Author’s Note: The RSPW Awards were the Internet’s Oldest Awards running for 20 years commemorating the Best and Worse in Professional Wrestling each year. Sadly the awards were retired after the 2009 competition year. Each year I would post my picks as submitted on the official RSPW Awards Ballot on my blogs. You can check out my picks for 2008 here and for 2009 here. For postings from earlier years you’ll need to dig through my old MySpace or Blogger blogs (to lazy to hunt and link it). Not one to let traditions die (and because I just NEED to share my opinion) here are my picks for the Best and Worse of Wrestling in 2010 as based on the old RSPW ballot.
To be given to the athlete who was the best overall wrestler of the year. This includes all facets of wrestling: workrate, technical ability, interviews, charisma, value to his/her promotion, etc. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.
1st: Randy Orton
2nd: John Cena
3rd: The Miz and Chris Jericho (tie)
For my money 2010 was Orton’s year. While John Cena may be the franchise of the WWE, Orton’s mega-face turn made him into a bona fide mega star (his pops rival that of Cena’s). With hot feuds all year against all comers, a face title reign and thunderous chants of “RKO” in arenas across the country to boot 2010 was the Year of the Viper.
John Cena takes a close second. When you’re the franchise of the promotion it’s difficult not to make the list. Haters aside you cannot deny how indispensable Cena is to the E and with a white hot feud against Batista and Nexus topping the card throughout 2010 and Cena delivering the goods everything you can’t deny the man his due.
Miz and Jericho round out the Top 3 stars of the year. Gold on the mic and impressive in the ring in all they did they definitely earn their place at the top of the wrestling world in 2K10.
Best Tag Team
To be given to the tag team who were the best overall team of the year. This includes all facets of wrestling: workrate, technical ability, interviews, charisma, hot team moves, value to their promotion, etc. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.
1st: The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin)
2nd: Beer Money — James Storm and Robert Roode
3rd: The Hart Dynasty — David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd
Hands down the Guns take this award. Over the course of 2010 they had epics matches against Beer Money (one of the top feuds of the year for my money) and Generation Me. The Best of Seven series between the Guns and Beer Money was one of the best things in wrestling all year going to show just what an asset tag wrestling CAN be to the business if only the promoters would invest in it. When it came to tag wrestling in 2010 NO ONE did it better than the Guns and Beer Money. I for one am very glad the Guns got their long overdue run at the top of the promotion.
On the E’s side the Harts take it by default. With a thinner tag roster (Usos and Dude Busters anyone?) the Hart’s easily dominated the division for most of the year till the Nexus storyline picked up. Sadly the team would dissolve at the end of the year but Smith and Kidd’s efforts easily put them up on the top of the E’s tag ranks for 2010.
To be given to the person who was the best villain this past year. This person should bring out the fans’ wrath. Match quality is not paramount here; this award should be based primarily on how over the wrestler was in the past year.
1st: Wade Barrett
3. 2nd: The Miz
3. 3rd: Batista and Chris Jericho (tie)
For a man who started the year as a virtual unknown it’s a testament to both his ability and the booking that just about everyone in the business knows the name Wade Barrett at the close of 2010. From easily winning NXT season one to leading the Nexus roughshod over the WWE roster for half of 2010, Wade Barrett was the name to know in 2010. The man cuts excellent promos and more than hanged on his own in the ring against the franchise of the promotion. Wade Barrett is your Best Heel of 2010.
The Miz takes the #2 spot for me. Easily a highlight of just about any show he was on in 2010 the Miz put his prodigious mic work on display arousing the ire of any crowd. Winning the MiTB match, espousing how AWESOME he was and teasing a cash in at any time Miz easily takes #2 in Best Heel for 2010.
Batista and Jericho round out the top 3 for me. Batista, after a lackluster past few years as a “choking” face made a heel turn and seemed to be on a career renaissance turning in his best work in YEARS terrorizing Rey Mysterio and John Cena. Had he stayed following his Mania stint he may have well dominated the card as the Top Heel. Jericho, indispensable as ever, also turned in a solid performance all year long near the top of the Heel pecking order.
