wrestling / Columns

The 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards: Part Six – Best PPV/Major Show of 2017: WrestleKingdom 11, NXT Takeover: Chicago, More

January 14, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
NXT Takeover Chicago

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.

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Jake Chambers
5. Beyond Wrestling – Americanrana ’17
4. NJPW – G1 Climax – Night One
3. NJPW – Sakura Genesis
2. NJPW – Dominion

1. NJPW – Wrestle Kingdom 11 – Let’s be serious, this is the real “Wrestlemania” at this point. Wrestle Kingdom has been the true annual big time celebration of professional wrestling for about as many years as now as the WWE’s version has started to drag viewers into a slow, dark hell. Last year’s Wrestle Kingdom was a wrestling PhD while Wrestlemania 33 was an MBA. And much like how the hollow state of business schools are destroying the university system worldwide, so too does Wrestlemania continue to earn money like a parasite on the good nature and honesty of your average person. For every monarchy there will eventually be a revolution, for every stock market there will grow a Bitcoin, and for every Wrestlemania there will be a Wrestle Kingdom, and the best thing we can all do is hope to be on the right side of history.

Kevin Pantoja
5. Lucha Underground Ultima Lucha Tres
4. NJPW G1 Climax 27 Night One
3. PROGRESS Chase the Sun
2. NXT TakeOver: War Games

1. NXT TakeOver: Chicago – An argument could legitimately be made for TakeOver: Chicago being the best show ever. I’m partial to SummerSlam 2002, but still. Anyway, this show was masterful and the best NXT has ever produced. Everything worked and even the match that didn’t live up to expectations (Asuka/Cross/Riott) was still good. I thought Roderick Strong/Eric Young was a good choice for an opener. Then, Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate had their best match together, which is saying something. It was a real, true MOTYC. For most of 2017, I thought the NXT Title was dull. The Roode/Nakamura series did nothing for me and neither did Roode/McIntyre. In between that, we got Roode/Itami in Roode’s best match since coming to the WWE. Then, DIY and Authors of Pain closed out the show in the company’s best ladder match in quite some time. Not only was the match exception, but the split of DIY to end the show was an emotional gut punch and some of the best television I saw all year. I’m including TV shows outside of wrestling, too. This show had a little bit of everything and was the best of the year.

5. FastLane 2017
4. Survivor Series 2017
3. Royal Rumble 2017
2. NXT Takeover Orlando

1. WrestleMania 33 – I attended FastLane in Milwaukee and got to see Bill Goldberg main event. In 2017. Surreal. Also a hidden gem in Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman, the beginning of their much talked about feud. Survivor Series had the silly Raw/SD Live theme but more than made up for that. Once the show started, it was excellent. I even enjoyed the cluster of a main event. Too much star involved NOT to be awesome. I am a sucker for the Rumble. Every year, I don’t even care who wins or loses. The whole thing is a spectacle and gets me jazzed. Returning to the AlamoDome with a loader roster and a great WWE Championship match was just the icing on the cake. Number one though was a no brainer. My bucket list of going to a WrestleMania was crossed off this past April. Instead of breaking down the card and all that junk, I will just say that the event was going to be the best no matter what. I was there. I was actually there! Still all a blur. From walking into the stadium for the first time on a HOT sunny day in Orlando to seeing/hearing The Hardyz come back to WWE to the Brock Lesnar/Bill Goldnerg showdown to the shock of The Undertaker (possibly?) walking into the sunset once and for all…I was there.

Rob Stewart
5. NJPW Dominion
4. NXT Takeover Chicago
3. WWE Hell In A Cell
2. NXT Takeover Wargames

1. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11 – Boy, I flip-flopped on Wrestle Kingdom 11 and War Games here. I even briefly considered Hell In A Cell for the top spot. All three were immensely enjoyable and had one of my Match Of The Year candidates on their cards, but ultimately, I had to go with Wrestle Kingdom 11. WK11 really cemented my love of New Japan Pro Wrestling and took it something that previously remained on the periphery of my love of wrestling and put it near the forefront. NJPW’s biggest show of the year had three knock-out fantastic matches (Roppongi Vice vs The Young Bucks; Okada vs Omega; Naito vs Tanahashi that I can instantly recall off the top of my head), and nothing on the show even approached “bad” territory. But you know what sealed it for me? I have friends who have a vague interest in WWE, but they don’t watch it. They just enjoy talking to me about it and recalling when they watched it back in the 2000’s. But even they came up to me after WK11 and asked “So what’s this I hear about a 6-star match?”. This show got people who barely follow WWE to take an interest in NJPW, and for that… yeah, I can’t not give it Show Of The Year honors.

Mike Chin
5. WWE Money in the Bank
4. NXT TakeOver: War Games
3. Lucha Underground’s Ultima Lucha Tres
2. NXT TakeOver: Orlando

1. NXT TakeOver: Chicago – NXT TakeOver specials, to date, never fall short of very good, and TakeOver: Brooklyn III and TakeOver: San Antonio were knocking on the door of my top five. Chicago marked the show when everything great about NXT’s big shows really came together, though. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate put on a truly special one on one match that wound up on a lot of MOTY ballots. The DIY vs. Authors of Pain ladder match was unfairly overshadowed by that UK Championship match, when it ought to have been a MOTYC in its own right. Add on a rock solid title defense for Bobby Roode against Hideo Itami, Asuka turning back challenges from Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot, and a very good bout between veterans Roderick Strong and Eric Young, and you have the best pure wrestling show of the year. TakeOvers prove that less can be more—just five matches over two hours trims away fat and filler for a rock solid show.

