Best PPV: Extreme Rules
Ironically enough, the PPV that caused me to make a scene at my friend Moose’s home is my favorite of the season. Other than Big Show getting robbed of his WrestleMania redemption by accidentally stepping through a table in his rematch with Cody, there’s not much I had issues with (other than Cena getting beat on for 15+ minutes before he Super Cena-ed Brock into a loss). Punk and Jericho’s feud ended on a high note, with Punk retaining in a Street Fight near his hometown of Chicago, Orton got revenge against Kane for his ‘Mania loss, and Sheamus retained his World Title in a great 2-out-of-3 Falls match. And Ryback squashed some local wrestlers!
Honorable Mention: Royal Rumble. Again, this might be bias since I actually watched this full event and the fact that it was the first PPV I purchased since Extreme Rules. But this was a solid event from start to finish (other than The Rock getting a second chance to defeat Punk). ADR retained against Show, our boy Cena won an entertaining Rumble match (albeit a bit predictable), and Hell No beat Rhodes Scholars to keep the Tag Belts before Punk carried The Rock through the 20+ minute WWE Title match. And WWE creative just dropped the ball too many times with the rest of the PPVs throughout the season.
Worst PPV: WrestleMania NY/NJ
The problem with this year’s ‘Mania was the fact that it never felt like WrestleMania. The Shield v. Orton, Sheamus, and Big Show kicked things off okay and the Tag Team Title match and Henry v. Ryback weren’t bad either but it all train wrecked with Fandango and Jericho. Considering that this was Fandango’s first WWE match and it was on The Grandest Stage Of Them All, Jericho carried him the whole match. ADR and Swagger followed them but they weren’t allowed the time needed for the crowd to get into their match. ‘Taker and Punk did what everyone expected them to do: Steal the show, but with 2 more matches remaining after the match of the night, it was a bit worrisome. My fears were correct as Lesnar/Trips II bored the crowd to tears and then Rock/Cena II for the WWE Title tucked them into their graves. Sure, The Rock suffered an injury during the match but that’s not an excuse. And I blame Rock here fully for this travesty because our boy Cena just put in work with CM Punk on Raw a few weeks earlier. And maybe Cena didn’t try his best to carry Rock like Punk did in the previous PPVs. Maybe he knew how shitty things had gotten. Definitely the worst WrestleMania I’ve watched since I started buying them each year with XXVI.
Dishonorable Mention: Elimination Chamber. Aside from the SmackDown Elimination Chamber and The Shield 6-Man Tag Match. Everything else was pretty yawn inducing, including Rock/Punk II for the WWE Title. And according to Wikipedia, my dude Punk had Rock covered for 18 seconds. 18 seconds! But the referee was knocked out. Unacceptable.
Comeback Wrestler of The Year: Daniel Bryan
What do you mean Bryan had a great 2011-2012 season? He held the United State Championship and the World Title? So what. That doesn’t mean anything to me, considering I despised the guy for a large chunk of that time. Bryan’s work this season has been far more impressive.
Despite his loss at ‘Mania XXVIII, Bryan got over, as “Yes!” chants rained down upon him as soon as he stepped on the stage. His feud with Sheamus ended at Extreme Rules, so he set his sights on Punk’s WWE Championship. After a close loss at Over The Limit, he entered a feud with Kane, Punk, and former girlfriend AJ. This feud helped set up 2 more WWE Title matches against Punk, got AJ over as the WWE Universe discovered how crazy she is, and built the foundations of a feud with Kane that led to the formation of Team Hell No. He also managed to transition from a full heel to a ‘tweener to a face in a short matter of months effortlessly. Not to mention that he’s one of the top five technically sound wrestlers in the WWE today, he has an epic beard, and he’s dating a Bella Twin. If that’s not a comeback, I don’t know what is.
Honorable Mention: Sheamus. While The Great White did hold the United States Title and won his first World Heavyweight Championship in the 2011-2012 season, I didn’t expect this season to go so well for him. However, he held the World Title for 210 days before losing it to Big Show in October, defended the Title repeatedly against the best Raw and SmackDown had to offer, helped The Shield get over, and solidified his place as one of WWE’s best faces. Time will tell when his next Title reign will be but don’t be surprised to see him challenging for Wrestler of the Year next year.
