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 Male Wrestler along with our staff comments. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
1. AJ Styles (60 percent)
2. Kenny Omega (17 percent)
3. Kazuchika Okada (8 percent)
4. Kevin Owens (3 percent)
5. Tie: Roman Reigns and Pete Dunne (2 percent each)
Others (8 percent)
Jake Barnett’s Take I don’t think anybody else in this category holds a candle to the kind of year Kazuchika Okada had in 2017. Through sheer determination and force of will, he had excellent matches each and every time he stepped in the ring. Everything he touched seem to be an instant classic, including an absolutely phenomenal series with Kenny Omega, an inspired performance in the G1, and well received matches with Cody, Minoru Suzuki, and EVIL. It really seemed like he could do no wrong, which sets an almost impossibly high bar for 2018.
Will Pruett’s Thoughts: While I understand why voters would pick AJ Styles and Kenny Omega, I couldn’t pick anyone but Kazuchika Okada. He is in the midst of the great world championship run of all time. He’s the unbeatable force of NJPW and his matches last year with Kenny Omega, Shibata, Evil, Suzuki, Marufui, and Cody were some of the best you’ll ever see. Don’t sleep on Okada.
Zack Zimmerman’s Thoughts: Okada strikes me as the most complete package and ultimately the best wrestler in the world, but in saying that I would not disagree with the same being said for Styles. It’s essentially a toss-up, which is why I have to look to who had the most top-tier matches in their body of work and who didn’t get bogged down with Jinder Mahal for half the year, which goes to Okada. Tetsuya Naito is a strong candidate as well. He’s really solidified himself as someone who can not only driver great main event matches, but someone who can bring others up to that level as well. I also can’t leave out Kenny Omega, as he’s been right there with Okada and Naito in terms of memorable, star-making performances.
John Moore’s Thoughts: Another one not on the radar for most and another NXT wrestler. I feel this guy gets a bit under appreciated due to his “under the radar” personality. I considered this guy for last year’s award due to his work in Ring of Honor. My pick goes to Roderick Strong for the same reason that I gave AJ Styles the award last year. Roddy’s someone you can just throw into a match for no good reason and he’ll make it better. NXT made him No Way Jose’s random friend, The third Author of Pain, enhancement for Hideo Itami and Andrade Almas, a guy who beat Andrade Almas, Aleister Black’s random tag partner, the guy tossing around Lars Sullivan, and many more to mention. Nigel McGuinness explained on the last episode of 205 Live that his hands are in so many things, titles, and feuds. NXT dedicated two episodes to telling his real life story which humanized him to the audience. As I mentioned, he gets thrown in any random situation but he makes that situation better than it was without him in it. Unlike Kassius Ohno, who has a similar talent-set, Strong can take some losses but looks credible enough to stay at the main event level. NXT could be credited for protecting him as well with credible wins. Strong is a wrestling machine, he may be that “Wrestling Machine” that WWE never got out of Kurt Angle since he left for TNA when they started pushing him as such.
Haydn Gleed’s Thoughts: It is very, very difficult to see past AJ Styles. From the great match he had with John Cena at the Royal Rumble to getting a very good match out of the non-wrestler Shane McMahon at WrestleMania, he has shown this year what we all knew for many years, that AJ Styles is one of the best in the world.
Jason Powell’s Thoughts: The readers picked the right men for the top three. A strong case could be made for any of the three being deserving of the top spot. Of course, I can only wonder what the voting would have looked like if all three men had the same exposure in North America. My vote goes to Okada, who benefitted from working with top tier opponents all year long, whereas Styles worked with a variety of wrestlers with some being better than others. It will be interesting to see if Ricochet soars in the voting next year if he is featured prominently in NXT.
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