The Nerd/Out Top 100 Wrestlers – 20-1

top 100 wrestlers

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.

You may have noticed that this installment is days late and twice the normal size. The plan was to publish numbers 20-11 on April 14th, 2016, and then drop the final 10 on the next day. The delay and super-sizing is due to our committee being locked in intense debate over the placing of two entries in particular.

They’ve finally settled up, however, so we’re ready to publish.


#20
Kimber Lee

top 100 wrestlers
(Kimber Lee’s Twitter)

To kick things off for the final installment of this list, we take you to Carlos Rivero (TD91 cast member and Nerdo regular):

Kimber Lee has been putting in work throughout all of 2015/2016. Her matches in Beyond and Chikara have continued to alter people’s views of “inter-gender matches” to just good ol’ “wrestling matches.” Genders don’t matter when both competitors kick ass and tell a fantastic story.

Kimber Lee also became the first female Grand Champion of Chikara, and the first female champ of any of the large independent professional wrestling promotions across the United States. The rest of 2016 is guaranteed to only produce more bangers from this champion.


#19
Ricochet/Prince Puma

top 100 wrestlers
(Ricochet’s Twitter)

For this entry, we take you to Scott Kolich (Nerdo regular):

Ricochet is an incredibly entertaining wrestler who plays two incredibly different characters. Prince Puma was the first ever Lucha Underground World Champion and defended quite often against Johnny Mundo and Cage, just to name a couple.

His Iron Man match with Mundo is one of my favorite matches from the last 5 years and his recent match with Will Ospreay at Evolve 59 was a banger. Moving forward, it will be very interesting to see what he chooses to do, as he would be more than welcome in the WWE.


#18
Zack Sabre Jr.

top 100 wrestlers
(ZSJ’s Twitter)

For this entry, we take you right back to Scott Kolich:

Zack Sabre Jr. is a fantastic wrestler in his own right, as a cruiserweight he’s performed well enough the past year to catch the WWE’s eye and will be wrestling along with a lot of other great competitors in the Global Cruiserweight Series.

He won PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles and is the current champion for PWG, along with the Revolution Pro Wrestling Champion in Britain. He’s technically fantastic and can fly around a bit when he has to. If you haven’t seen him wrestle. do yourself a favor and look up some of his matches.


#17
Dean Ambrose

top 100 wrestlers
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

For this entry, we again take you right back to Scott Kolich:

Welcome to the Ambrose Asylum. Dean Ambrose is that character that is relatable to most every wrestling fan. He’s an amazing worker who can cut a great promo, but don’t take my word for it (take me to Suplex City, baby). Whether it’s in tag team matches, or taking the King of Kings to his limit, Dean really shines once he steps in between the ropes.

To close out our qualifying period, he took 13 Germans and an F5 on a stack of chairs. In this era, he’s as close as you will see in WWE to a hardcore wrestler and the fans love him for it.


#16
Roderick Strong

top 100 wrestlers
(Roderick Strong’s Twitter)

For this entry, we take you to Fre (TD91 cast member and Nerdo regular):

Roddy has had a hell of a year. The real admirable quality of Roderick Strong is how he’s only gotten better and better with time; he’s only gained steps. Strong has continued to break backs and kick people in the face with his shitty little boots as PWG Champion and ROH Television Champion. He has certainly earned his place in the second incarnation of Mt. Rushmore and will continue to hold it down in every promotion he stomps through.


#15
Hiroshi Tanahashi

top 100 wrestlers
(Wrestlinginc.com)

For this entry, we take you right back to Fre:

Simply calling Hiroshi Tanahashi the “Japanese John Cena” is an injustice to New Japan’s resident ace. With each strum of his iconic air guitar, Tanahashi has elevated NJPW back to a level of popularity it, arguably, hasn’t seen since the 90s.

7 IWGP Heavyweight title reigns and several 5-star classics, including one this last WRESTLE KINGDOM 10, opposite Okada make Tanahashi one of the top aces of this list.


