Dot Net readers were allowed a single vote each of the 2016 awards categories. The following are the results of our poll for Best Babyface along with our staff comments. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
(1) Shinsuke Nakamura (25 percent)
(2) Bayley (19 percent)
(3) Matt Hardy (16 percent)
(4) Becky Lynch (9 percent)
(5) Dean Ambrose (7 percent)
Others: 24 percent
Jason Powell’s Thoughts: The reader vote for Nakamura surprised me, but it his charisma helped him get the win in what was a down year for babyfaces. WWE lost their way with Bayley once she arrived on the main roster, and Becky Lynch was a stronger babyface act. John Cena belongs in the top five, but he was just edged out by Ambrose. Sami Zayn was left off the list of nominees and is certainly a worthy contender.
Jake Barnett’s Thoughts: I’m not sure if he’s even technically a babyface, but Broken Matt Hardy deserves to be recognized for the insane amount of work that has gone into creating his persona. He’s one of the few fully realized characters in Wrestling, and he goes far out of his way to maintain that sense of surrealism at all times. It’s difficult to put Broken Matt on a continuum of heels and babyfaces, because he’s basically from another dimension that only occasionally intersects with our own. It’s safe to sat that he’s the hero of his own story, whatever that is, and he’s done a masterful job of pulling it off.
Zack Zimmerman’s Thoughts: What a dreadful year to be a babyface in wrestling. I’m going with Volador Jr. because I don’t think there’s a babyface in the US worth their weight in salt and the top stars in Japan (Okada, Naito, Omega) all have heelish tendencies. Tanahashi wasn’t visible enough to even get my vote as a default, and I genuinely can’t think of anyone else even worthy of being in the conversation.
John Moore’s Thoughts: I’m going to go with someone who may be overlooked on most lists in Becky Lynch. Becky actually really benefited from being overlooked as it kept her away from WWE’s very cookie cutter way of promoting babyfaces on Raw. And when she moved to Smackdown, she never lost a beat. Lynch filled in that Trish Stratus/Mickie James void of being the spunky babyface who never quits. I’ll give it to Becky, she was the most enjoyable babyface throughout the year. Fenix would have gotten my vote, and I believe that he can be a babyface that a company can rally behind, but Lucha Underground buried the dude after Aztec Warfare II to push things like Matanza and the LAPD.
Will Pruett’s Thoughts: WWE’s babyfaces are often terrible. Searching for a babyface on the indie scene is often a complicated journey. I’m going to look to Becky Lynch as the best babyface in wrestling right now. She helped anchor WWE’s floundering Women’s Division as 2016 began and created something wonderful in the Smackdown’s Women’s Division. Who else seems to be as good or pure of heart in WWE?
Haydn Gleed’s Thoughts: Roman Reigns…….no? Ok in all seriousness, equally as the issue with strong heels there hasn’t been one true standout babyface either. Mark Haskins on the UK independent scene was a great underdog babyface with tons of wrestling ability but his year was cut short due to injury, Sami Zayn was primed for a nice run on the main roster after stellar work in NXT only to have his push become off and on more than a light switch, and John Cena has been off making movies and telling people to take their shoes off in his house. I’ve really gone back and for on this but because he was somebody that the company seemed to be building around and getting behind for the majority of 2016 and the fans were right behind him, my babyface of the year goes to Drew Galloway.
Darren Gutteridge’s Thoughts: It was a lousy year to be a good guy. At times it seems that WWE had forgotten how to make someone likable and endearing, particularly on Raw. The one shining beacon however was Sami Zayn, who understands being a babyface so innately that I’m convinced there is no one he couldn’t get over as a heel. If justice is done, he’ll get a shot at being WWE Universal champion in the next 12 months, because lord knows we’ve all missed having someone everyone can get behind.