Jabroni Journal: The Best Of 2016

December 30, 2016

The brand split. The continued rise of New Japan Pro Wrestling. AJ Styles in WWE. NXT continuing its reign. The evolution of Lucha Underground. Broken Friggin Matt Hardy. 

This is just a small snapshot of what the wrestling world brought us in 2016. While we can always find something to complain about, one thing is for sure – IT’S AN AWESOME TIME TO BE A WRESTLING FAN. Between all the different wrestling companies, there’s absolutely no way for a normal human being to watch everything. Instead of being force fed some weak matches and having to deal with it, we are now at the point where we can sample every kind of wrestling from around the world and choose what we like. As WWE continues to widen its scope to incorporate more indie wrestling, I’m excited for what’s to come in 2017. But before I look to the future, I must first take a glance back. Here are my favorites of this past year. 

Match Of The Year: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Takeover Dallas) 
I was lucky enough to watch the debut of Shinsuke Nakamura live in person and I’m so glad I did. It was an incredible feeling to see this longtime New Japan badass get a standing ovation from a WWE crowd. In fact, I distinctly remember getting goose bumps. Everything about this match was outstanding – the back and forth between the two, the fact that it was Zayn’s big send off to the main brand and most importantly it looked REAL. No move came easy for either wrestler as they appeared to truly struggle. Too often wrestling looks too choreographed, like a high risk dance sequence. But these two made it look like a legit FIGHT, earning the memorable chant from the crowd “FIGHT FOREVER!”

Wrestler Of The Year: Asuka 
When Asuka came into NXT in 2015 she was relatively unknown to the American audience. If you weren’t a diehard Japanese wrestling fan, chances are you hadn’t seen any of her matches aside from highlights on YouTube (where she used her former ring name Kana). Today she stands atop the NXT women’s division as a completely untouchable badass. She is feared, yet a fan favorite - a female Terminator who is still 100% undefeated.  I don’t see her streak ending anytime soon, unless they decide to move her up to the main roster. When she finally makes that move, I predict complete and utter annihilation of the women’s division. Asuka is the real deal and is the future of the WWE Women’s Division. 

Wrestler Of The Year Honorable Mentions: AJ Styles, Will Ospreay, Chris Hero, Chris Jericho, Sasha Banks, The Miz.