#14
The Young Bucks

top 100 wrestlers
(The Young Bucks’ Facebook)

For this entry, we take you to Joey Finnegan (TD91 cast member and Nerdo regular):

The Young Bucks may well be the greatest current tag team in the professional wrestling business. They have tons of charisma, incredible in-ring ability, unparalleled social media savvy, and so much more. They’ve won countless tag team titles from various promotions all over the world, including PWG, ROH, and NJPW.

During our qualifying period, they were voted Tag Team of the Year by The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships for a record tying fourth time (only to lose it in their first defense), and then later won the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship as The Elite, alongside Kenny Omega.

They recently lost those titles, but they weren’t their first, and they wont be the last. The Young Bucks will hold plenty more gold in the future. 


#13
Tetsuya Naito

top 100 wrestlers
(Wikipedia)

For this entry, we take you back to Fre:

Tetsuya Naito has had a hell of a year. He went from playing 5th fiddle to guys like Nakmura, Styles, Okada, and Tanahashi to forming (in Japan at least) what has arguably surpassed the Bullet Club as the most popular stable in New Japan.

That was only the beginning as Naito has also won the New Japan Cup and captured the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship just days ago. With the recent departures in NJPW, Naito has stepped up big time to become a guy who is more than capable of carrying the weight of the company on his back.


#12
John Cena

top 100 wrestlers
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

For this entry, we again take you back to Fre:

ABADDOOOOOO! Has anyone had a year quite like John Cena? The most important thing that has happened between these last two years is the sheer amount of hilarious memes created in his honor.  Seriously, sit down and fall into a hole filled with hilarity.

Oh, I guess Cena did do cool things like raise the prestige of the United States title, have banger matches with Kevin Owens, and continue to be the standard.

Also, I almost got into a fight defending his honor. Worth it.


#11/10 (TIE)
Sasha Banks & Kevin Owens

top 100 wrestlers
(Courtesy of WWE.com)
top 100 wrestlers
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

For this entry, we take you back to Joey Finnegan:

These two are the ones that are primarily responsible for the delay in release of this final installment. We could not decide which one deserved to be placed above the other. They both put in phenomenal work down in NXT.

KO came in and two months later, he was wearing gold. He dominated for the majority of his time in the promotion. Then he got bumped up to the main roster, while still in possession of the NXT Championship. Once there, he beat John Cena clean in his first WWE match. Then he won the Intercontinental Championship twice, and even went into WrestleMania with the IC title. 

Sasha did amazing things while in NXT. She helped Becky Lynch get over with their incredible match at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable. She had two of the best matches I’ve ever seen with Bayley. Then she went up to the main roster, and things got…B.A.D.

I have nothing against Naomi and Tamina. I just hated the format they started the #DivasRevolution under: three teams of three divas. It was silly. Despite that, The Boss never lost any momentum. Week after week, chants of “we want Sasha” rang out through the arena. 

Now, here we are. She put in the performance of a lifetime opposite Charlotte and Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 32. The sky’s the limit for her. The same goes for KO, however. Coming out of WrestleMania 32, it appears he is set for a long-term feud with Sami Zayn. That will be huge for him. Sasha, on the other hand, is apparently going to take her time, but eventually be the one to take the title from Charlotte (at least that’s what the rumor mill says).

See why we had so much trouble? These performers are at the very top of their game. They also both have a really sweet Frog Splash.


#9
Finn Balor

nxt takeover: dallas
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

For this entry, we take you right back to Joey Finnegan:

Finn Balor has done nothing but excel since he came into NXT. Some say that his character is lacking in depth, and that he can come off poorly on the microphone. Thankfully, the powers that be have let him prove those people wrong at house shows, which just so happen to basically be recorded in full by fans with their cellphones. He’s cut promo after promo from those shows, and they’re all over the internet.

Hell, he’s had countless fans in a tizzy over his interactions with Bayley at NXT live events. Will they? Won’t they? 

