Before I start off this (hopefully) annual tradition, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who has been reading this little blog over the past nine months. I started this blog with the intent of writing simply for my own entertainment, and that anyone who read this as well was a bonus. My first article was picks for Wrestlemania 25. Not a bad time to begin. Now, it’s nearly nine months later, and I’ve written 68 entries, spanning many topics. And I haven’t even scratched the surface. This coming year, I hope to start to get this blog some more attention, maybe get a little more site traffic going. So if you like what you read, feel free to post links to this site anywhere you want, so long as the hits I get are mostly from fellow wrestling fans. Again, I thank everyone who’s read this blog up to this point. I’m hoping to continue entertaining you in 2010.
Okay, now let’s get started with the First Annual Golden Rantie Awards, sponsored by Sprint. Not the phone company, but the running term. Ahem. This is going to be a rather long post, as I have many varied awards to give out, so sit back, relax, and enjoy! Remember, pretty much all of these awards are directed towards WWE. I’m slowly branching out into indies and international wrestling, so bear with me as I’ll be discussing those more over the next year or more.
Our first award of the year is the not-so-coveted Swagger Tactics Awards, named in honor of current WWE wrestler, Jack Swagger. I’ve explained Swagger Tactics before on several occasions, but for those who don’t feel like slogging through the archive, here’s a quick rundown: Swagger Tactics is the mentality that a (usually) young (usually heel) wrestler has where his control segment is absolute, allowing no chance for the face to build up some damage to the heel so that when the face makes his comeback, it seems somewhat more realistic, since both competitors have been worn down. Those who engage in Swagger Tactics will essentially dominate their opponent from the opening bell until the face’s comeback, and it makes them look incredibly weak when they do so. Jack Swagger was the first younger wrestler to really use this mentality for every match, and since his debut, there have been quite a few to follow in his footsteps. So, here is a list of those who will receive Swagger Tactics awards for the past year’s work:
Jack Swagger (obviously), Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, Ted Dibiase, The Miz, Ezekiel Jackson, and Maryse
Congratulations! You all need serious work on your in-ring psychology! Get to it!
The Wrestler Most In Need of a Face or Heel Turn goes to…Finlay! Yes, the Fighting Irishman has turned into the Irish Doormat of Smackdown. Ever since he turned face and adopted Hornswoggle’s entrance theme, Finlay was doomed. Sure, probably no one thought of him as world champ material, but a lot of people like him, both casual fans and IWC geeks. Finlay deserves to go back to the place that got him a US Title run, and that’s by turning heel and just beating the piss out of everyone.
The Most Overrated Wrestler Award for 2009…Batista! Yeah, I know, everyone in the IWC has had this opinion for a while, and so have I. But it bears repeating that Dave Batista is just not a good performer, either in the ring or on the mic. I’m glad he’s retiring soon. More chances for more deserving men on Smackdown.
The Most Underrated Wrestler Award for 2009 goes to…Primo! Holy crap, PRIMO won an award? Yes, he did. I honestly believe that Primo is one of the more talented individuals on Raw, and with even a slight push towards something, he can really shine. Sadly, ever since he and Carlito lost the Tag Titles, Primo has been stuck in jobber status, and probably will be for the rest of his career. Honorable mention goes to JTG for his continued excellent work as part of Cryme Tyme. I still think that if they broke that team up, JTG would thrive in singles competition. He’s got the talent, he just needs the push. Which is probably never going to happen.
The Most Improved Wrestler of 2009 is…Dolph Ziggler! After a stint in the Spirit Squad back in 2006 (damnit, I thought I’d blocked those memories forever!) and a failed run on Raw, Ziggler moved to Smackdown, where he quickly moved right into the mid-card, challenging the likes of MVP and Rey Mysterio for the US and Intercontinental Championships, respectively. Unfortunately, his push has dwindled significantly, and with Drew McIntyre as IC Champ, Ziggler’s been overlooked. But he certainly has shown a ton of progress in the ring. I applaud that. Honorable Mention goes to Kofi Kingston.
The “You Retired Because You Lost to WHO?” Award goes to Tommy Dreamer! Yes, there was scuttlebut about Dreamer leaving WWE for a few weeks prior, but did he really have to lose his last match to Zack Ryder? I don’t HATE Ryder, but there are about a thousand other guys who deserve the title of “The Man Who Retired Tommy Dreamer.” If Dreamer would have been up to it, I would have booked him to win against Ryder on ECW this past week, have him challenge Christian for the ECW Title next week in a Title vs. Career Match, and have Christian retain in a crazy back-and-forth super-awesome match. At least losing to the ECW Champion and retiring thereafter would mean something. Instead, Dreamer goes out with a whimper after a “men” match with Ryder. Unfortunate.
