The 2012 Pulse Wrestling Awards – (Wrestler of the Year, Female of the Year, Best Non-Wrestling Personality, Most Improved, Best TV Show, Best Special Event, Best Indy Promotion, Match of the Year, Promo of the Year, Best Storyline, Best News Story)

It’s time ladies and gentlemen for the End of the Year 2012 Pulse Wrestling Awards!  This year we are joined by Martin Shaw, Steven Gepp, Blair Douglas, CB, Justin Czerwonka, James Alsop, and myself, Rhett Davis.  Thanks for joining us and if you want to comment before reading all of our picks, here are the categories…

Wrestler of the Year

Female Wrestler of the Year

Best Non-Wrestling Personality

Most Improved

Best TV Show

Best Special Event

Best Indy Promotion

Match of the Year

Promo of the Year

Best Storyline

Best News Story

Now without any more delay, here is our first category…

 

BEST NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR

 

Rhett Davis:  Brock Lesnar’s Return to the WWE

There’s really not much to say about this that hasn’t already been said.  Brock debuted right after WrestleMania after everyone speculating he would debut at the show and destroyed Cena in his return.  Naturally the kiddies now hated him, and the older fans reveled in someone coming in and demolishing Cena.

Martin Shaw:  Brock quits via Tout

Good job working those “internet marks”, Vince.

**rolls eyes**

Justin Czerwonka:  Brock Lesnar Returns to WWE

While it hasn’t been as big as some of us hoped, the fact that Brock Lesnar returned to the WWE was a big enough story to win this one. I don’t know if anyone ever thought it would happen. The two sides split on not so good terms the last time he left. Brock went on to success in UFC and really didn’t need to comeback. But Vince likes to do what is best for business, and bringing Brock back has been good so far. Buy rates for Extreme Rules and SummerSlam were up with him involved. Lesnar’s a big name and he can still have some marquee match-ups down the line if he sticks around. Hopefully the WWE can get a few more dates out of Lesnar if he signs a new deal next year. But Brock returning got a lot of people talking and brought some fans back to the product.

Blair Douglas:  Brock’s Return… For the First Month Anyways

What the silly wrestling fans will say: I would assume the return of Brock Lesnar.

What I Say: I guess Brock as well? For the first month until his first match back, anyway.

CB:  Jerry Lawler’s heart attack and subsequent comeback to WWE TV just months later.

James Alsop:  Brock Lesnar returns to WWE

Little else needs to be said here. Brock returned to WWE after eight years, and all of a sudden it felt like WWE could do no wrong. How wrong we were. Still, the whole thing captured public interest for a while, and that’s what counts.

Steven Gepp:  Hulk Hogan Sex Tape
Just too funny for words.

The Tally:  Brock’s Return:  3

Jerry Lawler’s Heart Attack:  1

Brock Quitting Via Tout:  1

Hulk Hogan Sex Tape:  1

 

BEST STORYLINE OF THE YEAR

 

Rhett Davis:  CM Punk Holds WWE Title For Over A Year

There were a few to choose from in this category such as Team Hell No and possibly the AJ going bonkers storyline, but overall the most important aspect, story-wise, of this year was the fact that CM Punk never lost his title and is still champion as of this report.

Martin Shaw:  The Continuing Adventures of Team Hell No

Kane’s going to Disneyland!

Justin Czerwonka:  C.M. Punk vs Chris Jericho

As I said earlier, watching this feud unfold, you actually thought Jericho and Punk really hated each other every time they fought. I didn’t know how the WWE would continue the program after Wrestlemania, but they did a good job of keeping it going. Punk’s fake drunk antics, Jericho wasting a perfectly good bottle of Jack Daniels by dumping it on Punk, it all did a good job of building up the storyline. We got two very good matches out of the feud. It started in February with Jericho going after Punk for stealing his “Best in the World” gimmick. Then it evolved into Jericho bringing up Punk’s dark past with his family. It brought some real life into the storyline. I’m sure there were some people watching who could relate to Punk’s story, and they probably hated Jericho because of it. Both these men are two of the best in the business and know what wrestling fans like. They did a good job of delivering a believable story that fans could buy into and enjoy watching.

Blair Douglas:  CM Punk’s Title Reign…Minus the Forced Heel Turn
What the silly wrestling fans will say: Probably the Punk title reign. That’s one thing they get right… most of the time.

