2017 was one of the most unique years for the wrestling world. We saw John Cena tie Ric Flair’s 16 World Championships record, Roman Reigns supposedly “retire” The Undertaker, and Hall of Famer Kurt Angle replace Mick Foley as the general manager of Raw.
As you’ve probably noticed, many wrestling magazines, websites and other prognosticators have begun to share their list of the best and worst of wrestling in 2017. This time, Sports Illustrated released their “Top 10 Wrestlers of the Year” list, and the top entry is not from WWE.
SI chose Kenny Omega, the New Japan Pro Wrestling Star who is set to face Chris Jericho at the Tokyo Dome on Jan. 4. Here’s how they justified their choice:
The Cleaner is the alpha and the omega when it came to pro wrestling this past year. Omega is otherworldly in the ring, delivering memorable affairs with Minoru Suzuki, Kazuchika Okada, Michael Elgin, and helped Juice Robinson to the finest match of his career…
Unlike Styles and Reigns, who have the WWE wagon entrenched firmly behind them, Omega has created his own buzz in America. Along with some of the best bouts of the year, an ability to enhance his opponent, and a must-see intangible, Kenny Omega is Sports Illustrated’s Wrestler of the Year for 2017.
For those of you wondering, AJ Styles came in at number two behind Omega, followed by Roman Reigns, John Cena, Braun Strowman, Kazuchika Okada, Kevin Owens, Matt Riddle, Cody Rhodes and Keith Lee.
Though many will be surprised that Styles or Reigns didn’t come in at number one, it can’t be denied that Omega had one of the best calendar years in history.
The Winnipeg native became the first IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion, and had one of 2017’s top matches against Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11. That match was given a 6 1/4 rating by Dave Meltzer, one of the highest ever from the long-time wrestling journalist.
Part of The Bullet Club faction, Omega will get a chance to build upon an excellent year when he faces a fellow Winnipeg native in Jericho. You have to wonder if the WWE will soon begin acting towards signing Omega, who is by far the world’s greatest wrestler not working for Vince McMahon.
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