The Best Face Turn of 2009 Award goes to…Mark Henry! Sure, his push basically vanished as soon as it appeared, but for that one night, when he was drafted to Raw and proceeded to destroy then-WWE Champion Randy Orton, it was the greatest moment of his career and one of the most memorable moments of 2009. Everyone in the IWC suddenly believed that Henry was finally going to show us the talent that we had been expecting of him the last ten years but never got. And Henry showed us that he can hold an entire audience in the palm of his hand. His in-ring push, however, is gone, and he’s basically doing nothing now, which is a shame. Honorable mention goes to John Morrison and (potentially) to Edge.
The Best Heel Turn of 2009 Award goes to…CM Punk! Could this award really have gone to anybody else? Punk went from a huge babyface and one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWE to one of the most hated and reviled men in the business with his self-righteousness and his banishing Jeff Hardy from WWE for good. Punk can get a little preachy now and then, but that’s how his character works, and it never ceases to make the crowd hate him even more. Props to him.
The Most Disappointing Wrestler of 2009 Award goes to…MVP! I’m sorry. I love the guy and think that, had he been properly pushed, he would be a world champion by now. MVP, on his first night on Raw after the Draft, called out Randy Orton and stood up to him the way no one had in a while. He lost the US Title to Kofi, and then basically dropped to mid-card status, finally starting up a tag team with another guy who got a major moment but no push followed: Mark Henry. I thought that if anyone could take the titles away from Jericho and Show, it would be these two. But the couldn’t, and so now they’ve gone their seperate ways. MVP said that 2010 would be his year, but after being squashed by Sheamus, I have my doubts. I wish he would get the push he deserves, but I don’t count on WWE Creative to do anything intelligent in the future.
The Best “Rocket to Fame” Moment of 2009 Award goes to…Kofi Kingston destroying Randy Orton’s brand new NASCAR! Before this moment, Kofi Kingston was nearly on the verge of crossing over into the main event. He had run in during Orton’s match with Cena and chased away Legacy, taking away any advantage Orton might have had. Orton responds by tossing Kofi off the entrance ramp. Kofi responds by destroying a car that Cody and Ted had just bought and customized for Randy. He keyed the side, took a crowbar to the hood and windshield, and finished it all off with a nice new paint job. Kofi took that next step. Orton was extremely helpful in getting Kofi to the next level, with his crazy reactions. Kofi delivered an excellent promo, all while destroying what must have been a very expensive car. Definitely one of the defining moments of 2009.
The Best Finishing Maneuver Award goes to…Evan Bourne’s Air Bourne! What, were you expecting something else? It’s the prettiest move anyone uses, and Bourne hits it with increcible precision every time. If we were basing this on name alone, then Mix would win with his Skull-Crushing Finale. But Bourne’s finisher is a hell of a lot awesomer.
The Worst Finishing Maneuver Award goes to…Tyler Reks’ Springboard Dropkick! He won matches with this move! It’s something Rey Mysterio uses in nearly every match! It’s nothing special AT ALL. I’m glad Reks is off TV. He was awful when he was on the air.
The Most Deserving Champion of 2009 Award goes to…Christian! Four years away and two NWA World Championship reigns later, apparently Vince finally thinks Christian is world champ material. So he sticks Captain Charisma on ECW, has him feud with Jack Swagger, and finally gives the fans what they want. Christian lost the title to Tommy Dreamer (who’s an honorable mention in this category), but soon won it back, and is the longest reigning male champion in the company. Well-deserved. Once he drops the title, he should move on to bigger and better things.
The Least Deserving Champion of 2009 Award goes to…Sheamus! I just explained all the reasons he shouldn’t be a champion in my last article. Go check it out.
The Hulk Hogan “Biggest Douche in the Industry” Award goes to…Hulk Hogan! Hogan’s going to bleed TNA dry, and all because he squandered the money he made from Vince for all those years. He doesn’t deserve to be on television anymore. Go get a job at Pizza Hut.
Okay, we’re getting down to the last few awards, the big ones. These ones are getting a bit better explanation as to why they were chosen.
