Wrestledelphia.com’s Mark Whited, Evan Cross, John Corrigan, and Mark Macyk present the 22nd episode of Wrestledelphia Radio.
The Gang give their picks for the 2016 Delphi Awards. Categories include Best Wrestler (male and female), Best Promotion, Best Moment, and more.
Who will take home a Delphi?
NOTE: This special edition of Wrestledelphia Radio includes Evan Cross’ picks in writing. “The Boss” gives his picks below the podcast player.
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Evan “The Boss” Cross’ Picks
Tag Team of the Year: Young Bucks
I can’t give it to The New Day, since last year we all decided they were a stable. The popular choice for this award is The Revival, but with just 15 televised matches, I’m not going to give it to one of the four things Jim Cornette likes in this world. Instead, I’ll go with these Elite guys who held three different title belts (ROH, IWGP Jr. and PWG tag team championships) for the last three months of the year. They’re still not better than reDragon, but the Bucks owned 2016.
Honorable mention: The Revival; DIY; Sheamus & Cesaro; The Addiction
Moment of the Year: AJ Styles’ debut
As much as I loved Shane McMahon returning, Seth Rollins pinning Roman Reigns, Enzo & Big Cass finally debuting, Dean Ambrose pinning Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler saving his career and Finn Balor pinning Roman Reigns, there was only one moment in 2016 that inspired me to tweet about my, uh, posture.
— Evan Cross (@EvanCross) January 25, 2016
Honorable mention: Shane returns; Enzo/Cass debut; Rollins pins Reigns at MITB; Ambrose pins Reigns at Battleground; Balor pins Reigns on Raw; Ziggler saves his career at No Mercy
Promotion of the Year: WWE
The damn brand
split extension worked. Raw is not much different than it was before, but at least Kevin Owens is champ and Chris Jericho has been killing it. SmackDown, however, is appointment viewing for the first time since Paul Heyman ran the show, and it’s spawned the best network exclusive series in Talking Smack. There are a lot of good promotions, but for the first time in a while, I’m watching WWE because I want to, not because I have to.
Honorable mention: NJPW; ROH; Lucha Underground; PWG
Commentator of the Year: Corey Graves
Graves continued his excellent work on NXT throughout the year, and was called up to Raw midway though, revitalizing Michael Cole and making Byron Saxton a character instead of just a warm body. Given his relatively short announcing resume, Graves did a fantastic job.
Honorable mention: Mauro Ranallo; Kevin Kelly; Steve Corino; Matt Striker
Feud of the Year: Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks
The Kingpin already broke this down and I agree with him wholeheartedly. While the peaks of this feud didn’t quite top the peaks of AJ Styles-John Cena or Dolph Ziggler-The Miz, the longevity and consistently interesting storytelling make this the obvious choice.
Honorable mention: Styles-Cena; Ziggler-Miz; Becky Lynch-Alexa Bliss; Kyle O’Reilly-Adam Cole
Rising Star of the Year: Hangman Page
At the beginning of 2016, Page was following BJ Whitmer around as Whitmer whipped the Ring of Honor crowd into a frenzy. Since then, he’s turned on Whitmer and Colt Cabana, cleanly pinned Jay Briscoe in a fantastic match and joined the Bullet Club. The 25-year-old has already proven himself at the highest level of in-ring work and looks to be on his way up.
Honorable mention: Gran Metalik; The Revival; Jack Gallagher; Braun Strowman
Event of the Year: Cruiserweight Classic Finale
This is the only event that had me completely captivated from start to finish. The three tournament matches were fantastic, and the DIY-Cedric Alexander & Noam Dar tag match was a perfect palate cleanser. I love that SmackDown is only two hours long (which will probably change at some point and make me furious), and the Cruiserweight Classic Finale clocked in at the same time and never bored me.
Honorable mention: Wrestle Kingdom 10; TLC: Tables, Ladder & Chairs; Death Before Dishonor XIV; NXT Brooklyn II
Match of the Year: John Cena vs. AJ Styles at SummerSlam
Two of the biggest, most accomplished wrestlers of the 21st century faced off on a huge stage to settle who will be the “Face That Runs the Place.” It was a captivating match on an otherwise underwhelming card that kicked off Styles’ megapush to the top of SmackDown and provided Cena with a reason to leave and film Hefty commercials and reality competition shows. From beginning to end, the match couldn’t have been booked any better.
Honorable mention: DIY vs. The Revival, NXT Toronto; Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada, Wrestle Kingdom 10; TJ Perkins vs. Kota Ibushi, CWC Finale; Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair, Oct. 3 RAW (Banks’ second title win)
Talker of the Year: Enzo Amore
If I had to pick one award winner that will win it again next year, it would be this one. Not only is Enzo the most captivating talker in wrestling, he’s also made his partner, Big Cass, a threat – Cass had a world title shot earlier this year and it wasn’t far-fetched at all. Enzo also has been doing it almost weekly since his debut in April. He’s the easy choice.
Honorable mention: Broken Matt Hardy; The Miz; Alexa Bliss; Chris Jericho
Worker of the Year: AJ Styles
The Phenomenal One gets it for the second straight year, and in my mind no one is really close. Styles put together nearly a full year’s of excellent work in WWE, plus he can throw a Wrestle Kingdom 10 match with Shinsuke Nakamura into the pot. Everyone else is playing for second place.
Honorable mention: Kenny Omega; Kazuchika Okada; Kyle O’Reilly; Sami Zayn
Woman of the Year: Charlotte Flair
Yeah, she was given the ball a lot more than any other woman in wrestling, but Kobe Bryant always had the ball and he won two titles in that role. (The first three were Shaq’s teams and you can’t tell me otherwise.) Flair showed plenty of character development and was in some of the best matches in women’s wrestling history. She edges out Banks because Flair’s job was tougher.
Honorable mention: Sasha Banks; Alexa Bliss; Becky Lynch; Candice LeRae
Wrestler of the Year: Broken Matt Hardy
All my honorable mentions are worthy contenders. Styles would have won if his babyface character wasn’t so bland. Jericho would have won if his match quality was just a smidge better. Flair would have won if her promos weren’t so robotic. Omega would have won if Wrestle Kingdom 11 was in 2016.
For the last seven months, Hardy has been the most interesting performer in wrestling. It’s rare for any wrestler to create a second character that is just as memorable as the first. Hardy did it when he was in his third decade of wrestling. He got mainstream wrestling fans to talk about TNA in a positive light. He’s the wrestler of the year.
Honorable mention: Styles; Jericho; Flair; Omega