WWE tag team legends The Hart Foundation
AS I SEE IT – The 2012 Year End Awards
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Happy New Year to all of you.
As 2012 ends and 2013 begins, it’s time for the 16th annual AS I SEE IT Year-End Review. As usual, I should note that my selections are based on what I’ve actually seen this year, either live, online, on TV, or via tape/DVD; which primarily means North American wrestling.
2012 PROMOTION OF THE YEAR:
WWE – Bottom line is that they drew the biggest crowds, made the most money, and had the largest impact on the wrestling industry in 2012. TNA has had quality matches…but has driven away so many fans that no one watches them. Ring of Honor has had quality matches, but between limited TV access, disastrous iPPV broadcasts (or lack thereof) when tremendous matches took place.
2011 winner: WWE
2010 winner: Ring of Honor
2009 winner: WWE
2008 winner: Ring of Honor
2007 winner: Ring of Honor
2006 winner: Ring of Honor
2005 winner: Ring of Honor
2004 winner: Ring of Honor
2003 winner: Ring of Honor
2002 winner: Ring of Honor
2001 winner: WWF
2000 winner: WWF
1999 winner: WWF
1998 winner: WWF
1997 winner: WCW
2012 WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
CM Punk, WWE- Imagine CM Punk not being part of WWE this year. Ask yourself what those of us who are still watching RAW on a regular basis would possibly be watching, besides limited shots of Chris Jericho, Ric Flair, and The Rock. Ask yourself who in WWE is as valuable on a mike when injured as when he’s in the ring.
2011 winner CM Punk, WWE
2010 winner: Bryan Danielson (aka “Daniel Bryan”), Dragon Gate USA/EVOLVE/independent/WWE
2009 winner: Chris Jericho, WWE
2008 winner: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Ring of Honor
2007 winner: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Ring of Honor
2006 winner: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Ring of Honor/Pro Wrestling NOAH/Full Impact Pro
2005 winner: Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor/TNA/independent
2004 winner: Chris Benoit, WWE
2003 winner: AJ Styles, NWA-TNA/ROH/Zero-One/independent
2002 winner: Kurt Angle, WWE
2001 winner: Chris Jericho, WWF
2000 winner: HHH, WWF
1999 winner: Chris Benoit, WWF
1998 winner: Steve Austin, WWF
1997 winner: Eddie Guerrero, WCW
2012 WORST WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
Dictionary definition of a one trick pony: someone who does one thing well, but has limited skills in other areas. Thus, you have Brodus Clay.
Cute, maybe even occasionally entertaining ring entrance…the first hundred or so times. Then it gets boring, and you realize his “matches” are taking up time on WWE TV during which you could be watching Dolph Ziggler or CM Punk in the ring, or even just scratching your ear, burping, or sleeping. The Great Khali only escapes due to the fact that he hasn’t affected (infected?) our TV screens this year on a fulltime schedule.
2011 “winner”: The Great Khali
2010 “winner”: Lacey Von Erich, TNA
2009 “winner”: The Great Khali, WWE
2008 “winner”: The Great Khali , WWE
2007 “winner”: Adam “Pacman” Jones, TNA
2006 “winner”: Boogeyman, WWE
2005 “winner”: Boogeyman, WWE
2004 “winner”: Heidenreich, WWE
2003 “winner”: Nathan Jones, WWE
2002 “winner”: Shane Douglas, Major League Wrestling/XPW
2001 “winner”: Buff Bagwell, WCW/WWF/independent
2000 “winner”: Kevin Nash, WCW
1999 “winner”: Hulk Hogan, WCW
1998 “winner”: Giant Silva, WWF
1997 “winner”: Hulk Hogan, WCW
2012 TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR:
The Briscoe Brothers:. At the end of 2012, this is the one team that shows tag team WRESTLING to me. Not comedy therapy sessions (yes, I laughed at them too). Not tag team champions trying to show us how to do gangnam. But just plain kick-ass, good technical wrestling. The Briscoes won the Ring of Honor Tag Team Titles for the eighth time on December 16 at Final Battle, and seem to be the one thing that ownership changes, booking changes, iPPV fiascoes can’t screw up.
