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 MVP of Pro Wrestling along with our staff comments. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
1. AJ Styles (37 percent)
2. Kenny Omega (19 percent)
3. Braun Strowman (12 percent)
4. Tie: Kazuchika Okada and The Miz (8 percent each)
5. Chris Jericho (4 percent)
Others (12 percent)
Jake Barnett’s Take AJ Styles is your MVP this year. Not because he had the best year in the ring, and not because he was the most charismatic on the microphone, but because he carried a bad show on his back and tried to make it watchable every week.. Smackdown had an absolutely dreadful 2017 plagued with creative problems, but Styles provided a glimmer of hope every time he passed through the curtain. He also crossed brands twice to deliver fantastic matches with Brock Lesnar and Finn Balor when called upon. The best moment of the year for Smackdown was the UK Show where Styles finally pulled the WWE Championship from the grasp of Jinder Mahal, whose mediocrity had cast a pall on the entire brand for months. Hopefully 2018 provides Styles with the creative spark required for his feuds to transcend the sum of their parts.
Will Pruett’s Thoughts: My MVP of 2017 can’t be anyone but the man in the midst of the greatest championship reign of all time, Kazuchika Okada. Add in NJPW coming to the United States for the first time in 2017 and you have a man on top of an expanding brand. Okada had great matches and was the centerpiece character of NJPW. On the WWE side, AJ Styles propping up the awful Smackdown brand needs to be mentioned as well.
Zack Zimmerman’s Thoughts: As much quality TV as Styles and Strowman we’re responsible for, I just can’t justify naming the wrestling MVP from a company that’s such a machine that they don’t need an MVP. This means it’s back to the Okada, Naito, Omega debate that rages on. Okada is the centerpiece and cornerstone champion, Naito is driving business in Japan, and Omega is driving business in the expansion into the U.S. Which is more valuable? Great minds will disagree. I tend to lean Naito because there’s just no denying his popularity with LIJ merch sales and his importance as a total star capable of delivering top-tier matches on every show he was featured.
John Moore’s Thoughts: I’d be hard pressed not to give this to Kazuchika Okada, who is the most credible champion in professional wrestling at the moment. AJ Styles is close, but AJ was not put in the showcases that Okada was throughout the year. It’s tough to stay at a plateau, with the whole Wrestle Kingdom thing happening in January, but Okada proved that New Japan’s investment in him as the centerpiece of the promotion was worth it. Omega might get a lot more love due to the North American relatability, but his quirkiness holds him back with me, and I totally am into all of the Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, and Mega Man references. Okada comes off as a professional that you can build a professional wrestling promotion around and Omega is still getting up there, though he’s progressing well.
Haydn Gleed’s Thoughts: This one is difficult for me to nominate as I don’t feel there have been any true MVP’s in wrestling in 2017. It’s going to be a blog for another day, but the modern way of promoting wrestling is that the brand is bigger than any individual which means anybody can be taken off a card and someone else can be slotted in and it won’t make much of a difference. For the moments in 2017 that are stand out, my vote goes to Braun Strowman, who was a revelation throughout the year and the destruction he has caused feels like something we wouldn’t see from anyone else.
Jason Powell’s Thoughts: It’s hard to argue against Styles when he was involved in so many quality matches and was the face of one of WWE’s brands even after they made the mistake a taking the WWE Championship away from him. Okada is terrific, but NJPW has quality replacements if needed, whereas Styles is the backbone of the Smackdown brand, which struggled mightily once they shifted the title to Jinder Mahal. I included the Young Bucks on the list of contenders even though it’s normally reserved for singles wrestlers. The Bucks, Kenny Omega, and Cody generated more interest in both New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor in this country than perhaps there has ever been. Roman Reigns gets an honorable mention. Love him or hate him, the guy truly does elicit a passionate response and he had a strong run of quality pay-per-view matches. Say what you will about him working a formula style or having a limited moveset, the guy always holds up his end of the big pay-per-view matches and knows how to create suspense in the ring.
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