What I Say: I would say Punk’s title reign as well, even with the lame forced heel turn that’s not really working.

CB:  CM Punk, Longest-Reigning WWE Champion of the Modern Era

James Alsop:  CM Punk Retains his WWE Championship for a Year (and Counting!)

Not strictly a storyline as such, but just about the only thing not named Brock, Dwayne or John that WWE has paid much attention to this year has been CM Punk’s historic title reign. Who would have thought that the long-haired indie geek who debuted on ECW in 2006 would go on to become the longest-reigning WWE Champion for 25 years?

The reign itself has contained its fair share of duff moments (the recent angles mocking Lawler’s heart attack, for example), and the manner in which WWE carried out Punk’s heel turn was questionable, but nevertheless it’s been incredibly refreshing to see WWE stick with a champion for a prolonged period – especially a champion the calibre of CM Punk. Unlike Ryback’s winning streak, AJ’s various romances or Ziggler’s briefcase, Punk’s title reign was allowed to become – and remain – a major deal in the eyes of the fans. As a result, anticipation for Punk’s Royal Rumble showdown with The Rock in January couldn’t be higher.

Steven Gepp:  Voodoo Turning on Mimic (RCW)
Took all year, teasing bits here and there, building up slowly, until it finally happened and yet was still done so superbly, and mainly in the ring, with only a few promos. Tag team, as good as brothers, ripped apart, setting up 2013 for a feud that will likely be off the charts.

The Tally:  CM Punk Holding the Title for a Year:  4

Team Hell No!:  1

Voodoo Turning on Mimic:  1

 

BEST PROMO OF THE YEAR

 

Rhett Davis:  Austin Aries Relinquishes TNA X-Division Championship

There weren’t any real choices in this matter, but this promo showing Aries’ desire to see guys like him get the same shot that he did was admirable and made a for a good promo. *shrugs*  Here’s a link to the promo.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO3qfY_9QCM

Martin Shaw:  Colt Cabana and Adam Pearce Telling the NWA to Fuck the Fuck Off

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c-SxzA3dCI

I’m not even a Colt fan, but come on.

Justin Czerwonka:  The Rock’s “History Lessons” In Boston

Last year this was a pretty easy one. Nothing topped C.M. Punk’s promo on RAW in June when he went off on everything he didn’t like about the WWE. Nothing really stood out to me this year as really, really great. I went with the Rock’s History Lessons because I thought they were legitimately funny and were the best thing Rock did the entire time he was back. He went from being funny Rock in the beginning to getting down to business and talking about taking the fight to John Cena in the end. Tossing Cena’s merchandise into the water and making fun of all the items while he did it was great. I wasn’t that into the Rock/Cena feud but this was my favorite part of the buildup.

Blair Douglas:  Something Punk Did
What the silly wrestling fans will say: I honestly have no idea. I don’t even think the silly wrestling fans have liked many promos this year.

What I Say: Nothing specific is sticking out for me either. Were there any good promos this year? I think doing Punk / Cena without trying to make the crowd hate Punk for no reason could have produced some good promos from both guys towards the different sections of the crowd that represents each guy’s fans. As it were, I say that even with the lame forced heel stuff, Punk is still by far the best promo guy they have.

CB:  Team Hell No – Anger Management Classes

James Alsop:  The Rock’s “Rock Concert” on the March 12th Raw

In a way, it’s a shame to award the title of Promo of the Year to The Rock’s hilarious musical roast of John Cena, because it only serves to highlight how vast the difference in promo ability is between Dwayne Johnson and the current generation of WWE and TNA performers. The only promotional material of 2012 that even came close to generating the level of interest that the “Rock Concert” did was the video package re-introducing Brock Lesnar as an “ass kicker” that aired prior to Extreme Rules. And even that – a carefully produced, well-edited montage of the former UFC Champion – paled in comparison to Rock’s talent with a live microphone.

This was an important moment for Johnson, who was charged not only with promoting a WrestleMania main event, but also with responding to the critics who had claimed that The Rock was fast becoming a mere catchphrase merchant. Fortunately, he rose to the occasion by putting on a blistering performance that he clearly enjoyed as much as the fans did. Almost a year on I can still recite lines from Rock’s rendition of “Jailhouse Rock,” and that, I think, says it all.

