AS I SEE IT: PWBTS Year-End Awards Bob Magee Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets PWBTS.com
As 2016 begins, it’s time for the 19th 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 DVD; which over the years has largely meant North American wrestling…but not exclusively, as you’ll see this year more than any other.
2015 PROMOTION OF THE YEAR
New Japan Pro Wrestling
When you start the calendar year with Japan’s Wrestlemania..and when it features two Match of the Year candidates that hold up even today with Hiroshi Tanahashi-Kazuchika Okada and Shinsuke Nakamura-Kota Ibushi; you know you’re going to have a pretty good year. Or your Best of the Super Juniors final Yujiro Kushida- Kyle O’Reilly could be another…or Shinsuke Nakamura-Hiroshi Tanahashi in the G1 Climax final can be yet another. If that isn’t your style, and you like insanely strong style wrestling, how about Tomohiro Ishii, current NEVER Openweight Champion vs. Tomoaki Honma at Power Struggle? Simply two guys beating the crap out of each other…over and over and over again, and yet telling a story.
The Heavyweight title saw Tanahashi losing the NJPW Heavyweight belt to AJ Styles in February at New Beginning, Styles then holding it until October, when he lost to Kazuchika Okada in October.
The NJPW Junior Heavyweight title story saw a series of excellent matches featuring Kushida, Kyle O’Reilly, and Kenny Omega, with the NJPW Tag Title was dominated all year by Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson (now on their way to WWE).
But as 2016 begins, however, New Japan will have to deal with the losses of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson; presumably to WWE. Styles is already gone, and Nakamura’s contract finished at the end of January.
2014 winner: NXT 2013 winner: WWE 2012 winner: WWE 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
2015 WRESTLER OF THE YEAR:
Kazuchika Okada, New Japan Pro Wrestling
Okada continued his excellence throughout the year (with the exception of his storyline “slump” in winter 2015; regained the IWGP Heavyweight Title in July at Dominion, went to the semi-finals of G1 Climax, before being defeated by Shinsuke Nakamura, and was honored by being selected to wrestler Genichiro Tenryu in his August retirement match. He concluded the New Japan year by retaining his IWGP title against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Okada was honored by Japanese press, including his third MVP award from Tokyo Sports.
2014 winner: Bryan Danielson (aka “Daniel Bryan”), WWE 2013 winner: Bryan Danielson (aka “Daniel Bryan”), WWE 2012 winner: CM Punk, WWE 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
2014 “winner”: The Great Khali, WWE 2013 “winner”: The Great Khali, WWE 2012 “winner”: Brodus Clay, WWE 2011 “winner”: The Great Khali, WWE 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
2015 TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR:
reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) held the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles as 2015 began, and defended them at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome against Forever Hooligans, Time Splitters and The Young Bucks; and held them until February, when they lost the titles to the Young Bucks in February. They regained the belts from The Young Bucks in August, held them against Roppongi Vice and The Young Bucks, before losing them back again to The Young Bucks in a four-way match at Wrestle Kingdom 10.
They also held the Ring of Honor Wrestling Tag Team Titles as 2015 began, defending against during early 2015; The Kingdom (Matt Taven and Michael Bennett) and The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) before losing them to The Addiction at the April 4 ROH TV tapings.
2014 winner: (American) Wolves, TNA Impact Wrestling/independent 2013 winner: Cody Rhodes and Dustin “Goldust” Runnels 2012 winner: The Briscoe Brothers 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
Want a great way to start a Feud of the Year? How about beginning it in 2002, kicking it into history by ending The Streak and blowing it off at Hell in a Cell 2015?
The roots of this year’s Feud of The Year actually started in 2002 with two Undertaker matches against Lesnar at Unforgiven and No Mercy.
It kicked into gear on a February 24, 2014 RAW where the Undertaker returned to confront Brock Lesnar and accepted his challenge for a WrestleMania XXX match, and became a part of wrestling history at Wrestlemania XXX, when Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker by pinfall after 25 minutes and three F-5s, to end what had become a 21 year unbroken streak of victories by The Undertaker. It created a reaction among fans ranging from children to the smartest smart mark that took them back to child-like markdom.