To be given to the person who best portrayed the hero this past year. This person should get lots of fan support. Match quality is not paramount here; this award should be based primarily on how over the wrestler was in
the past year.
1st: John Cena
2nd: Tommy Dreamer
3rd: Jay Lethal
When it comes to babyfaces in the business there is none bigger than John Cena. Love him or hate him he plays the role to a T delivering the goods at all times on the mic, in the ring and in public. John Cena IS the WWE.
Tommy Dreamer takes my nod for the #2 spot for having played the babyface role effectively in TWO organizations this year. First was his classy exit from ECW on his way out of the E as the Heart and Soul of ECW took his final bow on the stage he built. Second was his debut with EV2.0 in TNA where he headed the band of extreme pioneers against the Fourtune roster. Throughout both runs he showed the heart and dedication that won him so much respect from the fans over the years.
Finishing up in 3rd is Jay Lethal. In a year at TNA that saw many Russoriffic turns and non-sensical bookings and aborted pushes Jay Lethal stands out as the SOLE nearly consistent push on the face side of things that didn’t descend into the realm of the idiotic. From his epic feud with Flair to his run with the X Title Lethal could be contacted on, despite his lower placement on the card, to deliver week in and week out whenever he was on. Consistency, what a concept!
To be given to the wrestler with, on average, the best workrate. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.
1st: Kurt Angle
2nd: AJ Styles
3rd: Chris Jericho
Kurt Angle’s quest to “earn” his way back to the top of TNA allowed him to showcase his awesome skills against the majority of the TNA roster as he ran the gauntlet of the Top 10. No one defined the term work rate better than the Olympic Gold Medalist in 2010.
Despite the awkwardness of having gone from champ to chump in 2010 AJ Styles could ALWAYS be counted on to deliver in the ring from his epic New Year’s opening match against Angle to battles against RVD to winning the TV title, AJ still is the Phenomenal one. Hopefully 2011 sees him back on top of TNA where he BELONGS.
Jericho rounds out the Top 3 showings the rest of the workers in the E how it’s supposed to be done.
To be given to the wrestler who did the most and the best high-flying maneuvers throughout the year. In 1994, this award was split into two: North American and Non-North American. In 1998, it was recombined.
1st: Evan Bourne
2nd: John Morrison
3rd: Motor City Machine Guns and Generation Me (tie)
They don’t call him “Air” Bourne for nothing!
From the first time we saw John Hennigan on Tough Enough Season 3 we knew he had the goods. With his showcase feud against Sheamus and the parkour segment on Raw we definitely are seeing the potential making of a new break out star. I definitely want to see more bad @$$ parkour inspired offense from the Shaman of Sexy in 2011!
On the TNA side of the house, I would gladly watch the Guns or the Bucks work each and every day of the week.
Best Technical Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler who has the most technical ability. The number of holds and moves you see this person do and the crispness with which the moves are executed makes his/her matches a pleasure to watch. In 1994, this award was split into three: North American, Non-North American, and overall. In 1998, it was recombined into one.
1st: Daniel Bryan
2nd: Douglas Williams
3rd: Tyson Kidd
Daniel Bryan’s debut into the E in 2010 brought back some outstanding wrestling in its purest form to the ring which was such a refreshing change. Here’s to more tapping in 2011.
In a land of has beens and damaged goods (in TNA Originals) Doug Williams and his run with the X Title was a breath of fresh air. There’s no need for fancy aerial or flippy floppy moves when you can WRESTLE and nobody did that better than Williams. Here’s to more Rolling Chaos in 2011.
Back in the E Tyson Kidd, for my money, is probably pound for pound the best worker the E has right alongside Daniel Bryan. I’m glad he’s having a chance to showcase what he’s got in a solo heel run now. Here’s hoping he’ll break out as a “Shawn Michaels” in 2011 on virtue of his ring work alone.
To be given to the wrestler who brawled his/her way through the year most convincingly. This award would go to Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish if he were still around. In 1994, this award was split into two: North American and Non-North American. In 1998, it was recombined.
Nobody kicked more @$$ and took more names in 2010 than did Sheamus. From putting Triple H on the shelf to steam rolling the E’s roster en route to being crowned the “High King” of the WWE Sheamus pulverized everyone in 2010.
