Sunday, November 13, 2016

2016, The Year In Review (And Pictures!)

It’s been a year since I wrote my last blog post for Mason’s Ringside View, and out of the few reasons I chose to take a hiatus, lack of things to write about certainly wasn’t among them. 2016 hasn’t just been a huge year for NXT, it has been a huge (and strange) year for the entire wrestling industry. However, you can read about all of that elsewhere… besides, I am not a wrestling journalist, but rather a dude who is lucky enough to go to a lot of shows and these are my views from ringside.

A year has made a huge impact on NXT. We said goodbye to the face of the brand, Finn Balor who moved on the  main roster, as well as Bayley, Enzo and Cass, Baron Corbin and several others who have laid down the groundwork for what NXT is today. Some of the hottest names on the independent scene have taken their place, performers such as Roderick Strong, Tommy End, and Cedric Alexander now call NXT home.

One of my favorite wrestlers on the planet and a man I doubted I would ever get to see live, Shinsuke Nakamura, has not only arrived in NXT but risen straight to the top. It’s been a stellar year for the King Of Strong Style, capturing the NXT title and continuing a brutal feud with Samoa Joe.
Asuka has continued to prove why she is the most dominant female wrestler in the world. She is still undefeated, still champion, and still one of the most exciting performers in the brand.

However, there is a challenger on the rise. 2016 saw the debut of Ember Moon, another ridiculously talented competitor who seems the most obvious threat to Asuka’s reign.

There are also several other challengers in the locker room who would love to knock the Queen off her throne. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay seemed poised for a push in the near future, while Nikki Cross is about as "Takeover" ready as any female on the roster. Mandy Rose is acclimating well post Tough Enough and has a star quality that can't be denied. Also, one can't forget that the debut of Sarah Bridges aka Crazy Mary Dobson is imminent.

The Revival, a team who I tirelessly promoted on this blog as criminally underrated are now enjoying their second tag title reign. The duo of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder has not only kept the titles on lockdown, but has elevated tag wrestling and given the fans several match of the year contenders.

However, the top guys might have more than a few obstacles in their way in the coming year. If this years Dusty Classic has reminded us of anything, it's that tag team wrestling thrives in NXT. From DIY to The Authors Of Pain, Sanity to Tucker and Otis, there is always another team to step up to the champs.

We finally saw the return of Hideo Itami… only to be injured a few months later.

It's beyond frustrating and one has to wonder if Itami will ever get that main event run he deserves, especially in an increasingly crowded field that includes names like Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, and Oney Lorcan. One also can't forget the very over Bobby Roode, and Andrade Cien Almas, who has been fantastic since his heel turn. I would imagine that Tommy End and Big Damo will be making immediate impacts.


The Cruiserweight Classic was possibly my favorite thing going this entire year, and the cruiserweights continue to kill it both on the main roster and in NXT. Regardless of how well the cruiserweight division is being received on Raw, the cruisers are making a lot of new fans here at house shows.

While NXT tours the world, the Florida loop has several PC talents grinding hard and looking to make a big name for themselves in the coming year.

Outside of the WWE/NXT bubble, I don’t think any promotion has had a bigger year than EVOLVE. Sure, they have prospered from a relationship with the WWE and a recent huge deal with FloSlam, but it’s the top-notch talent and killer live shows that make EVOLVE a promotion everyone should be keeping their eye on.

In 2016 Timothy Thatcher continued with a dominant title reign, Ethan Page has stepped up in a big way, and even EC3 made his presence known. Drew Gulak and Tony Nese pull double duty killing it in EVOLVE and performing in WWE’s cruiserweight division.
Perhaps no one’s stock is rising faster than the bro himself, Matt Riddle. From EVOLVE to PWG, everyone who has seen him live agrees the bro is a star.
Carrying the torch for women’s wrestling down here in the sunshine state is Shine. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more fun night of wrestling anywhere in the state, I just wished they would stop booking shows when I’m working (a guy can dream).
Every month or so some of the best female talents of the independent wrestling scene converge on The Orpheum in Ybor City for hard-hitting action. One of these competitors would be Su Yung, probably my favorite female talent not currently signed by the WWE.
I’m hoping we’ll see several of these wrestlers in the upcoming WWE women’s tournament.

ROH has had a year of ups and downs (some more than other, depending on whom you ask) but I am still a big ROH fan and they brought it on their recent Lakeland, Fl stop. Biggest take away from the show? Dalton Castle is perhaps the most charismatic man in wrestling, Kyle O’Reilly is even cooler in person, Jay White has superstar written all over him, Silas Young is underrated, and Adam Cole is worthy of every bit of the hype. I can’t wait until ROH returns to Lakeland for Supercard Of Honor next year.
It's been a fun and crazy year of pro graps, and 2017 looks like it's going to be just as nuts.


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