Enzo Amore's WWE Year in Review: Full Breakdown and Grade for 2017
It is difficult to find a Superstar who invoked more emotion in fans, for better or worse, in 2017 than Enzo Amore.
Yes, even Roman Reigns.
The Certified G and bona fide stud was met with great controversy throughout the year for his backstage reputation as well as his in-ring performances, which diminished in quality. Yet, despite every possible thing going against him at different points in the year, he shook off a creatively disastrous split from Big Cass and underwent a character rebirth that saw him become the top dog of 205 Live.
The kingpin of the cruiserweight division, he earned greater heat as a villain than anyone could have imagined and helped rebuild a division and show desperately in need of a spark.
And in the process, he helped erased a forgettable first half and finished strong, with a bright future in his windshield.
Relive the year of Muscles Marinara and find out how he graded out in a number of fields, what his finest moment was and which match stands out from the rest as his greatest of 2017 with this recap of his last 12 months.
Amore is never going to win any awards based on his in-ring exploits.
He is a larger-than-life personality with a big mouth and loads of attitude, and that is where his proverbial bread and butter lies. As an in-ring worker, he is below-average and even comes across as uncoordinated.
With that said, no one takes a better ass-kicking when the time comes than Enzo.
His willingness to take enormous bumps to make his opponent's offense look better is a trademark of his performance, particularly during the first half of the year, when he was a babyface tag team performer with partner Big Cass.
It has also benefited him as a heel in that fans finally get to see him silenced after weeks of running his mouth.
What he lacks, he makes up for with showmanship and the ability to incite crowd reactions.
Not necessarily enough to warrant an average grade but hardly traits to scoff at.
Whereas Amore's year was as predictably below-average as one expects from an in-ring perspective, it was surprisingly eventful creatively.
The Certified G split with partner Big Cass, and though the initial months of his singles run were bumpy, thanks to miscasting as the annoying sidekick of Big Show, he tread water long enough to remain relevant. When the time came for him to enter the cruiserweight division, he thrived.
The egotistical newcomer with a high opinion of himself and an even lower one of his opposition, he denounced the legitimacy of the division and spent weeks talking down to the likes of Rich Swann, Akira Tozawa and Neville.
Muscles Marinara underwent a heel turn that played up the heat he had in the locker room and allowed him to portray his character to the fullest of its potential. He was largely unlikable and intolerably loud as he entered the fray on 205 Live.
When he won the title, he became even more so.
There was a hiccup or two along the way, including some creative inconsistencies in regard to whom he aligned himself with and a curious cruiserweight title loss to Kalisto, but for the most part, Amore thrived as the lead villain in a division desperately seeking a larger-than-life persona.
Amore won his first championship in WWE when he defeated Neville to capture the Cruiserweight Championship. The win, controversial as it may have been given the acclaimed nature of Neville's title reign, set in motion events that would lend credibility and legitimate heat to the division for the first time in months.
Not since Neville and Austin Aries feuded over the title had the division been as exciting or notable as it was with Amore in the title hunt. Love him or hate him, he helped boost a sagging division and brought legitimate star power to it.
Winning the title for a second time by knocking off Kalisto only helped bolster his championship resume and further lent credibility to Amore's quest to be the tops of the division.
As a member of a wildly popular tag team with Big Cass, Enzo was a catchphrase-spouting underdog who never experienced success at the next level, probably because management figured the duo was popular enough not to need gold.
That is a massive disappointment given the things they accomplished together in NXT, but in the long run, the singles run and heel turn did more to promote and legitimize one of WWE's most struggling properties. Due to that, Amore's year was more significant in the grand scheme of things than it otherwise would have been had the team remained intact and won titles.
The October 2 episode of Raw saw Amore stand center stage and rattle off insults at the cruiserweights who surrounded the ring, setting the tone for his heel run and establishing himself as the new godfather of the division.
He was unrelenting in his disses, insulting everyone from Noam Dar to former champion Neville, who stood stone-faced amid the onslaught.
While the title victory that earned him that spotlight was significant, it was that moment in which he affirmed his heel turn and took his place atop the division he would champion for the majority of the remainder of the year.
Choosing the best Enzo match is like choosing the least crappy Backstreet Boy song; none of them are particularly good, but there are one or two that are not quite as bad as the rest.
Or something like that.
With slim pickings, the most obvious choice is his Cruiserweight Championship victory over Neville at No Mercy.
The match was hardly what one would call an above-average match, nor was it even remotely close to Neville's best work, but it did allow the Amore character to get over with the masses. The low blow that ended the match put over the lengths to which the Certified G would go to win a match and firmly established him as a heel, even against the self-proclaimed King of the Cruiserweights, whose vicious and vile acts had defined his reign.
Amore accomplished more in 2017 than he had any right to.
With rampant reports from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Cageside Seats) of backstage heat and no guarantee that he would remain with the company beyond his split with Big Cass, there was every reason to expect the Enzo experiment would end badly.
It did not.
Amore channeled the heat within the locker room—and the building disdain fans had for him—into a heel character that grew to the point that it was able to sustain a 205 Live show that had nothing going for it otherwise.
He became the mouthpiece for Superstars like Tony Nese, Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari, a legitimate villain around whom the entire division ran and a champion.
Amore succeeded when all signs pointed to failure, and for that, he deserves all the credit in the world.
Until he improves in the ring, his most obvious weakness, he will fall just shy of an elusive "A" grade.