2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

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Garuda
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2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Garuda » Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:36 am

Its been an interesting year for this category. And I think on most people's list it's a two horse race between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega. Who ya got?

I'm also curious about, if those are your one and two in whatever order, who's your number three? Could 2017 possibly be any other wrestler's year?

Me, I'm boring. I have to go Okada. Dude's having a legendary run packed with all-time great matches, and spectacularly good and unique matches otherwise. This is his year.

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packerman120
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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by packerman120 » Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:59 am

Same. I currently rank it with Okada first, Omega second, and Naito third. I think a strong argument for Kenny Omega could be made, but I also think you can't argue against the year Kazuchika Okada has had, from both in-ring and a business perspective. His reign has been the key factor in New Japan's growth, and when you add that on top of the fact that he can have different outstanding matches with pretty much anybody, it's a no brainer. Omega has been key for the American expansion, and I'd argue equally important in business, but I feel like his year has been slightly weaker than Okada's. I'm sure if he had the opportunity that his in-ring would be equal, but alas, not everyone can be the champ.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by King Of Indy Style » Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:30 am

Also gonna agree that it's Okada for me. He obviously has his spectacular high end matches, like the Omega, Suzuki, and Shibata ones, but what seals it for me is that his lower end stuff is still good. As an example, I think that his G1 was overall better than Omega, and that he had better matches with the same guys than Omega did. I liked Okada/Kojima, Okada/Suzuki, Okada/EVIL, ect more than Omega's matches with those same guys. They're both high end wrestlers, but Okada gets the edge from me for being more consistent in his great matches.
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Joe Lanza
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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Joe Lanza » Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:03 am

Okada sprinted off with this by having, in my estimation, the greatest G1 in history. He's also the best NJPW draw in decades in a year that NJPW will likely break their all time profit record.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by ceftaxias » Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:40 am

New Japan A, New Japan B and New Japan C, the more interesting discussion is trying to conceive a case for anyone else. One that comes to mind for me is Fred Yehi, a great wrestler everywhere he goes and is entirely responsible for two of WWN's promotions even being watchable.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Rainmaker_F7 » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:30 am

1. Okada, 2. Omega, 3. Naito, the Thesz/Flair ballot and the results have never been more clear to me.

It also helps that no one in WWE is even close to having a great year. Not even talking AJ Styles 2016 kind of a year, just no one is producing great matches on a consistent basis. For me Roman Reigns had some very good TV matches, but then again, just like last year, his Wrestlemania Main Event stops me from even considering him for the ballot. Styles, aside of the Cena match, hasn't really done much worth of note, the TV 3 way with Cena and Wyatt did nothing for me, same for the Shane match, and the rest is the weird Owens feud I guess, which unless the Brooklyn match delivers, has gotta be in the conversation for the most underwhelming feud of the year. Who else do you have? Neville has been great, but again, it is fucking 205 Live, no one cares about it. I think the 2nd best WWE wrestler in 2017 so far may be a guy who has wrestled like 3 or 4 matches in the company so far - Pete Dunne, which speaks volumes about this year for them. NXT, while as a whole is very good rn, doesn't have anyone you can make a strong case for WOTY right now.

Who else is there? If Kento, Ishikawa or Takeshita have a great end of the year, I think they can all finish in the top 10. But let's be honest, neither of them is finishing before the top 3 of NJ.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by armsofsleep » Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:33 pm

Yeah this is a tough year to figure out business wise. WWE still did good business with the Royal Rumble and Mania, but obviously a big part of that was Goldberg. Lesnar is an interesting case, but ultimately he won't work enough for me to seriously consider him. Reigns has been great, but it feels like Braun and Lesnar and Joe have driven more interest this year. And Styles is still sort of caught up in a midcard feud. The end of the year will hopefully clear up some of that and give us a clear WWE guy, but I would still probably have him behind the NJPW top three.

I was on the "Hero for Thesz/Flair" train last year, but there's no indie guy who makes the same consistent impact. Cody draws gangbusters but the ring work isn't there.

A GREAT dark horse pick is actually Pete Dunne. Best worker in the WWE this year, drew lots of interest to the WWE UK tournament and then to NXT, champ and top guy of the biggest UK promotion, routinely a headliner in tons of other indies. NJPW drew a ton of money this year, but IMO if I'm looking for variety on my ballot, that's probably where I would go.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Joe Lanza » Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:02 pm

Yehi & Cody are real good non NJPW/WWE picks. Cody is a very intriguing pick.

I think DDT being behind a paywall will cut down whatever little traction DDT wrestlers get ever further. Someone like me for example, who watches everything, hasn't seen a single DDT match all year.

I love the Dunne shout.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by mlev76 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 3:41 pm



PWI is fairly irrelevant these days, but the 500 remains one of the go to issues each year. Cool they recognized Okada's year.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Garuda » Wed Aug 30, 2017 11:35 pm

See even that magazine cover of Stone Cold is giving it up for 'Zuchi.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by DylanWaco » Sat Sep 02, 2017 8:29 am

I basically gave up trying to watch all NJPW after April, and even I think this is a year where you can make a strong argument that the top three should all be New Japan guys. I've been saying for the last two months that it'll be Okada, Omega, and Naito in that order and I stick with that. I myself would probably have Okada and Omega in the 1 and 2 slots and I'm nowhere near as high on either guy as in ring talents as 95% of the people who post on this board. To me they just have the strongest top to bottom cases of anyone, and it's a year where there really aren't blow away candidates from any other region.

As a fan I prefer Naito to Omega and Okada (though I'm not as high on Naito as I was this time last year), but I personally doubt I could put him in the third slot on my ballot. At an instinctive level there is something that just feels wrong about loading down a ballot with guys from anyone promotion regardless of where it is for this award. As noted above, I think this would be the year for it if there ever was a year for it, but I just don't think I could pull the trigger on it.

