Reaction Zone - 2017 Achievement Awards, part 2

In part 1, we handed out the hardware for Lucha Underground. Now, it's Ring of Honor's turn.

MVP: In a year where ROH weathered the storm of repeated talent losses to WWE (Steve Corino, Adam Cole, reDRagon, Nigel McGuinness, Lio Rush, Roderick Strong), it was the Young Bucks who stood out more than anyone, flitting back & forth between face & heel, depending on the opponent (that's just the way the Bullet Club rolls). The fact that the Jackson brothers and Cody Rhodes would announce a few weeks ago that they wanted to self-finance an indy show at a 10,000 seat arena in 2018 speaks to something the nWo didn't have 20 years ago, and that was an appreciation for the audience. You may not like how the Bucks rarely do TV jobs, but that's because of the deal between ROH & New Japan to protect the Bullet Club as much as possible.

Wrestler of the Year: This one's a tough one due to injuries and the fact that some talents didn't stick around (The Hardys practically cameo'd for about a month, Cole was gone before the first quarter was over) long enough. Another Bullet Club member, Marty Scurll, who was brought in to replace Cole, erased any images people had of his brief TNA Impact run (as Party Marty), and showed that he was a wrestler first, even if he does cheat here & there. He was one of two people using the cross-face chicken wing submission on TV, until WWE Uncreative asked Asuka to switch to the cross-armbreaker as her new Asuka-lock. More on that next time. Take away the umbrella and that bird gimmick, and you have a man who could be world champion down the road.

Babyface of the Year: Another tough one, but I'm going to give it to an upstate NY homeboy, Dalton Castle. He may be the 2nd coming of Goldust with his swishy persona, amplified with the peacock-masked boys as his valets, but, as we found out at Final Battle, Castle made history as the first wrestler from NY's Tri-Cities to win a World title. It won't be long before WWE comes calling, but if Impact tries again, they will again ask Castle to sub out the Boys with two women. That's what happened in his tryout with TNA a few years back.

Heel of the Year: Jay Briscoe. Yeah, I know, brother Mark recently turned heel on Bully Ray, but what ROH wants to do now is reboot the Briscoes as the 2nd coming of the Dudleys, making them as vile as possible, though, due to Mark's injury, early application of the 3D has been sloppy. Bully Ray did the honors at Final Battle, and apparently will stay on as a trainer, since he opened a 2nd Team 3D academy in the Northeast to go with the original in Florida. The Briscoes will push the envelope, but Jay was doing that long before he turned on Ray and cost him and Mark the 6-man titles. Frustration over not being World champ got to Jay, but I don't see this lasting very long.

Tag Team of the Year: The Young Bucks. When do you see the Jacksons without gold? Hardly ever, between ROH & New Japan. WWE doesn't like them using the Wolfpac 2 Sweet hand-sign due to intellectual property issues, but that's mostly Vince McMahon being his usual stubborn mule self.

Woman of the Year: None. The Women of Honor's matches are restricted to the YouTube channel, save for periodic special compilation episodes of ROH TV. The forthcoming tournament should fix that and finish the coronation of Kelly Klein as the top female in the promotion.

Joe Isuzu Award: Rev. Caprice Coleman's interview segments should be more about the backstories behind some of the wrestlers, not involving kayfabe (i.e. Shane Taylor), and not about Coleman compromising his faith by remaining a heel. Shame, shame, shame.

Most improved wrestler: Kenny King. After the Rebellion split, King was given the TV title after appearing on ABC's "The Bachelorette", but he has improved moreso than Taylor, Rhett Titus or Coleman. Titus, in fact, got the worst of the deal.

Newcomer of the Year: Top Prospect winner Josh Woods shares the award with Damian "Punishment" Martinez. Martinez is getting a push, while Woods is paying dues the same way Lio Rush did last year at this time. Martinez has the size that the other guys crave (i.e. WWE), but I'd say this will be another Top Prospect that WWE will poach, having claimed Rush, Hanson, & Mike Bennett this year alone (despite Bennett's one year stop with Impact), unless Sinclair Broadcasting shows Woods the money.

Most Unimproved wrestler: Cody (The American Nightmare) Rhodes. He gets the creative freedom he wanted when he left first WWE, then Impact, but upon closer examination, the former champion hasn't really changed his style all that much, and adding the ring was overkill. I predict a full face turn in 2018, as I think the Bullet Club will tire of his act in due course.

What we need to see more of in 2018: Women of Honor matches, Shane Taylor, better utilization of the ROH-New Japan connection.

In part 3: WWE.

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