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Posted in: Column of the Month
December 2016 Columnist of the Month: BurnInMyLight and The Eternal Optimist Present: The 2017 WWE Stock Index
By Columnist of the Month
Feb 8, 2017 - 3:56:46 PM

Each month in the Columns section of LOP Forums, we hold a competition to determine who was the best of the previous month. In other words, the Columnist of the Month. The winner earns the right to present you, the Lords of Pain main page audience, with an example of their work, laying the foundation for what will hopefully, eventually be a permanent spot on the LOP Columns roster.

We had a tie for the month of December and instead of holding a tiebreaker vote, the two writers chose to instead collaborate. So here are Burn1nMyLight and a familiar face, The Eternal Optimist himself, David Fenichel.

BurnInMyLight and The Eternal Optimist Present: The 2017 WWE Stock Index

Hi all. A rarity happened in the LOP Forum last month. There was a tie between a young, hungry, excellent column writer in BurnInMyLight, and a hapless untalented hack who gets pity votes in The Eternal Optimist. You may him from his ridiculous fantasy booking of the Royal Rumble that showed up on the main page.

Nonetheless, instead of going through the ridiculous process to break the tie, BurnInMyLight and The Eternal Optimist decided to collaborate on a column for purposes of the main page spot.

Welcome to “The 2017 WWE Stock Index”. In this column, BurnInMyLight and The Eternal Optimist will debate the WWE’s biggest players and predict whether their 2017 will be better or worse than their 2016. Without further ado, here they go:

Roman Reigns:

The Eternal Optimist – 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.

BurnInMyLight - Of course we started with Roman. The universe revolves around him. I assume he will continue to be pushed, even if it's a little toned down from the last two years compared to Vince’s current obsession with Braun Strowmann. He’s a pretty safe bet to, if not hold the belt in 2017, at least challenge for it a few more times. Outside of his cardio, Roman has great athleticism. He could become a compelling superstar, one that we would actually WANT to main event, if they would just let him off the leash both character and promo wise. Stock Up.


BurnInMyLight - The MVP of the women's division. She has improved drastically on the mic. No longer is she phased by the “What” chants that she was peppered with early on in her career. Her mic skills now match her athleticism and in ring skills to make her a complete wrestler on par with A.J., Seth, Owens, and Sami. She's also the fulcrum of a RAW women's division that has a dearth of depth, and that should keep her in the spotlight until she gets bored and starts acting. Stock Up.

The Eternal Optimist – 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.

Dean Ambrose:

The Eternal Optimist – 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.

BurnInMyLight - WOW, hot take from DF!!! Ambrose gets the top babyface pop on Smackdown, and possibly the best pop on either show. Thus, while his story in the main event is finished for now, he's not going anywhere in 2017. If anything, a heel turn will happen this year and I think he will skyrocket him into the stratosphere. Ambrose has the charisma and heel offense to change all skeptics into believers. Smackdown just needed him as a face to establish the show before he could go full dark side. It's also really easy to see him being drafted back to RAW to join his brothers and reunite The Shield. This is another ace in the hole for The Lunatic. Stock Up.

Seth Rollins:

BurnInMyLight - Since David brought up his brother and nemesis, let's talk about Seth Freakin' Rollins. Seth was gone for a large portion of the year, came back, lost a bunch of title opportunities, and has been waiting on this HHH feud for like 5 months. So, his stock is about as low as it possibly could be. I think that once he gets clear of H's gravity, he'll reach his face/anti-hero potential and become maybe WWE's #1 male wrestler, a position he has seemed destined for going on two years now. Stock Up.

The Eternal Optimist - I wish I could spend another 150 words on Burn's irrational love for Dean, but moving on we must! 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.

Baron Corbin:

The Eternal Optimist - 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

BurnInMyLight - Baron Corbin has a unique look, great athleticism, and his character is really coming together. He's still probably 6 months and two good feuds from cracking into the real main event on Smackdown. I do think he'll get there, even if he doesn't carry the brand like AJ is currently. Corbin's 2016 was ok. He was absent from about half of the shows until he jumped in the middle of AJ and Miz. If anything, with 2017 presenting more screen time, his stock will have to rise. Stock Up.

Becky Lynch:

BurnInMyLight - Once viewed as the weakest member of the Four Horsewomen, Becky has really anchored the women's division on Smackdown and proven that she is just as good on the mic as she is in the ring. She's going to be out of the title picture for a while to start the year, but I expect the belt to land back around her waist toward the summer. I expect more spotlight on her in 2017 than 2016 due to carrying her own show. Stock Up.

The Eternal Optimist - 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.

Sami Zayn:

The Eternal Optimist - 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.

BurnInMyLight - We disagree a surprising amount! Sami is the guy I think of most when I think of NXT. Although it is technically a developmental territory, Sami helped make NXT a real, popular, touring brand. Thus, I vehemently disagree that he cannot main event WrestleMania. If WWE were smart, he'd already be the #1 babyface and underdog that they're just now trying to build him to be. At least David has the end result correct. Sami had a pretty average 2016, so someone with his talent and proven popularity is a safe bet to see their stock go up in 2017. Stock Up.

Sasha Banks:

BurnInMyLight - Since you brought her up, let's talk about The Boss. How did her 2016 look? She was basically hidden during the three-team Diva's Revolution, failed to win the title at WM, traded some title wins with Charlotte but lost to her on every PPV, and is now feuding with greener-than-an-alien Nia Jax. Oh, and her character went from "Tough, sneaky, arrogant anti-hero" to "Babyface who is always hurt." That's honestly not a great year and certainly nowhere near her potential. Thus, I expect a heel turn from her and to challenge Bayley throughout the summer, putting her back on track to being the #1 or #2 women's wrestler on the main roster. Stock Up.

