In Part 1 of the Thwipping Boys Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence Awards, I gave my thoughts on the best TV of the year, in Part 2, I now intend to look at another of my loves… WRASSLIN. So sit back, enjoy the body slams, and reflect on the past 12 months.
Rising Star Award
Truth is, I’ve been out of wrestling for a long time, my last regular viewing of the WWE product was 7 or 8 years ago. I kept ‘in the know’ through friends and the Internet, but nothing about the stars or the product interested me. It wasn’t until I began reading about a number of wrestlers called the most exciting of their generation that my interest was piqued again, and so for the past 3 months, I have been on wrestling like a fly on… You know.
So who would I choose as 2011’s rising star award? I could choose current World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, or maybe WWWYKI Internet and US Champion Zack Ryder, or even ‘Best in the World’ WWE Champion CM Punk, but no, my choice is the #Heel Dolph Ziggler.
It is my prediction that Ziggler (despite a decidedly b-movie porn star name) will become an established main-eventer and WWE Title holder in 2012, in my mind he has everything he needs to be the top heel in the company, especially since WWE seem to have lost faith in The Miz and Alberto Del Rio. He has the look, with an awesome pair of boots, and slick back bleach blond hair. He has an awesome move-set, including the return of the Sleeper Hold and the Fame-Asser. Finally, he has the much needed mic skills to portray his confidence and arrogance. Every match I have seen involving Ziggler since I have been back (including a number I have gone back and looked at from earlier in the year) has been fantastic, the guy can sell like no one else, making every move look epic.
Despite Ziggler technically already being a former Heavyweight Champ (a reign of 11 minutes during his feud with Edge) he now has a REAL chance to prove he belongs on the main event, with a title shot against CM Punk this coming Monday on Raw. Will he win? No, Jericho will return and attack Punk, setting off their feud that would last until Wrestlemania, but following that, expect to see Ziggler as Champ.
Game Changer Award
Retirement of Edge
There were two major turning points for WWE this past year, and it was difficult to choose between the two, my runner-up is CM Punk’s shoot speech and eventual storyline. The winner of the award is Edge and his retirement. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of Edge in singles competition, I cannot deny his popularity with the crowd, week on week he would receive one of the biggest, if not the biggest, crowd reactions upon his music playing. After defeating Alberto Del Rio at Wrestlemania, Edge was told he should never wrestle again, due to neck injuries sustained throughout his career.
The next night on Raw was an impassioned farewell speech in which he announced immediate retirement, but why was this a game changer? For the first time in 16 years of watching wrestling I witnessed a man at the peak of his career, and an incredibly young age, forced to retire, there was no build up, no “I don’t know how much longer I can do this” he was there, and then gone. Not only that but Edge was the World Heavyweight Champion, he was the top guy on the Smackdown brand, whether he was heel or face, his retirement not only vacated the title, but also left a void in the company that WWE have tried to fill over the last 8 months and failed.
You will be missed Edge, more than I realised.
Superstar of the Year
Who else could this be given to but CM Punk? He is the hottest star on the planet right now, Cena may be the biggest, but Punk has the excitement factor. So why don’t we take a look back at Punk’s year?
Punk’s year started inauspiciously enough, he was the heel leader of ‘New Nexus’ a ragtag bunch of crappy rookies who graduated from WWE’s abysmal NXT programming. Using the stable, he proceeded to wage a war against Randy Orton, running through Wrestlemania and culminating at Extreme Rules. It was during the Elimination Chamber match in March that the first awesome Punk moment occurred.
Following the culmination of this feud we got the now infamous shoot promo, where Punk was given pretty much free rein by the WWE to say whatever he wanted about what he hates about WWE (with a hint of storyline exaggeration), and boy did he. This was an important moment in the year for many reasons, one it was the first real time WWE had allowed the blurring of reality and fantasy as a storyline, and the other was that Punk started the shoot as a heel, but ended it as a face, purely based on his charisma, go on, take a look.
Fast forward to 3 weeks later, Money in the Bank, John Cena vs. CM Punk for the WWE Title in Punk’s hometown of Chicago. Now, what made this special, was that CM Punk’s WWE contract was expiring at the end of this night, a huge portion of this was not storyline, yes, Punk’s contract was originally ending that night, and had he not been able to strike a deal for serious changes to the company and his character, he would have been gone. But luckily McMahon and Punk came to an agreement, and the contract expiration was written in to a storyline which involved Punk leaving the WWE having just won the championship.
Punk returned to WWE a short time later to reignite his feud with Cena (who had won the WWE Championship back after it was apparently vacated by Punk leaving WWE) in a Champion vs. Champion showdown to determine the undisputed champion at Summerslam. Punk beat Cena, but lost the title to Alberto Del Rio (with some help from Kevin Nash) when Del Rio cashed in his money in the bank title shot. The next few months were a trying time for Punk’s character, he was still gaining in popularity, but it was obvious WWE had dropped the ball on his return, having lost the WWE championship a mere month after winning it. After 2 months of languishing in a stupid feud with HHH, Punk regained the title at Survivor Series, leading us to our two final videos for your pleasure.
And finally, at the TLC pay per view just a few short weeks ago, The Miz, Del Rio and Punk took part in a TLC match for Punk’s title. This was a pretty standard fare until a frankly awesome ending (follow the link to watch, 3 minutes in) that saw Punk retain his title.
And there we have it, a recap of the major points of Punk’s year, combined with the moments that helped him win the award for Superstar of the Year, here’s hoping you have enjoyed the read, and will be back later tonight for my next part…. MOVIES!
Tags: Best of 2011