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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents: Revisiting the 2017 WWE Stock Index
By Dave Fenichel
Dec 30, 2017 - 2:32:58 PM

Question of the Day: Who is the wrestler that both exceeded and missed the mark on your 2017 expectations the most?

Hi kids.

Long before I was the blatantly ripping off The Doc as the columnist that you have grown to know and tolerate today, I was once a writer in the LOP Column Forums fortunate enough to win LOP Columnist of the Month. With that title came the ability to have a column either already written or a brand new column posted to the LOP Main Page.

A funny thing happened in December of 2016. It was a tie between myself and another writer who has since fallen into the abyss never to be seen again. Because it was the end of the year, we decided to join forces and post a joint column entitled “The 2017 WWE Stock Index”.

The full column can be read here - http://www.lordsofpain.net/columns/cotm/December_2016_Columnist_of_the_Month.html

It was a complete train wreck but the premise was fun – we took the wrestlers we believed to be the major players at the time and decided whether their stock would go up or go down in 2017. Now that 2017 has come to an end, I thought it would be the right time to revisit said predictions to see what I got right, and what I whiffed horribly on. Without further ado.


The Eternal Optimist Presents: Revisiting the 2017 WWE Stock Index.


The format for this column will be simple. I’ll post my blurb on each wrestler from last year’s column, and follow up with an honest reflection on where I went right or wrong. Here we go:

Roman Reigns.

2017 Prediction: We’ll start with a slam dunk for me. Roman Reigns ended 2016 at perhaps his lowest point since his rise to prominence. He was busted for PEDs halfway through the year, de-pushed to mid-card status, and relegated to the US Championship. Nonetheless, it is obvious to anyone who is paying attention that the WWE still views him as the “man” of the future. He’s in the process of being pushed back to the main event. He’s a lock to face The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. It’s inevitable that he will be wearing the Universal strap again before 2017 comes to an end. Stock Up.

End of 2017 Reflection: Roman’s stock definitely went up this year. I mostly got this one right. Roman rebounded from a down 2016 to be a focal point of almost every Pay Per View he was on this year. Much to my surprise, he didn’t end up winning the Univeral Title at all in 2017. I didn’t foresee the WWE keeping the belt on Lesnar all year despite his prolonged absences. Looks like Wrestlemania 34 will be the time for Mr. Reigns. Either way, this prediction was largely on the mark.

Charlotte.

2017 Prediction: I wholeheartedly agree with Burn in that Charlotte is the straw the stirs the drink in the female division. Charlotte has become the total package. I would go as far as to say that she’s already the greatest female wrestler in WWE history. Cue the hate mail on that one, but it’s the truth. As for her 2017, I expect more of the same – Charlotte’s reign of dominance to continue. The only way up for her is for her to main event one of the Big 4 Pay Per Views. It’s not happening at the Rumble nor at Wrestlemania. I don’t think we’re quite at the point of a female Summerslam main event. That leaves Survivor Series, and my gut tells me that Charlotte gets the nod to close the show come November. Stock Up.

End of 2017 Reflection. I’m not sure that her stock went UP, but it certainly didn’t go down. She got to a point on Raw where she had done everything that she could do. The WWE wisely moved her over to Smackdown, turned her face and made her the focal point of the division. She’s enjoyed a stellar title run as champ and is positioned for a massive angle with Ronda Rousey come Wrestlemania 34. Her overall year wasn’t quite as dominant as 2016, but she’s exactly where she was then – the face of the division.

Dean Ambrose.

2017 Prediction: I’ve never been a Dean Ambrose guy. I find his in ring work to be average at best and his character to be more niche than main eventer. I think he’s been a mid to upper mid carder posing as a top star for the past year. It appears as if the rest of the wrestling community is catching up to me on this one. The love for Ambrose has cooled off dramatically over the past few months. There’s quite the log jam in front of him for Wrestlemania, and I see him being left out of a major match this year. I’d expect more of the same for the remainder of the year, and for Dean to be replaced in the main event by newer, fresher, more deserving faces. Stock Down.