At this point I'd probably give Braun my third spot. He's gotten over huge, has stolen just about every big show he's been on, is probably the best in ring guy in the WWE this year, and has the U.S. feud of the year with Reigns. I think he's been a critical part of Raw going from unwatchable to arguably better than Smackdown.

A wild card pick is Miyahara. I'd want to study the drawing record, but I'd probably be more inclined to throw him a bone than Naito.

Fred Yehi is both my favorite person in wrestling, and my favorite wrestler to watch. I will likely have him one or two for Most Outstanding. But I really don't think he's a viable candidate even in a weak year outside of NJPW for this award

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Joe Lanza » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:09 am

DylanWaco wrote:I basically gave up trying to watch all NJPW after April, and even I think this is a year where you can make a strong argument that the top three should all be New Japan guys. I've been saying for the last two months that it'll be Okada, Omega, and Naito in that order and I stick with that. I myself would probably have Okada and Omega in the 1 and 2 slots and I'm nowhere near as high on either guy as in ring talents as 95% of the people who post on this board. To me they just have the strongest top to bottom cases of anyone, and it's a year where there really aren't blow away candidates from any other region.

As a fan I prefer Naito to Omega and Okada (though I'm not as high on Naito as I was this time last year), but I personally doubt I could put him in the third slot on my ballot. At an instinctive level there is something that just feels wrong about loading down a ballot with guys from anyone promotion regardless of where it is for this award. As noted above, I think this would be the year for it if there ever was a year for it, but I just don't think I could pull the trigger on it.

At this point I'd probably give Braun my third spot. He's gotten over huge, has stolen just about every big show he's been on, is probably the best in ring guy in the WWE this year, and has the U.S. feud of the year with Reigns. I think he's been a critical part of Raw going from unwatchable to arguably better than Smackdown.

A wild card pick is Miyahara. I'd want to study the drawing record, but I'd probably be more inclined to throw him a bone than Naito.

Fred Yehi is both my favorite person in wrestling, and my favorite wrestler to watch. I will likely have him one or two for Most Outstanding. But I really don't think he's a viable candidate even in a weak year outside of NJPW for this award
Key number for Miyahara is 6500 in Sumo Hall, regaining the Triple Crown from Ishikawa. This was up a few hundred from the Sumo Hall number in November (Miyahara vs Suwama), but the November show featured some creative tricks that were just short of papering (selling blocks of tickets to sponsors), so this 6500 number is not only up, but probably up quite a bit more than it looks in terms of "real" tickets sold from November.

Miyahara's in ring is easily Flair/Thesz caliber, he has no problem clearing that bar.

Speaking of Ishikawa, he's not a bad darkhorse shout at all if someone wanted to go non NJPW.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Quentin Moody » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:07 pm

I've been saying that I think this year The Elite (as a group, not separately) should be getting the nod at number 1. From Kenny Omega's success in the NJPW main event scene, the unbelievable success they've had with the Hot Topic deal, the strong, record setting numbers for every promotion they worked for during their U.K. tour and the views Being The Elite does on YouTube that for the most part kill the numbers that whole promotions do on YouTube for videos. I think voting for Omega and not The Bucks is really discounting how much they are a part of everything Kenny Omega has been able to do this year.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by armsofsleep » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:21 pm

Quentin Moody wrote:I've been saying that I think this year The Elite (as a group, not separately) should be getting the nod at number 1. From Kenny Omega's success in the NJPW main event scene, the unbelievable success they've had with the Hot Topic deal, the strong, record setting numbers for every promotion they worked for during their U.K. tour and the views Being The Elite does on YouTube that for the most part kill the numbers that whole promotions do on YouTube for videos. I think voting for Omega and not The Bucks is really discounting how much they are a part of everything Kenny Omega has been able to do this year.
I've always said the biggest ROH star act of the past 2-3 year has been the Young Bucks, so yeah this tracks.

NJPW is a Japanese company that puts Japanese business first, and that's your argument for Okada being a better draw. Everything else leans Omega. He's driven American interest, he's headlined every single indie show lucky enough to get him, it's really not that much of a contest.

I do agree with Dylan that Braun is a really good dark horse pick. It's time to stop holding our tongues with this guy, because he actually is a great in-ring talent, and he gets reactions like he's the second coming of Stone Cold. He's booked like Roman Reigns should've been booked for the past year. Obviously he still has to stretch a bit and show us different things, but I would feel totally comfortable calling him the best part of WWE, even over guys with more complete resumes like Pete Dunne.

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Re: 2017 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by DylanWaco » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:13 pm

Quentin Moody wrote:I've been saying that I think this year The Elite (as a group, not separately) should be getting the nod at number 1. From Kenny Omega's success in the NJPW main event scene, the unbelievable success they've had with the Hot Topic deal, the strong, record setting numbers for every promotion they worked for during their U.K. tour and the views Being The Elite does on YouTube that for the most part kill the numbers that whole promotions do on YouTube for videos. I think voting for Omega and not The Bucks is really discounting how much they are a part of everything Kenny Omega has been able to do this year.

I think this is a very fair point, and the problem is compounded by the fact that I think The Bucks aren't necessarily a terribly compelling Tag Team of the Year candidate on their own. There is definitely something to the argument of the act here, it's probably not terribly dissimilar from The Freebirds. Someone should start a Thesz/Flair criteria "list like" like the Gordy List for the HOF and call it the Omega list. Only half kidding.

Incidentally I felt very similarly about The Revival in regards to Most Outstanding last year. Couldn't see having Dawson or Wilder in my top three by themselves, but as a unit I think I'd have had them number one.

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