CB’s World Year-End Wrestling Special: WWE and TNA BEST and WORST of 2011

CB’s World Year-End Wrestling Special: WWE and TNA BEST and WORST of 2011

2011’s BEST:

1. Best Raw Performance: CM Punk – Despite the uneven booking that has transpired since the near-perfectly executed Summer of Punk, there is no doubt that CM Punk was clearly the best Raw performer of 2011. What Punk did was simply transcendent, and it all started one fateful night on Raw, which leads us to…

2. Best WWE Promo: CM Punk, Monday Night Raw, 6.27.11 – …that’s right, this was the promo that (re)-started it all for CM Punk in terms of becoming a true legend in WWE. Sure, Punk definitely had some glorious moments before – his in-match promo from the 2010 Royal Rumble currently comes to mind – but the way he simply delivered knockout blow after knockout blow against WWE, John Cena, The Rock, Vince McMahon, Triple H, Johnny Ace and everyone else in his path … Well, it was just the most poignant and powerful thing I’d seen in a long, long time:

And of course, what came next was what cemented Punk’s cult hero legacy.

3. Match of the Year: CM Punk vs. John Cena, Money in the Bank, 7.17.11; and

4. Best WWE Moment: CM Punk wins the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank, Then Leaves WWE – This was the match of the year, the moment of the year, and one of those rare moments in pro wrestling where the stars aligned so perfectly that what the fans wanted is exactly what actually happened. CM Punk cuts the promo of his life in June, and then gets to wrestle John Cena for the WWE Championship in July on his last day under contract in WWE, and where does this all take place? At the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois, which just so happens to be CM Punk’s hometown.

The main question going into this match was: Would WWE surprise us all and do the right thing by giving Punk the win even though he was walking out on Vince McMahon, or would John Cena retain the WWE Championship and cause a riot in Chicago while deflating all of the momentum they built up for Punk to that point?

And what happened from start to finish was truly and utterly brilliant, especially when we all got the ending we wanted – make that the ending we needed – to see…

5. Best Use of Social Media: CM Punk Invades Comic Con San Diego, 7.21.11 – …and if THAT wasn’t enough, what does CM Punk do right after walking out on WWE just four days after MITB? He proceeds to interrupt Triple H at Comic Con in San Diego, post it himself on YouTube, and create yet another must-see moment for all of us to digest:

6. Best SmackDown! Performance: Cody Rhodes – I went back and forth between Christian, Mark Henry and Cody Rhodes for this award, but after re-watching the below promo where Rhodes introduced his paper bag gimmick, I just had to go with the formerly Dashing / now Dastardly superstar. Not only has Rhodes upped his game while getting elevated, he’s continued to be entertaining while adding a few vicious layers to his character.

As for the paper bags themselves, this is just a classic yet clever heel gimmick that keeps the audience engaged even while Rhodes is mocking the very fans that interact with him.

Cody Rhodes Hands out Paper Bags, SmackDown!, 4.22.11

7. Best IMPACT WRESTLING Performance: Robert Roode – TNA clearly doesn’t always get everything right. However, there are times where the folks down in Orlando put together shockingly coherent storylines with actually relevant wrestlers that can strike a cord with fans who are trying like hell to find reasons to root for them.

Well, look no further than Robert Roode to see someone who is worth tuning in for, someone who was able to show us more than a glimmer of hope for TNA’s future, both leading up to Bound For Glory when he was a baby face … and afterwards when he effectively turned heel by cracking his now-former best friend James Storm in the skull with a beer bottle to win the championship he couldn’t cleanly win a few weeks prior.

Whether the Roode-Storm fallout was accelerated by Storm’s injuries or because TNA tends to condense months of storylines into a matter of weeks, it really doesn’t matter in this case, why? Because Roode has been brilliant through and through, and he deserves a ton of credit (along with Storm) for bringing relevance back to the main event in TNA / IMPACT WRESTLING.

