NoDQ.com > Columns > The X-Factor: The 2016 Awards
Posted by Victor Mariscal on 01/05/2017 at 02:08 AM

For personal reasons mostly, I’m more than happy to leave 2016 in my dust.

They made more than a few mistakes this year, but WWE still did plenty to keep us talking in the last 12 months. We’ve had major comebacks, classic matches, one of the greatest first-years in history, the return of the brand extension, the end of the ‘Divas’, and a record-breaking title reign.

All of that doesn’t erase the lousy booking decisions, the skewed face – heel dynamics, the mishandling of the cruiserweights, the de-valuing of championships, and my personal favorite, the ego-stroking by the McMahon family. I’ll cut Shane a little slack since he cares about pleasing the crowds.

So who is the best and the worst of 2016?

Most Underrated
Winner: Sami Zayn

Unfortunately his feud with Braun Strowman came too late in the year.

Zayn is easily one of the best performers they have and his classic with Shinsuke Nakamura is proof of that. Either Vince can’t see past his size or he just didn’t have anything for him to do. I say move him to Smackdown soon so he can go for the IC title.

Runner-up: Cesaro
An endorsement from John Cena doesn’t mean as much as it should, it seems. I often wonder if he’ll follow Cody Rhodes out the door soon.

Most Overrated Superstar
Winner: Dean Ambrose

Tell me, how many of you were crying when he lost the WWE Championship to AJ Styles?

Dean started the year out strong with an amazing Last Man Standing match with Kevin Owens, but what about after? Dean had an Asylum match against Chris Jericho. It was too long and boring. Ambrose went up against Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam. The crowd just didn’t care. He was called upon to fight Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 32. It bombed. He can blame Brock all he wants but if he’s so good, why couldn’t he save it?

And his offense just doesn’t look too strong. He is a great character following the old-school mentality of not breaking kayfabe but he doesn’t scream franchise player to me. Sorry.

Best heel
Winner: The Miz

Six years ago they gave him a main event run. He couldn’t hack it and John Cena beat him for the WWE Championship. How things have changed.

Bringing Maryse back to pair him with her husband was a genius move. They’re both naturals at playing heel, which is interesting because Miz is a likable guy. With the Mizdow angle from 2015 fizzling out, The Miz needed a breath of fresh air.

Never mind that he made the Intercontinental title relevant again but he’s never been more relevant in his entire career. Plus, his title defense against Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Cesaro was a real classic. I will be talking about that one later.

Am I alone in thinking that his blow-ups on the mic this last year are channeling some real frustration? He might have been farther along in his career by now had it not been for backstage heat which he didn’t deserve.

Runner-up: The fans
The Universal title was unveiled. Instead of being happy at seeing Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor the Brooklyn fans choose to piss all over what is essentially a WWE Championship with a red strap. You cheered Triple H so much forgetting that he sabotaged someone’s push just to main event WrestleMania. Fickle is just one of the many words that come to mind too.

Both Roman Reigns and Charlotte have called out the fans over their entitled attitudes. Thank you.

Superstar who got a bad rap they didn’t deserve
Winner: Roman Reigns

The manner of his booking was questionable. The criticism towards his skill is another story. I find it hilarious that my own crowd was giving him a “You can’t wrestle” chant.

I can honestly say I never got on the hate train. More and more critics and fans have been calling bullshit on the perception Reigns is a bad wrestler but those who give in to blind hate insist on treating him like an also-ran. Not once did I ever get that impression from him.

Haven’t you considered why – even with the suspension – Vince is still going all-in with Roman? I think he knows how fickle the fanbase really is so he would rather pick one and follow it through. All this go-away heat he gets, he doesn’t deserve. I’ll tell you who does…

Biggest ego
Winner: Stephanie McMahon

More than three years now of the same ‘ol shit. It makes for great television when a heel gets what’s coming to them but other than an accidental Spear at ‘Mania 32 there’s been no comeuppance. Stephanie gets to slap, emasculate and belittle everyone on camera without any fear of reprisal. Is she helping anyone? No.

It doesn’t help that her character is all over the place in regards to her relationship with Mick Foley and her actions towards the rest of the talent. Kevin Owens said it best on the 1/2/17 Raw. “Who cares who consulted who?”

Runner-up: Triple H
Triple H had nothing to gain by winning the WWE title and headlining ‘Mania 32. Plus it didn’t help that he was giving off that heroic babyface vibe when he returned at the Rumble. If Reigns’ push faltered, Triple H is the cause. He isn’t Triple H’s guy, he’s Vince’s guy.

And you want him to take over one day. We would be getting another egomaniac in charge of WWE.

Best Tag Team of 2016
Winner: The New Day

Their chemistry both in the ring and on the mic, their record-breaking tag title reign, their merchandise sales and their overall appeal easily gives them this award.

That’s not to say they didn’t have a couple of stinker feuds but to put it on them isn’t fair. The League of Nations just didn’t bring it as a team and the horrible “Old Day” segment was creative’s misstep.

I fear what will happen once the break-up happens. Odds are one or two of them will face a career slump when it does.

