2017 was one of the best years of AJ Style's career, and he just been announced as the winner of an award that will make looking back at the amazing year even better.
Pro Wrestling Illustrated has announced their year end awards, and Styles took home the coveted wrestler of the year honor. It's pretty hard to argue with the choice. Styles had great matches throughout the year, book-ended the year with WWE championship runs, and continues to perfect his craft even into his late 30s.
In their polling for the award, Styles received 38% of the vote. This marks the second year in a row that he has won the award (Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Steve Austin, CM Punk, and John Cena are the only others to have done this). All together, he has won or placed in the top four of PWI's wrestler of the year award six times in his career (2003, 2004, 2005, 2014, 2016, 2017).
Coming in second place was NJPW's Kazuchika Okada (21%), Kenny Omega (11%), and Cody Rhodes (9%). All of these performers could have also been great choices, particular Omega and Okada who had a series of matches in 2017 that rank among the greatest matches in wrestling history. Likewise, Cody Rhodes joined the Bullet Club and became a major player on the independent and international scene last year, far surpassing any success he ever had in WWE (and perhaps showing that WWE badly dropped the ball with his run there).
As we begin 2018, Styles again holds the WWE championship. The question will be whether SmackDown's work horse will be allowed the opportunity to carry the belt into WrestleMania this year. Last year, many fans were disappointed when Styles lost the title at the Royal Rumble to John Cena. After having held the belt for nearly four months and building up SmackDown's image as the better of the two shows at that time, some viewed it as a slight that he didn't get to main event the brand's world title match at WrestleMania. That could be different this year as rumors abound of a possible WrestleMania match with Shinsuke Nakamura for the title.
Congrats to the Phenomenal One on his well-deserved and latest honor.