Really strong stuff and Nakajima in particular really shines in her role both on offense and working from underneath. The Ice Ribbon title loss in particular seemed like a breakout match for her in particular. She will be in my top 100.”

  1. Nanae Takahashi (3 ballots, 153 points)[HIGHEST RANKED 3 BALLOT WRESTLER]

High Voter: Dylan Harris (19)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Masato Tanaka (SEAdLINNNG, 1/11)
vs. Ryo Mizunami (WAVE, 2/5)

vs. Rina Yamashita (SEAdLINNNG, 9/28)
w/Emi Sakura vs. Arisa Nakajima & Tsukasa Fujimoto (Ice Ribbon, 5/4)

“I’ve fallen in love with her work this year in her Memphis outlaw promotion of Seadlinng. She’s always been fun to watch but this year, she seems like she’s going even harder than before. Her singles matches with Masato Tanaka, Rina Yamashita, Chihiro Hashimoto, Misaki Ohata, Ryo Mizumami and Yoshiko are at the very least very good but her tag work is incredible. For my money, she’s in two of the best tag matches of the year with Emi Sakura vs. Best Friends in Ice Ribbon and with Yoshiko vs Best Friends in JWP. The tag match with Yoshiko vs Meiko Satomura and Dash Chisako is great too. The crazy thing is that a lot of people haven’t seen more of her cause not many people (including myself) subscribe to the WAVE Network and her working in places where the cards are not broadcasted like Diana. She brings it every time I see her wrestle and hasn’t disappointed me this year.”
“I’ve only watched her tag work and she has been outstanding, if her singles matches are good enough, Takahashi might end up over Nakajima on my list. For now, she has earned a spot in my top 50.”
“Typically, joshi wrestlers peak early and drop off not long after that. Nanae is the exception as she keeps getting better as she’s getting older with no sign of slowing down. The Mizunami and Yamashita matches are the highpoints of her year plus her tag work with Yoshiko, (include the 8/14 match with Ayako Hamada and Rina Yamashita in WAVE to the previous ones listed.) Definitely someone everyone needs to checkout.”
  1. Nick Iggy (6 ballots, 153 points)

High Voter: SLL (59)

Recommended Matches:
w/Kerry Awful vs. Chris Kronkk & Ken Lee (Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment, 4/17)

w/Kerry Awful vs. Chip Day & Murder One (Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment, 7/16)
w/Kerry Awful vs. Mikey McFinnegan & Zakk Sawyers vs. Alexandre Rudolph & Jake Parnell (New South Real Pro Wrestling, 8/6)

“This is a tough one both because of my personal connection and because this a singles poll. That said I find it really impossible to distinguish between Nick and Kerry and that is really the strength of the act. That compliment each other incredibly well and are capable of working comedy, TN walk in talk, traditional Southern tag structure as faces or heels, or wild Moondog’s style brawls where they are in the upper tier of guys today. There run in AWE has been awesome, having a match with Spring Street Suicide Squad that was insanely good given the level of their opponents, and a feud with the Kraken (Murder One and Chip Day) that has been excellent and dramatic. PWX and CWF performances have been on point too. Didn’t want to nominate them individually because it feels weird, but it’s likely they will both place on my ballot somewhere.”

“Both guys are making my ballot, best live match I have ever seen (which tbf is an extremely small pool) is them vs Viking War Party vs Roscoe Eat Lisa as it was a brawl with some insane spots in New South at a kid friendly show. Don’t get near the credit they deserve but I’d be pressed not to have them as the #3 team in the world if I did WON voting. Also remember for Sam’s sake that tag teams can’t be nominated as one entity, must be two separate entrants.”

  1. Low Ki (4 ballots, 154 points)

High Voter: Another Spammer (43)

Recommended Matches:
w/Eddie Kingston & Homicide vs. Dave Crist, Jake Crist & Sami Callihan (AAW, 11/4)

w/Eddie Kingston & Homicide vs. Brian Cage, Drago & Pentagon Jr. (AAW, 11/26)
vs. Drew Galloway (House of Glory, 8/19)

“I likely won’t include him, but some people like his AAW run more than I have and his match v. Galloway from HOG was pretty great with one of the most exciting finishes of the entire year. Offensively he’s still incredible fwiw.”

