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 , 2009 here and 2010 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 2011 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: CM Punk
3rd: John Cena
Throughout 2K11 no one consistently performed, in my opinion, at a higher level than Randy Orton. He had a white hot feud with Christian mid-year that produced an excellent series of matches. Aside from that, he continued to face all-comers in great bouts and as the face of Smackdown helped that brand relaunch in the post-Edge era.
Coming in 2nd was CM Punk. This was definitely Punk’s year with the Summer of Punk and the AWESOME shoot gimmick and the multiple title reign. Had his push to the moon started earlier in the year he’d have taken 1st place easily but I guess he’ll just need to settle for an ice cream bar. 🙂
John Cena rounds out third. The franchise of the WWE needs no explanation rounding out great matches and programs with all comers throughout the year
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: Beer Money — James Storm and Robert Roode
2nd: Air Boom — Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston
3rd: Awesome Truth — Miz and R. Truth
Sure they broke up by year’s end but the fact remains Beer Money dominated TNA for the first half of the year and in many ways was arguably the top act in the promotion. I think their new singles careers and the company’s focus on them as top singles stars speak to their talent individually and collectively. In a ho-hum year of tag wrestling Beer Money was still the standard bearer.
Air Boom comes in 2nd place. A rather randomly thrown together team with a so-so win-loss record, these two guys, both individually exciting and great, do make a great team. I actually think the pairing works. It’s not like creative had anything going for either guy individually…
Awesome Truth takes 3rd place for me. Sure they didn’t really wrestle that much, lost almost as much as they won and spent more time doing promos (hilarious ones at that!) than anything else but that’s good enough for me. It sure beats the random teams of The Corre (Gabriel and Slater) and Nexus (Otunga and McGullicutty) who actually did hold the belts (but weren’t really over) or the Usos who, despite the awesome new entrance, never really win matches.
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: Mark Henry
3. 2nd: R. Truth
3. 3rd: The Miz/Christian (tie)
This was Mark Henry’s year. After 15 years in the business he was booked as a MONSTER heel and ran roughshod over the promotion. He took out other giants and monsters. He wrestled and had GOOD matches against everyone from Big Show to Daniel Bryan. He cut EXCELLENT promos. That’s how you book a monster heel!
R. Truth takes 2nd place in my book. The heel turn and feud with Cena and subsequent conspiracy/Little Jimmy gimmick was gold as was the team with Miz. Truth main evented a PPV with the franchise and more often than, on the strength of his promo work, was a highlight of Raw each week. That easily puts him as a top heel of 2K11.
Miz rounds out the top 3 for me. He started the year as champ and RETAINED as the heel champ at Wrestlemania. He kinda floundered mid-year feuding with Alex Riley but rebounded nicely with the Awesome Truth team with R. Truth. He wasn’t necessarily the focus of the promotion but via the strength of his mic work remained a highlight of the show whenever on and stayed in the top tier of the WWE’s heel pantheon.
Christian’s transition from babyface to cowardly heel was brilliantly executed. His months long feud with Orton resulted in excellent TV and even better matches. Christian’s exemplary heel work takes a 3rd place tie with Miz for me.
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: CM Punk
3rd: Bobby Roode
John Cena remains the top face in the industry. Sure half the crowd boos him but when it comes to portraying the hero no one does it better than the Franchise of the WWE.
CM Punk started the year as a heel and remained a heel through the summer. On the strength of his work during the summer he slowly transitioned to Tweener status as the cool anti-establishment heel/Tweener till coming full circle to face status. The guy is magic beating all odds and all comers since his turn.
Bobby Roode started the year in Beer Money and was out with injury in the summer and came out of nowhere from behind to win the Bound for Glory series and wrestle Kurt Angle for the big gold, choked in the match and goes to win the belt via heel turn on his best friend. Perhaps reflective of TNA’s directionless booking, but for the brief several month span leading up to Bound for Glory Roode was booked as a perfect babyface and he played the role well. Since his heel turn he’s also played the role EQUALLY beautifully and is on target to take top heel for 2K12 if things continue down this path. Roode met, took on and overcame all challenges in his quest for the title as the top face for TNA. On the strength of that work I give him the nod for 3rd place for 2K11.
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: CM Punk
Kurt Angle’s an Olympic Gold Medalist and is touted as (and remains) the best worker in the business. Bar none. From his programs with Jarrett to Roode and Storm he ALWAYS brought the goods to the ring.
