Let’s face it, 2016 was a strange year on the whole. By that I mean Brexit and Trump, and what feels like 500 celebrity deaths, but for us wrestling fans, especially WWE fans, 2016 was a damn good year with some of the best in ring work I have seen in a long time, it finally feels like we are really at the start of a new era, and as this new era sails into its first full year, I’d like a couple of minutes of your time to share the top 5 things I want from WWE in 2017.
5. More Miz.
If you’d have told me in January 2016 that I’d put The Miz on a top 5 list of anything, I’d have hooked your arms above your head and driven your skull into the canvas. Yet, here he is. Awesome!
Maryse has added so much to his character by doing little more than strutting around in shiny clothes and high heels. She has added to his entrance, giving him a gorgeous companion to kiss and grope before he struts arrogantly down his ‘red carpet’ towards his ‘stage’. She has added to his matches, giving him a human shield to hide behind, a distraction for the ref or a means to a dirty win, further amplifying his cowardly persona. The interfering valet gas been done thousands of times in pro wrestling, it’s an easy storyline, it fits The Miz perfectly and I’m struggling to think of a time when it has been done so well. I don’t like using the word heel for The Miz. He isn’t a heel, he is an old fashioned baddie, one of those baddies that fans don’t cheer for.
The Miz had the promo of all promos on Talking Smack, and ended 2016 on a huge high after a fantastic segment with Renee Young to start a feud with Dean Ambrose. While I think The Lunatic Fringe will win this feud, grabbing himself the Intercontinental Championship heading into Wrestlemania 33, I think The Miz will benefit more from the programme, hopefully rocketing him into the Smackdown main event scene, or into a huge feud with Daniel Bryan. Am I dreaming too much in hoping for a match between Miz and Bryan at Wrestlemania 33? I probably am. Either way, I want The Miz everywhere, I want Miz TV on every SmackDown, I want him shouting at Renee and Bryan on every episode of Talking Smack, and then I want to see him get beaten up in the main event of every Smackdown exclusive PPV. I’m addicted to The Miz right now, and it’s the bad habits that are the most fun.
4. A Female Main Event at SummerSlam
Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks have changed the world of wrestling forever. Beginning at Wrestlemania 32 when Lita unveiled The Woman’s Championship, the two girls, joined by Becky Lynch, stole the show with their fantastic triple threat match. Charlotte and Sasha ended the year just as beautifully in a theatrical 30 minute Iron Man match at Roadblock End Of The Line, which marked the beginning of Flair’s 4th reign as champion. What is it with the name Flair and title reigns? Watch out Ric, it may not be John Cena who smashes your championship reign record.
While the Charlotte and Sasha story has come to an end (for now) a new feud is starting between heel Charlotte and, quite possibly the most babyface performer in the company’s history, Bayley. We have the beginning of the ultimate story of good vs evil. We have a dominant, arrogant, powerhouse of Champion, naturally gifted and undefeated in PPV matches, against a loveable, childlike underdog with silly music and a ponytail, both of which are great in the ring, and top-level storytellers.
Charlotte and Sasha made history when they main evented Hell In A Cell. Charlotte and Bayley should make more history by main eventing one of the ‘Big 4’, and Summerslam is the one!
On a side note, I’d quite like to see a women’s ladder match too.
3. DDP in the HOF
Diamond Dallas Page! Diamond Dallas Page is the greatest human in history. He fixes our heroes. Jake Roberts, Scott Hall, Mick Foley, the transformation of those 3 men is unbelievable, if it was the script of a Hollywood film, it would be panned for being too unrealistic. He has added years onto the careers of Chris Jericho and, the tragically underrated, Goldust.
His wrestling career was fun, albeit quite short, he was talented in-ring, he was great on the mic, but his services to wrestlers on a physical level are unparalleled. The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake had me in tears. Diamond Dallas Page is Jesus. Put him in the Hall Of Fame!
2. Shinsuke Nakamura on Raw
“…but Chris, Smackdown gives better opportunities to newcomers and foreign wrestlers don’t do well on Raw” I hear you say, but please hear me out.
Shinsuke Nakamura is a draw. He was the hottest thing in NXT as soon as that distinctive violin melody filled the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas as he danced to the ring for his NXT debut against Sami Zayn. The King of Strong Style won everybody over before he had even thrown a single punch, kick, suplex or Kinshasa. His flamboyant style is entertaining, his charisma is infectious, and despite his limited grasp of English, his mic skills are fantastic, and that’s before you get on to his work once the bell rings.
Nakamura is special, and putting him on WWE’s 3 hour, flagship weekly show would benefit him and Monday Night Raw. Plus, that Universal Championship belt would look great on him, red leather isn’t designed just anyone, you know?
Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself here, putting the belt on him is a bit hasty right now, but Raw is the right home for Shinsuke, and not just because of its colour scheme. If Nakamura is used correctly, kids will mimic his gestures, his entrance music will be the ringtone on smartphones all over the world, casual fans would find themselves tuning in every week, and maybe even MMA fans would catch wind of ‘strong style’ and pop over to sports-entertainment to see what all the fuss is about.
In the past, Japanese superstars in the WWE have been used for comical storylines, as jobbers, as racial stereotypes. Hell, The biggest Japanese superstar in the company thus far was a Samoan guy called Rodney Anoaʻi. If the WWE want to build upon this new era of change, if they want to show us how far they have grown, Nakamura is the risk they should take.
Strangely, I think Raw needs Nakamura more than Nakamura needs Raw.
Change nothing! I want to see Braun Strowman beating people up every single week. This doesn’t need a championship reign, he doesn’t need to win the Royal Rumble or Wrestlemania Battle Royal, he doesn’t even need a storyline or traditional match structures. He just needs to be built up as an unstoppable monster and the entire roster should be his opponent. Heel or face, Raw or Smackdown, it doesn’t matter, let Braun loose on them all!
Here’s to another great year. I bloody love Wrestling!