The Tally:  All tied at one.

 

MATCH OF THE YEAR

 

Rhett Davis:  Triple H vs The Undertaker II at WrestleMania 28

This actually was a tough one to call this year as there were several in contention with various styles.  We had any of the Punk vs Jericho or Punk vs Bryan matches.  We had the brutal destruction of Brock vs Cena.  We had the innovativeness and surprise of the TLC 6-Man Tag match from TLC.  Even Big Show vs Sheamus was important if you ask WWE.  But overall I thought this was the most memorable match of the year and is the one I will always remember.

Martin Shaw:  Lord Tensai vs Alex Riley (RAW on the 2nd of April)

Have you seen Alex Riley since?

Justin Czerwonka:  C.M. Punk vs Chris Jericho- Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules

-This one was tough for me. It was either Punk/Jericho or Punk/Daniel Bryan from Over the Limit. I went with Punk/Jericho because there was more of a storyline to it. And once again, the Chicago crowd made the match seem a bit more special. Going into the match, Jericho ran down all of Punk’s family and you felt like Punk and Jericho actually hated each other. I gave the match ****1/2 stars at the time, the same rating I gave Punk/Bryan. But the entire atmosphere and setting to the Punk/Jericho match put it over the top in my book.

Blair Douglas:  CM Punk vs Chris Jericho – Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules
What the silly wrestling fans will say: Probably Undertaker / Triple H in Hell In A Cell from WM, or something with Shaemus

What I Say: CM Punk / Chris Jericho in the Chicago Street Fight at Extreme Rules

I did think UT / HHH was good, just not in the same league as both Punk / Jericho matches, and my honorable mentions of Cena / Lesnar until the last 30 seconds, Punk / Bryan (both of them), Rock / Cena after THE WORST INTRO SEGMENT IN THE HISTORY OF TIME, Shelley / Aries, Punk / Dolph, and Angle & AJ / Daniels & Kaz without the illegitimate pregnancy storyline. Anything with Shaemus has no business being on anyone’s list, except maybe that one match from Orton from SmackDown that came out of nowhere.

CB:  Triple H vs. The Undertaker, WrestleMania 28 — the perfect end to their story, with a five-star finish.

James Alsop:  Undertaker vs Triple H, with Special Referee Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania 28

The three men involved were under an unimaginable amount of pressure to deliver a satisfying payoff to a historic feud charting three years and four WrestleManias. And deliver they did. With interest. Purists may criticize the fact that the match was geared more for the television audience than the fans in attendance, and the slow pace of the in-ring action may have disappointed some. But such quibbles are of no consequence to a performance that delivered mesmerizing drama from start to finish. Undertaker and Triple H put on a brutal, hard-hitting epic that deserves to be watched again and again. It is to the credit of everyone involved that the false finishes were so believable, that the action seemed so raw and heartfelt, and that the “End of an Era” was so very fitting.

Steven Gepp:  Austin Aries v Bobby Roode (Destination X, TNA)
While I would have loved for it to have been James Storm dethroning Roode, this was more than good enough. It was great. They told a story in the ring, the psychology was good, the selling was good, the match did not feel like it slowed down. Watched it again just last week and it still stacks up.

The Tally:  HHH vs Taker:  3

Jericho vs Punk:  2

Aries vs Roode:  1

Tensai vs Riley:  1

 

BEST INDY PROMOTION

 

Martin Shaw:  Chikara

Three words: King of Trios

Blair Douglas:  Whatever Indy Show I Reviewed
What the silly wrestling fans will say: Nothing.
Silly wrestling fans have no concept of the actual indy’s. I would say TNA simply for the reason that Bully Ray is apparently having sex with Brooke Hogan over there, but TNA fans are insulted at the idea that TNA could be an indy promotion. I wouldn’t even call them an indy promotion at this point, I’d call them some moron’s idea for an E-Fed.

What I Say: Whatever that one indy show I reviewed during my ill-fated plan to cover some indy promotions over the summer was. But only for the one part where there was a tiny little wrestler trying to knock over a giant fat guy in overalls for like 10 minutes. The fat guy did nothing, and barely even moved the entire time, until the little guy did a slingshot and then the fat guy just took a hammer out of his pants and blew the guy’s brains out all over the mat while the guy was still in midair. Then the fat guy started laughing hysterically as they scraped the little dude off the mat with one of those big spatulas you use to put a giant pizza in a big woodstone oven.
This is one case where the silly wrestling fans are not wrong. Even though they have no concept of the actual indy’s, the indy’s are in shite form right now anyway, so this is a period of time where they’re not missing anything. At all. My man Martin Shaw and I tried to give the indy’s a chance over the summer, we really did. We wanted to like it. There was one that wasn’t bad I suppose, but yeah. Time stood still.