On the in-ring side, his work has been tight AF. He won the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic with Samoa Joe, and the NXT Championship from Kevin Owens at The Beast in the East on July 4th, 2015. He’s kept that title ever since, fending off KO in a rematch, Samoa Joe in two matches, and more. To say the future is bright for Finn Balor would be a massive understatement, especially with all of this Bullet Club stuff on the horizon. 


#8
Kazuchika Okada

top 100 wrestlers
(Wikipedia)

For this entry, we take you back to Fre:

When most men want to “make it rain,” they withdraw several $20 dollar bills from the ATM and shuffle them onto some girl that’s going to regret her career choices until college is paid off. Kazuchika Okada took different approach to the phrase and literally had a bunch of money with his face on it fall from the ceiling of the arena onto everyone in the crowd.

His resume is no secret, as he was trained by Ultimo Dragon and has risen to the very top of the wrestling world only years after playing Samoa Joe’s own personal Kato in TNA.

This past year, Okada has continued to hold it down taking over as NJPW’s ace while Tanahashi takes some time out of the spotlight. Another IWGP Heavyweight title reign and a 5 star classic against Tanahashi where he finally wins the big one in the Dome makes Okada’s past 365 days one to remember.


#7
The New Day

top 100 wrestlers
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

For this entry, we take you back to Joey Finnegan:

If you don’t love The New Day, it’s probably because you’re dead inside. The entertainment value that Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods brought to WWE programming during our qualifying period could not possibly be measured. Week after week, they were one of the only acts worth watching on Monday Night Raw (along with Cena’s US Open Challenge, or Kevin Owens when he came in, among very few others).

They also won the WWE Tag Team Championships twice during the qualifying period, once from Tyson Kidd and Cesaro and once from The Prime Time Players. They’ve basically dominated the tag team scene since. Nobody has been able to take their titles. It’s gotten so bad, that WWE is currently holding a tag team tournament to determine which two men are even worthy of a shot at New Day’s gold. 

And why? Because…

top 100 wrestlers
(YouTube.com)

#6
Jay Lethal

top 100 wrestlers
(Jay Lethal’s Twitter)

For this entry, we take you back to Scott Kolich:

Not many can say they had a better year than Jay Lethal. Holding both the ROH Television Title and ROH World Heavyweight Title at the same time is pretty damn impressive. His matches with Roderick Strong were of the hottest fuego, as were his matches at Wrestle Kingdom 10 and the ROH anniversary show.

The veteran seems rejuvenated and continues to put on amazing matches. Do yourself a favor and catch one!


#5
Bayley

top 100 wrestlers
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

For this entry, we take you back to Joey Finnegan:

Bayley had two of the best matches I’ve ever seen during our qualifying period. There was her match against Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, which I was in attendance for, and absolutely lost my mind over. Then there’s the Iron Man with Sasha at NXT TakeOver: Respect. Holy hell. Two incredible performances from two incredible women. 

From there, Bayley became one of the biggest faces in WWE, main roster or NXT. She has fans buzzing about her potential. I’ve heard and seen more than one call her the future female John Cena. They mean it in regards to getting over with children, and she’s absolutely there. The future is extremely bright for this woman.

Now we just have to hope and pray for Bayley vs. Sasha III to blow our minds at WrestleMania 33. 


#4
Kenny Omega

top 100 wrestlers
(Kenny Omega’s Twitter)

For this entry, we take you to Jerry Mascolo (TD91 cast member and Nerdo regular):

Kenny Omega has been a mainstay of the independent circuit for many years now, but his recent run in NJPW has put him into the forefront.

Never mind that at the start of the qualifying period, Omega was already the IWGP JR Heavyweight champion for months, winning it at Wrestle Kingdom 9 and holding it until Dominion in July and then regaining it September.

At Wrestle Kingdom 10, he was unable to successfully defend his IWGP JR Heavyweight championship in an outstanding match with Kushida. Despite having a rocky start, he wouldn’t allow that to define his year. The very next day he teamed with fellow Bullet Club member AJ Styles to take on Shinsuke Nakamura and Yoshi-Hashi.

