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MR. TITO PRO WRESTLING AWARDS for 2016: Wrestler of the Year? Match of the Year? And More
By Mr. Tito
Dec 24, 2016 - 11:30:48 AM
Welcome to the TITO AWARDS exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com and hosted by yours truly, Mr. Tito. 2016 was an interesting year for the wrestling business, to say the least... On one hand, RAW and Smackdown could not consistently entertain us on television... However, the WWE Network is providing consistently good Pay Per Views. WWE is in full "infomercial mode" now with its shows which is shame because the existing WWE roster is proving that they have some good athletes in the ring right now. Meanwhile, NXT can have most of its top stars, tag teams, and female wrestlers promoted to the WWE and it's STILL good.
It's not hopeless, folks... How can you have GOOD Pay Per Views and yet BAD television shows? Shows that the talent is there... I've said it all along. Splitting the roster was a MISTAKE... WWE could have made a few things exclusive to Smackdown that wasn't on RAW and yet the show could have equally worked. Instead, ratings for BOTH shows are down and the houseshows are struggling to draw. IN MY OPINION, the 2nd brand already existed it was called NXT. Have you seen the NXT Takeover Pay Per Views? GOOD GOD... Wall to wall quality in-ring wrestling and showmanship while the Tag Team division is top notch. They lost tons of talent and yet the bookers there can still put on a good show. WWE main rosters have lots of new talent to play with and they SUCK at writing. Gee, where could the problem be?
Anyway, the awards... Remember, these are the TITO AWARDS. So if I didn't jump out of a birthday cake and deliver an award to your favorite wrestler, match, etc... Get over it! Write your own Awards column below or somewhere else for all I care. These are MY opinions... Given that I've 100% completed every RAW, NXT show, Smackdown, and WWE Pay Per View while actually following Ring of Honor on LATE Sunday Nights (thanks Sinclair)... I presently have no channels that access New Japan, Lucha Underground, or TNA wrestling but if a big match or moment happens, someone usually forwards me to it and I watch. I would venture to say that I watch much more wrestling this year than most and I've been a wrestling fan for 28 years now. I'd like to suggest that I'm giving an educated opinion...
Without further ado, as I have Christmas gifts to wrap and prepare... Here are the 2016 TITO AWARDS for the BEST in Pro Wrestling
BEST WWE BRAND: NXT
In what will be a repeating theme for these awards, I REALLY like the NXT brand. I was losing hope during 2015 as a wrestling fan when a FREE subscription to the WWE Network just to multi-task watching the NBA Finals and Money in the Bank 2015 allowed me to watch NXT regularly. The shows were initially OK but then NXT Takeover Brooklyn 1 happened... Holy cow. The great matches, the storytelling, and strong chemistry among the wrestlers to pull off a complete show. Triple H has pushed for an older school tone where feuds are simple, titles are meaningful, and legitimate value for Women's wrestling has been created. Think about how much of a FAILURE Women's wrestling has been since Trish Stratus retired. Even then, when Trish was around, there wasn't much of an appetite unless Trish vs. Lita or Trish vs. Mickie James happened. 2016 was unique because NXT endured yet another talent raid where Baron Corbin, Apollo Crews, Enzo & Big Cass, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Bayley, Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, American Alpha, and probably others that I can't remember left... Yet, NXT remains highly entertaining. Takeover events remain excellent and NXT is actively trying to get other wrestlers over. Just look at Bobby Roode who has been remade into something amazing with NXT. Funny thing about the WWE call-ups from NXT is that most are actually struggling in the big WWE world. The stage is too big, which to NXT's advantage, keeping things smaller gives NXT a unique look of being more intimate and close to wrestling fans instead of the corporate set-ups at large arenas for WWE shows.