At Battleground in July, Undertaker returned, jumped Brock Lesnar as he was going to defeat Seth Rollins for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The next night on RAW Undertaker and Lesnar had an all-arena brawl, leading to a WrestleMania XXX rematch at SummerSlam. At SummerSlam, Undertaker beat Lesnar; but Undertaker had actually submitted to a Kimura lock by Lesnar, but the referee “missed” the tapout, and Lesnar was choked out by the gogoplata (Hell’s Gate). The blow-off came in Hell In a Cell, in a wild match that saw double juice, and an eventual Undertaker defeat by Lesnar, after Lesnar hit him with a low-blow and delivered the third F-5 of the match.
2014 winner: Daniel Bryan versus The Authority…and WWE booking. 2013 winner: Daniel Bryan vs. HHH/McMahons 2012 winner: The Rock-John Cena. 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)-HHH-Stephanie McMahon wedding angle, WWF 1998 winner: Vince McMahon as heel promoter versus Steve Austin, WWF 1997 winner: nWo-WCW angle
2015 WORST/MOST TASTELESS ANGLE OF THE YEAR
Paige–Charlotte (Ashley) Flair angle involving Reid Flair and his drug addiction death.
For a company that endlessly tells us about RAW and Smackdown having to be PG, without blood, etc. because of what advertisers would think; they sure didn’t think very much about this angle. On November 16, Paige told Charlotte that her brother Reid “sure didn’t have enough fight in him” before his death after a accidental drug overdose in 2013. This was apparently done without Ric Flair‘s prior knowledge, and absolutely without the knowledge of his mother Beth, who was livid after the angle aired. Worse still was the cover-up, where WWE tried to imply that the angle was Flair’s own idea, despite the fact it looked clear on air she wasn’t comfortable with it.
2014 “winner”: WWE having Lana and Alexander Rusev Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 promo 2013 “winner”: Dixie Carter as heel TNA owner. 2012 “winner”: A tie between the 2012 Linda McMahon campaign and the use of Jerry Lawler’s heart attack 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
2015 MATCH OF THE YEAR:
WWE- Sasha Banks–Bayley, Iron Woman match, Full Sail University, NXT Takeover: Respect, Orlando, FL, October 7, 2015 Independent/Japan- Hiroshi Tanahashi-Kazuchika Okada, Wrestle Kingdom 9, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2015
Either this or the NXT Takeover Brooklyn match on Wrestlemania weekend could have been named. Sasha Banks and Bailey show what WWE COULD allow women’s wrestling (not “Divas”) to be, but still haven’t let take place yet on RAW or Smackdown, limiting it to those with the WWE Network (and who’ve been able to find matches through other sources). The physical match style and ring skill shown by both is light years beyond anything WWE allows to air on RAW and Smackdown. Bayley came back and won the Iron Woman match 3 falls to 2 with a submission at 30 seconds remaining.
As for Tanahsahi-Okada, hearing Mauro Ranallo call Hiroshi Tanahashi-Kazuchika Okada on AXS TV added to what was an incredible match. These two put on a 31 minuteprofessional wrestling clinic, with their classic spots being spread and paced through this match, including Okada with his Heavy Rain (Death Valley driver), D.I.D. submission, and his trademark Rainmaker, and Tanahashi with his High Fly Flow (frog splash), dragon screw leg whip, straitjacket German suplex, and bridging dragon suplex; with Tanahashi finally scoring the pin after three high fly flows.
