|New! Day! Rocks!|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
New Day - Even when RAW was super-unwatchable over the last year, New Day always made me smile, laugh, or cheer. They took a terrible, black-people-through-Vince-McMahon's-eyes gimmick and turned it into solid gold. Xavier Woods elevated himself as a comedic genius. Kofi Kingston showed everyone why he was on the precipice of stardom eight years ago. Big E reminded everyone that McMahon for once in his recent life was right in wanting to push him as The Guy instead of Triple H's choice, Roman Reigns.
Kimber Lee - She was all over the mouths of wrestling fans this year, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad. But her big Grand Championship win at the end of the year wasn't satisfying because just any girl had won. Lee is one of the most likable, talented wrestlers on the indies, and it's great that she was the one chosen to carry the banner.
Biff Busick - Allegedly, he got into some hot water with Terry Taylor backstage at NXT to the point where he almost got fired. Knowing Busick and knowing the people who vouch for him, I'd imagine that the fucking Red Rooster was the one in the wrong the whole time.
Tomohiro Ishii - When I first gazed eyes upon him at WrestleKingdom 9, I knew I was in HOSS HEAVEN. Too bad he was against Togi Makabe...
Daniel Bryan - Bryan didn't even get a cup of coffee in his short-lived return between January and post-WrestleMania. His run was like a bite of a donut and a sip of coffee before it cooled off. I still hold out hope that he hasn't seen his last WWE ring, but honestly, whatever is best for him should be what happens. Wrestling chews up and spits its performers out, and even if WWE is withholding him for selfish reasons, maybe not subjecting Bryan to big bumps isn't the worst thing.
Portia Perez - I'm legitimately sad to see one-half of the Canadian Ninjas retire. Perez was a natural bratty heel, and she should have been a far bigger deal nationally than she was. Perhaps she came into wrestling at the wrong time, assuming WWE ever gets its head out of its ass concerning female performers.
Blue World Order - I love that my favorite wrestling promotion of all-time decided to take the best part of my second-favorite promotion and make it a part of its biggest weekend of the year. Wrestling fandom at its purest.
Fenix - Not only was he a luchador with all the flips and dives, he did all of them with a sense of the story he was in, especially vs. Mil Muertes. Rooting for him as the folk hero of Lucha Underground's first season was easy as heck.
The Young Bucks - I can understand not liking the Bucks. Sometimes, their antics on Twitter wear a bit thin. But imagine being Jim Cornette or someone who hugs his nutsac and thinking they hurt the business. How? By doing cool moves and popping crowds? They remain the best tag team in the world on a consistent basis.
The Miz - The Miz who headlined WrestleMania XXVII is still in WWE; the company just doesn't put him in main event slots, which is a shame. Then again, WWE doesn't really push any heels outside of those who are either part-timers (Triple H) or those who can't get comeuppance in the ring (Stephanie McMahon/Paul Heyman). In a perfect world, crowds would froth at the mouth for the chance to slap the taste out of Miz's mouth, or at the very least be rabid as heck for someone else to do it for them.
"Perfect Ten" Tye Dillinger - The moment he came out of the back in this gimmick at the first Philly NXT house show, I was in love. He's the poster boy for NXT to have a secondary title just so he could own it and have something to do on the weekly show.
Marty the Moth - If he were a real guy and not a character, Marty the Moth would be everything I hate in a person, but the brilliance of Lucha Underground is having such a creepshow of a character fitting in with Death and a real dragon and Johnny Mundo. He's not at the top of any story, but Marty is proof that just because a guy is on the lower part of the card doesn't mean he can't be vitally entertaining.
"Dirty" Andy Dalton - Great heels on the indies are few and far between, but even among them, not a lot of guys go as far as Dalton does to get himself some heat. If you really want to get boos, you do some of the cringey, disgusting stuff Dalton does, and that's not a bad thing.
Tetsuya Naito - Even before he became ungovernable, Naito endeared himself to me at the Ring of Honor/New Japan joint show in Philly, where he was the first person ever to get an enjoyable singles match out of Kyle O'Reilly outside the confines of Reseda. He gets how to interact with crowds, even if they don't speak the language. Dude's a special performer.
Alexa Bliss - She flipped a switch and became the most natural heel in NXT who isn't getting heat just because she's terrible like Eva Marie. The selfies with Mama Bliss don't hurt either.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin - If I still listened to podcasts, his is the only one of the mass-produced, mainstream wrestling ones I'd listen to.
Timothy Thatcher - The uncrowned king of the #grapplefuck lads is a polarizing figure because folks who don't get it can't see how good he is at bringing out emotion and story just through trading grapples and counters and stuff. I've always loved that style, and the fact that Thatcher has almost made it cool makes him aces in my book.
Dana Brooke - When she came in, I was skeptical like everyone else, and she was pretty bad in her first couple of appearances. But she took so easily to the character part, and by Takeover: Respect, she was more than carrying her own weight against Asuka. I'm all aboard on the Dana Brooke train.