Disappointing Wrestler Of The Year: Randy Orton
- Didn’t win any championship belts.
- Didn’t turn heel.
- Used primarily as either a jobber for mid-carders or someone who’s about to get a Title shot. Or used to squash heel jobbers. Or stuck in pointless tag teams that don’t even get opportunities at the Tag Belts.
- Suspended 60 days for second violation of WWE’s Wellness Program.
Before I joined the Punk bandwagon in 2011, there was Randy. It was sometime in 2008 when I realized he was no longer the corny Legend Killer from Legacy and had become a bonafide monster heel. I’d even go so far to say he was the first heel I rooted for since The Rock’s Corporation days in 1999. And to see him be so grossly misused to the point where he has matches where he’s barely interested…it sucks. Of course, WWE is playing it safe since Randy’s one violation away from being fired. But…does anyone know if they’re testing Dwayne each time he comes back? Just saying. If Randy goes to TNA, I’m watching Impact every week from now on. That’s a promise, jack.
Dishonorable Mention: Rey Mysterio. I’ve never been his biggest fan but I have always enjoyed Rey’s in-ring work. He was only active from July to March this past season but Rey didn’t look like Rey. Blame it on the injury he suffered that held him out for 10 months, blame it on the weight he gained, blame it on being teamed with Sin Cara, or WWE’s unwillingness to truly use him after his second Wellness violation but his whole season was ugly. Hopefully his next run will return him back to form, despite the bang up job Del Rio has been doing as WWE’s latino face.
Rookie Of The Year: Ryback
There’s no denying this one. And I’m going by how long he’s been known as Ryback for any of you out there screaming about Skip Sheffield. To go from squashing local wrestlers to a feud with Jinder Mahal to three WWE Championship matches with Punk and our boy Cena in less than a year…that’s pretty incredible.
And Vince’s love of monster wrestlers aside, he’s earned it. He’s gotten over, managed to get kids and adults alike to chant “Feed! Me! More!”, helped get The Shield over (he’s jobbed to them no less than 3 times and has been Triple Powerbombed the most out of anyone on the WWE roster), and has become one of the most consistent workers WWE has to offer. His season ended in disappointment with a loss to Mark Henry at ‘Mania NY/NJ but there’s no mistaking his impact since he arrived on April 6. His heel turn in recent weeks (that has come with a new catchphrase: “Ryback Rules”, which I love.) is only a shove in the right direction as he’s back in the WWE Title picture with a match looming with our boy John Cena at Extreme Rules.
The only knock against him is his injuring Punk in November and making me lose out for the whole month of December. You can’t win them all I guess.
Honorable Mention: Antonio Cesaro. Narrowly beating out Damien Sandow for a tie (due to WWE stagnating both he and Rhodes by refusing to let them win the Tag Titles), Cesaro showed an amazing amount of skill in the ring and on the microphone since his debut in April. His 240 day reign as United States Champion was the second longest Title reign of the season after Punk’s 300 days (or 434, never forget). His Neutralizer finisher is one of the strongest I’ve seen in a long time…
…but for some reason, WWE buried him at the end of the season, putting him on the pre-show of the Rumble, letting him get dumped out of the Rumble by our boy Cena, shoving him in the undercard of a weak Elimination Chamber PPV and denying him any type of WrestleMania moment by not having him on the card at all. His 2013-2014 season hasn’t started any better since he dropped the Belt to Kofi 8 days after NY/NJ. Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of his falling out of favor because I really dig Cesaro. I just hope WWE creative still does as well.
Worst Wrestler Of The Year: Brock Lesnar
I missed Brock’s entire first run in WWE and after a Wikipedia read, it looks like he was a lot more interesting then than he is now. The whole weekend in Miami last year, I heard two names: Brock Lesnar and Batista. Apparently, both had been resigned by WWE and were expected at either XXVIII or the night after Raw. While the Batista rumor never came to fruition, Brock showed up and F-5-ed our boy Cena into oblivion on the first Raw of the season. Their feud continued up until Extreme Rules, with Cena winning one of the most brutal professional wrestling matches in recent memory. Surely, this feud would continue to Over The Limit and beyond.