End of 2017 Reflection: SWING AND A MISS! Man, I really hated Ambrose at the time I wrote this column. Although he was in fact left out of a major Wrestlemania match, he was moved to Raw and rebounded to do his best work of his WWE career. The IC title storyline with The Miz is my sleeper pick for angle of the year. His character went from being niche to being consistently interesting every week. The Shield reunion has been an A+ almost exclusively because of the work he put in. He’s been so good this year that I’ve moved him past Seth Rollins into the second slot in the Shield hierarchy of talent. I couldn’t have been more wrong here. His stock went WAY UP.

Seth Rollins.

2017 Prediction: I largely echo Burn's sentiments on Rollins. The second half of 2016 wasn't great for him. They pulled a face turn without really giving us a reason to cheer him. Nonetheless, he's a huge star and the program with HHH is about to come to fruition. We will have to wait and see how bad his knee injury is. Assuming that it isn’t as serious as it could be, I expect a huge boost post-WrestleMania and that should be enough to carry him to his rightful spot as one of the pillars on which the WWE is built around. Stock Up.

End of 2017 Reflection: Seth is a tricky one. As predicted, he was given a huge spot at Wrestlemania against Triple H. The match is criminally underappreciated and it should have skyrocketed him into a main event level push. The thing is, it didn’t. He was completely floundering as a singles competitor. He was saved by the reformation of the Shield, but even that has resulted in him being the 3rd fiddle in the group. To me, while Rollins’ place in the WWE is as secure as ever, it feels like he’s further away from the main event than he’s ever been. Thus, I’m going to have to call this one a miss for me.

Baron Corbin.

2017 Prediction: Baron is a tough nut to crack for me. He has size but not quite enough to be booked as a complete monster. He's got some personality but nothing that jumps off the table at you. He's improved by leaps and bounds in the ring but he's not amongst the top workers. He had a pretty good 2016 and solidified himself as a solid upper mid-carder by the end of it. I'm just not sure he takes the next step in 2017. It would appear that management is high on him, but there seems to be a log jam of heels in front of him on the Smackdown brand. I do believe that he'll eventually be pushed up the card, but I think he could be in a holding pattern and finish 2017 in the exact same position he finished 2016. Stock Neutral.

End of 2017 Reflection: I was spot on here. Despite management moving the majority of the main event heels to Raw and gifting Corbin the MITB briefcase, the fans turned on his push and it was derailed. He’s slowly being built back up and is more or less in the exact same position that he was at the end of 2016. On a side note, I think the WWE is going to go to the well with him again. More on that in a couple of weeks.

Becky Lynch.

2017 Prediction: I don't quite have Burn's enthusiasm when it comes to Becky Lynch. While I agree that she has a reasonably well rounded skill set, she still comes off more as the secondary piece rather than the person that you build a division around. The one thing that she has going for her is that the female division on Smackdown isn't particularly deep. The biggest threat to her position on Smackdown comes from Nikki Bella, but I think there is a greater likelihood of Nikki going heel than becoming the #1 face on Smackdown. My bigger concern is the log jam of alpha females on Raw. Simply put, RAW isn't big enough for Sasha, Charlotte and Bayley. At some point in 2017, I expect the WWE to recognize this and move Sasha over to be the lynchpin of the Smackdown female division. This is bad news for Becky. Stock Down.

End of 2017 Reflection: I had the wrong Alpha female from Raw but everything else played out exactly as I expected it to. I knew that either Charlotte, Sasha or Bayley would have to get moved, and it would spell trouble for Becky. Sure enough, she’s played second fiddle to Charlotte ever since. She’s still popular and there is definitely hope for her, but 2017 was not her best year.

Sami Zayn.

