My Two Centsss - These Are The Seven Biggest Moments/Stories of 2016
By Super Chrisss
Dec 22, 2016 - 12:22:55 PM
Tom Jenner rocks!
Oh, hey, everybody! Welcome to the 2016 edition of Super Chrisss’ year-in-review columns. For those of you who may not be familiar with the format, I post several columns throughout the course of the holidays, counting down the SEVEN best of each category (matches, wrestlers, feuds, etc.). Why a mere seven instead of a more traditional ten (no Tye Dillinger), you ask? Well, that’s because I started this yearly tradition as an ode to former LOP Main Page columnist XanMan who was not only my biggest influence to become a writer, but also became one of my closest mentors. It’s my way of showing respect to a veteran columnist who paved the way for me here at LOP. That being said, let’s kick this series off by recapping the biggest moments/stories of 2016!
7. All Three Former Shield Members are WWE Champion on the Same Night.
Last year, Dean Ambrose was the heavy favourite to win the Money in the Bank ladder match (despite not even being entered into the match yet). However, that thought went right out the window when he was granted a WWE Championship match against Seth Rollins in the main-event instead. Fast-forward a year, and Ambrose was now officially a MitB participant. Could The Lunatic Fringe finally claim the majestic briefcase which would nearly guarantee him his first run as a world champion?
Meanwhile, Seth Rollins had recently returned from an injury which forced The Man to miss WrestleMania 32 and put an abrupt end to his initial world title run. Rollins was granted the chance to regain his title by meeting then-champion Roman Reigns at Money in the Bank 2016. In the weeks leading up to the Pay-Per-View, Ambrose would constantly taunt both Rollins and Reigns with the threat of winning the MitB ladder match and instantly cashing it in on the winner of the WWE Championship match later in the evening. Fans did not know what to expect: would Ambrose actually win the briefcase? If he did, would he stay true to his word and cash-in on the same night or haunt the champion for weeks instead?
We didn’t have to wait long to find out as The Lunatic Fringe won an underrated ladder match to briefly become Mr. MitB and later cashed in the contract a battle-worn Seth Rollins who had shockingly pinned Reigns clean for the championship (something that doesn’t happen often at all). The crowd celebrated heavily that night because they had witnessed many great things – the end of Super Reigns’ title reign, Ambrose finally winning his first world title, and the fact that they had witnessed all three former Hounds of Justice be recognized as WWE Champion on the very same night.
6. Roman Reigns Gets Suspended for 30 Days.
A few sentences earlier, I wrote how everyone was stunned that Rollins had defeated WWE’s new Golden Boy, The Big Dog, Roman Reigns, 100% clean in the main-event of Money in the Bank. However, it soon became clear why Reigns had not only dropped the title but wasn’t protected as he usually was: Roman had failed some kind of Wellness Policy test, and was suspended for thirty days, forcing him to miss the upcoming draft as well as the build to the Battleground Pay-Per-View. It’s safe to say that NO ONE saw this coming, especially not WWE officials. Whether you like Reigns or not, it’s undeniable that he had been the focal point of WWE television for over a year at that point – excluding his injury time, both real and kayfabe – so losing Reigns was a tough blow for the company. Storylines had to be modified, house show cards had to be reshuffled: Vince McMahon was not happy and you can’t blame him. Reigns failing the Wellness Policy set a bad example as he’s supposed to be the locker-room leader; someone who leads by example.
That being said, many fans feel the company did very little to ‘punish’ Reigns for letting them down. Upon his return, Reigns did put a debuting Finn Balor over 100% clean in the main-event of the first post-draft Raw, and he was regulated to the midcard for a month or two. Nevertheless, three months later Reigns is not only the United States Champion but he’s also challenging for the Universal Title at back-to-back PPVs and he’s still as unpopular as ever. It really makes you wonder what it will take for WWE to de-push Reigns and/or turn him heel already.
5. Enzo Amore Suffers a Career-Threatening Injury at PayBack.
Hands down, the scariest moment of 2016 took place during the opening contest of PayBack, where The Vaudevillians met Enzo & Big Cass to determine the number one contenders to WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day. Mere minutes into the match, Simon Gotch Irish-Whipped Enzo to the outside but something went wrong, as Enzo’s head made contact with the second rope before hitting the floor. Gotch, believing that Enzo was selling the maneuver, went to pick Enzo up but the referee thankfully interfered just in time. The match was immediately called off as medics tended to Enzo and stretchered him out of the arena. Both the announce team and New Day – who all had ringside seats for the action – were silent and remorse, as they feared for the health of their co-worker. Big Cass, Enzo’s good friend, was noticeably crying at ringside, fearing the worst.
Fortunately, Enzo suffered a stinger and nothing worse. He was kept out of the ring for a few weeks but went onto make a full recovery. What has not made a full recovery of any kind is the career of The Vaudevillians, who were reduced to jobbers shortly after the incident (although Gotch’s backstage fight probably didn’t help matters). At the end of the day, no one was seriously hurt, and that’s what matters most.