Worst Tag Team of 2016 and Worst NXT call-up
Winner: The Vaudevillians

They debuted and there was some buzz for them. They could’ve taken the concussion Gotch accidently gave Enzo Amore and turned it into gold. They didn’t and they’ve basically fallen off the radar. Plus it didn’t help that Simon was involved in a backstage fight.

Their lack of push also illustrates an underlying problem with NXT. Popular among a niche audience doesn’t always translate to being over on the main roster.

Best NXT call-up
Winner: Alexa Bliss

She’s not as over as the Four Horsewomen but she hasn’t let me down this year. Her Harley Quinn look coupled with debuting solo definitely helped.

To me, she’s the whole package: beautiful, athletic, and a great heel.

Best rivalry of 2016
Two-way tie
1st Winner: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte

Look at what the rivalry produced: women main-evented Raw twice and for the first time in 12 years; the first-ever women’s Hell in a Cell; the first women’s main event on PPV; and the first time a women’s Iron Man match took place on a PPV. NXT Takeovers don’t count.

Maybe it shouldn’t be the best because of the game of hot-potato with the Women’s title, but it made so much history. It may have happened sooner had the so-called “Divas revolution” not flopped. Thank you Stephanie. Better late than never.

2nd winner: AJ Styles and John Cena
A dream feud that’s also steeped in reality. AJ was the biggest star never to wrestle in WWE and Cena was its franchise player.

There were moments during the angle where you could feel reality seeping in. Styles ran Cena down for even thinking of himself in the same category as Ric Flair, a man that has endorsed both men. Cena has made it clear he’s not done being on top. Plus, those two tore the house down at SummerSlam.

Worst rivalry of 2016
Winner: Rusev and Lana vs. Enzo and Cass

It started out innocently. It’s what happened after that leaves a lot to be desired.

Enzo Amore is accidently naked in front of Lana which Rusev is pissed at, kick starting the angle. It wasn’t Enzo’s fault but it’s his behavior afterwards that gives this feud the award. Both the Undertaker and Booker T were clearly the faces when defending their wives. Even with Rusev nominally the heel he’s completely in the right to take issue with Enzo’s behavior. You wouldn’t know that given the way it’s presented on TV.

Best career resurgence and Best mic skills
Winner: Chris Jericho

If you don’t agree, well you know what happens? YOU JUST MADE THE LIST!

Y2J is one of those few that can be a great babyface and be a great heel. His “List of Jericho” and pairing with Kevin Owens has done the both of them wonders. It’s funny, they’re both nominally heels but you can’t help but be entertained. With Raw being consistently outpaced by Smackdown, Jeri-KO is a real bright spot on a show that’s struggling to keep up.

Comeback of the year
Winner: Goldberg

I won’t lie, I got chills. Goldberg hadn’t set foot in a WWE ring for 12 years. Not only did it get people talking, but he was welcomed back with open arms. Of course there was worry as to what would happen once he stepped back into the ring with Brock Lesnar. Speaking of…

Shocker of the year
Winner: Goldberg destroys the Beast

‘Da Man’ had stated he “tweaked his shoulder” prior to the match. Also, Brock Lesnar had an overall disappointing 2016. There was genuine worry.

The end of the Streak was the biggest shock of 2014. This time, it was the Beast who got dominated in 1:26. The Toronto fans went absolutely nuts.

Match of the Year – Two way tie
Winner: Extreme Rules ‘16 – Fatal Four Way for the Intercontinental Championship
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro vs. The Miz (C)

I just knew going in that it would tear the house down. Owens and Zayn’s chemistry, Cesaro’s high-caliber talent, The Miz’s veteran skills, and a hot crowd created an amazing show. It showed off just how strong the upper midcard was and the chemistry between these guys gelled so well.

2nd winner: SummerSlam 2016
AJ Styles vs. John Cena

I never had any doubt.

Maybe the haters shouldn't be so mad that guys such as Cena don't lose clean too often. When they do, it carries real weight. The fact that AJ beat the Champ straight up indicates just how far he was gonna go. Boy has he gone far!

Female Superstar of 2016
Winner: Charlotte

Say what you will about Sasha losing to her on PPV, but Charlotte made some waves this year. Knowing that she didn’t quite have the chops to be a great babyface they started booking her into the role she was more comfortable with. Charlotte constantly delivers in the ring and on the mic. As much as people wanna complain, keeping her undefeated in singles PPV matches was the right move. Now it seems she’s headed for a long-term program against Bayley. Again, good move.

Male Superstar of the Year
Winner: AJ Styles

“Is it? Can it be?”

The countdown for the #3 entrant in the 2016 Royal Rumble ended. There was music we'd never heard before. The instant the word "Phenomenal" showed up on the Titantron the Orlando fans lost it.

It really couldn’t be anyone else, could it? All the worry was quickly cast aside and AJ Styles was immediately treated like the major deal he is.

Talk about consistency. Styles had incredible matches with Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, John Cena, and Dean Ambrose. Smackdown is the superior show and AJ is one of the key reasons why. Styles has got it all.

That took me some time to write. Damn.

Don’t mess with the X.

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