2017 Prediction: It's not a secret to anyone that I am not the biggest Sami Zayn supporter. I think he's an excellent worker but I don't see him as the future WrestleMania main event attraction that the majority of the internet wrestling fan believes in. With that said, I'd be a fool to ignore the obvious trend here. Sami is definitely being built up for bigger things in 2017. I believe he ends up with the slow build a la Chris Benoit. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see him end up in a "PPV" main event in a losing effort against the Universal Champion towards the end of 2017. Whether or not I’m a believer, Sami Zayn's stock is on the rise. Stock Up.

End of 2017 Reflection: His stock definitely went up, but in no way shape or form can I take credit for a successful prediction here. A slow rise to the main event is anything but what happened. For the majority of 2017, Sami was being jobbed left and right. It got so bad that I legitimately questioned whether or not he’d still be on the roster in 2018. Luckily for him, an allegiance with KO and heel turn completely revitalized his career. He’s a fringe main eventer now, something he couldn’t say at any prior point in his WWE tenure. Good for him, but nowhere close to how I thought his rise would occur.

Sasha Banks.

2017 Prediction: I strongly disagree with Burn's view on Sasha's 2016. She was involved in the main storyline all year, had the best match at WrestleMania, and was one of the two females to first main event a PPV. That is an incredible year. Her biggest problem is that there isn't enough room for both her and Charlotte to be dominant heels on Raw, and Charlotte isn't going anywhere. The Sasha/Charlotte world title feud is played out for the time being. I only see her 2016 going one of two ways. She'll be stuck in the secondary feud on Raw or moved to Smackdown where she can be the focal point. I'm going with the latter. Stock up.

End of 2017 Reflection: I’M SORRY DAVE! THAT’S THE WRONG ANSWER! LUCKY FOR YOU THERE’S A BONUS ROUND, BUT FOR POOR SASHA….I’M AFRAID SHE’S OUT! I was so close to getting this one right, but completely blew it in the end. I knew that they couldn’t keep both her and Charlotte on Raw as heels. I thought she’d get moved and thrive on Smackdown. Charlotte getting moved seemingly would have been even better for Sasha on paper. The problem? Alexa Bliss moved to Raw and took the #1 heel spot. Sasha was forced to turn face, a role that doesn’t suit her. Although she was given a surprisingly title win at Summerslam, it was short lived and she’s been floundering ever since. With Asuka’s arrival and Paige’s return, Sasha is in trouble.

Randy Orton.

2017 Prediction: 2016 might have been the worst year in Randy Orton's career. He missed a large chunk of the year with an injury, including WrestleMania. He didn't have a ton of momentum when he returned, and was very far away from being the main event staple that we have been accustomed to seeing him be. 2017 is looking like a better year for him. He won the Royal Rumble, and it looks to be building to a WrestleMania showdown with Bray. This would require a face turn, and if that happens, he has a wide open path back to the main event. I expect a return to his usual status in 2017. Stock Up.

End of 2017 Reflection: Yep. I’ll check this box off as a winner. God, I hate Orton. No need to waste any more words on him. MOVING ON!

A.J. Styles.

2017 Prediction: AJ Styles IS the man. I don’t know how Burn thinks his 2017 goes up from 2016. He was the unquestioned superstar of the year. There isn’t much that he can do but go down from here. The early Wrestlemania plans either have him outside of the major storylines or involved with Shane McMahon. Neither match gets me particularly excited. The best case scenario is for AJ to repeat what he did in 2016. The only way I see that happening is if he turns face and AJ v The Miz carries The Smackdown brand for the majority of the year. Instead, I think he ends up with a slight push down the card. He’ll still be featured prominently, but he won’t be the #1 heel of the brand as was the case in 2016. Stock Down.

