When thinking of 2017's most exciting wrestlers, names like AJ Styles, Chris Jericho and Braun Strowman instantly spring to mind. What was it that made these performers so thrilling to watch though? Great matches, killer promos and wrecking-ball behaviour (we're looking at you, Braun) all contributed, but so did creative direction.
WWE clearly cared about these characters, and that in turn made it easier for fans to give a damn.
Before going any further, it's important to establish that this is just one writer's opinion. You're probably not going to agree with everything here, but that's OK. After all, every fan has their view on how WWE run things. So, just keep the pitchforks away for now, please, because it often wasn't the actual performers themselves who were at fault.
Instead, blame can be shifted onto those in charge of writing Raw and SmackDown...
They're the ones who definitively failed to follow-up on the (merited) hype surrounding Shinsuke Nakamura when he traded NXT for SmackDown.
Look, Nakamura is one hell of a pro wrestler. The guy could have excellent matches in his sleep, but that doesn't matter a jot to casual fans who know nothing about the industry outside of WWE's bubble. To them, Shinsuke is just another overhyped performer who hasn't delivered one memorable feud during his first year on the main roster.
If that sounds harsh, direct your hate towards WWE creative. Aside from a few bright spots, like his match against John Cena and staredown with AJ Styles at Money In The Bank, Nakamura hasn't come across like a top star, and that's their fault. Throughout 2017, he was just sorta' there, and there was no explanation as to why.
2018 better be an improvement, because the ex-New Japan wonder deserves more.