When it comes to the Balls and Brawls Award for the WWE Male Superstar of the Year, there is only one man who deserves this award and that is the current WWE Champion, AJ Styles.
After making a much-anticipated debut back at the Royal Rumble, Styles made it a year to remember with a string of impressive performances and he topped it all off by capturing the WWE Championship in September.
The Phenomenal One was a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble match in the number three slot and he would last an impressive 29 minutes in the match, before being eliminated by Kevin Owens.
14 years after rejecting a developmental deal with the company, Styles was finally back with the company and his first rivalry would be against Chris Jericho, picking up his first win over Y2J on Raw and defeated him once again at Fastlane.
The Phenomenal One had earned Jericho’s respect, as they teamed up to form the short-lived Y2AJ to challenge New Day for the WWE Tag Team Championship but after failing to capture the gold, Jericho turned on AJ.
The two men met on the grandest stage as AJ Styles made his WrestleMania debut and despite defeat to Jericho, Styles would bounce back with a huge win the next night on Raw defeating Jericho, Cesaro and Kevin Owens in a Fatal 4 Way to become No.1 Contender.
Styles failed in his attempt to capture the WWE Championship from Roman Reigns in a disruptive main event at Payback, but he would be given another chance at Extreme Rules. Despite an impressive performance against the champion, he came up short once again.
After weeks of teasing a reunion with former Bullet Club members Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, who arrived at the company in April, the trio made it official at the end of May as Styles turned on a returning John Cena.
Styles picked up the biggest win of his career with victory over Cena at Money in the Bank, albeit with help from Gallows and Anderson. Cena would gain some revenge at Battleground as he teamed with Enzo and Cass to defeat The Club leading to a decider at SummerSlam.
After being drafted to Smackdown away from his buddies Gallows and Anderson, who headed to Raw, Styles had to do it on his own against Cena at SummerSlam and he proved he is the better man with another singles win over Cena in the thrilling back-and-forth match.
With two wins over the 15-time world champion, the self-proclaimed “face that runs the place” earned a WWE Championship shot at Dean Ambrose and after just over seven months after his debut, Styles captured the WWE Championship at Backlash.
Styles was on the roll but as it looked like a Triple Threat match against both Cena and Ambrose would prove too much for the Phenomenal One, Styles overcame the odds with yet another impressive display at No Mercy.
Ambrose would not give up in his quest to regain the WWE Championship and cost “the champ that runs the camp” an embarrassing defeat to James Ellsworth, before the Lunatic Fringe earned a rematch with victory over Styles in November.
Styles and Ambrose tried to put their differences aside for the good of Smackdown at Survivor Series but after Styles cost Ambrose to be eliminated, he returned to ringside later the match to rejoin forces with The Shield to send Styles crashing through the announcers desk.
Styles and Ambrose would finally settle the score in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match at TLC and after yet another thrilling match, AJ retained the championship after James Ellsworth shockingly cost Ambrose.
After destroying Ellsworth in a WWE Championship a few weeks later on Smackdown, Styles would end 2016 on another high by overcoming Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler in another brilliant Triple Threat match to end a great year as WWE Champion.
It has been such a long time that a superstar made such an impact in his first year in the WWE and Styles certainly proved in 2016 that he is the best in the business.
Second Place: Kevin Owens
Things just keep getting better for Kevin Owens as the former NXT Champion followed up on a strong 2015 with another impressive year in 2016, as he became the main man on Raw by winning the Universal Championship in September.
A brilliant Last Man Standing match against Dean Ambrose at Royal Rumble was not his night, but KO did become a two-time Intercontinental Champion by winning a Fatal 5 Way on Raw, as he headed for a debut WrestleMania as the Intercontinental champion.
He may have lost the title at WrestleMania but Owens would continue to steal the show as he entered a war with Sami Zayn picking up a win over his long time ally at Payback, before Zayn finally grabbed a win over Owens in the Balls and Brawls Match of the Year at Battleground.
The highlight of Kevin Owens year came in late August as he captured the vacant Universal Championship by defeating Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Big Cass in a Fatal 4 Way, albeit with a helping hand from Triple H.
Owens would engage in a rivalry with Rollins and Reigns over the coming months but as his friendship with Chris Jericho grew stronger, Y2J had the champion’s back as Owens closed out the year as champion, including a big victory over Rollins at Hell in a Cell.
Third Place: The Miz
From Tough Enough to becoming a six-time Intercontinental Champion, The Miz has been one of WWE’s under-rated superstars over the past few years. However in 2016, The Miz put himself back on the map after an impressive year from the Awesome One.
While cockiness may have cost The Miz the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, Miz would not make the same mistake the next night on Raw as he captured the Intercontinental title for a fifth time from Zack Ryder.
The Miz now also had his wife Maryse by his side and she would become a prize asset for the champion as he overcame challenger after challenger, including emerging victorious in a brilliant Fatal 4 Way against Kevin Owens, Cesaro and Sami Zayn at Extreme Rules.
The Miz was on a roll heading into the Fall, before engaging in a brilliant rivalry with Dolph Ziggler. Maryse’s interference allowed Miz to retain his title at Backlash but Ziggler would end his reign at No Mercy as the Show Off beat The Miz to save his career.
The Miz would recapture the Intercontinental Championship on the 900th Episode of Smackdown, before their amazing rivalry culminated in a Ladder match at TLC. The Miz finally proved he is the better man with victory at TLC as he ended an awesome 2016 still the Intercontinental Champion.