2011 winner: The Briscoe Brothers
2010 winner: Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero/Claudio Castagnoli), Pro Wrestling NOAH/Ring of Honor/Pro Wrestling Guerrilla/CHIKARA
2009 winner: American Wolves (Davey Richards/Eddie Edwards), Ring of Honor
2008 winner: Alex Shelley/Chris Sabin (Motor City Machine Guns), TNA/Ring of Honor
2007 winner: Mark and Jay Briscoe, Ring of Honor
2006 winner: Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, Ring of Honor
2005 winner: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2004 winner: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2003 winner: America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris and James Storm), NWA-TNA
2002 winner: Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, WWE
2001 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
2000 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1999 winner: Matt and Jeff Hardy, WWF
1998 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW
1997 winner: Sabu/Rob Van Dam, ECW
2012 ANGLE/FEUD OF THE YEAR WINNER
The Rock vs. John Cena. Imagine you’re Vince McMahon. You’ve rolled the dice to announce the main event of WrestleMania…one year in advance. People can get hurt, get sick, or worse in a year. Well, what was billed as a “once in a lifetime” match between the top names of the Attitude Era and the current day, wound up creating the most financial lucrative WrestleMania to date with new records for PPV buys and sale numbers, with 1.3 million buys totaling $67 million (including the event gate). Oh, and the match itself was great to watch as well
A year’s worth of hype on and off, including the hilarious Rock at Boston Harbor skit showing a list of John Cena gimmicks (at least of which were legitimate) to set up Cena as “corporate shill”, built all this up in a masterful way…even if we weren’t so sure at the time.
2011 winner: CM Punk vs. WWE
2010 winner: Kevin Steen vs. El Generico, Ring of Honor
2009 winner: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy, WWE
2008 winner: Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE
2007 winner: Mark and Jay Briscoe vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico, Ring of Honor
2006 winner: CZW-Ring of Honor, CZW and ROH
2005 winner: Batista vs. HHH, WWE
2004 winner: Chris Benoit vs. HHH vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE
2003 winner: Danny Maff “retirement angle”, Jersey All Pro Wrestling, September 27, 2003, Rahway, NJ
2002 winner: AJ Styles-Jerry Lynn, NWA-TNA/Ring of Honor
2001 winner: ECW turns on WWF, July 9, 2001, Phillips Arena, Atlanta, WWE
2000 winner: The Stephanie McMahon-Vince McMahon-Shane McMahon-HHH-Kurt Angle soap opera, WWE
1999 winner: Test (Andrew Martin)-Stephanie McMahon wedding angle, WWF
1998 winner: Vince McMahon as heel promoter versus Steve Austin, WWF
1997 winner: nWo-WCW angle
2012 WORST/MOST TASTELESS ANGLE OF THE YEAR
2012- A tie between the 2012 Linda McMahon campaign and the use of Jerry Lawler’s heart attack (aspects like inserting fake snoring or backstage still shots of CPR being performed as dramatic fodder).
A lot of year-end polls will pick the CM Punk/ Paul Heyman angle the night Lawler returned. As I’ve said before, the Lawler stuff didn’t offend me as it usually would, given that I fully expect Lawler himself wrote half of it…or at least suggested big chunks of it.
Given that Linda McMahon running for the Senate and losing for the second time is completely in the “real world”, and that WWE supported her in a not very thinly veiled way (but enough to protect themselves legally); I think that’s a helluva lot more distasteful. Raise your hands if you think their sudden support of the Susan G. Komen Republican/conservative backed breast cancer organization right around the time of the campaign is a total coincidence. Nah, didn’t think so.
Ok, Vince. Now that Linda’s had her two shots at things…can we get back to grown-up wrestling again? Doesn’t have to be the Attitude Era. We don’t need women barking like dogs, or “Hot Lesbian Action”. But could we at least have the BEST aspects of it?
2011 “winner”: Michael Cole using real-life death of Jerry Lawler’s mother as storyline fodder
2010 “winner”: “Stand Up For WWE”
2009 “winner”: John Bradshaw Layfield “hires” Shawn Michaels because Michaels has “lost his money in bad investments”, WWE.
2008 “winner”: Jeff Hardy’s implied pre-show drug overdose…er…”mugging”, Survivor Series, WWE
2007 “winner”: The “death” of “Mister McMahon”, WWE
2006 “winner” The “Eddie Guerrero storyline”…in all its forms, WWE
2005 “winner”: Jim Ross proctology skit and Tim White “suicide” sketches, WWE
2004 “winner”: Lita/Kane/Matt Hardy pregnancy/miscarriage angle
2003 “winner”: Vince-Stephanie McMahon angle for “control of Smackdown” and father-daughter No Mercy match WWE
2002 “winner”: Katie Vick angle, WWF/E
2001 “winner”: Vince McMahon “Kiss My Ass” angle, Monday Night RAW, November 19, 26, and 28, WWF
2000 “winner”: Stacey Keibler-David Flair and Mark Henry-Mae Young “pregnancy angles”, WWF
1999 “winner”: The Paul Wight/Big Bossman “cancer angle”, WWF
1998 “winner”: Ric Flair “heart attack” angle and the Hawk/Scott Hall drug angles, WCW/WWF
1997 “winner”: DeGenerationX/Nation of Domination “racial angle”, WWF
2012 WRESTLING NEWS STORIES OF THE YEAR
In 2012, the ECW Arena… as we knew it… ceased to exist on February 2, 2012. It’s had an interesting saga since then. It was to close, in order to be converted into a concert hall. The insides of the Arena was indeed gutted. Gas, water and electrical power service was indeed cut off. But a strange thing happened at Swanson and Ritner. It seems, just like XPW, the last time someone tried to change this longtime wrestling venue….that the new owner wasn’t able to get a concert permit from the city of Philadelphia.
