Well, everyone else is doing it, so I thought I’d have a go. A look back on the year that was.
Now, first, some explanations. I think I saw 3 Raws, 2 Smackdowns and 2 Impacts in their entirety this year; most of the TV stuff I saw was highlight package shows. But I did see every TNA and WWE PPV and all but 3 of the RCW shows for the year. The issue here is, I guess, that unless you look at their YouTube Channel, most people reading this would not know a thing about RCW. And that’s a shame because they will feature at times here… and they are well worth your time.
I rated every PPV match I saw on a percentile scale, with a base starting score of 70%, which is what I think should be an average PPV quality match. Only one match for the year broke 90%, a few came close, and a number broke 80%. At the other end of the scale, 21 of the matches could not even reach a 40% level, which means it would have been disappointing on TV, let alone paying for the damn thing.
In the women, I also rated the three TV matches (2 TNA, 1 WWE) I saw all of, and all the RCW matches. Why? Because I could not believe what I was seeing, and had to assure myself there was women’s wrestling worth watching somewhere in the world.
Finally, how this works: Wrestler of the Year was not only how good they were in the ring, but, in my opinion, their mic work, how well they held their end up of the story-lines, and how they made angles work. PPV matches were based on the scale explained above. Most improved was a mixture of the in-ring work and the mic work, as well as the crowd’s response to them.
Okay, so let’s get on with it!
World Wrestling Entertainment
Wrestler of the Year: CM Punk. Like there was any doubt? He survived brushes with Nash and HHH, pulled himself into the crowd’s hearts and mind by sheer force of his own personality, and actually made an impact on the wider stage. If he is the future of the WWE, then it feels like it is in good hands at the moment.
PPV Match of The Year: CM Punk v John Cena (Money In The Bank, July 17). This was just, quite simply, a good match. I am one of those who feels that John Cena is fast becoming this era’s Hulk Hogan, but this match was something Hogan could never have pulled off, let alone put over some one like this. The match had me on the edge of my seat, and I loved it.
Most Improved: Dolph Ziggler. I remember the Spirit Squad. And for Dolph to go from a bouncing cheerleader to a legitimate contender has been truly remarkable. A legitimate argument could be made for Zack Ryder as well, by the way, but in-ring he’s not done anything to really impress me personally.
Worst Non-Wrestling Personality: Michael Cole. He’s a heel. I get it. But he’s also obnoxious and adds absolutely nothing to the product. There is a difference between a heel announcer (Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan) and an announcer that people don’t want to hear and just want to punch (Mark Madden, Stevie Ray). Michael Cole falls into the latter group, only he is not as funny as Madden and not as knowledgeable as Stevie Ray… and you have to know that ain’t a good thing.
Total Nonstop Action / Impact Wrestling
Wrestler of the Year: Tie: James Storm / Robert Roode. Starting the year as a tag team that could single-handedly save a PPV, overcoming the ridiculous Fourtune Heel days, splitting up and becoming two of the most engaging personalities on the roster, both in the ring and on the mic – these two show that there is always a light in darkness.
PPV Match of the Year: AJ Styles v Christopher Daniels (Destination-X, July 10). Just a superb bit of in-ring story-telling, technical skill, high flying insanity, and sports entertainment. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched this match so far, but it still maintains that sense of “wow.”
Most Improved: Austin Aries. He has come along so well this year, embracing the whole Sports Entertainment thing (“…just getting more face time…”) while maintaining high standards in the ring.
Worst Non-Wrestling Personality: Karen Jarrett. A voice to shatter glass, a personality that makes you think Kurt did the right thing, and the acting skills of a backyard porn movie… Nepotism has a lot to answer for.
Riot City Wrestling
Wrestler of the Year: Chris ‘Mimic’ Basso. Did not have a bad match all year, and featured in the best two matches of the year, finally winning the title at the last show. He could easily slot into either of the big two promotions without so much as a backward glance.
Match of the Year: Chris ‘Mimic’ Basso v Matt ‘GD Grimm’ Basso (Ascension, August 6). The main event of an awesome show, leading to the face turn for Grimm everyone had been waiting for, and the heel turn for Rocky no one was expecting. This match worked on so many levels and also capped off a feud and series and storyline that had been going on since 2008. Long-term booking works!
Most Improved: Melody Summers. A rookie who has rocketed up to be a legitimate threat in the women’s ranks. I hope she can get an opportunity to travel interstate and do a few shows in other venues, because I am sure she will do as well as her in-ring sister Savannah Summers.
Match of the Year:
1. AJ Styles v Christopher Daniels (see above)
2. CM Punk v John Cena (see above)
3. CM Punk v Rey Mysterio (Capitol Punishment, June 9)
4. Chris ‘Mimic’ Basso v Matt ‘GD Grimm’ Basso (see above)
5. Zema Ion vs. Austin Aries vs. Low Ki vs. Jack Evans (Destination-X, July 10)
6. Christian v Alberto Del Rio (Extreme Rules, May 1)
7. Chris ‘Mimic’ Basso v Rocky Menero (Battle For Supremacy, December 10)
8. Christian v Randy Orton (Over The Limit, May 22)
9. Alberto Del Rio v CM Punk (Survivor Series, November 20)
=10. Kazarian v Samoa Joe (Destination-X, July 10)
=10. Smackdown Money In The Bank (won by Daniel Bryan) (Money In The Bank, July 17)
3 TNA, 2 RCW and 6 WWE from well over 200 wrestling matches. I think that says a lot, when the indy fed has almost as many of the best matches as one of the so-called big 2. But also note CM Punk is in 3 of the best matches.
