This was really a tough choice as at this point in the list it really makes the most impact on the entire list and I think that I have made the right decision. From names like Roman Reigns to Naito to Cole to Drake we have looked at some the best talent in the world of wrestling. During his career AJ Styles has come along so far into becoming one of the best talents of this generation. Though he really didn't have much time in WCW his career began to take off once TNA opened in 2002 as a founding member of the X-Division. After a few years AJ would really hit his stride and begin to lead TNA as one of the top stars for the company. However, all good things come to an end and in 2014 he would leave TNA and head to New Japan to join the Bullet Club.
To put on display the special talent AJ Styles is for those who may not be aware at this point only 4 names have held the IWGP Heavyweight title in the last seven years. Those names include Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, and AJ Styles. This is quite a class especially since AJ would win the title from Okada within his first few months. The news that then would shock the wrestling world in 2016 that AJ Styles would be leaving New Japan for the WWE.
Fans were waiting with fated breath worried about how AJ would be booked in the WWE and the Royal Rumble would give us that answer. Then in October 2016 the world be shocked again when AJ Styles would capture the WWE title for the first time. Now instead of continuing to speak about his career which I think everyone is aware of at this point. Overall, I don't think I have to make a major case of AJ Styles being at this number in the list, but I will also making the point to mention that AJ was able to get great matches out of Brock Lesanr & Jinder Mahal. Not to mention though that AJ was able to tear the house down with John Cena every single time they have been in the ring together. For these reasons alone AJ Styles belongs as the number 3 ranked wrestler in the world from 2017.
Since the return of the cruiserweight division in the WWE we have seen a very lackluster attempt to revive an old favorite of yesteryear. Back in the day there was a time when the cruiserweights were among the most highly touted performers in the world and somewhere along the lines that changed. Though there seems to be a connection to when the WWE would lose interest in something other companies do to. However, following the success of the Cruiserweight Classic tournament the company decided to bring back the division to much fanfare. The one thing didn't count on was well fans actually caring about how the talent was booked and expecting that the booking of the CWC would carry over into how the talent would be booked on the main roster.
Unfortunately that didn't happen as the company instead pushed lame storylines and lackluster matches with concepts that fit regular WWE and not the CWC. The first good decision they made was giving Neville the title and letting him run wild, but then they never really had a long term plan for him after the title. Also don't get me started about Enzo. Recently, reports have been coming out that Triple H has seemingly been given complete control of 205 Live and in a way the Cruiserweights as a whole. With all things considered and looking at recent shows things have gotten a lot better with the show as they have been presenting a lot more meaningful matches a long the lines of the CWC. This to my knowledge is the first major control that Triple H has been given on the main roster with him slowly moving to the main roster.
With the new year upon us and the first month gone it is time to start looking around and figuring on some new series to get going on the site. Though I have been attempting to focus on giving some new series to the sections that really have been lacking like Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor. However, this section still deserves to be included in the new series swing. Over the last few weeks I have seen a lot of different sites & channels on YouTube focusing on top 10 wrestlers. I really thought that this would be a fantastic idea and now will really brings things together.
So starting next week I will be focusing on attempting to put together consistent weekly list giving you all the an idea of who I would think is the top stars in the WWE. At this point I will be making a point to keep the WWE list somewhat consistent and who knows sometime in the future we could see things expand to New Japan or other companies around the website.
Now this isn't the same as the current top 10 list that I am putting together as that has to do with 2017 as whole and not factored 2018 in at all. With that being said this new ranking series will not start until the current "countdown" is completed. However, when it does begin I will be including NXT talent in the list as well as main roster talent due to both being under the same banner. I will also say that depending on how consistent I am this could shape the Wrestler of the Year voting at the end of the year. Stay tuned as new series will becoming to the site in the coming months.
This would obviously be a tough pill to swallow for some fans due to how "well" the WWE handles Roman, but saying he isn't a top star would be a disservice. Since his arrival on the main roster Roman has been tremendously protected by his booking especially following the end of The Shield & his move up the card. It is for this reason that most fans have taken up a strong dislike for the "Big Dog." However, it is hard not to say that Roman has not only helped lead the WWE in the last year, but also helped to bring new talent up the card as well. Though some might also say that Roman shouldn't be included this high I would tell those of you that not including him this high would be wrong due to the impact Roman had on WWE in 2017.
Roman & his feud with Braun Strowman & The Miz made for some of the most interesting moments for the WWE in 2017. Even though Roman's skills on the microphone are still subpar when it comes to longer promos, but he did prove on the night after WrestleMania that his promos can have an impact. Roman has however come along way in the ring since his days in the Shield and he has shown that last year with his feud with Braun and just how good he made Braun looked in the feud.
Overall if the WWE would booked Roman a little differently and made him seem more human I do think that fans would be more accepting of the "Big Dog." However, it's hard to ignore how far he has come since his days in the developmental territory. Roman will never be the best wrestler in the company or in the world, but he definitely can be one of the top stars.