2014 winners: WWE: Brock Lesnar-Undertaker, Wrestlemania 30, April 6, 2014, New Orleans, LA; TNA: The Wolves (Davey Richards/Eddie Edwards) vs. Team 3D vs. The Hardys, Full Metal Mayhem (airdate October 8) ; Lucha: Ultimo Guerrero vs. Atlantis, CMLL Anniversario 81, September 19, 2014
2013 winner: WWE: Undertaker-CM Punk, Wrestlemania 29, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ 2012 winners: WWE: Hell In A Cell The Undertaker- Triple H; WWE WrestleMania 28, Miami, FL April 1, 2012; Independent: ROH Showdown in the Sun/Day 2 Davey Richards Michael Elgin, March 31, 2012 2011 winners: WWE: CM Punk vs. John Cena, WWE Money In The Bank, Chicago, IL, July 17, 2011; Independent: Mike Quackenbush- Eddie Kingston, CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, ECW Arena, November 20, 2011 2010 winners: WWE: Undertaker- Shawn Michaels, WWE WrestleMania 26, March 28, 2010; Independent: Bryan Danielson vs. SHINGO, Dragon Gate USA, July 24, 2010. 2009 winners: (WWE)- Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE WrestleMania 25, April 5, 2009, Houston, TX; (Independent) Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino vs. SHINGO/Dragon Kid, Dragon Gate USA Open The Freedom Gate, November 28, 2009, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA 2008 winners: (WWE) Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania 24, Orlando, FL, March 30, 2008; (Independent) Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino/Genki Horiguchi-CIMA/Dragon Kid/Ryo Saito Supercard of Honor III, Orlando, FL, March 29, 2008 2007 winners: WWE: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels, WWE Monday Night RAW, London, England, April 23, 2008; Independent: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness, Ring of Honor, June 9, 2008, Philadelphia, PA< 2006 winners: WWE: Paul London/Brian Kendrick vs. Steven Regal/ David Taylor vs. Hardys vs. MNM, Ladder match for the world tag team titles, WWE Armageddon; Independent: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. KENTA, Glory By Honor V, New York, NY, September 16, 2006 and CZW/ROH Cage of Death War Games/The Match Beyond match; with Necro Butcher, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Nate Webb, Eddie Kingston vs. Samoa Joe, BJ Whitmer, “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Adam Pearce, Ace Steele, and Homicide. 2005 winners: WWE: Kurt Angle-Shawn Michaels, Wrestlemania XXI Los Angeles, CA, April 3, 2005, Independent: Samoa Joe- Kenta Kobashi, New York, NY, October 1, 2005 2004 winners: WWE: Triple H-Chris Benoit-Shawn Michaels, WWE, Wrestlemania XX, March 14, 2004, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY; Independent: CM Punk-Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor, June 12, 2004, Dayton, Ohio and CM Punk-Samoa Joe, Ring of Honor, October 16, 2004, Chicago Ridge, IL (tie) 2003 winners: WWE: Chris Benoit-Kurt Angle, WWE Royal Rumble 2003, Boston, MA January 19, 2003; Independent: Steve Corino-Homicide, Ring of Honor, “Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies” Fairfield, CT, August 16th, 2003, NWA-TNA: America’s Most Wanted-XXX (Christopher Daniels/Elix Skipper) steel cage match, Nashville, TN, June 25, 2003 2002 winners: WWE: Edge/Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit, No Mercy, Little Rock, AK, October 20, 2002; Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams – 60 minute Iron Man Match, Ring of Honor, Philadelphia, PA, July 27, 2002 2001 winners: WWF: Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tables, Ladders and Chairs II – WrestleMania X-Seven, AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001; Independent: Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Scoot Andrews vs. American Dragon, East Coast Wrestling Association, Wilmington, DE, September 22, 2001 2000 winners: WCW: Booker T vs. Jeff Jarrett, “Bash At The Beach”, Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, FL, June 9, 2000; WWF: “Tables, Ladders and Chairs” Match – Matt/Jeff Hardy vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge/Christian, SummerSlam, Raleigh, NC, August 27, 2000. ECW: Psicosis-Yoshihiro Tajiri, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 19, 2000 1999 winners: WCW: Chris Benoit-Bret Hart, Monday Nitro, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, October, 1999; WWF: Matt/Jeff Hardy-Edge/Christian, Tag Team Ladder Match, “No Mercy”, Cleveland, OH, October 17, 1999; ECW: Rob Van Dam/Jerry Lynn, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, August 28, 1999. 1998 winners: WCW: Chris Jericho/Eddie Guerrero-Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko, November 29th, Knoxville Civic Coliseum; WWF: Mankind (Mick Foley)-Undertaker Hell in a Cell Match “King of the Ring” PPV, June 28, 1998; ECW: Jerry Lynn-Rob Van Dam, August 8, 1998, ECW Arena 1997 winners: WCW: Rey Mysterio, Jr.- Eddie Guerrero, WCW “Halloween Havoc” PPV, 10/27/97, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, NV; WWF: Shawn Michaels-Undertaker, “In Your House: Badd Blood” PPV, 10/5/97, Kiel Center, St. Louis, MO; ECW: Great Sasuke/Gran Hamada/Masato Yakushiji-TAKA Michinoku/Dick Togo/Terry Boy, “Barely Legal” PPV, 4/13/97, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA
2015 CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
Wrestle Kingdom 9, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan, January 4, 2015
New Japan, much like NASCAR starts its year with its Super Bowl, Wrestlemania, or whatever. When the card features two Match of the Year candidates that hold up even today with Hiroshi Tanahashi-Kazuchika Okada and Shinsuke Nakamura-Kota Ibushi; it’s certainly special. Other major matches saw Togi Makabe defeated Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship in another match raved about by many; plus Kenny Omega (with The Young Bucks) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, and Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata defeated Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson, with Amber O’Neal and Tama Tonga for the IWGP Tag Team Championships.