Kane got a much overdue and deserved push to the top of the Smackdown roster in 2010 DOMINATING the blue team.
Over in TNA the roster ran in fear of the maniacal Monster whose prophecies of “They” kept everyone frozen in fear of the Monster and his girl Janice — just ask RVD.
Most Favourite Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler you like the most, regardless of the reason.
1st: Matt Hardy
2nd: Chris Jericho
3rd: The Miz
A large portion of Net laugh at the guy as a laughingstock of sorts, but I will always be an MFer 4 Life. I was very sad to hear Jericho decided to take another extended leave from the business. On the plus side, there’s the Miz running on top the promotion now always delivering the AWESOME on the stick.
Most Improved Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler who most improved himself/herself in all facets of the sport in the past year.
2nd: John Morrison
3rd: Santino Marella
It’s quite amazing how far the Miz has come over the years to where he is now. It’s a true testament to the amount of hard work he’s put in. When he first debuted a few years back folks (myself included, just read my ballots) derided him as a long mouth irritating punk. Over the years he honed his mic skills, then his ring skills and now he’s put it all together into a solid package and is literally a highlight of any show he’s on. I’ve given Miz this award for the past few years and I’m glad to see he’s achieved something most workers in the business never do — a run with the title.
John Morrison, whom many had pegged as the “Michaels” of Miz and Morrison, also made great strides this year mostly off the power of his ring work. Hopefully the “Monday Night Delight” will have the chance to refine his mic skills and take his place alongside his former tag partner on top the promotion.
Santino rounds out the Top 3. He’s long been the highlight of any show based on the strength of his comedic work. I’m glad he’s also had a chance to showcase his in-ring skills with the reward of a tag title run in an “odd couple” pairing with Vladimir Kozlov.
Most Overrated Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler who really has little talent, but has a large place in the spotlight nonetheless. This is a measure of how undeserved a wrestler’s push is.
Best Wrestling Gimmick
To be given to the wrestler who had the best character gimmick in the past year.
1st: The Miz is AWESOME!!!
2nd: Kurt Angle, greatest wrestler on the planet
3rd: Alberto Del Rio, Mexican aristocrat
Miz telling people how awesome he is and backing it up? That’s awesome! Kurt Angle, wrestling machine? Double awesome. The best “characters” in wrestling really are just extensions of the real person. As the late Chris Candido would say, “No gimmicks needed!!!”
Best Wrestling Move
To be given to the move that is just the damn best thing you’ve seen this past year. This should probably be a “finishing” move or something really spectacular.
1st: Doug William’s Rolling Chaos Theory
That move is a BEAUTY to behold and sure looks like it would hurt like heck and put you down for the count.
To be given to the feud that gave us the most heated and best wrestling match(es) of the year. In 1994, this award was split into two: North American and Non-North American. In 1996, due to lack of participation on the non-NA side, it was recombined.
1st: John Cena vs. Nexus
2nd: Motor City Machine Guns vs. Beer Money
3rd: Alberto del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio
Cena vs. the Nexus dominated the E for over half the year with the Nexus storyline itself literally changing and flipping the world on its back for the E. This is an easy pick for top feud of the year. Over in TNA the Guns vs. Beer Money easily takes the top pick for feud of the year as it was one of the FEW consistently booked feuds in a promotion that seems to have ADD when it comes to pushing wrestlers and writing coherent storylines. Two tag teams battle it out in a series of matches to see who is the best in the world. That’s all you really need, no secret conspiracies or invasions or takeovers. This is professional wrestling — two folks battling it out to see who’s the best is all you really need.
Worst Tag Team
To be given to the name tag team who were the worst overall wrestlers in the past year. Minimal technical ability, lousy interviews, non-existent workrate, the charisma of a rock, and lousy team moves should describe this pair.
To be given to the person whose casting as a bad guy just didn’t work well. Maybe there was just no heel heat drawn or maybe the fans actually cheered this person, but for whatever reason the heel image just didn’t get over.