Steven Gepp:  Riot City Wrestling
Even when they have an “off” show, there are two or three matches that more than make up for it. The production values are really good (I watched King of Trios this year, and RCW is even miles ahead of Chikara), and their matches are off the charts. Their rare hardcore brawls make sense, their comedy matches don’t overstay their welcome, and their angles and feuds seem (for the most part) to make sense.

The Tally:  All tied at one.

 

BEST SPECIAL EVENT OF THE YEAR

 

Rhett Davis:  WWE Extreme Rules

Overall this WrestleMania wasn’t a bad one and would probably be second, but Extreme Rules took everything that was great about Mania (minus Trips/Taker) and amplified it.  Jericho/Punk got better, Cena/Brock > Cena/Rock, Orton/Kane got more intense, and Sheamus/Bryan actually lasted a minute.

Martin Shaw:  WWE Tribute to the Troops

Regardless of the political motivation behind this, it’s one of the few good things WWE do. I still wish Cap came out and sung about bonds.

Justin Czerwonka:  WWE Extreme Rules

I thought Extreme Rules was the best PPV of the year, and by a rather easy margin. It had 2 of the top 3 matches in the WWE this year. The C.M. Punk/Chris Jericho Street Fight was a great brawl that had a lot of emotion in it with the storyline build up. And of course, the Chicago crowd added to the match as well. The show also had Brock Lesnar vs John Cena. That match was such a unique brawl. It is something that we haven’t seen in quite some time from the WWE. While I hated the finish at the time, I can at least somewhat understand the arguments for it now. The show also had the Daniel Bryan/Sheamus 2 out of 3 Falls Match, which was a Top 10 match of the year as well. I only gave the show a 7 at the time, but I can tell you I would bump it up a point or so now.

Blair Douglas:  Raw 1000

What the silly wrestling fans will say: I honestly have no idea.

What I Say: RAW 1000.
Even though it was the start of the 3-hour debacle, I thought the 1000 show was both a nice celebratory event and even did a good job in giving people a reason to tune in the next week. Unfortunately, they had nothing in place to KEEP those viewers. But I do think the 1000 show itself held up pretty well

CB:  TIE: WWE Monday Night Raw 1000 and WWE Money In The Bank 2012

James Alsop:  Once in a Lifetime: The Rock vs John Cena

The award for Best Special Event category this year has to go to the televised documentary charting the feud between two of professional wrestling’s biggest icons prior to WrestleMania 28. I applaud the idea behind the documentary, which sought to – shock of shocks! – promote a match as something that people needed to see! A company dedicating a special one-hour documentary on network television to build up a single match simply isn’t something that normally happens: it felt special, and gave Rock vs Cena a big-time aura which translated into a monster buy rate and made ‘Mania 28 the most purchased event in wrestling history. The documentary itself was sly bit of business that transformed a feud consisting of not-all-that-much into a gladiatorial epic.

Steven Gepp:  TNA Destination X
I talk about it in my column, so I won’t repeat myself here. But, yes, the best.

The Tally:  WWE Extreme Rules:  2

Raw 1000:  1.5

TNA Destination X:  1

WWE Tribute to the Troops:  1

Once in a Lifetime Feature:  1

WWE Money in the Bank:  .5

 

BEST TV SHOW

 

Rhett Davis:  WWE Main Event

Thus far this show has been fantastic displaying solely high caliber matches with actual time given to them.  As a side note, there aren’t really any angles going on so we get two or three solid matches with maybe a few commercials promoting the next PPV or Raw.

Martin Shaw:  Spike’s Short-Lived Pre-Impact Impact Recap Show

It lasted an hour and managed to cover everything that happened on Impact the week before, but without making me want to dive down an open elevator shaft with a pogo stick rammed up my arse.