End of 2017 Reflection. I got this part right and part wrong. It was impossible for Styles to repeat his 2016. His 2016 was one of best years any wrestler has ever had. There was only one way to go and that was down. The WWE did in fact turn him face, but pushed him into a secondary role for the majority of the year. However, after allowing Jinder Mania to run wild for a while, the WWE decided to correct course and put the strap back on A.J. His last few months have been “phenomenal” and he’s carried the brand. Although definitely a dip from 2016, he far outkicked my prediction for him.

Chris Jericho.

2017 Prediction: Chris Jericho had a tremendous 2016. To be completely honest, up until 2016 he was a part timer who would be completely unmotivated when he’d pop back in every now and again. I was bored by Chris Jericho. This is something that I never thought I’d say. Whatever he had lost, he sure found it again. His pairing with KO has been comedic gold and he’s been on his A game. The thing is, deep down Jericho still wants to be a rock star more than he wants to be a wrestler. His program with KO is coming to an end. After the blowoff match at Wrestlemania, I could see Jericho disappearing again, maybe this time for good. Needless to say, I don’t see a repeat of his 2016 resurgence on the horizon. Stock Down.

End of 2017 Reflection. Another win for the good guys. This was an easy prediction. You had to know that Jericho wasn’t going to stick around as a full timer. He completed his program with KO and faded back into the background. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if we see him in any type of significant role with the WWE…EEEEEEVVEERRRRR….AGAIN.

Kevin Owens.

2017 Prediction: I have to agree with Burn here. KO had a spectacular 2016. He was in two of the best feuds of the year with Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn. He has had an out of nowhere but lengthy and successful run as Universal Champion. As mentioned above, his pairing with Chris Jericho has been comedic gold. Unfortunately, Wrestlemania season always allows us to see how superstars are really viewed by the brass. KO is going to lose his title and end up squaring off with Jericho for the US title at Wrestlemania. I expect him to win the title and have a nice run as US champ. Unfortunately for him, I don’t think he’ll sniff the world title scene in 2017. There are too many big guns and too many other guys due for an opportunity. KO will have a solid year, but on a much smaller scale. Stock Down.

End of 2017 Reflection. Another one for the good guys. KO’s 2017 played out pretty much as I described it. I love me some KO. He was rock solid this year, just in a slightly smaller role than he had in 2016. The landscape in 2018 looks great for him though. More on that in a future column as well.

The New Day.

2017 Prediction: It’s hard to argue that ANY tag team EVER had a better single year than the New Day had in 2016. They were champions for almost the entire year, were getting main event level pops, and delivered tremendously both inside of the ring and on the microphone. Alas, it’s 2017 now, and their reign has come to an end. When you were champ for as long as they were, it’s almost impossible to win the title back without being looked at as stale. I expect The New Day to break up in 2017, as there is nothing left for them to accomplish. Big E has a chance to break out as a major player, but the group as we know it has already seen their best days. Stock Down.

End of 2017 Reflection: All I can picture is Xavier Woods shouting in my ear “You should have had faith in your boys”. They proved me wrong in 2017 by going from a tag team that had one of the best title runs ever to becoming one of the best tag teams ever period….no discussion needed. Their feud with the Usos was the best tag feud in at least a decade. Strictly from a quality of match standpoint, their series with same Usos was the best since the days of The Smackdown Six. They never got stale and consistently reinvented themselves. I owe them an apology. I’ll never doubt them again.

John Cena.

2017 Prediction. On what planet has Cena lost a step in the ring? He’s never been a better worker than he is now. It’s not a secret that I’m a massive John Cena fan and view him as the second greatest wrestler of all time behind Hulk Hogan. Cena has already tied Flair’s title record this year, and I think he’ll also break it. However, the writing is on the wall. Cena’s interest in the WWE is waning and he’s receiving more and more outside opportunities. After he reaches the World Title record, there isn’t anything left for him to do. I fully expect him to fade off into the sunset and become a non-factor on WWE programming by the end of 2017. Stock Down.