  1. Jason Kincaid (8 ballots, 157 points)

High Voter: Dan Rice (50)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Chase Owens (NWA Smoky Mountain, 3/24)
vs. Mark Briscoe (Ring of Honor, 6/3)

“He never completely resonates with me, but I do think he’s the great white highspot hope for the Trump supporting region and that’s about as pro wrestling as it gets. When he’s on he’s one of the few wrestlers who is legitimately innovative in a clever and hurty way. When he’s off…well he’s got a gimmick to adhere to and I do respect it. I know some people who will vote in this poll are much bigger fans of him than I am so he definitely needs a thread.”
  1. Dick Togo (6 ballots, 159 points)

High Voter: SLL (42)

Recommended Matches:
w/Mike Bailey vs. Daisuke Sasaki & Tetsuya Endo (DDT, 8/28)

w/Shiryu vs. Hikaru Sato & Rocky Kawamura (Tokyo Gurentai, 11/28)
w/Masao Orihara & Ryan Upin vs. Mr. Gannosuke, CHANGO & Michio Kageyama (GUTS World, 12/3)

“Really enjoyed him every time I’ve seen him this year, including against Ethan Page. Hero match was well done for what it was. Loved the DDT tag. Kind of a low level guy, but felt that he needed a thread.”

  1. Kerry Awful (6 ballots, 160 points)

High Voter: Kerry Awful (58)

Recommended Matches:
w/Nick Iggy vs. Chris Kronkk & Ken Lee (Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment, 4/17)

w/Nick Iggy vs. Chip Day & Murder One (Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment, 7/16)
w/Nick Iggy vs. Mikey McFinnegan & Zakk Sawyers vs. Alexandre Rudolph & Jake Parnell (New South Real Pro Wrestling, 8/6)

“This is a tough one both because of my personal connection and because this a singles poll. That said I find it really impossible to distinguish between Nick and Kerry and that is really the strength of the act. That compliment each other incredibly well and are capable of working comedy, TN walk in talk, traditional Southern tag structure as faces or heels, or wild Moondog’s style brawls where they are in the upper tier of guys today. There run in AWE has been awesome, having a match with Spring Street Suicide Squad that was insanely good given the level of their opponents, and a feud with the Kraken (Murder One and Chip Day) that has been excellent and dramatic. PWX and CWF performances have been on point too. Didn’t want to nominate them individually because it feels weird, but it’s likely they will both place on my ballot somewhere.”

“Both guys are making my ballot, best live match I have ever seen (which tbf is an extremely small pool) is them vs Viking War Party vs Roscoe Eat Lisa as it was a brawl with some insane spots in New South at a kid friendly show. Don’t get near the credit they deserve but I’d be pressed not to have them as the #3 team in the world if I did WON voting. Also remember for Sam’s sake that tag teams can’t be nominated as one entity, must be two separate entrants.”

  1. Bobby Fish (6 ballots, 160 points)

High Voter: Timothy Robert Buechner (43)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Christopher Daniels (Ring of Honor, 4/1)
vs. Roderick Strong (Ring of Honor, 4/2)
vs. Mark Briscoe (Ring of Honor, 8/19)

  1. Sammy Guevara (5 ballots, 161 points)

High Voter: Francis Adu (49)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Ricky Starks (Inspire Pro, 1/17)

vs. Ray Rowe (Inspire Pro, 9/25)
vs. Mustafa Ali (Wrestle Circus, 11/19)
vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (VIP, 9/9)

“Sammy is a wrestler I like on the Texas Indy scene. He’s more than just you’re high flyer. He can be a real cocky heel. I’ve seen him tear up a little kids sign at ringside. Plus on top of that he’s a pretty good seller. These things really separates him. I’ve seen him live a bunch of times. My favorite match of his was against ZSJ. He just had a match with Ray Rowe that was off the chain. I’m waiting for that to show up soon. He’s a guy who’s getting more high profile matches and is delivering. Saturday he’s working Eddie Kingston, on November 19th for Wrestle Circus he’s working Prince Mustafa Ali which is my pre game pick for match of the night. Here are some matches of his to look at.