So for all of you a year ago, who raised bloody hell with city officials, the actual owners of the ECW Arena, and even the owner of the Trocadero…you may have had more success than you thought. We may find out more about this very shortly.
Without question, it is the case that, since February 2012, independent wrestling in Philadelphia has been greatly limited, with only occasional ROH and Extreme Rising shows at the Northeast Armory, and small neighborhood shows by CZW. Coincidentally or not, two shows were run by CHIKARA Pro Wrestling at the Trocadero, the venue run by the individual who attempted to take over the Arena (and who ran the Trocadero into Bankruptcy Court). CZW, the promotion that ran most frequently at the Arena (and believe it or not, has actually run more shows and for a longer period than ECW itself did) has run shows in suburban South Jersey this year. While they’ve slowly and consistently regained the crowds they lost by the move to South Jersey, there are still people who can’t or won’t come over to South Jersey due to location or inability to access the venue (there is no real public transportation to it).
Other stories in 2012 include: Jerry Lawler’s heart attack on live TV, an event that got press coverage way over and above what any single wrestling story would have been expected; the disastrous decision to go to a three-hour RAW, the non-start of the WWE Network, and Ring of Honor’s problems (including booking turnover and numerous iPPV fiascoes)
2011 stories: CM Punk vs. WWE; Sinclair Broadcasting purchase of Ring of Honor; Zack Ryder uses social media to get over; Randy Savage’s death ; Self destructive saga of the Hardy Brothers; End of ECW Arena as it exists
2010 stories: Linda McMahon’s failed United States Senate campaign, the consequent attacks on wrestling by politicians and mainstream media for past storyrlines during the Attitude Era, as well as steroid and other drug deaths were featured all over msintream media during 2010…increased awareness by WWE and TNA of the long-term effect of concussions (including the possible effect they may have had in the Benoit family tragedy)….with the retirement of Shawn Michaels and Undertaker and HHH off of TV; WWE finally started a long-overdue youth movement with major pushes for The Miz, CM Punk, Sheamus, Bryan Danielson, and John Morrison. TNA failed miserably at another attempt at Monday Night Wars, getting clobbered in the ratings, before going back quickly to their usual Thursday night taped program.
2009 stories: Congressional steroids report, Shane McMahon resigns from WWE, “The Wrestler” , Death of Mitsuharu Misawa, Linda McMahon Senate Campaign
2008 stories: Retirement of Ric Flair; Filming and high profile of “The Wrestler”; Jeff Hardy finally gets WWE title
2007 story: Benoit family tragedy
2006 stories: The return and failure of “ECW”, TNA gaining prime-time slot on Spike TV, WWE getting new competition…from UFC
2005 stories: Deaths of Eddie Guerrero, Shinya Hashimoto, and Chris Candido, WWE drug testing policy, WWE return to USA, Matt Hardy/Edge/Lita real life and storyline triangle, Jim Ross replaced as lead announcer on RAW, TNA move to Spike TV, WWE and Bret Hart make peace
2004 stories: Brock Lesnar leaves WWE to try out for the NFL, RF Video/Ring of Honor’s Rob Feinstein implication in a pedophile sting, Pat Patterson retirement/resignation, TNA Fox Sports Net slot
2003 stories: The epidemic of deaths within wrestling (many of which involved past or current drug and alcohol use), NWA-TNA survives for another year, continued problems with WWE house show/TV taping business, controversial and active Philadelphia independent scene
2002 stories: The WWF “brand extension”, dropping WWE house show business, PTC forced to surrender, NWA-TNA, Philadelphia independent wars
2001 stories: WWF purchase of WCW, ECW closes its doors, WCW “Invasion angle” goes nowhere, WWF ratings and live attendance drop
2000 stories: Mainstreaming of wrestling continues, WWF-ECW-TNN-USA TV network roulette, WWF goes public, PTC censorship attempts continue… but with organized efforts fighting them, WCW set to lose as much as $80 million
1999 stories: Deaths of Owen Hart and Brian Hildebrand, Foley’s “Have A Nice Day” goes to #1 on New York Times Best-Seller List, WWF CD DEBUTS at number 4 on Billboard Chart, ECW TV on TNN, Parents Television Council censorship attempts
1998 stories: Changes in WWF product (making it more adult in nature), ECW’s 1998 problems, Mainstream attention given the wrestling business, Jesse Ventura’s election to Governorship of Minnesota
1997 stories: Brian Pillman death, Bret Hart leaving WWF/Title Change Doublecross
Until next time…