10. Pete Dunne
TOP 10 TIME!!! And, MAN, are these some great wrestlers. We start with the current WWE UK Champion, the Bruiserweight, Pete Dunne. Plain and simple, this guy is the perfect heel in today’s pro wrestling. He is vicious, technical, methodical, but can do any high spot necessary and doesn’t need shenanigans to win. Dunne began the year tearing through the WWE UK Championship Tournament, defeating Roy Johnson, Sam Gradwell, and Mark Andrews on his way to the finals where he lost to Tyler Bate. His matches with Andrews and Bate were unbelievable and definitely the highlights of the tournament. While Bate was defending the UK Championship on NXT, Dunne would be in the crowd with an incredible scowl on, knowing in his heart of hearts that Bate’s championship was rightfully his. He would go on to defeat Bate at Takeover: Chicago in a Match of the Year candidate, becoming the second-ever UK Champion. He defeated Enzo Amore in a Champion vs. Champion match in the UK on 205 Live and most recently successfully defended his championship against Tyler Bate on NXT in another great match. As bright as Tyler Bate’s future is, Pete Dunne’s is just as bright. I can’t wait to see him more on WWE TV in 2018. And, just to say it one more time…Bate vs. Dunne will main even WrestleMania within 5 years. The reason he beats Bate to the Top 10? Well, he’s the current champ and for every Tyler Bate chant in the crowd, there are 3 more “Bruiserweight” chants. The dude is flat out over.
Plain and simple, if you step into the ring with Asuka, she will kill you. There is certainly a place in the Top 10 for the undefeated Empress of Tomorrow. Every challenger that has stepped up to Asuka, Asuka has beaten. This includes, Ember Moon, Ruby Riot, Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Dana Brooke, Bayley, Nia Jax, the list goes on. Asuka is one of those rare talents who, much like Aleister Black, is the total package. Her in-ring still is rivaled only by Charlotte. Her entrance is ELECTRIC. Her moveset is devastating. Her psychology is on point. Promos? Psh, Asuka is the type that doesn’t need to cut promos to be over. She ran through the whole year as NXT Women’s Champion, defeating all comers. After retaining her title at Takeover: Brooklyn III against Ember Moon, she relinquished the title to move up to RAW. She has continued her undefeated streak and won the Women’s Survivor Series match pretty much by herself. She looks to be headed into a feud with Absolution as they’ve been stalking her lately. If WWE knows what’s right for them, they’ll have Asuka hurdle that obstacle and challenge Little Miss Bliss for the RAW Women’s Championship. Asuka is the type of talent that you morph a division around. It worked in NXT and it should work on the main roster as well.
8. Samoa Joe
For all of my fans out there (hi, Mom), you would know I have Samoa Joe as my #1 potential breakout star of 2018. The big, angry, Samoan potato is ready to kick everyone’s ass. That’s kind of his gimmick isn’t it? And, dammit, it works! Joe made his debut the night after the Royal Rumble and nearly crippled Seth Rollins. The next week he beat Roman Reigns clean on RAW. Talk about a hot start to the year, huh? He went on to beat Sami Zayn at Fastlane, then had a surprisingly underwhelming match at Payback with Seth Rollins, which Joe lost. However, Joe began to gain a lot of momentum after beating Rollins, Reigns, Finn Balor, and Bray Wyatt in an Extreme Rules fatal five way match at, you guessed it, Extreme Rules, earning the opportunity to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship at Great Balls of Fire. Joe then delivered one of the best heel promos of the year with Paul Heyman, whispering into Heyman’s ear how he was going to choke him out and then doing just that immediately after. He lost that match in a great effort in one of the last dream matches the Beast has to offer. Joe was also a participant in the great fatal four way at SummerSlam for the Universal Championship along with Reigns, Lesnar, and Braun Strowman. Although Samoa Joe has yet to taste Championship Gold on the main roster, he has postured himself to be a top guy in 2018. The man deserves a Championship ASAFP.
7. The Miz
AAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWEEESSSSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMEEE!!! Yet another Fun Fact…if you go to Wikipedia and type in “The M” in the search bar, Miz is the #1 result ahead of the Mickey Mouse Club. Let’s go ahead and feed his ego. He’s certainly earned it. If Dean Ambrose is the Iron Man of WWE, Miz is the MVP. Rolling Stone Magazine certainly thinks so as they named him their #1 Wrestler of the Year. He carried over a strong 2016 into an even better 2017. He is in this insane groove where everything he does is pure gold…except that stuff with Lavar Ball, but not even The Rock could prevent that mess. Miz began the year losing the Intercontinental Championship to Dean Ambrose, losing the Royal Rumble Match, and losing the Elimination Chamber Match. Miz and his wife, Maryse, were then unceremoniously fed to John Cena and Nikki Bella at WrestleMania 33 to lose in order to set up Cena and Bella’s engagement. It was a nice moment. Whatever. Miz would move over to RAW and recapture his IC title, winning a triple threat match against Seth Rollins and Finn Balor to earn the opportunity. Although his IC title defenses were few after that period and he lost his championship to a certain large canine, he was still one of the top heels in the company. He is by far the best promo in WWE and his in-ring work is now at a point where he is a believable champion at every level. Miz will continue his excellence in 2018 when he gets back from filming The Marine 8,097 and it will be AWESOME!
6. Kevin Owens
I really don’t think I have to go too in-depth into this one. KO is universally regarded as one of the best talents WWE has to offer. His mic work is rivaled only by The Miz, he has excellent in-ring skill and psychology, and is a consistent innovator. Owens began the year as Universal Champion, defeating Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble to retain his championship (with Chris Jericho doing his best impression of a sexy pinata and an assist from a certain Monster to be named later). In the coming weeks, Chris Jericho volunteered Owens to battle Goldberg at Fastlane for the Universal Championship. This would lead to “The Mega Powers EXPLODE” version 2.0 when Owens turned on then-best friend, Chris Jericho at the Festival of Friendship (which was the best segment of the year). This led to a great match between the two at WrestleMania in which KO won Chris Jericho’s United States Championship (to hell with Vince McMahon and his opinion on that match). Owens’ US Championship reign would be a bit underwhelming with a bad finish with AJ Styles at Backlash and a botched finish with the Phenomenal One at Battleground. KO would go on to compete in, and lose, the Money in the Bank Match. Owens finally distanced himself from the US title after a loss to Styles at SummerSlam with Shane McMahon as guest referee. This led to the beginning of a great feud between KO and Shane O Mac. Which THEN led to the reunion of Owens and Sami Zayn as best friends. Zayn turned heel, helping KO win his Hell in a Cell match against Shane by pulling Owens off of a table allowing Shane to, ya know, almost DIE jumping off the cell like a lunatic. The feud between Owens, Zayn and McMahon is continuing and is looking promising going into the new year with Daniel Bryan added to the mix as a wild card. I can’t wait to see where this goes.