2017 Awards: Most Improved of 2017

That’s an upgrade.

One of the fun things to do in wrestling is look back and see who wasn’t such a big deal back in the day but then got better over the course of time. In this case we’re looking at the improvement over the course of a year, in which there were a lot of names who got far better than you would have expected from them.

As is so often the case, we’ll start down in NXT where they grow stars like few other places. One such star is Lars Sullivan, who came from practically nowhere and turned into one of the best monsters the show has ever seen. Throw him out there as a monster and let him run people over while showing no fear and no pain. It’s a story that has worked for years and there’s no reason Sullivan can’t pull it off exceedingly well.

Sticking in NXT (that might be a theme today), we have the current NXT Champion Andrade Cien Almas. Now this one might be a lot more about Zelina Vega being amazing and one of the best managers in a long time but Almas himself has turned into quite the act as well. He’s gone from someone who looked to be a lost cause to being someone who is a top star in the promotion and looking like a legitimate big deal. They have a good act together and one that looks like it could work for a very long time.

We might as well knock off the other NXT option with someone who shocked the heck out of me. Velveteen Dream looked like he was going to be any other effeminate character but wound up being not only a solid in-ring performer but one heck of a character who is almost mesmerizing to watch. His feud with Aleister Black was a major high spot but it was also the only major thing he did all year. Still though, one great thing is more than most people get in any given year.

We’ll head up to the main roster now with someone who didn’t do much in NXT but has found his calling in WWE. In this case we have Elias, who sings a song about every city he’s in and manages to get the fans to hate him every single week. It works like a charm and the in-ring work has been quite good as well. Elias might not be a top star but he’s a solid midcard hand and there’s nothing wrong with doing that for a long time.

Next up is someone who I had pegged to win this for a good chunk of the year with Neville. He was always talented and one of the better cruiserweights on the roster but the King of the Cruiserweights character was something fresh and new which made him feel so much better in a hurry. It’s a shame that he left the company under such bad circumstances but hopefully he’ll be back and no longer jobbing to Enzo.

Finally though, and this isn’t much of a surprise, we have Braun Strowman. Where do you even begin with the year this guy had? Strowman came into 2017 as just another strong man and came out as a fan favorite and someone you could see winning the World Title at some point in the near future. To take a fairly one note gimmick and knock it so far out of the park like Strowman has is quite the accomplishment and I’m looking forward to seeing just how far he can take it. Starting where he was back at the beginning of 2017 is all the more impressive, making him the most improved wrestler of the year.


  1. Nick says:

    I know it’s under the radar but I’m gonna suggest Alexa bliss – she’s come on leaps and bounds but focus has been more on women who has regressed

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I had her on my initial list but a lot of her improvement came last year. She had a great 2017 though.

  2. MikeCheyne says:

    Braun kind of me reminds me of when Mark Henry got the Hall of Pain booking: you book a guy as a powerhouse badass who kicks ass and the fans like that. Granted, having somebody who is actually talented at doing that helps.