With some of WWE’s top stars missing significant time due to injuries in 2016, other wrestlers have risen up the ranks in the past 12 months. Superstars that haven’t been world champions in years are doing their best work in a long time, and former indie darlings that took more than a decade to get signed by WWE are flourishing on wrestling’s biggest stage.

John Cena has been the face of WWE longer than any superstar in history, but he couldn’t wrestle for most of 2016 because of an injury and projects outside of the company. Randy Orton and Seth Rollins missed big chunks of time this year because of injuries they suffered towards the end of 2015.

Superstars like Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler and Sasha Banks were a big part of WWE’s landscape in 2016, but five wrestlers stood above the rest as the best in the past year.

5) Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens WWE Kevin Owens beat Cesaro at the SummerSlam at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Aug. 23, 2015. One year later, he won the WWE Universal Championship. Photo: Getty Images

Owens had a tremendous first year with WWE in 2015, and he did not disappoint in 2016. The longest-reigning WWE Universal Champion in history has more than earned the right to hold the top title on “Monday Night Raw.”

Owens had the best feud in the first half of 2016 with Sami Zayn, culminating with one of the year’s best matches at WWE Battleground. Since then, his friendship with Chris Jericho has been one of WWE’s most entertaining storylines. As arguably the best superstar on the mic and a deceivingly athletic big man, it’s hard to believe that it took him so long to be signed by WWE.

4) The Miz

The Miz Maryse WWE The Miz held the IC Title longer than anyone in 2016. Pictured: The Miz and Maryse attend the ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles. Photo: Getty Images

It looked like The Miz would never get back to the level he reached in 2011 when he closed out WrestleMania 27 with a match against Cena, but he’s back to being one of WWE’s top superstars. The Intercontinental Champion is one of the company’s top heels, and he’s ready for another main-event push.

Often criticized for his in-ring ability, a few of The Miz’s IC Title matches were among the year’s best. His feud with Dolph Ziggler might have been the No. 1 feud between any two male superstars in 2016, and he’s brought more interest to the IC Title picture than there has been in a long time. But The Miz’s biggest moment was clearly his “Talking Smack” segment with Daniel Bryan, in which he cut the best promo of the past 12 months, and he’s put himself in a position to potentially reclaim the WWE Championship in 2017.

3) Chris Jericho

It’s pretty remarkable what Jericho has been able to do after a quarter century in the wrestling business. Just when it looked like his best years were behind him, Jericho reinvented himself, having his best WWE run in nearly a decade.

Jericho hadn’t been around for more than a few months at a time since 2010, but he’s been a full-time performer since returning in December 2015. The six-time world champion is the most entertaining part of “Monday Night Raw” on a weekly basis (the “List of Jericho” is more popular than most wrestlers), and his newest catchphrases will be part of WWE’s lexicon for years to come. Even at 46 years old, Jericho continues to have terrific matches, and he could become WWE’s most beloved babyface if he turns before a match at WrestleMania 33.

2) Charlotte Flair

Charlotte WWE Charlotte is a five-time WWE Women's Champion. Pictured: Charlotte attends a Meet & Greet at JCPenney on Aug. 18, 2016 in New York City. Photo: Getty Images

WWE first celebrated the “Diva’s Revolution” in 2015, but the real change to the women’s division came this year with Charlotte as the champion. The daughter of Ric Flair had the biggest year of any female WWE superstar in history, accomplishing things that had never been done before.

It really started when Charlotte won the WWE Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 32, stealing the show with the best match on the biggest event of 2016. All she did after that was have the year’s top feud, participate in the first women’s Hell in a Cell Match and become the first female to headline a WWE PPV. Sasha Banks was with Charlotte every step of the way, but the champ was the clear star of the division, and she enters 2017 as the top heel on “Monday Night Raw,” regardless of gender.

1) AJ Styles

AJ Styles WWE No WWE superstar had a better year than AJ Styles in 2016. Pictured: Styles attends the 43rd Annual GMA Dove Awards at The Fox Theatre on April 19, 2012 in Atlanta. Photo: Getty Images

There’s no arguing that 2016 was Styles’ year. Having been the top star in both TNA and New Japan, Styles proved that he could be just as good in the world’s top wrestling promotion.

He probably hasn’t had a bad match since debuting at the Royal Rumble, bringing out the best of all his opponents. Aside from his match against Cena at SummerSlam, which was the year’s best, he stole the show at Payback against Roman Reigns and at TLC against Dean Ambrose. His WrestleMania 32 match with Jericho was one of the best on the card, and he even helped make James Ellsworth a likable character. Styles truly became the “face that runs the place,” holding the WWE Championship for well over 100 days, and he could be set for even bigger things in 2017.