You know the drill. Hello and welcome to blah blah wrestleyear 2017 the thread that recaps all the things that etc. in the world of professional wrestling in 2017. Honestly I spent almost the entire year unable to write any of this. I mean if 2016 was a nightmare 2017 was the nightmare that follows it where you've been asleep too long and your DMT soaked subconscious starts to get extra weird. Now all your favorite celebrities aren't dead they're irredeemable sex pests. Videogame companies kept finding new ways to turn once beloved franchises into depressing gambling schemes. Also our stupid Nazi pedophile President destroyed the internet and gave all our money to the rich. 2017 was about as hard to keep up with as a treadmill turned all the way up falling off the back of a truck that's driving downhill. Seemingly the only consistently good thing you could count on in 2017 was New Japan Pro Wrestling's shows...
NJPW's annual January 4th Tokyodome Show Wrestlekingdom 11 sprinted off the starting line of 2017 with several match of the year contenders. Roppongi Vice
defeated IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions and professional twitter trolls The Young Bucks. Los Ingobernables de Japon captured the 6-Man titles. Cody Rhodes and Juice Robinson established themselves as capable of living up to New Japan's standards.
The card was so stacked that the ROH World Championship match which saw Kyle O'reilly defend his prestigious title against Adam Cole served as a ten minute intermission for fans to go use the bathroom. The slapstick comedy duo of Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano captured the IWGP Tag Team Championships thanks to Yano's creative interpretation of the rules.
The real show though began with the final four matches of the night. It was eighty five minutes of asking yourself how anybody could possibly have a better match in 2017 only to be immediately shown how. Hiromu Takahashi won the Junior Heavyweight title by debuting his new style of wrestling which involves yelling the Japanese phrase for “WITNESS ME” before intentionally fucking up and landing on your neck just right so as to not die.
Hirooki Goto had arguably the most emotional match of his career taking the NEVER Openweight Championship from Katsuyori Shibata in a hard striking war
. The only reason the Intercontinental Championship match wasn't the main event again was so Naito could spite Tanahashi out of his 7th Wrestlkingdom main event in a row. Three years to the day that Naito's main event dreams were stolen and crushed the spiteful Ingobernable got his revenge by not only keeping Tanahashi out of the main event but putting him on the losing end of the second to last match just as he had been years ago. Not that Naito's bitter. You're bitter! TRANQUILLO! CALM DOWN!
Then it happened. The then still unproven Kenny Omega and the ace of New Japan Kazuchika Okada had an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match so good it seemingly raised the bar for the rest of 2017. It could be argued they put on the greatest match in the history of pro wrestling and instantly established Omega as not only a main eventer but possibly the best wrestler in the world. The two wrestlers did everything they could possibly do in a match. There was brawling
, high flying
, technical work
, more high flying
and even a tasteful nude scene inspired by 1984 high concept science fiction action movie The Terminator. The match received endless amounts of praise from not only fans and critics but also industry veterans like Daniel Bryan and Mick Foley. Jim Cornette criticized it for being an exhibition of guys cooperating to do moves nobody could really get up from proving once and for all that Jim no longer knows what professional wrestling is. If anything Cornette's cane rattling at these whippersnappers only further validated how great the match was. No spoilers but the winner was the guy who held the title the rest of the year.
The following night New Japan held their annual followup New Year's Dash, the wrestling equivalent of piling what remains of your holiday leftovers onto a plate and seeing if it makes a meal. “Scott Norton, Tencozy and Cheeseburger as a team? Yeah I suppose all of that meat and bread works. I'll just set these Bill Gunn and Yoshitatsu pieces aside to be thrown in the trash later.” The main event saw yet another NEVER 6-Man Tag title change with Nakanishi, Tanahashi and team leader Taguchi defeating Sanada, Evil and Bushi but the real highlights were the surprise appearances on the undercard. The first came when CMLL's Dragon Lee attacked Hiromu in the middle of his tag match and posed with the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship bringing their feud to New Japan. The second came when the entirety of Suzukigun returned
lead by MMA pioneer and easily irritated ogre-man Minoru Suzuki. After choking out and Gotch-Piledrivering Okada Suzuki stood over the carcasses of a 10-man tag and declared “I'm going to end you! All you sons of bitches listen up. Suzukigun is here now, so this is our ring. All you shut up. Okada, this is all your fault. Listen well, Suzukigun Ichiban!"
