Total Ballot Appearing: 18 // Ballot Points: 803 // Highest Rank: 1st // 1st Place Votes: 1

The saying you use steel to sharpen steel may be truer for no on on this list moreso than Ryan Cruz. After the breakup of the North Star Express at January’s Wrestlepalooza IX, it felt as though Cruz was on a mission to prove that he belonged at the very top of the Minnesota scene by taking on the best the state had to offer. “Ryan didn’t get to quite the heights that Darin did after their breakup” but he proved after a year that included holding the Heavyweight Championship in IWI, flirting with Scott Story’s title over the Summer on the Beers and Bodyslams tour, and putting on a match of the year candidate with Arik Cannon in Forest Lake, that NSE was more Hollywood Blondes than Rockers and he was no man’s Marty Janetty. “Possibly the flyer in Minnesota, Ryan is much more than just one dimensional and can beat opponents in a variety of fashions. One of the most interesting wrestlers to watch in ring with a style all of his own, Cruz continues to entertain and elevate his game.”

With a new look and pants so loud you hear coming before you see them, Cruz has been on a redemption journey that finally culminated this Saturday at Wrestlepalooza XI at what is certain to be on this year’s best of lists when he and Darin Corbin finally got their hands on each other in a brutal one-on-one in a No DQ match for the F1rst Tag Team Championships. Who will he choose to be his new tag team partner and does a return to the tag ranks make sense for someone who has worked for all of 2017 to re-establish his presence and a singles wrestler? One thing is certain, if Cruz keeps performing at the level he has established this year, “he should be looking forward to adding some gold back to his collection in 2018″. The end of the steel proverb says that “one friend sharpens another”. While there may be no love lost between Cruz and Corbin following a year of feuding, you can’t deny that Cruz has come back stronger and more committed to solidifying his place in the conversation about the best wrestlers in Minnesota.

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