It's that time again. Time for the annual Reaction Zone Achievement Awards for 2016. Don't ask about TNA, because ye scribe didn't watch any episodes of Impact at all. We'll just give the promotion the Lazarus award, because TNA keeps coming back from the dead, just when you think they're done. In the words of Stone Cold Steve Austin, that's all I'm going to say about that.
Meantime, we'll start with Ring of Honor.
Eddie Guerrero Memorial MVP Award: Jay Lethal. Never mind the gimmick of being billed as the "greatest first generation wrestler", bestowed upon him by now-former manager Truth Martini. As a face or heel, Lethal was a consistent presence on ROH-TV for much of the year, but after losing the ROH title to Adam Cole, is getting some well deserved time off before going after the top prize again. Figure he'll be at the forefront of the fight vs. the ever-expanding Bullet Club for the first half of 2017.
Wrestler of the Year: Kyle O'Reilly. The new champ fought through adversity more than anyone had any right to during the year, culminating with his win over Cole three weeks ago at Final Battle. A rematch between O'Reilly & Lethal, with the roles of champion & challenger reversed from 2015, would be a good way to start 2017.
Babyface of the Year: O'Reilly. Cole's attempts to keep O'Reilly out of the title picture by any means necessary provided a good story for 2016, especially with a satisfactory, happy ending.
Heel of the Year: Adam Cole. Just when you thought Cole would finally turn face after the original Kingdom disbanded after Final Battle 2015, he instead swerves and joins the Bullet Club, if only because he and the Young Bucks are already in another heel group elsewhere (Mount Rushmore in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla), and they're besties in real life. He has the kind of heel attitude that would also serve well in WWE or TNA, so don't be surprised if either one ponies up enough cash to lure him away within the next year. Besides, Cole could teach the Miz a few things about heel attitude.
Woman of the Year: Kellie Klein. Undefeated, and no longer shackled to heat leech B. J. Whitmer, Klein would be the face of the women's division were it not for the fact that Women of Honor matches are mostly confined to ROH's YouTube channel, a move meant to keep interest from the competition at a minimum, one might guess. When you consider she beat a former TNA champ in ODB (12/17-18) in a rare nationally televised match, that says something. Let's hope that the "Gatekeeper" isn't part of Whitmer & Kevin Sullivan's group after all.
Tag team of the Year: Keith Lee & Shane Taylor. No, they're not tag team champions yet, but one day they will be. They'll gladly take credit for causing War Machine to lose the tag titles to the Addiction, and dominated their feud with Hanson & Ray Rowe. Look for tag team gold to come their way in 2017. If I'm the Young Bucks, I'd worry.
Newcomers of the Year: Lee & Taylor nose out Lio Rush and Jay White for the honors. The cruisers have the flash, but there's plenty of sizzle with the steak that Lee & Taylor bring, as Jim Ross might put it.
Career Mistake(s) of the Year: It's a tie between B. J. Whitmer and Cody Runnels (since he can't use Rhodes in ROH or TNA). Cody because he joined the Bullet Club, making the same kind of career botch that his late father made nearly a decade ago. Oh, you forgot that Dusty was in the nWo, didn't you? Lasted about half a year. Whitmer hitched his wagon to ancient wackjob Kevin Sullivan. That says career death to me.
The Vickie Guerrero "Get off my television screen yesterday!" Award: Kevin Sullivan. To think that more than 40 years ago, he was an earnest babyface starting in the then-WWWF, then moving his tack to Florida & Georgia. Somewhere along the way in the mid-80's, he adopted the devil worshipper persona he's resurrected in ROH. The storyline with Steve Corino came to an abrupt end with Corino's departure to WWE/NXT, and splitting Whitmer and Damian Martinez away from Sullivan (likely if Sullivan leaves) can't come soon enough. Like, he's pushing 70, isn't he? His workrate began to wither in WCW in the 90's, but his act probably doesn't play as well in the South as it used to. Give him a front office job and leave him there.
The George Santayana Award: Bullet Club. What killed the nWo ultimately was Eric Bischoff over-milking the golden goose by expanding the membership beyond its natural limits. Guess what the Bullet Club is doing? The exact same thing. Do I really need to quote Santayana again for you?
They need more screen time in 2017: Donovan Dijak, Lio Rush, Jay White, Cheeseburger, Joey Daddiego, Will Ferrara, Tim Hughes, Jon Gresham.
They need less screen time in 2017: Kevin Sullivan. With Corino gone, what point is there?
In part 2, we'll take a look at WWE.