Friday, January 15, 2016

Year End Sorting Bins: Gosh, You DO Like Me

Ambrose is still good with me
Photo Credit:
This one's by far the biggest list of the five. I'm generally a positive person, and I not only want to like the people I'm watching, most of them do inspire some level of satisfaction. These are the folks that I enjoyed and continue to enjoy to the point where I like their presence on camera and want to see them generally do well. A handful of these guys and dolls will get explanations, the rest will be listed in tabular format.

Dean Ambrose - Yeah, Ambrose has gone a bit backwards, but unlike other guys who've been saddled with shit booking, he's always, always found a way to rise above it and make something interesting out of it. I don't enjoy him as much as I did even last year, but he's still a dude who can whip up something special when he's given time.

Sheamus - Sheamus got done real dirty by the booking, like even dirtier than all the fan favorites. But even through the bad stories, he was still enjoyable, especially in that one interview segment right after he won the title with New Day.

Hallowicked - I've never been too high on Hallowicked, but the last year, with a new, more evil focus, has boosted him up in my book.

Nikki Bella - She's not just a meme; she's one of the best female workers on the main roster. If she only learned how to consistently play a character...

Hiroshi Tanahashi - He's a huge dork, but maybe that's his charm.

Kongo Kong - If you judge the man on his heaving bosoms, then you're missing out on one of the craziest all-rounder wrestlers on the indies today.

Braun Strowman - Yeah, he's green, but he handles himself so well. I said that about Mason Ryan when he first debuted too, but Strowman has actually improved incrementally since his debut. I'm just drawn to him.

Josh Alexander - Early retirement is a shame for any performer, but Alexander had a higher ceiling ahead of him. Sad to see him go.

R-Truth - Truth's turn as wacky old man comic relief is the most surprisingly entertaining thing about WWE nowadays. I have to appreciate that.

Joey Ryan - Wrestling needs a little dong humor now and then.

Liv Morgan - She hasn't really done a whole lot of work outside of enhancement matches (as enhancement), but she seems to be in the Alexa Bliss, "ready to go" camp. I'm just sad that Triple H and the rest of the NXT brass didn't stick with her shoot name, Gionna Daddio. Seriously, how perfect a name would that be for a wrestler?

Nick Gage - The popular thing is to poop on the guy because he robbed a bank, but the thing about Gage getting out of prison is that he served hard time. When people continue to dump on a guy for time served in prison, it totally reinforces the idea that no one can truly be forgiven or rehabilitated. "But TH," you might say, "He violated parole," which yeah, it was for failing a piss test for marijuana. Not like he robbed another bank. Dude has my respect for serving his time, getting all swole, and coming out to not only be a buzzworthy wrestler on an indie scene where buzzworthy wrestlers are in short supply (Thanks, NXT!), but to have a hilarious, albeit unintentionally so, Twitter account.

Finn Bálor - He's in a trap where he's got a barely-defined character other than "cool, hot dude who wrestles," and I think his abilities are a bit overstated by those who think he's one of the best. But conversely, he's kinda like pre-2012 John Cena, where he doesn't have the best matches on the card by the grace of him being in the ring, but he works well with other guys who are also good workers. I think that means something.

Jack Evans - I used to be a Jack Evans hater, but he was really entertaining in his limited Lucha Underground run. Hope he shows up again in season two.

Barbi Hayden - She's probably Texas' best-kept secret, even if she'll probably break out huge in 2016. It's impossible how much better she's gotten since I first started following her in Anarchy Championship Wrestling way back when.

Roderick Strong - The "Roderick Strong in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla" has finally leaked out into other promotions. He's another guy who's come a long way since I first started watching him, although he was more or less in the most public of indie wrestling eyes.

Jimmy Jacobs - This guy gave so much to indie wrestling. IT sucks that he's gone, but at least he gets a cushy job yelling ideas at Vince McMahon until he gets defeated and goes back to catering.

AJ Lee - I miss Lee, who, even towards the end of her run in WWE, showed organic fire that is missing from many of the RAW roster "Divas." I kinda wish she had gotten a run in Horsewoman NXT, because she'd have done her best work there, probably.

Chris Dickinson - I have to respect a guy who knows how to get heat on the indies. His tactics can feel questionable at times (and honestly, both he and Kimber Lee probably should have gotten a stern talking to from SOMEONE after they creamed each other with chairs back in early '15), but it's always done from a place of fun.

Prakash Sabar - Seriously, he turned what was probably a one-note joke into a sustainable gimmick, at least within Chikara. Plus the tongue stitched to his lucha mask, choice.

Rhyno - He used to be visual death, but then he showed up to NXT and turned into a must-see attraction for reasons other than unintentional comedy. I don't care if it's the intoxicating allure of WWE's real main brand; I'm digging it.

Jessicka Havok - The whole thing with the racist Twitter messages (some of which were fabricated) was dumb judgment on her part, and it's far more forgivable than the shit Zahra Schreiber posted. She's still a heck of a performer.

Sammy Guevara - I'm glad he got whatever issues he had with Inspire Pro Wrestling out, because the dude can go.

Kyle O'Reilly - He still has those tendencies to get all Davey Richards-y, but he's definitely grown on me as a performer. I hope if he does leave ROH that he goes to NXT and reDRagon has a best of 50,001 series against Jason Jordan and Chad Gable.

