Stu!!!! I’ve missed you, great to see you back! Appreciate that you’re following along, and if you ever want to try your hand at the writing thing again you’ll definitely have at least one loyal reader!
Spinny, my man. Brian Cage is NOT a man to overlook! His booking looks to be pushing him higher than ever, and rightfully so. Regarding Reigns/HHH I think you’re spot on, both guys are capable of something good but this was a perfect storm of bad shit together. Yes indeed, stay tuned for those CHIKARA matches!!
Rob, I kind of hope Cage and Mack open Ultima Lucha every year for as long as possible, they are just TOO good together, it’s unreal. If it ends up in the main event, so much the better, they’re already stealing the show! Isn’t it weird to talk about Matt as the charismatic one? Crazy that in 2016 it was Jeff riding the coattails of Matt, especially towards the end of the year. How times have changed, eh? Love the feed, great to hear from you!
Sara, I love Heyman as a talker. My impression these days is he is too often asked to spin gold out of thin air, Lesnar’s feuds are unfortunately so insubstantial, but Heyman does a wonderful job with them. I can definitely see him taking that award for some people. I am personally up and down on the Bucks but I really can’t deny what they’ve got, and that’s charisma. It’s really nuts how they’ve blown up in the past few years. Sounds like I may need to check out AJ/Nakamura again, and I DEFINITELY want to see anybody who is doing a Saito homage gimmick. I freaking love that guy in AWA and WCW, obviously not to mention his large body of NJPW work.
Don, like I said if you are going to pick up one promotion outside WWE, I recommend it be Lucha Underground. Nakamura is a very good shout out for most charismatic, I kind of feel like he phoned it in a bit this year but just in terms of raw charisma it’s still off the charts.
Mr Thirteen, glad you got a chance to catch up! Drawing attention to some non-WWE-centric is the name of my game, at least at the moment. Not happy with how DCC is panning out, eh? I can’t say I blame you, I currently have mixed feelings but it definitely feels like it could have been a lot bigger than it is. YES, you should definitely check out CHIKARA! If you want me to send you some links like I’m going to do for Spinny, just let me know. Love to hear for you man!
And now, back to the show!
I am the mizfan, and I have watched 792 wrestling matches that took place in the year 2016 (only 5 of which involved The Miz). This is my 21st favorite one.
El Barbaro Cavernario vs. Volador Jr – 2 Out Of 3 Falls, NWA Historic Welterweight Championship
Arena Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
CMLL Super Viernes, October 7th
The “Now I’ve Got You, Oh Shit” Moonsault
The Setup: Cult Icon could probably tell you a lot more than me when it comes to CMLL, but I know enough to know what’s up in this match at least! This is a rematch from a bout earlier in the year, the finals of a tournament in fact, which Barbaro won by nefarious means when he essentially tricked the referee into awarding him the victory by disqualification, though not in an Eddie Guerrero-esque way (more on that later). So Volador’s been cheated, and he’s looking for some revenge! And his title got put on the line too (let me tell you, CMLL has title for DAYS), to raise the stakes even further. My instinct says these two had beef even before this all happened, but that’s as much as I know firsthand! And it’s more than enough, so let’s do it!
The Match: If you want to watch along, you can find this match here:
So much stuff in this match worked, some because it built off their previous match, some because it was just awesome, a healthy mix of story and character mixed with crazy shit like Cavernario diving off the stage and flatly splashing Volador far below. As expected in lucha there’s a fair bit of flying, but that’s really only one part of the appeal of the style. The fluidity in execution, the quick paced momentum shifts, the clearly defined and well executed divide between hero and villain… I only watched this match very late in the year but I’m so glad I did. I am definitely going to be watching more “true” lucha in the coming year. In the end Volador is able to defeat his nemesis and avenge his tournament loss to send the fans home happy.
The Winner: Volador Jr in 22:46
The Verdict: “True” lucha often gets ignored in the swath of WWE, independent, and Japanese recommendations, but I’m so glad I took the time to check this match out. Lucha style can be difficult to get into for some but I truly love it. This gets my recommendation all the way. Just incredible action and super strong face/heel work to boot.