Therefore, Robert Roode is the best IMPACT WRESTLING performer of 2011, the he also gets the nod in the next category as well…

8. Best TNA Promos – There is a TIE here, but both belong to Bobby Roode, as noted in the above commentary:

Robert Roode’s Baby Face Build to Bound For Glory

Robert Roode’s Heel Promo on Fortune, IMPACT WRESTLING, 11.17.11

9. Best WWE In–ter–net Champion: Zack Ryder – There is nothing better than a self-made person who is able to work hard to fulfill his or her dreams, and in the realm of professional wrestling, Zack Ryder was that person in 2011. His YouTube shows have become true Internet sensations, and Ryder was able to parlay his success on the web into increased opportunities on both Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown!

Not bad for a guy was unnoticed and almost dropped not so long ago, right? Below is a sample of one of Ryder’s YouTube episodes, which was one of my personal favorites this year:

Z! True Long Island Story, Episode 24, 7.28.11

10. Best Women’s Match of the Year: TNA Knockouts Gauntlet Match, IMPACT WRESTLING, 11.17.11 – While women’s wrestling has not been very positively prominent in 2011, the recent TNA Knockouts Gauntlet Match that aired on the November 17th edition of IMPACT WRESTLING gave me some hope that things might improve in 2011.

In this match, Velvet Skye and Mickie James split time as the two sympathetic faces that are trying to overcome most of the TNA Knockouts roster in order to get a title shot against newly crowned and returning Knockouts Champion Gail Kim. There are some very good sequences in this match – especially when Velvet exits and Mickie enters – and to me it was the real standout women’s match of 2011 because the story was told well through both the mannerisms and the moves that each Knockout brought to the table in this spot.

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2011’s WORST:

1. Worst Raw Performance: TIE: John “Johnny Ace” Laurinaitis and Michael Cole – I just can’t stomach Johnny Ace and Michael Cole AT ALL, and below are snippets of them sucking the life out of professional wrestling:

John Laurinaitis fires Jim Ross (ugh):

Michael Cole Challenge against Jim Ross (ugh again):

2. Worst SmackDown! Performance: TIE: Michael Cole, Booker T and Josh Matthews – The SmackDown! announce team is just another example of WWE not understanding how important it is to have competent, credible people behind the microphones at a two-hour clip each week. Below is a clip that sums all of this up. I like to call it:

And why the hell does Booker T call him D Bryan, anyway? Oh, and PLEASE STOP with the Sin Cara nonsense, too!!!!!

3. Worst IMPACT WRESTLING Performance: Winter and Angelina Love – This might be the most offensively horrible storyline in the history of professional wrestling, and perhaps the worst minutes of television time to EVER be aired at any time in American history (and yes, that even includes disgraceful MTV programs like Next, reality shows like The Swan, and New York Mets baseball games from 2007 to 2011):

Winter feeds Angelina “Love Potion #9”, now in pill form!

Winter gives Angelina Love a pep talk, and a kiss!!

Angelina Love is transformed! And she talks to Winter about becoming royalty, too!!!

4. Worst Mismanagement of a Wrestler: Samoa Joe during the BFG Series – During the Bound for Glory Series that took place in 2011 over a period of months to determine the #1 Contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Samoa Joe was one of the competitors who we all thought would have a chance to shine. Instead, Joe lost, and then he lost again, and then he lost again, and again, and again. After this LONG and arduous losing streak, Joe decided to simply take out people who finished ahead of him during the BFG Series. Yup, that was the big angle for Samoa Joe in 2011, and it was a miserable display of mismanagement on TNA’s part.

And, if there’s one thing I do know about IMPACT WRESTLING in 2012, it will be that Samoa Joe will continue to have his career abducted by people who just have no clue what to do with him. But hey, Joe keeps re-signing with TNA, right?

Right.

5. Worst Use of Social Media: WWE’s Obsession with Twitter – Here’s a message to WWE that I would send to them if I was specialized in ransom notes made from newspaper clippings:

STOP WITH THE TWITTER OBSESSION!
WE DON’T CARE!!
WE DON’T WANT TWITTER PLUGS SHOVED DOWN OUR THROATS AND
WE DON’T NEED YOU TO WASTE OUR TIME BY HAVING YOUR ANNOUNCERS AND EVEN YOUR TOP SUPERSTARS ENDLESSLY TALK ABOUT TWITTER!!!
THERE IS NOTHING MORE ANNOYING THEN A TV SHOW GETTING TWITTER-JACKED,
AND IT HAS TO STOP NOW!!!!