Punk’s excellent in-ring work saw him take on everyone from Orton to Cena to Del Rio to excellent matches all year as he transitioned to the main event.
Christian takes 3rd. The cagey vet wrestled excellent programs with Del Rio and Orton before injury took him down.
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: Sin Cara
They don’t call him “Air” Bourne for nothing!
The Prince of Parkour had a great start to the year with strong showings against Miz in the first main event of the year to the Royal Rumble. He got buried and lost in the shuffle post-Mania but the fact remains he always put on a great show between the ropes despite being booked as a loser.
Sin Cara fizzled out, botched as much as he hit, got suspended and then got injured but the fact remains he’s a beauty to watch in the ring and when he’s “on” he is ON. Hopefully he heals up nicely and gets back on track and finds his groove.
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: CM Punk
3rd: Christopher Daniels
Daniel Bryan spent a majority of the year jobbing. A MiTB win didn’t exactly help his win-loss record that much but the late year title victory over Big Show and mini-program with Mark Henry did allow him to showcase his EXCELLENT in-ring abilities whether it was winning matches via LeBell Lock, Guillotine Choke, etc. Matches with Del Rio, Kidd and others on the roster allowed him to show his stuff even in losing efforts. Hopefully 2K12 lets the new champ showcase his goods at the top of the card in a positive light.
I give CM Punk 2nd place. The guy fought his way to the top of card this year and his great in-ring work was a big part of it aside from his top tier promo ability.
I give Christopher Daniels 3rd place. This guy, in my opinion, has never truly gotten his due in the business with a run on top. It’s very sad as his in-ring work and promo abilities are top notch. You wouldn’t be able to tell on TNA though as he’s booked as a loser more often than not but good matches with AJ and RVD do allow him to showcase some of his great work.
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.
2nd: Mark Henry
Sheamus is our top brawler, again, in 2K11. He loves to fight and is promoted as thus and fight he did throughout 2K11 whooping anyone who got in his way.
Mark Henry takes 2nd. You could argue he should take #1 on the strength of his DESTROYING everyone (including Sheamus) but I just think Sheamus, being booked as a brawler, by right should take the win. In any event, I know **I** would turn and RUN the other way if I saw Henry lumbering my way…
I give Abyss the third spot. He spent the majority of the year destroying cruiserweights. How can you NOT give him a brawler award for all those beat downs?
Most Favourite Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler you like the most, regardless of the reason.
1st: CM Punk
2nd: John Cena
3rd: Mark Henry
Punk’s the best in the world. He has the shirt to prove it. In all seriousness though, this was Punk’s year. He earned it. I bought the shirt.
Cena’s still the franchise and I respect his work and bought all the fruity pebble shirts to prove it.
I really enjoyed Henry’s work this year and bought that epic HALL OF PAIN shirt to vote my support for the guy.
Most Improved Wrestler
To be given to the wrestler who most improved himself/herself in all facets of the sport in the past year.
1st: Mark Henry
2nd: Bobby Roode
3rd: R. Truth
How can you not give it to Henry? The guy really STEPPED UP. He improved his workrate and promo ability wrestling great matches all year and cutting excellent promos as the undisputed king of Smackdown inducting all comers into the Hall of Pain.
Bobby Roode takes the 2nd spot for me. He was given the ball and he took it and ran with it wrestling the best matches and cutting the best promos of his career whether face OR heel. As the year went on he’s only improved and he’s established himself as a top heel in the business (not just TNA). Here’s to more growth from Roode in 2K12.
Truth is another guy who stepped up his game. Given the heel reigns he led Raw as its top heel for a brief period hating on all the Little Jimmy’s cutting some of the BEST promo work all year. He stepped up to the plate as well.
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: CM Punk, best in the world
2nd: R. Truth, Little Jimmy/”Joker” Sting (tie)
3rd: Bobby Roode, selfish generation/Christian, “One more match.” (tie)
Punk’s “Best in the World” gimmick pretty much summed up everything. He was the best and was held down and called EVERYONE including the Owner on it. How awesome was that?
I actually LOVED the Joker Sting gimmick. I thought it was entertaining and hilarious and found it a breath of fresh air to the very stale “Icon” character Sting had been portraying for years. I’d been calling for Sting to take a backseat to the roster for a bit but had the Joker entertaining enough to where I’d have loved to see it regularly on TV.
