Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The 2017 TWB 100 Epilogue: My Ballot

Dakota Kai was one of my votes who didn't make the list this year
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Another TWB 100 is in the books, and despite the lower voter turnout, I consider it a success. Honestly, I don't care if ten or 10,000 people vote; the point is to get people thinking about the wrestling they watch in a critical manner. I feel like the fact that nearly 75 percent of ballots had 100 wrestlers on them and the width and breadth of wrestlers voted for is as much a signpost for success as the number of voters. Anyway, I shall close the festivities this year as I do most years, with my own ballot, with blurbs of varying lengths for wrestlers that did not appear on the final list:

1. Johnny Gargano
2. Zack Sabre, Jr.
3. Jimmy Uso
4. Jey Uso
5. Braun Strowman
6. AJ Styles
7. Cesaro
8. Sheamus

9. Tomohiro Ishii - I didn't watch as much non-WWE wrestling as I would have liked in 2017 for various reasons. I'm not going to get into them, because most are deeply personal, but because of that, the New Japan Long Beach specials were an important part of my year. Ishii wrestled three times during those two days, and each time it was basically everything I wanted out of heavyweight wrestling. He did the feats of strength. He made gallant comebacks. He showed the vulnerability needed to lubricate the stories of his matches, and he did so with the stone pit bull intensity he's famous for. I will take three matches of his over the 50 or so of a lot of other WWE guys I saw far more eligible footage of in 2017.

10. Roman Reigns
11. Chris Hero/Kassius Ohno
12. Nikki Cross
13. Pete Dunne
14. Andrade "Cien" Almas

15. Tetsuya Naito - I realize that I voted for Naito, and fairly highly, and didn't write a blurb for him. Weird. Anyway, it's amazing how much sheer charisma he can fit into a match. He's such a unique worker in the ring. No one moves like him, and yet he's almost a perfect fit with anyone he's in the ring with. I only saw two matches with him in it that were eligible and I rated him this high. Imagine if he worked a whole bunch over here...

16. Kenny Omega
17. The Miz
18. Asuka
19. Neville
20. Jeff Cobb/Matanza Cueto
21. Jonathan Gresham
22. Tommaso Ciampa
23. Big E
24. Sasha Banks
25. Nick Gage
26. Oney Lorcan
27. Becky Lynch
28. Fred Yehi
29. Rezar
30. Akam
31. Juan Francisco de Coronado

32. Juice Robinson - CJ Parker left WWE and became an honest-to-God babyface in a climate that hasn't started rewarding that until lately. He shows so much fire and vulnerability. His match with Zack Sabre, Jr. on the first night of the Long Beach shows is a must-see.

33. Charlotte Flair
34. Samoa Joe

35. Dakota Kai - She brought Team Kick to WWE in the Mae Young Classic and it was a fun, jaunty style to break out in a tournament setting. She did some cool stuff that she'll build on as her WWE career moves on.

36. AJ Gray - I was blown away by how dynamic he was in person, a guy his size moving like a cruiserweight and still hitting off those power moves. In a match with three other guys, he was the one making me watch his every move, commanding attention and making himself the focus.

37. Ember Moon

38. Veda Scott - She works hard no matter what, even if she's just doing batshit crazy garbage work in the Janela Spring Break clusterfuck. Ring of Honor doesn't know what it's missing without her.

39. Mark Andrews - Even though Pete Dunne turned in the best year of the WWE Brits, Andrews has the highest ceiling. Case in point, he definitely had the most fun matches with Dunne and perhaps may have had the most complete contests with him.

40. Razerhawk - OF all the Chikara newbs, Razerhawk was the most impressive. He'll be a fine inheritor of the "crazy high-spot guy" once Fire Ant completely phases himself out.

41. Toni Storm
42. Killian Dain

43. Willie Mack - I miss seeing the big bruiser on a regular basis, but he still kills it in Lucha Underground. All Night Long vs. Johnny Mundo is a must-see.

44. Joey Janela - For a dude who gets most of his rep from being absolutely insane, he's shown to be savvy in putting matches together. I'm not sure how many other people would've gotten that kind of entertainment out of 2017 Marty Jannetty.

45. Alexa Bliss
46. Cedric Alexander
47. Jason Jordan
48. Nia Jax
49. Akira Tozawa
50. Kofi Kingston
51. Alexander Wolfe
52. Dean Ambrose
53. Kairi Sane

54. Filthy Tom Lawlor - He's so dirty and fun in addition to working the new hotness of the faux-MMA style that he's a must watch any match he's in.