1st: Ted Dibiase
Initially starting the year off on the verge of a near face turn amidst the abuse of Randy Orton this guy plummeted to the bottom of the ocean being mired in the midcard the rest of the year. Neither Dad’s belt, Virgil nor the services of the ultra hot Maryse could seem to rehab his heat. Poor guy ends up jobbing to the ultra stale Golddust for a good portion of the year. That’s too bad as Dibiase’s a decent worker with a good luck. Hope they figure out something for him soon as it’d be sad to see this 3rd gen star (remember when the term was used as a badge of honor?) with the million dollar pedigree fail to make his mark.
To be given to the person whose casting as a good guy just didn’t work well. Maybe there was just no face heat drawn or maybe the fans actually booed this person, but for whatever reason the face image just didn’t get over.
Most Deteriorated Wrestler
To be given to the person whose skill has deteriorated the most over the past year. This person should be a shadow of his/her former self.
1st: The Nasty Boys
Man, when they walked out on my TV on the first show of the year with Knobbs about 80 lbs heavier than we last saw him in 2001 and TNA actually started pushing them and having them win I was like, OMFG! Thankfully they were canned shortly thereafter. Thanks for the memories guys!
Most Underrated Wrestler
To be given to the person whose ability merits a far greater push than the person receives. There may be many such people, but the winner of this award should have the most ability with least push.
1st: Christopher Daniels
3rd: Matt Hardy
TNA’s burial of Christopher Daniels to me was just about inexcusable. A TNA Original HOT off a championship feud with AJ Styles JOBS to a debuting Val Venis. Val up and leaves the promotion shortly after. Daniels gets lost in the shuffle of the over-bloated post-Hogan/Bischoff roster. Thankfully it seems Daniels is having a career resurrection of sorts in ROH. So sad the guy never got a run on top in the promotion he helped to build.
“Captain Charisma” unfortunately seems to be perennially lost in the shuffle especially now in a post-ECW WWE and it’s unlikely that’ll change as vets like him unlikely become used to “put over” the young bucks of the promotion. (I forsee Christian jobbing to Drew McIntyre or Alberto Del Rio in the near future).
Hardy, my favorite, mercifully got put to pasture after years of neglect.
Worst Wrestling Gimmick
To be given to the wrestler who had the worst character gimmick in the past year.
1st: AJ Styes as Ric Flair 2K10
2nd: LayCool (Michelle McCool and Layla El)
You have AJ Styles one of THE BEST wrestlers on the planet, beloved by just about everyone who has been the foundation of your company since almost Day 1 and the current World Champion. What do you do? You turn him into a Ric Flair wannabe to help him get “more over.” The result? The guy drops the World Title and becomes BURIED in the mid-card for the rest of the year.
LayCool? I can’t tell you how much I just despise seeing them on my TV…
Worst Wrestling Move
To be given to the move that is the worst thing you’ve seen this year. This shouldn’t be given to a move that was flubbed by a wrestler – the move was performed correctly, but was just too stupid for words. This move should probably be a “finishing” move or something that was meant to be spectacular.
1st: Santino Marella’s Cobra
Sure it pops the crowd and is fun to watch (I mark out!) but much like Scotty Too Hotty’s worm, John Cena’s Five Knuckle Shuffle and the People’s Elbow, this move is just too silly for words to ever work in real life.
To be given to the worst wrestling match you’ve seen this year, either live, on TV, PPV, or in an arena, or on tape. If it took place in the past year, it is eligible.
1st: Nasty Boys wrestling on Impact
I loved watching these guys 20 years ago but to see them plod around on Impact was just pathetic…
Most Disappointing News item
To be given to the wrestling news item that most disappointed you when heard of it. When you first learned of this news story, you couldn’t believe that it was true, and when you learned that it was, you were bummed out for a while.
1st: Shawn Michaels retires
2nd: Daniel Bryan gets “future endeavored.”
3rd: Chris Jericho decides to take a leave from wrestling again
Shawn Michaels retiring was decently sad news for this fan. The guy may have been a total jerk in his younger days but he was a phenomenal guy to watch in the ring and I for one miss seeing him on my TV each week.
Daniel Bryan, after a stellar performance on NXT, being “future endeavored” after the Nexus faux paux incident definitely ranks high on the list of “bummer” news items for 2010. All would be right again in the world when he was the guest partner for Team Cena.