Truth’s “Little Jimmy” conspiracy was gold for months and was Christian’s “One More Match” bit. Sure I hated them making Christian into a joke but it’s better than him fading into obscurity.
For Bobby Roode, at first I was VERY disturbed with the bizarre initial booking of the job at Bound for Glory and subsequent heel turn but I think they’re on the right track and am enjoying the “selfish generation” bit.
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: Mark Henry’s “Hall of Pain”
2nd: Natalya’s “Tear Time”
While not a traditional wrestling move, Henry’s “Hall of Pain” Vader Bomb off the ropes onto an opponent’s leg trapped in a chair looks EXCRUCIATING.
I personally LOVED Natalya’s “Tear Time” submission/torture that the Divas of Doom used on the Barbie Doll Divas. Kelly Kelly and Alicia Fox’s sell job of the move (which DOES look excruciating) was PERFECT.
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: CM Punk vs. John Laurinaitis
2nd: Mark Henry vs. Big Show
3rd: Randy Orton vs. Christian
Punk’s feud with John Laurinaitis (and proxy McMahon and Cena) led to the best storyline and promos of the year. THAT was your feud of 2K11.
I personally loved the feud between Henry and Show. It dominated the Smackdown storylines in the later part of the year and takes the 2nd place nod for me.
Orton vs. Christian tore up the circuit mid-year with great matches and promo work between both guys. It was a top contender in my book in the early stretch of the year.
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.
1st: David Otunga and Michael McGullicutty
Sadly, these guys were the tag champs for a spell. A makeshift team put together during the days of the New Nexus they went on and didn’t overly impress but somehow got the tag titles to give them some “heat.” Sadly they didn’t do much of anything. An actual tag team such as the Usos probably could have used the belts more and given it a tad bit more credibility but we are in an “anti-tag team” era.
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.
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.
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: Pope D’Angelo Dinero
2nd: Samoa Joe/Christopher Daniels
3rd: Daniel Bryan
Pope’s a guy who has ALL the tools. He has the look. He has the promo ability (in SPADES). He has the workrate. But he’s spent the majority of the year losing to Joe and in a bottom of the card program with Devon. Oh well, I guess it could be worse.
TNA fans will lament the lack of push for guys like Daniels and Joe. Joe spent the vast majority of the year in a LOSING streak and briefly came back as a bad @$$. Daniels had a “I lost my mojo” gimmick for a spell during the year in his rivalry with AJ before being booked as a coward against both AJ and RVD while LOSING. No one questions their talent but sadly after this many years the ship has likely more than sailed or these guys.
Bryan spent most of the year jobbing but thankfully things slooooowly turned around with a MiTB win and then a world title win in the last week of the year. Hopefully 2K12 signals the start of something very special for our favorite vegan submission specialist.
Worst Wrestling Gimmick
To be given to the wrestler who had the worst character gimmick in the past year.
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: Melina vs. Alicia Fox 🙂
Tough Enough joke.
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: Death of “Macho Man” Randy Savage
2nd: Edge forced to retire
The premature death of wrestling legend “Macho Man” Randy Savage during the late Spring was just shocking and sad having been a HUGE Savage mark as a kid. Luckily he saved us from the Rapture 🙂
Edge being forced to retire after Wrestlemania was as equally shocking and sad but at least the guy got to go out on top knowing he “won it all” and “done it all.”
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.
1st: Michael Cole
Easily the worst part of each and every show…week after week…
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.
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: Josh Matthews
More J.R., less Cole. Heck, more Josh less Cole.
Best Colour Commentator
To be given to the colour commentator who provides the most insightful and entertaining comments.
I actually really miss Matt Striker at the announcer’s table. Taz, Booker and Lawler take it by default.
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
Dude is booked to be irritating and succeeds at it. Don’t know if he deserves an Award for being great at being a douche but I’m over this guy.
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: CM Punk
2nd: R. Truth and Miz (tie)
3rd: Rock and Cena (tie)
Punk got to the top based on his promo work. Truth and Miz lit up my screen each week whenever they walked out because I knew I was about to be entertained.
Rock and Cena’s dueling promos in the beginning of the year were GOLD.
To be given to the best angle you’ve seen in the sport this year.
1st: CM Punk shoots on the WWE
2nd: Mark Henry goes on a rampage inducting everyone into the “Hall of Pain”
3rd: Bobby Roode turns of James Storm and wins the TNA Title
For a brief month in the Summer of 2011 the wrestling world was ABLAZE with CM Punk following his epic shoot promo on the WWE. His surprise win of John Cena at the MiTB PPV in Chicago sent shockwaves through the industry and had the potential to revolutionize the business again.