The Eternal Optimist - 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.

Randy Orton:

The Eternal Optimist - 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.

BurnInMyLight - I honestly don't remember his 2016 so that's not great. He was hurt, and he has been getting the "Good vet that we respect" face pop, even when he's a heel. And this storyline with The Wyatt Family has been fun and will continue for a few more months, maybe through WrestleMania. However, that "3rd violation you're out" Sword of Damocles hangs over his head, making it unlikely that he'll taste World Championship gold ever again. Still, compared to a "Lost" 2016, Orton, basically by default, will have a better 2017 even if it does not compare to his prime years. Stock Up,

A.J. Styles:

BurnInMyLight - A.J. is the man. Since he debuted at the Royal Rumble he's been a lot of fans' favorite wrestler. Even as a heel champion, he often receives a bigger face reaction than his opponents. How does his 2017 compare to 2016? Well, in 2016 he had a fun but meaningless feud with Pre-List Chris Jericho, got smoked by Champion Roman Reigns, became basically the only person ever to end a John Cena feud up 2-1, and escaped RAW to absolutely flourish on Smackdown. That's a great end to a solid year, but I think he'll have a great year top-to-bottom in 2017. Stock Up.

The Eternal Optimst – 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.

Chris Jericho:

The Eternal Optimist – 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.

BurnInMyLight - Don't say "tremendous" around me. #triggered Jericho has had a weird year. Outside of his tag and subsequent feud with AJ Styles and his recent pairing with Kevin Owens as an angry, effeminate poet, his year has mostly been "Meh." He’s lost roughly 75% of his matches. That said, the highs blew away the lows. This is the most I've enjoyed Jericho since his Attitude Era run. 2016 is going to be hard to top, especially if he disappears for 6-12 months again to tour, host, or do whatever else he does when he leaves. Stock Down.

Kevin Owens:

BurnInMyLight - I have to nominate Jericho's partner-in-crime, right? Owens started the year in a great feud with Dean Ambrose over the Intercontinental Title, drifted for a while, lost to his frenemy Sami Zayn, was gifted the Universal Title, and has either lost or won VERY dirty every match since then. The "Fight Owens Fight" prizefighter is long gone and I honestly think this title run has hurt him more than it has helped. The latest I see him holding his title is Wrestlemania. With the fighting core of his character so badly damaged, I see a disappointing 2017 coming up for KO. Stock Down.

The Eternal Optimist – 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.

The New Day:

The Eternal Optimist – 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.

BurnInMyLight - As our column comes to its conclusion, David and I find ourselves agreeing way too much! I honestly don't have too much to add, his analysis is spot on. Although, I'm not as high on Big E as some, I do like him and hope he grows as a singles performer. Still, I'm not sure that he's main event material. I'd be surprised to see New Day still exist past Summerslam. Stock Down.

John Cena:

BurnInMyLight - The Face That No Longer Runs The Place! Cena's 2016 was very good, with a series of great matches against AJ Styles. However, long absences to film shows and movies have hurt his stock. I expect the same from him in 2017 - a few good feuds and matches but also missing 4-6 months to pursue other interests. John seems to have lost a half-step athletically but his charisma will keep him at the top of the tier lists as long as he still wants to wrestle. I don't see a multi-year disappearance in his future like The Rock, and he will probably BREAK Ric Flair's title reign record this year. Stock Up.

The Eternal Optimist – 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.

Bray Wyatt:

The Eternal Optimist – 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.

BurnInMyLight - Sounds like David has joined the Booger Eaters! Honestly, it's basically impossible to predict anything regarding Bray Wyatt after 3 years of hype and disappointment. He's an incredibly talented performer deep into a character that the WWE has no idea how to use long-term. Then again, can’t that be said about most characters? Being on Smackdown, the land of opportunity, gives him a shot at finally achieving his potential. Unfortunately, I just can't predict that anymore, especially when the ending to this Randy Orton storyline is going to be Bray eating an RKO and losing as usual. Stock Down.

Braun Strowman:

BurnInMyLight - Some people are sky-high on him right now. He has definitely improved from last year; he's surprisingly solid on the mic and really playing within his character. In the ring, he's a good but not great big man. That’s not a bad place for him to be considering how little time he's been with the company. Vince loves his big man projects and Braun seems to be the current one. HOWEVER, we heard all of this last year when he was being talked about as The Undertaker's next WM opponent. Braun is a force his feud with Sami is fun, but can he carry a big time, long term, title feud? Not yet. I’m concerned that Vince will get bored or the crowd will turn on him if he's pushed too hard and too fast, but I’m going to be cautiously optimistic. Stock Up.

The Eternal Optimist - 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.

The Miz:

The Eternal Optimist – 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.

BurnInMyLight - It's going to be very hard to top his 2016, but The Miz has been rejuvenated since his wife joined him on Smackdown. Even his matches are better, even if it’s mostly because he's stealing Daniel Bryan's moveset. Still, let's NOT pretend The Miz is the next great superstar. He doesn't have Ambrose's charisma or A.J.'s skill. He is well rounded with a good character. You could almost say he's a B+ player. And that's a great little spot for him! But carrying Smackdown? Naw. Stock Neutral.

That puts a wrap on the column. Dave Fenichel, aka The Eternal Optimist, can be reached on Twitter @FFFightLeague. BurnInMyLight is a ninja who doesn’t want to hear from any of you. Whether you agree or disagree with their opinions, sound off below!