2014 winner: Wrestlemania 30, April 6, 2014, New Orleans, LA 2013 winner: WWE Wrestlemania 29, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ 2012 winner: WWE WrestleMania 28, Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL April 1, 2012- 2011 winners: WWE: WWE Money in the Bank 2011 – Allstate Arena; Chicago, IL July 17, 2011; Independent: CHIKARA King of Trios 2011/Night One, April 15, 2011, ECW Arena 2010 winners WWE: Wrestlemania 26, March 28, 2010, Glendale, AZ; Independent: Dragon Gate USA, Enter The Dragon, July 24, 2010 (aired on PPV on September 10) 2009 winners: WWE WrestleMania 25, April 5, 2009, Houston, TX, Independent- Dragon Gate USA “Open The Historic Gate”, July 25, 2009, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA (aired on PPV as “Enter the Dragon” on September 4) 2008 winner: WWE WrestleMania XXIV 2007 winner: WWE WrestleMania XXIII 2006 winners: WWE: WWE WrestleMania XXII, April 2, 2008, Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois; Independent: Glory by Honor V Night 2, Manhattan Center, New York, NY, September 16, 2008 2005 winners: WWE: Wrestlemania XXI Los Angeles, CA, April 3, 2005, Ring of Honor, “Joe vs. Kobashi”, New York, NY, October 1, 2005 2004 winners: WWE: Wrestlemania XX, March 14, 2004, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY; Independent: At Our Best, Ring of Honor, March 13, 2004, Rex Plex, Elizabeth, NJ 2003 winners: WWE: WWE Wrestlemania XIX, Safeco Field, Seattle, WA, March 30, 2003; Independent: All Japan/Ring of Honor Final Battle 2003, Philadelphia, PA December 27, 2003; NWA-TNA: NWA- TNA Super X Cup, Nashville Fairgrounds, Nashville, TN, September 3, 2003 (taped August 20 and 27, 1993) 2002 winners: WWE: WWE Summer Slam 2002, Fleet Center, Boston, MA, August 25, 2002, Independent: Ring of Honor “Road To The Title” Philadelphia, PA, June 22, 2002 2001 winners: WWF: WrestleMania X-Seven, AstroDome, Houston, TX, April 1, 2001, Independent: 2001 Super Eight tournament, ECWA, St. Matthew’s Parish Hall, Wilmington, DE February 24, 2001 2000 winner: WWF “Fully Loaded”, Reunion Arena, Dallas, TX, July 23, 2000 1999 winner: ECW “Anarchy Rulz”, ECW, Odeum Sports and Exposition Center, Villa Park, IL, September 19, 1999 1998 winner: WWF “Survivor Series”, St. Louis, MO, Keil Center, November 15, 1998 1997 winner: ECW “Barely Legal”, ECW Arena, Philadelphia, PA, April 13, 1997
2015 WORST CARD/PPV OF THE YEAR:
2015 Slamiversary, Impact Zone, Orlando, FL, June 28, 2015
Why is it the worst PPV? Well, TNA asked fans to buy a PPV, DESPITE having a Knockout champion (Taryn Terrell) who already lost the title on the previous week’s TV tapings… Ethan Carter III being billed as the number one contender to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, despite the inconvenient fact he’d already won it; and featured Austin Aries and Davey Richards wrestling for the right to pick a match stipulation… for a match that had already taken place.