“Starks vs Guevara for Inspire Pro is a legit great match. Guevara is my pick for the breakout indie star of 2017 and he’s already has his first EVOLVE booking lined up. Somehow makes all his high-flying look really dickish.”

  1. Slim J (2 ballots, 165 points)[HIGHEST RANKED 2 BALLOT WRESTLER]

High Voter: Dylan Hales (16)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Kevin Blue (Why We Wrestle, 7/30)

vs. Kevin Blue (Why We Wrestle, 10/22)
vs. Jimmy Rave (Southern Fried Championship Wrestling, 6/4)
vs. Jimmy Rave (Southern Fried Championship Wrestling, 11/19)

“Now here is a guy who has been incredible this year that hardly anyone is talking about. Wild, out of control, feud that feels like Snowman v. Lawler v. Kevin Blue. A bunch of carry jobs of young and in some cases freshly trained talent for a couple of different promotions. Brilliant series v. Jimmy Rave and Shane Marx. Multiple great triple threat matches, one of which was an Iron Man Match. Still a very dynamic and fluid flyer, but also an excellent and smooth mat worker that rates with the best in wrestler. One of the handful of best bumpers in wrestling. Brilliant at multi-speeds. Impeccable timing. Sells way better than you’d ever guess and has the ability to work a match around a handful of well timed highspots without making a modern fan feel cheated which is insanely hard in this day and age. Works the Cornelia indies, Southern Fried, Peachstate and PCW almost exclusively which is nuts to me because I’m not sure taking all things into account there are ten wrestlers on Earth who are as complete a talent as he is in the ring. Will do very well on my ballot.”

  1. Corey Hollis (8 ballots, 168 points)

High Voter: Dylan Hales (36)

Recommended Matches:
vs. AJ Styles (Georgia Premier Wrestling, 2/5)

vs. Matt Riddle (Premier Wrestling Xperience, 11/19)
vs. David Starr (Premier Wrestling Xperience, 7/24)

“Has slowly morphed into a great heel who can incorporate all sorts of horeshit into his matches and yet still come across as a good enough technician where you don’t see him as less than the talent that he is. I saw him have a good match with The Drifter this year, but more notably there is probably no one in wrestling this year who has had more largely under the radar very good-to-great matches with top tier talent than Hollis has. I’d rate his matches v. AJ, Riddle and David Starr all very highly and yet they all got obscured by various other things going on on the same shows. In that sense i guess you could argue he’s too subtle a performer, but I don’t buy it.”

  1. Jason Cade (4 ballots, 171 points)

High Voter: SLL (38)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Gary Jay vs. Caleb Konley vs. Maxwell Chicago (Full Impact Pro, 4/2)
vs. Chip Day (Full Impact Pro, 7/8)
w/Aaron Solo vs. Fred Yehi & Gary Jay (Full Impact Pro, 4/2)

“Cade‘s gimmick of flipping off of random set pieces in buildings is always entertaining, and he’s been a part of some incredibly fun car crash multi-man matches (including one at Mercury Rising that easily could have devolved into disaster), but his real strength is being the savior of FIP shows. The guy has gone out and killed it for that company despite their incredible disorganization problems, and almost completely lack of understanding that he’s the most over regular that the promotion has. He’s had several borderline great matches with that promotion this year, plus some other really entertaining matches around the Florida loop on top of solid appearances in CZW and PWX. As a flyer he’s not as flashy or dynamic as the absolute top tier highspot guys, but he’s more charming than almost all of them.”

  1. Trent Beretta (6 ballots, 178 points)

High Voter: Andrew Shillinglaw (25)

Recommended Matches:
vs. Chris Hero (Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, 2/12)

w/Rocky Romero vs. Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson vs. Matt Sydal & Ricochet (New Japan Pro Wrestling, 1/4)
w/Rocky Romero vs. Matt Sydal & Ricochet (New Japan Pro Wrestling, 4/10)
w/Rocky Romero vs. ACH & Taiji Ishimori (New Japan Pro Wrestling, 11/5)

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