Chair Shots Presents: The Obligatory 2016 End of Year Column Thingie
By Rob Simmons
Dec 29, 2016 - 9:50:36 PM
Banner by Steven F’N Bell
Well here we are, just a few short days away from another year gone. We’ve lost names like David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Prince and Carrie Fisher, but Betty White and Keith Richards keep trucking along. So like most people, I’ve decided to put together a little End of Year column to close out 2016, but I do things a little bit differently. The categories aren’t your typical “Best Match” or “Best Wrestler” type things, but stuff that I think I think from the past year. Does that make any damn sense at all? Well, if not we are talking about professional wrestling, which in itself doesn’t make a lot of sense half the time anyway.
Dude I Hated in 2015 But Loved in 2015 Award- BROKEN MATT HARDY
Let me tell you something, I’ve not seen a kind of transformation in a character like this past year with Matt Hardy. Stemming from his feud with his brother Matt (now Brother Nero), the “old” Matt Hardy became broken, and went completely off the rails, refusing to call his brother by name, and even winning a match that made Jeff never be Jeff again. From The Final Deletion, to Delete or Decay, all the way up to Total Nonstop Deletion from the Hardy Compound, Matt made us re-think how we viewed professional wrestling. Everything was so over the top that the ridiculous became the sublime. The chant of “Delete” has transcended TNA, being heard in promotions worldwide. I don’t know if Matt can top his 2016, but I’m quite certain he’ll try.
Promotion That Lost Its Identity in 2016- RING OF HONOR
I’ve been on and off with Ring of Honor over the years. Several years ago I attended an RoH PPV in Baltimore and had a really good time. The promotion undoubtedly had one of the top World Champions in any promotion in Jay Lethal, but over the course of the past year they’ve sort of lost their way. Part of their issue came in the loss of talent, like Tommaso Ciampa, Michael Elgin, Moose, and Cedric Alexander just to name a few. They’ve also lost sight of their own way, spending a good part of the year partnering with NJPW, as well as their latest partnership with CMLL in Mexico. Ring of Honor needs to find a way to stand on its own feet in 2016 without having to heavily turn to outside organizations to survive. Hopefully that will occur, because there is some great talent there that deserves some attention.
Wrestler I’m Looking for Big Things From in 2017- BIG CASS
Quick Truth- I’m already over Enzo Amore. His shtick is starting to wear thin, and half the time he doesn’t even make any damn sense. However, when I look at Big Cass all I see is POTENTIAL. He’s young, tall, built well, and is pretty decent on the mic. These are all things that spell success in the WWE. Over the past year I’ve seen him compared multiple times to a young Kevin Nash, or Diesel when he first debuted in the WWE. That’s a valid comparison, but I dare say that Cass is quicker and more agile than Nash ever was. It’s almost Royal Rumble time, and every year there’s a breakout performance in the match, though not normally from the winner. This year, I’m hoping that performance comes from the man with an Empire State of Mind, Big Cass. I would bet money that within two years Cass is in the World Title picture, and Enzo, well Enzo might be outside looking in.
Biggest Debut Blunders of 2016- ANDERSON & GALLOWS
This award almost went to Apollo Crews, a man with all the potential in the world, but absolutely zero time invested since his Main Roster debut. However, when you look at the former members of the Bullet Club, all you see are two of the baddest men in professional wrestling basically neutered by the WWE. If you could physically take a wrestler’s manhood, then that’s what the WWE did with Anderson & Gallows. For much of 2016 they were whipping boys for The New Day and recipients of bad comedy writing. I’m not sure how you blow something this badly but the WWE managed to do it.
2016 Prediction That Will Probably Be a 2017 Prediction..and 2018…etc.- TNA WILL FOLD
Quite honestly, I’m entirely perplexed as to how this hasn’t happened five times over. Dixie Carter is a scourge to professional wrestling, and quite possibly one of the worst business people I’ve ever seen, and that comes from a guy who works for a company that laid off over 1000 people this year. For much of 2016, things seemed to be going in the right direction for TNA. Billy Corgan had come on board, creative ideas were flowing, and a potential sale was possible that would have brought an influx of money into a company that sorely needed it. Instead, Dixie Carter found even more ways to screw things up, causing Corgan to bolt, and sue the company for monies owed. Somehow they survive, but Dixie is still there, and will undoubtedly find ways to screw things up yet again. Good luck to the talent there as they’re surely going to need it.
Promotion That Brings Me The Most Joy-LUCHA UNDERGROUND
This should come as no surprise to anyone who follows me on Twitter, or reads Welcome to the Underground. I’m a huge LU Believer, and much like Matt Hardy has done in TNA, Lucha has changed the way you look at professional wrestling. This is NOT a professional wrestling show with storylines. This is a story-driven show with professional wrestling. It’s a self-contained universe that is on the verge of a war among the seven ancient Aztec tribes. Sides are being picked, prisoners are being taken, and violence is the word of the day. Like any promotion, it’s not 100% bullet-proof, but it’s a hell of a ride from start to finish.