Justin Czerwonka:  RAW

Despite my recent negativity on the show, I still think RAW is the best TV show going in the wrestling industry. Smackdown is always and has pretty much always been treated like a B show. Especially in the last handful of years. The Smackdown Six are no longer around to save the show likely they did in the mid-2000s. And TNA Impact isn’t even at the level of Smackdown if you ask me. The most newsworthy stuff happens on RAW and, until that changes, it still gets my vote for show of the year.

Blair Douglas:  WWE NXT
What the silly wrestling fans will say: Probably WWE Main Event.

What I Say: WWE NXT.
I don’t watch NXT, but that show looks like it’s housing a lot of sex offenders at the moment based on the screencaps and beards I’ve seen, thus I assume the lure of the show is that a SWAT team could come in at any moment and take them all away. It won’t happen right away because they also have to check out the houses of anyone who thinks AJ is attractive. Really, it’s been a busy year for law enforcement in terms of professional wrestling, so this is a risky gamble by WWE, but I think it will pay off. You gotta take risks sometimes. So I’m going with NXT.

For the record, I’d say Main Event is a lot easier to watch as well, but being a little bit better than some really bad TV shows isn’t really all that impressive. I like that they recap what’s gone on during the week so you don’t have to actually watch RAW or SmackDown. And I would like that there seems to be more of a focus on actual wrestling, except that WWE only recently started employing more than 4 or 5 actual wrestlers on their main roster.

CB:  RAW

If was I doing this on format alone, it would be WWE Main Event. But despite all of Monday Night Raw’s flaws, WWE’s flagship show is still the most must-watch broadcast.

James Alsop:  Impact Wrestling

Impact has had an odd year… on paper, it’s just as baffling as it ever has been. TNA’s World Champion communicates in inner monologues, Eric Young and ODB were Knockouts Tag Team Champions, and Brooke Hogan is now somehow a love interest. You’d forgiven for running for the hills if you saw Impact pop up on your television screen.

But then, Impact has also produced some of the most reliably good wrestling of the year. Putting aside the terrible Claire Lynch stuff, the long-running AJ vs Daniels and Kazarian feud led to some fantastic matches on free television, while angles such as Austin Aries’ ascent to the main event, Jeff Hardy’s quest for redemption, and the Bound for Glory Series were all well-paced and executed perfectly. The Gut Check Challenge has also given rise to some interesting moments. On top of that, TNA has continued to experiment with the presentation of its backstage angles, and although it hasn’t always been successful, TNA’s ongoing attempt to establish Impact with a distinct visual identity is laudable.

Impact has seen its fair share of poor decisions this year (in particular, James Storm’s confusing treatment on TNA programming may well have weakened his character beyond credibility), but certainly no more so than Raw or Smackdown – neither of which have anywhere near as consistently entertaining.

The Tally:  WWE Monday Night Raw:  2

WWE Main Event:  1

Spike’s Pre-Impact Show:  1

TNA Impact Wrestling:  1

WWE NXT:  1

 

MOST IMPROVED

 

Rhett Davis:  Sin Cara

This is due solely to the fact that he’s not botching everything that moves like he was last year.  The only other person I could think of would have been Dolph Ziggler, but just because you get past the ‘holy-shit-I’m-on-TV-talking-in-front-of-millions-of-people-zoinks’ jitters doesn’t mean you’ve improved.  Look at his videos on Ryder’s show.  He knew how to cut a promo before.  He just learned how to overcome those jitters.

Martin Shaw:  Dolph Ziggler

The guy learned to talk over the past year, you can’t argue with that.

Justin Czerwonka:  Daniel Bryan

From a character standpoint, Daniel Bryan has grown leaps and bounds this year. Bryan always used to be looked upon as a guy that was great in the ring but had very little personality to him. But Bryan has been tremendous this year and has really gotten over with fans. It started off with his pairing with A.J. to start the year, and how he got the fans to hate him after the way he treated her. Around the same time Bryan started his “YES” chant that caught on huge with the fans. Then when he started chanting “NO,” Bryan got an even bigger reaction from the audience. His pairing with Kane has been great. If you compare crowd reactions for Bryan from the beginning of the year to now, there is no denying how much of a change there is. As a wrestling character, Bryan has evolved tremendously and can hopefully get a big main event face run in 2013.

Blair Douglas:  No One
What the silly wrestling fans will say: Bryan, Ryback, The Miz, Shaemus, Kofi or Dolph Ziggler.