55. John Cena
56. Brock Lesnar
57. Tyler Bate
58. Rusev
59. Xavier Woods

60. MJF - The dude excels at mid-match shit talking and heeling, which made him one of the most effective newer faces on the radar.

61. Timothy Thatcher - Thatcher left America for a pretty long time last year, but his stuff at the beginning was good enough to warrant a slot on my ballot.

62. Naomi

63. Ophidian/Ourobouros - The old snake still had a ton of tricks up his sleeve. His sarcophagus match against Hallowicked was a highlight of the year for Chikara.

64. Hallowicked

65. Viper/Piper Niven - Her run in the Mae Young Classic was great because she was an effective bruiser in a tourney with a lot of spot wrestlers and smaller competitors.

66. Chad Gable

67. Hiromu Takahashi - He's weird like his running buddy Naito, but in a different way, and yet it's equally satisfying.

68. Drew Gulak


70. Dragon Lee - If a whole year's worth of matches were available and eligible, I wonder if he'd have gotten my first place vote. Sadly, he only had a couple of tags eligible and he still left that much of mark on me.

71. Everett Connors - The Justin Bieber cut-out stuff he did at Chikara was great at generating initial heat, but he had the goods behind it to have some nice matches.

72. Kazuchika Okada - Obviously, discounting his mammoth performances in Japan, I feel like I voted for him just on the strength of coaxing a decent match out of Cody Rhodes. The way Rhodes worked that main event, the fact that it was even watchable speaks volumes of Okada's abilities.

73. Race Jaxon/Logan Easton Leroux - No matter the name, Jaxon/Leroux was a reliable heat magnet in the ring with the chops to back it up.

74. Bill Goldberg - I was terrified at Goldberg getting more than like 30 seconds of ring-time, but he was a breath of fresh air both in the Royal Rumble and as an opponent for Brock Lesnar at Mania.

75. Chris Jericho
76. Sami Zayn
77. Peyton Royce
78. Kevin Owens
79. Ruby Riot/Heidi Lovelace
80. Bobby Roode

81. Ethan Page - Who cares if All Ego's heel heat is founded in the fact that he's a Sammartino worker in a Danielson world; he leaned into it and it enhanced his matches in a big way.

82. Darby Allin - He added a lot more to his game than just "recreational suicide" and started to become more well-rounded.

83. Sarah Logan - Forget "game meat;" Logan works big so well in a division full of smaller women, and she showed in a limited run why WWE scooped her up right away.

84. Abbey Laith/Kimber Lee

85. Jazzy Gabert - The best part of her game has always been projecting intimidation in the ring and with a great opponent, it makes for the best theater.

86. Mojo Rawley - Sometimes, you just want a big, dumb, fun wrestler to bound around the ring and hit people with their asses, and Rawley fit that to a tee.

87. Mia Yim - She's in an eternal blind-spot for me because SHIMMER rarely gets DVDs out anymore, so I appreciated her run in the Mae Young Classic, showing she still brings the heat.

88. Bianca Belair - Few wrestlers who rely on athleticism "get" wrestling as quickly as Belair seems to have. Her match with Kairi Sane in the Mae Young Classic was brilliant in large part because of her brash offense.

89. John Silver
90. Jay Freddie
91. Lance Lude
92. Rob Killjoy - The Beef Boys and the Ugly Ducklings are mainly on here because I enjoyed the heck out of their tag match together at the Powerbomb TV show at the Wrestle Factory. More people should book both teams.

93. Dasher Hatfield

94. The Big Show - Unlike Kane, when Show came around, it was to put his working shoes on, especially against Braun Strowman.

95. Johnny Mundo

96. Bad Luck Fale - Fale was extremely fun in those big tag matches, and he stood out in a good way, which is all that really matters.

97. Lacey Evans - Evans actually brought something fresh and unique to the Mae Young Classic and spot showings in NXT, enough to put her on my list.

98. Matt Riddle

99. Marty Jannetty - I don't know how much of his bewilderment was shoot and how much of it was playing along, but either way, he was an enjoyable foil for Janela's harebrained tribute to the Attitude Era.

100. The Invisible Man - Sure, he's not a "real" wrestler as much as he was the efforts of a bunch of wrestlers to enhance the Clusterfuck match at the Janela Spring Break, but hell, it was a great part of the best show of the year.