Mark Henry’s ascension to the top of the promotion was textbook perfect booking. Go out and let a guy KILL people. Boom. He took out Big Show, Kane, Vladimir Kozlov and the Great Khali while successfully dispatching folks like Sheamus, Christian and Daniel Bryan. Textbook perfection.
What seemed as a bit of a false start with Bobby Roode CHOKING in winning the title off of Kurt Angle and his partner beating Angle for the belt to his turning on his partner to steal the partner has worked out nicely. I’m a fan of Roode’s new “selfish generation” gimmick and think TNA’s finally on the right track with their booking. Roode’s evolved into a great heel and I’m enjoying TNA’s booking for the first time in a long time.
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 Smackdown
2nd: WWE Raw
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: MiTB PPV
Punk beat John Cena in his hometown with a WHITE HOT CROWD. Magic moment.
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: TNA pushes homegrown talent and phases old timers out
2nd: WWE pushes IWC favorites Punk, Bryan and Ryder, depushes Cena and Orton
3rd: WWE launches Network
I think both TNA and WWE hit the hammer on the head toward the later part of the year with their decisions to push Roode and Storm and Punk, Bryan and Ryder respectively.
In the case of TNA rallying on old timers like Sting and former WWE talent like Anderson, RVD and Hardy just wasn’t working and would NOT work in the long-term. In their case pushing homegrown talent like Roode and Storm sent two messages: 1 – they’re building toward the future, 2 – they’re investing back in their own. They have a long way to go but for the first time in a long-time it “feels” like they’re heading in the right direction.
In the case of the WWE, I think pushing guys like Punk, Bryan and Ryder is a step in the right direction. They seem to be listening to their most passionate fans in this instance but I think, more importantly, what works out best is they are diversifying their main event talent pool. Cena and Orton are still the faces of the promotion and the cash cows but they won’t be around forever and adding fresh faces like Orton, Bryan, Henry, Barrett and Ryder in the upper card will only help to freshen up the stagnant “John and Randy” show.
As for the Network, I for one am excited and think it’s a GREAT use of all the valuable assets WWE’s built over the years. I hope it takes off for them.
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: Bobby Roode loses at Bound for Glory
You build a guy up for months as “the guy” and job him out at the biggest show of the year? That just irked me to no end. At least they redeemed themselves a few weeks later with the heel turn…
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: TNA’s haphazard Title booking
2nd: WWE pushes feuds between announcers
For a while in early and mid-year TNA’s title picture was ATROCIOUS with Sting and Anderson trading the belt. Anderson for a bit was pushed as the face of the company. Not a bad a choice. He’s a decent worker and promo but it felt they never fully got behind the guy. And when they didn’t get behind the guy they went back to an over the hill Sting. Oi *face palm* …At least they got it semi-right eventually with Kurt Angle as a transitional champ before hot potato-ing it to Storm and then Roode.
For the life of me I cannot fathom WWE’s obsession with feuding announcers or putting them in the ring. Cole vs. J.R., Cole vs. Lawler, Booker T. vs. Cody Rhodes. Announcers are meant to stay behind the booth. I didn’t mind the novel occasional match featuring J.R. in the ring during swings through Okalohma but to build an ENTIRE program that made Wrestlemania between Cole vs. Lawler/J.R. which would CONTINUE off and on the rest of the year???? Keep the wrestling to the wrestlers! WWE has TONS of underutilized talent and the top heel in the promotion is arguably the lead play-by-play guy who spends a nice amount of time putting HIMSELF over the actual talent on the roster? *face palm*
BEST THEME MUSIC
1. “Flight of the Valkyries” (remix) — Daniel Bryan: LOVE the guitar work 🙂
2. Longnecks and Rednecks — James Storm: Fits perfect to the character. Love it!
1. Usos — Sivatau. EPIC way for them to make their entrance with the Sivatau war chant/dance. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to do anything for their win-loss record though.
2. Sin Cara — trampoline diving roll. I thought is EPIC the first time I saw it with the lights all blue. Still do.
1. CM Punk’s shoot promo on WWE, McMahon, John Laurinaitis and Cena
2. Cena and Rock dueling weekly diss promos leading to Mania
3. R. Truth, Miz and Christian “Jimmy, Riley, Randy” promo