2014 “winner”: None 2013 “winner”: WWE Battleground 2012 “winner”: WWE Over The Limit PPV, PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC, May 20, 2012. 2011 “winner”: TNA Victory Road 2011, March 13, Orlando, FL 2010 “winner”: TNA Turning Point 2010, November 7, Orlando, FL 2009 “winner”: TNA Victory Road 2009, July 19, 2009, Orlando, FL 2008 “winner”: WWE Cyber Sunday, October 26, 2008, Phoenix, AZ 2007 “winner”: TNA Turning Point 2007, December 2, 2007 2006 “winner”: WWECW December to Dismember, Augusta, GA, December 4, 2006, WWE 2005 “winner”: WWE Armageddon PPV, Providence, RI, December 18, 2005, WWE 2004 “winner”: WWE “Great American Bash”, Norfolk, VA, The Scope, June 27, 2004. 2003 “winner:” WWE No Mercy, Baltimore, MD, October 19, 2003 2002 “winner”: World Wrestling All-Stars Eruption, Melbourne, Australia, April 13, 2002 2001 “winner”: WCW “Sin”, January 14, 2001, Indianapolis, IN. 2000 “winner”: WCW Slamboree, Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO, May 7, 2000 1999 “winner”: WCW Fall Brawl 1999 1998 “winner”: WCW Fall Brawl 1998 1997 “winner”: ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
2015 BEST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Pro Wrestling”, AXS TV
Thanks to AXS TV for picking up the New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Pro Wrestling” telecasts with Mauro Ranallo and MMA/New Japan Josh Barnett, AXS TV aired World Pro Wrestling telecasts that were about a year old…but allowed American fans to see and understand the incredible New Japan product with Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kota Ibushi, The Bullet Club and so much more.
We were treated to (among many others) 2015’s Wrestle Kingdom mega-event, spread out over several weeks, with matches like Togi Makabe and Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship, Kenny Omega (with The Young Bucks) and Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, and Shinsuke Nakamura-Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Hiroshi Tanahashi-Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Championship.
Mauro Ranallo is simply the most knowledgeable wrestling announcer on TV right now, and did a tremendous job getting over New Japan in 2015. If you never heard him, think classic Jim Ross on Red Bull. 2015 was a treat…but last week, Ranallo took over as the lead announcer for WWE Smackdown, which has moved to USA Network (we do get him for six weeks of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV still in the can). While his debut wasn’t bad by WWE standards, I fear over time WWE will neuter him…but we’ll see as the year continues. So we’ll see who follows him as New Japan play-by-play announcer.
2014 winner: NXT 2013 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network – By default 2012 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network 2011 winner: ROH on HDNet, HDNet/Ring of Honor on Sinclair 2010 winner: ROH on HDNet, HDNet 2009 winner: WWE Smackdown, WWE 2008 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network 2007 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network 2006 winner: TNA Impact, TNA, Spike TV 2005 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and entral Kentucky) 2004 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky) 2003 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky) 2002 winner: Ohio Valley Wrestling, WBKI 34, Louisville, KY (airing in southern Indiana and central Kentucky) 2001 winner: Monday Night RAW, TNN 2000 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network and TNN 1999 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network 1998 winner: Monday Night RAW, USA Network 1997 winner: Monday Nitro, Turner Network Television
2015 WORST TV SHOW OF THE YEAR:
TNA Impact, TNA
How about a phantom World Title tournament using previously taped footage, which was then aired as if it were happening in the present; with one of the matches consisting of Rockstar Spud vs. Grado imitating WWE finishers ? Or having to gut weeks worth of your your programming with matches featuring one of your lead heel groups, the Beat Down Clan, because Hernandez was legally under contract to Lucha Underground? Or having James Storm push Mickie James onto train tracks, while viewers heard what was supposed to an oncoming train (off-camera), implying her character had been “killed” by the train (before they were forced to back track)?
