The Faction Year In Review: The Faction Awards (pt 2)

wrestlemania-32-logoPPV/SPECIAL EVENT OF THE YEAR

This category was EASILY be THE most contested category of them all this year’s awards with the Wrestlemania 32 winning by merely one vote.

Wrestlemania 32 was slated by all accounts to be the biggest Wrestlemania in history. Emanating from AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX, Vince McMahon’s grand plan was to break his Wrestlemania attendance record set in 1987 at Wrestlemania 3 with the biggest card ever. It was rumored to feature at one point, the return of Hulk Hogan, along with the company’s current big names such as John Cena, Seth Rollins and more. However, as time crept up on the big event, an unusual set of circumstances turned this dream card into more of a nightmare.

Hulk Hogan’s return was marred with a sex tape scandal where he used racially charged language that got him fired and scrubbed from the WWE. Seth Rollins forfeited the WWE Title due to a freak injury. Speaking of injury, the dream of Sting vs. Undertaker was scrapped as Sting collapsed in a match with the aforementioned Seth Rollins, leading to his ultimate retirement. The company’s flagship John Cena, who had not missed a Wrestlemania since his 2004 Mania debut was out on the shelf and couldn’t be scheduled.

What would the WWE do with so many of its major players succumbing to injury? Well before Beyonce could ever show up, WWE showed the world how to make Lemonade. What was on paper a subpar card turned into something exciting. Over 101,000 fans packed the AT&T Stadium creating a Wrestlemania record and marking the third largest crowd to ever view pro wrestling. The card was highlighted by the Wrestlemania debut of AJ Styles, a stellar Triple Threat match between Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch for the newly minted WWE Women’s Championship, and Shane McMahon’s death defying leap from the top of Hell In A Cell against The Undertaker in a losing effort.

Mania also saw Roman Reigns get a predictable win, picking up his third WWE Championship. However, it was the unpredictable moments that made Mania memorable. Who could’ve predicted the in-ring return of Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, and Stone Cold Steve Austin to put the boots to the now-defunct team of The League of Nations (Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and Rusev)? NXT’s Baron Corbin outlasted 20 men to win the third annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal and the ultimate underdog Zack Ryder won the Intercontinental Title in a 7-man ladder match. The evening’s other monumental surprise saw an unscheduled appearance by The Rock, who would trash talk his way into an impromptu match, defeating Erick Rowan of The Wyatt Family in under 10 seconds. Oh…and in the melee of this battle, an injured John Cena would return to help The Rock fend off the remainder of The Wyatt Family.

While Wrestlemania 32 didn’t produce a classic match like Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker or Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat, it did show the resolve of Team WWE to create enough moments to receive this honor.

Honorable Mention:
WWE Summerslam (33%), NXT Takeover: Dallas (33%)


goldberg-gold-beltCOMEBACK OF THE YEAR

Of all of the names that we thought we would possibly talk about in 2016, VERY few imagined the return of Goldberg. It’s been 12 years since Goldberg’s departure from the business. Goldberg was one of the defining figures of the Monday Night War, becoming one of the major players for WCW. Goldberg became the first man to win the World Title with an unblemished record, defeating Hulk Hogan in 1998 less than one year into the business at the Georgia Dome. His WWE career began in 2003 and featured rivalries with The Rock and Triple H, resulting in another World Title run.

However, it was his final rivalry that became the unusual blemish on Goldberg’s record. Wrestlemania 20 saw Goldberg take on Brock Lesnar in one of Wrestlemania’s most underwhelming matches. While Goldberg won the match, it would be the swan song for Goldberg…until this year.

An appearance on the new WWE 2K17 game led to an interview on ESPN which ultimately led to a monumental rematch between Goldberg and Lesnar. Much like their Wrestlemania 20 buildup, the match had great fanfare and became the main event of the Survivor Series.

Lesnar and Goldberg were not the same people that they were in 2004. In 2016, Lesnar was the WWE’s unbeatable monster. He was the 1 in 21-1, being the man to break the previously untouchable Wrestlemania winning streak of The Undertaker. He’s the man who dominated John Cena, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and The Undertaker and seemed unbeatable.

Then came Survivor Series 2016. Simply put, Goldberg was dominant. He put down “The Beast Incarnate” in 86 seconds flat, reminiscent of a Mike Tyson fight from the 1980s. Goldberg is BACK and is as dominant as ever.

What appeared as a one-match return will move into 2017 as both Lesnar and Goldberg will be part of the Royal Rumble match, which is leading to a rumored Wrestlemania rematch. No matter what happens, Goldberg’s return is undoubtedly the Comeback of The Year.

Honorable Mention:
Shane McMahon (31%), The Miz (25%)



When NXT was created some eight years ago, it was initially designed to be another WWE hour long program to introduce new wrestling stars as they were paired with fellow WWE superstars for training and less than entertaining exercises. After four seasons of that floundering, the concept moved to Florida and was infused within Florida Championship Wrestling, which was the new developmental arm of WWE. After Triple H and Dusty Rhodes were given the reins of this territory, something happened.

The buzz for the promotion began when its episodes were airing exclusively on Hulu and producing stars such as The Wyatt Family, The Shield, and Big E. In 2014, the WWE Network launched, becoming the exclusive home of NXT. Right around the same time, the WWE Performance Center was built in Orlando, Florida, becoming the training ground for the WWE’s newest stars.

Now airing from Full Sail University, this promotion began to house the best pure wrestling in the company and arguably the industry. On the heels of a historic 2015, the company showed NO signs of slowing down this year, producing some of the industry’s top matches, creating the next stars for the Raw and Smackdown brands, while signing new talent.