Jakob Hammermeier - Chikara has an embarrassment of riches with its top heels right now, but Hammermeier really needs to be in a featured role. The guy oozes charisma, and no one in the promotion, not even new hotness Kevin Condron, has body language that speaks to crowds as loudly as his does.
Madison Eagles - I'm glad she's made it all the way back from her injuries, because she's one of the best in the game when she's healthy.
Chad Gable and Jason Jordan - Most folks know and crow about how great Gable is, and for good reason; he's pretty freakin' tremendous. But he rescued Jordan from the depths of the NXT low card with the team and helped show that Jordan himself has talents that will serve him well down the line. In fact, I'd posit that no one in WWE right now is a better hot tag than Jordan.
Kalisto - He got done pretty raw last year if just by circumstance. He didn't need to be anchored to Sin Cara, and he certainly should have been the dude taking the hot tags, not giving them. Sin Cara's hurt again, and though I hate reveling in a dude's injury, Kalisto may finally get the chance to be the dude that electrifies crowds for them.
Veda Scott - I'm sorry, but if you're gonna lay into Scott, it had better be because she's gotten under your skin with her superlative antics and not because you wanna be pigs and shout "Show your tits" at any woman who walks into the arena. I'm still fired up about that.
Dario Cueto - The NPC authority figure can go to hell... except for El Jefe. Cueto is just so over the top and expressive that he can do whatever the fuck he wants.
Estonian Farmer Frog - I'm so very happy that some Estonian amphibian of some sort is back, but I wonder if he'll realize his true potential and wield the hammer once more...
Sami Callihan - WWE didn't know what it had with Solomon Crowe, and it seems a lot of people out there in Twitter-land were happy for the fact. I don't know what Callihan did to become so polarizing at the very best, but the dude is unique and fiery, and he's a welcome change from all the serious shoot-styley dudes, whether they be #grapplefuckers (and I like #grapplefuck a lot) or faux-MMA douches.
Thomas Muños - If you took Pirate Steve from Dodgeball and made him a wrestler, you'd get Muños, and that's not a bad thing at all.
Dan Wilson and Al Getz - The Scenic City Invitational may not have been as successful a show critically without them guiding viewers through it and providing tone-perfect commentary for newbs and vets of the Southern scene alike.
Rusev - WWE tried so hard to sabotage Rusev's oeuvre in 2015, and it worked to an extent since he's no longer got that cache he had last year. But he's done so much to keep reminding people that he is far more awesome than the way his company treats him. He's naturally witty and charming to the point where he almost, almost elevated the dumb feud he had with Dolph Ziggler over Lana and Summer Rae to something better than shit. In a perfect world, Rusev, along with Miz and Sheamus, would be guys who ruled WWE, but alas, all anyone has to go by is squandered potential anymore. Such is life.
|ACH||Adam Cole (BAYBAY)||Aerostar||Aiden English||Aja Kong|
|Akira Tozawa||Alex Kozlov||Allysin Kay||Amasis||Andrew Everett|
|Angel Ortiz||Angelus Layne||AR Fox||Asuka||Athena|
|Bayley||Big Cass||Bill Carr||Blaster McMassive||Bo Dallas|
|Bobby Fish||Brian Cage||Candice LeRae||Carmella||Catrina|
|Cedric Alexander||Cesaro||Chris Trew||Chuck Taylor||Corey Graves|
|Corey Hollis||Damien Sandow||Dan Barry||Darren Young||Dash Wilder|
|Dasher Hatfield||Davey Vega||Delilah Doom||Devin Cutter||Drago|
|Drew Gulak||El Hijo del Ice Cream||El Torito||Emma||Enzo Amore|
|Evan Gelistico||Flex Rumblecrunch||Fred Yehi||Frightmare||Gary Jay|
|Hanson||Heidi Lovelace||Hideo Itami||Ice Cream, Jr.||Johnny Mundo|
|Juan Francisco de Coronado||Jushin "Thunder" Liger||Kazuchika Okada||Kellie Skater||Kenny Omega|
|Kevin Condron/Snowflake||Kobald||Kodama||Kyle Matthews||Layla El|
|LuFisto||Marion Fontaine||Mark Andrews||Mark Henry||Mason Cutter|
|Max Smashmaster||Mayumi Ozaki||Mike Draztik||Minoru Suzuki||Mr. Azerbaijan|
|Mr. B||Neville||Nicole Matthews||Obariyon||Oleg the Usurper|
|Ophidian||Paul London||Pentagón, Jr.||Pierre Abernathy||Pinkie Sanchez|
|Raymond Rowe||Rich Brennan||Rich Swann||Ricochet/Prince Puma||Rocky Romero|
|Samoa Joe||Scott Dawson||Sexy Star||Shazza McKenzie||Shinsuke Nakamura|
|Shynron||Sidney Bakabella||Silver Ant||Simon Gotch||Swamp Monster|
|TAKA Michinoku||Tim Donst||Titus O'Neil||Tyler Breeze||Vader|
|Vanessa Kraven||Willie Mack|