Welcome back to The Nerd/Out Top 100 Wrestlers of the year. In case you didn’t see the first installment of this list, allow us to explain what’s going on. Together with Mark Out Entertainment, we here at Nerdopotamus have formed a wrestling committee. Their goal was to put together a list of the best wrestlers in the world. The qualifying period was from final bell of WrestleMania 31 to final bell of WrestleMania 32.
Anything that came before or after is irrelevant, and did not factor into the decision-making process.
Today, we will be joined by three members of the Nerd/Out wrestling committee. As always, we’ll introduce them when the time comes.
Alberto Del Rio
As you can see from the picture above, ADR made his return to WWE at the 2015 Hell in a Cell PPV. He answered John Cena’s open challenge for the United States Championship, and actually wound up putting The Doctor of Thuganomics down for a three count. What a way to make a return!
Unfortunately, after that, things went downhill for Del Rio. He held onto the US title for a while, and then he had a feud with Kallisto that saw the two of them exchange wins (and the US Championship). Eventually, Kallisto won the rivalry, and ADR stuck to The League of Nations, which has been his role ever since.
Now, ADR is an interesting case. Initial placement saw him much, much lower on the list. The argument was made that his return was enough to boost him up. I disagreed. Most of Del Rio’s current WWE run has been rough. Dude feuded with Jack Swagger for a while.
Then Carlos made the argument that Alberto deserved to be higher based off his Lucha Underground work (where he was known as Alberto El Patron). Combine that with his work as AAA Heavyweight Champion, and there’s no more arguing to be done. He absolutely belongs where he is. The man put out phenomenal work in both, but especially LU.
Hallowicked had a huge 2015. After breaking bad because of the Eye of Tyr, the Chikara day one original not only went full rudo, but finally started to speak! He eventually won the Grand Championship and became unstoppable.
He defended the title around the world, waving the flag of Chikara behind him. Hallowicked may be one of, if not THE, most underrated professional wrestler in all of the US. He can do it all. I only hope more of the world gets a chance to appreciate the work this guy puts in. Go watch his feud with Eddie Kingston. It’s no joke.
For this entry, we take you back to Joey Finnegan:
Charlotte is one of the most athletically gifted women in the WWE. There’s no denying that. She puts that athleticism on display every time she steps into the ring. I mean, come on, look at that sweet moonsault she pulled off at WrestleMania 32. Plus, the Figure 8 is very cool. Such a simple addition to a tried and true classic.
I could live without Ric Flair being so heavily involved in all of her matches. It makes her look a bit weak, and it makes the other girls look really dumb for not having a plan to counter the Nature Boy. However, the positive element of it is that whoever finally deals with Ric and beats Charlotte will receive an absolutely huge crowd reaction. With the help of her father, the Nature Girl has positioned herself as the marquis heel of the WWE Women’s Division.
For this entry, we take you back to Carlos Rivero:
RUSEV. MATCHKA. RUSEV. LAY WITH LANKA. RUSEV. BEST TWITTER IN THE GAME. Seriously, though, this guy makes it on the top ten list of life for locking Lana down. His twitter, without a doubt, is the most hysterical in all of WWE. Dude is lowkey the funniest guy on the roster. If you don’t believe me, check out his appearances on Up Up Down Down.
No one talks shit as good as he does. Wrestling wise? Things went a little downhill after Mania last year and his injury. His feud with Ziggler did no one any favors, but it did let his personality shine. He’s continued to put in solid work in the ring. His stuff with the League of Nations has also been great.
Honestly, I just wanted to get him on this list to type out MATCHKA.
For this entry, we again take you back to Carlos Rivero:
Baron Corbin rolled into NXT making it a habit of squashing dudes in under 20 seconds. All he had was a solid punch and finisher. He got himself involved in a lackluster feud with Bull Dempsey and even had a run in or two with Rhyno. After a nice showing in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Tournament, people stopped caring about Corbin.
They’d completely turned on the guy, who quickly embraced the hate. He started a crusade against the “Internet darlings”. He’s only gotten better in the ring with time. But, above all, he’s become a magnificent talker. You love to hate this guy. I’ve begun to love how much of a dick he is. The recent ARMBAR winner showed up on Raw a week ago and looks to be set on a feud with Dolph Ziggler. Good luck to that dude.
For this entry, we take you back (yet again) to Joey Finnegan:
Adrian Neville made his WWE main roster debut on the Raw after WrestleMania 31. People were absolutely hyped. Not long after, he had the top moment of his young career: he wrestled Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He obviously didn’t win, but it was a killer match.