NXT saw the debuts of Shinsuke Nakamura, “The Glorious” Bobby Roode, Eric Young, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Roderick Strong, and Ember Moon (fka Athena) this year. Talents like Enzo and Cass, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, American Alpha, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Carmella, and Tyler Breeze found themselves adding a fresh wrinkle to both Raw and Smackdown.

Oh….and how about those matches?! The NXT Takeover special events produced some of the most incredible wrestling we’ve seen all year. Shinsuke Nakamura’s debut against Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover: Dallas was a runner-up for Match of the Year for The Faction Awards, while being named Match of the Year with our friends as Suplex City on Facebook. Let’s just run through a list of some standout matches coming from the NXT brand this year.

American Alpha vs. The Revival (NXT Takeover: Dallas)
The Revival vs. #DIY (Ciampa and Gargano) (NXT Takeover: Toronto)
Finn Balor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT TV)
Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe (Steel Cage Match)
Asuka vs. Bayley (NXT Takeover: Dallas)
Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT: Toronto)
Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (Osaka)

NXT has put in significant work to bring the industry’s best mix of veterans, independent stars, and newcomers. This year, we saw both Zack Sabre, Jr and Kota Ibushi don the doors of NXT. What will 2017 hold for one of the most exciting brands in the industry? It’s showing no signs of slowing down, so brace yourself for another INCREDIBLE year from NXT.

Honorable Mention:
WWE (63%), Ring Of Honor (25%), Lucha Underground (19%)



This category saw one of the most dominant wins as The Miz took this one by a landslide and rightfully so. This is the year that the former Reality Star stepped up his game immensely and became a prime-time player (and we don’t mean the third member of a previous WWE Tag Team). The Miz’s monumental year began the night after Wrestlemania 32 where he ended Zack Ryder’s unlikely Intercontinental reign at barely 24 hours. In the same night, the world was reintroduced to former WWE Divas champion Maryse, who is now the wife of the six-time Intercontinental Champion.

He was the longest reigning singles champion of 2016 in WWE, with his fifth reign spanning 188 days. His feud with Dolph Ziggler elevated both of their careers, leading to an emotional retirement ladder match during WWE Backlash in October where Ziggler would end that title reign. However, a mere 37 days later, Miz would regain the title, thus spending the bulk of the year as Intercontinental Champion.

While helping to produce some of the best matches on the Smackdown brand this year, it’s his mic work that turned the eyes, ears, and hearts of fans in his direction. Who can forget his passionate promo that launched a war of words with Smackdown General Manager Daniel Bryan that erupted on the new show Talking Smack. This verbal war would continue throughout the year. However, the pipebombs from the Intercontinental Champion weren’t merely reserved for Bryan as his latest victim was Bryan’s Talking Smack co-host Renee Young. His unscripted commentary about Young’s relationship with former WWE Champion Dean Ambrose caused a slap from Young reminiscent of Stephanie McMahon’s vitriolic hits and sent the Internet abuzz.

No question about it. The Miz has cemented himself as a main event star!

Honorable Mention:
Heath Slater (33%), Xavier Woods (27%), Alexa Bliss (20%)


paul-heymanMASTER OF THE MIC

As much as we love in-ring work, a talent’s ability to attract an audience generally comes through interviews and promos. Wrestlers like The Rock, Ric Flair, and Dusty Rhodes come to mind when we think of some of the best to grace the microphone. The 2016 Master of the Mic is NOT an in-ring performer but IS the advocate for the Beast Incarnate. We speak of Paul Heyman. The mastermind behind ECW has had such an intriguing job as the spokesperson for Brock Lesnar, a part-time wrestler who rarely appears on WWE weekly TV.

Heyman has kept us interested in Brock Lesnar and, for many weeks, served as the bright spot for a three hour Monday Night Raw that looked for ways to fill their time slot. Heyman made the challenge for Lesnar’s opposition this year which included Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, and Goldberg. He was even brave enough to be the recipient of a spear from the returning Goldberg and was the only one to speak on behalf of Lesnar after his crushing loss to Goldberg at Survivor Series.

Heyman’s ability to put a talent over is refreshing and reminiscent of the great managers like Bobby Heenan and Jimmy Hart. We can’t seem to get enough of Heyman and his work this year is doubly worthy of this honor.

Honorable Mention:
Chris Jericho (33%), The Miz (33%), Enzo Amore (27%)


bobby-roode-nxtTHEME SONG OF THE YEAR

Dating back to the introduction of music in wrestling by The Fabulous Freebirds in the early 80s, music has absolutely changed the aura and atmosphere of a wrestler. From the broken glass of Stone Cold to the iconic “Are You Ready” from DX, music can help define a wrestler.

Perhaps this was no more true than in 2016 with the long awaited debut of Bobby Roode in NXT. After a brief appearance at NXT Takeover: Dallas, Roode made his debut at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn with a theme song that the NXT Universe IMMEDIATELY latched on to! With one word “GLORIOUS”, Roode became an immediate star in NXT. His theme song became a charting download on the iTunes charts and his full entrance became just as much of a spectacle as his matches.

Roode already came in to NXT as a nearly 20-year veteran. However, most of his in ring work and accolades came in TNA. How would that translate in the world of NXT? Well, the theme song broke down the walls and established Roode as a star!!

Now, Roode is the #1 contender for the NXT Championship and is set for a battle with NXT Champion Shinsuke Nakamura in what should be a dream match moving into 2017. Rest assured, this encounter will be GLORIOUS!!

Honorable Mention:
“Phenomenal (AJ Styles Theme)” (44%), “The Rising Sun (Shinsuke Nakamura Theme)” (31%), Enzo Amore (27%)

Check out more winners of The Faction Awards HERE!!

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