2017 has almost come to an end and it’s at this point that we like to take some time to reflect. For the most part, if you’re a pro wrestling fan, the past 12 months have been pretty great. There may be more wrestling going on around the world than ever before and more promotions than you can possibly keep up with, but that’s the point. We are at a point where it’s not as simple as just being a fan of pro wrestling. There are now different subcategories that some fans like and some don’t. A lot of people like the mainstream, story-driven juggernaut that is WWE, while others prefer the hard-hitting, in-ring focused action that you get by watching New Japan. It’s a great time to be a pro wrestling fan regardless of what branches of the industry you love, and here are five reasons why 2017 may have been the best year for wrestling ever.
5. Omega Vs Okada
It’s crazy to think that the first— and arguably the best—of the three matches between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada happened almost a year ago now. It was at Wrestle Kingdom 11 all the way back in January that these two clashed for the first time and got the whole wrestling world talking. You know it happened a long time ago when the build to Kenny’s match at next year’s Wrestle Kingdom is very much in full swing. Back to his initial match with Okada though, many fans believe this to be the greatest bout of all time. High praise indeed, and whether you think that or not, what can’t be argued is that it got 2017 off to a great start.
4. The Gift Of Jericho
On to a man that is becoming very well acquainted with Kenny Omega right now, Chris Jericho. Despite being 47 years old and away from the wrestling business for a large chunk of the year, Y2J still managed to give us so much in 2017 and continues to do so heading towards the new year. At the turn of the year, Jericho and Kevin Owens were the centerpieces of Raw. Then in February, they staged one of the segments of the year with the Festival of Friendship. Fast forward to now, and Jericho is ending the year as notably as he started it. On Jan. 4, 2018, Y2J will battle Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 and their recent interactions have had the wrestling world captivated.
3. Women’s Wrestling
2016 was a huge year for women’s wrestling, especially in WWE, and in 2017, not only did they show no signs of slowing down on that front, but they actually kicked it into another gear. The first ever female Money In The Bank ladder match was a big part of that, but the crown jewel of women’s wrestling this year was the Mae Young Classic. 32 of the world’s greatest female wrestlers traveled to Full Sail and battled it out in a single-elimination tournament. It shined a spotlight on the women’s side of the business like never before and has furthered how females are viewed in wrestling even more than it already has been recently. Let’s hope we see even more done on this front in 2018.
2. The Year Of The Monster
Who saw Braun Strowman’s ascent up the roster coming? Maybe Vince McMahon always wanted it to pan out this way, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone other than the boss envisioned fans taking to The Monster Among Men in the way that they have. At the time of typing this, Strowman is basically the babyface on Raw. For a large part of the year, Strowman went at it with Roman Reigns in a number of matches, and in typing that, it becomes clear why Strowman has become such a big baby face. Nevertheless, the former Strongman competitor is relatively new to the business, so to be as good as he is and be in the position that he’s in is incredible and has helped make 2017 a great wrestling year.
1. The Phenomenal WWE Champion
AJ Styles is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s hard to believe that 2016 was The Phenomenal One’s debut year in WWE. It was a hard one to top, but Styles managed to do that this year. The veteran kicked things off with an incredible match against John Cena at the Royal Rumble. From there Styles picked up his first ever WrestleMania win, raised the stock of the United States Championship, and has ended the year by rescuing the WWE Title from Jinder Mahal. Plus along the way, he has had some incredible matches and raised the game of anybody he has stood across the ring from.
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