2016 has been quite an exhilarating year for the WWE in terms of in-ring match quality, promo and talent.
While we have had many bigwigs make the transition to the WWE from other promotions, this has also given the current WWE superstars a chance to hone their skills and improve their in-ring work by working with the best of the best from around the globe.
Here we look at the most improved superstars for the year 2016:
Neville: Although he has been a part of the undercard for most of his career off late after a flying start with NXT and some five star matches when he transitioned to the main event roster, he managed to generate great heel heat by attacking both TJ Perkins and Rich Swann at Roadblock: End of the Line. The promo he cut after that showed us that he is not to be taken lightly and that he can solidify his place in the cruiserweight division.
Cesaro: I think this is one superstar for whom almost every year is the same. He manages to amaze us with his athleticism and in-ring work. However, with the unlikely pairing with Sheamus, he seems to have finally struck the right cord with the management and they have been entertaining over the weeks. They ended the New Day’s record-breaking tag team reign and hopefully will be booked properly by the WWE for a long time.
Alexa Bliss: She had the ‘rookie’ image with her all along and no one would have thought that she had what it takes to work alongside the likes of Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley. However, she was able to hone her craft and was able to make a talented worker like Becky Lynch look weak. Her winning the WWE SmackDown Live Women’s title was the icing on the cake and the WWE has handled her rise with utmost care.
Dolph Ziggler: Another under-dog whose wings had been clipped by the management for a while and was left to slog it out at the mid-card for most of his career.
He started off his SmackDown Live career with a great program with Dean Ambrose for the World Championship. He was later moved from the title picture and was put in a great program with Miz. It had the perfect blend of emotions, struggle and also depicted Ziggler’s career. He is now scheduled to face AJ Styles, Baron Corbin and the Miz in a fatal four way on this week’s episode of SmackDown Live for the WWE World Championship.
Braun Strowman: We knew that he had the capability to be the next power house when he debuted alongside Bray Wyatt as a part of the Wyatt Family. Although his rise to a full time singles-career was rather slow, his speed is unrivaled for his size and his overall personality and look makes him one of the scariest people to be in the ring with. His feud with Sami Zayn helped him establish himself as a legitimate threat to superstars and with him being added to a program with Reigns later, we can only hope that his career graph goes on an exponential path now.
Big Cass: Given his size, we all knew that it was a matter of time till he reached the main event status. His true in-ring work and ability came to light when Enzo Amore was injured and he proved to the world that he is more than just 7 foot height and strength. Due to his potential, he became a more vocal member of the team with Enzo and he has been improving both on the mic and in the ring ever since. It might be very soon that we may see him inserted into the Universal title picture.
Baron Corbin: Although he went through a slight lull in his career, he came back stronger than ever and has legitimately established himself as one of the dominant heels on SmackDown Live. His size and look separate him from the regular talent and his athleticism allows him to effortlessly ground high flyers like Kalisto. He started off by winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal’e and looks like the coming year is only going to get better for him.
He is currently about to have the biggest match of his life on this week’s episode of SmackDown Live when he faces Dolph Ziggler, The Miz and AJ Styles for the WWE World Championship in a fatal four way match.
Zack Ryder: Zack’s career had its own share of up and downs. After he started off his own YouTube channel, the WWE had to place the United States Championship around his waist due to the fans getting behind him. After that, an untimely injury sidelined him for most of the year and it took him a while to reclaim his mojo. He started off this year on a high with an unexpected win at WrestleMania 32 for the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match and later found great success alongside Mojo Rawley.
Unfortunately, he is currently on the injured list and once he recovers, it might be a matter of time till we see him back into the tag team title picture.
Chris Jericho: While we might get a lot of heat for adding Jericho to this list, let me clarify. Even Jericho has admitted that he has been doing some of his best work in the WWE over the past year. His vast in-ring experience allows him to have five-star matches with almost anyone and his mic-skills are second only to the Rock. His current pairing with Owens help get a lot of great moments and promos and also helped the superstars showcase their humorous and witty sides. While we all expected that there would be a huge showdown between him and Owens, it appears that that was a mis-direction by the WWE. No matter who the competitor, we are not complaining for Jericho!
The Miz: Undoubtedly, the most improved superstar in the WWE according to us. He has successfully been able to shun off the tag of being a ‘safe’ worker and also simultaneously been able to generate heel heat alongside his wife, Maryse. His feud with Daniel Bryan not only showcased his weaknesses to the world, but it was visible that the Miz was working on them from his side. He produced great matches against Ziggler and is currently at the beginning of a feud against Dean Ambrose by the way the things are being handled.