Jack Stevenson
5. Dragon Gate Kobe Pro Wrestling Festival 2017
4. AAW United We Stand 2017
3. Chikara King of Trios 2017 Night 1
2. Fight Club Pro Dream Tag Team Invitational Night 2

1. Progress Chapter 51: Screaming for Progress – This was a tough one. 2017 was potentially the greatest year in pro wrestling history in terms of match quality, but weirdly I’m struggling to think of one individual show that really stood out from the pack. I guess you could take your pick from a few New Japan ones but I only tend to cherry pick the matches I really want to see from them, rather than watch the events in full. I’ve decided to load the top three with events i was lucky enough to attend live this year, and the best of those was Progress’ July chapter show from Birmingham. For me, three of the seven matches broke the **** star barrier; War Machine and the London Riots was a riotous display of large men hurling their bodies around like men possessed in front of one of the hottest crowds I’ve ever been apart of; Matt Riddle and WALTER slugged the shit out of each other and wrote another terrific chapter in their sleeper feud of the year contender, and the main event six man tag between British Strong Style and CCK was crammed with crazy spots and terrific near falls, a total thrill ride. I don’t know if objectively it was even the best Progress show of the year but it’s the one single event I look back on the most fondly from 2017.

Ken Hill
5. SummerSlam 2017
4. NXT TakeOver: War Games
3. Royal Rumble 2017
2. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11

1. Ultima Lucha Tres – This may be something of a cop-out, what with the event technically being four separate shows, but combined it made for five hours of the most insane, climactic action and storytelling you will see in wrestling today. The fact that the event started out with an ABSOLUTELY INSANE “Hell of War” match between Killshot and Dante Fox, leading to shattered glass, shredded skin, a canvas literally soaked in the blood of the competitors and the normally bloodthirsty “believers” rendered almost shell-shocked by the near death-match spectacle, should’ve told us what we’d be in store for the next three nights. That being Fenix and Marty “The Moth” putting on an underrated physical spectacle, Matanza Cueto remaining ever the brutal monster we’ve come to know him as, Da Mack uniting the two literally war-torn rivals in Killshot and Dante Fox to win the Trios titles, a brutal three-way dance between Cage, Mil Muertes and Jeremiah Crane, all capped off with an amazing high-flying affair between Prince Puma and John Morrison for the LU Championship in what proved to be a wonderful and effective bookend to their long-standing feud…only to be immediately surpassed by Pentagon Dark cashing in his Gift of the Gods and not only upending Puma to win the title he’s been thirsting after for so long, but doing so at the cost of both Puma’s career and dignity, once it was revealed that Puma’s mentor Vampiro had never truly distanced himself from his previous protégé Pentagon Dark. *deep breath* All in all, an unbelievable, shocking and rollicking climax to what many believers feared to be Underground’s final season.

Robert S Leighty Jr
5. WWE No Mercy
4. WWE Royal Rumble
3. NXT Takeover: Chicago
2. NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III

1. NXT Takeover: War Games – The fact that NXT keeps our performing the main roster shouldn’t shock anyone anymore. It happened again Survivor Series weekend when War Games returned and made a long awaited debut in the WWE. Every match on this card delivered and/or over delivered. It was a star making performance for Velveteen Dream and cemented Black as one of best on the roster and worth of carrying the NXT Title at some point. Drew McIntyre and Almas had a classic match that sadly featured a nasty injury for Drew. Moon finally captured the NXT Woman’s Title and the show was capped with a great reinvention of WarGames. Some will complain about the lack of a roof or 3 teams, but it was 2 rings with a cage on WWE TV with everyone busting their ass to deliver a great match to close a fantastic show.

Larry Csonka
5. NJPW G1 Climax 27 (Night 1)
4. NXT Takeover: San Antonio
3. NXT Takeover: Chicago
2. NJPW Dominion

1. NJPW WrestleKingdom 11 – There was so much great wrestling this year, but for my money, when you want the best, always tune in for the Takeover specials and really big time/major NJPW shows. NJPW WrestleKingdom 11 kicked off the year with an amazing show, setting the tone for a great 2017. The show featured a very good and string undercard, and then a top four matches that provided THREE MOTY caliber matches in Goto vs. Shibata, Naito vs. Tanahashi, and Okada vs. Omega. The show was amazing, a joy to watch, and went into the clubhouse as the early leader and stayed there, although NXT Takeover: Chicago gave them a run for their money to be sure.

AND 411’s The Best PPV/Major Show of 2017 ARE…

T-4. NJPW Dominion9 points

T-4. Lucha Underground Ultima Lucha Tres9 points

3. NXT TakeOver: War Games16 points

2. NXT TakeOver: Chicago18 points

1. NJPW Wrestlekingdom 1119 points

* The Biggest Disappointment of The Year: >Katsuyori Shibata’s Injury & Retirement – 14points
* The Best Non-Wrestler: Dario Cueto – 17points
* The Best Tag Team of The Year: The Usos – 31points
* The Worst Major Shows/PPV of 2017: WWE Battleground 2017 – 16points
* The Best Female Wrestler of 2017: Asuka – 24points