The year is almost over. All the wrestling has been wrestled, all the promos have been spoken, and all the bells have been rung. Therefore, it’s time for the End of the Year awards. It’s just like the Slammy’s, but hopefully doesn’t make you want to gouge your eyes out and stuff them in your ears.
Because the Slammy’s are awful.
Part 1 here will be a “Best” list, and the next part will be a “Worst” list. If there are any awards anyone wants to see that I didn’t list, let me know and I’ll add them in a new post.
Best Match: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma, NEVER Openweight Title, Feb 14
I didn’t manage to do a full write up of all my favorite matches this year, because I’m lazy and would rather play video games, but I did four of them, all from the beginning of the year. And very few matches the rest of the year came close to those four. The year started out hot, and couldn’t really keep up with the extremely high standards. And no match lived up to this brawl in the middle of February. I’ve watched it four or five times this year, and walk away each time astounded by how hard they are hitting each other. I said in my review that your enjoyment of this match will entirely depend on how much you enjoy the stiff “strong style” of pro wrestling. I love it, and I loved this match.
Best Debut: Kevin Owens
John Cena had several surprise opponents during his days as US Champion. Owens came out, and everyone expected another great match, but that was not to be. Owens immediately let everyone know he considered himself above the likes of Cena. Even people who didn’t know Owens were given an immediate impression by his promo and the NXT gold hanging over his shoulder. When they eventually had a match, it was awesome, and Owens became one of the few people to score a completely clean win over John Cena. Not a bad month’s work.
Best Promotion: Lucha Underground
This was a toss up between LU and NXT. Both put on fantastic in-ring work with stellar storylines. Both were unique. NXT was a super indy, bringing in big names in big matches that we never thought we would see. NXT was the wrestling promotion many of us have been wanting for years. LU though, was a wrestling promotion we didn’t even know we wanted. Who knew what wrestling fans really wanted was an episodic lucha-themed telenovela with supernatural characters? I give it my promotion of the year because it filled a void in our hearts, nay, our very souls, that we did not even know we had.
Best Gimmick: Tetsuya Naito
Naito started the year as Generic Babyface #2, a boring good guy who did nothing of interest. A trip to Mexico brought a change to Naito though, as he joined Los Ingobernables, a faction that was only interested in themselves, neither face or heel. He brought his new attitude back to New Japan, slowly morphing into a don’t-give-a-shit character. It’s a complete contrast to most of the very serious New Japan wrestlers, and really came into its own during the G1 Climax tournament. Naito is close to being the top heel in New Japan, and with Los Ingobernables de Japon at his side, he will be a force to reckon with in 2016.
Best Non-Wrestler: Dario Cueto
There’s really no other option here. Cueto was the best authority figure in wrestling this year (sorry “Authority”) bar none. He was menacing, and strode the line perfectly between campy and serious. The TV style production of Lucha Underground certainly helped as well, giving Dario plenty to do besides give 20 minute promos in the ring every week. The man had people killed! No one comes close in this race.
Best Wrestler: John Cena
A lot of things factor into Best Wrestler. In ring skill is a major part of course, but it’s not the only thing about being a wrestler. It takes presence to be the best wrestler of the year. It takes an ability to make every thing you do be important. It takes being talked about no matter what is going on. Which is why AJ Styles is the deserved Wrestler of the Year.
Wait. John Cena? I gave this award to John Cena? What the hell?
Okay, in all seriousness, John Cena was easily the best part of Monday Night Raw every week. A show that is normally a chore to sit through was guaranteed at least one good segment when Cena came out and issued the John Cena United State Championship Open Challenge. Every week he came out and had a great match with a wide variety opponents. AJ had a great year, and maybe someone who watches more PWG then me has seen more of his matches and can honestly give him Wrestler of the Year. I cannot. I didn’t watch anyone have more great matches this year then John Cena.
Part of it is the MVP effect. Most Valuable Player, not Montel Vontavious Porter. In the NFL, the MVP almost always goes to a quarterback, because quarterbacks get the most attention and have the most focus put on them. In wrestling, WWE is the quarterback, and the best wrestler in WWE is, by default, one of the best in the world. It takes a truly great effort from someone to knock the WWE off the top. No one, not AJ, or Okada, or anyone else from a different promotion, did enough to beat the solid consistency of Cena this year. It doesn’t make me happy, but John Cena is my Wrestler of the Year.