BEST COMEBACK OF THE YEAR: The Miz
I wrote a column on July 24th, 2016 on how the Miz needs to be re-packaged badly. He felt too much like a product of the WWE Corporation marketing team and not what was getting over with fans. They pushed this Hollywood star crap for the past few years and it just felt too fake. My arguement was that the WWE should make him anti-corporate in some way. But the Smackdown Creative Team did one better... For one, they noticed that Miz had his hot wife Maryse always by his side. Instead of just being eye candy at ringside, why not let her act like a HEEL manager? She often cheats for the Miz during matches and Miz uses the new WWE PG Era Climate to his advantage when Maryse is used as a human shield. But then, the Miz character took a major turn when he confronted Daniel Bryan on a post-Smackdown edition of Talking Smack. He started shooting on Bryan for retiring and accepting retirement from WWE instead of going elsewhere to wrestle. It felt REAL and made better by the fact that Bryan stormed off the set upset. Ever since, Miz and Bryan have had a frosty relationship and that has built nothing but confidence for the Miz. It shows in his matches... He's a much more confident professional because his character has been fixed. Great matches against Ziggler this year where there always felt like something was on the line. Miz has no where to go but up now... Smackdown's Creative Team deserves major credit for fixing this guy or at least unleashing him without a filter at times.
TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR: The Revival
WWE Tag Team wrestling has been marginal for 2016, sadly... The New Day are a fun comical act of personalities but the in the ring stuff? Eh... But in my opinion, the WWE's drive for New Day to scrub Demolition from the WWE record boos actually hurt them. They weren't allowed to have good matches with Anderson/Gallows because the result was always expected. Their best match of 2016 was when they LOST against Sheamus/Cesaro at Roadblock. Meanwhile on Smackdown, the Tag Team division has actually been the show's weakspot. Rhyno/Slater were a one trick pony once they won the Titles and American Alpha just don't have the impact on the bigger WWE stage that they had on the smaller NXT stage (very common theme with many call-ups). However, NXT presents a tag team who have multiple matches on my "Match of the Year" list... The Revival. They are truly the reincarination of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard but more athletic and focused as a team. Their matches against American Alpha and DIY are some of the most amazing tag matches that you'll see in modern times. The way they incorporate heel cheating into tag wrestling is unique and it keeps loads of heat on the match. I actually hope that they remain in NXT so that the WWE polish doesn't ruin them.
BEST WOMEN'S WRESTLER: Asuka
I have to be honest here... I'm just not digging the Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte feud and the Women's division on RAW. Charlotte puts too much emotion into her character and Sasha relies on high spots as a babyface instead of psychology when playing a heel. Those high spots have put Sasha's health into jeopardy. Smackdown women just need more repetitions together. However, there was 1 lady who was completely dominant during 2016 with a variety of wrestlers. Asuka is the most unique female wrestler that I've ever seen and every time she hits the ring, it feels like a big deal. Matches with Bayley were amazing but then her bout with Mickie James was a classic. There is REAL talent here and with no real injury reports appearing on her opponents (none that I can see), she has a real talent for appearing physical but not being a danger to others. If that's truly the case, she's WWE ready right now. She has the look, the ability, charisma, and an amazing entrance. What's not to love?
PAY PER VIEW OF THE YEAR: NXT Takeover Dallas
How can this even be debated? NXT Takeover Dallas isn't just the top Pay Per View of 2016, it's one of the best Pay Per Views that I've ever seen. Period. As you'll see in a moment, it contains my "Match of the Year"... But this card was STACKED by adding Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn on top of the thickening NXT roster that was already good before the RAW/Smackdown brand extension dismantled it. This show is the success of the NXT brand's growth and what it could achieve as a stand-alone promotion with DIFFERENT writers and managerial direction than what is seen on the main WWE roster. The show opened up with an excellent NXT Tag Title match between American Alpha vs. the Revival and just to show you how much NXT means to the wrestlers, see Jason Jordan get emotional after winning the tag titles. That's REAL passion, folks. While Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin didn't do much for me (others liked it), we then had Nakamura vs. Zayn but then poor Bayley vs. Asuka had to follow Zayn/Nakamura! And guess what? It was amazing... Bayley and Asuka put on a very physical match-up worthy of this show and had good reactions following the absurd Nakamura vs. Zayn. And when the show wasn't already great, we had Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Title to top the night.
