Connect with us
And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...


And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are…

The results of our first-ever fan-voted wrestling awards are in.

Welcome wrestling fans to the results show for the most contrivingly-titled award show of 2017, the AiPT! Leati Anoa’i Regional Internet Award Telecast: The LARIATs!  After posting our poll with the nominees we selected, you, our readers, gave us your picks.  We’ve highlighted the winners and given vote percentages for the winner and runners-up.  Be sure to comment below to tell us how wrong we all are in the spirit of all that is good in professional wrestling. Enjoy the banter and the holiday cheer as we remember 2017, a year of ups, downs, releases, hirings, dump trucks, ambulances, and the best holiday gift of them all…The Gift of Jericho.

The “Cream Rises to the Top” Award for Best Promo Skills

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: The Miz
Honorable Mention: Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho (SDL, Raw, NJPW) – 25%
John Cena (Raw, SDL)
Kevin Owens (SDL)
The Miz (Raw) – 35.7%
Samoa Joe (Raw)

We live in a world where Rolling Stone named The Miz as their wrestler of the year.  Of all the things that have happened in 2017, this one really shouldn’t be much of a surprise once you take in the entirety of the wrestling landscape.  Miz will forever be the guy who everyone wants to see get his ass handed to him and his legendary promo skills are the main contributing factor.  Whenever Miz TV airs, you know someone is getting the verbal thrashing of a lifetime before Miz inevitably gets the crowd working against him with the still hilarious “When my hand goes up” line.  While he was WWE’s go-to heel this year in mid-level feuds and in elevating up-and-comers, he truly shined in his exchanges with John Cena in the build up to WrestleMania.

The best thing about The Miz is that he just keeps getting better.  While he won’t be quite full-time in 2018 (movies, baby Miz), any chance we have to see him on screen will be worth it. Brian Clements

The “If You Smeeeeeeeeelllllll” Award for Best Entrance

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: Aleister Black
Honorable mention: Shinsuke Nakamura

Aleister Black (NXT) – 32.1%
Bobby Roode (NXT/SDL)
Finn Balor (Raw)
Sanity (NXT)
Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT/SDL) – 25%

Despite the absolute shit “no entrance-needed” gimmick that Dolph Ziggler tried to get over this year, 2017 saw a number of fantastic intros for wrestlers at home and abroad. Whether you were lifting your arms with Finn Balor or singing along to “Glorious Domination”, fans got really into watching the entrance ramp this year — and few performers had as perfect a combination of the right theme song, the right stage effects and the sheer presence to captivate a crowd as Aleister Black. The Black Metal kickboxer gimmick and dude’s stoic nature is only heightened by the creeping fog, the pounding drums and Ali literally rising from the grave like Count Orlock in Nosferatu. Here’s hoping they don’t tamper with perfection too much whenever he ends up on the main roster. Jason Segarra

The Fabulous Freebird Award for Tag Team/Trio of the Year

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winners: The Usos
Honorable Mention: New Day/Young Bucks (Tie)

The Elite (NJPW/ROH)
Sanity (NXT)
The New Day (SDL) – 17.9%
The Usos (SDL) – 42.9%
The Young Bucks (NJPW/PWG/ROH) – 17.9%

I think this was the absolute right call by our viewers, going to the tag team that not only was on top of a single brand for the majority of the year, but one who completely reinvented themselves to do it.  A year ago, The Usos were a high-flying “fun” team that was stuck behind their face paint.  Now, they’ve spent the better part of the year as a street tough pair whose promo style is unique in WWE if not the rest of the world. Their Hell in a Cell match with The New Day was a clinic on how to get maximum carnage out of the structure without resorting to blood and gore.  Let’s hope that 2018 is an even bigger year for the wardens of the Uso Penitentiary. – Brian Clements

The “From Outta Nowhere” Award for Most Improved Wrestler

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: Braun Strowman
Honorable Mention: Juice Robinson

Andrade “Cien” Almas (NXT)
Braun Strowman (Raw) – 46.9%
Drew Gulak (205)
Elias (Raw)
Enzo Amore (205)
Juice Robinson (NJPW) – 21.4%

