Monday, November 21, 2016

Hashtags, Doing it Yourself, and Vera

In the end, history will recognize 2016 CE for two nouns having the best year ever: the City of Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and the industry of professional wrestling.

When you look at how pro wrestling, and not just World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), has been grabbing people's attention with so many great matches (the technical/physical part and the storytelling/psychological part). These quality matches can easily translate to become nominees for the 2016 Match of the Year, honored by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

I'll give a few that I have seen this calendar year.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) Wrestle Kingdom 10: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

This match was the proverbial swan song for Styles, as he was getting ready to come back home to the States to compete in the 2016 WWE Royal Rumble. Nakamura, meanwhile, wanted to give Styles the boot to the posterior across the Pacific Ocean.  The booking (the combination of story angles and scenarios leading to and including the match) for Styles/Nakamura was, well, phenomenal.

Lucha Underground (LU) Ultima Lucha Dos: Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Prince Puma

If Nakamura is "the King of Strong Style," then Mysterio is, with no doubt, "the King of Lucha Libre." In a classic tale of teacher versus student, Puma challenges his mentor, Mysterio, to see if he is better than him in the ring. Both luchadors leave it all in the ring for the Believers.

NXT Takeover Dallas: Bayley vs. Asuka (say: AHZ-kah)

This match deserves recognition for the tenacity Bayley displayed against Asuka. The NXT Universe were treated to a side of Bayley fans had never seen before. With Asuka, I have not seen a female competitor since the late Chyna destroy a division so effortlessly that she could legit make a run for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, or even bigger.

WWE Cruiserweight Classic, First Round: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa

For some reason, these two were pinned against one another for the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic. Both Gargano and Ciampa wrestle together as a team, #DIY.  But before the name christening, both wrestlers went superkick to knee strike against one another....just to advance to the second round. What makes this match so special is the final chapter in this booking.

Pro Wrestling Guerrillas (PWG) Battle of Los Angeles, Night 3: Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.

I was introduced to ZSJ's work during the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Needless to say, I was highly impressed. So when I got to check out Sabre's match against Will Ospreay in a tournament format, the technical prowess demonstrated by these two was simply a clinic. This classic will leave you breathless at the end.

Ring of Honor (ROH) Supercard of Honor X, Night 1: Jay Lethal vs. Lio Rush

The future of wrestling looks fantastic. And his name is Lio Rush. He goes fearlessly after Jay Lethal, who is devastating in his own right, to provide a back and forth bruhaha.  As long as Rush continues to stay healthy, we will see a whole lot more of him in the years to come.

Here's an additional list of matches that melted minds and made us mark our hearts out:

LU Aztec Warfare III - Sexy Star gives Mil Muertes a run for his money

WWE 2016 Royal Rumble - the debut of AJ Styles on WWE gave us all the boners

NXT Takeover Toronto, #DIY vs. The Revival - magnificent booking with an ending only Thelma & Louise could love

NXT Takeover Dallas, Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - the debut of Nakamura on NXT won so many hearts in that match it was damn near kawaii

WWE SummerSlam, AJ Styles vs. John Cena - these two stole the show with both of their improvised offenses

WWE Hell in a Cell, Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair - this match has pretty much put all those lingerie pillow fights and other tacky shit from previous eras to bed, about six feet under; the women destroyed one another in this epic final main event match

Yeah, I do not envy the editorial staff at PWI for trying to pick 3 matches.

Although, I will say this: 2016 wrestlers of the year, at least my picks, are:

Men: Shinsuke Nakamura

Women: Asuka

Tag Team: #DIY

Match: AJ Styles vs. John Cena

Feud: The Bullet Club vs. Nigel McGuinness

Rookie: Lio Rush

Cruiserweight: Ricochet

Gimmick: The List of Jericho

Tournament: G1 Climax

Announcer: Mauro Ranallo

Booking: NXT

Promotion: Lucha Underground

Can't wait to see what December holds.

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