KT Hamill - With the Southern scene breaking out, he's going to get more shine, and he should. He's a versatile dude who can fit into nearly any style and any scene.

Steve-O Reno - He represents the hungry, young great worker half that makes Inspire Pro must-watch. Dude goes out and puts on a spectacle every time he's in the ring, a great ambassador for the company.

Great Depression - And he represents the colorful characters and almost noir side of Inspire Pro. He was the first, and he continues to be a more nuanced than a dude in with a burlap mask would be anywhere else.

Saraya Knight - I'm putting her on this list lest she do Sindel's Mortal Kombat 3 fatality on me.

Nia Jax - Yeah, the whole "I'm not like these other girls" shtick is annoying. All NXT officials had to do was roll her out as the proto-Aja Kong for the division, and she would have hit the ground running, as she showed in that Takeover match with Bayley.

"Juke Joint" Lucas Calhoun - Maybe the gimmick and mask were holding Calhoun back. As Volgar, he seemed schlubby and slow. As Juke Joint, he's rockin' the ring with a whole new confidence.

Jimmy Rave - Rave has overcome a lot to get where he is at the vanguard of the new Southern indie explosion. He's both an ace for several promotions and an elder statesman, and I can't think of anyone better.

Bull Dempsey - I had Dempsey pegged all wrong. The guy has shown he can interact with crowds with the best of them, and that's something you can't really underrate.

Leva Bates/Blue Pants - I hate that she's become a talking point or a battleground thanks to some of the more vocal trolls on Twitter. Has she had a good match in NXT? Well, maybe, maybe not, I really don't know. She's been asked to work as enhancement talent. But people recognize her from her indie work, and I have yet to see her in a match outside of Full Sail that was anything less than average at least. She's got a great shtick with the cosplay, and she's expressive and interactive with crowds. I don't know how that can't be seen as a positive, but whatever.

Chyna - Vince McMahon's gladhanding Hall of Fame isn't some objective honor, but it's nice for the people who built his company to be honored. Whether he wants to acknowledge it or not, Chyna was a big part of that. It might be nice for them to reach out and help her mend bridges, but what do I know.

Triple H, NXT Proud Papa - AS much of an unwanted presence he is on the RAW roster, Triple H as the dude who is just happy as all get out for his pet project, the one who intros all the Takeovers and the one who poses for cheesy mark photos with the new signings, is great. I want this Triple H forever, not the one who shows up on RAW and makes the show about him.

And the rest...
2Cold ScorpioAce RockwellAdam PageAlex ShelleyAlicia Fox
Amazing RedAmber GallowsAngelicoAngelo DawkinsAnthony Henry
Anthony NeseAnthony StoneApollo CrewsArctic Rescue AntArgus
Arik CannonBarrett BrownBeaver BoysBecky LynchBee Boy
Big Daddy Yum YumBig RyckBillie KayBlind RageBrian Kendrick
Brock LesnarCaleb KonleyCaprice ColemanChase OwensCheerleader Melissa
Cherry BombCherry RamonesChip DayChris HeroChris Sabin
Chrisjen HaymeChristopher DanielsColin DelaneyCorey HollisCourtney Rush
Crazy Mary DobsonCurtis AxelDaizee HazeDarin CorbinDavid Otunga
DeliriousDiamond Dallas PageDoc GallowsDonovan DijakDrew Galloway
Dubstep CowboysEddie KingstonElias SampsonEric CorvisEVIL/Takaaki Watanabe
Fire AntFranco D'AngeloFrankie KazarianGedoGenetic Grasshopper
GoldustGoya KongGregory IronGregory JamesGunner
Gunner MillerHiroyo MatsumotoHollywood StranglerHot Sauce Tracy WilliamsIcarus
IvelisseJ and J SecurityJakaJames StormJason Collins
Jay FreddieJessica JamesJiggle-O James JohnsonJoey LynchJohn Cena
JojoJolly RogerJonathan GreshamJuice RobinsonKatsuyori Shibata
Kazushi SakurabaKikutaroKiller Elite SquadKota IbushiKUSHIDA
LanaLuke HarperMaria KanellisMark AngelosettiMark Briscoe
Mark VandyMarti BelleMatt CageMatt Cross/Son of HavocMatt Sydal
Matt TavenMatthew PalmerMelanie CruiseMia YimMike Bennett
Mike DellMil MuertesMissile Assault ManMoonshine MantellMoose
NaomiNattie NeidhartNøkkenOrange CassidyPepper Parks
Pete DunnePeyton RoycePimpanela EscarlataPJ BlackProletariat Boar of Moldova
Renee YoungRey MysterioRhia O'ReillyRic FlairRicky Starks
RybackRyusuke TaguchiSantana GarrettSawyer FultonScot Summers
Shane StricklandShaun TempersSoldier AntSteve CorinoSugar Dunkerton
Supercop Dick JusticeSylvester LefortTaeler HendrixThe AscensionThe Bravado Bros.
The Hardy BoyzThe Mighty Don't KneelThe OrphansThe Red ScareThe Usos
ThunderkittyTim StormTom PhillipsTommaso CiampaTomoka Nakagawa
Tracy SmothersTrent?Trevor LeeTyson KiddWilliam Regal
Worker AntZack RyderZack Sabre, Jr.Zeb ColterAJ Styles