So here’s something I didn’t think I’d be saying at the end of 2017: How freaking good was Braun Strowman this past year? Dude went from the weakest member of a stable that featured Erick Rowan to my favorite part of the Raw brand, and all it took was several him squashing geeks three at a time then a feud of the year candidate against Roman Reigns. Seriously, that feud was the gift that kept on giving. Every match was a fun car crash — sometimes literally — and it really showed how much the big man had grown from his time as a Roman Centurion in the Rosebuds. This category is actually lousy with people who got to show their true potential in 2017, whether they were a jobber made good (Elias), the diamond in the rough finally emerging (Almas), a hidden comedic gem (Gulak), or a loudmouth who succeeded despite being set up to fail (Enzo). Then there’s Juice Robinson, who had to leave the WWE altogether to prove that he was better than they would let him be. Strong showings in the G1 and other NJPW events proved that the former CJ Parker was definitely worth a more serious look. – Jason Segarra

The “Vintage Orton!” Award for Most Unimproved Wrestler (Male or Female)

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: Bray Wyatt
Honorable Mention: Natalya

Apollo Crews (Raw)
Bray Wyatt (Raw) – 42.9%
Dolph Ziggler (SDL)
Hardys (Raw)
Natalya (SDL) – 17.9%

What can you even say about the year Bray Wyatt had? He won his first World Championship at the beginning of the year, but does he feel like a bigger star now? Instead, the patriarch of the Wyatt Family had a string of perhaps the most embarrassing feuds of all time. His tilt with Randy Orton yielded two of the year’s most reviled matches (Their *WrestleMania* bout where Bray’s buddies in the AV club projected bugs on the mat, and the much maligned “House of Horrors” match), then his beef with Finn Balor saw the Eater of Worlds nearly have to wrestle in a dress and burlap veil as “Sister Abigail.” Who would’ve thought the best thing to happen to The Eater of Worlds this year would be the mumps? Nowadays, Wyatt’s getting into televised laughing contests with the ghost of Broken Matt Hardy and looks really sad to be there. Still, I’d rather see him than Natty, who is so uniformly terrible that it’s hard to mine comedy from any one fault. – Jason Segarra

The Nathan Jones Award for Most Overrated Wrestler

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner(s): Cody/Sexy Star/Natalya (Three-Way Tie)

Cody (ROH) – 17.9%
Dean Ambrose (Raw)
Lio Rush (NXT)
Natalya (SDL) – 17.9%
Roman Reigns (Raw)
Sexy Star (AAA, Lucha Underground) – 17.9%
Zack Sabre Jr (NJPW, PWG, Evolve)

Hype is an important part of any form of entertainment, and pro wrestling is no different. The thing is this year’s most overrated wrestlers were all super hyped by promoters who just kind of ignored who the performers themselves actually were. WWE, for some reason, got really gung ho on Natty Neidhart, a character and a performer fans have never actually liked. They gave her the women’s belt for some reason, as well as tons of promo time and no one was happy about it. Thankfully she dropped the belt to Charlotte, then tried to turn heel after losing her rematch…even though she was already heel. Boo, please take Natalya off my screen.

The artist formerly known as Cody Rhodes, on the other hand, was super hyped by the IWC. After years of being a decent, but fairly overlooked performer, Cody hit the indies to show what he could really do. It turned out, that what he could really do was essentially what he had already been doing in WWE. Even his ROH title win and his co-starring role at the top of Bullet Club were sort of underwhelming. He had a mediocre match with Kazuchika Okada…like, how is that possible?

Sexy Star is a bit of a middle ground between these two. An adequate performer with support in CMLL, AAA and Lucha Underground bookers, but just not captivating enough to keep people interested. Couple that with the controversy surrounding her involvement in the stripping the Reina de Reinas title from Taya Valkyrie and her purposefully injuring Rosemary and this will likely be one of her last years as an active performer — something not too many fans will actually be sad about, I’m guessing. – Jason Segarra

The “B+ Player” award for Most Underrated Wrestler (Male or Female)

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: Harper
Honorable Mention: Cedric Alexander

Breezango (SDL)
Cedric Alexander (205) – 17.9%
Drew Gulak (205)
Emma (Raw)
Harper (SDL) – 28.6%
Toni Storm (Stardom/MYC)
Tye Dillinger (SDL)

Nathaniel: Harper has always been in the shadows. Despite being the far superior worker, he was behind a pre-insufferable Bray Wyatt. Once they Wyatt family went their separate ways, Rowan was given a vintner character while Harper was left with this awesome Titantron. Harper is a former Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion but always seems like an afterthought. Hopefully, the Bludgeon Brothers finally put the spotlight on Harper he deserves. Nathaniel Miur

The Ricky Steamboat Face of the Year Award

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: Johnny Gargano
Honorable Mention: AJ Styles/Becky Lynch (Tie)