End of 2017 Reflection. Damn – if I ever wanted to be wrong on one of my predictions, it was this one. Unfortunately, Cena’s 2017 went down how I thought it would. We’ll never see him again in any type of full-time capacity, and that depresses the hell out of me. Not only that, but his 2017 was stocked with uninspiring programs that were far beneath him. Here’s to hoping that even in a part time capacity, the WWE treats him better in 2018 #CenavTakerOrWeRiot.

Bray Wyatt.

2017 Prediction: Bray Wyatt is an internet wrestling darling. Year after year, the booger eaters predict that this will finally be the year that Bray Wyatt breaks out and becomes a permanent main event player. Year after year, Bray continues to disappoint. Alas, I believe that 2017 will be different. This will finally be his year. Smackdown is wide open post-Wrestlemania, and I think both Bray and another wrestler yet to be discussed will take massive steps forward. Randy Orton winning the Royal Rumble opens up the possibility of Bray winning the WWE title at The Elimination Chamber in order to defend against Orton at Wrestlemania. Even if he doesn’t, I fully expect Bray to capture the WWE championship by the time 2017 is over. He’s coming……Stock Up.

End of 2017 Reflection: How could everything that I predicted for Bray come true yet he STILL had a worse 2017 than the year prior? Oh, that’s right. He got buried by Orton in one of the worst Wrestlemania title matches ever, then got buried even further by ridiculously terrible storylines for the next six months. He’s completely checked out and there’s no hope for him anymore. At least he bagged JoJo and her fine fine tushy in 2017. Not the worst consolation prize eh?

Braun Strowmann.

2017 Prediction: RWAAAAAAAR! Ok seriously, it seems like my partner in crime is conflicted on the future of Braun Strowman. I can’t blame him. On one hand, Braun DOES have the size that Vince and the WWE have traditionally been enamored with. He’s raw but not terrible in the ring, and can cut a passable promo. It looks like he is in the process of being pushed to the moon. On the other hand, we’ve played this game before. Dominant big man after dominant big man are built to be unstoppable monsters only to be defeated on a big stage by the residing superhero and fade off into obscurity afterwards. It looks like Braun is being set up to take a fall to Roman Reigns on the road to Wrestlemania. I can see him being de-pushed from there and becoming a comedy act by 2017’s end. Stock Down.

End of 2017 Reflection: WRONG AGAIN FENICHEL! The WWE decided not to job him to Reigns, but instead booked him to look like the ridiculous ambulance-tipping badass that he is. Braun main evented Summerslam and was the unquestioned star of the match. The only small hiccup he had was getting beat so handily by Lesnar at the following Pay Per View, but that is easily forgotten. He was booked to be a monster again in the Survivor Series main event, and he looks to be a made-man at this point. LOL @ the idea that he’d be a comedy act by now. I”VE MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE.

The Miz.

2017 Prediction: Last but certainly not least! If there was one person in the WWE that I am certain will finish 2017 in a better position than he did 2016, it’s The Miz. He’s the best heel in the business. His promos are scathing and his in-ring work has improved tremendously. I’ve always been a fan, but he’s taken himself to another level as of late. You can write this in pen. I am certain that it will be The Miz carrying the Smackdown brand as the #1 guy for the majority of 2017. Needless to say, I am on board. Stock Up.

End of 2017 Reflection: Mother f*ckers. It seems as if the only people who don’t realize that The Miz IS awesome are the bookers for the WWE. There was a Smackdown main event heel slot wide open for the taking, and they instead moved him to Raw. With Brock Lesnar around, The Miz was never going to get his rightful run with the strap in 2017. He performed admirably and was a lynchpin for the brand, but he was a far cry from where I had hoped he would be. Oh well, there’s always 2018.

That’s a wrap kids. Woof. What a marathon. If you’re still reading this, I commend you good sirs (and ladies). Agree or disagree with my assessments? Sound off below!

Facebook: David Fenichel

Twitter: @FFFightLeague

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