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HeadLocker — Jay Shannon</

The 1st Annual Jammys (WWE Edition)

Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, announces his year-end awards in the first of a two part series. In this edition, he looks at the WWE side of the coin.

The WWE is about to do its year-end awards. I thought I would give my own thoughts on the best and worst of the WWE. I will use the categories that the WWE is using for their Slammys, plus a few of my own. I hope you enjoy…The Jammys.

Wrestler of the Year: Triple H</b.

He has been involved in major angles since his return from quad surgery. He held the WWE title for an amazingly long time for a WWE champion. John Cena, Edge, Undertaker and several other spent part of the year out of the ring. Triple H has really hasn’t taken any time off in quite awhile. Triple H, love him or hate him, is the co-leader of the Smackdown side (along with Undertaker). He is a future Hall of Famer, and not just because he’s Vinny Mac’s son-in-law.

Diva of the Year: Beth Phoenix

Beth is the most dominant female to work in the WWE in years. She is strong, agile and talented. She has won the WWE Women’s title on two occasions. She has dominated just about everyone in her path. She has a savage beauty that isn’t just another Barbie Doll wannabe. She will one day be compared to Fabulous Moolah, Joyce Grable and other classic talents.

Tag Team of the Year: John Morrison & The Miz

I was tempted to go with Priceless (Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase). Miz and Morrison have been in the spotlight for a lot longer. Even though they lost the tag belts, they haven’t split up or faded into opening match spots. They’ve battled Rey Mysterio & Shawn Michaels, D-X, Cryme Tyme, Los Colons, and many others. The interviews are somewhat amusing, though they tend to go a bit stale. Both men have great finishers and good team moves. They really remind me of some of the smaller teams of the past (Fantastics, Rock and Roll Express, Can-Am Connection, Strike Force, etc…). They are much stronger as a unit than they are as singles wrestlers. That’s the mark of a great team.

Couple of the Year: Glamerella

Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella are a great couple to watch. The gender roles are almost completely switched. Beth is the more dominant person in the relationship, while Santino is the follower. He has the whole Yes dear. Of course, dear. Whatever you say dear. position perfected. It is fun to watch his squeak and squeal as she intimidates him. Santino is better in the secondary role. That’s why the Santino/Maria relationship never really flew with the fans. Will the pair split up? That’s almost a lock. Santino will probably get lust-stricken by one of the Divas who is craving Beth’s title. The WWE kind of hinted at that a few weeks back but didn’t follow through. It will happen, bank on it.

Announcer of the Year: Matt Striker

Matt got thrown in the mix when Mick Foley left for TNA. Striker’s educational background works well for him in the announce position. He has a knowledge of wrestling that is amazing. I haven’t seen anyone like him since Gordon Solie. Striker mixes comedy with statistics to provide a very enjoyable experience on Tuesdays. He didn’t do all that well as a wrestler. He missed the mark as a manager. Being in the Mike Tenay spot on ECW is perfect. Striker might work his way up to one of the major two shows in the near future. That could be a mistake. He is right where he should be.

Breakout Star of the Year: C.M. Punk

With all due respect to Vladimir Kozlov, Jack Swagger and a few others, no one has had the kind of year that Punk has had. Punk dropped the ECW title, only to win the Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania. He stepped in after Batista destroyed Edge to take the World title. Punk was never beaten for the title. He was taken out by a group assault by Randy Orton and Priceless. He rebounded from that loss to win the tag titles with Kofi Kingston. Punk is likely to be a Hall of Famer in the future. This year will help boost him into the Hall.

Match of the Year: Shawn Michaels d Ric Flair

No match had more hype than this career-ending battle. The after-effects of the battle are still being felt, months later. Both men showed their A-Game for this battle. Flair’s loss was extremely emotional for the fans. With the jaded nature of most fans (myself included), it’s really rare for a match to grab the heart strings. This battle did that to levels that the WWE couldn’t even begin to imagine. It was the perfect exit vehicle for Flair. It helped to push Shawn Michaels even higher (which was one heck of a trick).

Best Impersonation: Obama v Clinton wrestling match

Charlie Haas has been doing some fantastic imitations over the past few months. All of them are over-shadowed by the war between President-Elect Barack Obama and former opponent Hillary Clinton on Raw. It got massive main stream media coverage. It dwarfed the Donald Trump v Rosie O’Donnell match from several months earlier. It also helped to push the message of Get out and vote.

Damn! Moment of the Year: Mae Young wrestles at 85

Mae Young has been a fixture in wrestling since the 1940s. She was battling in the ring when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. She’s taken Table Shots from the Dudley Boyz. She’s had an illicit affair with Mark Henry (story-wise) that brought for the birth of a hand. When Mae Young showed up on Raw, ready to wrestle, the fans were expecting her to just stand on the apron and maybe get in the ring for a couple of quick moves. Mae carried the match, chopping Beth Phoenix and several other Divas. Mae was eventually rolled up by Beth, but the fans were on their feet for Mae. She won the match, even if she was pinned. She made history as the oldest person to actively compete inside a wrestling ring. She did something that Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne, Buddy Rogers or Fabulous Moolah didn’t do. She is amazing and deserves major respect for being such a trooper.

OMG! Moment of the Year: Jim Ross gets drafted to Smackdown.

