As the wrestling year comes to a close it's time to look back on the biggest and brightest moments of 2016. It was a year that saw a brand split which led to more opportunities for one of the deepest rosters in WWE history. We also saw the return of two former late 90s mainstays, the emergence of Women's wrestling and the rise of some of the past decade's greatest indy stars to WWE prominence.
With only a few shows remaining and one pay per view this Sunday at WWE Roadblock, it's time to look back at the Top 5 Moments of 2016.
5. Triple H Helps Kevin Owens Win The WWE Universal Championship
When Finn Balor suffered a shoulder injury on the night he won the Universal championship from Seth Rollins, many assumed Rollins would be the logical choice to carry the belt from there. During a fatal four way for the vacant championship the following night on RAW, Triple H's emergence led fans to believe this was the plan all along. Trips first took out Roman Reigns with a pedigree and then urged Rollins to cover him. Then, just as it seemed he would do the same to Owens, Hunter turned on his former protege and handed the Universal championship to KO.
Despite the fact that four months later Triple H has yet to return to explain his actions, this was certainly one of the biggest moments of the year.prevnext
4. Sasha Banks Wins The RAW Women's Championship
Charlotte and Sasha Banks have dominated the past year in both women's and men's wrestling. We'll likely look back and remember this as the most important 6 month stretch in the history of women's wrestling. The two have given us so many great moments, but Sasha winning her first women's championship takes the cake. From Sasha paying homage to her hero, Eddie Guerrero, to the You Deserve It chants that showered the ring during the post-match interview as Sasha teared up, this was definitely one of the greatest moments of the year.prevnext
3. Shane McMahon Returns To WWE TV
It was hard to keep Shane O Mac's leap from the top of the cage at Wrestlemania 32 off this list, but when "Here Comes The Money" hit on RAW during Vince McMahon's presentation of the legacy award to Stephanie, Shane McMahon turned what was looking like a relatively boring Wrestlemania season into something exciting and unpredictable.
Shane's accusations that Stephanie and Triple H were running the company into the ground echoed what most fans were feeling at the time. Triple H had booked himself to win the WWE championship, which would have been fine, except everyone knew it was only so that he could hand it over to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania.
The Authority angle had run it's course and fans were ready for something new (or in this case, something old). Since his return, we've seen the brand split, new pay per views, an influx of new superstars from NXT and a true feeling of a new era in the WWE. As always, the plan belonged to Vince, but Shane was the perfect candidate to usher it all in.prevnext
2. AJ Styles Debuts At The 2016 Royal Rumble
No one ever thought "Mr.TNA" would end up in a WWE ring. The knock on him during his decade with TNA was that he was too small and too plain to stand out on the big stage of the WWE. Based on how the WWE has viewed talent from other promotions in the past, many feared that at best, AJ would get brought in to put over other mid-card talent.
All those fears were erased when the number 3 entrant in the 2016 Royal Rumble was called and AJ Styles emerged from the back to stand toe to toe with WWE's golden boy, Roman Reigns. Instead of ignoring his past, Cole and JBL mentioned his accomplishments in New Japan (not TNA, of course) and cited him as the hottest free agent in wrestling.
Styles may not have won the Rumble, but the nature of his entrance was a preview to just how much the WWE valued his potential. It's hard to argue that many other superstars have ever had as great of a first year run with the WWE and this was the moment that started it all for the Phenomenal One.prevnext
1. Goldberg Defeats Brock Lesnar In 86 Seconds
Hard to believe that a rematch from what is largely considered one of the worst matches in Wrestlemania history could make the top 5 moments of 2016, but that is exactly what happened when Goldberg returned to the ring to face Brock Lesnar 12 years after their first encounter.
The build-up to the match was centered around Goldberg's inclusion on the WWE 2k17 video game. Commercials began teasing Lesnar taking Goldberg to Suplex City and fans started to wonder if there was a chance the WCW legend might actually return to the ring.0comments
When Goldberg finally did return, citing a desire to show his son the superhero his dad used to be, the fans ate it up. Despite the emotional promos, a few rusty leg kicks and tussles with Rusev had people largely questioning whether the 49 year old would have much to offer Lesnar in the ring.
Then came Survivor Series. After an initial show of force from the Beast, Goldberg absolutely shocked the world when he connected with two spears and a "vintage" jackhammer for the 86 second win. Goldberg then brought his son into the ring for what will go down as one of the most memorable moments in 2016 and quite possibly WWE history.prev