Here at Pro Wrestling Ponderings we are proud of our efforts to represent all corners of the wrestling world in our coverage, something we will attempt to prove with our 2016 Year End Awards. A host of PWP writers past and present as well as some special guests were invited to make their picks for each category and if our mission statement holds true the results should prove interesting. Halfway through and it’s time for Storyline or Feud of the Year!
Alex Torres: Josh Prohibition vs. Time
AIW is often at its best when they put their trust in their most tenured performers. Going back the last few Absolutions, the best parts were never the marquee names that they managed to grab, it was the blow-offs to stories years in the making, stories that were not so much planned as put together by fanfare, history and time itself. Time is something Prohibition knows he doesn’t have much of. He’s not young. He’s not the best wrestler in the room. He may never wrestle outside of the Cleveland area again. But rather than wallow in these things, he celebrates them. Prohibition celebrates the health he has, his family and his small pond. His ability as a storyteller is his greatest asset, and until time catches up with him, he’ll chase the lead title and stand toe to toe with the future.
Barry Murphy: Marty Scurll vs. Ryan Smile
A simple story of a guy trying to prove his worth, Ryan Smile’s tremendous babyface presence pitted against the runaway momentum of ‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll’s banner year made for engrossing viewing.
Dylan Hales: Trevor Lee vs. Brad Attitude
I picked this feud without having even seen the blow-off, because the episodic nature of CWF Mid-Atlantic Television and the slow build made the match one of the most anticipated of the year. No feud had a stronger opening angle or better promos, and reports seem to suggest that their Battlecade main event matched delivered in the ring and was the perfect pay-off to a six-month long storyline.
Eamonn Bell: Broken Matt Hardy
In a crazy year for professional wrestling, I’m not sure anything was more surprising than the saga of Broken Matt Hardy. Matt’s descent into madness and the subsequent reinvention of The Hardy Boyz has been the most interesting thing to happen in TNA in years. It felt daring and outlandish in a way you don’t normally see from mainstream wrestling and has produced a litany of great moments, not to mention the inclusion of dilapidated boats and flying drones. It hasn’t been for everyone, but I can’t wait to see where they go next. Plus, that HHH joke was the best thing in 2016 in a walk.
Eddy Cornelison: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly
This feud really got turned up a notch with the inclusion of the Bullet Club and the Ring of Honor World Title. I loved the brutal attack Cole put on Kyle setting up the epic return of O’Reilly, challenging Cole for the title at Final Battle. The ‘Story Time With Adam Cole’ segment was brilliant and the match was awesome.
Eric B: Broken Matt Hardy
TNA allowing Broken Matt and Brother Nero to go all-in creatively was one of the best choices the company has ever made. Impact has been entertaining (if nothing else) for most of the year. Love it or hate it, at least they have people talking.
Jennifer Logsdon: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks
A feud that was born in NXT and blossomed on the main roster, this was simply about who was the better wrestler, the better woman. Nothing to do with who looked hotter than the other, who was dating who – none of the cattiness or pettiness that had characterized previous female feuds in WWE. one was born to wrestling royalty, the other fought for everything she gained. Charlotte had the pedigree and grew into her boots as the daughter of one of the best of all time. Sasha had the passion and desire to overcome her diminutive size and shine as ‘The Boss.’ 2016 was the year they broke boundaries and glass ceilings. Together, they made magic and opened doors for women that will come after them. Theirs was the best feud of the year.
Justin Houston: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
This shouldn’t have meant anything. The running hoke was that we’d seen this all before. Smartly, both guys used this to their advantage. Miz constantly needled Ziggler for never, ever breaking through and already being in the down slope of what has to be considered a disappointing career. Dolph’s argument was equally as strong, telling Miz that being WWE Champion is not the same as earning it. Miz never earned or even defended that title so, to Ziggler and most fans, it meant nothing. Miz disagreed, arguing that holding the title is all that matters; that the ends always justified the means. Dolph bet his career on that being untrue. In the end, Ziggler dramatically won the title and had his moment on Jizz Mountain, but Miz cheated and took the title back once again, meaning their central argument of hard-fought achievement versus a sustained but tainted success will be left up to fans years from now. Will we remember Dolph’s one glorious victory or his many crushing defeats? Will The Miz be regarded as a legend or a liar? THIS IS WHAT WRESTLING SHOULD BE.
Honorable Mentions: John Cena vs. AJ Styles (WWE), Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens (WWE), Dasher Hatfield vs. Mr. Touchdown (Chikara), Naruki Doi vs. YAMATO (Dragon Gate), Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn (every company ever), 2016 vs. Celebrities.
Matt Waters: The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler
Seriously, who saw this coming? How many times have these two wrestled? Who was in any way excited to see them enter into another lengthy feud? Not one single human being. And yet against all odds, Miz added to an already dramatically improved year with some of the best mic work of his career, and against even greater odds Ziggles became interesting again. You could even argue that this rivalry contained within it the Daniel Bryan sub-feud with Miz’s epic red-faced Talking Smack tirade to elevate it further still. Even without that though, the sheer unlikelihood of these two making this angle work in 2016 gets it the nod from me.
Mike ‘Papa’ Hales: The Hierarchy vs. The Carnies
The longstanding battle between these two teams in Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment represents the best in a classic graps feud. This rivalry was the fuel for an exciting year at AWE which featured multiple confrontations and great mic work from both sides. The story came to a head on Dec. 27 with The Carnies winning the tag team titles in a brutal and bloody cage match.
Stu Rodgers: Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll
Ospreay & Scurll battled all over the UK as well as in the US at Wrestlecon, producing some incredible matches. Their bout at RevPro’s High Stakes was a real ‘barn burner.’ They rekindled the feud later in the year over the ROH Television Title after Will won it on Night 1 of the ROH UK Tour, setting up Marty to beat him for it on Night 3, before facing off again at Final Battle in a tremendous triple threat that also featured Dragon Lee.
We’re officially half way though PWP’s 2016 Year End Awards so in theory it’s all downhill from here. Was there an angle or rivalry you loved that went unmentioned above? Look further than below… at the comments section! You can also tweet the contributors to let them know what you think of their fancy pants opinions by clicking their names. Next up is Show of the Year, so stay tuned for more.