The Draft also shakes up the WWE. Top stars get sent to one of the other two brands. Teams are split apart. The one thing that always remained the same was the announcer positioning. JR and Lawler did Raw. Michael Cole and his partner did Smackdown. ECW had Tazz and Todd Grisham. That all came to a halt when Cole and JR were switched. While Michael Cole leaving Smackdown was shocking, it paled in comparison to the uproar caused by Ross being sent to Smackdown. To say Ross was less than happy would be a monster understatement. He flooded his blog with his disappointment over the move. He later stopped that (possibly from pressure from higher up). JR has now settled into his position on Smackdown. The announcing just doesn’t seem the same.

Extreme Moment of the Year: Undertaker Chokeslams Edge Straight to Hell

Edge and Undertaker had one brutal match at Summerslam. Their Hell in a Cell match was off the charts. They destroyed the cage itself, several announce tables and the ring. After the match, Undertaker Chokeslammed Edge off a ladder and threw the mat. A few seconds later, a fireball erupted from under the ring. The effect was amazing. The crowd which had been rowdy for the whole match just dropped back with a collection Holy s**t chant. This bout came close to passing Flair v Shawn for the Match of the Year. Edge has only recently returned from his journey to Hell.

Best Finishing Maneuver: The G-T-S (C.M. Punk)

Flashy moves are a dime a dozen. There are very few that hold up, long term. C.M. Punk’s Fireman’s Carry into a Rising Knee finisher hasn’t failed yet. Punk sometimes has a tough time getting larger opponents into the move. If he can hit the devastating move, the match is a done deal. It’s brought him dozens of wins since he began using it. A few people have been able to counter it, but only for the short term. Punk’s win rate is quite impressive. The move led him to the ECW, World and World tag titles. It also showcases Punk’s incredible strength. Punk’s G-T-S is an equal to the F-U. I look forward to a match, down the road, between Punk and Cena. I have a feeling that the G-T-S will shine brighter than the F-U.

Best Musical Performance: R-Truth’s Rap Intro

I’ll admit it, I really don’t like rap music. That being said, R-Truth’s entrance rap is energetic and gets the crowd ramped up. R-Truth’s in-ring career hasn’t really taken off but he is very liked by the crowd. People get involved in the bit and everyone has a good time. Jillian‘s screeching is painful to listen to. No one else has really done anything. The various appearance by musical groups have left me cold. R-Truth is a leader in a category that really doesn’t have anyone to compete against him.

Best WWE.com Exclusive: Out Think the Fink

I enjoy Word Up. I always enjoy expanding my vocabulary. I have always enjoyed trivia. I consider myself a bit of a historian. Out Think the Fink gives me an outlet for my trivia knowledge. The show is rather low-key as compared to Word Up or the Dirt Sheet. This is the one I look forward to the most on the official WWE site.

Best Character of the Year: Jack Swagger

The so-called All-American American still needs some work but he’s well on his way. Unlike Colin Delaney, Swagger learned from Tommy Dreamer and made the most of their matches. His arrogance feels fresh. His arsenal of moves is second to none in ECW. Swagger is, in my humble opinion, the Bob Backlund of the 21st century. I’d love to see Backlund show up to serve as Swagger’s manager. Swagger will likely hold the ECW strap before the end of 2009. I’m expecting him to win next year’s Money in the Bank match. The only reason he won’t win it would be that he wasn’t in the match. He might be defending his ECW strap.

Worst Character of the Year: Ricky Ortiz

Ortiz came in as an annoying whiner that wanted to push his silly rally towels. The real person behind the character is likely a very nice person. He has worked his way up the ladder and has a good spot on ECW. I have the highest of respect for the person behind the character. The character, itself, is awful. His look is too close to Carlito’s. His move set isn’t expanding. His finisher is seriously weak. Ortiz’s career hit the skids when he lost to Jack Swagger.

Worst Storyline of the Year: Jericho attacks Rebecca Michaels

Shawn Michaels was looking to retire. He came to the ring with his wife, Rebecca, to announce his retirement. Chris Jericho stormed the ring to berate Shawn and try and humiliate him. Shawn went to leave the ring, only to have Jericho try to attack him. Jericho ended up striking Rebecca, not Shawn. There were two main problems with this angle: 1. TNA had done a similar storyline just a few months earlier. 2. Rebecca couldn’t sell a punch if her life depended on it. WWE had to re-edit the footage just to make it look passingly real. I abhor the concept of mixed gender violence. I think it sends the wrong message. I will try to stay off my soapbox on this one. The whole scene just looked so sloppy. It was also the cheapest of ways for Jericho to get heat. It was a bad scene, in so many ways.

Best Storyline of the Year: Cena’s return

John Cena gets a mixed reaction from the fans, these days. It was amazing that the WWE was able to stir up so much interest in Cena’s return. Early buy-rates for Survivor Series was some of the best of the year. Cena’s bout with Jericho received nearly twice the airtime on the PPV than a normal main event would get. This was the perfect mix of marketing and talent. The WWE should be praised for finally getting something right.

In Conclusion:

Well, that’s my Year-end Awards for 2008. The WWE had one of its best years, ever. Wrestlemania 24 was perhaps the greatest card that they’ve presented. Stars rose and stars fell, but the company kept moving forward. 2009 looks to be a landmark year. If the fates allow, I’ll be back with you all around this time next year for the next round of Jammys. I’ll also be back in a few days with my picks for the TNA Jammys. Until then…Peace.

–Jay Shannon
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