Nope. Instead, Lesnar broke Triple H’s arm the next night on Raw and then quit the company shortly after. And wasn’t seen again until he broke Shawn Michaels’ arm on the August 13th Raw.1 Limited appearances in his contract aside, 105 days with no Brock is stupid. The Cena feud was dropped as he picked up on Punk’s feud with John Laurinaitis for 2 PPVs. There has still been little mention of a return to it but with the WWE Title around our boy Cena and Brock’s new contract extension, one would imagine this is the year he gets the Gold back.
But overall? Three matches. 1-2. I haven’t watched the SummerSlam match but if NY/NJ was any indicator, I didn’t miss much. I just haven’t seen any of what made Brock so great during his first run. And with a third match with Trips on deck for Extreme Rules (this time in a steel cage!), I don’t expect my opinion to change. I hope this season sees him on television more and feuding with more than 2 wrestlers. I hope I get to see what made him The Next Big Thing. But all I’ve seen is The Big Bore and little else. And amazing manager work by Paul Heyman. I’m a Paul Heyman guy by the way.
Dishonorable Mention: Tensai. Poor Prince Albert. At least, that’s what he was called when I last saw him in WWE. After debuting the night after XXVIII, he squashed jobbers and scored wins over Punk and Cena in the following weeks. Then he started losing…the rest of the season. Then he got put into a tag team with Brodus Clay called Tons of Funk. Now he dances on WWE TV at least once a week. Maybe Ryback’s rise to main event status didn’t help but WWE creative stopped trying really quickly with this guy. They kept bringing him out like he was some big threat and then Santino would beat him in three minutes. He hasn’t gone away so at least his contract seems to be up to par but this run has been terrible for him. I hope he’s feuding with Brodus within a month or so.
Wrestler Of The Year: CM Punk
I promise you, I really tried to find a reason not to give this award to Punk. But after searching high and low, climbing a mountain, taking a nap, and watching the 2009 Star Trek movie2, Punk ruled this season. From his Street Fight at Extreme Rules to stealing the show at NY/NJ with ‘Taker, the man could do no wrong. Adding Heyman as his manager only added to his work, as the two ran roughshod through the WWE from September until Punk walked away from the company (storyline) two weeks after ‘Mania. He faced all comers in the face portion of his season…and won. He faced all comers in the heel portion of his season…and found ways to retain his Title. He carried The Rock through 2 WWE Title matches. He put on a great match with The Undertaker despite suffering a legit injury during the proceedings. He rekindled his feud with John Cena from 2011 once he turned heel. He was instrumental in The Shield getting over as he and Heyman paid them and Brad Maddox to interfere in his Title matches later in the season. Plus he found time to help get AJ over and launch the Kane/Daniel Bryan feud/partnership. He played a part in Ryback’s rise through the ranks as well.
And he’s number one when it comes to promos, hands down.
And he’s the best technical wrestler in the company.
And he had meniscus surgery on December 4th and was wrestling a month later (take notes Russell Westbrook).
And I’m a CM Punk guy.
Honorable Mention: Our Boy John Cena. Hear me out. Besides that crap match at NY/NJ, no one came closer to beating out Punk than our boy Cena. He allowed himself to get slugged on by Lesnar, feuded with Laurinaits and Big Show (which ended with Big Johnny’s firing), won the Raw Money In The Bank match, feuded with Punk for the WWE Title, helped get Ryback and The Shield over, feuded with Dolph for the SmackDown Money In The Bank briefcase, won his second Royal Rumble, and sub sequentially won his 11th WWE Championship at NY/NJ. Not to mention the countless Raws and house shows he wrestled at during the season.
The man is a workhorse.
The man is definitely the face of the WWE.
I really want to see him as a heel again eventually.
And our boy John Cena worked his ass off this season.
With that, the first annual Promos By Hyphen WWE Year End Awards has reached its end. The new season is about a month in now, but there’s still almost a full year of WWE action left. New awards may be added, some Superstars will work their way either into or out of position to contend, but one thing remains: I’ll still be watching.
Don’t let me down WWE.