That’s just a sample. Meanwhile, Destination America, best known for shows featuring the paranormal cancelled TNA after Impact didn’t produce the ratings they’d hoped for. Finally at year’s end, TNA secured a spot with POP TV (former TV Guide Channel and SoapNet). Hopefully 2016 will bring better storylines, and better ratings.
2014 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA 2013 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA 2012 “winner”: TNA Impact , TNA 2011 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA 2010 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA 2009 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA 2008 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA 2007 “winner”: TNA Impact, TNA 2006 “winner”: WWECW, Sci-Fi Network 2005 “winner”: WWE Smackdown, WWE/UPN 2004 “winner”: WWE Smackdown, WWE/UPN 2003 “winner”: The Wrestling Federation (yep, that was actually their name) aired in Philadelphia, southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, southern New Jersey on WGTW Channel 48 2002 “winner”: WXW Rage TV – aired in Philadelphia, northeastern Pennsylvania, north central New Jersey, and syndicated in parts of American Samoa, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. 2001 “winner”: Monday Nitro, WCW, TNT 2000 “winner”: Monday Nitro, TNT 1999 “winner”: Monday Nitro, TNT 1998 “winner”: Music City Wrestling TV 1997 “winner”: USWA Television, USWA
2015 ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR
Mauro Ranallo, New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Pro Wrestling”, AXS TV
Mauro Ranallo is simply the most knowledgeable wrestling announcer on TV right now… period.
He did a tremendous job getting over New Japan in 2015. If you never heard him, think classic Jim Ross on Red Bull. Listening to him call a wrestling match between Hiroshi Tanahashi-Kazuchika Okada, the only comparison I can make is to Jim Ross calling classic Ric Flair-Ricky Steamboat…an announcer telling a story, and all the while giving information on their backgrounds for new fans not familiar with New Japan, and getting over the match at the same time. As said above, we get THIS Mauro Ranallo for six weeks into 2016 (because he had New Japan shows already in the can).
Ranallo took over as the lead announcer for WWE Smackdown this past week, so what he’ll be allowed to do in 2016 remains to be seen. The first week was promising, as we heard more actual WRESTLING being described by ranallo in the first hour than with Michael Cole in the last year
2014 winner: vacant 2013 winner: vacant 2012 winner: Jim Ross, WWE 2011 winner: Jim Ross, WWE 2010 winner: CM Punk, WWE 2009 winner: Jim Ross, Smackdown, WWE 2008 winner: Jim Ross, Monday Night RAW/Smackdown , WWE 2007 winner: Jim Ross, Monday Night RAW, WWE 2006 winner: Mike Tenay, TNA Impact 2005 winner: Mike Tenay, TNA Impact 2004 winner: Dan Wilson/Steven Prazak, NWA Wildside 2003 winner: Mike Tenay, NWA-TNA PPV/TNA Explosion 2002 winner: Mike Tenay, NWA-TNA PPV/TNA Explosion 2001 winner: Jim Ross, WWF 2000 winner: Jim Ross, WWF 1999 winner: Jim Ross, WWF 1998 winner: Jim Ross, WWF 1997 winner: Mike Tenay, World Championship Wrestling
2015 WRESTLING NEWS STORIES OF THE YEAR
NXT growth and touring, women main eventing a WWE major event for the first time; deaths of Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes, Lucha Underground, numerous injuries to WWE and New Japan major performers throughout year.
2014 stories: The WWE Network, Fans pushing Daniel Bryan into the Wrestlemania main event, CM Punk walking out of WWE, wrestling returning to the ECW (2300) Arena, the end of the most well-known wrestling magazines…what we all called “the Apter mags”, the Atlantis vs. Ultimo Guerrero build and mascara contra mascara match 2013 stories: “The Network”, TNA’s decline, the re-construction of the ECW Arena, George “The Animal” Steele’s biography, issues with Madison Square Garden, and WWE’s “retirement” of Jim Ross. 2012 stories: ECW Arena closing, three-hour RAW, the non-start of the WWE Network, and Ring of Honor’s problems 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 storylines during the Attitude Era, as well as steroid and other drug deaths were featured all over maintream 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