MATCH OF THE YEAR: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn, NXT Takeover Dallas
Sami Zayn already had a nice list of great matches heading into this bout... There was no doubt that he could put on a show with world class worker, Shinsuke Nakamura... But a match THIS BIG when much of the wrestling world was watching on Wrestlemania 32 weekend? It blew the doors off of that event that filled a 100,000 person football stadium. And by the way, what were Zayn and Nakamura fighting over? No titles on the line or #1 contendership. Nope. Just personal pride and wanting to look like the superior worker in front a big audience. Wrestling is that simple... Zayn and Nakamura made wrestling feel like an actual athletic competition but it had more to offer than what you see in other combat sports. The showmanship between the two is what put the match over the top. The fighting spirit of Zayn who didn't back down against this international force... The charisma of Nakamura which made the match incredibly fun simply by his reactions to moves and his opponent. THIS is the kind of match that the WWE Main Roster should be promoting but yet the WWE keeps it under wraps within the NXT product.
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: AJ Styles
The "FACE THAT RUNS THE PLACE" who later became the "CHAMP THAT RUNS THE CAMP". If you would have told me before 2016 that former TNA mainstay AJ Styles would join the WWE by debuting at the 2016 Royal Rumble and then end 2016 as WWE Champion, I'd call you CRAZY. Styles leaves the oppressive TNA wrestling and finds himself as a wrestler... Refines his look, attitude, style, and how he's marketed... Makes it huge in Japan and finally caught the eye of a talent-starved WWE. WWE endured many injuries through late 2015 that may have caused Styles and other free agents (Nakamura, Gallows, Anderson) to be signed. Styles's response in Florida was overwhelming and he would go on for the rest of the year to have consistently great matches with ANYBODY. He even pushed Roman Reigns to his #1 and #2 best matches which in my opinion, put him on the fast track to be WWE Champion and won Vince McMahon over. Sure, Styles wins during a year where WWE was lacking in personality and charisma to draw in viewers, but he kept you tuning in for those Pay Per Views, that's for sure.
I don't do "WORSE OF" Award columns...
Anyway, have a GREAT Christmas or any other Holiday you may be celebrating right now. Remember what I've said during prior columns... Be GOOD to people... Especially during the holiday season, not everybody has friends or family to celebrate the holidays with. Many who are lonely and/or depressed just wants someone to acknowledge them. Simple "thank you" or "hi" words said to individuals could go a long way, along with "are you OK" or "can I help you". Kindness could help someone get through a day and provide hope.
Furthermore for the holiday season, remember the Cinderella song "Don't Know What You've Got (Til It's Gone)"... Love your friends and family while they are her, particularly your Parents and Grandparents. I lost a parent during 2016 and it has been devastating to me personally, weighs on me every day. It's hitting me hard that this is my first Christmas ever without that parent... If your parents or grandparents are still alive, more than go out of your way to celebrate the holidays with them. Because once they are gone, it's permanent and it hurts badly. Certainly, they live on in your memories and you can create new memories with the family that you're creating, but a part of your past is gone forever. So embrace who is still here because again, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
I should have a column or two before 2016 ends... But in case I do not, THANK YOU for reading my column. I GREATLY appreciate you, my readers... I do this 100% free meaning that the only resource exhausted to produce this column is my time. What drives me to keep performing voluntary work is YOU, the reader. I wouldn't produce these columns without a great audience like yourselves who keep reading. Sure, I'm good at poking you in the ribs at times, but I do care about entertaining you on a weekly basis. I've pounded out these columns since October 1998 and I'm motivated to provide you at least 1 column per week, if not more. Those instant Pay Per View reviews are more taxing to perform than you could believe... 1st hour has me mostly watching on a Smart Phone as I get the kiddies ready for bed, and that can carry into the 2nd hour as well. I'm scribbling down notes and then during the end of the 2nd hour and most of the 3rd, I'm grinding out that Pay Per View review column. It's quite a chore to perform but I do it for you, the readers, to have something immediately after the Pay Per View to read.
THANK YOU once again... Have a great 2017, which I hope doesn't get anywhere as bad as 2016.
SO JUST CHILL... UNTIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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