Favorite Moment of 2016- AJ STYLES ROYAL RUMBLE ENTRANCE
I truly don’t think everyone realizes just how big a deal it was that AJ Styles came to the WWE. Here’s a guy that had done it all. He was the biggest star in the wrestling world never to have been in the WWE, and for years it seemed that the WWE didn’t really care if they had him or not. The ‘E had passed on Styles so many times it was like the continual swipe left on Tinder. But then it happened, the Royal Rumble 2016, and the unimaginable happened; AJ Styles made his entrance. From there, we’ve seen one of the best debut years in the history of the WWE, and when all is said and done, 2017 will see AJ Styles continue his reign as WWE Champion. Yes, THAT AJ Styles, the guy that was never coming to the WWE. Well he came, he saw and he conquered.
Short Term Memory Award of 2016- ROMAN REIGNS
Now I know that asking for some continuity is like asking for the numbers to a winning Lotto ticket, but for the life of me I can’t forgive Roman Reigns seemingly forgetting that Seth Rollins single-handedly dismantled The Shield and took a chair to Reigns back. Over the past couple of months, Reigns has been working with Rollins as if they were long-lost friends who had a spat over a girl but decided it was no big deal. Well guess what dude, it was a BIG FREAKING DEAL. The Shield were the biggest, baddest dogs in the yard, and Rollins decided he didn’t need them anymore. He cashed in on Reigns at Wrestlemania, costing him the title. At every turn he was beating down Roman Reigns. But now they’re best buds again, and it’s just not that simple. Come on dude, grow some balls and remind Rollins of what he did, or at least pretend you remember so it’s not the elephant in the room.
Dude I’m Done With In 2016- SETH ROLLINS
Speaking of Mr. Rollins, that brings me to my next award. Unlike some others around these parts, I’ve never been a huge Seth Rollins mark. I appreciate his in-ring talent, but I find him somewhat sloppy at times. His matches are quite frequently entertaining, but there’s always been something about his character that I’ve had trouble connecting to. That has never been more apparent to me then in 2016, when he seemingly turned face, but only kind of. I mean I guess he’s a face, because the WWE keeps putting him in with heels, but he’s still really annoying and acts quite heelish half the time. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like Rollins or not, and honestly I don’t know if Rollins knows if we’re supposed to like him or not. At the end of the day, I find myself not really caring about what Seth Rollins does, but enjoy watching him wrestle.
Biggest Unexpected Surprise Followed By Disappointment-THE CWC AND ITS AFTERMATH
I had a feeling very early on that I’d enjoy the CWC, but I never thought that it would be Must-See TV on a weekly basis. The WWE introduced us to some of the brightest Cruiserweight stars in the World, and presented a tournament that truly hit all the marks week in and week out. I found myself rooting for guys I knew, like Cedric Alexander and TJ Perkins, loving the return of guys like Brian Kendrick and Tajiri, and learning about and loving guys I had never seen before like Jack Gallagher and Rich Swann. Then it all went to shit. The WWE put the Cruiserweights in their own division on Raw, and things couldn’t have gone worse. The debut night on Raw didn’t even include the Champion they had just crowned. The crowd hasn’t really cared. It’s been a bit of a bust. Hopefully, 205 Live on the Network will help the Cruisers expand their following, because right now it’s Dead Man Walking.
Favorite Non-TV Moment of 2016- NXT LIVE WITH MY DAUGHTER
I love NXT and I was thrilled when it came to Baltimore for its first live event. My initial plan didn’t work out due to unfortunate circumstances so I ended up taking my 10-year old daughter Josie to her first wrestling event. She watches LU with me, but had never seen NXT before. I went to MY first live event about her age, so it was really kind of a special night for both of us. Not only did I get to see Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura live, among others, but Josie completely got lost in the evening, yelling at wrestlers. She even got a look from Samoa Joe after yelling at him in her shrill little voice that he was a Girl Scout Cookie. It was a night I’ll remember forever.
MVP’S OF 2016- THE MIZ AND THE REVIVAL
I’m not going to lie here, I couldn’t decide who I wanted to pick here, and since I have a Main Roster guy and an NXT Tag Team I thought I’d give it to both of them. First off, did anybody think that one of the highlights of the year in the WWE would be the resurgence of the career of The Miz? Since the arrival of Maryse, Miz has been better than perhaps he’s ever been in all his time in the WWE. He’s motivated, energized, and fully enveloped in his A-Lister character, taking every opportunity to grow his character. He’s taken shots at Daniel Bryan, leading many to believe that Bryan will come out of retirement to face Miz. Most recently, he took a shot at Renee Young and her relationship with Dean Ambrose, a topic that had previously not been brought into WWE storylines. The Miz IS a Must See star right now, and while he’ll never be in a MOTY, he’ll also rarely disappoint when he’s in top form.
On the flip side, The Revival seem to have MOTY candidates every time they get in the ring. Dash and Dawson are throwbacks to an age gone by; a time when wrestlers wrestled and men fought like men. They’ve been compared to Anderson and Blanchard, a team that defined the term “tag team excellence.” While I wouldn’t put them at the same level, they are as close to that as you’ll see in the world of wrestling today. Their matches with American Alpha and #DIY were barn-burners each and every time they got in the ring. With a motto of “No Flips, Just Fists,” The Revival have truly “revived” the idea of a wrestling TEAM. Their debut on the Main Roster is inevitable at this point, and I truly hope they give The Revival the chance to do in the WWE what they did in NXT, and that’s tear the house down night after night. The Revival ARE Professional Wrestling.
So there you have it folks, my End of Year thingie in all its glory. Hit me up with your thoughts, comments, questions, etc. down below or hit me up on Twitter at the handle below. Have a safe and happy New Year. See you in 2017!
Until next year,