From there, despite having pretty much nothing to do, Neville stayed as popular as ever. In fact, he legitimately won Breakthrough Superstar of the Year at the Slammy Awards, which prompted those behind the scenes to send Kevin Owens out to steal the spotlight (apparently they were just about positive that KO was going to win). The crazy part about that is Adrian Neville has said like twelve words since coming up to the main roster. He doesn’t need to say anything.
He’s gotten over with the WWE crowd by simply being great inside the ring. There is no one in the company who could match his athleticism, and I expect it will stay that way, once The Man That Gravity Forgot makes his way back from the nasty ankle injury he recently sustained.
NOTE: The video below shows Neville hurt himself (it happens about 7 seconds in when he goes to slide underneath Y2J), and then keep wrestling. Very badass.
For this entry, we take you back (for the final time) to Carlos Rivero:
Mil Muertes is a monster. He’s that kinda hoss that can slug it out in a HOSS FIGHT, but also be an incredible base for smaller wrestlers. His matches with Fenix and Prince Puma changed the game. I’ve told people that the casket match between Mil Muertes and Fenix is the best casket match I’d ever seen. I know, that’s kind of a tall order. Look it up and watch it if you get a chance. You won’t regret it.
Mil Muertes had an impressive reign as LU champ and looks to be out for blood once more. He’s yet to have a bad match.
Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson
For this entry, we take you back (also for the final time) to Joey Finnegan:
These two men exploded onto my radar when it was found out that they, along with AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, had given their notice to NJPW to go and join WWE. I knew a bit about them from Jerry Mascolo and my research into the career Fergal Devitt had before becoming Finn Balor in NXT, but the news prompted me to look further.
Obviously, I quickly realized that Doc Gallows was Luke Gallows and Festus in WWE, as well as fake Kane. Karl Anderson spent the majority of his time in NJPW, PWG, and ROH. Together, they’ve won the IWGP Tag Team Championships on three occasions.
We’ve tried to be strict about keeping attached videos within the qualifying period. Gallows and Anderson’s WWE debut gets special treatment. After word got out that they gave notice, wrestling fans the world over have been speculating how things would go down. In fact, they spent a majority of our qualifying period doing it. If you read through wrestling websites or /r/squaredcircle, you’ll see countless theories and fantasy booking (my favorite of which being The Shield vs. Bullet Club).
It became clear during our qualifying period that Anderson and Gallows have the potential to completely alter the WWE landscape. All Vince McMahon has to do is let it happen. If The Bullet Club is allowed to run wild in WWE, I believe we will see another NWO level surge in popularity for professional wrestling.
The real meat and potatoes lies in Unbreakable Mike’s athleticism, especially for a man of his size. For a man who might as well be just a walking muscle, he moves around that ring fairly quickly. The power, obviously, is tremendous. His ability to hold up some pretty big men in a vertical suplex position, or dead lift suplex them from the aapron to the inside of the ring never fails to astonish.
It’s no wonder why New Japan snatched him up. Elgin has been putting on great performances in NJPW since 2015 and really connected with the Japanese crowd. More recently, he had an awesome showing at this year’s New Japan Cup tournament, having great big man matches with Togi Makabe and Bad Luck Fale, before being bested by Hirooki in the semi-finals.
Sami Zayn continues to impress since debuting in NXT in 2013, showing the more mainstream WWE audience why he is considered one of the best professional wrestlers in the world and was beloved as El Generico on the independent circuit. Zayn is a well-rounded athlete who can mix it up on the mat and fly around with the best of them.
All of this was on display in the closing hours of our qualifying period when Sami Zayn took on a debuting Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT Takeover: Dallas in what is already a 2016 Match of the Year front runner – and one of the best matches I’ve ever seen. Zayn showcased his well-rounded, polished ability to a huge WWE audience during WWE’s biggest weekend of the year, in a match that many people say stole the entire weekend.
We saw him stand toe-to-toe with Nakamura in the center of the ring while they forearmed the shit out of each other. We saw him fly around, and we saw him take it to the mat with one of the best wrestlers in the world.
As a humongous fan of Sami Zayn, I was nervous when he debuted in NXT sans the El Generico gimmick that made him a worldwide sensation, but was pleasantly surprised when he got to show how much personality he has and how great he is telling a story through his facial expressions. He can connect with audiences in a way matched by very few and he’s got a long, long successful WWE career ahead of him – which I can’t wait to see.
That’s all for day seven of our list. Numbers 30-21 will be published tomorrow. As always, feel free to question our choices in the comment section.
We’d love to hear from you!
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FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Courtesy of WWE.com.