The Best Tag Team of 2009 Award goes to…Chris Jericho and The Big Show! Sure, they’re broken up now, but for nearly six months these two were unbeatable. It took an act of Vince and a TLC match to take the titles away from them. Jericho was the irritating mouthpiece, and Show punched people to death. It was awesome. It brought some legitimacy back to the lackluster tag division, and it helped revive Show’s career. These two were gold together, and it’s unfortunate that they’re (in all likelihood) going to go their separate ways come next Monday night.
The “Oh My GOD!” Moment of 2009 Award goes to…Jeff Hardy’s Swanton Bomb off a huge ladder onto CM Punk! I’m sure a lot of you have written Hardy off completely, but you have to give the man credit. He had one hell of a year. Amazing matches with Edge and what I would consider the Feud of the Year with CM Punk. These two were polar opposites outside the ring, but they used that to their advantage and put on some great matches. Their TLC match at Summerslam was the saving grace of an otherwise awful PPV. And Hardy’s dive onto a prone Punk from the top of a 15 foot ladder onto the announce table was one I will not soon forget. Say what you will about Hardy’s personal life, but he gave all he had inside that ring, and he has my respect for that.
The Worst Rookie of 2009 Award goes to…Sheamus! Congrats to the pasty Irishman for winning two “Worst of…” titles this year! Go back to FCW and stop sucking ass.
The Rookie of the Year Award goes to…Tyson Kidd AND Yoshi Tatsu! I honestly couldn’t decide between these two. Kidd has shown an incredible amount of discipline and poise in the ring that belies his age. The last graduate of the Hart Family Dungeon deserves praise. He has a very high in-ring IQ and could very well be the total package if allowed to talk once in a while. He’ll go far with Harry Smith and Nattie Neidhart, but he may very well end up as the next Bret Hart. And I wouldn’t be surprised if The Hitman himself endorses these two as the tag team of the future. Kidd has all the talent already. He just needs that one little push and the sky is the limit for him.
Tatsu is also a recipient of this award because he is, by far and away, the most over rookie on WWE programming. He’s managed to stay afloat on an ECW roster rife with young, talented wrestlers, all of whom want a shot at Christian. But Tatsu is one of the only people this year to actually HAVE a title match with Christian this year, and those two pulled out all the stops. Tatsu showed that he’s got the in-ring talent to run with the big boys, and his personality is so affable that people can’t help but love him. He’s almost there. He just needs a bit of a push, and he will be a champion soon. Look for him to make a big impact in the ECW Homecoming battle royal.
The Match of the Year Award goes to…The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, Wrestlemania 25! There is no way that any match WWE put on could have had a snowball’s chance in hell of topping this match. This should have been the main event of an admittedly lackluster WM25 (especially that clusterfuck snoozefest known as HHH/Orton). Words simply cannot describe how amazing this match was. Two consummate professionals doing what they do best: enteratin the fans. Taker and HBK fought tooth and nail for nearly a half hour, and had the audience on the edges of their seats the whole time. Taker’s botched suidice dive near the beginning of the match is probably #2 in the “Oh My GOD” moments of the year. For a minute, I bet everyone watching was wondering if Taker had broken his neck and would never wrestle again. But he (and we) were lucky that he wasn’t critically injured during that spot. We were then treated to an epic encounter that won’t be soon forgotten. All up-and-coming wrestlers should watch this match to truly understand how in-ring psychology works. Everyone who received a Swagger Tactics award should watch this match about a thousand times. Maybe then they’ll learn how to work a match. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the Wrestlemania 25 DVD if this match wasn’t on it. I probably wouldn’t buy it anyway, but if you at least want to rent the DVD, watch this match last. You will be happy you did.
Honorable mention goes to John Cena vs. Randy Orton in a 60 minute Iron Man Match at Bragging Rights. While not quite as amazing as Taker/HBK, this match had everything you could ask for in a match. Hell, it was three or four matches in one. And you can never go wrong with an Iron Man Match. Cena and Orton brought everything to the table, and left nothing behind. A classic match.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…Wrestler of the Year!
Sadly, I couldn’t just pick one person to cover the entire year. So I’ve broken it down into three parts: I’m giving one award to the best wrestler of the first half of 2009, one to the best wrestler of the second half of 2009, and one for best overall wrestler of 2009.