I think at some point two of the members of Suzukigun held the tag titles for a month.
Nine days later WWE held a tournament to crown the inaugural WWE United Kingdom Champion. The two shows were held at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool, Lancashire, England which WWE tells me is just up the road from Brighton. The tournament featured a lot of stringy haired men who have been wrestling since they were toddlers. The finals came down to Tyler Bate and a feral mamal called Pete Dunne. It was the start of arguably the best rivalry WWE's had all year and ultimately it saw the disgustingly young Tyler Bate victoriously crowned champion in scenes that looked at times a bit like Triple H got all of his buddies to cockshame a twink.
Oldest active promotion in the world CMLL held Fantastica Mania between January 13th and 22nd with seven shows each featuring seven matches. Being that CMLL and New Japan have a working relationship it was a co-production between the Mexican and Japanese companies with several of the shows hosted on New Japan World for theoretical fans who just haven't been given enough multi-man tag matches.
Meanwhile back in the United States NXT was preparing their 13th show under the TakeOver banner. More than 9,465 people packed into the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio to watch WWE's developmental league featuring mostly people who have been wrestling for almost a decade. The show featured The Authors of Pain taking the NXT Tag Team Championships from DIY. No worries though as Johnny Gargano was very understanding about his friend getting pinned. As per usual with NXT wrestlers were shown in attendance such as Tyler Bate and Matt Riddle.
There was even a brief appearance by former WWE Universal Champion Seth Rollins. Hi Seth.
The main event of the show was billed as The Biggest Money Match in NXT History. Shinsuke Nakamura defended the NXT Championship against Bobby Roode in a match that saw the challenger pick apart the knee of the King of Strong Style much like a decade of wrestling did. It worked to make the champion's Kinshasha knee strikes hurt him as much as they did Roode and two Glorious DDTs later Bobby would be crowned the oldest NXT Champion of all time at 39 years of age.
Remember the Rumble? WWE's annual disappointment brought eternal rivals RAW and Smackdown togetehr at the Alamodome in front of 52,020 people to see Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson beat Cesaro and Sheamus for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Titles on the fucking pre-show. Good use of those New Japan signings RAW. Meanwhile on the main show Charlotte defeated Bayley, Kevin Owens defeated Roman Reigns and Vince McMahon defeated whatever labor laws were keeping him from holding Chris Jericho in a cage. Owens retained largely due interference from monster heel Braun Strowman who was uproariously cheered for reverse chokeslamming Reigns through an announce table before powerslamming The Big Dog through another table in the ring. Neville defeated Rich Swann to capture the WWE Cruiserweight Championship for the first time, marking his first title win on the main roster as well or as we know it one year later “Somebody beat nobody for that thing Enzo has let's not talk about it.”
Still though the real main event was the fantastic bout between AJ styles and John Cena for the WWE Championship. The two traded finishers for near falls fairly early on like the indie darlings they are. It's bizarre because it came before the segment of the match where AJ tried to show John how to apply submission holds.
The ending came when Styles attempted a Phenomenal Forearm but got caught and countered by John Cena spamming Attitude Adjustments. With this win John tied 16 of Ric Flair's record 19 or 23 World Championships.
The actual Royal Rumble itself started with Big Cass and Chris Jericho. The Rumble also saw an appearance from Rule 63 Mary Poppins, elimination monster Braun Strongman and number 10 entrant Ty Dillinger. Not even James Ellsworth could stop Strowman's wrath as he plowed through the competition. In fact it took former Andre the Giant Battle Royal Winner Barron Corbin. The match also saw The Wyatt family and their weird cousin Orton as well as appearances from nostalgia acts like Goldberg, The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. In a bit of foreshadowing Taker was eliminated by Roman Reigns. The match came down to a final four of Jericho, Wyatt, Orton and Reigns with Roman Superman Punching his way through the competition only to make the classic error of trying to spear Randy Orton. Yes Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble this year, something the promotional material for the show will forever beg you to try and remember.
Oh also Samoa Joe debuted by eliminating Seth Rollins' kneecap the next night on RAW.