Omega scored the pinfall over the then IWGP Intercontinental Champion Nakamura. After the match, he, along with the rest of the Bullet Club, turned on AJ and Omega assumed leadership. After Nakamura’s departure, Omega defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi for the vacated IWGP Intercontinental Championship on February 4th.

Less than a week later, he and the Young Bucks became the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions. I said it on the Year End Award episode of Tiger Driver ’91, 2016 will be Kenny Omega’s year and it looks like I was right.


#3
Shinsuke Nakamura

top 100 wrestlers
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

For this entry, we take you back to Scott Kolich:

Strong Style has come to America in a big way. Of course, I’m talking about Shinsuke Nakamura, the man with the most charisma I have ever seen, who has also had two of my favorite matches of the last 5 years (both during the qualifying period). His match with AJ Styles at Wrestle Kingdom X and his match with Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover: Dallas are both easily candidates for match of the year already.

He’s one wrestler who I am truly hyped WWE brought in, in one of the biggest free agent signings in a long time. The man whose running knee (now known as Kinshasa) has taken down more men than polio. The King of Strong Style has made way to the bright lights of WWE/NXT and if you’re not hyped about it, you might want to check your pulse.


#2
AJ Styles

top 100 wrestlers, aj styles
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

For this entry, we take you to an excerpt from an article that Jerry Mascolo wrote after AJ Styles made his WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble (click HERE for read it in full):

Do I even need to mention the accomplishments and accolades he achieved in New Japan? He, alongside The Bullet Club, took the wrestling world by storm. It’s not often a gaijin gains a level of immense popularity and notoriety; but Styles is as deserving of it all as anybody else.

He definitely did a lot of “maturing” as a wrestler in New Japan, and during his return to Ring Of Honor; maturing that I believe finally made him ready for the bright lights of the WWE. Some people are marking this as the end of AJ Styles, and they couldn’t be more wrong. This is a very different WWE than it was even ten years ago.

AJ will be given the red carpet treatment that he deserves.

NOTE: AJ is currently (as of 4/15/2016) the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. 


#1
Seth Rollins

top 100 wrestlers
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

For the final entry in The Nerd/Out Top 100 Wrestlers, we take you back to Joey Finnegan:

Seth Rollins began our qualifying period on the top of the mountain. He cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase during the main event of WrestleMania 31, and then pinned Roman Reigns, winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship without ever having to pin the champion, Brock Lesnar.

It was, “the heist of the century,” as Michael Cole said on commentary, and it may have also been the most exhilarating few minutes in the history of WWE television. I was on the edge of my seat. 

From there, Seth was the man. He walked into PPV after PPV with the title, and he walked out the same way. Even better, at SummerSlam 2015, he walked in with his title, and left with John Cena’s, as well. He later faced his childhood idol Sting at Night of Champions. All in all, it was an incredible year for Seth Rollins. Then injury decided to step in and slap him down. 

This happened right before Survivor Series 2015. Unfortunately, it meant that his title had to be vacated, beginning a tournament to crown a new champion that would culminate at that upcoming PPV. Roman Reigns wound up winning, only to have Sheamus successfully cash in his Money in the Bank moments later. It was a tired retread of what happened to Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam 2013, and it made me miss Seth even more. At this point, I can’t wait for him to return.

The rumor mill has that happening sometime in May. We’ll have to wait and see. Until then, everybody get your unicorn horns up, and send Seth Rollins some love. 


That brings our list to a close. This is a project that we at Nerdopotamus and Mark Out Entertainment have been working towards for a while, and now that it’s finished, it feels pretty good. As per usual, feel free to question are choices in the comment section. We’d love to hear from you!

NOTE

Click HERE for numbers 100-91
Click HERE for numbers 90-81
Click HERE for numbers 80-71
Click HERE for numbers 70-61
Click HERE for numbers 60-51
Click HERE for numbers 50-41
Click HERE for numbers 40-31
Click HERE for numbers 30-21

FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Courtesy of WWE.com.

Nerdopotamus
thenerdopotamus@gmail.com