Show of the Year:
1. Destination-X (TNA, July 10)
2. Money In The Bank (WWE, July 17)
3. Battle For Supremacy (RCW, December 10)
4. Ascension (RCW, August 6)
5. Elimination Chamber (WWE, February 20)
Worst Match of the Year:
1. Michael Cole & Jack Swagger v Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler (WWE Extreme Rules, May 1)
2. Jeff Hardy v Sting (TNA Victory Road, Mar 13)
=3. Mickie James v Madison Rayne (TNA Lockdown, Apr 17)
=3. Sarita & Rosita v Angelina Love & Winter (TNA Victory Road, Mar 13)
5. Big Show, Kane, Santino & Kofi Kingston v Corre (WWE Wrestlemania, Apr 3)
Yes, considering the worst match of the year had Cole and JR in it, Sting was in the worst match featuring wrestlers.
Women’s Match of the Year:
Savannah & Melody Summers v Miami & Eliza Sway (RCW Rites Of Passage, May 7). In fact, the top five women’s matches I saw this year were all from RCW. When you have good looking women who can actually, you know, wrestle, why would I want to watch plastic, over-inflated bimbos doing whatever in the hell it is they do in the ring in WWE and TNA? Even the good wrestlers (Natalya, Gail Kim) look like they are forced to dumb it down because of their opponents. Sure, Kelly Kelly did improve, but she wrestled Natalya and Phoenix so often it had to happen by osmosis at least, right?
As for the other two, WWE’s best women’s match was Michelle McCool v Layla (Extreme Rules, May 1), and this was better than TNA’s best effort: Sarita & Rosita v Tara & Miss Tessmacher (Hardcore Justice, August 7).
Worst Women’s Match of the Year:
Miss Tessmacher v Angelina Love (TNA Impact, June 3rd edition).
Women’s Wrestler of the Year:
Savannah Summers (RCW)
And Miami (also RCW) would be in second place here. The state of women’s wrestling in the big two is in sad disarray. But RCW saves the year.
Worker of the Year:
This is based purely upon match rankings that the wrestlers participated in. I did not count matches with 8 or more competitors, and the wrestler had to be in at least 3 matches I personally watched. It has nothing to do with mic work or angles – just what I saw in the ring. Because, in 10 years’ time, that is going to be all that matters: what we see in that squared circle:
1. CM Punk (WWE)
2. Rey Mysterio (WWE)
3. Chris ‘Mimic’ Basso (RCW)
4. Christian (WWE)
5. Austin Aries (TNA)
6. Christopher Daniels (TNA)
7. Alberto Del Rio (WWE)
8. James Storm (TNA)
9. Rocky Menero (RCW)
10. Alex Shelley (TNA)
4 WWE, 4 TNA, 2 RCW. A reasonable mix, I’d say. I’d do the bottom 10 as well, but with Michael Cole the worst, 5 of the spots taken by female wrestlers, and 7 of the positions taken by TNA workers, it’d just be opening too many cans of worms for me to be bothered dealing with.
Now, a lot has been written here and elsewhere about how wrestling is in the doldrums at the moment, how there’s nothing to get fans interested. I reckon I disagree. Looking back on the year, 2011 has certainly seen an improvement in the quality of the in-ring work over 2010 in general, while the extraneous sports entertainment stuff seems to be maintaining the same levels it has held for a while.
For 2012 I would like to see Orton and Cena take a step backwards away from the World Title situation, and leave it to some new people. And with Punk and Bryan finishing 2011 on top, that’s a nice way to start. Sure, some may bomb, but some may get over, and that can only be good for everyone. I would like to not see Jeff Jarrett, Jeff Hardy or Karen Jarrett on my TV screens again. I would like to see Sting, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, HHH, Mick Foley do a more non-wrestling role (and by more I mean completely). They have a lot to offer, but maybe not in the ring any more.
However, TNA’s PPVs have certainly been a curate’s egg. I am so close to giving up on them (and saving a bit of money) because the few good matches are tempered by a lot of not good ones. And that has included the main events. Unfortunately. At least with CM Punk on top, the main events in the WWE are at the very least watchable, and usually better than that.
2011 has been an interesting year to be a Pulse writer. We’ve seen Charlie Reneke leave, and Blair Douglas step up, we’ve had Widro return, along with Rey Mundo. We’ve had a few new guys rock up on the block. Personally, I’ve had some good responses (except for some of my news posts generating strange amounts of hatred – go figure) for these columns; the wrestling lexicons (parts 1 and 2) were received well, the book reviews were received the best. I would like to keep on doing book reviews, but books by/about wrestlers cost so much to get sent out to Australia, or even to buy if a shop bothers to stock them, so if anyone out there knows a way it can be done cheaper, let me know and I’ll hit a few more. My 10 Thoughts on TNA PPVs have been well viewed, but no one comments which means 1 of 2 things: (1) I suck at them, or (2) I’m not controversial enough to garner responses. (Or (3), both of the above.) (Or (4), no one cares about TNA enough to comment on them.)
Basically, though, let me know what you want from the View From Down Here. There’s 25 or so editions a year (at the moment), and any topics you care to throw my way will be most appreciated.
Have a good one, everyone. A good New Year, happy holiday, whatever rocks your boat. And until next time, that’s the view…
Tags: AJ Styles, alberto del rio, Chris Basso, cm punk, Destination X, James Storm, Michael Cole, Mimic, money in the bank, PPV, RCW, rey mysterio, riot city wrestling, Robert Roode, Rocky Menero, Savannah Summers, TNA, view from down here, WWE