Jericho deciding to head out on sabbatical again = less awesome on my TV each week
Most Obnoxious Personality
To be given to the person who just rubs you the wrong way. This could be anybody involved in the wrestling biz.
To be given to the manager who outperformed their peers at ringside and behind the microphone in interviews. This award was discontinued after the 2001 awards and reinstated in 2006.
1st: Ric Flair
Flair transitioning into the JJ Dillon and Bobby Heenan role = awesome
To be given to the commentator/announcer who makes the most insightful and entertaining comments while pushing his product. “Ring announcers” don’t qualify here. As of 1992, the difference between this and colour commentator will be enforced.
1st: Jim Ross
2nd: Matt Stryker
Sure, he only performed for one night only on the Old School Raw but those 8 minutes of J.R. was waaaaaaaay better than a full year of Michael Cole.
Best Colour Commentator
To be given to the colour commentator who provides the most insightful and entertaining comments.
1st: Matt Striker
Matt Striker’s totally awesome on commentary. Much like Tazz or JBL, no one does it better than a guy who’s actually been in the ring. He brings tons of credibility to the broadcast table.
To be given to the commentator/announcer who makes the least insightful and entertaining comments while pushing his product. “Ring announcers” don’t qualify here. As of 1992, the difference between this and colour commentator will be enforced.
1st: Michael Cole
The new “Voice of the WWE” kinda grates on you. Sadly he’s on EACH AND EVERY SHOW and short of muting the TV there’s really nothing you can do. Sure he’s only repeating the lines that he’s fed like a good soldier but there’s nothing overly entertaining or insightful about what he’s forced to say. God I miss Good Ol’ J.R.
Worst Colour Commentator
To be given to the colour commentator who provides the least insightful and entertaining comments.
To be given to the person who gives the best interview in the biz. This could be a wrestler or a manager.
1st: John Cena
2nd: The Miz
3rd: CM Punk and Chris Jericho (tie)
Cena, Miz, Punk and Jerico always bring the awesome on the mic.
To be given to the best angle you’ve seen in the sport this year.
1st: Wade Barrett takes the NXT rookies, forms Nexus and run rough shod over the WWE
2nd: Abyss wreaks havoc over TNA proclaiming “They” are coming
3rd: Anonymous Raw GM makes matches and Michael Cole his “voice”
4th: Tommy Dreamer and the ECW vets bring EV2.0 to TNA
2010 was the year of Nexus. Nothing got the business buzzing more than when Wade Barrett and the NXT rookies banded together and DESTROYED the Raw set and John Cena. They’d go on for the next several months running roughshod over the E.
The Raw Anonymous GM concept has been interesting. At times it can be completely stupid but it’s developed Cole into an interesting character and the Anonymous concept solves the problem of “flaky talents” who’ve been given the authority role only to bail shortly after (ie – Bret Hart). It gives the show the sense of continuity its been lacking in the authority figure role.
An equal phenomena occurred in TNA with Abyss running the TNA roster scared ranting and raving about how “They” were coming. When Dreamer and the ECW Originals arrived many thought EV2.0 were “They.” Ultimate FAIL as “They” turned out to be a swerving Hogan, Bischoff and Hardy. Good set-up, poor execution.
To be given to the organization/promotion that has the best product. This is the organization whose TV and house shows you just can’t miss.
Best TV Show
To be given to what is on average the best wrestling TV show. In 1994, TV shows and major shows were given separate award categories.
1st: WWE Raw
2nd: WWE Smackdown
3rd: TNA Impact!
Best Major Show
To be given to the best major event. This could be a pay-per-view, a TV special, or any big arena event. In 1994, TV shows and major shows were given separate award categories.
1st: January 4, 2010 — Raw and Impact goes head to head
For one night it’s almost as if the past come back to life as America’s two biggest wrestling promotions went head-to-head live with star studded shows. Impact brought out all the big guns with the announced returns of Hogan and Bischoff and surprise appearances by the debuting Jeff Hardy (+10 points), Shannon Moore, Val Venis (?), Orlando Jordan (??) and the Nasty Boys (-50 points). Raw had the highly promoted return of Bret “Hitman” Hart to the WWE after 13 years. It was a great night to be a wrestling fan.