As we wrap things up on another Royal Rumble we look back at the event one more time with some final thoughts on the event. First let's compare this years event and last years event and the WWE has done it again with the event. Though very few things can top the John Cena vs AJ Styles match from last years Royal Rumble this years was still very good. Might I add that seeing two Royal Rumble matches on one show is very insane to think about as this was the 31th annual Royal Rumble. There is no doubt that this shows just how far the female roster has come in the WWE over the years.
As far as my thoughts on the pre-show, well there was a good reason that those matches weren't on the show as none of the matches were very good, and I will even say that the US title open challenge match was very disappointing. Other than the Royal Rumble, I will once again go back to the heavy praise I forded the SD Live Tag Team division in my predictions. In my opinion the top two non Rumble matches were the SD Live Tag Title match and the Universal title match, but I will give the top match to the tag match cause of the finish. Though the finish of the Universal title match was fine it was also extremely predictable and everything we expected from the match, but that's the problem especially considering the unpredictable finish in the tag match.
Now onto the Royal Rumbles and both of them were extremely ahead of expectations especially the male Rumble. There were really no expectations for the female Rumble due to it being the first Royal Rumble, but I will say that it was better than any of us could have thought. Also it was incredible seeing a lot of talent that hasn't been around for years like Trish, Lita, and Beth Phoenix. Shifting to the Male Rumble the one issue I had was I felt like it was rushed, but other than it felt weird watching it because it was almost like they took the time to consider the right choice rather than just a choice.
Don't get me wrong last year I had no problem with Randy Orton winning the match, but I think the WWE is getting to the point where they need to start building some new faces up the card. The perfect way to do that is through the Royal Rumble as the historical significance of the event is a great way to start building momentum for a fresh face.
Royal Rumble 2018
Kalisto, Lince Dorado, Gran Metalik vs TJP, Jack Gallagher, Drew Gulak
Anderson & Gallows vs The Revival
US Open Challenge:
Bobby Roode vs TBA
Female Royal Rumble:
For the first time in history the WWE is having women compete in the traditional Royal Rumble of their own and even though we will be seeing a lot of surprises it shows how far things have come. However, as always it is very difficult to figure out who will win the Royal Rumble and therefore I will be making three selections for the match and keeping my prediction short. First of all Rhonda will not be in the match as she is in Colombia so she is out. With that being said Asuka, Nia Jax, and Bayley are my picks to win the Royal Rumble. Let's just say no better way to make Bayley look better then to have her win the Royal Rumble as the Iron-Woman of the match.
2 out of 3 falls match for the Smackdown Tag Titles:
(c) The Usos vs Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin
Comparing the two tag team divisions over the last year there is no doubting that Smackdown has had the better division with The Uso's really leading the charge. But now with the Gable & Benjamin sort of on the heel side it might be a good time to give them a run and allow them to embrace the "dark side" and build up a new feud heading on the "Road to Wrestlemania." With that being said Gable & Shelton will gain the victory to win the belts.
Raw Tag Team Title Match:
(c) Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs The Bar
For one I have loved the change in Jordan's character with him befriending Seth in Dean's absence, but not sure how I feel about the booking heading into this match. Recently, The Bar has suffered to loses to Titus Worldwide with no pay-off as in why aren't Titus & Apollo in this match too. However, either way the only thing that I hope is after tonight this feud ends. This feud was fantastic at the start, but it has reached the point where they need to move on to something new. Which is why Jordan & Rollins get the win tonight.
WWE Championship Match: 2 on 1 Handicapped
(c) AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Since Hell in a Cell things started to change on Smackdown Live as it seems like one match gave the show a much needed shot in the arm. With a Zayn heel turn and the continuation of tension between Shane & Bryan it has made SD Live all the more interesting. Now with the inclusion of AJ Styles it just added another layer to the feud. However, with the suspected injury to Kevin Owens it puts doubt on this match and how I thought it could originally. At one point I though AJ could loss the gold tonight but that changed just recently and I don't think AJ will lose. I do think we see Shane & that he may play a part in the ending, but that leads to something else with Shane & AJ. Either way AJ Styles keeps the title.
Triple Threat for the WWE Universal Title:
(c) Brock Lesnar vs Kane vs Braun Strowman
I don't know how the WWE has been able to suddenly book a guy like Strowman as well as they have in recent months and even over the last year. Nobody has been as protected as Strowman dare I say in the last decade which is awesome to see. Even though I would love to think that a title change is possible I think I would have to be crazy to think that would happen. With that being there is no doubt that anyone leaves the Wells Fargo Center tonight with the gold other than Brock.
30 man Royal Rumble Match:
Much like the female variation of the match it is tough to predict who will get the win in the match due to the high number of possibilities. Even though some might say that only a handful of people are likely to win still it isn't easy to predict. However, it for that reason that Rumble is always one of my favorite times of year. To the people who think the WWE may follow an old track I would say that I hope WWE learned their lesson from the last time and to try and make it more organic this time. Finally to quote someone from Twitter "I would rather a fresh face win over someone who has before." For that reason I am selecting my picks as Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Balor, and Rusev.