AJ Styles (SDL) – 17.9%
Becky Lynch (SDL) – 17.9%
Daniel Bryan (SDL)
Finn Balor (Raw)
John Cena (Raw, SDL)
Johnny Gargano (NXT) – 46.4%

With the dastardly actions of one Sami Zayn, very few tried-and-true good guys exist in the wrestling landscape.  Some flirt with the dark side on occasion or indulge in a plot for revenge against an enemy.  Not Johnny Gargano.  Let’s put this into perspective.  This is a guy regularly cheered around the world as “Johnny Wrestling.”  He has an incredible amount of talent and has every right to the ego that generally comes with his level of talent.  Does he partake in it?  No.  Not even a little bit.  This year he has won the tag team titles in NXT, been brutally betrayed by his former friend and hetero-lifemate Tommaso Ciampa (screw you, Ciampa), and been mocked to the point of despair by the villainous Andrade Cien Almas.  Through all of this, Johnny Wrestling has persevered, earning the love and admiration of the NXT Universe.  In the past few weeks, just to demonstrate what a truly nice guy he is, he posted an adorable pic of he and his wife, fellow wrestler and Mae Young Classic participant, Candice LeRae, in front of The Christmas Story house, gave his mom and dad early copies of his first action figure, and came from behind to beat Killian Dain, Lars Sullivan, and the previously undefeated Aleister Black (whom he pinned) to become the number one contender for the previously mentioned Almas’ NXT Title.  Will Gargano tap into his darker side to take revenge on Almas and his manager Zelina Vega?  Nope.  He’ll just win the title and show that he is truly “Johnny Wrestling.” – Brian Clements

The Bobby Heenan Memorial Heel of the Year Award

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: Kevin Owens
Dishonorable Mentions: Pete Dunne/Samoa Joe (Tie)

Johnny Mundo/Impact (Lucha Underground/TNA)
Kevin Owens (SDL) – 50%
Marty Scurll (ROH/NJPW/etc.)
The McMahon Family (WWE)
Pete Dunne (NXT/WWEUK) – 14.3%
Samoa Joe (Raw) – 14.3%

Before the nWo or The Rock made being a heel cool, fans did not cheer the bad guys. Sure Ric Flair had a huge fan base in the 1980s, but he was the exception to the rule. Fans would yell insults, throw garbage, and even try to attack the heels. In 2017, fans laugh at the heels’ jokes, cheer their entrances, and sing along to their catchphrases. Then there’s Kevin Owens. Owens has his fans and is hilarious, but the is definitely a heel. Making children cry, trolling SmackDown on Twitter, and destroying the head of WWE are just some of Owens’ most heelish acts. In an era where the biggest villains in wrestling break character to console crying children while booing Roman Reigns gets censored, Owens remains true to his despicable character. – Nathaniel Miur

The “Break the Wall Down” Award for Best Debut (must have debuted in a major promotion in 2017)

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: Samoa Joe
Honorable Mention: Pete Dunne

Adam Cole (NXT)
Aleister Black (NXT)
Jazzy Gabert (MYC)
Pete Dunne (NXT/WWE UK) – 25%
Sammy Guevara (PWG)
Samoa Joe (Raw) – 35.7%
The Undisputed Era (NXT)
Velveteen Dream (NXT)

To call 2017 Samoa Joe’s debut year is reductive and disrespectful of the man’s legacy. As a stalwart performer in ROH, TNA and other feds across the globe, Joe has been a key figure in pro wrestling for nearly two decades. That being said, his first year on the main roster of the WWE has to be considered one of the best in his already storied career, and it all started the night after the Royal Rumble. Seth Rollins was deep in the build to his WrestleMania match with Triple H when Crossfit Jesus was blindsided and legitimately injured by the destroyer, Samoa Joe. While it’s never a good thing to injure an opponent in a pro wrestling setting, Seth’s injury spared Joe the indignity of having to job to the man with a WM match. Instead, dude went on a rampage, running through guys like Sami Zayn and Finn Balor, before landing a spot in the fatal five-way main event of Extreme Rules — a match that included Balor, Rollins, Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns. Joe won that match by choking out Balor and went on to the terribly named Great Balls of Fire to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. It is in that feud that Joe made the most splash, memorably menacing and choking out Lesnar’s advocate, Paul Heyman (my personal pick for moment of the year), as well as the Beast himself! He would go down in defeat, but remain at the top of the card as the de facto lead heel on the Raw brand for the rest of the year.