Best Promotional Move
To be given to the best move made by a promotion this past year. This could include giving somebody a push, demoting someone, firing someone hiring someone, or anything of a promotional nature.
1st: WWE bands together the NXT rookies into the monster heel stable Nexus
2nd: TNA bands its top homegrown talent into a Horseman like stable Fourtune under Ric Flair
3rd: WWE puts the title on The Miz
Nothing shook up the wrestling world more than when Wade Barrett and the Nexus destroyed the Raw set thus setting off the hottest angle of 2010 and jump starting what was becoming quickly a VERY stale product. Simultaneously creating new stars, creating fresh match ups and jumpstarting business this was without a doubt the best move of 2010.
With its bloated roster and many stars quickly becoming lost in the shuffle, TNA’s formation of the Fourtune stable under Ric Flair quickly created a top heel faction and gave a tremendous rub to its homegrown stars now under the tutelage of the wrestling legend.
WWE’s end of year decision to put the title on the Miz, ultimately, was a great decision. It may have been a few months earlier than this armchair booker probably would have done it but it was the right call. Miz, as a top heel, is just what the show needed. Wrestling is always much more interesting when a heel is on top as you WANT to see a face, any over face, knock him off his perch. Miz has a ton of main stream media credibility and is a good choice as a “face” for the company. With a clean image he’s not bound to be someone who would embarrass your company on top (like some OTHER promotion’s champion that we know of) and as a prior TV star before getting into wrestling he’s someone who can easily make the promotional rounds (as can be seen). Finally, as a “cowardly heel” champion he is someone people will PAY GOOD MONEY TO SEE BEAT which as a wrestling promoter is the name of the game. As a non-monster champion you can believe just about anyone on the roster can pin the Miz and folks will come out to see someone, anyone, shut his mouth. It worked wonders for workers like Ric Flair in the old NWA and the Honky Tonk Man as IC Champ in the old WWF. Miz as champ is a GOOD thing.
To be given to the worst angle you’ve seen in the sport this year. It may be the worst because of taste or because of execution.
1st: Burial of EV2.0
Many criticized the push EV2.0 got at the expense of the TNA Roster leading up to Hardcore Justice. I’m on the fence on that. I would agree that it probably is a better long-term investment to push YOUR OWN STARS and not a group of has beens but TNA in there infinite wisdom decided to do so. That’s fine.
Still, if you do something do it all the way.
TNA runs Hardcore Justice, pulls off, by all reports, a great show and has a ton of good will for the former ECW stars. You could capitalize off this goodwill and get a few more miles out of these guys for additional angles and PPVs but instead TNA decides to slowly humiliate and job out each and every one of these guys. Why even bother going through with the angle to begin with if you don’t intend to milk it for everything it’s worth??? TNA could have easily used some of these guys for several months worth of stories and feuds.
Worst Promotional Move
To be given to the worst move made by a promotion this past year. This could include giving somebody a push, demoting someone, firing someone hiring someone, or anything of a promotional nature.
1st: Jeff Hardy, TNA Champion
For all the reasons making Miz the WWE Champ is a great idea the converse are all the reasons to NOT make Jeff Hardy your TNA champion. Jeff Hardy was HIRED by TNA right off the heels of an arrest and drug charges. He was damaged goods coming in and had a history of being a complete flake. Does he pop the crowd? Definitely. Can he put on great matches? When motivated, absolutely. Is he someone you want as the FACE OF YOUR COMPANY???? Absolutely not! Jeff is crowned champion in what turns out to be the company’s (convoluted, moronic) top angle of the year and lo and behold, Jeff’s legal woes lead to him pleading guilty as the champion and face of the company. TNA Wrestling — we are stupid!
As for the EV2.0 debacle, I covered that enough in the previous section.
BEST THEME MUSIC
1. “Also Sprauch Zarathustra (TNA remix)” — Ric Flair — guitar intro for the opening strings? EPIC!
1. Roddy Piper’s “do the right thing” promo to John Cena on “Old School” Raw
2. John Cena’s “retirement speech” on Raw
3. Jay Lethal and Ric Flair, “dueling Flairs” promo on Impact