By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net readers were allowed a single vote each of the 2017 awards categories. The following are the results of our poll for Best Heel along with our staff comments. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
1. The Miz (34 percent)
2. Kevin Owens (17 percent)
3. Samoa Joe (12 percent)
4. Pete Dunne (8 percent)
5. Alexa Bliss (6 percent)
Others (23 percent)
Jake Barnett’s Take While many had good years as heels, I don’t think anyone did a better job of maximizing their screen time than The Miz. He’s always been easy to hate, but The Miz really honed his craft over the past several years, and it paid dividends in 2017. His feud with John Cena around WrestleMania could have been really formula, but it wasn’t. The Miztourage shouldn’t have worked, but it did. The Intercontinental Championship was given life in large part due to his efforts. But for the love of all that is good, let’s keep The Miz and Dean Ambrose away from each other for like three years.
Will Pruett’s Thoughts: 2017 is a weird year to determine a best heel for. What makes someone a heel in 2017? Are heels and babyfaces even core parts of wrestling? NJPW is having a ton of success completely outside the lines of heels and babyfaces. With this said, The Miz was a revelation in 2017 and made everything he did must-see. Just when I thought his act would get tired, Miz found a way to mix things up and continue being a highlight of WWE TV. Aside from Miz, Asuka’s last months in NXT as the unbeatable heel force against Ember Moon and Nikki Cross was an absolute delight.
Zack Zimmerman’s Thoughts: In this day and age, Minoru Suzuki feels like wrestling’s last true villain. From his facials to his work style to his gang of cronies, he never feels like he’s trying to play the bad guy; rather, he comes across as himself and “himself” has been established as a badass jerk who likes to hurt people. Kevin Owens had a notable year within the confines of WWE and Sami Zayn also came on strongly at the very end of the year. Miz is also a perennial candidate for his abilities, but he has nothing on Minoru.
John Moore’s Thoughts: Every time I mention this guy, I say that he should be teaching a class at the WWE Performance Center on “how to be a real heel”. The problem with that is the guy is only 24 (23 most of the year), so he has many years ahead of him to be the best heel in the world. I’m talking about Pete Dunne. This guy gets it. I’ve seen his work in PROGRESS and he tends to get overshadowed character-wise by Trent Seven. Where he got to show up on the scene is in the WWE UK Tournament where he set up himself as a bad dude who will just beat up somebody for the LOLs. Pro wrestling in general also has an over reliance on the chicken heel. Dunne is a heel because he relentless and cruel. He also doesn’t lose. Being a heel doesn’t mean you have to lose all of the time. WWE has pulled back on Dunne being a heel a bit in the promo department, which I think is a mistake, but thankfully he keeps up the bad deeds in the ring with the joint manipulation, careless shrugs, and that scowl.
Haydn Gleed’s Thoughts: In terms of true talent for me it would be Kevin Owens. However, because of the comedic roles they’ve slotted him into on WWE TV, first with Chris Jericho and now with Sami Zayn, it makes me a little bit sad in how he has been misused. Although Samoa Joe’s pushes have been stop start due to injury in 2017, when he’s been healthy he has displayed the characteristics of a badass heel, which I personally gravitate towards. My nomination is for Samoa Joe. Honorable mention to Pete Dunne, who I hope will be showcased better in WWE in 2018 and in contention for this award next year.
Jason Powell’s Thoughts: In a business filled with shades of grey and cool heels, I love that the top three men wrestlers on this list are down and dirty heels. I’m happy to see the appreciation for Miz grow. He was a target of the diehard fans for a long time, but he has clearly won over most of his detractors and deservedly so. Owens shined in comedic moments with Jericho, but I love his work when he plays the ruthless heel who will do anything to anyone to get his way (see his attack on Jericho). Joe continues to be a convincing badass who can rough up smaller wrestlers and hang credibly with monsters such as Brock Lesnar. Pete Dunne probably would have cracked the top three if had more exposure in the United States. Alexa Bliss plays her character to perfection, but Minoru Suzuki belonged in the top five.
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