As for Pete Dunne, go on the WWE Network and watch the UK Championship tournament. Tell me any one of those performers (as undeniably talented as Tyler Bate, Trent Seven and others may be) stand out the way the Bruiserweight does. This kid is going to be a legend one day. – Jason Segarra

The “Pipe Bomb” Award for Promo of the Year

Winner(s): Daniel Bryan/John Cena (Tie)

Daniel Bryan “AJ Styles will beat Brock Lesnar” (SDL) – 25%
Fashion Files (SDL)
John Cena tears down Roman Reigns before No Mercy (Raw) – 25%
The Miz and Maryse “Total Bella Bullshit” segments (Raw) – 21.4%
Roman Reigns’ “My Yard Now” Raw after Wrestlemania (Raw)
Usos Vs. The New Day in a Rap off (SDL)

Though 2017 was the year John Cena became everything he hated just a few years ago — a part-time wrestler whose main focus was in Hollywood — when he did show up, he made an impact. There is perhaps no better example of that than his feud with Roman Reigns. Cena’s M.O. for much of the year was “Arrive. Tear down a lesser mic guy in brutal, fourth-wall breaking ways. Leave.” and his promos leading into his match against the Big Dog at No Mercy were a prime example. To Reigns’ credit, he got a little personal too, but Cena delivered an absolute deconstruction of WWE’s latest golden boy like we have never seen allowed on WWE television. It was almost hard to watch at points, but it was necessary to add some much-needed flame to a feud that before getting ultra personal, didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

As he is wont to do, Daniel Bryan came through in the 11th hour with a dark horse performance that blew everybody away. A week before Survivor Series, Jinder Mahal dropped the WWE Championship to AJ Styles, making the upcoming Raw champ vs. SmackDown champ much more exciting. Paul Heyman cut a standard Paul Heyman promo of excellence on the Champ Who Runs the Camp the night before on Raw, but AJ Styles doesn’t have an advocate to call his own. No problem; enter SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan, who gave an impassioned speech that reminded the WWE Universe that D-Bry is one of the most underrated promo guys in WWE. Patrick Ross

The “Good God Almighty!” Award for Amazing Moment of the Year

Winner: Jericho Challenges Omega
Honorable Mention: Undertaker Retires?

Bullet Club Fires the First Shot (NJPW)
Chris Jericho Challenges Kenny Omega (NJPW) – 42.9%
Hardy Boyz return to WWE (Raw)
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho “Festival of Friendship” (Raw)
Kevin Owens headbutts Vince McMahon (SDL)
Samoa Joe threatening, then choking out Paul Heyman (Raw)
The Shield reunite (Raw)
Undertaker retires? (WWE) – 14.3%

2017 has been a year of surprises, ups and downs, tournaments, debuts, and retirements, both real and possibly contrived.  Many may have pegged The Undertaker’s leaving his hat, gloves and coat in the center of the ring as the single most “amazing moment” until early November when Chris Jericho shocked the world by appearing on video in New Japan Pro Wrestling to challenge US Title holder Kenny Omega to a match at January’s *Wrestle Kingdom 12* event.  This out of nowhere jump for Jericho to a non-WWE promotion for the first time since his debut in 1999 gave both NJPW and WWE fans a reason to jump out of their seats and do their best JR impressions, shouting “Good God Almighty!” – Brian Clements

The “I’m Not Finished With You Yet!” Award for Feud of the Year

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega (NJPW)
Honorable Mention: Kevin Owens vs Chris Jericho

DIY vs The Revival (NXT)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega (NJPW) – 42.9%
Kevin Owens Vs. Chris Jericho (Raw) – 21.4%
Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon (SDL)
Roman Reigns Vs. Braun Strowman (Raw)
Samoa Joe Vs. Brock Lesnar (Raw)

A feud is not always about how much blood you spill or how many ambulances you turn over. Sometimes a feud is about who is the best. The Kazuchika Okada/Kenny Omega matches were about the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, plain and simple. Okada was the dominant champion, Omega the relentless challenger. Omega won their last match at the G1, but he was never able to beat Okada for the belt. When the series was over each had a hard fought victory to go with an epic draw, Steve Austin sang their praises, and wrestling fans were left with a feud for the ages. – Nathaniel Miur

The “Not a Good Guy, Not a Bad Guy” Award for Male Wrestler of the Year

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: AJ Styles
Honorable Mention: Okada

AJ Styles (SDL) – 50%
Braun Strowman (Raw)
Kenny Omega (NJPW)
Miz (Raw)
Okada (NJPW) – 35.7%

From our piece on AJ Styles, wrestler of 2017:

