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The 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards: Part Nine – The Best Weekly TV Show of 2017: NXT, Lucha Underground, Raw, More

January 17, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Jeff Cobb Lucha Underground Matanza Cueto

Welcome back to the Wrestling Top 5, year-end awards edition! What we are going to is take a topic, and all the writers here on 411 will have the ability to give us their Top 5 on said topic, and the end, based on where all of these topics rank on people’s list, we will create an overall Top 5 list. It looks a little like this…

1st – 5
2nd – 4
3rd – 3
4th – 2
5th – 1

It’s similar to how we do the WOTW voting. At the end we tally the scores and get our overall top 5! It’s highly non-official and final, like WWE’s old power rankings. From some of the best and worst, the 411 staff is ready to break down the awards! Thanks for joining us, and lets get down to work.

The 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards: Part Nine – The Best Weekly TV Show of 2017

Jake St-Pierre
4. Ring of Honor Wrestling
3. New Japan on AXS
2. Lucha Underground

1. WWE NXT – The last couple years of NXT television have been somewhat bland. The minds behind the brand got so dependent on the quality of the Takeover shows (which were still great) that the TV show’s significance fell to the wayside, which made the mass callup of talents sting even worse. They were in somewhat of a rebuilding phase, having to deal with stalwarts like Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Kevin Owens, and Neville making their permanent moves to the main roster. So the talent up and down the card was dealt a hefty blow, and it only really recovered fully by the time post-Orlando came around… and boy, did it ever recover. We were treated to Drew McIntyre’s awesome run to the title (including a fabulous match with Oney Lorcan), the slow buildup of Aleister Black, the arrival of The Undisputed Era, Kassius Ohno having great TV matches almost weekly, and the rise of Lars Sullivan via a super unique tag-team storyline. NXT is better than ever when it comes to consistent wrestling, and the storylines (especially the Aleister Black/Velveteen Dream rivalry) have boosted in quality as well. Maybe it’s not the essential weekly viewing we all wish it was, but it’s the best way to spend an hour of your week watching wrestling.

Kevin Pantoja
5. 205 Live
4. Smackdown
3. Raw
2. Lucha Underground

1. NXT – After a stellar 2014, NXT TV took a fall in 2015 and 2016. The TakeOver specials always delivered, but the weekly shows didn’t do much for me. NXT turned that around this year. They had several very good to great matches this year on TV (Bate/Dune III, McIntyre/Roode, Ohno/Gargano, etc.), strong promos and a lot of character building for most characters. Roderick Strong was certainly one of the people to benefit from the latter. NXT has a roster loaded with talent and have done a lot to build most of them up well. Just look at the Aleister Black/Velveteen Dream program. Nothing on any other weekly TV show even touched that.

Rob Stewart
5. 205 Live
4. Smackdown Live
3. Raw
2. NXT

1. Lucha Underground – I don’t watch nearly as much weekly wrestling as I both should and would like to, containing most of my watching to YouTube and live specials on the WWE Network. That said, even in an uneven third season, Lucha Underground remained some of the most entertaining and just damn fun wrestling on the planet, and I made most weekly efforts to catch this over any other program. All the soap opera-esque drama of Dario Cueto and his dealings, the shady manipulations of Vampiro, a gauntlet that possesses its wearer, the prominence of Johnny Mundo and the Worldwide Underground… Lucha Underground manages to take itself just seriously enough to be exciting while also making you laugh, and that’s all I can ask out of a weekly show.

Mike Chin
5. ROH Wrestling
4. Monday Night Raw
3. SmackDown Live
2. NXT

1. Lucha Underground – I need to preface this pick by conceding that with my 2017 schedule and preferences, I didn’t have the opportunity to watch expansively enough to have a definitive pick here. I did, however, watch every episode of Lucha Underground. More than any other promotion, it was the one to make me want to watch every single outing for tight hour-long format, at least one good to great match per broadcast, and the intrigue of the elaborate vignettes and mythology the promotion employs for storytelling purposes. Add in an excellent Ultima Lucha Tres (particularly that Hell of War Match) and you have a special show that can hopefully maintain its momentum in season four.