4. Shane McMahon Leaps Off the Roof of the Cell at WrestleMania 32.
Another man who is no stranger to scary injuries in the ring is SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon, who put his life on the line when he battled The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania 32. In my repeated match viewings to determine the best matches of 2016, the only match I rewatched from WM32 was this one, mainly because I still can’t believe Shane was crazy enough to pull off such a stunt. As I mentioned in my column last week, I understand that WWE had basically no choice but to rely on part-timers to ‘carry’ this year’s WM with half the roster out injured, but it sickened me that WWE felt they needed the real possibility of Shane jumping off HIAC to ‘save’ WrestleMania. No one should have felt the need to go through with that spot – not Shane, not a daredevil like Jeff Hardy, NO ONE. I wasn’t amazed at Shane’s athleticism or endurance – I was amazed he didn’t kill or seriously harm himself. Vince should be grateful that Shane agreed to not only return to the company but partake in a HiaC match with The Undertaker. This literal leap of faith was the epitome of ‘taking it too far’. I never want to see Shane or anyone else do something like that again.
3. Aj Styles Debuts at the Royal Rumble.
The last few Royal Rumble matches have felt like massive letdowns, and I say that as someone who places the Rumble Pay-Per-View over WrestleMania in order of preference. Whether it was a controversial winner or lame/uneventful surprise entries, I thought the Rumble match had been declining in quality since about 2010 or so. When Roman Reigns was forced to defend his WWE Championship in the Rumble after being entered as number one, I had low expectations for this year’s match, thinking it would be yet another showcase for Super Reigns.
However, very few people marked out harder than I did when unfamiliar music played for entry number three and AJ FREAKING STYLES made his WWE/Royal Rumble debut. I had heard the rumours of Aj being in Orlando and possibly being in the match, but I just couldn’t phantom seeing the same Aj – the former face of TNA – in a WWE ring. Yet, there he was, and it was unbelievable. The day Aj quit TNA was the day I stopped giving a shit about that abomination of a company and it felt incredible to see one of my favourite wrestlers make his debut on such a huge stage. It was surreal to see Aj face off against WWE talent in the ring and show up to Raw and SmackDown in the subsequent weeks. As we all know, Styles ended up having a banner 2016, but it was this phenomenal moment at the Rumble that started it all.
2. Goldberg Squashes Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series.
As many of you know by now, I hated, hated, hated, HATED how Brock vs. Goldberg II went down at Survivor Series. I hated that they were going to have a match, as I still have bad memories of their atrocity of a match at WrestleMania 20. I hated the fact they got top billing over all three Raw vs. SmackDown Elimination Matches which featured FULL-TIME wrestlers taking on FULL-TIME wrestlers. I hated the fact that they pissed away all the time and effort they spent making Lesnar look unstoppable, only to give it to another part-timer. I hate knowing we’re going to get Lesnar vs. Goldberg III, at WrestleMania of all places. I hated everything about this moment and what’s still to come in this rivalry.
Despite my ill feelings, I have to place it on the list because it got everyone talking. I don’t think I ever saw the Internet Wrestling Community more divided than the hours – and days – after this squash match took place. It was like wrestling’s version of the U.S. political election, with supporters of both sides vehemently disagreeing with the other. Regardless, what’s done is done, and WWE created a Survivor Series moment that will not be forgotten anytime soon. Plus, we get to look forward to more meetings between the two behemoths! Yay……..
1. Triple H Turns on Seth Rollins and Helps Kevin Owens Become Universal Champion.
Some of you may disagree with this pick being all the way at number one, but there was no other moment from 2016 that made me so happy to be a wrestling fan and dying to see what happens next. Ambrose winning the WWE championship and Aj debuting at the Rumble come close, but nothing comes close to the excitement I felt when Triple H interfered in the main-event of Raw to screw both Reigns and Rollins out of the vacated Universal Championship and allow Kevin Owens to become champion. Despite many people – myself included – seeing the turn coming from a fair distance away, the execution was so flawless, it didn’t matter. I was so pumped watching it transpire as it meant several things:
-Owens was going to become a world champion
-Reigns was NOT going to win
-Rollins would finally be turning face
-A HHH/Rollins feud would finally happen
-KO would potentially align with HHH
Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly transpire in that fashion. The first three came true, and the HHH/Rollins feud would eventually start to come to fruition, but there was no alliance formed between KO and HHH, or even Owens and Stephanie. In my opinion, the last two things on that list were the key ingredients to transform Raw into a more captivating program on a regular basis. Instead, as we all know, WWE failed to capitalize from the gained momentum, and Raw has been on the decline ever since. Hopefully 2017 will be a better year for the Raw brand when Finn Balor returns from injury and the HHH/Rollins feud truly begins, because as of this writing, Raw is unwatchable in it’s current state. That being said, it’s moments like these which make me truly thankful to be a WWE fan: when they’re on their game (no pun intended), no one tells a better story than WWE.
-Sasha Banks and Charlotte main-event an episode of Raw
-The Final Deletion takes place
-Shane McMahon returns on Raw
YOUR Two Centsss: What was the most memorable moment for you these past 365 days?
UP NEXT: The seven best feuds of 2016. Stay tuned…
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