“In a year with long stretches of bland writing and uninspired matchups, AJ Styles’ consistent excellent kept SmackDown Live must-watch. Nearly everything he touched turned to gold, not to mention the two pieces of gold he wore around his waist at various points throughout the year. What 2018 holds for him remains to be seen, but what’s undeniable is that AJ Styles is exactly what he says he is: phenomenal.” – Patrick Ross

The “Not Like Most Girls” Award for Female Wrestler of the Year

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: Asuka
Honorable Mention: Alexa Bliss

Alexa Bliss (Raw) – 32.1%
Asuka (Raw) – 35.7%
Charlotte (SDL)
The Iconic Duo: Peyton Royce and Billie Kay (NXT)
Kairi Sane (MYC/NXT)
Nikki Cross (NXT)

It was a very close race but in the end sheer dominance won out. Asuka began the year nine months into her NXT Women’s Title reign. A month later, she would be the longest reigning singles champion in NXT history. By June, she had the longest winning streak in WWE-recognized history. During the year she successfully defended her title against Ember Moon, Nikki Cross, and Ruby Riot(t). A shoulder injury would force her to relinquish the championship, but Asuka would soon appear on Raw where she has been dominating the division and seems to be a lock for the Raw Women’s Title. – Nathaniel Miur

The “Fight Forever” Award for Match of the Year

Winner: Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega 3 Match Series (NJPW)
Honorable Mention: John Cena vs AJ Styles – WWE Royal Rumble

Aleister Black Vs. Velveteen Dream – NXT Takeover: Houston (NXT)
Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman vs Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns – WWE Summerslam (Raw)
John Cena vs AJ Styles – WWE Royal Rumble (SDL) – 25.9%
Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki-New Beginning (NJPW)
Okada vs Omega – Series of 3 (NJPW) – 33.3%
Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate – NXT Takeover: Chicago (NXT) – 22.2%
Will Ospreay vs KUSHIDA- BOSJ Finals (NJPW)

Is it cheating to select the entire series of matches between  Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega as Match of the Year? On January 4 of 2017, Okada and Omega met at Wrestle Kingdom 11 and broke the ratings scale when Dave Meltzer gave the match six stars. The match seemed impossible to top, but somehow the two did at Dominion 6.11, wrestling to a one hour draw (six and a quarter stars). Finally, the two wrestled another six star match in the B Block Finals of the G1. One can argue the ratings are embellished, but no one can argue the greatness of the matches. Each match built off the previous until the amazing conclusion with Omega desperately trying to hit the One Winged Angel. Whether it’s better than the 1989 Flair-Steamboat trilogy is up to personal taste, but picking the Okada/Omega series as Match of the Year is definitely not cheating.

The WCW Memorial Award for Promotion of the Year

And the winners of the first annual AiPT! LARIAT pro wrestling awards are...

Winner: New Japan Pro Wrestling
Honorable Mention: NXT

Monday Night Raw
New Japan Pro Wrestling – 60.7%
NXT – 25%
Ring of Honor
Smackdown Live!

New Japan has its ups and its downs this year, but the ups outshone almost everyone else. The series of matches between Kazuchika Okada & Kenny Omega, the G1 Special in USA shows and the announcement of Omega vs.Chris Jericho turned a lot of heads.  The G1 Climax was strong as usual andthe likes of Okada, Naito & Ishii kept churning out great matches.  On a less obvious note, New Japan gave big opportunities to younger talent like Hiromu Takahashi, Juice Robinson, Roppongi 3K & Jay White. Mark Buckledee

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!
Sign up today

In Case You Missed It

Marvel Preview: Spider-Woman #6 Marvel Preview: Spider-Woman #6

Marvel Preview: Spider-Woman #6

Comic Books

New ‘Phoenix’ #1 X-Men series to launch with creators Stephanie Phillips and Alessandro Miracolo New ‘Phoenix’ #1 X-Men series to launch with creators Stephanie Phillips and Alessandro Miracolo

New ‘Phoenix’ #1 X-Men series to launch with creators Stephanie Phillips and Alessandro Miracolo

Comic Books

Marvel reveals details for new X-Men series 'NYX' #1 Marvel reveals details for new X-Men series 'NYX' #1

Marvel reveals details for new X-Men series ‘NYX’ #1

Comic Books

Marvel sheds light on Jed MacKay and Ryan Stegman's 'X-Men' #1 Marvel sheds light on Jed MacKay and Ryan Stegman's 'X-Men' #1

Marvel sheds light on Jed MacKay and Ryan Stegman’s ‘X-Men’ #1

Comic Books

Newsletter Signup