The Best Wrestler for the First Half of 2009 is…Jeff Hardy! Again, I don’t care what your personal beliefs are about Jeff Hardy, but you honestly have to give him credit for having an incredible first half of the year. Hardy pulled out all the stops and proved that he should be a main eventer. He had two world title reigns (three if you count the carryover from his win at Armageddon 2008) and probably sold more merchandise than anyone on the roster. Jeff Hardy was the best performer on WWE programming for over six months before he left. A lot of IWC smarks don’t like Hardy because they think he’s “sloppy.” Yet I’m sure these are the same people who love Sabu, the King of Sloppy Ringwork. Whatever. Jeff Hardy laid his body on the line every time he wrestled, and while his personal life may have caught up with him after his departure from WWE, he was an inspiration for most of 2009.
The Best Wrestler for the Second Half of 2009 is…John Cena! I was going to put CM Punk in this position, but after realizing that Punk only really had about three or four months out of the year that were really good, I had to put Cena in this spot. Why? Simple: he had some great matches and really turned on the “aggressive” switch for most of the last six months. His submission match with Orton at Breaking Point, their Iron Man match at Bragging Rights, and his halfway decent match with Sheamus at TLC are three of the main reasons why Cena deserves this award. I don’t think he should have dropped the title to Sheamus, but that’s another article or six. The fact of the matter is that Cena took everything into another gear for the second half of the year, and he gave us some really great matches. Where 2010 leads for him is entirely unknown. Except for his match with Taker at Wrestlemania 26. But that’s four months along.
And The Award for Wrestler of the Year goes to…Chris Jericho! One year ago, I wrote a scathing diatribe as a tryout to become a columnist for Wrestleview.com. I did not receive that opportunity, which is why I created this blog and have written 68 columns devoted to this hobby of mine. So I must thank Jericho for his work in 2008 for making me hate him so much. I called him a washed-up has-been who isn’t willing to take bumps anymore just so he could wrestle a little while longer. Now I see him as the most consistent wrestler in the WWE. His verbosity and penchant for insulting the crowd and his fellow wrestlers has gotten him into some very high-profile feuds Admittedly, the year started off weakly for Jericho, as he was put into a feud with several legends of the past in Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, Ricky Steamboat, and Ric Flair. This whole angle was created to help promote The Wrestler, and Mickey Rourke made an appearance at Wrestlemania 25, knocking out Jericho with one punch. It was not the best of moments for Jericho. But he pulled out one hell of a performance from Ricky Steamboat, who showed that even some men still have it well into their fifties while others *COUGH*Hogan*COUGH* do not.
After that debacle, Jericho went on a tear on Smackdown, and had one of the best feuds of the year with Rey Mysterio. Jericho became obsessed with Mysterio and his mask, asking why Rey needed to hide his face from all his fans. These two had some truly impressive matches, including a great match at The Bash (which I was lucky enough to attend). After Jericho lost the IC Title to Mysterio, he formed what could have been the tag team of the year with Edge, and they won the Unified Tag Team Championships that same evening. But nothing is certain, and Edge went down with an injury, which led to Jericho finding a more-than-suitable replacement in The Big Show. These two tore through Raw and Smackdown for nearly six months, destroying any and all who stood in their way. All the while, Jericho continued to berate both the fans and many of the wrestlers in back, and it was always fun to hear what new words he’s picked out of the dictionary that week. They blasted through Cryme Tyme, MVP and Mark Henry, and Rey and Batista, and looked to be unstoppable. That is, until Bragging Rights messed everything up. Show betrayed Team Raw in order to get a shot at Taker’s World Heavyweight Championship, and the cracks began to form in the perfect tag team. But they soldiered on for a couple of months, until the merch machine known as DX took them off the rails and took the Tag Team Championships away from them.
So, let’s look at what Jericho has done over the past twelve months. He’s won the Intercontinental Championship multiple times. He brought a legend back into the fold, if only for two matches. He had an incredible feud with Rey Mysterio. He dominated the tag division for six months. He became the best heat magnet in the company (behind Vickie Guerrero, of course). And he did it all without hurting himself or anyone else. Now those are some true accomplishments. A year ago, I said Jericho was done. This year, he’s just getting started. Chris Jericho is your Wrestler of the Year!
And now that I’ve been working on this column on and off for the last five hours, I think it’s about time I give it a rest. I hope you’ve had as much fun reading this 3600 word column as I’ve had writing it. I will see you all next year. Until then, stay awesome.