Zeke’s Year in Review – Wrestling (WWE Edition)
Ah wrestling. The red-blooded-american-male soap opera. The
fake predetermined sport(s entertainment) program where the scripts made up by the points still don’t matter. I don’t care what anybody says, I love me some wrasslin. And 2012 was a good year, all things consider. So here it is, my best-of series for the year of 2012!
2012 Wrestler of the Year – Daniel Brayn.
Question. Did Daniel Bryan have a break-out year in 2012? Yes. Did Daniel Bryan have a solid run as World Heavyweight Champion in 2012? Yes! Yes! Yes! Did Daniel Bryan and Sheamus have an amazing match at Wrestlemania that proved all the pundits wrong, launching his career to new heights? NO! NO! NO! And yet, despite his 18 second match at the biggest show of the year, Daniel Bryan become a world-wide sensation on the back of one little word: Yes! I don’t think the WWE knew what monster they were unleashing when they made that call, but it likely was the greatest thing that could have happened to D-Bri’s career. He went on to have a series of amazing matches with CM Punk, and helped create arguable the best tag team the WWE has seen in a very long time. Daniel Bryan without a doubt proved everyone who thought he wouldn’t be a main eventer wrong. And he’s extremely worthy of being the 2012 Wrestler of the Year.
2012 Tag Team of the Year – Team Hell No
From the minute they started the Anger Management skits on RAW, I knew these two were going to be a great tag team. I was pushing for Team Anger Management, or Team Friendship, but Team Hell No has worked out well, and I wouldn’t have expected them to be so over after those six months. But let’s be honest, would Team Hell No: Friendship is Magic not be a great name for a saturday morning cartoon show? These two have breathed life into the tag team division, and made me actually care about those stupid giant penny belts. The classic “I AM THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!” is often quoted within my circle, and often shouted via Facebook at my tag team partner Jacob (one half of the greatest tag team alive: #SlightlyBlack). Their excellent mix of humor and in-ring ability have crafted a dynamic not seen since The Rock & Sock connection, and as great as these two are in singles competition, I find myself wishing that their run as the champs never ends. And that more means they are the 2012 Tag Team of the Year.
2012 Pay-Per-View of the Year – Money in the Bank
My god did this PPV have it all. Let’s look at the card, shall we? CM Punk vs Daniel Bryan, arguably the two finest in-ring workers in the company, in a no-dq match with the lovely AJ thrown in. Primo & Epico vs the Prime Time Players, two great, young tag teams with tons of promise. Sheamus vs Alberto Del Rio, before the feud got old and stale. Ryback vs Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks, The Ryback’s first handicap squash against 2 actual-named talents. And then you had the 2 Money in the Bank matches. The Raw was a whose-who of top-name talents: John Cena, Kane, Jericho, Big Show, and The Miz. And even more exciting was the list of up-and-comers that were featured prominently in the Smackdown match: Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow, Tyson Kidd, Sin Cara, Cody Rhodes…as well as some great workers like Christian, Santino Marella….and you even had Albert! Money in the Bank provided great matches, saw Dolph Ziggler finally get his ticket to the main event with his MitB win, and we saw Cena go down in history as the first person to cash in his briefcase, and not walk out with the title. All in all, a great ppv.
2012 Match of the Year – The Shield vs Team Hell No & The Ryback (TLC)
Let’s face it, in a year where you had multiple matches from CM Punk/Chris Jericho, CM Punk/Daniel Bryan, CM Punk/Ziggler, Cena/Lesnar, Cena/Rock, Taker/HHH…how the hell was a 6-man match thrown together at the last minute due to Punk’s injury going to top any of those? And then the match happened. You had everything you could ask for in a match, hard-hitting action, impressive double-and-triple-team moves, high-flying ladder escapades. You had some of the best wrestling you could ever find, as well as the solidification and validation of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose as they went over the current tag team champions AND The Ryback. Could you ask for a better debut? This match had it all, and it blew away the competition not only in in-ring ability, but in it’s complete surprise factor. While Taker/HHH had a great story both leading up to, and during, the match, I was on my feet for the entirety of this 6-man, and it not only stole the show, but the entire year.
2012 Underutilized Talent of the Year – Zach Ryder
Oh Radio, can’t get on a 3-hour show. That meme, tweeted by the Long Island Iced Z himself, perfectly describes the year for Zach Ryder. He came into 2012 with all the momentum you could ask for: the internet and fans loved him, and hailed his US title victory at TLC 2011. He was rubbing elbows with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, two of the best workers in the business. He had John Cena behind his back, pushing him onto TV. The future was bright. And then he got pushed off a stage by Kane, and “cheated on” by Eve. His once-bright future was extinguished before it even got a chance to shine, and he’s barely been able to have any TV time since. Thanks to the ruination of any of his stories by Kane, Cena, and the Ho-ski, he wasn’t able to live up to the “standards” that the WWE had set, and he find himself once again buried in obscurity. While his character may need a tune-up (cause let’s face it, it’s getting a bit stale), it’s hard not to love the guy, and respect the attention he’s been able to give himself. Look how many wrestlers have their own “youtube show” nowadays. They can thank the success of the Z! True Long Island Story for that. Here’s hoping that 2013 will hold more success. Do I hope he breaks out? Woo woo woo! You know it.
2012 Story of the Year – The Shield
A running meme on the r/SquaredCircle reddit was the “imminient debut of Dean Ambrose”. Ever since his indy days, people knew that this guy had the potential to be a superstar. He had the in-ring toughness to hang with the big boys, and the mic skills to back it up. But nobody expected his debut to be along side that of fellow indy darling Seth Rollins, better known as Tyler Black. At the time, Rollins was the NXT Champion, the first ever. So their appearance at Survivor Series alongside Roman Reigns (aka Joe Anoa’i, member of the famous Anoa’i wrestling family and brother of Matt Anoa’i aka Rosey) was both unexpected, but exciting. The Shield debuted in a big way, putting down The Ryback, who at the time was riding a huge push as an unstoppable monster. With his only defeat coming shortly after a low-blow from a referee, and the inability for anyone in the locker room to keep him down for long, the fact that these three appeared out of nowhere, and not just once, but twice put Ryback through a table was a huge impact. Their subsequent attacks on Orton, Team Hell No, and more pushed them squarely in the main event, and they, along with The Ryback and Team Hell No, stole the show at TLC, earning themselves my Match of the Year in less than a month from their main-roster debut. The sky is the limit for these three, and they’ve had me anxious to see what is next from them every week.
Well, that’s all for today! What’s that? Why is this called the WWE Edition, you ask? Well, there was so much to talk about this year that I couldn’t fit it all into just one post! Check back tomorrow when I discuss my Year In Review – Wrestling…Indy Edition!