What I Say: A trick question. The answer is nobody.
The “improving” term is thrown around a lot by wrestling fans. 95% of the time it’s unwarranted and they confuse it with the wrestler being booked differently, scripted to win more matches, or put in matches against workers that can carry them. It does happen, but it’s not very often, or it’s something that happens over the course of 10 years, like John Cena or Randy Orton’s extremely gradual and extremely minimal improvement in ring-work. Whatever you think of Bryan, Ryback, Dolph, Kofi, Miz or Shaemus (and I have different opinions on all of them), there’s been no noticeable difference in any of them this year aside from their booking, or anyone I can think of in WWE or TNA.

CB:  Dolph Ziggler

He’s becoming more and more reliable and interesting with every show and I like these latest developments (Dolph, AJ and Big E Langston) that they are running with.

James Alsop:  Damien Sandow

It was a toss-up between Sandow, Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler this year, as all three enjoyed their best ever year and singles performers during 2012. Sheamus spent twelve months on a mission to prove his detractors wrong, and Ziggler unleashed his inner main-eventer following his MITB win, weathering en route losses to John Cena that would have derailed lesser performers.

Ultimately, however, no one has made headway this year quite like the “Intellectual Saviour of the Masses” Damien Sandow. A ten-year veteran, Sandow has been a force to be reckoned with since his arrival on SmackDown in April. Boasting a great look, impeccable microphone skills, a finely-honed character (and lately the best t-shirt on WWEshop.com!), Sandow has also demonstrated that he has what it takes to succeed in the ring. He put in an impressive performance in the SmackDown MITB match in July, and had good showings against Sheamus, Rey Mysterio and Clay. The 31 year-old’s recent work as one half of the Rhodes Scholars has yielded strong performances, with the promise of better to come. The former “Teacher’s Pet” will be one to watch in 2013.

Steven Gepp:  Kane
This is the person who I think has improved the most over the course of 2012. So… what? Kane? Hang on… what? At the start of the year he was Kane – slug in the ring, doing the same Kane schtick he’s been doing for 10+ years. By the end of the year, he had a personality, was holding his own in comedy bits, and helped deliver in the great Shield-Team Hell No/Ryback match at TLC. So this year, Kane has improved the most. There, I said it.

The Tally:  Dolph Ziggler:  2

Sin Cara:  1

Kane:  1

Damien Sandow:  1

Daniel Bryan:  1

No One:  1

 

BEST NON-WRESTLING PERSONALITY

 

Rhett Davis:  AJ Lee

This was a hard choice because the obvious four are John Laurinatis, Paul Heyman, AJ, and JBL.  I actually enjoyed each of these, but I just have to think that AJ did the best job with what she was given.  Johnny Ace took over Raw in that same ole heel in power shtick that we see so much since Vinny Mac vs Austin.  Heyman has escalated Punk’s reign and has really been interesting in adding to Punk’s already massive ego.  AJ has taken to this crazy chick angle 110% and has created interesting TV with it.  JBL is, well… JBL.  He’s hilarious at the announcer table.  Altogether I just feel AJ has contributed the most and would’ve been the biggest hole to fill if she weren’t here.

Martin Shaw:  JBL

Commentary got a whole lot better when Lawler had that heart attack.

Justin Czerwonka:  Paul Heyman

Another no-brainer for me. Paul Heyman is the best manager or on air partner any wrestler could have. Heyman knows how to deliver a promo that either wants to make you hate him or the people associated with him or makes you want to pay to order or watch a PPV. Heyman has been great in his pairing with C.M. Punk. And he pretty much single-handily kept me interested in the Brock Lesnar/HHH feud. If it wasn’t for him, I can’t imagine how bad that program would have been. I will be interested in how Heyman splits time with Punk and Lesnar once Wrestlemania season comes around. Heyman is great at what he does and I hope the WWE eventually gives him a stable of young talent to help build up and get over with the WWE audience.

Blair Douglas:  None
See “Female Wrestler Of The Year” below.

