Well, 2017 was a furious year in a universe of veteran wrestling, yet it’s finally sketch to a close.
Over a march of 12 months, a WWE on ESPN staff has watched hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of wrestling programming, and we’ve seen a best (and worst) of it all. In approval of a biggest achievements inside a squared round in 2017, we’ve gotten together to make a picks in 10 categories, covering sold performances, teams, rivalries and shows.
Our “Best of 2017” is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to this sold difficulty — a misfortune wrestling uncover of a year. A handful of WWE pay-per-views missed a symbol wholly in 2017, with one sold uncover station out. Stay tuned, though, as after currently we’ll puncture into a conflicting side of that silver and commend a best shows this year had to offer.
For now, let’s puncture in.
The best veteran wrestling matches of 2017
There were some implausible matches in a WWE over a march of a past few months, yet as WWE on ESPN breaks down a picks for compare of a year, a range widens to embody a ancestral trilogy between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada, and beyond.
The best WWE rivalries of 2017
Through their best and misfortune of times, Raw and SmackDown were any carried by some staggering rivalries via a year. WWE on ESPN’s “Best of 2017” continues with a demeanour during this year’s standout feuds, including Braun vs. Roman and Usos vs. New Day.
Looking behind during 2017: The many underutilized elements of a year in WWE
There were implausible moments and dermatitis performances via 2017, yet certain elements in a universe of veteran wrestling simply weren’t used to their full potential.
If ever a kickoff uncover set a tinge for a WWE pay-per-view in a misfortune approach imaginable, Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English foretold a miserable night brazen during a SmackDown-exclusive Battleground event. After defeating English and removing a improved of a lukewarm adversary in 3 loyal matches, Dillinger forsaken a startle detriment in an explicable fourth competition that foretold a severe few months for a “perfect 10”. The New Day picked things adult as they won a SmackDown tab group titles from The Usos and their adversary started to feverishness up, yet it went downhill from there. Shinsuke Nakamura had an nauseous DQ win over Baron Corbin, and Natalya won a 23rd (or so it seemed) multiway compare in a SmackDown women’s multiplication in 2017 to turn No. 1 contender to a women’s championship.
Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles was OK throughout, yet a botched finish saw Owens pin Styles to retrieve a title. Though that helped extend a adversary and brought about a one-match Chris Jericho revival, it was a disaster in a moment. A dwindle compare between John Cena and Rusev was loooooong, and it was followed by a sincerely common tour between Sami Zayn and Mike Kanellis, that Zayn won. But a manoeuvre de grâce of this forgettable night in SmackDown story was a WWE championship compare between Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton inside of a Punjabi Prison. The structure, that should have been killed off after dual catastrophic matches in 2006 and 2007, is ungainly to understanding with in a many ideal of circumstances, to contend zero of a features’ concerned manners per a trapdoor in a cage.
For roughly 30 unpleasant minutes, Mahal and Orton did a best they could, with a Singh Brothers interesting their satisfactory share of abuse as well. In a shutting moments, The Great Khali came out to assistance Mahal keep a title, even going so distant as to stand partway adult a enclosure to suppress Orton. Mahal retained, yet Khali grabbed a WWE championship from Mahal’s hands and hold it above his possess conduct — utterly a mistake pas — and didn’t seem on WWE TV again after that night. (Tim Fiorvanti)
While Battleground got started off on a right feet when The New Day and The Usos began their widen of glorious matches, a rest of a uncover unsuccessful to deliver. We witnessed Shinsuke Nakamura’s misfortune compare in a WWE when he and Baron Corbin struggled to click in a ring and sat by a John Cena vs. Rusev dwindle compare that went wholly too long. The dwindle compare chapter in itself lacks excitement, so boring it out over 20 mins threatened to put a typically rough Philadelphia throng to sleep.