Case and point:

The Rock’s Survivor Series Go-Home Promo Is More About Getting Random Things to Trend on Twitter than Generating PPV Buys:

6. Worst TNA Moment: Sting Paints Hulk Hogan’s Face – This one is a bona fide, certified gem in terms of being regarded as one of the most uncomfortable and creepy things you could see two grown men above the age of 50 doing on national television:

Yup. Still as atrocious as I remember it.

7. Worst Use of Jersey Shore personalities: TIE: TNA and WWE – I really don’t know what’s a worse offense: TNA dipping into the Jersey Shore well more than once in 2011, or WWE wasting precious WrestleMania time on Snooki’s involvement.
Judge for yourselves in the clips below:

Snooki at WrestleMania 27, 4.3.11

Angelina from Jersey Shore on IMPACT WRESTLING:

Ronnie from Jersey Shore on IMPACT WRESTLING:

8. Worst PPV: WWE Capitol Punishment, 6.19.11 – I hate to remind you that this actually happened, but this was just too brutal to ignore:

And if the promos weren’t bad enough, there was the WORST INTERFERENCE IN THE HISTORY OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING, right here:

Sorry, but this WWE Capitol Punishment offering just had to GET GOT and be named the Worst PPV of 2011.

9. Worst / Most Meaningless Championship Title: TNA Television Title – Instead of wasting my time telling you what you already know, let me remind you about how meaningless the TNA Television Title was in 2011 by showing you the horribly produced, awfully executed Eric Young vs. Scott Baio match that took place on a freakin’ golf course somewhere in California:

10. Worst Meltdown of the Year: Jeff Hardy, TNA Victory Road, 3.13.11 – Last year, this award went to Matt Hardy for his various nefarious YouTube escapades. This year, however, Jeff Hardy had the mother of all meltdowns on the day of a PPV that some people (bless their hearts) actually paid for to see him compete. The result was a short but still very painful sight to behold, and here’s to hoping that (unlike his brothers, who is becoming a sadder and sadder case on a daily basis) Jeff Hardy really can stay on the straight and narrow now that he is back and asking for forgiveness
while getting another chance in TNA.

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BONUS YEAR-END REVIEWS!
See below for previous installments of CB’s previous Year-End Wrestling Specials:

BEST and WORST of 2010:

Best Performances:
Raw: Shawn Michaels and Wade Barrett
SmackDown!: Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio
TNA: Motor City Machineguns and Beer Money
NXT: Alex Riley

Worst Performances:
Raw: The Anonymous GM and Michael Cole
SmackDown!: Hornswoggle
TNA: Orlando Jordan and Rob Terry
NXT: Aksana and Titus O’Neil

BEST and WORST of 2006:

Best Performances:
Raw: Edge and John Cena
SmackDown!: JBL on color commentary
ECW: Big Show
TNA: Samoa Joe and Kurt Angle

Worst Performances:
Raw: Kevin Federline
SmackDown!: Vickie Guerrero
ECW: RVD
TNA: Larry Zbyszko and Kevin Nash

BEST and WORST of 2004:

Best Performances:
Raw: Chris Benoit
SmackDown!: Eddie Guerrero

Worst Performances:
Raw: Maven
SmackDown!: JBL

BEST and WORST of 2003:

Best Performances:
Raw: Shawn Michaels
SmackDown!: Chris Benoit

Worst Performances:
Raw: Maven
SmackDown!: Roddy Piper and Mr. America

BEST and WORST of 2002:

Best Performances:
Raw: Booker T and Goldust
SmackDown!: Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman

Worst Performances:
Raw: Eric Bischoff
SmackDown!: Al Wilson and Dawn Marie

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That’s all from me.

See you next year and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

–CB

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