CB:  AJ Lee

James Alsop:  JBL

The sharp-witted Texan came back to WWE under unfortunate circumstances, helping to fill in for Jerry Lawler (who was recovering from an on-air heart attack), but news that the former WWE Champion had signed a full-time contract after Lawler’s return was roundly welcomed. Despite the occasional Colemanballs and slips of the tongue, his commentary during matches is usually insightful and often hilarious. In particular, his humorous exchanges with Michael Cole have done a great deal to restore the much-maligned Cole in the eyes of fans, and their new WWE.com show is good fun. Like him or loathe him, there can be no denying that John “Bradshaw” Layfield’s return to the commentary booth has re-invigorated the WWE announce team.

Steven Gepp:  JBL
Welcome back! His return to commentary was a Godsend. There is nothing more than can be said about it.

The Tally:  JBL:  3

AJ Lee:  2

Paul Heyman:  1

No One:  1

 

FEMALE WRESTLER OF THE YEAR

 

Rhett Davis:  Tara

I don’t necessarily think that Tara is the best wrestler in the world, but no one in the WWE has done anything remotely interesting in the ring to be called a ‘wrestler’ so I chose one of the Knockouts that I knew could go ten rounds.

Martin Shaw:  AJ Lee

Blair is slowly searching for a shotgun right now, but how the fuck can it not be AJ? The two “highest profile” uh, wimmins in “sports entertainment” right now are Brooke Hogan and this girl, so I don’t exactly have a wide range to choose from.

Justin Czerwonka:  Eve

For those of you who read my RAW/PPV Reviews, you know I don’t give much time to the women’s matches. It isn’t that I don’t care, it is that the WWE doesn’t give me a reason to care. They are treated as after thoughts 99% of the time unless they are involved with John Cena. I considered A.J. here, but she didn’t really wrestle a lot this year. And that has to be taken into consideration for this award. Eve is pretty much the new face of the Divas Division. She’s an okay wrestler. And I also liked her work in the whole John Cena/Zack Ryder storyline. She’s also the best looking Diva in my opinion. Eve wins this one.

Blair Douglas:  No One.
What the silly wrestling fans will say: AJ
You know, because she’s different, grew up watching wrestling, emulates Miss Elizabeth and likes Nintendo, Batman, Star Wars, Walking Dead, comics, Wizard World, Dungeons and Dragons, Atari, Comic-Con, and other things you like. You like Vaseline on toast? Then AJ likes that too.

What I Say: It’s a trick question. The answer is nobody.
Not in WWE or TNA, anyway. I’m not familiar to the indy’s so can’t really speak to that, but without seeing any women’s indy wrestling I can say confidently that it must be a million, billion, quadrillion times better than any WWE or TNA women’s wrestling has been in almost a decade, or really, ever, with very few exceptions. At most, WWE or TNA MAY have one, maybe two female wrestlers at any one time that are the least bit good. Anything else you can get from a Foxy Boxing match at your local pub.

And anyone who thinks AJ is attractive should have their basement checked by the FBI unannounced for evidence of pedophilic material.

CB:  AJ Lee

James Alsop:  Eve

I imagine that most will give AJ Lee the nod here for her sterling job as WWE’s resident “sexy sociopath” character this year. I was tempted to do the same, but although AJ’s acting work has been of a high standard this year, I can’t remember the last time that she wrestled an actual match…

Women are given such little quality time to wrestle in WWE and TNA that sheer lack of evidence makes it hard to select a winner outright. Nevertheless, no woman has made more of her screen time in 2012 than Eve. As an actress, she proved herself a cut above the usual in her start-of-year angles with Zack Ryder and John Cena. Her work as John Laurinaitis’ manipulative aide was also entertaining. In the ring she has developed into a capable hand. As Divas Champion she has added a sinister new edge to her character that has gone down a treat. Her work this year deserves recognition.

Steven Gepp:  Miami
She was involved in one of the feuds of the year at RCW, with Savannah Summers, and in the best women’s match of the year (loser leaves town number one contender’s match, against Eliza Sway). If I had to pick a number 2, it would be Savannah Summers, with Sway coming at 3. Yep – my local fed had better women’s matches and better women’s wrestlers than either of the big two. Deal with it.

The Tally:  Eve:  2

AJ Lee:  2

Tara:  1

Miami:  1

No One:  1

 

WRESTLER OF THE YEAR

 

Rhett Davis:  CM Punk

I don’t see how it could be anyone else.  Yes Bryan is great in the ring, but his accomplishments this year are small.  He lost his World title at Mania, failed to get it back, failed to obtain the WWE title, got entangled in a love triangle, lost the woman and title match, won the tag titles when there was no division, currently in a hold pattern with Kane.  Just not very impressive.  Punk, meanwhile, held the WWE title ALL YEAR (and counting!).  Surely that accomplishment alone should make him the Wrestler of the Year, no?