For anyone that has been living under a rock for the last month or so this weeks episode of Monday Night Raw was the 25th anniversary edition of the broadcast. Of course if you know anything about the WWE they always try to pull out all the stops for a major show to make them feel special and they did exactly that on this occasion. However, I think they overdid the idea of expanding to both arenas tonight as they really didn't do enough at the Manhattan Center. I'm also not just saying that because their were fans on social media that mentioned that fans were chanting how they wanted a refund
This should really give an indication on how "well" the company booked the event including a solid go home show for the Royal Rumble. But, think about how you would feel if you had paid to go to Raw and not seen anything off a big screen for a little over an hour at first. There is no doubt that the lackluster use of the Manhattan Center is a major criticism of the major event. Other than that though I really did enjoy the show especially since this was the first episode of Raw that I've seen in a long time. I've never actually taken this much of a break from the show as mostly out of habit I really would always watch the event.
From all the legends, to seeing more build up to the Royal Rumble, to looking back at a whole lot of nostalgia this was a show for the history books and will be remembered as a lackluster show. But I do think that this could've been a lot bigger had the WWE started to build a feud up to WrestleMania using this large scale. Though I do feel like this is a missed opportunity for all I know this actually could've happened as John Cena did get attacked by a certain musician last night.
In recent months the WWE has really had a very lazy booking style when it comes to the Women's division in particular as they have relayed on repetitive booking. If you don't agree with what I am saying well look no further than the Riot Squad & Absolution and tell me they don't look similar or even to the point of being carbon copies. Yes Absolution has been booked better then Riot Squad, but it really feels just like a lazy way to get a lot of new faces on the roster really quickly. However, there are other ways to get a lot of stars on the roster at one time other than letting them show up all in the same way. But even just looking at how WWE books certain talent they seemingly fall into the same trap when it comes to setting up feuds.
Look no further then with how the WWE books Bray Wyatt as they have been relying on his supernatural characteristics in every feud with never really letting any other aspects of feuds be put on display. Comparing the WWE specifically the main roster to other companies and even NXT they seem to struggle with unique ideas and booking talent to their potential, but also with being repetitive. The issue with repetition is it opens the door for predictability and if a company becomes predictable then it is problematic as people are less likely to stick around.
Repetition doesn't just apply to the booking of weekly programing, but for me it also applies for major events like PPVs and specifically WrestleMania. Basically if the WWE are set to have one person main event every year then that can get predictable and also repetitive to the point of losing interest in that person or the match due to having a hunger for something new. This also ties back into the above mentioned need for fresh faces on the main roster, but also having them debut in different ways and not the in the same fashion on both brands.
Earlier this week we heard about four major signings from the Indies all heading to the company as they have become official WWE stars. One of those names is top female competitor Candice LeRae who was a major player in companies like PWG & Beyond Wrestling. Candice is also actually the wife of Johnny Gargano and much like her husband she may have a big weekend on January 28. For one reason or another signing with the WWE in the month of January normally brings about some interesting possibilities for new talent as it opens the door for them being a part of the Royal Rumble.
For the first time ever this years Rumble event will not just have a Rumble match for the men as we will also have a match for the Women. This means that considering the WWE don't have enough women on the current roster to fill up a 30 women Rumble match they need some new faces in their as well. I mentioned this last week when I spoke about Candice & Ricochet signing with WWE that I thought Candice could appear at the Rumble. Even though I do have doubts if she would be allowed to skip NXT I don't think she needs to as she could just appear in the match, and then go down to NXT following the event, sort of like just coming up as a surprise and then heading to NXT for the time being.
Candice is just the start of a list of names that I think could be making their presence felt in two weeks time in Philly at the Royal Rumble.
For years, the man Dolph Ziggler has had an interesting run to say the least within the WWE since his World Title run. Most fans will say that Dolph has been either held down or just forgotten about in recent years which could be considered the truth. But its also possible that looking things like this if the WWE didn't see something in Dolph would he really still be employed by the company had not become a victim of spring cleaning. Now there is no doubt that Dolph has been the man without a plan especially since the start of the brand split but it seems that WWE has something in mind.
A few weeks back Ziggler walked out leaving his newly won United States title behind & he "quit" the company many pointing to CM Punk's 2011 angle as an example. Reports have even come down that Dolph hasn't been competing on house shows to keep the TV angle smelling like a rose. The WWE may not realize this but this is exactly what the fans have been wanting for Dolph for years due to the old saying of I can't miss you if you don't go away. Now with Dolph off TV its allowing fans to miss him and they will want him to comeback after a while which is a refreshing change for Mr. Ziggler.
Looking back at the booking of Dolph in recent years it has been somewhat weak & lackluster but; pinpointing his feud with Miz specifically shows that Dolph still has that fire but needs something right to bring it out. The one question I do have is if this means that we could be seeing a Dolph Ziggler return ahead of WrestleMania or if the company will hold his return off until after the big event. I think I know the answer but as most do WrestleMania season is the time to speculate about what could happen in New Orleans.
Sharing my thoughts, opinion, and historical facts on everything WWE both past and present