5. 205 Live
4. Main Event
3. Smackdown LIVE
2. NXT

1. Raw – This is really a three horse race: RAW, SD LIve, or NXT. I think the Takeover live specials more than made up for the weekly shows. The simple fact is NXT is made to groom wrestlers for Raw or Smackdown LIVE. We all know the end game is to get called up and perform in front of a larger audience. That being said, losing Becky Lynch, Bayley, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, American Alpha, Asuka, and countless others has hurt. They have rebuilt in a very impressive way but are still working on getting there 100 percent. Unlike the popular opinion that the blue brand is better then the red brand, I disagree. Much of Smackdown LIVE was dragged down this past year by Jinder Mahal. A lot of the Superstar Shakeup felt like misfires, and the show didn’t really recover until November when AJ Styles and Charlotte won their respective championship belts. The tag scene is finally improving, and you can see lots of good things forming for Smackdown LIVE. Sadly, that was not enough to overtake RAW. Yes. the show is terribly long at three hours. Yes, Lesnar was barely on screen as the top title holder. Yes, the tag belts bounced all over the place. Yes, the drama with Kurt Angle and Stephanie McMahon got tiresome. Yes, yes, yes. I agree. Even with those faults, it had more than enough bright spots to make up for the negatives. Braun reigning, Roman being THE GUY, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins coming together, Angle returning to the ring, Jason Jordan developing, the women’s division evolving with Alexa Bliss, and tons of other great things happened. We’ll see if that continues on Road to WrestleMania 34 in early 2018.

Ken Hill
5. Impact Wrestling
2. WWE Smackdown Live

1. Lucha Underground – Where do I start? Announcers in Matt Striker, Vampiro and Melissa Santos who are passionate and sound like they’re just as much fans of the product as the Temple’s own “Believers”, rather than be a mediocre fountain of buzzwords and conjecture. Continuity and consistency in their storylines, consequences afflicting wrestlers that are upheld throughout a season and which aren’t simply whitewashed away a week or two later, and a promotion that actually allows its wrestler to express their creative freedom and put on a week-to-week spectacle that is gripping, moving and serves to remind us what wrestling is: An art form that effectively blends athleticism and story-telling to hit us at our very core. For my money, a great weekly show put on by a wrestling promotion is one you’re willing to scour and search for any one of its episodes regardless of availability, rather than skip it and content yourself with the “bare essential” clips from a promotion’s YouTube channel.

Jake Chambers

1. Lucha Underground – There’s no way I’m going to recognize any of the weekly American TV shows, 2017 was the worst – the WORST – year for all of them! RAW, Smackdown, NXT, 205 Live, Impact and ROH = horrible TV. All of them trying to do the same shitty format, tell the same kind of stories, and put on the same kind of half-important matches. You’d think with all the wrestling on TV and the battle to grab viewers so tight, some of them would try something different. But it’s all so damn boring! Lucha Underground, on the other hand, is a remarkable program to continue to exist among just this blur of pointless garbage. And I don’t care when it was filmed or any of the business or politics related to the production – LU is the greatest serialized pro-wrestling show in TV history, and it’s not even close. 23 episodes aired in 2017, including among them an All Night Long Ironman Match, an entire 32-person single elimination tournament, the big-match promotion and feud of the year between Rey Mysterio and Johnny Mundo, an incredible 4-night Ultima Lucha season finale, street fights, super-powers, blood drama, romance, monsters, actual funny comedy, and – shockingly – great wrestling! Lucha Undergound, despite being a fantastical wrestling show, pays more homage to the traditions of the art of professional wrestling than anything made for television by these wannabe Hollywood entertainment companies who seem to just put on wrestling matches to fill time between bad comedy, horrible acting, repetitive speeches, and empty storytelling. Thank the gods we’re getting Season 4!

Larry Csonka
5. Impact Wrestling
4. New Japan on AXS
2. Lucha Underground

1. NXT TV – This was one of the harder ones for me to pick in the awards this year, as I really love Lucha Underground & NXT TV. Lucha Underground is so completely different from anything else on TV, which is something I absolutely love. But in 2017, I felt that NXT was extremely consistent, did an excellent job of building to the Takeover specials and also gave us some of the very best TV matches of the year. You can’t go wrong with either, and each and every week, they make my busy Wednesday nights a ton of fun.

AND 411’s top weekly TV shows of 2017 ARE…

5. ROH TV8 points

4. WWE Smackdown14 points

3. WWE Raw18 points

2. NXT TV27 points

1. Lucha Underground29 points

* 1. The Biggest Disappointment of The Year: >Katsuyori Shibata’s Injury & Retirement – 14points
* 2. The Best Non-Wrestler: Dario Cueto – 17points
* 3. The Best Tag Team of The Year: The Usos – 31points
* 4. The Worst Major Shows/PPV of 2017: WWE Battleground 2017 – 16points
* 5. The Best Female Wrestler of 2017: Asuka – 24points
* 6. The Best PPV/Major Show of 2017: NJPW Wrestlekingdom 11 – 11points
* 7. The Best Promotion of 2017: New Japan Pro Wrestling – 35points