Enjoyment Rating: *****
By way of contrast, this is my 18th least favorite match of 2016:
Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode
Wembley Arena, London, United Kingdom
TNA Impact, March 1st
The Verdict: Well, here we are. Welcome to the first stop on the Kurt Angle “Worst Match In The World” tour! Let me just say, I’m a fan of Kurt Angle historically. The man was an athletic marvel in his day and has had many, many classic matches.
But holy god, if there was ever a wrestler that needed to retire.
Here’s what you will see in a 2016 Kurt Angle match: so many German suplexes that even Brock Lesnar would be embarrassed, and a man turning a terrifying shade of purple as he pushes a body that is clearly no longer cooperating. To see him still going when by all evidence he should have hung up the boots for good in early 2014 at the absolute latest is not exciting or miraculous, but sad and more than a little scary. But, come hell or high water, Angle didn’t want to leave TNA without one (more) last run, and did a tour of retirement matches, and they are some of the worst matches I have had the misfortune of watching. The fact that Bobby Roode, who I am typically very high on, could get almost nothing out of him at this point, speaks volumes. What’s worse, Angle hardly put anyone over on his way out, and those he did put over didn’t exactly look great struggling to overcome a man who looked like he was in the middle of asphyxiating and having a heart attack at the same time.
I hate to be grim but I watched these matches with a real fear that I would open up LOP to terrible news about this man. Somehow he continues to dodge the bullet and has reduced his wrestling to a very small handful of matches after finally departing TNA, but believe me when I say this is not the last retirement tour match we will see on this list.
The Winner: Kurt Angle in 8:40
Enjoyment Rating: Ĺ*
2016 Award For Woman of the Year:
Heidi Lovelace & Princess Kimberlee (Co-Winners)
Heidi Lovelace vs. Juan Francisco de Coronado 1/30/16 CHIKARA Five Senses
Heidi Lovelace vs. Lucas Calhoun 5/29/16 CHIKARA Aniversario: The Two Towers
Heidi Lovelace, Ophidian, & Oleg the Usurper vs. The Batiri (Obariyon, Kodama, & Kobald) 9/17/16 CHIKARA The Black Goodbye
Princess Kimberlee & Eddie Kingston vs. Icarus & Hallowicked 5/27/16 CHIKARA Aniversario: Catching Fire
Princess Kimberlee vs. Hallowicked, CHIKARA Grand Championship 5/30/16 CHIKARA Aniversario: The Lost World
Princess Kimberlee vs. Max Smashmaster 11/5/16 CHIKARA Like Phantoms Forever
Shoot for the moon, and you’ll land on your co-winner…
Let me first just say I tip my hats to the ladies of WWE, who by all accounts have continued to push forward in a company that just a very short time ago had seemingly no respect for them whatsoever. Charlotte in particular has looked very impressive ever time I’ve seen her, though my viewing was too limited to end up putting her on the list.
2016 featured no shortage of prominent female performers. In fact in every promotion I watch regularly, I was very impressed by what I saw. Nobody comes close, however, to the house-tearing down tendencies of Heidi Lovelace and Princess Kimberlee. Facing both men and women with equal aplomb, they never took a back step, never shied away from a challenge, and never once looked like they did not belong not only in the main event but right in the Grand Championship picture. Indeed, for the first half of the year Kimberlee dominated that title, defending it against all comers and never failing to impress against a wide variety of opponents. Meanwhile, Heidi was able to impress even without a title to hold, and had some truly all time classic performances. Both are easily within my top 10 performers of the year, regardless of gender, and that’s without even having had the chance to consider their work outside CHIKARA. In the end I couldn’t choose between them, both are so tremendously deserving of recognition, so for one time only we have co-winners of an award in this series. Reports say that both have been picked up by WWE which is too bad for CHIKARA, but I have no doubt their keen eye for talent will unearth the next batch of indominatable trailblazers, and in the meantime NXT is about to get one hell of a shot in the arm.
Honorable Mention To: Gail Kim, Ivelisse, Taya, Jade
Question: Who is YOUR #1 female performer of 2016?
Thanks very much for joining me, mizfan fans, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for the next match in our series. Until then, stay awesome!