By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net readers were allowed a single vote per day for each of the 2018 awards categories. The following are the results of our poll for Best Male Wrestler along with our staff comments. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
1. Kenny Omega (21 percent)
2. AJ Styles (18 percent)
3. Seth Rollins (16 percent)
4. Pete Dunne (8 percent)
5. Daniel Bryan (7 percent)
Others (30 percent)
Jake Barnett’s Thoughts: My vote goes to Will Ospreay, who went on a whirlwind tour of the globe putting on incredible matches with an astonishing variety of opponents. He also stepped up as a major player in New Japan, and seems poised to become competitive in the heavyweight division in 2019. The sky is the limit for Ospreay, provided his risk taking doesn’t put him on the shelf due to injury.
Anish V’s Thoughts: There were a lot of strong candidates for this one and so many people had consistently great matches throughout the year, especially the NXT wrestlers like Johnny Gargano and Ricochet. However, I’m going to give this to Seth Rollins. Of all the people on this list, I feel Rollins had the most matches over the course of the year that I considered great and, many times, Rollins’ matches were the shining light in otherwise mundane Raws.
Haydn Gleed’s Thoughts: Looking at the list of male wrestlers in WWE, nobody had a real stellar year. Whether they had the opportunity or not is another debate. Seth Rollins had a good to great year but then he had an absolute stinker against Dean Ambrose late in the year. I’m tempted to give my vote to Johnny Gargano, however because of the bigger stage that he has performed at I’m going with Kenny Omega, who I can’t recall seeing in one bad match all year.
John Moore’s Thoughts: I’m going to go with a write-in vote on this one. After taking all the matches I’ve watched into account in 2018, my pick for male wrestler of the year is Mustafa Ali. Ever since the 205 Live reboot in January 2018, Ali has consistently put on great match after great match. He’s a freak athlete, but he’s even better at the selling. After the tournament, Ali showed that he had creative chops as well with some very cinematic promos that he recorded with his own camera out in the streets. Ali’s matches with Buddy Murphy and Hideo Itami were extremely stellar. Part of what makes him earn that “… of the year” accolade is his reliability.
Will Pruett’s Thoughts: Color me disappointed that I cannot give this award to Becky Lynch. I’ll call it a tie between Kazuchika Okada and Seth Rollins, who combined to have a pretty complete year. Who could ever criticize the first half of 2018 for Okada, who proved to be the best in the world and completed the best title reign of all time before a lackluster end of 2018? Rollins seemed to have fire in his veins as 2018 ended, hopefully building up to a major 2019 as a centerpiece star.
Jason Powell’s Thoughts: The voters got it right by giving the award to Kenny Omega. He had strong matches with a wide variety of opponents. Kazuchika Okada deserved to finish in the top five, and Will Ospreay and the injured Hiromu Takahashi are incredible performers. I was thrilled to see Ospreay tone down the big spots late in the year and I’m excited to see his evolution continue. Johnny Gargano finished just outside the top five in the votes, but he’s definitely top five in my book.
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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...