The categorical eventuality saw Jinder Mahal urge his WWE championship opposite Randy Orton in a Punjabi Prison match. The compare had a moments, including Orton causing Samir Singh to dump off a tip of a jail by a announce table, yet any certain trends forsaken off a face of a earth as a outcome of a bout’s conclusion. Randomly, The Great Khali emerged to support Mahal with his victory. That would have finished clarity had Khali been worked into a skeleton going forward, yet it was a one-off entrance that offering zero to a storyline. It was a rare finale to an uninspiring pay-per-view. (Sean Coyle)
If it’s 2017 and The Great Khali is involved, it’s a worst. Add to that a Punjabi Prison and we have a recipe for a misfortune categorical eventuality of a year. Unfortunately, Battleground’s prior dual hours didn’t give us many wish for a good event. The opening compare between The New Day and The Usos rated a 4.25 (out of 5), yet usually one other compare rated above a 2.5 (AJ Styles-Kevin Owens). A subpar DQ compare from Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin followed a good opening match. Natalya won an uneventful 5-way compare that has turn hackneyed for a SmackDown Live women’s division. And a unequivocally prolonged and concerned dwindle compare with John Cena and Rusev was zero some-more than another funeral of a Bulgarian Brute. Even a Styles-Owens compare had a unequivocally uncanny finish that didn’t seem to be planned. They didn’t even have Breezango solve a box we were told they would solve during Battleground. Very unsatisfactory bid in a lead-up to SummerSlam. (Andrew Davis)
Yep, supplement another silver in a Battleground jar for me. Look, we like Jinder, we wanted to give him each possibility to succeed. But this Punjabi Prison compare was unnecessarily overbooked and left no man entrance out looking strong. The reduction pronounced about The Great Khali, a better. For a undercard, The New Day and The Usos had a illusory match, yet all else was forgettable or disappointing. AJ Styles and Kevin Owens had a excellent compare with an ungainly looking finish that left us wondering either someone messed up. Hey, during slightest it was ascending from here. (Sachin Dave Chandan)
Backlash started with arguably a many expected compare of a uncover — Dolph Ziggler opposite Shinsuke Nakamura, who finished his categorical register debut. Ziggler, with his ability to sell and put on a good compare opposite anyone, seemed like an ideal initial competition for Nakamura. That valid not to be a box unequivocally early on in a sluggish, automatic 15-minute bout. The compare now took divided most, if not all, of a movement Nak had gained from his NXT call-up. And that was only a initial compare of a night.
Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles for a U.S. Title, in what would turn a thesis with these two, had a head-scratching finish to an differently plain match. Owens trapped Styles’ leg inside a hole on tip of a announce list and won by countout. The Chicago throng immediately rained down boos in a compare featuring a many renouned wrestlers on SmackDown.
The categorical eventuality was a initial in a prolonged array of matches no one wanted to see between Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal. With a assistance of a Singh Brothers, Mahal repelled a WWE Universe by winning a WWE championship. This impulse can be noticed as a certain for a startle factor, yet all it did was set adult a fibre of subpar matches and segments during a forgettable pretension reign.
The sole certain of a night was a tab group championship compare between The Usos and Breezango that featured Tyler Breeze dressed as an aged lady (and JBL not being means to commend him). Nothing some-more needs to be said. (Michael Wonsover)
OK … disclaimer — AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor was awesome. That said, that compare couldn’t save TLC.
TLC is what happens when a viral infection takes out dual pivotal members of a roster, and even a lapse by Kurt Angle couldn’t save a night. It was a bit of a trainwreck and fundamentally resolved with a murder of Braun Strowman inside of a rubbish truck, finish with uncanny sound effects. (Andrew Feldman)
Can we only write “House of Horrors” here and call it a day? The categorical eventuality with Braun Strowman defeating Roman Reigns was decent, yet a cruiserweight pretension compare between Austin Aries and Neville unsuccessful to bond since of a approach Neville won, grabbing a referee. The eventuality indeed started with a unequivocally beguiling compare with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho that saw Owens’ noted mark where he got one finger on a wire to mangle a Walls of Jericho. As plain as that was, this eventuality will always be remembered for a House of Horrors and a green ambience that compare left. (Matt Willis)
It’s turn transparent that a WWE is perplexing to precedence a non-big 4 pay-per-view events. No emanate with that — there are subscriptions to sell. But a big-ticket equipment during No Mercy came during a responsibility of what could have been a WrestleMania match, or during slightest something with a scrupulously large build.
A once-in-a-lifetime compare between John Cena and Roman Reigns finished predictably with a inheritor to a self-evident bench entrance out on tip in an normal showdown. Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar could have simply headlined a WrestleMania too, in one of a many expected matches in years if requisitioned and built properly, yet that compare also managed to tumble brief of expectations.
That’s generally loyal when we cruise a preface to that encounter; during SummerSlam, during a Fatal 4-way, Strowman manhandled Lesnar in a approach no one this side of Goldberg had ever finished as he broken all of a tables during ringside in a process. At No Mercy, a meh confront finished with one F-5, and with it, a aura of Braun got dimmer, during slightest for a moment.
It was all a sum rubbish for minimal short-term gain. (Matt Wilansky)