Martin Shaw:  Muh Boy D-Bry Right Here

Facial hair came back to wresting in a big way this year (Sandow, Cody-tache, etc.) and nobody is rocking a better chin-warmer than this guy. I assure you, the beard alone could have 5-star matches with the likes of Great Khali.

Justin Czerwonka:  C.M. Punk

This one was a no brainer for me. C.M. Punk has held the WWE Title for the full calendar year of 2012. If you would have asked me if that was possible at the beginning of the year, I would have laughed in your face. Punk constantly gives the best promos and puts on the best matches in the WWE. It is great to see 2012 essentially be the “Year of Punk” in the WWE. Did he main event every PPV? No. Did he win the WWE Slammy for Wrestler of the Year? No. But Punk’s rise to stardom in 2012 has been fun to watch. He did a great job of transitioning from face to heel late in the summer. And I actually think Punk is doing his best work as a character since his run with the Straight Edge Society. I’m looking forward to his program with The Rock more than I was looking forward to Rock/Cena. C.M. Punk kept me hooked on the WWE in 2012, and he will probably keep me going in 2013.

Blair Douglas:  Daniel Bryan
What the silly wrestling fans will say: Ryback, Shaemus, or Dolph. Some will pick Punk.

What I Say: Daniel Bryan
This is an “all-around” category for me –  in-ring, mic work, crowd connection, etc.

For me, Punk would have taken this for a second year by a wide mile if it wasn’t for what happened to Bryan. They tried everything they could to get this guy booed – they had him verbally abuse and say horrible things to a girl that everybody liked, cheat to win all his matches, and then jobbed him out in 18 seconds to Shaemus, who had won the Royal Rumble and had been booked as an unstoppable babyface for almost a year, and the crowd would NOT have it. They were already cheering Bryan anyway, but after this 18-second thing they chanted the name of the biggest or second-biggest heel in the company at the time well into the next match on the biggest show of the year. This accelerated Bryan’s support to warp speed and only served to make Shaemus decline even more quickly in the fans’ eyes. A month later it got to the point where if they still wanted to make a go of Shaemus, they had to get him away from Bryan, so they did, but they still tried to get Bryan booed for months afterwards against Punk and a couple others, and it just wasn’t happening. So they tried to change “YES!” to “NO!” and the fans STILL love him – so they throw him in a tag-team with Kane that wasn’t really all that fun after the first couple weeks. STILL the crowd is behind him. Yet Shaemus is greeted with apathy by at LEAST half the crowd.

I suppose that for me, it perfectly illustrated the difference between someone who is actually good, and someone who WWE tries to force us to believe is good but who makes it pretty obvious they’re not. For the record, I don’t believe it always works out in the guy who is actually good’s favor, but this is one instance where it did, so that’s probably why I liked it so much. That, and this entire year has validated what I’ve been saying about the respective values of wrestlers like Bryan and wrestlers like Shaemus since near the beginning of LAST year. A lot more people get it now than did back then.

CB:  CM Punk

James Alsop:  Austin Aries

Can it be anyone other than The Greatest Man That Ever Lived? Aries has been a revelation since his return to TNA, and his excellent work on the microphone and in the ring throughout 2012 has placed him head and shoulders above the rest this year. With Samoa Joe, the 34 year-old from Milwaukee restored interest in TNA’s X-Division for a brief time, and his compelling series with Bully Ray proved that he could play the underdog to perfection. His connection with the crowd led to him winning the TNA Heavyweight Championship with a hard-hitting victory Bobby Roode. A subsequent heel turn was well-executed and led to a sizzling ladder match with Jeff Hardy that capped off the year nicely. It is hard to believe that this is the same man who was once wasted as Austin Starr…

Steven Gepp:  Austin Aries
He has had, simply put, a great year. Great on the mic, a series of really strong matches, and involved in angles that make sense.

The Tally:  CM Punk:  3

Daniel Bryan:  2

Austin Aries:  2

 

And that’s all folks!  I hope you enjoyed and feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!

And quite frankly my dear… that’s a wrap!

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